Recovering from an Injury #4

bailey_200x200The Lesson in Taking the Time It Takes

“Appearance is absolute, but reality is not that way.
Everything is interdependent, not absolute.” Dalai Lama
Taking Charge: Self-Guided Recovery

To be pain-free is often confused with being ready to pick up right where you left off. The problem is that athletic skills require a commensurate level of strength to execute without injury. Strength builds in increments. Nobody wants to start over when they graduated years ago! What you believe you can do is indeed what causes everything to change—and sometimes not for the better if the reality of an appropriate starting point is ignored.

Say, for example, you could ride a bike for more than an hour before one knee started hurting so badly you could not ride at all. You have no clue what happened or what you did that caused this problem. The first order of business is to review or rule out possible issues including, but not limited to, the following:

• Proper adjustment and fit for all gear
• Dietary cause of inflammation such as allergy or excessive sugar intake
• Joint injury requiring surgical intervention
• Muscular imbalance
• Improper technique
• Genetic predispositions and conformation factors
• Overtraining or inadequate rest
Get the help and advice necessary to make informed decisions. Talk with people who’ve been through something similar as well as professionals. Your network plays a major role in long term fitness and health. If cross training is indicated to build a better foundation, go for it. This is a pay now, or pay dearly later, life moment. Knees and shoulders are missed once they are gone.

Assuming all of the aforementioned have been either ruled out or confirmed and corrective action taken, a great plan for the first solo ride on the bike might be slowly spinning for 5 minutes in front of a mirror to watch alignment, going both forward and backward. Then a wait to see what happens. No news is good news since that means you get to do it again instead of wait even longer for new pain to go away. More is not better. It is just more. The lesson of increments means to work smarter rather than harder.

To keep moving forward is to quit while you are ahead; that means to stop on a good one instead of pushing into fatigue. Hold the belief that smart work will continue the upward trend. Use the rear view in this instance for a quick survey to establish progress and perspective. A relative progress check is a one to two-week previous comparative, and the perspective check is 2-4 months back depending on the nature of the injury. Absent pain, the finding of no progress is a red flag that indicates a consult or program revision is necessary. No more and no less.

Doing just enough is the key. Being willing to discover what just enough means for you as an individual is the tipping point of reclaiming active health.

Recovering from an Injury part #3

bailey_200x200By Guest Writer Diana Bailey

“Appearance is absolute, but reality is not that way.
Everything is interdependent, not absolute.” Dalai Lama
Taking Charge: Self Guided Recovery

 

At a certain point, you may choose to guide your own program. If you look to activities that are familiar, enjoyable, and easy, the results are usually okay. Let pain be your guide. If it still hurts, you really are better off getting some help or at least finding an activity that does not cause pain. When you find one, do parts of it differently so the answer (what you “should” be doing) is not immediately apparent. The change of context reduces reflexive guarding and rebuilds confidence if the challenge is appropriate. An appropriate challenge means there is no pain in the doing and none after!

High pain tolerance is not your friend when it comes to injury because it results in ignoring important warnings or overdoing. Low pain tolerance and micro-focusing on pain is not useful either. Developing an accurate pain scale is worthwhile; that means you know the difference between the discomfort that may be necessary to reclaim motion, and a warning that something is about to get serious. In the beginning, the distance between those two points, and the time to respond, is small. Moving and working slowly provides the space to back off. Enduring and ignoring are not the same as noticing and exploring.
The goal is to accurately interpret the message and respond.

Begin any activity with very short exposures. A marathon runner with over 20 years of experience once told me she begins with about a ten minute run her first time back. That idea seemed wimpy and stupid. The real lesson came from first ignoring her suggestion, and then, after another setback, trying it.

Experience teaches what direction cannot.

In the beginning, it has to feel like nothing! No pain means all gain every time. A “wait and see” attitude pays off big in early trials. The discipline to stick with a plan, and to stop before there is an issue, is far more important than any single workout.

