109 The quadriceps femoris (/ˈ kwɒ drɨ sɛ ps ˈ fɛ mərɨ s/) (Latin for "fourheaded muscle of the femur"), also called simply the quadriceps, quadriceps extensor, quads, is a large muscle group that includes the four prevailing muscles on the front of the thigh. It is the great extensor muscle of the knee, forming a large fleshy mass which covers the front and sides of the femur. The proper Latin plural form of the adjective quadriceps would be quadricipites. In modern English usage, quadriceps is used in both singular and plural. The singular form quadricep, produced by back-formation, is frequently used.
193 Back pain is a prevalent problem in the United States, with at least 31 million Americans experiencing low back pain at any given time. Sports injuries are common causes of back pain. But there are other factors that increase your risk of this condition, such as poor posture, obesity, poor physical conditioning and inactivity, psychological and emotional stress, and silent diseases like osteoporosis. Prolonged sitting and poor posture put you at risk of not only chronic back pain, but other health issues as well, such as weight gain, obesity, joint problems, and other diseases. Prescription drugs for back pain are saddled with severe, even life threatening side effects. NSAIDs, one of the most commonly prescribed painkillers in the market, put you at a two- to four-fold higher risk of heart attack, stroke, as well as a variety of other health problems. There are many safe and effective alternatives to prescription and over-the-counter painkillers, and while they may require some patience for them to work, the improvements they generate are often longer lasting. Some of the effective strategies I recommend include chiropractic care, yoga, massage, exercises for back pain, and Neuro-Structural Integration Technique (NST). Back pain is a common health issue today that affects at least eight out of 10 people. It is a prevalent problem among Americans. In fact, statistics from the American Chiropractic Association (ACA) reveal that at least 31 million Americans experience lower back pain at any given time. The ACA report also says that: One-half of all working Americans admit to having back pain symptoms each year. Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, it is the second most common reason for visits to the doctor s office (next to upper-respiratory infections).
194 As many as 75 to 85 percent of the population will experience a back problem at some time in their lives. In most cases, this pain is mechanical in nature it is NOT caused by a serious medical condition, such as inflammatory arthritis or fracture. Chronic back pain has become such a debilitating problem and it s costly, too. According to the ACA, Americans spend at least 50 billion dollars each year on back pain and that s just for the more easily identified costs! I cannot stress enough that preventing or treating disease is possible without the intervention of medications. The same is true for back pain. You only need to address the root cause of the problem by changing your lifestyle and the way you eat and move. Below is a discussion of the potential causes of back pain, my recommendations for back pain treatment, and how you can alleviate this problem without putting any additional burden on your health. What Are the Common Causes of Back Pain? Accidents and sports injuries are the most common causes of chronic back pain. But sometimes, even simple activities or movements like bending over to pick up an object from the floor can trigger pain. There are also a number of other factors that can increase your risk of back pain, such as: Poor posture Poor physical Internal disease, such conditioning facilitated as kidney stones, by inactivity infections, blood clots Obesity - According to Psychological/emotion Osteoporosis or bone a study posted in al stress loss (as measured by the Journal of the Z-score and not American the young adultbased Epidemiology, T-score) overweight and obese people had a higher
195 prevalence of low back pain than nonoverweight individuals.1 Sedentary Lifestyle Puts You at Risk of Back Pain and Much More There is one common denominator among most patients who suffer from severe cases of chronic pain: sedentary lifestyle. A majority of back, neck, and other muscle pains are related to imbalanced distribution of force throughout your body, which is created by working or staying in unnatural positions for extended periods. Prolonged sitting and poor posture are major risk factors of not only back pain, but also of weight gain, obesity, joint problems, nerve problems like carpal tunnel syndrome, and other debilitating diseases. In fact, prolonged sitting along with smoking and obesity is now an important risk factor for chronic disease! An analysis of 18 studies showed the value of reduced sitting. It was found that people who sat for the longest periods of time were twice as likely to develop heart disease or diabetes, compared to those who sat the least. This proves that being physically active is great not only for your back, but also for your overall health. In fact, reducing your sitting time may even prolong your life. One study published in the British Medical Journal found that reducing the average time you spend sitting to less than three hours per day may increase your life expectancy by two years (the average American today spends 4.5 to five hours per day on a chair or sofa).2 So if you have chronic back pain, it is critical that you evaluate your lifestyle and whether or not you re getting enough exercise. Failing to exercise, and moving your body enough in general, may be the main reason why you re suffering from this condition. The Price You Pay for Poor Emotional Health
196 There s increasing evidence that back pain and other types of pain may be exacerbated by psychological or emotional issues. It is my experience that emotional health and your ability to effectively address your stress is an essential component for optimal health, and can have a major influence on whether or not you're effectively eliminating your pain. If you have any underlying emotional issues and unresolved trauma, it can profoundly influence your health, particularly in terms of physical pain. A 2004 study on back pain supports this theory. Its researchers followed 100 patients over the course of four years. All of the patients, who were back pain-free at the start of the study underwent psychological tests. Afterwards, the researchers compared which of the participants remained pain-free and which ones developed back pain. According to the results, the people who scored poorly on the psychological tests were three times more likely to report having experienced back pain by the end of the study. Many health experts from various fields of medicine agree that emotional and psychological trauma has severe effects on a person s risk of acquiring chronic pain. One example is Dr. John Sarno, a psychiatrist who uses mind-body techniques to treat patients with severe low back pain. He specializes in helping individuals who already had surgery for low back pain but did not get any relief. This is one tough group of patients yet Dr. Sarno has a greater than 80 percent success rate! He uses techniques like the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), an acupuncture-like technique that stimulates meridian points throughout your body. Read more about EFT. Sadly, many people dismiss these types of treatment strategies simply because they seem "too simple to be effective." Unfortunately, they believe that in order to get back pain relief, they need to undergo radical treatment or take medications. The Dangers of Drugs for Back Pain Treatment
197 Conventional health care practitioners are quick to prescribe medications like non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), acetaminophen, and even opioids for chronic pain. But even if these medications can provide immediate back pain relief, their effect is only temporary the pain will come back sooner or later and in some cases will cause hyperalgesia, or increased sensitivity to pain! What s more, medications touted to provide back pain relief are saddled with severe side effects. For example, NSAIDs, one of the most commonly prescribed drugs on the market, not only put you at a two- to four-fold higher risk of heart attack, stroke, and other cardiovascular problems, but may also cause: Severe gastrointestinal problems, like digestive tract bleeding Increased blood pressure Kidney problems Be mindful that these life-threatening side effects of painkillers are not restricted to prescription NSAIDs like Celebrex, but may also come from over-the-counter drugs like aspirin, Advil, and Motrin. Opioid painkillers like OxyContin, which are also commonly prescribed for back pain relief, also have a highly addictive nature. In fact, opioids are among the most commonly abused prescription drugs today, and are a leading contributor to the increasing rates of fatal prescription drug overdoses. This is why back pain is now one of the primary reasons why so many American adults get addicted to painkillers. The bottom line is that painkillers always come with risks. Unfortunately, if you consult your conventional physician about your chronic back pain, he will often prescribe a long-term treatment plan that may include anti-inflammatory drugs, muscle relaxants and possibly other types of pain medication or even antiseizure drugs a poisonous chemical cocktail that will put your health at severe risk! Is Your Physician Prescribing This Expensive But Dangerous Drug for Back Pain?
