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27 Dec 12

All of a Sudden My Shoulder Hurts!

A common complaint I have encountered with clients over the years is, " I was fine, then all of a sudden, my shoulder started killing me!". Has this ever happened to you, shoulder, neck, back or otherwise?

Often times, examination reveals poor posture, core and shoulder blade control, stress and a few other contributing factors.

The 'all of a sudden' problem is actually a 'long time coming' one. It is important to understand that just because it wasn't painful before, doesn't mean that it was 'fine' then too. In order to feel better and allow the shoulder (or whatever part) to heal properly, in the quickest way possible, it will require breaking old, unhealthy habits and starting new, healthy ones.

Changing habits means becoming extra alert and aware (pay attention), and committed to repetition (persistence). The adage 'practice makes perfect (permanent)' applies here. So does 'you reap what you sow'.

Especially, once an injury has occurred, we no longer have the 'luxury' of getting away with poor posture, compensating for a weak core or letting stress run rampant in our lives. All these bad habits go against the grain of wellbeing.

What 'long time coming' habits have you been neglecting, that you could work on to avoid the 'all of a sudden' problems for 2013?

6:17 pm est 

22 Dec 12

Have You Had a Wellness Experience?

Often times an injury or illness is the catalyst that makes us become healthier people and launch us on to the 'Wellness Path'.  This can be especially true even if our 'dis-ease' is a permanent one that we have to live with!

Instead of allowing diseases e.g. diabetes, fibromyalgia or lupus to take our quality of life from us,  we can enhance our wellbeing because of them!
My wellness experience is with a degenerative eye disease (Retinitis Pigmentosa), which has no treatment or cure and leads to blindness.  Since there are no current treatment options for my eyes per se, I had to choose to make my whole body, mind and spirit as strong and healthy as I could so I could face blindness the best way possible. 

Antioxidants, Yoga, Meditation/ Prayer and Personal Growth/ Success strategies are the gifts I have received as a result of my condition.  I am stronger, healthier, more grounded, aware and positive now than I ever was before my diagnosis.  My eyes are doing extremely well too, by the way!

So please share your story - what wellness experience have you had?  I believe we can help others facing similar challenges! 

10:20 pm est 

18 Dec 12

Hips are Under-rated

The hip joint is a multi-axial ball-in-socket joint.  This means that it is capable in movement in all directions (flexion/ extension, abduction/ adduction and internal/ external rotation).  As such, the hip should be the most mobile joint in the lower quadrant. 

Most of the activities we do however do not require us to use the full range of motion of our hips regularly, so many people find that they have tight hips.

When the hip is stiff, then the joints above (sacroiliac and lumbar spine) and below (knee) must compensate for the missing mobility.  The problem is, that these joints are not multi-axial and have limited capability or tolerance for certain forces that are transmitted to them. 

For example, the knee joint is essentially a uni-axial 'hinge' joint.  Its main direct of movement is flexion/ extension, with only some rotation available.  If you have stiff hips in external rotation, and you try to sit cross-legged, when the hips stop moving, then the knees may be exposed to adverse rotation stress, which can cause injury.

Similarly, compensations for stiff hips can result in instability problems at the sacroiliac joint or lumbar spine. 

To help keep your knees and low back safe and healthy, include stretches and activities that move your hips through their full range of motion in all directions on a regular basis. 

2:08 am est 

11 Dec 12

How Flexible is Your Breathing?

There are many excellent breathing exercises we can do - belly breathing, lateral costal breathing, square breathing, and so on.  None of these are the 'catch-all' correct way to breathe. 

Breathing is designed to be able to change to match our energy needs at any given time or situation.  That means there are countless 'right ways' to breathe.  In otherwords, our breathing needs to be flexible, so we can adapt from moment to moment easily and quickly.

In the same way that stiff, tight muscles limit your ability to move, and make you prone to injury, stiff, tight breathing limit you as well.  The problem with breathing is that we can get stuck in certain habitual breathing patterns so that our breathing no longer can keep up with our changing energy needs.  This can lead to symptoms such as sluggishness, and headaches. 

The best way to develop flexible breathing is to maintain a flexible spine and ribcage, and to practice ideal posture and form in your activities.

6:02 pm est 

6 Dec 12

Words Matter
In the scheme of goal setting and injury recovery, there are certain words which may need to be eliminated from your vocabulary, or used with caution.  They may come as a surprise because on the surface, they appear to be in line with a Positive Mental Attitude (PMA), however upon closer inspection, they can undermine your efforts.  

These words are: 'hope' and 'try'.

HOPE - I am not talking about the 'hope and faith' kind of hope, which we all need spiritually.  What I mean is the passive kind of hope which is riddled with doubt, and opens the door to the possibility of failure. 

HOPE - A client said to me (and I have heard variations of this many times over), " I hope I'll get better soon,". That seems optomistic enough, right? This type of hope actually says, 'I would really like this to happen, but I am not sure it will and there is a possibility that it won't, and I'm preparing myself for that".  

Doubt is one of the most dangerous emotions with respect to achievement and success.  it must be eliminated in order to maximize your effectiveness.  

The first step in achievement is the DECISION to make it so.  Instead of 'hoping' for an outcome, DECIDE on it.  A clear decision removes any trace of doubt about your intention, and closes the door on failure.  It gives you direction.  "I hope I'll get better soon" changes to, "I have decided to get better soon,".   

Can you feel the difference? 

TRY - Again, I don't mean the "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again" kind of try, which is about perserverance.  I am referring to the excuse made for not getting something done. 

TRY - Some common uses for this word include, " I'm trying to do my exercises but..." or, "I  usually try to be positive, but...".   This kind of try actually  says, "I want to do it, but really I won't, and I want to appear like I put the effort in". This kind of try is a cop out.  In these examples, at the end of the day, the execises were not done, and the attitude was not positive.  The end result is the same as if they were not done at all, and this can not take you any closer to your goal.  

The next step in achievement is ACTION.  Instead of 'trying' to take a step, TAKE a step.  Instead of 'trying' to be positive, BE positive. 

Can you see the difference?

Perhaps this is splitting hairs over semantics, however when it comes to success, the victory lies in the details.


"No! Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try."

--YODA, Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back


2:40 am est 

3 Dec 12

Posture from the Ground Up
When we think of 'good posture', most of us remember to stand, or sit up straight, pull our shoulders back and lift our chests.  We picture the 'imaginary plumb line' or we line our backs up against a wall to find 'neutral. 

Here is a twist - try balancing the '4 corners' of your feet when standing or sitting.  The 4 corners are:  the ball of the big toe, ball of the little toe and the inside and outside of your heel. 

Notice the shift (and lift) of your inner arch, the change in pressure on your inner knee vs outer knee, the subtle activation of your quadriceps, hip adductors, pelvic floor and abdominals. 

In fact, when you build your posture from the ground up, you may even be able to notice a shift in the lift of your hyoid bone in your neck!

Don't worry if you haven't developed the sensitivity to notice the really subtle changes that come from balancing your feet.  Try looking into a mirror, or placing your hands on your lower belly or thighs to feel the difference. 

Practising posture in this way will help strengthen your feet, and ease knee, hip and low back pain.

The moral of the story is - remember to use your feet when you work on your posture.  They are your foundation!
9:48 pm est 

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