Are You Ignoring Yourself?

There is no doubt about it that pain is a very uncomfortable experience. I do not know anyone who seeks out pain… well maybe I do, but that is an entirely different topic of discussion. I am sure you are not one of those people that seek out pain.

In fact, if you have been in chronic pain for a long time I am sure you have gotten good at tuning it out. You have to ignore the pain to be able to get things in your life done right? If you do not then the pain may paralyze you and leave you lost and helpless, unable to contribute and participate in things that are important.

imagesIt is great that you have gotten good at tuning out your pain; however, in the process of tuning out pain how much else are you tuning out as well? What happens many times is that not only are you tuning out the pain but you are tuning out other sensations and feelings in your body as well. This negatively affects your awareness of your own body and maybe it feels like you are a robot going through the motions of life.

There are tricks to get in touch with your body again and I am going to share one with you today. First, lets get an understanding of why this is important. Aside from feeling like a robot going through life, why would you want to start feeling your body again?

One good reason to improve your body awareness is that you have to live with your body every second of every minute of every day. If you cannot listen to your body, then how can you listen to and understand others.

How can you even understand yourself if you shut such an important part of your life out of your awareness? Your body is an important part of your life experience so lets see how you can improve your communication and understanding of this important vehicle in your life.

Lets do a body awareness exercise where you start feeling into your different body parts. Do not worry, you can start with body parts that feel neutral and non-painful such as your ankles, feet, hands and elbows.

The exercise needs to be done in a quiet space where you can focus on yourself. You may want to keep a journal or notes through this exercise so you can reference it later. If you feel comfortable, the exercise can also be done in pairs, with one person taking notes for the other.

feetAllow your body to relax and shut your eyes. Allow yourself to feel your body. Begin with a non-threatening, relatively comfortable body part. Imagine you are that body part and that body part has an experience and a personality. As an example I will start with the feet. Say out loud “I am my feet and I…” ending the statement with a statement of the experience in the feet. For example “I am my feet and I feel heavy and lost. I am tired of the drudgery of life and I do not know where to go next”. Another example is “I am my feet and I feel ignored and uncared for” or “I am tired of carrying all this weight all the time”.

In your journal or your notes write the body part on the left margin and the statement on the right. Continue this throughout the body addressing different body parts including (as you feel comfortable and safe to do) the ankles, calves, knees, thighs, buttocks, hips, genitals, belly, low back, stomach, mid back, chest, breasts, shoulders, arms, neck, face, mouth, lips, eyes, ears, head. Do the same thing for each part; pretending you are these parts. Give each body part a voice and write it down.

Try not to censor whatever comes to you first. However, try and stick with experiential statements rather than those involving judgement. For example. I am the stomach and I need to be big enough to nourish my person” rather than “I am the stomach and I am too fat”. If you cannot seem to avoid the judgement then go ahead and write it down but notice the areas that the judgement is stronger than the experience.

Once you finish, read back over the statements ignoring the body parts in the margin. Allow the statements to run together and see what the statements have to say about you.

Here is an example

  • Feet:          I am achey and tired. I run around a lot.
  • Ankles      I feel bound and stiff like I am shackled to something.
  • Calves       I don’t ever think of myself. I hardly exist.
  • Knees        I feel creaky but I want to run and jump.
  • Thighs      I feel strong and capable.
  • Hips          I feel heavy. It is hard to move.
  • Buttocks   I feel numb. I just want to go away.
  • Genitals    I feel desiccated and forgotten. I want to feel excitement again.
  • Belly          I feel full and overwhelmed. I feel like I am full of butterflies alot.
  • Low back  I feel broken and painful and confused. I just want to stop hurting.
  • Stomach    I do not even know how I feel. I guess I am ok.
  • mid back   I feel stiff and restricted like something is holding me down.
  • chest           I feel full and helpful. I am responsible for taking in life giving air.
  • Breasts       I feel scared. I do not like to be seen.
  • Shoulders  I feel tired. There is so much weight on me it is hard to move.
  • Arms          I feel free but sometimes I get frustrated and want to flail around.
  • Neck           I feel like it is hard to look around. I hold myself back.
  • Face            I feel like tingly and uncertain what I want to show the world.
  • Mouth        I feel like I have to hold back my words alot. It is hard to say what I want.
  • Lips            I feel like smiling because when I smile then others smile back at me.
  • Eyes            I feel like I want to close and rest.
  • Ears            I feel like I can sense everything and keep tabs on my surroundings
  • Head          I feel full and lumpy but I do not know why.

images-2Once you go through the entire body you may see patterns emerging. Your lower body may not have much to say but maybe your upper body wants to say a paragraph per part. Maybe your lower body carries your pain and your upper body feels great and wants to move forward.