198 Big Pharma recently began promoting Humira, an expensive drug with a price tag of nearly 20,000 dollars a year. Humira is touted to help treat ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory disease of the axial skeleton, which includes the spine. It is outrageous how drug companies promote this dangerous drug for an exceedingly rare cause of low back pain one that is only responsible for less than a tenth of a tenth of one percent of low back pain! What s more, Humira may cause severe side effects, such as: Tuberculosis Serious infections Increased risk of lymphoma and other cancers Hepatitis B infection Allergic reactions Liver, nervous system, and blood problems Heart failure Immune reactions, such as lupus-like syndrome Psoriasis This is just the short list; Humira may have even more damaging effects on your health only to emerge later through post-marketing surveillance in exposed populations who are being forced to act as living guinea pigs. Cut Your Risk of Back Pain Right from the Start! As with any health condition or disease, preventing back pain is better than trying to cure it after it has set in, and may be too late. So even if you re not experiencing back pain symptoms, I would recommend you follow these simple tips: 1. Always stretch before any strenuous physical activity. In fact, I strongly advise you to engage in a regular stretching program. My favorite is active isolated stretching (AIS), developed by
199 Aaron Mattes. It's completely different from the traditional type of stretching, and is a great way to get flexibility back into your system. 2. Do not slouch when standing or sitting. 3. If you spend most of your time sitting, pay careful attention to consciously sucking in your belly and rotating your pelvis slightly up. At the same time, you should keep your head back, with your ears over your shoulders and your shoulder blades pinched. This posture will keep your spine in proper alignment. Do this every hour you re sitting, holding the muscles tight for several minutes. 4. Sit in chairs or car seats with good lumbar support. 5. Switch your sitting positions often. I would also recommend periodically walking around or gently stretching your muscles to relieve tension. 6. Avoid bending over without supporting your back. 7. Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes. Women should also refrain from wearing heels all the time. 8. Sleep on your side to reduce any curve in your spine. You should also sleep on a firm surface. 9. When weight-lifting using your legs, always keep your back straight. 10. Maintain an optimal weight. 11. Quit smoking. Smoking reduces blood flow to your lower spine, causing the spinal discs to degenerate. 12. Get enough vitamin D from sun exposure daily, as vitamin D helps keep your bones, including your spine, strong. 13. Drink plenty of water to enhance the height of your intervertebral disks. Since your body is composed mostly of water, staying hydrated will keep you fluid and reduce stiffness.
200 How to Relieve Back Pain Naturally If you are already suffering from chronic back pain or pain of any kind, you should understand that there are many safe and effective alternatives to prescription and over-the-counter painkillers, though they may require some patience. Here are some strategies I highly recommend: Chiropractic Care One of the best tactics to help treat back pain is to see a qualified chiropractor. I am an avid supporter of the chiropractic philosophy, which puts great emphasis on your body's innate healing wisdom and does not rely on Band-Aids like drugs and surgery. The problem is that a lot of people ignore chiropractic care, thinking that it s just pushing bones into place. However, there s a whole lot more to chiropractic care. In fact, one of the basic foundations of this health system is vitalism recognizing that the human body has an innate healing intelligence or life force that guides and directs your body's healing process. Qualified chiropractic, osteopathic, and naturopathic physicians are reliable, as they have received extensive training in the management of musculoskeletal disorders during their course of graduate healthcare training, which lasts between four to six years. These health experts have comprehensive training in musculoskeletal management. Many studies have confirmed that chiropractic management is much safer and less expensive than allopathic medical treatments, especially when used for low-back pain treatment. What s more, researchers have also found that chiropractic adjustments may affect the chemistry of biological processes on a cellular level. Chiropractic care can affect the basic physiological processes that profoundly influence oxidative stress, immune function and DNA repair. This means that aside from addressing any immediate spinal misalignment that might cause back pain, chiropractic care can also help address, prevent and treat deeper dysfunctions in your body.
201 Exercises for Back Pain Adapting an exercise program can help compensate for long hours of being sedentary, a risk factor of back pain. Exercise and being physically active help strengthen the muscles of your spine. One of the best back pain exercises I recommend isfoundation Training, created by chiropractor Dr. Eric Goodman. He developed it to address his own chronic back pain. Foundation Training exercises are simple but powerful structural movements that help strengthen and realign your body posture and address the root cause of lower back pain, which is related to weakness and imbalance among your posterior chain of muscles that are caused by a sedentary lifestyle and too much sitting. Foundation Training focuses on your core the part of your body connected to your pelvis, whether above or below it. These include your hamstrings, glutes, and adductor muscles. Foundation Training teaches all these muscles to work together through integrated chains of movement, which is how you re structurally designed to move, as opposed to compartmentalized movements like crunches. Every exercise included in Foundation Training lengthens the front of your body, which is over-tightened, and strengthens the back of your body, helping you stand tall and move with grace and flexibility. Anyone who wants to do Foundation Training must learn The Founder, the key basic exercise. The Founder disperses your weight through the posterior chains, helping to reinforce proper movement while strengthening the entire back of your body. This excellent exercise can help reverse the effects of frequent and prolonged sitting that may lead to back pain. To learn how to do the Founder, watch this video: To help address back pain caused by excessive sitting, I also recommend Egoscue Exercises, a series of stretches and special exercises that help restore your muscular balance and skeletal alignment. I often spend at least one hour or more doing an Egoscue exercise called The Tower. It s simple you only need
202 to lie on the floor and allow your pelvis and thoracic spine to relax. I found this exercise tremendously helpful for treating my chronic low back pain, which is now gone. You should also include high-intensity sessions in your exercise routine, although you only need to do these once or twice a week at the most. You should also include exercises that not only challenge your body intensely, but also promote muscle strength, balance, and flexibility. Remember to build up your abdominals to avoid back pain. And, as mentioned above, always do some stretching and warm-ups before engaging in strenuous physical activity. Remember, though, that just because you exercise regularly doesn t mean that you can justify your long hours spent sitting. In fact, even if you're fairly physically active, you may still succumb to back pain and other health problems if you spend most of your day behind a desk or on the couch. This phenomenon is called the "active couch potato effect." In order to avoid this, you must make it a habit to break the pattern of sitting as frequently as possible. Dr. Goodman says: "Stand up throughout the day to stretch your body appropriately, the way it is meant to be stretched. The simple act of standing as tall as possible for a minute or two will help break the pattern of sitting, as long as you repeat it frequently. Be sure that while standing you take full deep breaths to expand your torso as well. We often have very shallow breath while we sit, counter that with big deep breaths as often as you can throughout the day. My opinion is that people should not go longer than 30 minutes in a chair without standing, deep breathing, walking and stretching. If you think I am crazy for asking that much of you, then I suggest you not go longer than 20 minutes." Yoga Yoga may be an effective strategy for alleviating back pain by making people more aware of how they move their bodies. The benefits of yoga were proven in a study of more than 100 adults with lower back pain. After taking weekly yoga classes for 12 weeks, the participants, who were between ages 20 to 64, experienced improvement in their body function and a reduced need for pain medication. At the end of the study, only 21 percent of the patients
