Warning Signs and Suicide Prevention

Warning Signs and Ways to Prevent Suicide

 

Some people have trouble understanding why suicide is a risk for many in our society. Nevertheless, it's crucial for all of us to be aware of this serious issue. In this post, we'll examine the warning signs of suicide and some methods of suicide prevention. Let's begin by looking at some troubling facts:

 

●        Suicide claims almost 4,000 lives in Canada each year, according to government statistics.

●        Mental illness is a factor in 90 percent of Canadian suicide cases.

●        Single males aged 40-59 are especially likely to attempt suicide.

 

Knowing the warning signs that a person is contemplating ending his or her own life is crucial to preventing suicide. Here are some factors to look out for:

 

●        An abrupt change in mood.

●        A recent traumatic event in the person's life, such as losing a loved one.

●        Talk of harming or killing oneself.

●        Withdrawal from friends, family members, or society in general.

●        Seeking to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol.

●        Giving away valued possessions for no obvious reason.

●        Hostility or coldness toward others.

 

Here's what you should do if you suspect someone you know is considering suicide:

 

●        Take the risk seriously. The belief that people who talk about suicide never attempt it is a dangerous myth.

●        Express your concern for the person in non-confrontational, nonjudgmental ways.

●        Keep the person company. If you're unable to spend time with him or her, then arrange for friends or family members to stay near.

●        Encourage the person to rid the home of firearms, poisons, or other products that may increase suicide risk. However, you should never advise someone you’re worried about to stop taking prescription medications or to alter dosages.

●        Contact authorities if you believe the person is in imminent danger of attempting self-harm.

 

Here’s what to do if you are currently feeling suicidal:

●        Remind yourself that you are not alone in this. There are people ready to help you 24/7.

●        Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255)

●        Reach out to a trusted family member, friend, professional, or peer.

●        Focus on your reasons for living such as family, friends, children, hopes, dreams, etc.

●        Use methods that have helped in the past such as listening to music, journaling, drawing, talking with friends, or doing something you enjoy.

●        Once things settle down, create a safety plan.

 

One risk factor for suicide is a diagnosis of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Here's what you need to know about this medical condition:

 

●       Up to 3% of Canadians have experienced SAD during their lifetime, according to the Huffington Post.

●        SAD is different from the more common seasonal blues many people experience during wintertime. SAD stems from specific physiological causes rather than just a change in the weather.

●        SAD can put sufferers at heightened risk of attempting suicide.

 

The good news is that SAD is treatable, and there are ways you can treat the symptoms right in your own home. Here are some possible options:

 

●        Antidepressant medications prescribed on a seasonal or year-round basis.

●        Increasing exposure to natural light.

●        Spending time outdoors, either exercising or engaging in other vigorous physical activities such as working around the home.

●        Personal counseling or support groups. Sometimes, just having someone to talk to can make a marked difference in the mindset of a SAD sufferer.

●        Alarm clocks that use light rather than sound to alert the sleeper. Also known as "dawn simulators," these products mimic the effect of the rising sun.

●        Indoor plants. Believe it or not, simply adding a few growing things to the inside environment can help SAD patients to feel better.

●        A new paint job. Redoing the home and/or work area in cheery colors can also boost the person's mood.

●        Light box therapy. This approach uses a medical product that exposes the patient to bright, full-spectrum lighting for a set period of time each day.

 

 

Knowing the warning signs of suicide and of mental conditions like SAD can help all of us to take better care of ourselves and of each other. Please consult a healthcare professional if you or someone you know is suffering from depression or suicidal thoughts.

 

 

 

Top 6 Signs you Might Be Way Too Stressed

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My observation is that many people feel stressed on a regular basis. Chronic stress is a leading cause of many diseases and weight challenges. If you think you are experiencing chronic stress, this article is intended to help you figure out how stressed you are and what you can do to improve your stress level and overall health and well-being.

If you have never taken a Life Stress Test, it is a good thing to do from time to time. If you Internet search "Life Stress Test", there is a whole bunch (all should be free). Essentially, what you will discover is that it takes only a few minor stressors to GREATLY increase the chances of physical problems.

I am concerned because many people take on responsibility for family, career, home, school, pets, and friends - then, when challenges arise, our own personal health and well-being is the last item on our "To Do" list.

