Sniff Out Some Relaxation

Breath is important and highly undervalued or overlooked. Animals breath through their nose unless they are hunting, being hunted, anxious or sick. If you have a dog then you may have noticed that they tend to pant and breath through their nose when they are anxious. When they are at peace, which is most of the time, they breath through their noses. This is important and I will explain to you why.

Humans, contrary to other animals, primarily breath through their mouths, which tells the brain to prepare for battle or run away. It did not start this way since infants and young children tend to breath through their noses and into their belly. Somehow, along the line people lost that connection between nose breathing and the diaphragm. Just as the length of the breath is important in maintaining a calm nervous system, it is also important HOW we are breathing.

By default, our nervous system is easily excited and tends to be more dominant with sympathetic stimulation also referred to as fight or flight. This means we have to be more diligent in stimulating the parasympathetic side of the nervous system for rest and restoration, which can be done by breathing through the nose. This simple action helps to stimulate our vagus nerve, which releases serotonin thus supporting the rest, restore and digest processes of the body. When breathing through the nose, it also creates a natural anti-inflammatory called nitric acid to lower blood pressure and increase absorption of oxygen by dilating tubes in the lungs.

Breathing through the nose also slows down the breath. When we breath slowly and deeply, it lets our brain know that we are safe. Cortisol levels are kept at lower levels when we feel safe which allows all the systems of the body to operate easily and peacefully. In addition, faster breathing makes our hearts beat faster. A faster heartbeat indicates to the brain that there is danger. Chronic states of fight or flight when at rest with no real threat or danger can be perpetuated by a fast heartbeat and fast breathing.

Stimulating your vagus nerve through nose breathing while engaging your diaphragm with deep belly breathing creates a blend of calming serotonin and dopamine needed for relaxed heart rate. In addition, only nasal breathing connected with belly breathing moves the diaphragm downward when we inhale, literally massaging the gut over 20,000 times a day. Emotions are stored in the gut and proper diaphragm breathing massages the muscles and organs associated with this area, keeping them flexible and open to opportunities in the present moment.

So you may be saying to yourself that all this sounds great but since my nose is always stuffed up then how is this possible? I get it! I have had sinus issues since I was a kid; infections, congestion, allergies, you name it and I had it. Because of this issue I have always sought out remedies. I am going to share with you some of the best I have used. The first is a nasal wash called Xlear. It is a simple wash with xylitol and is all natural. I like Xlear for regular maintenance and cleansing of the tissues inside the nose. You can click on this link and find it directly on amazon.

You may also have chronic inflammation in the tissues that just closes up the passageways and can even cause snoring. I have found that Sinus Plumber works great for this. I have to give a fair warning though… it uses capsaicin and horseradish for this. Sinus Plumber really clears out the sinus and reduces inflammation but it can make your toes curl. The discomfort is temporary and the relief in the sinuses and nasal passages do last for quite some time so I found it to be worth the initial discomfort. You can find the link for amazon here. There is also a capsaicin version of Xlear that is a bit less potent. I have tried the Xlear version and went back to Sinus Buster because it seemed to be more effective. You can find the link for Xlear capsaicin here.

Sometimes you need to just clean the whole sinus area and nasal passages out. There is a system for this. I first learned about this method from going to an ear / nose / throat specialist and he used a machine to rinse out my sinuses and I felt great for weeks afterward. I finally started doing it myself and have found that the Xlear system is the best. You can find a link for amazon here for the sinus wash system from Xlear.

The real game changer came when I discovered Natures Sunshine products and they have a fantastic product for helping promote healthy sinus and nasal passages called Seasonal Allergy (formerly ALJ). Do not be swayed by the name, as it is not just effective for allergy issues. For me personally I have found it reduces inflammation and mucus and makes my nasal and sinus passages feel clear and unobstructed. When I am having more issues around spring and fall I need to take more… up to 4 capsules 3x a day but it is worth it. There is also a product that they have to help reduce histamine production which is effective during allergy season and it is called Histablock. I love both of these products, Seasonal Allergy and Histablock, and use them regularly throughout the year and found I do not need the sinus buster or the sinus wash nearly as often. I still use the Xlear sinus cleansing spray several times a week though because it helps promote the natural cleansing process of your nasal passages.