203 who take the yoga class were taking pain medication, down from almost 60 percent at the start. Massage Getting a massage is another simple strategy I recommend to help ease not only your back pain (and other types of pain), but anxiety as well. Massage offers real health benefits that are being recognized even by conventional hospitals, making it a standard therapy for surgery patients. Massage releases endorphins that help induce relaxation, relieve pain, and reduce levels of stress chemicals, such as cortisol and noradrenaline. It also reverses the damaging effects of stress by slowing your heart rate, respiration, and metabolism and lowering raised blood pressure. Massage can: Ease your tense and knotted Relieve pain caused by migraines, muscles and stiff joints, improving labor, fibromyalgia, and even mobility and flexibility cancer Relax and soften your injured and Stimulate your lymph system, overused muscles, reducing which is your body's natural spasms and cramping defense against toxic invaders Reduce recovery time for Provide arthritis pain relief by strenuous workouts and eliminate increasing joint flexibility subsequent pains of the athlete at any level Reduce and realign scar tissue Reduce post-surgery adhesions after healing has occurred and edema Boost your level of alertness and attention Contribute to shorter labor and reduce tearing for expectant mothers Decrease symptoms of PMS Reduce stress, anxiety and depression, and ease insomnia Neuro-Structural Integration Technique (NST)
204 If you've never heard of neuro-structural integration technique (NST), then you may be missing out on a simple but effective treatment for your back pain. NST is a gentle and non-invasive technique that stimulates your body's reflexes. Simple movements are done across your muscles, nerves, and connective tissue. These help your neuromuscular system to reset all related tension levels and promote natural healing. It is different from massage and other manipulations that try to force a change it simply resets your body to heal itself. It gives profound and lasting results that you may feel as soon as the second or third session. NST is safe for everyone. Highly trained athletes, newborns, pregnant women, elderly, and sick individuals who suffer from back pain can find relief using this technology. Get a more in-depth explanation of NST through this article by Michael Nixon Levy, who developed this amazing technique. Other Strategies to Eliminate Chronic Back Pain (and Other Types of Pain) In addition to the tips above, I also recommend these simple and natural ways to prevent and relieve back pain: Get sufficient high-quality, animal-based omega-3 fats. Omega-3 fats are precursors to mediators of inflammation called prostaglandins. One of the best sources of omega-3s is krill oil supplement. The omega-3 fats EPA and DHA contained in krill oil have been found in many animal and clinical studies to have anti-inflammatory properties. Unlike fish oil, krill oil does not pose any toxicity and rancidity to your body, which may only damage your health. It is also far lower on the food chain, making it far less likely to accumulate environmental chemicals and toxins. Eliminate or radically reduce your intake of grains and sugars, especially fructose. Excessive intake of grains and sugars will elevate your insulin and leptin levels primarily through causing your body to be resistant to them, resulting in the increase of inflammatory prostaglandin production.
205 Optimize your vitamin D (through regular and appropriate sun exposure) and vitamin K2 levels. These nutrients will help prevent the softening of your bones that can often lead to lower back pain. As for back pain management, I suggest trying these natural solutions that provide excellent pain relief without any of the health hazards that pain medications often carry: Astaxanthin This is one of the most effective oil-soluble antioxidants known to man today. Astaxanthin has very potent anti-inflammatory properties. In some cases, it may even be more effective than NSAIDs. You may need to take high doses of this antioxidant (as much as eight milligrams a day), though, to achieve this benefit. Ginger - This anti-inflammatory herb has pain relief and stomach-settling properties. Steep fresh ginger in boiling water to make a delicious and fragrant tea. Grating and adding it to your vegetable juice is a good idea as well. Curcumin This is the primary therapeutic compound found in the spice turmeric. A study of osteoarthritis patients revealed curcumin s pain relief effects: individuals who added 200 milligrams of curcumin a day to their treatment plan were found to have reduced pain and increased mobility. In fact, over 50 clinical studies have proven curcumin s potent antiinflammatory activity. There are also four studies that demonstrated its ability to reduce Tylenol-associated adverse health effects. Cayenne cream - Also known as capsaicin cream, this is a spice made from dried hot peppers. It alleviates pain by depleting the body's supply of substance P, a chemical component of nerve cells that transmits pain signals to your brain. Boswellia - Also called boswellin or "Indian frankincense," this herb has been prized for thousands of years for its powerful anti-inflammatory properties. This is one of my personal favorites, as I have seen it work well with many of my rheumatoid arthritis patients. Bromelain Found in pineapples, this protein-digesting enzyme is a natural anti-inflammatory. Bromelain can be used
206 in supplement form, but eating fresh pineapple may also be helpful. Most of the bromelain is found within the pineapple s core, so make sure you leave a little of the pulpy core intact when you eat the fruit. Cetyl myristoleate (CMO) - An oil found typically in fish and dairy butter, CMO acts as a "joint lubricant" and an antiinflammatory. I use a topical preparation for myself to relieve ganglion cysts and alleviate mild annoying carpal tunnel syndrome that flares up when I type too much on nonergonomic keyboards. Evening Primrose, Black Currant, and Borage Oils The fatty acid gamma linoleic acid (GLA) found in these oils is useful for treating arthritic pain. I strongly advise you to try these simple but successful back pain relief alternatives. Not only will they treat the underlying causes of back pain, but they can also spare you from additional harm, unlike pharmaceutical or surgical Band-Aids.
207 Prevent Back Pain and Other Common Problems by Sitting Correctly From smart phones to computers to ipads, our beloved electronic devices are crippling our posture and contributing to weight gain, back pain, and joint problems like carpal tunnel syndrome. Fortunately, there are a few strategies and exercises such as changing your position often and reorganizing your torso that can address a lot of these potential problems and help keep you more fit and properly aligned. As miserable as back pain is, that may be the least of your worries if you spend a significant portion of your time on your duff. Sitting may actually cut years off your life. Lack of exercise is sitting s evil accomplice. The more you sit, the less your body wants to move. According to a study in the British Medical Journal,1 reducing the average time you spend sitting to less than three hours per day could increase your life expectancy by two years, which is a significant decrease from the 4.5 to 5 hours per day the average American now spends on a chair or sofa.