Chances are good you had difficulty coming up with any statements at all because you have been tuning your pain and your body out for so long. All of these statements bring you information about your body’s experience in the world and thus YOUR experience in the world.

As you assess these statements, what have you learned about yourself? What areas have you numbed out and what areas have more to say than you are willing to write? What areas do you feel pleased with? How can you utilize these strengths? On a scale from 0-10 how much are you able to acknowledge yourself and your body?

I would like to hear about your experience with this exercise and would be honored if you would share with me how this has helped you. I am offering 20 minutes of my time because I want to learn more about you and I can also give you any insight for the next steps you could take to resolve your pain. Register for a time by clicking here. 

I look forward to hearing from you soon!

Blessings ,

Lisa Marie Keller

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Posted in Back Pain, Health Empowerment, Self Expression, self healing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pain? Is it JUST a Feeling?

There is no doubt about it that having pain is a very emotionally uncomfortable experience. The connection between the emotions and pain is slowly gaining more awareness with people in general; however, there is still alot of mystery around the subject. I am personally trying to get a better grasp on this subject myself because I really feel it affects me deeply.

There are people, such as myself, that have a very strong emotional core. I know I was not taught good strategies as an outlet to these emotions and as a result I tend to “stuff” those emotions. The question is…. where do they get “stuffed”? I am finding that they get stored in different parts of our bodies.

How many times have you gotten bothered by something but it was not appropriate to express your feelings. What do you do with that feeling? Where does it go… It may seem like it just goes away after awhile but in reality you become disconnected with the incident but it gets stored in the body.. somewhere. Over time as you store these feelings in different parts of your body it builds up and you get a physical pain response. There is an actual medical term for a form of this and it is somatization.

So how can you reconnect with these original feelings? This involves really getting in touch with the pain. This may not be a comfortable experience; however, as you focus on the pain you are feeling try to identify if there are any emotions associated with it such as sadness, anxiety, fear, overwhelm. After you are able to identify the feeling try to think back to a time where you felt feeling similar to what you are identifying in the pain location. A weird random memory may come up. Regardless of how unrelated it may seem it is highly likely it is related somehow.

Whatever that scenario may be that comes up you can work on reframing the incident in a new light to create a positive outcome, which is basically like reprogramming your brain. This can be difficult to do, and sometimes the emotions are so overwhelming that just facing them is a daunting task. In these cases, I recommend working with a technique called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT).

meridiansWith EFT gentle tapping is done using chinese meridian lines. It is a very simple technique… deceivingly simple actually; however, exceptionally powerful. The technique can actually even seem silly to do; however, when an emotional incident is addressed it can lower the emotional intensity from a 8/10 to 2/10 in a matter of 15 minutes. In that process, you go from feeling you are fully immersed in the experience (when it is 8/10) to feeling like you are watching the scenario on a TV screen (when it is a 2/10).

When the emotional intensity has resolved then it allows the body area in which the memory was stored to heal. Since you are no longer storing emotional pain in the area the physical pain can then release and the body is more responsive to any physical modalities that may be used such as adjustments, massage, stretching and exercise.

I have explained a very basic way to start using EFT in chapter 6 of my book Free My Back. If you do not already have a copy then click here for a free ebook version of Free My Back so you can get started using EFT for your pain today.

Once you are familiar with the technique and want to take it to the next level then I can help you out. I have been taking people through EFT tapping experiences for over 10 years, and have seen a variety of results including decreased back pain, resolution of chronic and unexplainable nausea, relief of headaches, curbing emotional eating habits and more. The beauty of this technique is that it can be done over the phone or via Skype. Interested in learning more? I would love to do a phone consult with you! Register here for a time slot and we can move forward with a conversation. 