Now you can sniff out some good relaxation with nose breathing! I personally have found dramatic improvements in my quality of sleep and feeling more rested and restored generally from practicing nose breathing, day and night. I always wake up feeling more rested if I am able to breathe through my nose through the night vs through my mouth. I hope it makes as much of a difference for you!

Blessings!

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Inflammation: Friend or Foe?

Believe it or not inflammation can be a good thing. When you sustain an injury to an area inflammation serves several purposes. FIrst, it increases the temperature of the area, which allows the immune system to work more effectively. The cells of the immune system work most efficiently at a higher temperature and when they have alot of work to do, such as removing damaged cells and tissue and repairing / replacing it with new tissue, the temperature of the area needing repairs is raised. Hence is the feeling of an area being hot and swollen after an injury.

Secondly, the inflammation makes it difficult for the muscles in the area to contract effectively, which serves to protect the area while the immune system is busy at work repairing the tissues. This makes the muscles in the area feel “weak” because they are unable to do their typical job of moving the joint(s) around. It may make it difficult to use the area after an injury but the body is only trying to protect itself.

However, there are times when the inflammatory response seems to get stuck and an area chronically seems weak, painful and sometimes warm to the touch. There are a variety of theories as to why this occurs but nothing has been confirmed as a definite reason for the occurrence of chronic inflammation and pain. Many times, the chronic inflammation can occur in one joint or multiple joints. If it occurs in a single joint then it is easy to apply topical creams and gels to the area for relief. In my search for effective products I have found a few topical products I can share with you. The first one is Peaceful Mountain Joint and Tendon Rescue. This product is all natural and has herbals in it that alleviate inflammation effectively. I like it because it does not have a strong odor and it is a gel base.

Another topical product that I have found to be very helpful for painful joints is produced by a company called Natures Sunshine. I am partial to Natures Sunshine because of their stringent quality controls that they utilize throughout the production process. The topical product that seems to help with pain and inflammation is Everflex. This product has MSM which helps to modulate the inflammatory process and Menthol which helps calm irritated pain nerves. This is also a cream which some prefer on their skin.

Many times, when there is chronic inflammation in one joint it is felt in multiple places and placing topical agents on multiple areas is not convenient. In many cases, people resort to the good old standbys of Ibuprofen or Naproxen (Aleve) to resolve their chronic discomfort. These do work, however, long term use can cause stress to the stomach and liver. Using a natural product as a replacement for these over the counter medications may be helpful or just to help complement them for more effectiveness since you can then take higher dosages of the natural products to help relieve some of the inflammation

Again, I go back to Natures Sunshine for their products since I trust their quality and consistency. When targeting joint problems I recommend Everflex. The MSM helps to modulate the inflammatory response and the Glucosamine, Chondroitin and Hyaluronic acid helps support joint integrity and flexibility. When targeting muscle pain and inflammation I recommend IF relief. Personally, I have more issues with the muscles than the joints and I use IF relief quite consistently. For me, and several of my clients, it helps with that morning stiffness that is commonly caused by inflammation. When the body is static and still for longer periods of time inflammation has more time to settle into the muscles which contributes to the stiffness present in the morning.

I have also found a secondary benefit to IF Relief. It helps significantly with workout soreness, which can last anywhere from 1-3 days and can cause a fair amount of discomfort. It may be a good discomfort because you know your muscles are rebuilding stronger than they were before, however, it is not always a desirable feeling. I used to have to limit the frequency of my workouts because of my workout soreness since it lasted 2-3 days. I have also found IF Relief helps tremendously with the soreness after Dry Needling which mimics workout soreness. Since Dry Needling is one of my most used tools to help resolve people of chronic pain, I recommend IF Relief often.