208 An analysis of 18 studies showed that people who sat for the longest periods of time were twice as likely to have diabetes or heart disease, compared to those who sat the least.2 Sitting has actually joined smoking and obesity as an important risk factor for chronic disease. The Price You Pay for a Sedentary Lifestyle A number of studies have investigated the health ramifications of a sedentary lifestyle. The research linking too much sitting with increased risks of disease and premature death is quite noteworthy: 1. Men who were sedentary for more than 23 hours a week had a 64 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than those who were sedentary less than 11 hours a week, according to a 2010 study in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.3 2. A study of more than 17,000 Canadians found that the mortality risk from all causes was 1.54 times higher among people who spent most of their day sitting, compared to those who sat infrequently.4 3. According to an Australian study, sitting time is a predictor of weight gain among women, even after controlling for calories consumed and leisurely physical activity, such as exercise.5 4. People who use a computer for at least 11 hours per week or watch TV for more than 21 hours per week are more likely to be obese than those who use a computer or watch TV for more than 5 hours per week.6 5. Your risk of metabolic syndrome rises in a dosedependent manner depending on your "screen time" (the amount of time you spend watching TV or using a computer). Physical activity has only a minimal impact on the relationship between screen time and metabolic syndrome.7
209 Going to the Gym May NOT Be Enough Interestingly, research has also suggested a regular fitness regimen might be insufficient to counteract the effects of excessively sedentary habits during the remaining hours of the day, due to the adverse metabolic impact of sitting. Especially if the fitness regimen is focused around equipment that puts you back in a seated position like a recumbent bike or rowing machine. A 2009 study8 highlighted much of the contemporary evidence linking sitting with biomarkers of poor metabolic health, showing how total sitting time correlates with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease and other prevalent chronic health problems. According to the authors: "Even if people meet the current recommendation of 30 minutes of physical activity on most days each week, there may be significant adverse metabolic and health effects from prolonged sitting the activity that dominates most people's remaining 'non-exercise' waking hours." In other words, even if you're fairly physically active, riding your bike to work or hitting the gym four or five days a week, you may still succumb to the effects of too much sitting if the majority of your day is spent behind a desk or on the couch. Researchers have dubbed this phenomenon the "active couch potato effect." According to a New York Times article,9 after just an hour of sitting, the production of enzymes that burn fat in your body declines by as much as 90 percent. Extended sitting slows your body s metabolism of glucose and decreases your HDL, which is the type of lipid you want MORE of, instead of less. This explains why those who sit habitually for extended periods of time have higher risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular problems. The Key To Sitting Successfully: Stand Up The basic remedy is to get up and do a few simple exercises but you have to do this frequently if you spend a lot of your life in a chair. Most back, neck, and other muscle pains are related to
210 imbalanced absorption of force throughout your body, created by working in unnatural positions for extended periods. When you teach your body to establish and repeat correct positioning, the pain often goes away. You must correct your foot, pelvis, torso, shoulder and neck positions as these are all required for good posture and balance. When these core areas are positioned improperly, you will likely develop pain first in those areas, with other areas soon to follow. As the center of your body changes its structure to adapt to the demands you ask it to do most frequently, the extremities will follow.. For example, a great deal of carpal tunnel issues do not result solely from improper wrist position, but from forward rotation of the shoulder. The forward rotation of the shoulder is directly connected to the position of your lower back, and pelvis. As the shoulder changes position all of the muscles and nerves below the shoulder are adversely affected. The result is symptoms within the wrist that cannot be fixed at the wrist. A basic remedy is to simply get up! But additionally, there are certain exercises you can perform to further reduce the adverse impact of sitting. In the interview above, Kelly Starrett, popular mobility expert and physical therapist with Crossfit, shares some excellent tips for maintaining good posture while working for extended periods in a chair.10 The key is to change positions often at least every 20 to 30 minutes and maintain proper torso alignment, regardless of what position you re in. Starrett recommends standing up often and doing some specific realignment exercises, which are actually quick and easy. Sitting, especially while doing computer work or texting, tends to result in leaning forward with your head, neck, shoulders and upper back. The key is to teach your body to support itself in a more neutral position, without overcorrecting. Realigning Your Body in Five Easy Steps
211 Starrett recommends a five-step series of body reorganizations or realignments, done in the following sequence: 1. Stand up with your with feet pointing straight forward or slightly inward. 2. In the interview Kelly recommends that we realign the pelvis by simply squeezing your butt tightly, we would like to add that this will be more effective for the majority of people if also told to internally rotate their feet degrees (big toes slightly towards each other), roll feet to the outside of the arch and then try to pull the back of the legs together without the heels moving. This will allow the thigh and butt muscles to work together; the squeeze alone is otherwise less effective. 3. Create some tension in your core by slightly tightening your abdominals (this is not an extreme tightening just to 20 percent of your max) 4. Correct your shoulder position by externally rotating (think of unscrewing) your shoulders and arms (rolling your shoulders back), which brings your shoulder blades closer together, your chest up and forward, and your thumbs pointing away from your body 5. While keeping your shoulders externally rotated, turn your hands back to neutral, so that your thumbs are now facing forward These basic alignments can be applied no matter what position you re in whether you re standing, sitting, kneeling, or anything in between. In the video, Starrett demonstrates exactly how to perform these simple corrections, making it much easier to visualize. If you practice these exercises regularly, you ll be preventing many of the problems that commonly arise. In case you re wondering if you can just substitute a balance ball for your chair, there is little evidence for any benefit. Studies show minimal, if any, postural improvement, and one study even showed spinal shrinkage from using these balls as a chair.11the
212 apparatus you sit on is far less important than the positions in which you teach your body to sit. However, the ergonomic revolution has led to the birth of some interesting desks and workstations that offer the option of standing up to work. Some workstations even have a treadmill underneath for walking. Sales of the TredDesk have reportedly grown tenfold since its introduction in There are a number of companies putting a lot of money into research and development in this area, and I suspect to see many more of these designs coming down the pike. Foundation Training Exercises: Foundation Training is another way to compensate for long hours spend sitting. Foundation training exercises are powerful simple structural movements that help strengthen and realign your body posture. This program was developed by Chiropractor Eric Goodman as a way to address his personal chronic back pain, and have been a great answer to the increasing physical challenges of modern society. As a starting point, Dr. Goodman suggests making the following adjustments to your body when sitting. These recommendations are not meant to replace the way you sit constantly, but to give you useful alternative positions to use. It is recommended that you try them often, as your body is likely in need: 1. Backrests tend to promote excessive rounding of the spine and push us into what's called an anterior head carriage. Sit upright on the front edge of a chair and practice the next 2 tips. At least 2/3 of your thigh should be off of the chair, and your knees should be no more than 6 inches apart while practicing. 2. When sitting, try to keep your chin behind your chest bone. When your chin is too far forward, you will inadvertently teach your hip flexors to remain abnormally short and you set yourself up for increased compression and degeneration.
