How Your Mobile Technology Can be a Pain in the Neck

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Jun 242018
 

We are all guilty of curling up in our bed, or on our couch, with our laptops, tablets or smart phones to answer a few emails, do a quick search or log into our social media accounts. Then before we know it, a couple of hours have passed by and we are still hovering over our screens. Inevitably we have been sitting or curled up with rounded-shoulders in that classic head forward position. When we go to move, our neck and shoulders feel stiff or painful.shoulder pain

The weight of our head and rounded shoulders puts pressure on the nerves traveling from the neck across the front of the shoulders. Its easy to for nerves to get pinched in this position and we then feel pain shooting from our neck into the shoulder and down the arm.

This happens to us because of the head and body positions we fall into viewing our portable media devices in bed or on the couch. Our head is like a bowling ball, weighing about 10-12 pounds. For every inch it is tiled forward, we add 10 pounds to that head weight.

skeletalThis can easily can put up to 40 pounds of extra pressure on our cervical spine, nerves and shoulders.
This extra weight of the head strains the muscles in the back of the neck. It also causes the muscles in the front part of the chest (the pecs) to become tight, pulling the shoulders even further into a forward rounded position.

All this leads to pain, numbness, muscles spasms and even headaches. The sad thing is that we’ve done this to ourselves.neck pain

Good body and head positioning is key to making sure technology doesn’t age us before our time, or give us a life of chronic pain. This video suggests one position of support and comfort at home you can use with your laptop or tablets that won’t result in pain.

The platform suggested here can be used in a position lying down, or reclining. Each of which supports the weight of your head while viewing. You can find this platform very inexpensively on-line, or at IKEA for just $3.99. A small price to pay to keep you pain-free. View this video here.

Get a Better Brain For The Holidays

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Apr 202018
 

The holidays can add stress in many ways. That stress leads to fatigue and in turn to a feeling of brain fog. You might experience difficulty concentrating or even frequent headaches. These symptoms can be the result of

Dehydration
Decreased Blood Circulation
Shallow Breathing

Dehydration: Water makes up about 70-80% of the human brain and helps create neurotransmitters and hormones. Water provides the electrical energy you need for brain functions like memory and thought processing. Dehydration causes the brain to slow down and can add to feelings of depression, anger and disruptions in sleep. Dehydration has also been linked to dementia, Alzheimers and exacerbates the symptoms of Parkinsons. Studies show that if you are only 1% dehydrated, you can experience a 5% decline in cognitive function. If you can drink “half your body weight in ounces” each day you can keep a healthy and active brain. And if you can begin your morning by drinking at least drink 10-12 ounces when you wake up in the mornings, you can start your day with a super-charged brain.

Circulation: How often do we find yourself sitting for hours behind a computer, in a car or at a desk? This means your body is not moving. Neuroscience research has shown that 90% of your brains nutrition comes frobetter-brain-functionm spinal movement. So movement literally feeds your brain. Setting your phone to remind you to get out of your chair and move around frequently throughout your day could give you that creative brain spark you are missing.

Shallow breathing: When we are stressed or intently concentrating on something, we unconsciously begin to breathe at a shallow rate. This means we are not filling up our entire lung capacity. We are not taking in the full oxygen we need, and not expelling the carbon dioxide we do not need. Less oxygen exchange means fatigue for both our brain and our body. Your brain becomes foggy and struggles to stay focused; your body feels like it wants to take a nap.

One effective way to brain fog and physical fatigue is the use of “Balloon Therapy”. This promotes deep abdominal breathing for full oxygen exchange and releases endorphins, our body’s natural painkillers and emotional elevators. Its an excellent way to rejuvenate yourself throughout the day.

Using “Balloon Therapy” correctly can:

• Stabilize or lower blood pressure.
• Decrease depression and anxiety
• Improve mental concentration
• Improve mental productivity and learning
• Improve decision making
• Increase Metabolism

Finally, “Balloon Therapy” can improve your metabolism and fight weight gain and obesity. So between drinking more water, moving your body more frequently and practicing balloon therapy, you can have a super-charged brain full of energy and creativity.

Click the link for to watch PT4U’s video called “2 Minutes 2 Better Brain Function” and get your brain and body jump-started out of that brain fog.