We need to make a commitment to scheduling our needs first, simplifying our lives, and being selective about how many things we take on. We invite you to commit to some new exciting and healthy changes if you really need them of course.

6 Signs of Stress

Are you aware of what they are?

Snapping - feeling a little intolerant? There sure are a lot more people raising their voices, even in public places.

Tension in the car? - Experiencing seemingly endless road obstacles? What's the response... horns, fingers and shouts behind the glass.

More coffee, more sugar, more wine and more snacks - Are you using any to "get through the day?"

More shopping and spending to relieve stress? Higher credit balances, increased interest rates... need we say more?

Back pain, neck pain, tension headaches, sore feet... signs of holding stress in the body, which actually cause more stress in the body, too.

Are you sleeping? Too much, too little, nightmares, trouble breathing?

Do not worry, we have a few secrets and solutions that may just melt your stress away for good.

Solutions to Ease Stress

If you have any of the above mentioned signs of stress, here are some suggestions for you:

Water - a bath, spa, pool, beach... get in or near some water, it calms and soothes.

Fun pool workout.

Use relaxation products such as Luraco Technologies iRobotics 7 massage chair. Take zero gravity position and enjoy superb massage experience in one of top rated chairs in a world.

Have you seen a professional? Massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, therapist, trainer, coach, organizer. Anyone of these healthy professionals should help. Visit us at Dimensional Wellness and we can help you with massage therapy, acupuncture, cranial therapy and more

Ask for a referral if you do not know any of these professionals.

Yoga, relaxation, breathing techniques, biofeedback... anything like this to calm the mind and the body.

Yoga session. Visit us for a yoga fun here.

Eating better... calming foods include whole grains in the evening (brown rice, quinoa, millet), herbal tea (calm & sooth blends).   Roasted baby potatoes are a good "comfort" food but still good for you.

Talk to Nutritionist for a variety of great tasting ideas.

Exercise... or even better, movement... walk with the family (a walk date with friends), walk the dog. Try something new!

Invent fun new ideas that work for your lifestyle and circumstances.

"Laughter IS the best medicine." Rent a comedy, see a comedian, put bunny ears on the dog (any animal costume will do).  Just be sure to crack up with laughter as often as possible.

We love to have fun and laugh, if you have a great joke please pass it along. :)

Sleep... if you are REALLY having trouble sleeping, see a hypnotherapist, participate in a sleep study or visit a sleep center. Sleep is critical. Please rest well.

Breathe Deep.

Life is busy.

It is really easy to get stressed out. Just remember that even though small stress might be somewhat useful, constant stress will kill your productivity, deteriorate your health and make life less enjoyable for you and people around you.

It is never too late. Please, so something about it NOW!

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Equine Massage Therapy by Mikaela Schubkegel-Wallace, RMT

Mikaela shares a love for horses and is passionate about providing both the horse and the rider massage therapy as an RMT and a certified Equine Massage Therapist.

Equine massage therapy is massage therapy specifically designed for horses. As it is increasing in popularity, more and more horse owners are realizing the importance of massage therapy for their horses. Equine massage therapy can play a significant role with: healing or maintenance of an injury, soreness associated with strengthening and conditioning, general soreness issues (usually with a root problem that needs addressing), injury prevention, increasing circulation, improving movement and flexibility, and behavioral issues related to physical problems. Horses, like people, become sore, tense and stressed for different reasons. Once they understand you are trying to help them, they are amazing at communicating in their own way, and will often tell you where the problem is. My goal is to create a conversation with the horse, and open a dialogue where the horse is honest and free to tell me whatever it needs.

Buck Brannaman said it very nicely: “Horses are mirrors into your soul. Sometimes you might not like what you see. Sometimes you will.”. Horses mirror not only personality attributes, but physical attributes also. As an avid horseback rider myself, I naturally started relating my anatomy training from registered massage therapy to how I ride, and immediately began seeing results. Not only did my equitation improve, but my horse’s movement and response to my aids also improved. That’s when I realized you cant focus solely on one side of the partnership, you must address both. This has inspired me to pursue looking at equine massage as horse and rider massage. I would like riders to realize that by getting the appropriate treatments to help your body move correctly or properly rehabilitate after falls, you can actually help your horse more than you may realize.