213 3. An easy way to learn to lengthen your hip flexors without hyperextending your spine is to slowly increase the distance between your rib cage and pelvis while keeping your chin pulled in and down towards your throat. This is demonstrated in the last 5 minutes of the TED Talk listed above. For more information on Foundation Training, please refer to my earlier article and interview with Dr. Goodman, as well as watching the videos below in which Dr. Goodman demonstrates two of his favorite exercises:.. Yet another type of exercise called Egoscue can also be helpful in mitigating the damage from excess sitting Take Breaks from Sitting to Ground Yourself to the Earth Another downside to sitting is the lack of contact with the Earth, since most of us are sitting indoors. Have you noticed how much better you feel when you walk barefoot on the Earth, whether it s dirt or sand or grass? Science has finally solved this mystery! For most of our evolutionary history, humans have had continuous contact with the Earth, but this is certainly not the case today. We are separated from it by a barrier of asphalt, wood, rugs, plastics, and especially shoes. Living in direct contact with the Earthgrounds your body, producing beneficial electrophysiological changes that help protect you from potentially disruptive electromagnetic fields. Some of the EMFs closest to our bodies are those generated by the electronic devices that have practically become a modern appendage like smart phones and ipads. Your immune system functions optimally when your body has an adequate supply of electrons, which are easily and naturally obtained by barefoot/bare skin contact with the Earth. Research indicates Earth s electrons are the ultimate antioxidants, acting aspowerful anti-inflammatories.
214 Chronic inflammation leads to a multitude of health problems. Therefore, reducing inflammation will help mitigate the negative effects of excessive sitting. Earthing (grounding) decreases the effect of the potentially disruptive electromagnetic fields that are emitted by those electronic devices we ve come to depend on. Bottom line: the more you can walk or stand barefoot upon the Earth, the healthier you will be. Whenever possible, take a moment to venture outside and plant your feet in the wet grass! We are designed to move well, sit well and play well within our environment. It is up to us to teach our body to do these things as it is designed to. We can only deprive our body of what it requires for so long before it begins to rebel against us physically.
215 6 Workout Habits You Should Consider Dropping Now Exercise is so important for good health that researchers have recently declared it the "best preventive drug known."1 Exercise affects your entire body from head to toe in beneficial ways. This includes changes in your muscles, lungs, heart, joints, bones, and brain. By working out regularly, you can positively influence conditions ranging from psychiatric disorders and heart disease to diabetes and cancer. Unfortunately, not only do many fail to get sufficient amounts of exercise, but those who do exercise may be doing it incorrectly. Drop These 6 Bad Habits from Your Workouts I've often equated exercise to a drug from the perspective that they both need to be wisely prescribed in order to optimize your health. Simply doing random exercises at the wrong intensity or frequency, just for the sake of "exercising," will not achieve the benefits you seek. So, in order to reap the full rewards of exercise, make sure you are not using the six common habits that may actually hinder your results.2 1. Working Out for Long Periods at a Moderate Pace Conventional aerobic exercise performed for long periods at a steady, moderate pace was long considered the "gold standard" of a good workout, but research has refuted such notions in recent years. Instead, high-intensity interval training (which requires but a fraction of the time compared to conventional cardio) has been
216 shown to be FAR more efficient and effective, compared to longer, slower cardio workouts. In fact, exercises such as long distance running have been shown to be among the worst forms of exercise, in terms of health benefits. There are many versions of HIIT, but the core premise involves maximum exertion followed by a quick rest period for a set of intervals. My Peak Fitness routine uses a set of eight 30-second sprints, each followed by 90 seconds of recovery done after a proper warm up and followed by a cool-down period. When you use HIIT, the elliptical machine is a very useful exercise tool, although you can also do HIIT using a recumbent bike or even without any equipment at all (using exercises such as pushups, burpees, and jumping squats, for example). Ideally, you'll want to perform HIIT exercises two or three times a week for a total of four minutes of intense exertion. You do not need to do them more often than that, however. In fact, doing it more frequently than two or three times a week can be counterproductive, as your body needs to recover between sessions. If you want to do more, focus on making sure you're really pushing yourself as hard as you can during those two or three weekly sessions, rather than increasing the frequency. The video below is a few years old now, but you can get an idea of the intensity used. I have modified my application to only doing it twice a week. However, the intensity is identical. The other change is that I now breathe through my nose. I discuss more of the benefits of Buteyko breathing in a recent article. Please note that this video is a few years old and Dr. Mercola has since incorporated Buteyko breathing. 2. Lollygagging
217 It's important to have a plan when you workout, which should include what exercises you're going to do and for how long. If you find that you end up spending two hours at the gym but spent just 15 minutes of it exercising, you're probably "lollygagging" for a good deal of the time. As CNN reported, having a plan in place will help you to avoid unproductive wandering:3 "This means no wandering around, no texting in between reps. Come with a set workout to complete, limiting your water breaks to specific points in your circuit for a designated amount of seconds." 3. Too Little Strength Training Many ignore strength training when devising their exercise plan, thinking they don't want to "bulk up." But gaining more muscle through resistance exercises has many benefits, from losing excess fat to maintaining healthy bone mass and preventing agerelated muscle loss as you get older. In fact, strength training has a beneficial impact on at least 10 biomarkers of aging (which are the things that tell you how old you would be if you didn't know how old you were). This includes the following: Strength and muscle Body composition mass (which results in greater balance, as you get older) Bone density Cardiorespiratory fitness Blood glucose control Aerobic capacity Blood lipids Blood pressure Gene expression, and telomere length Rounding out your exercise program with a 1-set strength training routine will ensure that you're really optimizing the possible health benefits of a regular exercise program. You can also "up" the intensity by slowing it down. For more information about using super slow weight training as a form of high intensity interval exercise, please see my interview withdr. Doug McGuff.
218 4. Hydrating with Sports Drinks For most average exercisers and athletes, sports drinks are a waste of your money, as they are loaded with refined sugars, artificial colors, and chemicals. If you exercise for 30 minutes a day at a moderate to high intensity, fresh, pure water is the best thing to help you stay hydrated. It's only when you've been exercising for longer periods, such as for more than 60 minutes, in the heat, or at extreme intensity levels where you are sweating profusely, that you may need something more than water to replenish your body. Besides plain water, coconut water is one of the best and safest options to rehydrate after a strenuous workout in which you are sweating a lot (about a quart of water or a two-pound weight loss on the scale). Coconut water has a powerhouse of natural electrolytes, vitamins, minerals, trace elements, amino acids, enzymes, antioxidants, and phytonutrients, and is low in sugar but still pleasantly sweet. Depending on how much salt you've lost through sweating, you might even add a small pinch of natural Himalayan salt to your glass of coconut water. One study in found sodium-enriched coconut water to be as effective as commercial sports drinks for whole body rehydration after exercise, with less stomach upset. 5. Doing the Same Exercises Over and Over When you find an exercise that works, you may be tempted to stick with it. Don't. Switching up your workouts will ensure your muscles continue to be challenged and prevent plateaus in your fitness growth. This doesn't mean you have to abandon your favorite moves entirely, just alter the intensity, frequency, or technique so that it prompts muscle confusion, which will help you build more muscle and increase fat loss. For instance, varying your grip while doing pull-ups will accomplish muscle confusion, as will using mid-range motion (instead of pulling yourself all the way up, stop about halfway, and hold for a few seconds).