VIDEO: Breathing and Weight Loss

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Dec 262017
 

Life can be stressful. When it is, we respond by becoming ‘shallow breathers’

taking short shallow breaths without filling up the entire lung and chest cavity. We

breathe using just a portion of our full lung capacity. We do this unconsciously in

response to stress or even intense concentration. Unfortunately, as a result we

reduce our vital lung capacity and the amount of oxygen that is available to our

system, including our brain. This can cause headaches, impaired alertness and

fatigue. When the brain does not receive enough oxygen, all basic functions are

affected including concentration and memory.

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Don’t Let Back Pain Stop You From Your Next Passage

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Oct 152017
 

New entrepreneurs seem to get better with age. In fact, founders of startup companies by people over 50 is more than double those 25 years old, according to a survey by the Kauffman Foundation. But with that trend comes many long hours behind a desk looking at a computer or down at a cell phone.

It’s easy to get caught up in the drive to create your own business and forget to put the same attention to your body. The consequences of these long hours of sitting take its toll not only on your body, but your brain as well.

tami-peavy-article-photo-angels-touch-inc-key-movements-for-the-office-website

Brain stimulated by movement

Neuroscience research has shown that 90% of your brain’s stimulation and nutrition comes from spinal movement. That is why after hours of sitting in your office chair, you begin to feel tired and the ”brain fog” sets in. It becomes difficult to concentrate and your eyelids feel heavy. Your brain needs the circulation that comes from moving your body. That movement feeds your brain’s creativity.

Computer aches and pains

Long hours in front of the computer cause aches and pains in the back and promote poor posture. Prolonged sitting creates weakness in the key muscles that are needed to keep a strong back and a healthy posture.

Most everyone will experience back pain at least once during their lives. But for many people, it is not just once, but multiple times over a lifetime.

Physical therapy can help

Back pain is the most common reason people go to physical therapy. While there are many remedies that claim to cure back pain, few are permanent solutions. This is because most advertised remedies are passive solutions like a shot, a pill or back brace; rather than an active treatment that corrects the problem long-term.

Taking an active role in finding relief from back pain and preventing it from returning, means strengthening the most important muscle in your body for balance and alignment: your gluteus maximus (also known as glutes).

The glutes are the largest muscles in your body. They connect the top of your body to the lower part and hold it in an upright position. When your back begins to hurt, it is a signal telling you that you have weakness in your glutes. Your lower back muscles are straining to do the job of your glutes, hold you upright and strong. Your glutes create overall muscle balance in your body to give your body support and proper alignment.

Believe it or not, your glutes will determine how well you will age. It is the muscle that holds the key to your balance, your posture and freedom from back pain and sciatica.

Traditional therapy and personal training is based on the idea that doing squats is the best way to strengthen your glutes, but that exercise is really so wrong for anyone over the age of 30 because it puts strain on the lower back and knees and actually weakens the glutes long-term.

The exercises that worked for us when we were in our 30s can turn out to be detrimental to our bodies after age 45. The most effective, long lasting therapy for better backs is to learn movement patterns that you use throughout the day. Gravity is doing its job of pulling us forward and we must counteract that force with strong muscles and posture with specific movement patterns.

In the meantime, use these three important tips to create a better desk and office environment and fight that gravitational pull into a painful posture:

Position your computer display correctly

Elevate your computer display so that the bottom of the screen is level with your chin when you hold your head up in a neutral position. Use risers, or books or anything you can find to bring your viewing angle up.

Therapy ball

Consider using a therapy ball at your desk instead of a chair at least 50% of the time. This creates a mobile sitting platform that makes you use your postural muscles. It also means more spinal movement to stimulate that much needed circulation to your brain.

Stand up and stretch

Set an alarm that reminds you to stand up and reach your arms behind your back. Clasping your hands together behind your back will stretch out your tight pectorals or chest muscles that are pulling your shoulders forward.

 

Your back craves movement to feed your body and brain. It’s one craving you can give into without any guilt!

Your Aching Knees

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Jun 302017
 

At some time in your life you may have experienced knee pain. Maybe you played high impact sports in your life? Or you are a weekend warrior? Maybe you have had a knee injury or surgery? Or do you just feel stiffness in your knees when you wake up in the morning? Knee pain can change your life by limiting the activities you participate in on a daily basis. Pain in the knees can also lead to putting on excess weight by keeping you less active.