Recovering from an Injury- part 2

bailey_200x200Recovering from an Injury-Part 2
By Diana Bailey

To continue treating the body like a machine ensures installation or removal of a few parts over time. Approaching any injury with the attitude of “let’s get this over with” means it may be over or, at the very least end quite differently than was hoped. There is no magic bullet to put this life event away. Cutting and medicating, no matter how necessary in the moment, address a symptom rather than the abiding issue. This path is understandable because the human tendency is to fix what can be seen and touched rather than what is believed. The results speak for themselves.

Absent direction from a professional, and often even in spite of it, injuries are rarely viewed as a personal reason for more accurate observation and examination of underlying mental habits. Damage to the body is not somehow separate from the decisions that caused it. To ignore, blame, justify, or rationalize this critical aspect of the injury won’t make next time not happen.

Gravity exists whether we believe it or not.
Lack of belief merely guarantees another painful outcome.

It is a curious truth that when people get beat up enough, they become willing to entertain new options. Injury is an indicator that at the very least, a review of mental habits is warranted.

The more you are able to abandon your “self” to the process, the more productively rehabilitation time will be used. Rest assured that if you hug your diagnosis, it will never let go of you first! Ignoring a diagnosis ensures other consequences, because ignoring something does not make it go away. The best use of any qualified opinion is as a place to begin rather than the final answer.

Both physical therapy and post-rehab Pilates essentially conspire to take every day motions out of context in order to restore physical ability. The movement is the same, but the reason for doing it becomes different. So, there is no fixed idea about what “should” happen. Curiosity is the root of recovery. This necessary shift in perspective, provided by varying the context, makes a place for possibilities rather than conclusions. In effect, people see and do what they could not before because their mind was too certain of the result.

Once awareness has expanded and the body learns that it can again move without pain, confidence returns along with more efficient movement. Guarding* disappears. Pain ceases to chip away at peace of mind. If you can’t find a way to move pain free, get help! There are people who can teach you how, and this is worth every penny with respect to quality of life.

Change does not have to be difficult, but it may test some limits. Great teachers can make necessary moments doable and even enjoyable. The essential ingredient is to train awareness over exercises. The moment awareness broadens, capacity shifts. A great teacher won’t ask outright for a change of belief, but you may later discover you have because it made sense to do so.
*Guarding is the body’s automatic reaction to delay or avoid pain. At first, this happens to protect the muscles and joints involved. Guarding is evidenced by restricted movements that partially or totally bypass the use of the painful area. The long term result, if the guarding remains, is an adaptive pattern that eventually causes further dysfunction and pain.

 

 

The Best Laid Plans: The Life-Plan Derailed

The life I’d planned out carefully now seemed unattainable. I couldn’t exercise, dance, act, direct. Some days I couldn’t even drive a car. Forced to be sedentary, depression crept in, combining with constant pain to make even part-time work an endurance contest. I was thankful just to push through a day and even more so to sleep through a night.

The accident threatened to completely derail the reason I’d moved to Denver, a directing internship with the National Theater Conservatory, an acting school at the Denver Center for Performing Arts. I’d planned to build on my undergraduate studies in acting, and directing, to use the internship as a stepping-stone to a graduate directing program. That life-plan brought me to Denver.

Determined to find pain relief and continue to pursue my dream, I tried every traditional approach, including, physical therapy three times a week, and  steroid injections from a physiatrist. I also pursued non-traditional and holistic therapies  chiropractic treatment, weekly massage therapy,  and acupuncture.  I wouldn’t be satisfied with just a magic bullet, I wanted a sense of normalcy.

Because of nerve compression from the neck injury, I had very little feeling in my  left hand and fingers, and frequent tingling and burning.  Often I couldn’t pick up so much as a glass of water  without dropping it. Many glasses and dishes were broken during those first few years of healing.