219 6. Doing It Alone A workout buddy can help keep you accountable, rev up your motivation and simply make exercising more fun. That said, be sure to select your workout buddy with care. If your exercise ally is more interested in talking or ends up being a frequent no-show, then they're not doing you any favors. You may be better off hiring a personal trainer if you can't find a suitable workout friend. A Fitness Essential Many People Neglect: Movement Interruptions While Sitting Movement interruptions while sitting, or intermittent movement, are gaining a lot of attention, and for good reason. Studies have repeatedly found strong correlations between prolonged sitting or inactivity and reduced life expectancy even if you exercise regularly! For example, a recent analysis of 18 studies5 found that those who sat for the longest periods of time were twice as likely to have diabetes or heart disease, compared to those who sat the least. An earlier study6 that highlighted much of the recent evidence linking sitting with biomarkers of poor metabolic health, also found that total sitting time correlates with an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and other prevalent chronic health problems even if you exercise regularly. The answer, fortunately, is quite simple. You simply need to make sure you move your body more often. Simply standing up from a seated position has been found particularly effective at counteracting the ill effects of sitting. This is something I seek to do every 15 minutes while I am sitting. I set a timer to remind me. When the timer rings, I get up and do some simple hamstring, hip, or chest stretches for a minute or two. I am testing a variety of different ones and hope to report on them later this year. Last year, I also interviewed Dr. Joan Vernikos, former director of NASA's Life Sciences Division and author of Sitting Kills, Moving
220 Heals, on this topic. In the video below, you can learn more about her groundbreaking research, which reveals why standing up is such an effective remedy for too much sitting. Bringing Your Workout Into the 21st Century Been a while since you've exercised? Are you new to it entirely? Please don't feel intimidated! Getting started is simple: just startmoving. If you're very out of shape, a daily walk is a fine starting point. But as that grows easier you'll need to kick your activity up a notch (or three). One of the easiest, and most fun, ways to do so is by embracing technologies that allow you to use your smartphone or tablet as a fitness tool. Many of you reading this already have and use smartphones and tablets. What you may not have access to is a gym, personal trainer, or any type of exercise equipment. For little or no cost, you can access countless workouts via free or low-cost apps, allowing you to get a fabulous workout you may not have otherwise had, which is one of the most productive, and least dangerous, uses for these devices. There are tens of thousands of health apps available, so I recently highlighted my two favorite fitness apps, plus eight additional free options, you can use to get started. It's all about taking control of your health, and this is one empowering way to do so. On a side note, when using fitness apps, your phone or tablet can be kept in airplane mode to minimize any wireless electromagnetic field (EMF) exposure (while still allowing you to access its amazing computer power).
221 How to Prevent Lower Back Pain Back pain affects about 8 out of 10 people. But there are many steps you can take to avoid it. One of the best things you can do to prevent back pain is to exercise regularly and keep your back and abdominal muscles strong. Here are some quick pointers to prevent back problems: Always stretch before any strenuous physical activity (in fact it would be wise to engage in a regular stretching program like active isolated stretching, which is what I use every day) Don t slouch when standing or sitting Sit in chairs or car seats with good lumbar support Switch sitting positions often and periodically walk around or gently stretch muscles to relieve tension Don t bend over without supporting your back Wear comfortable, low-heeled shoes Sleep on your side to reduce any curve in your spine, and always sleep on a firm surface Lift with your legs, keeping your back straight Try to control your weight If you smoke, quit; smoking reduces blood flow to the lower spine and causes the spinal discs to degenerate
222 Also, to keep your spine strong, as with all bones, you need to get enough vitamin D every day. According to statistics from the American Chiropractic Association (ACA), approximately 31 million Americans experience low-back pain at any given time. Fifty percent of all working adults say they have back pain, and it's one of the most common reasons for missed work. The ACA also estimates that Americans spend at least $50 billion annually on back pain treatments! So what are back pain causes? Naturally, accidents and sports injuries can be the cause of the pain, but a number of other factors can contribute to back pain, including: Poor posture Obesity Poor physical conditioning facilitated by inactivity. Psychological/emotional stress Internal disease, such as kidney stones, infections, blood clots Osteoporosis (bone loss) Here we'll take a look at several all natural, non-drug, non-surgical remedies for this common problem. Pain in the Back? Look to the Front!
223 Many people fail to realize that many times the pain actually originates from theopposite side of where it hurts. For example, the very act of sitting for long periods of time ends up shortening the iliopsoas muscles that connect from your lumbar region to the top of your femur, at the front. When these muscles are shortened, it can cause severe pain when you stand up as they will effectively pull your lower back (lumbar) forward. Many people end up going through drastic medical procedures to "fix" this type of pain, or end up taking pain killers for extended periods of time, when in fact it can be easily remedied by massaging the iliopsoas muscle to release it. (Please note that this type of massage should ONLY be done by a qualified massage therapist, as your vena cava a large diameter vein runs nearby. In rare instances, if a person is prone to aneurisms, pushing on the vena cava could cause an aneurism. This massage technique is a deep one, but should be done gently.) You can also use mild stretching to counteract the shortening of your iliopsoas, especially if you sit for long periods of time every day. Likewise, having firm abdominal muscles is like having a built-in internal corset that not only holds your gut in, but also stabilizes your spine, vertebrae and discs. Many can completely eliminate their back pain simply by developing stronger abdominal muscles. Chiropractic as a First Line of Defense for Acute Back Pain Seeing a qualified chiropractor is certainly a wise option if you suffer from back pain. I am an avid believer in the chiropractic philosophy, which places a strong emphasis on your body's innate healing wisdom and far less reliance on band-aids like drugs and surgery. Chiropractic, osteopathic, and naturopathic physicians receive extensive training in the management of musculoskeletal disorders
224 during their course of graduate healthcare training, which typically lasts from 4-6 years. Due to their comprehensive training in musculoskeletal management, numerous sources of evidence have shown that chiropractic management is much safer, and less expensive, than allopathic medical treatments, particularly for low-back pain. One such study, published in 1993, found that chiropractic management of low-back pain is superior to allopathic medical management in terms of safety, effectiveness, and cost, concluding: "There would be highly significant cost savings if more management of LBP (low-back pain) was transferred from medical physicians to chiropractors." In addition, researchers have also found that chiropractic adjustments affect the chemistry of biological processes on a cellular level! What that means is that chiropractic care can affect the basic physiological processes that influence oxidative stress and DNA repair, so in addition to addressing any immediate spinal misalignment that might cause pain, it can also address deeper dysfunction in your body. Many people do not realize that there's a whole lot more to chiropractic care than just pushing bones into place. In fact, "vitalism" is a basic foundation of chiropractic philosophy. It's the recognition that your body has an intrinsic, innate life force that guides and directs your body's healing process. I previously published an article on this topic, written by Dr. Ben Lerner, the chiropractor who developed The Center for Maximized Living, and I encourage you to read through it for more information. But getting back to back pain specifically, a paper published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in 2007 titled Diagnosis and Treatment of Low Back Pain: A Joint Clinical Practice Guideline from the American College of Physicians and the American Pain Society concluded the only recommendation for active treatment of acute low back pain in