I look forward to playing a role in your success story!

Blessings,

525718452dd5053613d61914

 

Posted in Back Pain, Mindset, Pain and Stress Relief, self healing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Is Your Quadrathingamajig Hurting?

quadratus lumborumYou have pain that is isolating on one side of your back and when you look at the pictures online you see a muscle called the quadratus lumborum. This muscle primarily connects the bottom of your ribcage to your pelvis and it can really get to aching at times if your back is giving you grief.

This muscle is located right in the area of your kidneys so let me address a red flag for you first because sometimes kidney pain can mimic low back pain. If your pain is due to muscle issues or skeletal misalignment there will USUALLY be variations in your pain. Some activities and positions may make it better or worse.

However, if your pain is coming from your kidneys, the pain will be constant and will not fluctuate with any sort of activity. To be clear with you, this is the case for any sort of pain. It is a red flag if the pain is constant and unchanging. Something serious could be going on and it is best you contact your physician right away and get the pain investigated.

Now that you have narrowed the pain down to being muscular or skeletal in origin lets figure out what is going on. If you see where this muscle attaches you can see that it attaches to the pelvis. This muscle can get very fired up if the sacroiliac joint is not aligned and tracking properly. The sacroiliac-what…? The Sacroiliac joint. If you are not Flat_frontfamiliar with what this joint is then you may need to read my book because it is all about resolving sacroiliac joint problems. Click here to get a free ebook version of Free My Back. 

In a quick nutshell, there are 3 bones in the pelvis; two wing bones on either side and a triangle bone in the middle. The wing bones are where you put your hands when you put them on your hips; which is right where the quadratus lumborum muscle attaches. The bottom portion of the triangle bone makes up your tailbone. The joints between these bones can get misaligned and not track properly. I do address how to re-educate the joints so that they track properly in an easy step by step manner within chapter 4 so I will not take the time here to go over it again. If you are interested in learning this unique and easy technique then I encourage you to click here and get your free e-book version of Free My Back now. 

There are a few other things you can do if your pain is isolated to this. First off, this is a muscle and muscle relaxers may help. Magnesium is a great muscle relaxer. I had written an article in the past about the benefits of using magnesium for muscle spasms. Click here to check out that article. 

Next thing, there is a stretch you can do to isolate that area. I did a quick google search just to see what I would find in regards to a good stretch for the quadratus lumborum. I gotta say for most of those stretches you need to be flexible to even do them and if you are flexible then you probably don’t have bad back pain. What good is that going to do for you? I also see too many of the stretches recommending rotation. I would not recommend rotation because that stretches out the sacroiliac joint and could cause you more problems in the long run, even if it feels good in the moment.

sidebend2 smallI created an exercise specifically to stretch this area and I call it the seated sideband stretch. You can find it in my book Free My Back in chapter 5; however, I will briefly cover it here.

You can see in this picture that I am stretching the left side of my back (the quadratus lumborum to be specific). For maximum effectiveness; you need to make sure that BOTH your hips stay planted on the surface you are sitting on and if possible keep the weight distributed as even as possible between your hip bones.

In this picture you see that my right elbow is all the way down to the mat table. If you are unable to lean that far (which is quite likely), then use some books or a sturdy box beneath your elbow for support. It is important that you are feeling a stretch on the opposite side so just make certain you are leaning far enough over to feel the stretch.

Maybe you are a very flexible person, and you are not feeling much of a stretch with this recommended exercise. If you happen to be one of the lucky few with this problem, you can add intensity to this stretch by pulling the ribcage up towards your shoulder. This is done by reaching overhead. In the case of the picture above, I would reach my left arm up overhead until more stretch is felt in the low back area. Take this slowly because it can get intense quickly, and I do not want you hurting yourself.

Now, it takes approximately 15 seconds for a muscle to give into a stretch; therefore, I recommend 30 solid seconds of stretching before letting up and coming into an upright position. Each time the stretch is performed the muscle should be more responsive and feel less tight. I recommend doing 3 in a row for best results.

Now, doing this stretch only may not get you the results you need. It is uncommon for that muscle to get tight without a reason; therefore, I recommend utilizing additional strategies outlined in Free My Back. 