The medical recommendations were overwhelming. The neurologist: pain medication and a back surgery to relieve constant low back pain. Plus, a rib resection to alleviate nerve compression. TMJ specialists: jaw surgery on my right temporomandibular joint. The physiatrist injected steroids and encouraged continued physical therapy.

It’s almost comical now when I look back at the array of appliances and props. A neck brace to drive and really, just move around, a bite-like retainer for my TMJ, a lower back brace to help with the pain and special pillows and medications to sleep.

Finally, in the fall of 1995, I gave in and decided to take the path of surgery. The first: rib resection in hopes of decreasing neck pain and possibly regain the use of my  left hand and fingers.

Part Two from the article, “An Unexpected Cure: My Journey from Pain to the Transformative Power of Pilates” by Genevieve Nedder.

Forward Equals Backwards Series #3

Diana Bailey Essential Motion Pilates

Forward Equals Backwards and You Own It: Balance and Coordination

By featured Guest Writer Diana Bailey

The Popular Equipment: Easy to Learn and Portable

The number one balance challenge in this studio, based on ease of learning, is the foam roller. The variety and unique core strength challenge this auxiliary piece offers are of the highest caliber. The roller offers work that can be both engaging, and in light of the diverse skills needed, astonishingly difficult to master. It is easy to see why clients love it.

The BOSU lessons are more devious because balance is challenged in all directions at once; Up and down, side to side, front to back, and rotation. It can be used seated, prone, supine, kneeling or standing. It is more difficult to stand on it without shoes, and when it is less inflated. The safety issues are nominal, but this does require a higher degree of core stability than the roller. To get the best training, the directive is to consciously disturb the balance—and if lost, work to recover–rather than attempt to hold stillness.

Comparatively, on a danger scale of 1-10, the roller is a 2, and the BOSU can be up to a 5. For the sake of perspective, aerial dance, climbing, or slack line work can be a 10. The best training for the most people takes place in the 1-5 range: Nominal safety issues with great mental/physical difficulty. The floor is a piece of cake after standing on a foam roller or a BOSU!

The bonus of both pieces is that, after a few simple instructions, they teach self-regulation and correction by speaking directly to the part of the mind that governs motion. Poor alignment choices or missed timing result in a restart with improved chances of success. Unlike a treadmill or stationary bike, these offer no surface for clothing to hang on or cover. They lurk in the corner, always in view, inviting use.

The roller and BOSU are a fun way to learn about and improve the following:

1. Core stability and flexibility
2. Balance and Coordination
3. Arm and Leg freedom
4. Breathing and relaxation in motion
5. Mental focus and stillness
6. Posture—especially head, neck & shoulders
7. Hunching or swayed back
8. Stiff shoulders
9. Deep abdominal strength
10. Spatial reflexes—knowing how to “land on your feet”.

In this region of the US, ice is a major cause of injuries. Clients have commented on the difference even a few sessions of training have made in their responses to a sudden, uncontrolled loss of footing. Skiers notice improved awareness of weight shift and greater control. The compass that keeps us responsive to challenging moments becomes more internal as balance and coordination improve. The applications range from developing the confidence and stability to walk easily down a set of stairs without the need for a hand rail, to improving the layout portion of a back flip in a gymnastic routine.

7 Tips for Stress Relief at the Office

GenOffice stress is hard on our bodies. Deep in a project, we’ll sit with poor posture, have our computers at the wrong height or angle, and generally do not pay attention to our body’s needs. Here are seven of my favorite stress relief remedies for our hectic office lives.

1. Improve Your Seated Posture

Poor posture can add to your fatigue, inhibit breathing, and create chronic pain patterns. I know.  I’ve spent several decades rehabilitating from injuries and can undo a pain free day with a few hours of poor posture or shallow breathing. Old neck injuries from car accidents in my 20’s are getting worse with age and simply maintaining proper head position can make a big difference in my upper and middle back pain. Check your posture while working at your computer or looking down at paper work.

