Archive for the ‘Self Help’ Category

From Knee Pain to Bees Knees

With no apparent reason, my left knee started hurting when I walk. Very noticeably and enough to cause distress. So the self diagnosis alarm went off. What’s wrong? Is it serious? What action do I take?

So this is a little journey to get from knee pain to bees knees. What is the meaning of bees knees? It means really good, or cool. When bees go from flower to flower, nectar sticks to their legs so the knees of the bee are where all the sweet, good stuff is collected. Sounds much better than knee pain. So here’s my process.

  • First, reduce inflammation. That means taking antioxidants and anti-inflammatory herbs. Vitamin C is always great as a basic thing to take.
  • Second, posture check. Slouching or anything I’ve been doing differently? Posture watch throughout the day to improve posture. Maybe a few situps to tighten ab muscles which help hold the shoulders and neck in place. And time to be sure use those arch supports in my shoes to help the situation. I use the Good Feet Store arch supports and they make a huge difference.
  • Third, stretch and strengthen. I used a yoga class to determine if this is postural or an injury. The day after the class, it felt better, so the stretching helped, meaning some muscles are tight and pulling the knee out of wack. If it felt worse, then I would have most likely inadvertently injured my knee and I would not continue to exercise until the inflammation is down.
  • Fourth, reduce stress. I’m not running all over town or doing anything to aggravate the area, and I take some time to sit quietly and slow down.
  • Fifth, improve sleep. Getting my 8 hours. This is when the body heals.
  • Sixth, get help. I scheduled a visit to my favorite chiropractor to target the problem. Since I have determined that this appears to be structural and the other steps did not made it disappear, those steps now provide a foundation for a visit to the chiro that will hold the adjustment.
  • Seventh, self help. Drinking lots of fluids following the chiropractic visit. Staying on top of it until it goes away.
  • In my case, I needed to improve my posture, and the stretch and strengthen step was the most important. Don’t underestimate the importance of doing some exercises that specifically strengthen the muscles that hold the knee in place. Besides yoga, you can do exercises like these to help get things back in place.

    Knees are so important to mobility. If you have chronic knee pain, start with you spine and your feet to see if some adjustments will help. Then add some basic exercises to balance and strengthen the muscles as above. Don’t dismiss the big difference these things can make. If you reach a point that you think surgery is necessary, but sure to learn about single incision knee surgery. The more precise and less invasive, the faster the healing and better prognosis for results.

    Here’s to bees knees!

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    Meditation for Body and Soul: Slowing Down the Mind

    This has been a tough year, demanding more of me than I am sometimes able to give. Even with all the tricks in my bag, I can find myself discouraged and get exhausted. A few weeks ago I had the chance to go sit with a yogi coming through town, to meditate and revive the spirit. What a difference it made for my body!

    Meditation has a magical way of bringing things back into balance. It becomes clear how we get caught up in mental patterns that cause us pain and suffering, both physical and mental. Plus we don’t sleep well for worrying, and we don’t take care of ourselves when we are out of balance. Meditation seems to put things back into balance.

    What does meditation do? Simply, it slows down the raging mind that never has a moments rest. When the mind slows down, the body slows, and we can again breathe and rest. Slowing the body slows the mind, and slowing the mind slows the body. Basically, we need to slow down, Bessy.

    How To Meditate
    I have been a meditator for many years. Meditation is simple. The hard part is making time to sit still, and staying there long enough to allow the mind to slow down. Just sit or lie down with a straight spine, close the eyes, and breathe in and out. Notice the breath go in and out. Just follow the breath and allow your thoughts to come and go.

    Your mind may go berserk with all the things you should be doing, so just say thank you, and let it go. The mind is trying to take care of you but is in an overworked state so it doesn’t function well. So be grateful your mind wants to help you, but let it wait. Stay put for at least 10 minutes if possible, but 20 minutes is better, and work up to an hour. Any amount of time meditating helps, really. In studies they have shown that 5 minutes in alpha state can equate to 8 hours of sleep. But it may take a little while to get to the alpha (slower brain wave) state.

    Here are more detailed instructions, and a link discussing meditation difficulties.
    Breathing Instructions
    Difficulty Meditating

    Like exercise, mediation works wonders. As the wise men and women say, just do it!

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    Weekend Warrior – Oh, My Aching Back!

    A neighbor was having a garage sale and I decided to tag along. Time to clean out the closets and garage! I started at 7 pm Friday for a sale starting 9 am Saturday. Yes, you guessed it, lots of lifting and moving into the wee hours of the night. Not good for the old back.