Let me try and explain. Horses, especially the “sensitive” ones, are naturally in tune with their bodies. I cannot tell you how many times horses know exactly what the problem is, and they find ways to try and communicate it to you, both in massage sessions and while being ridden. This type of communication could present as positioning themselves to try and present the area of discomfort, lameness, general tension through the horse’s body, resistance to curtain movements/exercises, head tossing, or unresponsiveness to specific aids to name a few. People, however, are often less sensitive to their bodies and the way they are meant to work. Most people don’t notice a physical problem until it becomes a big issue or causes pain, but I guarantee your horse will notice it. By putting a saddle on your horse and riding it, you’ve added a huge component that will change your horse’s balance and affect his movement. That component is directly connected to your own balance and movement. It’s a partnership. If your horse is not in balance, or isn’t moving properly, you notice it and try to adjust accordingly. Well, that works both ways: if the rider is out of balance, or their body isn’t moving properly, your horse will notice it and also adjust accordingly. From the rider/owner’s perspective you can often see and feel what the horse is doing to compensate for an issue with the rider. For example, if the rider is locked up through the left hip and in response begins weight bearing more to the right, the horse will mirror that tension and lean to the right also. Another common example is if your left hip/SI joint is not moving properly then the forward glide of the left side of your pelvis may be inhibited, therefore when you give the aid to pick up the left lead canter, you are not actually giving the full correct aid, and therefore your horse is not as responsive to cantering on that lead. The physical issues that may affect your riding could range from a rider imbalance, physical restriction or asymmetry, previous/unresolved injuries, weakness issues, to poor posture/bio-mechanics.
The more aware you are of how your body works and moves, the more aware you will be at helping your horse perform correctly. This is why I have created a balanced practice where I can offer horse and rider massage therapy. Using my training, assessing rides, and working with horse trainers/instructors, I’m learning to evaluate which (human) anatomical functions relate to certain movements and aids given to the horse. I want to help educate riders on how your body should move in the saddle, inspire you to take charge of your health, and recognize yourself as the athlete you are.

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Understanding Pregnancy and Prenatal Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy for Pregnancy

 

Prenatal Yoga classes help strengthen pelvic floor and gluteal muscles, assist in balance as well as stretch compressed areas as the belly grows.

 

There are many physiological changes that occur in a womans’ body during pregnancy. Symptoms can include nausea, fatigue, low back and pelvic pain, carpal tunnel, sciatica, edema (swelling) in feet / breasts, rib pain, and indigestion to name a few.

The hormone Relaxin starts to circulate throughout the blood stream just after ovulation, peaks after the first trimester (12 weeks) and continues until 6 months after giving birth. Relaxin functions to relax ligaments and the cervix in order to widen the birth canal, anticipating labor. As hips widen, the gluteus muscles are stretched and become weak but sore! All joints are affected, becoming more mobile, so it is important not to over stretch during yoga.

As the baby grows, the womans’ organs are pushed upwardly into the thorax, compressing the diaphragm causing shortness of breath, as well as compressing organs into the lateral rib cage resulting in indigestion. This also requires the lateral rib cage to flare out, compromising the rib joints, and ultimately causing sharp pains.

Swelling throughout the body can compress sciatic and median nerves resulting in pregnancy induced carpal tunnel and sciatica. These conditions will almost always resolve after labour and delivery. As the baby grows, retention of interstitial fluids are dispersed through out the womans body, most commonly found as swelling in the feet, but can also build up and become trapped in other areas, such as the glutes where the sciatic nerve lives, and the forearms where the median nerve lives and runs through the carpal tunnel at the wrist.

Pelvic and low back pain may occur throughout the entire pregnancy due to increase in weight and stretching of ligaments. The pubic symphysis is a cartilaginous disc separating the right and left pelvic bone structures or innominate bones. As hips start to widen, the pubic symphysis can get pulled out of place or become sub-luxed, causing sharp pain in the groin. This pain can also become more noticeable when shifting weight from one leg to the other. Positions to avoid are wide legged stretching with your feet together and knees out to the side. Strengthening inner thigh muscles are a great way to avoid further subluxation through stabilization of surrounding musculature.

Diastasis Recti is a painful condition most commonly experienced during the second trimester, where the rectis abdominal muscles begin to separate away from mid line (a fascial attachment known as the linea alba) and stretch apart as the belly grows. A palpable gap of 2 fingers or wider is a good way to test for having this condition. Strengthening pelvic floor and the abdominal muscles post- partum is a must in order to prevent further weakness. Practicing pelvic floor lifting or kegle exercises is beneficial to maintain strength during pregnancy. Avoid crunches or sit ups as this will further separate abdominal muscles making the diastasis recti worse and potentially creating an abdominal hernia.

