Mid back Release. That slouching life reduces mobility in the opposite direction👉🏽👉🏽 Thoracic Extension.
When we slouch (thoracic flexion), we put excessive strain on the muscles in the mid back and the neck because the weight of our bodies is held forward.
We slouch when we do office work, social media, housework and raising small children.
However, thoracic extension (standing up straight and the ability to extend backwards) is important for healthy posture. When lifting things, you need to set your scapula (shoulder blades) back and down and this can only really be achieved if you have healthy mobility in this area.
Not only that, long-term slouching can lead to chronic pain that can manifest as headaches, migraines, rib pain, shortness of breath and tension in the neck and upper traps. Using the B roller by B Yoga I am doing a dynamic release of my midback while also opening up my chest muscles and working on core.
It is a self-massage, stretching and strengthening exercise all in one. I love this product because it has a smaller diameter than a foam roller and it is made of cork!
The design is compact and it’s aesthetically pleasing. Try this exercise with tools around your house and let me know how much taller and energized you feel. Video by ivivi media
Magnesium Supplementation is often recommended to my patients for self-care. In truth, we don’t get enough of this important mineral in our diets even if healthy and balanced.
Magnesium is naturally found in green leafy vegetables, coffee and chocolate to name a few. Due to soil depletion and the fact that most of us just don’t consume enough leafy vegetables, supplementation is a viable alternative to ensuring that we get enough of this important mineral.
Magnesium can be found in many chemical forms, but Magnesium Bisglycinate has been found to be more bio-available. Most health food and pharmacies carry this supplement in pill, powder or liquid form to suit your preference.
Here are the reasons why I recommend this important mineral.
Magnesium help to reduce muscle pain when you are dealing with chronic pain and inflammation or recovering from overloading from physical activity. I’ve run distance races and used magnesium to help with delayed onset muscle soreness and found it very effective.
I always say, “Leave your bottle of Magnesium by your toothbrush”. That way you won’t forget to take your dosage. Within 30 minutes, you will start to feel drowsy. Remember, better sleep means better recovery, less stress and improved healing times.
Well, you know that if you are in less pain and have improved sleep, you will have an increased ability to focus during the day. When you feel good, you feel better. This also affects your mental health.
Overall, magnesium is important for general well-being.
When you are in the lifestyle of high performance or thriving for a new level of a better you, add magnesium supplementation.
Speak to your health care provider for how this can affect any medications you are taking.
I forgot where I put my keys…. Then I forgot where I put my wallet. Where did I put my glass of water again?
A high speed life, can lead to anxiety and panic. This activates the stress response which believe it or not can work against you when it comes to finding clarity and solutions for problem solving.
Clarity Emerges from a Grounded Mind.
Dr. Blessyl Buan
Grounding is the act of slowing down.
Return to your breath.
Return to your senses.
Reset your mind.
Stop the stress and defensive response.
Ignite creativity, innovation and flow.
Chronic pain, headaches, upper body tension, jaw pain and hand and wrist pain are physical manifestations of stress. In my practice, I prescribe the following grounding exercises to help my patients to find inner piece and to free their brains from the stress response. This in turn, promotes their power to heal.
1. Get your hands dirty
As adults, we don’t do this as often as we should. Planting, baking, painting, working with clay are all examples of ways that we can bring the tactile experience back to our life. Being tactile, allows us to be fully present with the experience. Perhaps this is why the slime craze is so popular among kids and adolescents. They need the slime for stress relief!
2. Immerse yourself in nature
It’s often advised the walking in nature is healing. It prompts you to look, listen and feel what is around you. They don’t call it “forest bathing” for nothing.
3.Surround yourself with art for a dose of inspiration
Beautiful objects and images inspire. They make your heart sing. They give you ideas of what you want to manifest for yourself. Beauty is everywhere if you open your eyes to it.
4. Journal on paper
Typing thoughts don’t have the same tactile experience of writing it down on paper. You are forced to slow down. Feel the ink interact with the paper. Doodle. Draw. Avoid writing inside of the lines. See the magic emerge.
5.Turn on Music and Dance
Music is like a portal that can take you to another world where all things are possible. Allow your body to embody the music. Feel the down beat, the crescendo and decrescendo of the music. Where does breath lie in the music? How does the rhythm allow you to breathe?
Try it out. Embrace your inner child and note how you feel. If you have children, it’s also important they have a chance to feel grounded.
When you think of Self-Care, what is the first image that comes to mind? Is it a vacation? A massage? Time with people you love? These are wonderful things.
Self-care? Maybe later.
Now, once you visualize these things, how quickly do you take action to make your day dreams happen? Or do feelings of fatigue and procrastination immediately derail your plans? If you can relate, then it’s likely that you are lacking in one or more of three fundamentals of Self-Care.
The 3 fundamentals of Self-Care are Sleep, Nutrition and Movement.