225 people who do not improve with other self-care options is spinal adjustment. For chronic or subacute low back pain, they recommend using "intensive interdisciplinary rehabilitation, exercise therapy, acupuncture, massage therapy, spinal manipulation, yoga, cognitive-behavioral therapy, or progressive relaxation." If you need help finding a chiropractor near you, this easy-to-use online resource can help you locate a chiropractor in your area. This Little-Known Technique Can Work Wonders for Many If you suffer from back pain and you've never heard of neuro-structural integration technique (NST), now's the time to bone up. Unlike massage or other manipulations that try to force a change, NST simply "resets" your body to heal itself. The results are profound and lasting, and usually apparent within two or three sessions. NST is a gentle, non-invasive technique that stimulates your body's reflexes. Simple movements are done across muscles, nerves and connective tissue, which helps your neuromuscular system to reset all related tension levels, promoting natural healing. It is completely safe and appropriate for everyone from highly trained athletes, to newborns, pregnant women, and the elderly and infirm. I will be offering a great NST DVD shortly, which can teach you more about this exciting system. For a more in-depthexplanation of NST, please see this previous article written by Michael Nixon Levy who developed the technique. To find an NST therapist near you, see our NST Therapists Page. The Psychological Factors of Back Pain
226 Few people want to be told that their pain is psychological or emotional in origin, but there's quite a bit of evidence that backs this up. Underlying emotional issues and unresolved trauma can have a massive influence on your health, particularly as it relates to physical pain. In a 2004 study, 100 patients were followed over the course of four years. None of them had back pain at the onset of the study. The participants instead underwent psychological tests, which were then compared to see which types of people remained pain free and which developed back pain. Not surprisingly, those who did poorly on the psychological tests were three times more likely to report having experienced back pain by the end of the study. I certainly believe that your emotional health and your ability to effectively address your stress is an essential component of optimal health, and can have a major influence on whether or not you're effective in eliminating your pain. And so do many other doctors and scientists from various fields of medicine. Dr. John Sarno, for example, is a psychiatrist who uses mind-body techniques to treat patients with severe low back pain. His specialty is those who have already had surgery for low back pain and did not get any relief. This is one tough group of patients, yet he has a greater than 80 percent success rate using techniques like the Emotional Freedom Technique/Meridian Tapping Technique (EFT/MTT). It's unfortunate that so many people dismiss these types of treatment strategies simply because they seem "too simple to be effective" just like NST mentioned above. We've been indoctrinated to believe that getting well involves radical, often painful treatment, when in most cases the complete opposite is true. Your body is constantly striving to achieve and maintain equilibrium in all aspects, and oftentimes all it needs to heal is a gentle reminder of what "normal" is.
227 Massage for Pain and Stress Relief Massage is yet another simple method that can help ease both pain and anxiety. Massage releases endorphins, which help induce relaxation, relieve pain, and reduce levels of stress chemicals such as cortisol and noradrenaline -- reversing the damaging effects of stress by slowing heart rate, respiration and metabolism and lowering raised blood pressure. Stronger massage stimulates blood circulation to improve the supply of oxygen and nutrients to body tissues and helps your lymphatic system flush away waste products. It eases tense and knotted muscles and stiff joints, improving mobility and flexibility. It is a particularly effective therapy for stress-related tension, which experts believe accounts for as much as 80 to 90 percent of disease. Final Thoughts With such successful alternatives available, there are few good reasons to turn to pharmaceutical or surgical band-aids that do nothing to treat the underlying causes of your pain, but might cause additional harm in the process. Last but certainly not least, as this Live Science article above states; keeping your spine strong also requires sufficient amounts of calcium and vitamin D. But I don't agree with the author's recommendation to get your vitamin D from your diet if you're unable to get sufficient amounts of sunshine. Sure, milk and many other foods are fortified with vitamin D, but they're far from good sources of this essential nutrient.pasteurized milk and other processed milk products, for example, are detrimental to your health for several reasons, and fortified foods are clearly inferior, if not downright hazardous to your health.
228 For more information on how to optimize your vitamin D levels, please refer to this previous article.
229 Simple Prevention and Treatment Strategies for Back Pain An estimated percent of Americans will experience back pain at some time in their life, and most cases are mechanical in nature, meaning the pain is not due to a serious medical condition such as inflammatory arthritis or fracture. Fifty percent of all working adults say they have back pain, and it's one of the most common reasons for missed work. According to the American Chiropractic Association,1 Americans spend at least $50 billion annually on back pain treatments, and are often left feeling more confused about their problem. Not surprisingly, back pain has become a major target for Big Pharma disease mongering.2 The latest example of this is the emergence of ads for ankylosing spondylitis, a chronic inflammatory disease of the axial skeleton, which includes the spine. Do you have back pain? Are you dismissing it as resulting from 'lifting too much' at the gym or 'bad posture'? one radio ad asks. You might have ankylosing spondylitis. The drug advertised is Humira, which has a price tag of about $20,000 a year. It is reprehensible for drug companies to promote this expensive and dangerous drug for an exceedingly rare cause of low back pain, which likely is responsible for less than a tenth of a tenth of one percent of low back pain. Side effects of the drug3 include tuberculosis, serious infections, increased risk of lymphoma and other cancers, hepatitis B infection in carriers of the virus, allergic reactions, nervous system problems, blood problems, heart failure, certain immune reactions including a lupus-like syndrome, liver problems, and new or
230 worsening psoriasis and that s the short list! There are many more. Considering the fact that most cases of low back pain are not caused by inflammatory conditions, you probably do not need this drug although you may have no trouble receiving it should you ask your doctor for it... Besides addictive and dangerous painkillers, pain injections also carry risks. Last year, nearly two dozen people receiving steroid injections for chronic back pain contracted meningitis. The outbreak was traced to a contaminated batch of injectable steroids.4 Since poor posture and/or improper movement is to blame for most cases of back pain, one of the best things you can do to prevent and manage back pain is to exercise regularly and keep your back and abdominal muscles strong. Foundation Training is a simple response to this common back pain problem. The program is inexpensive and can be surprisingly helpful, as these exercises are designed to help you strengthen your entire core and move the way nature intended. What s Causing the Pain? With the exception of blunt force injuries, low back pain is commonly caused and exacerbated by: Poor posture Poor physical Internal disease, such conditioning facilitated as kidney stones, by inactivity infections, blood clots Obesity Psychological/emotiona l stress Osteoporosis loss) (bone Back Pain is a Primary Reason Why the US has so Many Prescription Drug Addicts