More serious conditions such as pre-eclampsia, eclampsia and gestational diabetes can deem the pregnancy high risk and bed rest is usually prescribed. Pre-eclampsia is categorized as having a sudden increase in high blood pressure and swelling in the hands and face resulting from a high concentration of protein in the urine. Eclampsia has the same symptoms of pre-eclampsia only it also includes convulsions. Gestational diabetes usually occurs late in pregnancy due to increased amounts of insulin in the blood because of an insulin resistance in the body. Insulin is usually prescribed to manage this type of diabetes as well as diet control. These conditions will usually disappear post-partum, however; the chances of acquiring these conditions again during the next pregnancy are very high.

Massage Therapy can help:

  • Reduce general muscle tension and pain
  • Manage symptoms of edema, sciatica and carpal tunnel
  • Decrease stress, depression and anxiety
  • Improve sleep and mood
  • Decrease pelvic and low back pain
  • Reduce headaches
  • Strengthen pelvic floor through breath integration and muscle energy techniques
  • Provide remedial exercise that is safe and effective

 

 Pregnancy bolsters are provided to allow women to lie comfortably on their stomach, side or back to accommodate growing bellies and provide relief through safe positioning.

Pregnancy bolsters are provided to allow women to lie comfortably on their stomach, side or back to accommodate growing bellies and provide relief through safe positioning.

STECCO Fascial Manipulation

A year and a half ago,  I flew to Italy to learn about fascial manipulation by Medical Doctors Antonio Stecco MD and orthopedic surgeon Carla Stecco to learn how the STECCO model of myofascial release alleviates pain and dysfunctional movements in the musculoskeletal system. As the only practitioner in Kamloops, BC, certified and practicing this method, I would like to educate the community about this method, how it is applied and why it works.  As I mentioned before in my post about Delayed onset muscle soreness post massage therapy, that there will usually be pain present with any injury and that I like to treat clients the same way  I would like to be treated, and that is with enough pressure to know I was there with some mild tenderness the next day and a stimulated tissue response to healing. So……………….

What is fascia?

Often times,when I say I am a fascial manipulation practitioner, people assume I am treating there faces. This can be confusing if you have not heard of fascial manipulation before and the words are spelled the same but fascia has an S and is pronounced with a soft ‘A’. Whereas, the word facial, like when you are getting a facial, is pronounced with a hard ‘A’ and is lacking the ‘S’. Fascia is also a roofing or siding material which is similar to fascia of the body as they are both used to create the framework of either a house or soft tissue of the body. Now that that is cleared up, lets dig a little deeper.

Fascia is a soft connective tissue that plays an important role in proprioception and coordination of movement. Fascia functions to move segments of the body by enveloping joint capsules, tendons, ligaments, bones, organs and muscles. It is made up of collagen and elastic fibers, as well as cells called fibroblasts that secrete the chemical substance called hyaluronic acid. This substance provides the slippery membrane for muscles and joints to allow for slide and glide through contraction and relaxation phases. When muscles become over worked or repetitively used, fascia is also strained and loses the ability to secrete hyaluronic acid ( HA). When this happens, muscles are unable to slide and glide freely causing densifications or “knots”.

The STECCO Fascial Manipulation Model

Through years of intensive research by Dr. Carla and Antonio Stecco as well as their physiotherapist father, Luigi Stecco, it has been proven that areas of dysfunctional fascia can be modified by applying a mechanical force to stimulate the body’s natural inflammatory response. This process promotes healing through 3 stages. The inflammatory phase, proliferation phase, and remodeling phase. By stimulating the first phase to begin its process, the next phase will naturally begin and so on until the once injured tissue will become re-established to its hemeostatic state. During the inflammatory phase, inhibited fibroblasts are stimulated to secrete hyaluronic acid and therefore, re-establish the slide and glide between muscles.