You may also benefit from a one on one consult so I can help you determine what the best strategies wold be for you to start with. I would love to be able to help you and I am offering a free 30 minute consult to get you started in the right direction. Click here to get scheduled for a complimentary 30 minute consultation. 

I look forward to being a part of your success story.

Blessings,

525718452dd5053613d61914

Posted in Back Pain, Flexibility, Magnesium for Muscles, Muscle Spasms, Pain and Stress Relief, sacroiliac joint | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is Sciatica?

Maybe it started with back pain and then your leg started hurting. It can be scary when the pain keeps getting bigger and you do not really understand why. I am going  to shed a bit of light on this subject for you.

I had already touched on the subject of the sacroiliac joint and how it plays a part in low back pain. If you missed that article then click here to check it out. When this joint is skewed it can cause a variety of issues and one of those is irritation of the sciatic nerve. Sometimes it is caused directly from the sacroiliac joint and other times it is indirect because it causes a spasm in the piriformis muscle.

PiriformisYou can see here how the nerve (it is yellow) goes by the piriformis muscle. In some individuals the nerve pierces right through the piriformis muscle. It seems odd that we would be created that way; however, it happens quite often.

When the sacroiliac joint is skewed it typically causes a spasm of the piriformis muscle and in some instances it only causes a pain in the butt.  However, if the nerve pierces right through the muscle then when the muscle spasms it is VERY likely that it will cinch down on that nerve and cause nerve pain going down the leg.

In some instances the muscle and the tissues surrounding the area thicken and adhere to everything in the area which further irritate the nerve. In these cases where the tissues thicken it tends to “entrap” the nerve. There are other sites where the nerve can get entrapped including between the heads of the hamstring muscles and at the top portion of the calf at the tendinous arch of the soleus.

Flat_frontSo what would be the strategy to resolve a sciatica problem. First, I would start at the sacroiliac joint and get it aligned properly so that it is not skewed and causing the spasm in the piriformis. I address this process exactly in my book called Free My Back. I am offering the e-book version for free all you have to do is click here and register. The link for the book will be sent to your email and you can download it. The entire process only takes a few minutes of your time and the e-book will be ready for you to read.

Sometimes, just resolving an off kilter Sacroiliac joint is enough to resolve sciatica pain. In other cases, some additional work needs to be done to resolve the entrapment of the nerves. In these cases I recommend Active Release Techniques. This is a very specific soft tissue approach that is designed to resolve scar tissue problems and there are protocols just for freeing up nerve entrapments. To find a provider near you to to www.activerelease.com and do a provider search using your zip code.

If this seems intimidating then let me help you. I am also available for one on one consults to help you figure out what is the best next step for you.  I am offering a free 30 minute consult to help you out. Click here to schedule. I look forward to being a part of your success story!

Blessings,

Lisa Marie Keller

 

Posted in Back Pain, Muscle Spasms, Pain and Stress Relief, Piriformis Syndrome, sacroiliac joint, self healing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Piriformis Syndrome? Butt Pain, Back Pain – What Causes What?

butt painSo your butt hurts and maybe it is even aching down your leg. It probably hurts to stand and lie down but most likely the worst position is sitting. You may be wondering if it is your butt causing your back to hurt or your back causing your butt to hurt. Honestly, it turns into a vicious cycle. It is hard to tell which one came first the chicken or the egg. I am going to do my best to make some sense of all this pain for you.

It is likely you heard of “Piriformis Syndrome” because if you went to your doctor and told him/her you have pain in your butt then you were probably informed that you have “Piriformis Syndrome”. You may be wondering exactly what that means. There is a very small muscle in your buttocks called the piriformis muscle.

PiriformisIf you look at the picture you can see that the Piriformis muscle is clearly labeled (it is the third name down on the right hand side). The piriformis muscle is the second layer of muscle and the Gluteus Maximus is the first layer of muscle. The second layer contains many small muscles as you can see in the picture and they are all primarily responsible for rotation of the hip joint.

In the case of “Piriformis Syndrome” the piriformis muscle is overly tight or in spasm. Typically this muscle is not going to spasm for no reason and there are a few reasons this could be happening. One obvious reason is maybe you had a fall and landed on your butt and traumatized the piriformis. In this case it is possible that there is scar tissue in the muscle from the trauma which causes it to spasm.