Another beneficial product in the case of chronic pain and inflammation is Magnesium, which is is a natural muscle relaxer. When the muscles are tight throughout the body then it will place additional stress and strain on already inflamed areas and cause more discomfort and possibly more inflammation. I tend to lean towards the Magnesium 250 mg from Natures Sunshine since it also has white willow in the blend which gives additional help with pain relief. However, both are very effective in resolving muscle tightness throughout the body.

As a quick recap, for topical I recommend both the Peaceful Mountain Joint and Tendon and the Natures Sunshine Everflex cream. If you have multiple areas of challenge and inflammation I recommend taking capsules that affect the entire body including Everflex, IF relief and Magnesium.

If you have any additional questions about your specific concerns regarding chronic pain in your body then reach out to me at lisakeller888@gmail.com and we can set up a complimentary 15 min consult to see what can be done to help resolve your discomfort.

Blessings,

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Fight or Flight – Stop Running Your Body Down

Since 2020 it seems that most people have been on hyperdrive. It is understandable since the world feels quite unstable and we do not know what to expect from day to day, month to month or next year. Our external landscape is very unpredictable from Covid to the economy to work expectations and more.

As a physical therapist I am seeing people with a lot more muscle tension, pain and movement difficulties not related to an injury. Their bodies just start hurting, get tight and they cannot move right. When I evaluate them I find they are tight throughout their body. This constant state of readiness we are experiencing from the instabilities of our current environment is very taxing on the body.

Let me explain to you how the autonomic nervous system works. There are 2 parts – the sympathetic nervous system which is responsible for our fight, flight, freeze response and the parasympathetic nervous system which is the rest, restore, digest part. Our bodies are designed to be primarily in rest and restore mode and lately it is just the opposite for most people.

There are some specific things that happen physiologically when the sympathetic system, our fight, flight, freeze response, is triggered. Think about if you have a tiger in front of you and you may or may not survive the next 10 minutes. There are certain things that your body deems a priority and other things that are shut down or reduced because it is no longer a priority in that moment.

First thing that happens is that blood flow is shunted to the extremities (the arms and the legs) and away from the central part of the body. This is so that you can fight or run away from a threat such as a tiger. This takes blood flow away from the digestive system… which is no longer a priority. If you do to survive the next 10 minutes it does not matter what is in your stomach now. Your immune system is reduced because the importance of some bacteria / viruses / etc in your body no longer matter because again – if you do not survive the next 10 minutes it is a moot point. Another thing that happens that many may not realize is that blood flow is shunted from the frontal lobe of the brain to the reflex part of the brain. The frontal lobe is responsible for problem solving and requires you to take your time to really think things through. Well, you do not have time for that with a tiger in your face. Reactions have to be fast and reflexive.

These responses are all very important and needed in an emergency situation. The problem is that this constant instability in the current state of the world is unsettling for most people and they are finding themselves in a constant fight or flight. Many people do not even know how to get back into true rest and restore mode. This causes a range of problems including difficulty sleeping / light sleeping, digestive issues, easily angered and frustrated and pain throughout the body, especially in problem areas, from the muscles being in a constant state of tension. The nervous system has been so heightened for so long that it thinks fight or flight is the default even if it is destructive to the body in the long run.

So what can you do right now to hack this system? What can you do to stimulate the rest and restore part of your nervous system? I have a quick hack you can use anytime because it involves something you do every second of every day – Breathing. When you inhale it automatically stimulates the sympathetic nervous system and when you exhale it stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. Usually when we breath we keep this fairly balanced but when under stress breathing becomes quite shallow and we are no longer using breath to our advantage.

Consider how you feel after a long day and you give out a big sigh… where the exhale is longer than the inhale. It relaxes your body and mind and allows you to settle down. You can use this consciously to help you and inhale for a count of 3 and exhale for a count of 5. Each exhale will help your body to trigger back into rest and restore mode.