The body moves in 3 planes of movement, frontal, sagittal, and horizontal. There are 6 points per body segment based on these planes of movement. To identify dysfunctional fascia, the STECCO model must first identify which plane of movement is affected which will help identify which point in that fascial plane is densified. Once located, each point (there usually is more than one) will be manipulated for up to 6 minutes in order to release and will feel initially sharp and can increase to a maximum, then the pain will rapidly decrease. Referring pain during this time may also be present. This is not a painless technique. The fascial system will first be assessed through movement then palpation before it is treated. Here is what my treatment plan looks like:

  • Medical history is acquired to treat safely and effectively.
  • Specific movements are preformed to recreate pain in order to help identify the area of dysfunctional fascia
  • Specific points on a few body segments are palpated in order to find densified and painful fascia
  • Once these points are identified, there may be more than one, they are treated with manual therapy
  • Movements preformed at the beginning of treatment will be preformed again to reassess changes made to the fascial system.

What to expect after treatment?

Redness and tenderness will be felt due to the body’s inflammatory response. Symptoms may worsen after 10 minutes and last for 48 hours. Improvements will ensue over 5 days.

Homecare to assist healing response

Apply heat to areas treated for 10 minutes daily to help diminish tenderness. Avoid anti-inflammatories for the first 3 days after treatment as this will be counteractive to the body’s natural inflammatory response I just stimulated. Do the homecare exercises given to you as this will speed up recovery!

Interesting information

The STECCO model was featured in the spring 2013 issue of Massage Matters Magazine. Click the link below to read more.

Stecco Massage Matters Magazine

I am an active member of the Fascial Manipulation Association. Click the link below to learn more.

http://www.fascialmanipulation.com/en/

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness after Massage Therapy

Delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS, is commonly experienced post massage therapy and exercise. I always tell clients to expect tenderness for up to 72 hours post treatment but for the rare occasions that they don’t, take that as a bonus. Depending on the situation, applying ice, heat or taking contrast baths can be helpful in reducing symptoms.

 

So, what causes muscle soreness?

You know that feeling the next day after an intense workout that you haven’t done in a while? That tenderized, bruised feeling, but you’re not actually bruised? That is delayed onset muscle soreness. During anaerobic exercise or without oxygen, the breakdown of glucose during glycolysis occurs and lactic acid is produced as a by -product of pyruvate. Without adequate cool down to circulate waste back to the heart for recycle, metabolites remain in muscle tissue and prevent optimal muscle function, resulting in tenderness and inflammation. When stress or load is placed on muscles (weight training), muscle fibers become micro torn which is essential for muscle growth (hypertrophy) of muscle cells, resulting in larger muscle mass and increased strength. This micro tearing, stimulates an inflammatory response to tissue repair, also resulting in muscle soreness, to allow for the next step of tissue remodeling. During the next phase, remodeling cells (fibroblasts) lay new ground substance to build and repair tissue that has been damaged by scarring.

 

 

So, what does this have to do with massage therapy and why is it necessary?

Massage therapy applies a mechanical force to soft tissue, resulting in local inflammation which is the first step to tissue repair. This is necessary to relieve soft tissue injuries by stimulating the natural healing response of the body. With the migration of inflammatory cells, also comes the migration of pain cells (cytokines), which is why with inflammation and redness there will always be pain. I don’t believe entirely of the “no pain, no gain” theory but it is inevitable that if you have sustained an injury, you are already going to be in pain, and if I am going to treat that area with the intention to stimulate healing, you will probably feel some pain. However; it is important for the therapist and client to keep open communication about pressure/pain tolerance for treatment safety. Visible bruising should not be experienced, unless there are other factors involved, for example blood thinners, hemophilia or clotting disorders, but under normal circumstances only the feeling similar to that of bruising will be experienced.

That being said, I treat my clients the way I like to be treated; with not too much pressure but enough to know I was there, and most importantly, treating effectively.

A tale of Wanderlust: Listen to your body

This year was my first time experiencing Wanderlust, a festival of yoga set amidst the glacier mountains in Whistler, BC. Included in your pass, is three events daily, ranging from yoga classes, stand up paddle boarding, hiking, workshops, speakeasy’s, and meditation. Being the over achiever that I am, and drawn to physical exertion; naturally, I signed up for nine power yoga classes over the course of three days. Each yoga class is 90 minutes in length, so in total that is 4.5 hours of strength based, sweaty yoga each day.

BRING IT ON! Or so I thought.

Day 1, Power class #3 during a wide legged forward fold  ( this should be stretching not strength building ): intense burning pain in my right lateral hip shooting down into the lateral aspect of my foot……..