You may have been taught knee exercises over the years in training, sports or therapy. Or you might have looked up ‘knee exercises’ on YouTube and found a host of exercises by various credentialed and non-credentialed experts. But in my opinion, there is always something missing in all those knee exercises which is critical to not only relief from knee pain, but in keeping your knees strong for life.

In my practice, the patients that have the most success in being freed from knee pain and returning to their activities of daily living are those that strengthen not only their quads, but follow my program to strengthen their glutes as well. You might ask, “why the glutes? Is it because they are connected to the hamstrings?”. My answer would be no.

The glutes have a major function, which is to keep your body in an upright position. As the ‘hinge’ muscle, it connects the upper part of your body to the lower part. This muscle is activated in the simplest tasks in life: getting out of bed, getting up from a chair, walking up stairs and getting out of a car. Bottom line, so to speak, your glutes will determine how you age in life

The function of the glutes in knee pain is simply this: when you have weak glutes, your body leans forward as you stand or walk, changing your center of gravity. Every inch forward you lean, increases the weight of your head by 10 pounds. This means you can easily be walking around with an additional 30 pounds or more of force. This force increases the stress on your knees, literally changing the way you walk by putting your knees in more hyper-extension with each step. The result is poor articulation of the knee joint in motion, and subsequently, knee pain.

With strong glutes, your body is held up in alignment and there are no abnormal forces working on the knee as you stand or walk. The knee can articulate in a normal range of motion without added weight from a leaning forward body. But please don’t attempt to get stronger glutes by rushing out to do squats. Not only do squats not functionally strengthen the glutes, it’s a terrible exercise for your knees and your back. The squat would make my list of ‘Exercises That Age You” for sure.

The best and most functional exercises to strengthen your glutes can be found on my “Better Back” DVD, click here, because strong glutes are the answer to back pain also. By combining the glute exercises on the “Better Back” dvd, with the  “Wall Slides” exercise (see below) you can keep your Glutes and your Quads strong and relieve knee pain and pressure. Wall Slides should be performed as follows:

  1. Stand with your back to the wall about 1-1.5 foot away from the wall
  2. Position your feet turned slightly out at a 45 degree angle
  3. Lean back against the wall with your head, shoulders and arms against the wall, keeping your palms faced outward
  4. Bend your knees and lower your body down against the wall slowly for a count of 3, as if you are sitting to about 45 degrees
  5. Slowly begin to straighten your knees raising your body up against the wall for a count of 3
  6. Repeat this 10 times. Then walk around and repeat again for 10 times.

(The image below has the man sitting much too low at a 90 degree angle. You should begin by lowering only to a 45 degree angle)

wall-slides

 

You will want to perform Wall Slides against a smooth surface like your refrigerator or a door.

How to Reduce Stress in Your Body

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Apr 062017
 

We all have stress in our lives. Whether it comes from work, family or the challenges of life, stress not only effects the well-being of our mind, but the well-being of our body. How many times have you put off taking a walk, or participated in any exercise because you feel drained from the effects of stress in your life? You just don’t have the energy. This in turn has a domino effect in that lack of exercise increases your weight, decreases your muscle tone and sets you up for a multitude of health risks including high blood pressure, joint pain and a host of other medical problems you did not envision for your life, including depression.

Stress begins emotionally and then becomes physiological as it makes us fatigued and lethargic mainly because of its effect on one simple act of everyday life. The act of breathing. When you are stressed, or even when you are concentrating hard on something, you subconsciously become a shallow breather. As a shallow breather you do not fill up your entire lung capacity, but rather only the top portion of the lungs. This type of breathing promotes anxiety and tires out the brain and body due to lack of optimum oxygen exchange. Mental and physical fatigue are created by this poor exchange and also compromise your immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. And if your oxygen exchange is compromised your brain has trouble with focus and memory.

21266037 - irritated businesswoman pulling her hair while sitting in office

This is why I developed the Balloon Therapy method, to help you improve this exchange, reducing stress and providing your brain and body with the most vital food it needs, oxygen. Balloon Therapy can be used anywhere, at any time. It centers your mind immediately as you focus on the physiological changes that come from breathing deeply.

So, you might ask “why do I need a balloon? Why can’t I just breathe deeply?”. Because the act of breathing into a balloon creates negative pressure by the resistance inside the balloon. This negative pressure inflates the lower part of your lung in the distal aveoli and forces out the ‘dead air’ in your lungs. While deep breathing is a good habit, it cannot guarantee that this dead space is fully inflated because there is no resistance.