Catch some zzzzs
Sleep is important. When you sleep your body heals, recovers and integrates the information that you learned during the day. Lack of sleep is a primary cause for reduced brain function. This manifests as poor short-term memory, brain fog, mood changes, anxiety, depression and reduced motivation. When your brain is not functioning optimally, then finding the motivation to make healthy decisions is hard to find, in addition to being overwhelming. Transformation does not happen with a sleepy brain.
Don’t skip a meal
Nutrition is important in order to feed your body’s system with the essential nutrients and minerals to survive and perform optimally. Skipping meals or fuelling your body with unhealthy options in the short, or long term can have negative effects on your metabolic rate, energy levels, body composition and stress levels. Transformation does not happen with a nutrient deficient diet.
But I walked to my car.
There is movement, and then there is moving well. Moving well means you’ve moved for at least 20 minutes continuously. This is enough time to get out of your head and into your body. Movement, no matter the method releases endorphins which are the “feel good hormones”. Healthy movement is the antidote to mobilizing fear, stimulating creative flow, improving physical strength, flexibility, brain function and more. I think that’s called transformation!
Need a vacation?
The key to understand here, is that when you are sleep-deprived, hungry and sedentary you are STRESSED. Sleep, food and movement are basic metrics to keep the body happy. If you are missing any of these daily, then the stress response is automatically triggered. Chronic stress leads to the development of chronic illness and morbidities like high blood pressure, obesity, Type II diabetes, Thyroid dysfunction etc.
Hijack Your Stress Response
The secret to Self-Care then is making sure that your body isn’t stressed by taking inventory of the three fundamentals. Of course, there are many other triggers of stress that exist. Even during other stressful events, your resilience to these factors will be highly dependent on the quality of sleep, food and movement that you’ve committed to at any moment in time.
Self-Care doesn’t have to be fancy. It doesn’t have to be expensive.
In the age of constant smart phone use, raising young children or having a full-time job that requires the use of your hands, it’s not surprising that your wrists can hold you back when practising Yoga or Pilates. Repetitive strain can cause tension and pain in the flexor and extensor muscles that course along the forearm and control the movement of the fingers. You will also find that the muscles that control movement of the thumb are also stiff and painful. This chronic muscular tension can negatively impact the alignment of the carpal bones of the wrist, thereby reducing joint mobility.
This misalignment can be experienced as a “pinching” sensation when weight-bearing on the hand. Wrist extension is required while doing Plank exercises, Chatturanga or Downward Dog. Even more advanced asanas like Astavakrasana (Eight-Angle Pose) or Pilates Leg Pull Front depend on strong wrists.
If you can relate, warming up can help to improve joint mobility and reduce pain during your practice. Here are 3 exercises to do before your class begins:
Wrist rotations: Circle your hands clockwise eight times then repeat counterclockwise eight times. This improves circulation and warms up the joints.
2. Wrist flexor stretch with overpressure: Positioning yourself on all fours, place the heel of your hands on the mat in front of you with your hands palms down and your fingers pointing towards your knees. Place a gentle over pressure on your wrists by leaning forward and backwards. You should feel a stretch along the surface of your forearms that face away from you.
3. Wrist extensor stretch with overpressure: Positioning yourself on all fours, place your wrists on the mat in front of you with your hands palms up and your fingers pointing towards your knees. Place a gentle over pressure on your wrists by leaning forward and backwards. You should feel a stretch along the surface of your forearms that face away from you.
If during your practice your wrists are still sore, you can roll the end of your mat several times to create a cushion that will support your wrists in slight flexion. If it is still painful in certain poses, take a rest in child pose. As you continue to practice, stretch and strengthen, your tolerance in wrist weight bearing will improve. If recovery is too lengthy and you are starting to feel concerned, see your health care provider.
Want to learn something interesting? I’ve treated talented riders with postural issues resulting in low back pain. What I noticed however, is that ALL of my low back and stressed out patients are trying so desperately to stay on their “horse”.That’s right. It’s invisible.
In an attempt to stabilize our body because of weak #abdominals and a weak mid back, we grip and strain our muscles in our neck, pecs, arms and hands to hold on the reins. We overuse our deep hip flexors called the #psoad, our deep hip rotators of the hip and our adductors in our inner thighs to squeeze the body of the horse.
This is an unhealthy strategy and it’s also an emotional one. As a consequence we throw ourselves into #chronic misalignment and this will manifest as chronic headaches, TMJ pain, neck pain, thoracic outlet syndrome, snapping hip, low back pain, shallow breathing, rib joint dysfunction, sciatica, hip pain and generalized stiffness.
For this reason, I myofascially release these muscles with my hands or acupuncture, realign the joints with chiropractic adjustments and teach the body to maintain alignment with Kinesiotape and Pilates.
It’s a commitment. Have the right team on your side to get you healthy. Realign. Strengthen. Live your Life.
It seems most people will buy a laptop over a desktop these days because of the portability that it offers, but don’t forget that laptops are designed for just that. The problem with laptops are that they are not ergonomically designed for long session use.