Another reason for the piriformis to spasm could be degeneration in the hip or damage to the hip joint itself. The damage in the joint causes the muscles attaching it to tighten up in attempts to protect the joint. It is unlikely in this case that ONLY the piriformis muscle would react; however, it is possible. I have worked with enough patients that very little surprises me these days.

The most likely reason for the piriformis to be in spasm is because of issues at the sacroiliac joint. If you look closely at the picture you will see that piriformis attaches right at the joint line between the sacrum (the triangle bone) and the ilium (the wing bone).

There is very subtle movement at the sacroiliac joint and I address that in chapter 2 of my book Free My Back. If the motion of the joint is off kilter then it can cause problems including spasms of the piriformis muscle. There is a technique that can be used to get the joint to move correctly again and step by step instructions are in chapter 4 of the same book Free My Back.

If you already have the book Free My Back then take a look at those two chapters and see what you can do for your butt pain. If you do not have the book then you can get free access to the E-Book version by clicking here. 

There is ONE more reason that your piriformis muscle could be acting up on you and I have NOT covered this in the book. You may find this offensive when I tell you; I know I did when it was explained to me. Despite the fact that you may be very physically active and strong from exercise and working out; you may have a muscle that is not working properly.  That muscle is the hip flexor muscle.

Hip-Flexors.jpgAs you can see this muscle attaches to several segments of the spine and can easily be linked to back pain problems. This muscle flexes your hip and brings your knee towards your chest and it also stabilizes your posture and assists with walking. For some reason (I still do not fully understand why) this muscle can get deactivated and not contract properly.

This problem with the hip flexor muscle happened to me, even when I was working out at the gym and able to lift over 200 lbs. I did not have any pain or problem with my hip flexor; however, my piriformis went haywire and hurt like crazy. It turns out, when the hip flexor is deactivated, the piriformis muscle tries to pick up the slack and do a job it was not designed for. Though that is very helpful of the piriformis to try and kick in and help out, it only ends up getting overworked and tightens itself up into a spasm.

Now there is a fairly simple exercise you can do to get the hip flexor muscle to activate. This is similar to the warrior pose in Yoga; however, to explain it would take too many words and likely it would not be understood. In this case, a video is worth a thousand words and I will be honest and say I have not created that video yet. I promise you, it is on my “TO DO” list. I cannot tell you when I will get to creating that video (yes… I tend to procrastinate on videos because well… I just do). However, what I can do right now for you is a 30 minute one on one consult to explain this exercise OR we can do a video chat session, your choice. Register for a time to chat with me by clicking here.

I look forward to being a part of your success story in resolving your chronic pain.

Blessings,

525718452dd5053613d61914

Posted in Back Pain, Health Empowerment, Muscle Spasms, Pain and Stress Relief, Piriformis Syndrome, sacroiliac joint, self healing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Visceral Manipulation for Back Pain?

Ok… I bet the first thing you are wondering is “what is Visceral”. The viscera are the organs of your body such as your kidneys, liver, intestines, and lungs. Visceral manipulation is basically moving those organs around to get them to move properly and reduce stress on what they are attached to.

kidneypainI had talked with several people lately and the first recommendation I had made was for them to look into visceral manipulation. One woman had uterine cancer and one thing led to another and before long she had back pain and sciatica. Another woman has tremendous pain in the mid back area that has not responded to any form of treatment from decompression to massage and numerous forms of exercise and physical therapy.

I know it seems crazy that your liver can be causing pain in your back… but allow me explain this relationship. All your organs move slightly in a very rhythmic way. They move in response to the pressure changes from breathing. All of these organs are secured in place with fascial lines that typically adhere to the backside of the body or the ribcage. If there are restrictions in these fascial lines, then it causes tension that will be distributed at the connecting points, which will cause pain.

kidneyThe location of the organs can significantly affect the location of the pain The kidneys rest on the small of the back and affect the muscles of the low back, specifically the quadratus lumborum and also affects movement at the sacroiliac joint, which can lead to sciatica. The liver rests higher on the right side of the body up in the ribcage and can lead to one sided pain that can radiate up into the mid back area. It can also affect the muscles on the right side of the low back.

