It seems that every day someone will make the comment, “Life sure flies by fast!” I am sure many of you have heard that throughout your life. I don’y think time has sped up in any way, but we get so caught in what we are doing that we set aside those important visits, or even moments, to spend with the people we love.
Today, my friend Ann passed away after a long battle with cancer. As I age I am reminded each year how important it is to spend time with loved ones by witnessing my friends dying one by one. Yet, with these huge reminders, I think about the people I love and soon get back to life the way it was. Are the things I do more important than family or friends. The short answer is no, but we look at our lives, is that true?
No one is ever promised an extra day on this earth, so what are we waiting for that will allow us to relax and enjoy our friends and family? Is there something that will happen that will signal us that it is Ok to waste time with the people we care about the most? If we earn all this money we have envisioned in our lives, we it be worth it if there is no one around to enjoy it with? When is enough, enough?
I just had a client come in to see me complaining of low back pain. She had been to doctors who had sent her to physical therapy. After several weeks of therapy, her back improved a little but still nagging her every time she did anything. She went back to her doctor to complain, he politely said to her, it is probably your age. This woman is less than fifty years old, how could it be her age? Most people would agree with the doctor since all of our peers tell us that after 40 it is downhill from there. With so many people living to well in their 80’s, that means that more than half your life is living in pain.
According to the National Center for Complimentary and Integrative Health, more people suffer with pain each year then diabetes, heart disease, and cancer combined. Opiods have been the answer for a while and we are learning that is not working. Braces, injections, and surgeries don’t seem to be slowing the pain down. The question is what do we do now? When the lifespan was only 65-70 years old, we could survive till death, but today we are living much longer and it is becoming impossible to survive that long.
The best answer I have seen is learning how the brain works with our muscles and how to stretch our bodies correctly. What we see in the gyms and on TV is not stretching correctly. It is disappointing to see all these highly educated people stretching people incorrectly. We need to teach them better. Learning to stretch correctly stopped my own back pain 16 years ago and I see it helping people everyday regardless of their ages. What age has to do with your aches and pains is to tell you how long it took you to get to the pain. Everybody at 50 does not have the same pain in the same place. Your pain has more to do with your lifestyle. Things like the way you walk, stand, and sit play a huge role in the amount of pain you suffer. I will talk in future posts more specifically about gait and posture so stay tuned for that. Be sure to ask questions or make comments on any of my posts as I am open to questions and comments.
Many of my clients are golfers and I usually hear how their low back pain affects their golf game. I used to play golf and I remember from my golf lessons that when you are swinging the club, you want to keep your back straight and rotate using your legs to bring the clubhead around your body. Watch a pro golfer when they swing. The club head is usually around their back to the other side of their body. This gives them more range to increase clubhead speed as it approaches the ball. When we see an amateur golfer we see the clubhead go to about the middle of their back which limits the range of building the clubhead speed. We know they are older and not as flexible, but can they improve their flexibility?
As I watch golfers swing a club, I see that their inner and outer thighs along with their inner and outer calves is what allows them to have the maximum amount of clubhead range. When I see golfers workout and stretch, I rarely see any golfer work on these two areas of their body. On the local courses, I see golfers forcing their backs to do the work. The inner thighs and outer thigh control the pelvis and when they are short, the pelvis is tilted forward which cause the low back to tighten. The calves are what allows your weight to shift on your feet. Without this flexibility, the chances of damaging your knees are pretty high. There is a way to help you improve your flexibility for golf. I have started putting videos on my YouTube channel at, The Muscle Repair Shop, to help you. Currently, the calf stretches are there and if you follow the video, you can reduce your risk of knee injuries. We will soon have the thigh and inner thigh stretches uploaded. You can visit my website at www.musclerepairshop.com and contact me for additional videos to help your golf game.
I love when my golfing clients tell me they have reduced their scores by 4-5 strokes. The stretching will help you with distance and control. More importantly, you can play without pain.
Recently I graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Aging Sciences. I went back to school as an older student to improve my knowledge of the Aging process we all face. Aging Sciences has taken the place of Gerontology because Gerontology covered the aging process from 55 years old to death. Aging Sciences covers aging from birth to death. The most important thing I learned was that we are not prepared for what we will face as we age. Being my fifties, I have some time to improve, but for younger people, they can actually prevent themselves from many of the ailments that older people face today.
Our health care system is a symptom-based system which means it focuses mainly on solving the ache or pain with little regard towards the cause. When older people suffer from arthritis, back pain, or joint pain, we can offer drugs, braces, or surgery as a means to stop the pain. What we should be looking at are their diet and lifestyle. Unfortunately, even the doctors will say, ” at your age, what do you expect?” You should expect everything to work, however, you must be taught how to prevent these things from happening and most health care workers are not trained to teach you.