I knew what was happening. I had over done it. When have I ever practiced this much strength based yoga in one day? The answer is never. Usually, one would balance their strength based training with a restorative based practice, to balance the Yin and the Yang aspects of the body.

What goes up must come down.

AH, Newton’s third  law of motion. Yes, it does still apply here.

My point here is this: LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Pain is the body’s way of communicating to you that something is wrong. Pain translates into many different sensations, sometimes extremely difficult for one to describe. ” Something hurts” or “something is not right” or ” OW!” but the common denominator is pain.

It doesn’t matter which activity you are doing or not doing, maybe you are just tired, but please prevent further damage and listen to your body. Ask yourself, “what would best serve me right now?”

So, I signed up for  Replenish and Restore, a yin based practice. Did you see the pigs flying?

Day 3: Meditation and two Power classes  ( one in black light with glow sticks and war paint I might add for added coolness effect) The result? I made it out the other side of Wanderlust with a clear head, a healthy body and an acroVinyasa practice that would not have happened without happy hips thanks to the yin 

I will continue to remind myself this lesson. Set the ego aside and let pigs fly!

Low Back Pain: Ignite Your Core

When we think of having a strong core, we generally strive for obtaining that summer ready 6 pack, however; the core muscles I’m referring to are the pelvic floor and Transversus Abdominus. Don’t get me wrong, as much as the 6 pack or the most outer layer of abdominals ( rectus abdominus) is aesthetically pleasing, they don’t’ support our foundational structure, the spine and pelvis. The Transversus Abdominus and pelvic floor muscles make up the deepest layer of musculature, supporting the spine and pelvis and when strengthened and engaged properly, can off load strain on the low back and significantly reduce low back pain.

Think of the T.A as a corset on ladies and a cummerbund on men, cinching muscle to bone, wrapping around our entire midsection front to back. Most of us don’t know how to engage this layer of muscle properly, if at all. When I explain to patients how to engage this layer, I use the analogy of trying to stop the flow of urine, engaging belly to spine, as opposed to pushing out your 6 pack. This can be tricky at first as it is the opposite from what we typically think flexing our muscles means. There is a series of exercises I prescribe to patients who experience chronic low back pain, women who have given birth or anyone who has had abdominal surgeries. (Laparoscopy, appendectomy, hysterectomy etc.)

 

 The relationship between the low back, transversus abdmoninus and pelvic floor muscles.

The relationship between the low back, transversus abdmoninus and pelvic floor muscles.

Try to find your core by lying on your back and sucking your belly towards your spine and see if you can repeat this a few times, noticing any differences, working up to 20 repetitions.

 Inhale through your nose, then as you exhale hug your belly towards your spine. You can feel the TA contract under your fingertips.

Inhale through your nose, then as you exhale hug your belly towards your spine. You can feel the TA contract under your fingertips.

The ultimate goal is to restore your core and reduce or prevent low back pain and don’t worry, your 6 pack will get better looking along the way too maybe even dare I say, the 8 pack? I keep telling myself, it’s in there somewhere!

Fascia Forward by Jil

So, I decided to make an actual name for my blog instead of "My Blog". Here it is! Fascia Forward by Jil. I also just learned, being new to this whole blog thing, what blogging actually meant. It's an outlet for anything and everything, medical or non-medical, it's all happening in Fascia Forward by Jil. I will stick to mostly informative medical massage information pertaining to anatomy and pathophysiology of the musculoskeletal system and its associated conditions, but I will also be throwing in the random most common "massage phrases of the week" and what those actually mean as well as some valuable massage therapy tips. Like this one,

Ladies this ones for you,

It honestly doesn't phase massage therapists that you forgot to shave your legs; we also treat men. Now you can rest easy. You're welcome.

Let's talk about low back pain: How, Why and Prevention

So What causes low back pain?

One of the most common ailments I see is low back pain. So what causes this? Often it can be from a lifting and twisting injury, where there is too much strain placed on the deepest layer of low back muscles called multifidi. These muscles provide stability between the pelvis and lumbar (low back) and the deep core muscles. Our center of gravity is located in between the low back and the pelvis at the second sacral vertebrae. When our center is unstable, mechanical force is translated elsewhere and muscle imbalances form, creating more instability and results in compensatory pain IE: low back strain. Sitting and sedentary lifestyles have been branded as the "new smoking". The most compression and force on the low back and its associated structures (intervertebral discs, vertebrae, nerves, musculature) is when in the seated position. How often do you sit while at work? Do you spend a lot of time in your car? Are you active before or after your work day? It is important to get up and move around every hour to relieve disc pressure and circulate blood flow to your tissues. Stretching is another great way to traction the spine from the pelvis, create space around discs by elongating musculature and increasing blood flow.