There are many other organs that can lead to pain in your back. If you are curious if visceral manipulation would be effective for you but not sure, then let me help you figure it out. I am available for a free 30 min consult. Click here and schedule. I would love to be a part of your success story in solving your pain problems. 

Blessings,

Lisa Marie Keller

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Are my calves making my back hurt?

Are you on your feet a lot? The more you are on your feet does it seem like your back pain gets more aggravated. Well, your calves are likely not the cause of your back pain; however, they could be aggravating it.

Seemingly, everyone has tight calves. You may be wondering what that has to do with back pain. Well, a lot actually. Let me explain. When your calves are tight it pushes your balancing point, also called your center of gravity, backward some.

When you balance point is pushed toward the backside of your body, it causes your hips to flex and that causes your back muscles to work harder. You do not want your back muscles to work harder, right? Especially when they are hurting like crazy. You want them to relax because the spasms and stiffness is ridiculously uncomfortable.

Your walking is also affected by tight calves. As you walk the foot that is bearing your weight has to flex, which stretches out your calf muscles. If the calves are tight, then you cannot take a full stride. This causes various muscles around your pelvis and spine to work harder to compensate. Once again, you do not need these muscles to be working harder when they are already giving you pain.

If your calves are tight how do you fix it? There are two muscles in the calf – the gastroc and the soleus. Both of them need to be stretched; however, the approach to stretching each of them is similar, but different.

The gastroc is stretched with the knee straight and the soleus is stretched with the knee bent. There are several approaches to stretching these muscles; however, I prefer to use stairs because the effect of the body weight on the stretch seems to make it more effective. Here is an image for the gastroc muscle for stretching:

gastrocnemius-stretch-stairsMake certain you hold the stretch for a minimum of 30 sec because it takes approximately 15 sec for a muscle to give into a stretch; therefore, that gives you a solid 15 sec of stretch. Do 3 repetitions of each stretch. Keep in mind that the elastic component in muscles is very similar to that of a rubber band. The longer you hold the muscle stretched out, the more likely it is going to maintain that new position.

Do not bounce on this to get more stretch! You will only tear individual muscle fibers and that will cause scar tissue to form as it heals. Scar tissue is much less elastic than muscle tissue so that will lead to less flexibility in the future.

Many individuals like to do both calves at the same time; however, I prefer to do one at a time. Yes, it does take more time; however, all of your body weight is going through one leg primarily as you are stretching so you will get more of a stretch. If you are doing both at the same time only half of your body weight is pushing through each of your legs, so it may not be as effective since you have less weight pushing through each muscle.

The soleus muscle can also be stretched on a step; however, the trick is to keep the knee bent during the stretch. Here is an image:

soleus stretch This stretch can be more difficult to do with the knee bent; however, do it a few times and it will get easier. You should notice that the stretch with the soleus is felt closer to the heel cord, whereas the gastroc is typically felt in the upper muscle belly. As with the Gastroc stretch hold the stretch for 30 sec and do 3 in a row.

 

In some instances, stretching of the calves never seem to make the loosen up. In these cases, extra help may be required to improve in flexibility. Techniques to release the soft tissues such as myofascial release and Active Release Techniques (ART) can do wonders in these cases.

As an added bonus, Active Release can release a specific spot at the top of the calf called the tendinous arch of the soleus. The tibial nerve can get entrapped here which can cause tension in the entire nerve complex of the leg which can aggravate any instances of sciatica and will also negatively affect balance. I personally have had issues with a nerve entrapment here, and it feels like the ankle and foot just cannot adjust to uneven surfaces and I was constantly losing my balance. I can only imagine how these frequent losses of balance would feel with back pain… OUCH!

Active Release is a highly specialized approach to releasing overuse injuries. You can find a provider local to you at http://www.activerelease.com. If you are local to me in Wadsworth Ohio then I can help you out since I have been doing ART since 2001.

I am available for a free phone consult if you are uncertain what to do for your pain. I will help you figure out what to do first to get the best results. Click here to schedule a consultation with me. I would love to be a part of your success story in relieving your back and leg pain. 

Blessings,

Lisa Marie Keller

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