Balloon Therapy is a quick and simple way to relieve stress, calm your nerves and help your brain function at a more optimum level. Begin by picking up a bag of 12″ balloons. I suggest that you keep a balloon out where you can see it and use it regularly. You will be amazed at the effects. Just click this link and watch the 2-minute instructional video about what type of balloon to use and how to best perform the 3 steps in Balloon Therapy. I guarantee you will be better equipped to handle stress the next time it comes along.

How Your Posture Affects Your Brain

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Feb 242017
 

You may be aware of the health risks of bad posture such as height loss, arthritis, disc bulging and herniations in the spine, just to name a few. So the health benefits of good posture to your body should be clear. But are you aware of the benefits to your brain from having good posture? Your body’s posture can actually change your thinking and effect your life both psychologically and socially.

One of my favorite Ted Talk speakers is social psychologist and Associate Professor at Harvard Business School, Amy Cuddy. In one of her experiments she looked at how body posture can shape who you are, how you view and feel about yourself as well as how others view you which can determine the opportunities you have in life. In this study, levels of testosterone (indicating authority and power) and cortisol (an indication of stress) were evaluated based on body posture and position. Subjects held body positions in either ‘high power’ or ‘low power’ postures. An example of a high power position would be a body held upright and aligned. An example of a low power position would be rounded shoulders with forward head and down. Subjects held these positions for a total of 2 minutes.

good-bad-posture

High power position subjects experienced an increase of 20% in their testosterone levels: directly correlating to confidence and power. Low power position subjects experienced a 10% decrease in testosterone levels. When it came to stress, cortisol levels, the subjects with high power positions had a 25% decrease in stress level, while the subjects in the lower power position had an increase of 15% in their stress level.

Neutral observers who evaluated the subjects were heavily influenced by the subject’s body posture. High power postures rated high in the areas of confidence, authenticity, passion, enthusiasm and being seen as captivating. Low power postures were rated as being nervous, uncomfortable, uncertain and even fearful.

Inside the subject’s brain, their behavior was significantly effected by their posture. In the high power position group 86% demonstrated higher risk tolerance, meaning they were willing to face challenges and gamble. Whereas, only 60% of the lower power position group was willing to accept higher risk challenges.

Remember, these subjects held these body posture positions for only 2 minutes and experienced significant changes their body’s chemical make-up and their behavior. Only 2 minutes determined how others evaluated their confidence and capabilities. So imagine if you were able to keep good posture everyday. How much change would that bring about in your life?

Having good posture is not just about remembering to stand up straight. Its about keeping strength in the key posture muscles so that you don’t have to remember; because it becomes a way of life. This goes way beyond the “core” muscles. Your posture and ‘how’ you age is determined by your muscles of extension in your glutes, back, shoulders and neck. You can begin to learn the techniques that keep your extensor muscles strong throughout your life in my “Better Back” DVD or download. In 10 minutes a day for 5 days you can learn and perform all the movement patterns that keep your body in the perfect posture so you can be in the power position all your life. Imagine what a difference that can make in your life.

Sciatica Pain and Relief

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Feb 222017
 
23117022 - sciatica

Your story might begin like this: One day you feel some pain in your lower back. You ignore it and attribute it to something you did earlier in the week, or earlier in your life. And then one day the pain moves and travels down and across your buttocks. Another week or month go by and the pain has now traveled down the back of your thigh, or even as far down as behind your knee. It wakes you up at night. It kills you when you go from sitting to standing and the pain prevents you from even walking or doing your favorite activities. Welcome to your Sciaticia Syndrome. Unfortunately, with sciatica, the longer your ignore it, the worse it becomes.

To understand how to find relief from this syndrome, you must acknowledge its causes. The primary cause of this syndrome is two-fold: first is too many hours of sitting and second is the weakness in the most important muscle that supports your back and posture: your gluteus muscles, or your buttocks. The weakness occurs as a, result of all your sitting activities progressively over time. People most susceptible to sciatica can be found sitting for prolonged hours at their desk in front of a computer, or in their car commuting for hours.Even those who are physically active and work-out will not be ale to overcome the debilitating effects of sitting. An hour of exercise at the end of the day can’t make up for many hours of sitting each day.