 

 

 

 

Sciatica Vs. Piriformis Syndrome

~ Sciatica is caused by an L4/L5/S1 disc herniation or bulge compressing the root of the Sciatic nerve. This can cause shooting pain down the legs and into the foot, numbness, tingling and weakness especially in the foot resulting in Foot Drop or the inability to lift the toes while walking. This is irreversible damage but symptoms and pain can be managed with massage therapy and therapeutic yoga where surgical intervention may not be necessary.

 

~ Piriformis syndrome is the compression of the sciatic nerve under the Piriformis muscle in the buttocks, when it becomes too tight and adhered. Shooting pain down the legs is common, however; there is no weakness or numbness. A tight Piriformis muscle is usually caused by prolonged sitting or repetitive external rotation like in skate skiing, hockey or ice skating. Does not cause long term damage or effects. Can be managed and treated with Massage therapy and stretching.

 

Here are a few key stretches to relieve low back pain and sciatica symptoms.

 

 Bring your feet together and knees wide, arms stretched out above your head, drawing your tailbone down towards your heels. Forehead rests on the floor. Hold for at least 1 minute.

Bring your feet together and knees wide, arms stretched out above your head, drawing your tailbone down towards your heels. Forehead rests on the floor. Hold for at least 1 minute.

 Lying on your back, bring one knee in towards your armpit, flex both of your feet to keep your spine long. Hold for at least 30 seconds then switch sides.

Lying on your back, bring one knee in towards your armpit, flex both of your feet to keep your spine long. Hold for at least 30 seconds then switch sides.

 Seated on the floor, plant the sole of your right foot on the outside of your left extended leg. Place your your right fingertips behind you to keep your spine long, avoiding rounding in your back. Reach up with your left arm to place your elbow on the outside of your right knee and press into each other to twist from your abdomen. Hold stretch for at least 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Seated on the floor, plant the sole of your right foot on the outside of your left extended leg. Place your your right fingertips behind you to keep your spine long, avoiding rounding in your back. Reach up with your left arm to place your elbow on the outside of your right knee and press into each other to twist from your abdomen. Hold stretch for at least 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

 Lying on your back, bend both knees to plant the sole of your left foot on the floor. Place the outside of your right foot on your left thigh and reach your arms through the figure 4 to hang onto your left hamstring. Pull your left thigh closer towards your body to accentuate the stretch in your right outer hip. Hold stretch for at least 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

Lying on your back, bend both knees to plant the sole of your left foot on the floor. Place the outside of your right foot on your left thigh and reach your arms through the figure 4 to hang onto your left hamstring. Pull your left thigh closer towards your body to accentuate the stretch in your right outer hip. Hold stretch for at least 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

    Lying on your back, hug your right knee in towards your chest, then cross your leg over your left side body. Keep both shoulder blades on the floor and if you need to stack pillows under your right knee to allow for this to happen with support then go ahead and do so. Hold each side for at least 30 seconds.      

 

Lying on your back, hug your right knee in towards your chest, then cross your leg over your left side body. Keep both shoulder blades on the floor and if you need to stack pillows under your right knee to allow for this to happen with support then go ahead and do so. Hold each side for at least 30 seconds.

 

 

Watch this video on how to self massage using a foam roller to tight muscles and alleviate pain associated with the low back and sciatica. The foam roller is a great tool to use in between massage therapy appointments to maintain soft tissue health. I am also a big advocate for using tennis or lacrosse balls in order to get to deeper musculature, especially in the gluteals. Foam rollers apply a broader pressure, where as tennis balls apply a point specific pressure, allowing for a more intense self massage experience. In sensitive areas like the Iliotibial Band (IT band), I like to use the foam roller, and in thicker areas like the gluteals, I prefer to use tennis balls. Explore them both and see which area and pressure tool suits you best. For best results, foam roll daily for 5 - 10 minutes along with the stretches above and massage therapy treatments for maintenance.