Sometimes breathing is not enough because the stress levels are just too high. In addition, mask wearing can impair the full breathing process and automatically trigger the fight or flight response when worn for longer durations. In cases like these a good supplement may be ideal. Personally, I work with Natures Sunshine products because they are stringent with their quality control. They have their employees go out and survey the farms where the plants are grown and then they do quality control throughout the manufacturing process. they even check the capsules at the end to ensure they are homogenous and consistent.

That being said they have ALOT of supplements to combat stress. I do have my personal favorites. Click this link to see the list of my personal favorites. Let me explain some of the benefits briefly of these supplements that I recommend. The two I use the most frequently are Nerve 8 and Anxiousless. I love the Nerve 8 because I use it (and so does my boyfriend) to get quality sleep. It does not make us feel drowsy in the morning like melatonin and if we awaken in the middle of the night, even as late as 4:30, we can take another capsule or two of the Nerve 8 and fall back asleep in 30 minutes and still wake up at 7 not feeling drowsy or sluggish. Anxiousless does just what the name says; it helps reduce anxiety. Anxiety is common with too much sympathetic stimulation and this supplement does great to take the edge off and calm the mind. Ashwaganda is an adaptogenic herb, which means that it adapts to what your body needs. It helps greatly with promoting a proper stress response and also helps with physical stamina. This is beneficial because fatigue is common with excessive fight or flight responses. Nutricalm is rich in B vitamins which supports the nervous system along with multiple herbs and additional vitamins designed to calm the body and nervous system. The B vitamins also promote some energy production and works in tandem with the Ashwaganda.

Natures Sunshine is also aware of the increased need for stress supplements and they are running a sale on the Anxiousless, Ashwaganda and Nutricalm for the month of October 2021. This is a bundle sale and when you go to the site with any of the links above you can do a search at the top right hand corner of the site for Destress Bundle (includes the anxiousless with 90 capsules rather than the 30) and it will come up in the search at the discounted price of almost $20 off compared to purchasing the bottles separately. This is only good for October 2021; however, they do run sales all the time and they may run another one similar in the future.

Hopefully this gives you some resources to help you with calming yourself down and finding a bit more grounding and centeredness in your body and mind. If you want some extra help feel free to reach out to me at lisakeller888@gmail.com and we can set up a consult. The first 15 minute consult is complimentary.

Blessings,

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Dry Needling

I just finished up with a fantastic dry needling weekend course with master dry needling seminars  which really helped to expand my skill set in dry needling and improve my confidence in targeting some deeper muscles. What is dry needling you ask? Dry needling uses a thin filiform needle to stimulate and myofascial trigger points, muscular and connective tissues for pain relief and improvements in strength and range of motion. A variety of musculoskeletal issues can be addressed including but not limited to low back pain, piriformis syndrome, knee pain, migraines, carpal tunnel, and knee pain. It is NOT acupuncture since the primary focus is trigger points and NOT meridian lines.

As an added bonus to learning great information, I had physical improvements myself. My left hamstring improved by about 30 degrees; however, I failed to take before and after pics. I did take pictures of my hip flexibility before and after and there was significant improvement and it was so much more comfortable sitting in the figure 4 position after the course was finished.

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Are you suffering from chronic pain, tight muscles or restricted motion and would like to see how dry needling could help then reach out to me at lisa@lisamariekeller.com and we can schedule a conversation.

 

Blessings,

Lisa Marie Keller

Posted in Back Pain, Flexibility, Muscle Spasms, Pain and Stress Relief, Piriformis Syndrome, sacroiliac joint | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Back Pain, Health Empowerment, Self Expression, self healing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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,

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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,

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Posted in Back Pain, Flexibility, Magnesium for Muscles, Muscle Spasms, Pain and Stress Relief, sacroiliac joint | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 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,

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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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