low back pain relief Archives

Chronic Pain shrinks the grey matter in your brain. Studies have shown this, but those who are in pain didn't need science to prove it - you know it! It's difficult to smile or laugh when you're in pain, and as time goes on you can't even think clearly. Today, I'll talk about two things you can do to help rid yourself of that back or neck pain.

First, let’s look at our plastic brain and using Neuroplasticity to help reduce that pain.

Imagining activates the same neural pathways as the real experience!

This is something that sports psychologists have known and used for years. Allopathic medicine is now “getting the picture” and using visualization to help people reduce chronic pain as well. In fact, the reason that I began to study Neuroplasticity was to help my clients who are in pain.

So here’s a simple step that you can start today:

  • Sit comfortably, but tall (not in a recliner), and close your eyes.
  • Take three very deep breaths, slowing down your exhalations more with each breath
  • Visualize your back (or neck, butt, knee, etc.) before you began having the pain. See yourself doing all the things that you could do easily back then, visualize your back in perfect health. See it lengthen easily, see yourself standing tall without effort, visualize your shoulders even and down where they belong. Continue deep breathing as you visualize yourself in perfect health.

Keep this going for at least five minutes, each day, for 30 days.

Your brain processes through images, so keeping these healthy images in your mind each day for 30 days will cause the brain to believe that you ARE healthy. Then, your exercises, relaxation techniques, and the other methods you are using to bring health back to your body will have a more powerful effect.

Secondly, I’ll like to share an exercise with you that helps take the tension out of your entire back and shoulder area, while strengthening the lower back at the same time – you know how I love multitasking!

Remember to relax your back for at least five minutes each day too – this is vitally important for back health!

Best of Health,

Kathi

Well, how about that!  Western science has shown that Yoga helps reduce back pain better than medication! 

In fact, the new guidelines from the American College of Physicians, states that people with back pain should avoid pain medicines if possible, and instead opt for alternatives such as tai chi, yoga and massage. Halleluiah!  Now, if we can get insurance companies to pay for these useful, preventative modalities we’d all be healthier. But then, insurance companies would lose money, and they don’t want that.

Those of us who are committed to our Yoga practice understand that this has been true for thousands of years and new science is simply catching up!

My classes and private sessions have been filled for years with people who are tired of taking or have no wish to get on strong, addictive drugs for their back pain and every one of them has found relief with the Yoga or Pilates exercises that I give them. AND not just back pain – neck and shoulders, hips, knees, etc. These happy people are the reason I continue to teach. They are why I wrote my book, “STOP Back Pain,” which has been on the Amazon bestseller list for most of five years. The human body benefits greatly from Yoga, which is the original Physical Therapy!

I read one article that talked about the need for more testing so that they can figure out which exercises, and exactly how, Yoga reduces back pain. OK……. I think it would be simpler if they just asked a Yoga teacher to explain. “Yoga” is not simply a series of physical exercises. It is a mind, body, spirit practice. What that means is that when people begin doing yoga, they learn to breathe more deeply which helps circulation; they learn ways to improve posture when sitting, standing, walking, etc. This benefits our spine health, heart health, AND circulation. After a few classes (taught by someone who is certified in Hatha Yoga) people begin to understand their own body more – how it works, what it needs and doesn’t need. This mind body connection means that when you shovel snow, move your furniture around, or in some way strain a muscle, you understand exactly where you have injured yourself and you know which exercises to do and how to help yourself. It is the complete practice of Yoga that helps people HEAL their back pain, not simply mask it with drugs.

I make note, above, about taking classes from a trained teacher, because I have seen some places like YMCA’s or gyms where a personal trainer had taken a weekend course (not properly certified) and then began teaching Yoga or even Pilates! These people do not have enough training to make sure that you are doing the postures correctly and they don’t know how to give you modifications so that you can do them without injury. They also usually only teach the physical postures and skip over the breathing and meditation parts and don’t remind you concentrate on rotating your leg in the hip socket instead of throwing the leg around with your hip, etc. So, when you take a class from an untrained person, you do not get the benefit of actually knowing your own body and what it needs. Every body is different!

If you’d like to know more about how to find the cause of your back or hip pain and what you can do to heal yourself, please feel free to ask. I offer coaching specific to back pain!

Today, I have also included a video of one Yoga pose that helps with lower back pain. Try it, you’ll like it!

Best of Health,

Kathi

Help For Your Pain In The Butt!