  •  Be careful about leaning forward in your chair.
  •  Lean back into your chair.
  • Use lumbar support whenever possible.
  •  Place your head in alignment often.
  •  Keep your legs at a right angle.
  • Uncross your legs now and always.  Crossing our legs twists the pelvis causing misalignments all the way up the spine.
  • If possible, allow your chin to be level (parallel) to the floor.

2. Release Low Back Tension

  • Sit in your chair with your feet flat on the floor hip or shoulder width apart. Avoid crossing your ankles or knees.
  • Reach 1 knee forward allowing your hip to move forward and then release.  I call this “seated hip-swish.”
  • Reach the opposite knee forward and release and continue this back and forth motion of your hips allowing your knees to scissor, 10 to 15 times.
  • Use a back pillow or any kind of lumbar support while working at the computer.

3. Breathe

Focusing on your breath is a simple and quick way to become centered, calm and increase your energy.

  • Slow your breathing down.
  • Lengthen your exhalation.
  • Learn Balanced breathing techniques  with or without meditation.
  • Practice Pranayama (Yogic breathing techniques).

4. Hydrate   overflowing glass of water

Even the smallest amount of dehydration can cause fatigue. Dehydration can also be a contributing factor to back pain.   I can’t emphasize strongly enough the importance to our overall health and vitality hydration plays. Even one day of dehydration can throw the body into imbalance. Try to drink 8-10  8-ounce glasses of water a day.  At the first sign of back pain, immediately drink a glass or two of water.

5. Stop and Stretch

Stop what you’re doing and stretch for 5-8 minutes. And breathe!  It will relieve tension, and help bring your awareness back to your body.

  • Neck stretches
  • Neck Rolls
  • Shoulder Rolls
  • Arms Stretches with Rotation
  • Triceps Stretch

6. Get Up and Walk!

Even a quick 2 minute walk can change your state and provide stress relief! Set a timer or your  phone, and give yourself a 2-5 minute break at least every hour, preferably every ½ hour.

7. Practice Gratitude

  • Think about something you’re grateful for.
  • Give thanks for family and friends.
  • Make a short gratitude list and look at it when you feel anxious, overwhelmed or stressed.

 

Do you live in pain? Try Traumeel

Traumeel Gel-photo
Do you live in pain? Do you know  you don’t have to?
Traumeel is a natural and homeopathic treatment for muscle aches and pains, bruising, sprians, and joint pain.

The combination of  botanical and mineral ingredients sets Traumeel apart from other pain relievers, and assists the body in its natural healing ability.

Available in topical gel, cream, and tablets to treat your muscle and joint pain. Inquire at the Tucson studio for details!

 

Traumeel Tablets-photo

Ingredients include:

Aconitum napellus (Monkshood)- Reduces pain after injury
Arnica montana radix (Mountain arnica) – reduces bruising
Belladonna (Deadly nightshade) – Reduces pain
Bellis perennis Treats bruises
Calendula officinalis (Marigold) – Stimulates healing process
Chamomilla (Chamomile) – Soothing pain relief
Echinacea angustifolia (Narrow-leafed cone flower) – Immune support
Echinacea purpurea (Purple cone flower) – Stimulates healing process
Hamamelis virginiana (Witch hazel) – Relieves bruised soreness
Hepar sulphuris calcareum (calcium sulfide-made with oyster shells)- Stimulates injury healing
Hypericum perforatum (St. John’s wort) – Relieves pain
Mercurius solubilis (Hahnemann’s soluble mercury)- Reduces joint pain
Millefolium (Milfoil) – Treats minor bleeding
Symphytum officinale Comfrey) – Relieves joint pain

 

 

Simple Solutions for Back Pain – #10 Hamstring Stretches

Hamstring stretch 2nd position Stretch #2 Hamstring Stretch on Back Systems3 Stretch #2- Hamstring Stretch  Back System3

Keeping the hamstrings stretched is an important part of maintaining lumbar flexibility.