Being in a bent, seated position for hours each day creates excessive pressure on the front part of the vertebrae in your lower spine. This  pressure compresses the disk between the vertebrae which over time can begin to bulge out the back. When a disk bulges out, it hits a nerve. In the case of sciatica this nerve root is typically located at L4 and L5. The sciatic nerve travels out of your spine and down your legs. You can feel pain from pressure on this this nerve anywhere along that path. The more you sit, the weaker you become and the further down that path the pain will travel.

The first step to finding sciatica relief is to correct your bad habits immediately so that the pain does not travel further. This means changing body positioning for good. Less sitting and more movement. The second step is to begin to perform therapeutic exercise movements and integrate them into your every day activities. I have combined a unique program to teach you these movements on my “Better Back DVD” specifically to help you relieve sciatica pain and keep it out of your life forever.

Are You Dizzy?

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Jan 022017
 

Vertigo? Dizziness?

Have you ever gotten up out of bed with a sudden onset of dizziness? Do you feel as if the room is spinning? Does it last just a few seconds or a few minutes?

If you experience these symptoms, you most likely have what is called “BPPV: Benign Proximal Positional Vertigo.”

BPPV is a common occurrence as we get older because we do not participate in the same body movement patterns we did when we were young, like swinging in a swing, rolling, jumping or quick turning. Those activities keep our inner ear functions healthy because they keep an active flow of fluid through the semicircular canals of our ear. This flow of fluid is necessary to tell our brains where our body is in space and keep our balance. Look at the illustration below and find the semicircular canals.

Inner Ear

As we get older we do less of the active movements we used to do and so that flow of fluids slows down. As the flow slows down, crystals can form in the canals and get stuck on the side. When fluids flow over these crystals, it creates a ‘blip’ in the flow and gives us that dizzy sensation.

The treatment of BPPV can be performed by a manual manipulation by a Physical Therapist for more severe cases. However, you can try a simple movement pattern at home and see if you can dislodge the crystals by increasing the flow of fluids in the canals. These crystals, once dislodged will be reabsorbed by the body. You can also prevent the formation of crystals by doing the same movement. Follow these instructions:

  1. Lie down on your bed
  2. Position yourself lying on your right side at the edge of your bed.
  3. Roll from your right side, to your back to to end up on your left side in one continuous move. Hold this position on your left side.  Do this slowly at first. Always keep your eyes OPEN. Dizziness gets worse when you close your eyes.
  4. Assess your dizziness. If you are dizzy, keep your eyes open and wait until it passes.
  5. Now roll back to the right side and hold that position, Assess your dizziness again.
  6. Repeat this pattern 6 times. Each time, your dizziness should get a little less.
  7. Roll in the morning and when you go to bed.

Rolling in bed is a great way to start your day. It gets the fluids moving in your inner ear and will decrease and even alleviate BPPV symptoms completely.

Dizziness puts you at an increased risk for a fall. Make sure your muscles are strong an balanced by using our Better Balance instructional DVD or download.

Happy Rolling!

 

Photo credit: Boundless

Are You Shrinking?

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Dec 272016
 

Neck Hump progression

Are you Shrinking ???

Seems everyone is complaining that they are losing height these days. Its very common to hear someone say “ I used to be 5’10 and now I’m 5”8” !” How does this happen in life?

Shrinking, or height loss is due primarily to one thing, postural aging and decline. We begin life with 3 wonderful curves; one in our neck, the other in our back and the third in the arch of our foot. Each curve becomes a shock absorber to lessen the impact of walking, running and other upright activities. As we age, gravity and the demands of life pull us downward and forwards. Without constant active strengthening of our posture muscles, gravity does its work and we get stuck in these postures and begin to loose our spinal curves.

Our neck curve becomes more flattened with the head held forward to the body. Our lumbar curve becomes more flattened as the body follows the head, leaning forward. And our curve in the arches of our feet becomes more flattened as we wear shoes without support, like flip flops and sandals.

Keep your chin up and level throughout your day to reduce neck strain. Keep your shoulders back and hips tilted forward with frequent glut contractions to reduce back strain. And always wear tennis shoes or shoes with arch support to prevent your arches from collapsing inward.

But there are specific physical therapy strengthening techniques that are best learned with one-on-one instruction with a PracticalTherapy4U DVD or Download. No one else brings you these these easy every day techniques to reduce your chances of shrinking. You can even regain lost height! Learn the techniques to achieve and keep your curves for life at www.practicaltherapy4u.com from the Better Neck Program and the Better Back Program.
Tami Peavy, MPT