    When the alarm rang Saturday morning, I could hardly move. My lower back was in pain. My legs and arms were sore. But I had to get up, after all that work to get ready!

    Once the sale was over at 1 pm, I counted my riches and contemplated what to do to ease my back pain. Should I go straight to bed, or keep moving? I had taken some herbs and an aspirin before sleeping, which I know helped keep the inflammation down, but I was limping and moving slow. My right side was getting tighter and my lower back was really aching.

    I decided to go to my 2 pm yoga class at the health club to try to stretch out the muscles that were tight. It worked perfectly. About half way through the class, doing the triangle pose, my lower back  cracked naturally as something went back into alignment. All the stretching helped to release the tightened muscles and bring balance back to my spine. I felt so much better.

    I showered, went to the store, then went home and took a nice nap. I was still so sore I had to cancel a Sunday massage, but my back was no longer in pain. By Tuesday I was ready for the next stupid weekend warrior trick!

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    My Neck and Shoulders Hurt!

    This month I am really focused on my neck and shoulders. This is where I / we carry so much tension! Besides the on-going desk posture syndrome, I started this venture into neck and shoulder pain because my eyes were unusually tired and hurting. Guess what! Neck and shoulder tension really affects the eyes! Not to mention posture and the entire back.

    There are many good reasons we have tight neck and shoulder muscles. And there are many things to do that will help.

    One big reason that our neck carries so much tension is just the weight of our head! Our little necks are literally balancing a 10-15 pound ball all day long! So to speak. If posture is good, it rests comfortably without much effort. But if the spine pulls the head to the side or pushes it forward, then the fairly small muscles of the neck are strained and spasm until they are unable to relax.

    The second reason for neck tension is a shoulder muscle or pinched nerve that pulls the head off center.  But this is the chicken and the egg, because the shoulder muscle typically tightens up attempting to hold the head in place. Yes, it is all connected.

    We tend to raise our chin and lower our shoulders in a forward slump. Anything you can do to reverse this forward slump is good. One of my favorites is to lay down over a rolled up towel placed crosswise under the shoulder blades. You will feel this pull your shoulders backward and your chin down.

    Sitting for long periods of time in a bad posture almost guarantees neck and shoulder problems. The main solution to reverse the strain is movement, all throughout the day, to keep the muscles from tightening and locking up. If looking down, look up. If sitting, get up. If standing, sit down. Roll the neck around, look side to side, look up, look down. Stretch the arms overhead.

    Check out some easy but effective things to do to relieve neck and shoulder pain below.

    Warm-Up Poses - Neck Exercises Neck Exercises
    Warm-Up Poses - Shoulder Lifts Shoulder Lifts
    Warm-Up Poses - Eye Training Eye Training

    The video below shows an exercise that only takes a few minutes and this movement will help neck, shoulders, and eyes!

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    Oh My Aging Back!

    Well, I had another birthday this week. That how it goes, they just keep coming along. But there is good news, despite my age and my back conditions, I have a very active life!

    The truth is that I have less trouble with back pain these days than I did 30 years ago when I was so young! For years after the first car wreck, I had constant back pain, and it seemed like back pain would be a permanent condition. But alas, that is not the case.

    Even 5 years ago, I would go down with extreme back pain for weeks at a time, sometimes for months. My back would go out of socket, making it difficult to sleep, and requiring constant chiropractic care.

    But the last few years, I’ll get a twinge of back pain, jump into action, using the steps on the main pain-in-my-back.com website, and I’m good to go in a day or two. Sometimes the pain subsides in hours. So the difference as I’ve gotten older is that I made a commitment to take care of my back. I schedule my yoga classes like a meeting, and even give up dinner dates sometimes. It is my physical therapy. Plus, there are things I gotta do on a regular basis. Little things that make a BIG difference.  Here’s what I gotta do:

    • Keep the inflammation down with diet and herbs.
    • Watch my posture standing and sitting.
    • Stretch the muscles to keep things in balance.
    • Strengthen the muscles to stay balanced.
    • Reduce stress in lots of little ways., and do things that make me happy.
    • Get good quality sleep, and enough sleep to be refreshed.
    • Get help when needed from a chiropractor or massage therapist.
    • Keep my self-care commitment.

    See, simple. Over time the injuries can get worse, or can get better. Slow steady progress has reaped great reward for my previously aching back. Happy Birthday, you sweet young thing!

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