Have you been diagnosed with Piriformis Syndrome?

Do you have Sciatica and are not sure of the cause?

Let me tell you a story about a really thick muscle that can cause a lot of misery if you don’t take good care of it.

The Piriformis stretches from the bottom of your hip, across the center of your butt cheek, to the lower spine. We use it to rotate our hip and to turn our leg outward. It sits on top of a section of our sciatic nerve. So, if you’ve ever had sciatic pain, you know how debilitating it can be. That nasty pain travels from your lower spine, all the way down your leg when it's tense or tight, and you're in excruciating pain - right?!

It’s not so hard to keep your Piriformis strong and flexible, though.

Here’s a massage that will help to relieve your pain:

Place a ball or your fist under the butt cheek of your extended left leg. Place your right foot on the floor, bend the right leg, and use your right foot to roll yourself around on the ball until you feel the exact location on your butt cheek where the pain is most intense. Massage that area until the pain lets up. It will be painful while you are rolling on that spot, but breathe deeply and keep going, you’ll be glad you did! I don’t recommend tennis balls because they’re too hard, so try something softer, or use your fist. Make sure that you always massage both sides – even when your pain is only on one side. When one side is more flexible than the other, you will have pain, so fixing one will throw the other side off.

Another great stretch to keep your piriformis flexible and healthy is Sleeping Pigeon.

 Here is a link to that one.

These are both simple things you can do every day in order to prevent that terrible pain from interfering with your life. You deserve to be pain free!

Let me know if you have any questions about these or other exercises for sciatic pain.

Best of Health,

Kathi

Fun Exercise To Relax Your Lower Back

Let's spend a few minutes looking for Dory on the bottom of the sea! Yes, you heard that right.

This exercise is called "Sea Weed Legs" and it's a fun way to remove the tension in your lower back. You can even do it with the grandkids for a fun activity to share; they'll love it!

Start out lying on the floor, on your back, with your feet flat and knees bent.

Lengthen your spine and relax your shoulders.

Breathe deeply as you gently raise both legs straight up into the air, feet toward the sky.

Pretend you are lying on your back, on the floor of the ocean.

Let the current gently move your legs around. They can go back and forth, side to side, or move around in any way you feel the current is going, as long as it’s slight, and gentle.

This feels really good and it’s fun to imagine all the fish swimming by – Nemo, Dory, Sponge Bob…

Continue breathing deeply and moving your legs gently for one to two minutes.

Then roll over into a fetal position on your side so that you can easily push yourself back up into a seated position with your hands and arm.

We are all so very busy and rarely take the time to just relax our back like this, but It’s so good for us!

We should take the time to relax our backs at least a couple of times a week.

Try this one once week and then try Legs Up The Wall next time.

Here’s a video of Legs Up The Wall. Do it with me now and see for yourself how lovely it feels!

Best of Health,

Kathi

Pilates Proven To Help Back Pain!

So many people with back and or neck pain, and so many options for relief that they have not been told about...

It’s frustrating when you go your doctor, get an examination and a referral to a specialist, then go through more test and exams with that doc – sometimes after waiting months for your appointment, and then get yet another referral to a surgeon who then does more tests…

Well, many of you know the scenario. It happens all the time. STOP!

I have been saying for years “you DON”T have to live with back pain!”

My STOP Back Pain book, as well as my DVD and programs, have helped hundreds of people so far, and I’m aiming for thousands!

I have a good friend who suffered with back pain, went through months of docs, tests, etc., and then had surgery, but still has the same pain! She now says she would not have chosen to have the surgery if she’d known it would not heal her pain.

Unfortunately, her story is one I have heard over and over; but people are afraid of treatments that are not covered under their insurance. They have listened to their doctors tell them that there is no proof any of the complimentary modalities work. Notice I used the word “complimentary,” not alternative. There is so MUCH “anecdotal” proof for these complimentary therapies, in fact, that they cannot be called anecdotal any more, but because your doc did not learn about these modalities in medical school, in his or her mind, they do not exist. What a shame. I explain many of these therapies in my book. But some doctors are beginning to realize this, seeing the evidence, and some are even recommending things like acupuncture, chiropractic, Pilates or Yoga. Things are changing, just not very fast.

With that said, modern medical technology is amazing and can help a person get a definitive diagnosis, so don’t ditch your doc quite yet! Just remember that you are the head of your medical team and coordinating your care is part of the job you must do to get well.

