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.
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’s important for me that my patients understand what is happening in their body. This is why I come up with analogies. A lot of times, they come so spontaneously I surprise myself.
When a patient complains of pain and numbness and tingling that radiates from the neck to their fingers as a result of postural strain from sustained desk work and excessive sitting, this is what I say:
“Your nerve is like a USB connection to your computer which is your brain. Sensory nerves are responsible for giving messages about sensation (hot, cold, vibration, pressure) to the brain and the brain uses motor nerves to send messages to muscles to move. When muscles are chronically tight, they compromise your posture which compromises your nerves ability to relay those messages like a really poor USB connection. As a result, you feel numbness and tingling or pain”.
Suddenly the patient’s “inner light bulb “goes off and understands this concept much better. In the digital age, you need to think of the nerves like USB connections.
Being aware and connected to the messages that your body give you is the first step in healing. How can you correct something that you don’t understand?
My analogies are simple and are not meant to be very physiological to the point of confusion. My intention is for my patients to understand CONCEPTS not become adept in neuroanatomy (for those of you hardcore anatomists who find this analogy too simple).
Chiropractic helps to restore those connections. I also layer in myofascial work , acupuncture and exercise prescription so that proper alignment becomes a lifestyle choice.
Take care of your USB connections. Take care of your body.
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.
If there is one thing that I can take away as a lesson from the year 2010, it would be that nothing is certain. Every year I write a list of goals that I plan to achieve. Well this year I’m not doing that. I’ve learned that in life, things will unfold at the rate that they should and no matter how prepared you are, what you envision will not manifest if it is not the right time.
This may sound a bit pessimistic at first glance, but in fact it is not. For as far back as I can remember I’ve written lists and I’ve pretty much ticked off a lot on those lists with great efficiency. Some would say that my list is quite extensive, but my “A-type” personality disagrees. Nevertheless, I’ve evolved from a rigid list maker to one that throws her hands in the air and says, “Just let it be”.
Within the past five years, I’ve experienced many transitions in my personal, family, academic and career life. That’s just how I am. Life is not stagnant and I am grateful for that. During each transition, the degree of uncertainty can overwhelm myself and the lists fly out.
Well, no more lists for me! I vow to relinquish control so that life is much more enjoyable and meaningful.
I will be present, be grateful and take a leap of faith. (I guess I just made another list).