If you spend hours on your laptop, remember that to avoid repetitive strain, you need to apply the ergonomics that apply to a desktop computer.
The centre of the monitor should be at eye level when your head is facing forward in a neutral position.
The keyboard should be close to your body and not elevated so that you are forced to shrug your shoulders to type.
Mousing (although it also has its inherent problems) is better than using the pad on the laptop over time because you can position it in a location that relaxes your shoulder and wrist.
If you use a laptop in the corporate world, companies should provide a “docking station” to create a more ergonomic working environment. If you work from home, using the laptop on your lap, desk, kitchen table or bed are detrimental to your posture. Over time, your body can develop the following symptoms:
upper trap, shoulder and mid back pain
chronic tension headaches/migraines
wrist pain or carpal tunnel issues
TMJ or jaw grinding
low back painHere is an example of a docking system featured on Etsy.com. (Ergonomic Laptop Risers by Perfect45Degree on Etsy, $95.00)
As you can see from the photo above, the laptop user requires another keyboard for long-term use. You can purchase a wireless keyboard or attach another keyboard via USB. It’s quite simple. You can do the same with mouse. It also has a wireless option.
Follow these tips, and you don’t have to suffer with laptop imposed injuries.
Dance inherently trains the body about spatial awareness, balance and the emotional connection to music. It is the simplest way to develop your ability to listen to your body’s internal cues.
Many of my patients are disconnected to their bodies. The onset of injuries shock them, their strain is annoying and pain is an inconvenient symptom. What they don’t realize is that the body has been whispering messages to them for many years. It is only until the body “goes on strike” with a debilitating injury, that my patients start to listen then come to my office.
Move! Feel joy in your movement, are you free? are you restricted?
It is often emphasized that balance is the key to good health, but really balance in the sense that all aspects in life have an equal part of your “energy pie” never happens. The the amount of energy that you give to each part changes in ratio with each day or season of life. For example, when I was a student, most of my waking hours were dedicated to being in class and studying. Socializing, housework, saving money, etc. took a very small portion of my energy. Is that bad? Not really. It’s realistic for that moment in time. Is it balanced? No. But was I healthy? Yes, as much as I could for that moment.
Similarly, in my phase of being a mother to two young children I am content if on top of keeping my kids happy and healthy that I can get in two days of exercise per week, sleep 4-5 hours a night , eat regularly, connect with my husband and keep my business afloat. Isn’t that nuts? Yes! It’s hard for me to swallow sometimes, but it’s as balanced as I can be for the time being. (Also note that housework didn’t even make the list).
So really, balance is elusive. Priorities shift and chaos ensues. The key to staying afloat of this chaos is the feeling and connection with being grounded.
Grounded? What the heck is that?
I would argue that most people do not even recognize that they are not grounded. Being grounded means having complete control of your breath, not being emotionally connected to the possibility of failing and having a consistent positive outlook on life. I’m touch and go with being grounded and currently I am working towards getting back there.
For me, I know I’m grounded when I can feel the ground beneath my feet. I get this feeling after a chiropractic adjustment or a yoga/pilates class. It’s very important for you to have the kinesthetic awareness of the ground beneath your feet. It means you feel stable. This stability is both figurative and literal.
I can empathize with my shallow breathing patients who feel like a “chicken running around with their head cut off”. Their minds are racing and they feel like a helium balloon floating away, disconnecting from the earth and their bodies.
Shallow breathers, return to belly breathing
Shallow breathing happens when your adrenaline is activated. Think of your adrenaline as your body’s internal espresso machine or “Red Bull”. Inherently, we have this mechanism to react to life-threatening dangers, but in the modern world we activate this hormone to meet deadlines, apease relationships and satisfy material needs. Ideally, adrenaline should be used transiently until the resolution of the stressor, however most people maintain adrenaline levels until it turns into complete disconnection with your body and eventual burn out.
Please acknowledge this: Constant shallow breathing leads to chronic tension in the neck, chest and shoulder muscles, dysfunctional ribs and anxiety. Like hyperventilating, your head is floating away like a helium balloon. Only you can keep yourself from flying away.
Pull that string
Bring yourself back to the ground by doing the following:
Belly breathing: As you inhale, your abdomen should be relaxed and your belly button should move away from your spine. Shoulder and neck muscles should be relaxed and stop gripping your jaw, eyebrows, fist, hips etc. There’s no reason for the tension!
Meditate: Visualize the connection of your feet to the ground. Imagine the helium ballon returning to the rest of your body. Use whatever imagery, (ex. creating roots from your feet into the soil) that makes sense.
Go outside. Be present. Walk barefoot and feel the breeze against your face. City people spend too much time in front of machines.
Get body work. See a chiropractor, massage therapist, osteopath, acupuncture or whomever you feel comfortable to help you release tension and reconnect with your body.
Move. Take a yoga or pilates class or move in any way that nurtures your soul. Stretch and strengthen.
PracticeGratitude. Be grateful for what your daily victories are instead of what the holes in your list are that need to be accomplished.