Tight hamstrings, gluteal and hip flexor muscles are often key components of back pain. Even if you’re not in pain,  (happy times) it’s important and extremely helpful to maintain hamstring flexibility. Keeping your hamstrings long and released can give you less back discomfort as well as improve your gait.

There are many ways to stretch the hamstrings, but one of my favorites is to use the Back System3 machine . Many gyms have it, and you can find BackSystem3 or a Precor version in most Physical Therapy offices.  So check with a trainer the next time you’re at your gym.  I’ve had one in all of my studios and started using this incredible system several decades ago.

If your back is tight or if you have low back pain, try the first 2 exercises listed in the Back Systems3 machine booklet. My recommendation is to start with Hamstring stretch, which is the 2nd one, then move on to the Low back stretch, which is the first.

 Hamstring Stretch on the BackSystem3

How to:

  • Begin by extending 1 leg over the Rollers and keep your opposite foot in pedal.  (see very old photo of me above):)
  • Follow the instructions for how  long to hold and how man reps., etc. Please be careful, none of these stretches are held very long, especially during the first few repetitions. The top hand/bar position is more challenging, so if you want more of a stretch, place your hands on the top rung.
  • After the parallel leg position you can internally rotate your leg and change the stretch to your outer hamstring muscles.  (no photo shown).  Keep your foot flexed.
  • Follow the same instructions for the first leg position.  (how long to hold, etc.)
  • Or schedule a session with me or one of my instructors at the studio and ask us to take you through a private session using this effective system.
Geneviève headshot

Geneviève

Body Fundamentals Tucson studio clients, you’re welcome to come by during business hours any day and use the Back System machine. Just give us a call and check in before you come by in case we’ve run out for lunch or the machine is being used.:)

If you don’t  stretch your hamstrings on a regular basis, add these hamstring stretches to your home routine for preventative back care, back pain relief and improved alignment.  If you’d like some easy Hamstring stretches to practice at home that don’t involve equipment, just send me a question below or email me: change@bodyfundamentals.com

Use Zeel for Pain Relief

Zeel Ointment-photo

Zeel for pain relief

“Proven Safe and Effective for:”

  • Osteoarthritis
  • Arthritic Pain
  • Joint Stiffness

“Why should I use Zeel?

“Zeel works effectively at reducing mild to moderate pain and stiffness of osteoarthritis. The fact that Zeel works so safely makes it a viable option for the treatment of osteoarthritis.”

“How often can I use Zeel?”

“Typical dosage is 1 tablet 3 times daily or a generous application of ointment 3 times daily.”

About Heel Inc.

I’ve been selling Heel products at the studio as well as taking them myself for over a decade. Our clients swear by them.  Over the weekend I walked a little longer than normal and awakened at 3am Sunday morning with throbbing pain in my upper back.  Although popping a couple of Advil works, if I can receive relief naturally, that’s my first choice.  I took one Zeel and within 10 minutes had significant pain relief.   It’s not promoted as a product to help with sleep, but having less pain does help me sleep better.

I use Traumeel and Zeel on a regular basis and continue to receive quick relief from joint pain, osteoarthritis and muscle stiffness.  They can be used separately or together, and are available in creams, tablets and gels.

Simple solutions for Back Pain -#9 Triceps Stretch

Geneviève headshot  Stretch your Triceps and Shoulders

Protect your shoulder joints while keeping your muscles flexible.
  • If you’re not practicing this stretch already, consider:

-Adding it to your morning routine after your back routine on the floor  (For my private clients using Back Care I book, add this triceps stretch at the end)

-Before Walking or Hiking, and especially before Swimming

– After your Foam Roller Routine

– Before Weight Training for Upper Body.

This triceps and shoulder stretch is a simple way to warm-up arm muscles as well as your shoulder/rotator cuff.

 

iStock_000000509783XSmall

Gently press down on your elbow and hold for 10 to 15 seconds.

Alternate arms. 3X