I’ve had clients come into one of my Pilates classes so frightened of making their pain worse that they were literally shaking in their shoes. Chronic pain, especially back pain, is my specialty though, and I understand how to calm beginners and modify the exercises for them, so that they begin to feel better and eventually are not afraid and then we can begin to heal their pain.

As for the science behind what I do, here’s a study which showed improved core strength and stability, posture and balance, and fewer pain symptoms in people with chronic lower back pain, who took Pilates classes three times a week for 14 weeks. I have seen people’s back pain reduced with only one class a week, and one suggested exercise in between. It takes longer, maybe six months or so, but it can be done – WITHOUT SURGERY OR OPIODS!

Another study showed that a Pilates exercise program reduced back pain more than other interventions. This particular study looked at 128 scholarly articles on the topic, chose 29 to use in their analysis, and concluded “We found that there is a dearth of studies that clearly demonstrate the efficacy of a specific Pilates exercise program over another in the treatment of chronic pain. However, the consensus in the field suggests that Pilates method is more effective than minimal physical exercise intervention in reducing pain.

I agree. Pilates does help.

I also use Yoga exercises for my clients with great success. All Yoga and Pilates exercises can be modified to help people who are stiff and sore, who haven’t worked out in a long time, who are in pain and/or scared of exacerbating their pain. Relief is possible!

Please don’t simply take any old Pilates class, however. There are some out there who have taken a weekend training course and then go forth and teach Pilates classes. These people are not really trained. ALWAYS check your instructor’s credentials. If you have questions about their certifications, drop me a note and I’ll happily check for you. There are some GREAT certification programs out there now, and I’ll be happy to look at your instructors and let you know if they have had sufficient training to help you.

If you’d like to work with me either in person, or via SKYPE, please contact me HERE.

Best of Health,

Kathi

Can Your Mind Really Heal Your Body?

I'm sure you've heard things said before like, "mind over body" or, "your mind can heal anything," but do you ever think to yourself, "that's easier said than done!" After all, if you're like most people, you don't have time to sit around like a Buddist Monk, meditating for hours a day, focusing on healing your body. So how exactly do you apply it to your life?

Well, I want to share a video with you today that will reveal some startling research on just how powerful the mind is over the body. This video will also introduce a grounded, everyday technique that you can use to help your mind keep your body healthy.

It's a video of Dr. Lissa Rankin, M.D., a traditionally trained medical doctor who specializes in understanding the mind-body connection, and Nick Ortner, producer of the upcoming 9th annual Tapping World Summit, to discuss her findings in her book, “Mind Over Medicine,” and the implications they have for all of us, both the "seemingly" healthy, and those with health challenges. If you’ve been receiving my newsletter for a while, you may remember Dr. Lissa from my telesummit on healing chronic pain a few years back. This video is being released in the lead up to the 9th Annual Tapping World Summit. They have some very interesting dialogue where Dr. Lissa shares her latest research, and her perspective on what is happening in the mind and body when people are doing EFT Tapping. I’ve talked about EFT before, in my newsletter, and you know that I highly recommend using it on a regular basis.

Tapping, most commonly known as EFT or Emotional Freedom Techniques, is a type of energy psychology that combines eastern medicine and modern psychology. It is extremely effective with both physical issues (back pain, headaches, etc.) and emotional issues.

Here’s what you’ll get from today’s video with Lissa and Nick:

- You'll hear about what Dr. Lissa has learned from studying over 3,500 cases of "spontaneous remission" and what the research both tells us, and isn't telling us, about why people get sick or healthy.

- You'll discover the nine common characteristics that people with "spontaneous remission" have, and why they're critical to know for both sick people and healthy people.

- You'll learn about the only two modes that our nervous system can be in, and how in one of them, our bodies’ self-repair mechanism literally shuts down! And the scary part is that most people tend to get stuck in this shut down mode (she'll explain why and how you can get out of it).

- You'll hear about why some of her supposedly "healthiest" clients (exercising, eating well, meditating, etc) were getting sick and the big "aha" moment she had about what was causing it all.

- Near the end Dr. Lissa will blow your mind by redefining what "placebo" actually is and how most scientific studies are not digging deep enough into what is going on with the mind and body.

Watch this video HERE, I know you'll love it!

Best of Health,

Kathi

World Tapping Summit PreviewVideo

Can Exercise Help You Avoid Knee Surgery?