We know that inflammation can lead to heart disease, but did you know it can lead to arthritis, joint stiffness, and even back stiffness. Too many people are consuming processed foods, mainly carbohydrates, that convert into to simple sugars. These simple sugars can create inflammation throughout your body. Secondly, carbohydrates are the main portion of your diet can cause your body to burn sugars instead of fat which can lead to obesity. Just by simply reducing the number of bread, pasta, and eliminating most of the processed foods like pastries and doughnuts, you can reduce the harmful effects. Eating more vegetables like lettuce, kale, greens of different kinds will help to reduce the need to burn glucose(sugar). Remember to take baby steps to build a habit. Bad eating is a habit just like good eating. Never go cold turkey and deprive yourself as this is a recipe to fail. In 1996, I weighed 315 lbs. Over the next 18 months, I lost 105 lbs. without ever going on a diet. All I did was to learn new habits. It is not easy, but you can do it!
Lifestyle changes like taking brisk walks every day, choosing the stairs versus the elevator, and learning to relax are keys to reducing stress which can cause inflammation in the body as well. Meditation is a great way to reduce stress and bring your life back into calm. This can make you more productive and efficient. Little changes daily to your lifestyle will build a lifetime of good habits without too much pain. Part of my losing the 105 lbs., was beginning to walk around my 1 bedroom apartment because I did not have the energy to walk around my building. That is where I started.
These are small changes you can do every day. The younger you start, the more positive results you will have. In fact, many of the ailments older people suffer from today would simply be eliminated with these changes. This blog will continue to break down the choices you have so you can easily transition your life into a more healthy and fulfilling life. Please leave any comment you may have or suggestions as we will delve into aging from birth to death and how to prepare yourself for the aging process no matter where you are starting from.
For many people, the type of massage they receive is irrelevant because they are usually so tired, the client is basically paying to sleep on the massage table for an hour. Due to living a hectic and stressful life, anytime we can lay down and have someone rub our body, especially our back or feet, our body will relax and we will more than likely fall asleep. Remember how your mom used to do that and it felt so good! Many people believe that this is a great massage. In reality, how would know if the therapist was great at massage because you were not there consciously to feel what they were doing. If the therapist has to wake you up when you turnover and you go back to sleep, then the therapist could have just stood there and rubbed your body, regardless of any technique they ay have mastered. This is a flaw in our thought process about determining a great massage from a simple rub down. There are 226 different types of massage and every massage therapist is a little different. Every therapist has a different educational background therefore their style can vary. Massage is about trust which means, you need to talk to them. I am not talking about a lengthy conversation, but talk about the technique and how it can help you. The therapist needs to know what medications you are taking, what treatments you are currently having, and how you feel overall. These questions are important because the therapist will be moving fluids and affecting tissues which can negatively affect your health.
Massage therapy requires communication between the therapist and the client. As the therapist is finding areas of your body that are tight or sore, they can coach you to breathe and release using your brain to let go. Muscles are just as emotional as they are physical. Physically, your muscles can feel tight and sore, however emotionally they can feel atttacked if the pressure is too much. If the therapist can communicate with the client when to breathe, then as a team you can release your muscles, blood will flow better, and your body will feel more at ease. When a client goes to sleep, the brain has been turned off, so even if the therapist pushes really hard, all your body will remember is soreness after you wake up. The next time someone touches you, your body may flinch, feel pain, or you may feel a tickle. This is because your body doesn’t remember why, but it knows something is not correct and it reacts.
What of level of undress should you do? That should be up to you based on how comfortable you feel at that level of undress. I have done massages with clients that are totally nude to totally dressed. It doesn’t matter, as long as the client feels comfortable. Sometimes, the client may be allergic to the oils or just doens’t want to be oily when going back to work, then doing a massage fully dressed,or lightly dressed, can be done.
I have found that with certain clients suffering with fibromyalgia or polymyalgia, combining massage with light stretching works best. In this situation,it is best to have the client fully clothed with clothes they can move around in. This reduces the soreness brought by the disease and allows better freedom of movement.
Bottomline is get to know your therapist and feel comfortable in their surroundings. Few people are allowed to get that close to you and you should make sure of your trust of the therapist and the surroundings. Ask for their credentials and understand what they will be doing to you. Research the technique to better understand if that particular technique will actually help you. A good therapist will recommend another therapist that does a different modality that could help you.