Another Article, this week, about knee injuries in Baby Boomers, and how exercise can help many of us avoid surgery.

I won't go on a rant about how Western medicine is all about the money generated for big pharma and unnecessary surgeries. Instead, I will tell you about a knee strengthening exercise that I have been teaching my clients and students for the last few years which has helped many of them avoid knee surgery. At the very least, it can reduce pain and strengthen your knees.

When I showed this exercise to my friend Dr. Carolyn Dean, several years back, she termed them, "Super Squats," and I've kept that name because the results are, "SUPER!"

As the above article says, meniscal tears affect many of us at some point in our lives. A meniscal tear happens when there is damage to the cushioning that surrounds the knee. Most orthopedic surgeons agree that the size of the tear matters, but for many of us Baby Boomers, this happens after many years of normal wear and tear, and not due to a football injury.

What I have found is that the exercises we are given, like normal squats, strengthen the muscles above or below your knee, but not many strengthen the muscles on the sides of the knee. This is the key problem; we need an exercise that does both. Voila, Super Squats to the rescue! In case you haven't figured that out yet, I love this exercise!!!! I think it should be taught to kids in school as part of the regular PE curriculum, for healthier knees as we age.

Everyone that does this exercise consistently improves the condition and strength of their knees. It takes only a few minutes to do and just about everyone can do it, with or without modifications.

Super Squats strengthen ALL the muscles surrounding your knee. This makes the knee more stable so that ordinary walking does not wear or tear as much; also, when you step off a curb or onto an uneven surface, the knee is more stable and less likely to twist out of alignment.

I recommend doing this at least three times a week. If you are currently in pain, try it daily for a couple of weeks, and then, after you feel better, go to three times a week.

super squats side view

Also, if you have not done a squat before, please check these photos for placement of your feet to avoid over extension of your knees. Toes are above my foot. Make sure yours are too!

 

 

 

If you'd like to work with me privately, for this and other exercises, let's set up a time to chat about your personal health and wellness, what you'd like to achieve, and how to get there! Hit reply or send me an e-mail here.

Best of Health,

Kathi

Help! I’ve Fallen And I Can’t Get Up!

Hope all US residents had a fabulous 4th of July celebration! Did you include some healthy recipes from my previous posts? Grilled Peaches is always a good one for summer holidays.

Today I am sharing a short video of the best way to get up (and down) from the floor. So many people in my classes for seniors say they can't get down on the floor because they'll never be able to get back up, yet when I show them how simple and safe it can be, they have no problem!

If you're afraid of getting stuck down on the floor, or if you know someone who is, please take a look, and share:

Notice that my feet are a several inches apart. I've seen some people try this with their feet too close together, which makes it harder to balance, so make sure yours are apart.

You simply reverse the pattern to get down onto the floor.

Now there's no reason that you can't take a Yoga or Pilates class! Join us at the Claire Teague Sr. Center, in Great Barrington, or the West Springfield Sr. Center! We have a lot of fun AND get strong in the process!

Best of Health,

Kathi

Gardening Causing A Pain In Your Back? RELAX!

I am excited to say that I have planted my garden this year BEFORE Memorial Day! Can't remember ever doing that before; hope that means an early and fruitful harvest...

May is the month for gardening in the Berkshires. And, once again this year, most of my friends and neighbors are walking around with stiff backs from all the weeding, tilling, planting, etc. Each spring I find time to remind everyone of the single most important way to help your back when you know you have done too much - RELAX!

This is the only position which will relax all the muscles along your spine at the same time. Do it every day for at least 5 minutes to reduce that tension and give your back a break. You'll be glad you did!

relaxation pic - me

Make sure that your butt is right up against the couch, with your calves resting on the seat of the couch. If your neck is arched up, you can place a small pillow or folded towel under your head (not under the neck) so your neck is also resting. For more information, or to purchase my Amazon bestselling book STOP Back Pain, click HERE!

Please take time to remember the reason for this holiday. Stop during your activities, for a moment of silence, for all those who have given their lives so that we can live free and safe!

Wishing you a happy and safe Memorial Day!

Best of Health,

Kathi

Is it just me or are meetings getting longer and longer?!

Or, maybe it's just that I am so used to moving all day that I find it difficult to sit for long periods.

Well, whatever the reason you may be having pain when sitting for long periods, here's a simple tip that will help you feel better right away!

Enjoy YOUR next meeting!

Best of Health,

Kathi