231 Unfortunately, many simply end up taking pain killers and retiring to bed instead of increasing their activity once the back pain starts. Back pain is actually one of the primary reasons why so many American adults get addicted to pain killers. Addiction is a terrible side effect of these drugs, considering they do not actively change the issue causing the pain in the first place. Pharmaceutical drug overdoses now rank second only to motor vehicle crashes as the leading cause of accidental death in the US. The number of overdose deaths from opioid painkillers alone more than tripled from 1999 to 2006, to 13,800 deaths that year. This despite the fact that the FDA increased the restrictions for consumer drug ads in 2005, especially for COX-2 painkillers like Celebrex and Bextra. In the past, most overdoses were due to illegal narcotics, such as heroin. But prescription painkillers have now surpassed both heroin and cocaine as the leading cause of fatal overdoses. In addition, more than 700,000 people visit US emergency rooms each year as a result of adverse drug reactions to all drugs, not just the opioids. Adverse drug reactions from drugs that are properly prescribed and properly administered also kill about 106,000 people per year, making prescription drugs the fourth-leading cause of death in the US. Pharmaceutical drugs kill more than twice as many Americans as HIV/AIDS or suicide, yet they re still allowed to be advertised on TV, radio and in magazines. This is particularly ironic when you consider that the death toll from illegal drugs which is about 10,000 per year is dwarfed by the death toll (106,000 or more) from properly administered pharmaceuticals! The first step toward meaningful change is realizing that prescription drugs are JUST as addictive and dangerous as illegal street drugs. In many cases, they are identical. The only difference is their legal status. For example, hydrocodone, a prescription opiate, is synthetic heroin indistinguishable from any other heroine as far as your brain and body are concerned. So, if you re
232 hooked on hydrocodone, your body is responding as if you re a heroin addict... Perhaps even more ironic, prescription drug addiction is now also being advertised as a medical condition for which there is treatment... Back in the day, this was simply called Drug Rehab, but now they re trying to remove the stigma associated with drug addiction, since the vast majority are hooked on legal meds. Just because the drugs are legal, does not mean the addiction is any less severe or damaging. Tools to Prevent and Treat Back Pain I strongly recommend considering the least invasive avenues before resorting to pain medication or surgery. For starters, many people fail to realize that many times back pain actually originates from tension and imbalance at a completely different place than where the pain is felt. For example, the very act of sitting for long periods of time ends up shortening the Iliacus, Psoas and Quadratus Lumborum muscles that connect from your lumbar region to the top of your femur and pelvis. When these muscles are chronically short, it can cause severe pain when you stand up as they will effectively pull your lower back (lumbar) forward. The reality is that the imbalance among the anterior and posterior chains of muscles leads to many of the physical pains you may experience daily. By bringing these muscles to a better balance, you will consistently remedy many of these pains and discomforts. Many people end up going through drastic medical procedures to "fix" this type of pain, or end up taking pain killers for extended periods of time. Seeing a qualified chiropractor is certainly a wise consideration if you suffer from back pain. I am an avid believer in the chiropractic philosophy, which places a strong emphasis on your body's innate healing ability and far less reliance on band-aid responses like drugs and surgery.
233 Foundation Training an innovative method developed by Dr. Eric Goodman to treat his own chronic low back pain is an excellent alternative to the Band Aid responses so many are given. Foundation Training exercises work to gradually pull your body out of the movement patterns that are hurting you. The focus is on strengthening your complete core, which includes anything that directly connects to your pelvis, whether above or below it. Foundation Training teaches all those muscles to work together through integrated chains of movement, which is how your body is structurally designed to move. Every muscle that directly connects to your pelvis should be considered a piece of your core and this includes your glutes, adductors (inner thigh muscles), deep lower back muscles, hip flexors, hamstrings and all of your abdominal muscles. Having strong, balanced core muscles is like having a built-in corset that not only holds your gut in, but also stabilizes your spine, vertebrae, discs, and most importantly your pelvis. Teaching your body to naturally support itself at the deepest level is going to be far more effective than strapping on an external back brace, which over time can lead to even weaker musculature. Foundation Training is like Olympic weight lifting for the deep postural muscles of the human body. Yet another type of exercise called Egoscue can also be helpful in mitigating the damage from excess sitting. And, if you re in pain, Neuro-structural integration technique (NST) is another non-drug pain relief option. NST is a gentle, non-invasive technique that stimulates your body's reflexes. Simple movements are done across muscles, nerves and connective tissue, which helps your neuromuscular system to reset all related tension levels, promoting natural healing. It is completely safe and appropriate for everyone from highly trained athletes, to newborns, pregnant women, and the elderly and infirm. To find an NST therapist near you, see our NST Therapists Page. You can also purchase a DVD set to learn more about this technique. Foundation Training Basics
234 I m a huge fan of Foundation Training, and the primary exercise, called The Founder, is one that everyone would be wise to learn. It s an integrated movement that pulls together your entire posterior chain of muscles, thereby strengthening your back while lengthening your front. This and all other Foundation Training exercises disperse the force throughout your body and takes friction away from your joints, placing that tension into your muscles instead. I do these exercises daily and it is a great tool to build a stronger and more stable low back that is free from pain. Foundation Training can help counteract the negative effects of excessive sitting, which is not only a cause of chronic back pain, but can also increase your mortality risk from all causes. When you sit, your head and shoulders drop forward, and your hip flexors and abdomen shorten. Every exercise included in Foundation Training lengthens the front of your body, which is over-tightened, and strengthens the back of your body, which will help you stand tall and move with strength and flexibility. As explained by Dr. Goodman: The place to start is learning how to hinge effectively. Learning how your hamstrings, lower back, and glutes are designed to stretch together. Once that part is in place, you can then advance to all the exercises that build upon that foundation, that build upon The Founder exercise. Structural Decompression Breathing Also Helps Improve Posture and Reduce Pain Breathing is another important tool that is unfortunately ignored by most people. In his TED Talk below, Dr. Goodman demonstrates structural breathing, which will help improve your posture, especially while seated. Here s a summary: Sitting down or standing, place your thumbs at the base of your rib cage, pinkies at pointy bones at the front
235 of your waist. Think of the space between your fingers as a measuring stick. Pull your chin back so that your chest is lifting upwards and take three slow deep breaths as I instruct you below. As you breathe in, the distance between your thumbs and pinkies should increase. As you breathe out, tighten your abdominal muscles to prevent your torso from collapsing back down. This is the important step, do not let your torso drop back down towards the pelvis as you exhale. It should be challenging and you should feel your abdomen engage as you exhale. When done properly, your breath will help lengthen your hip flexors, stabilize your spine, and support your core using your transverse abdominal muscles. This will strengthen your back and keep your chest high and open. Do this exercise for 30 seconds or so, then go back to your normal seated position. With time, those muscles will get stronger, and your seated posture will gradually improve. With Foundation Training you should quickly notice dramatic improvement to your daily posture. The basic Foundation Training program takes about 20 minutes, and is ideally done daily. You can purchase the Foundation Training DVD from my online store. FoundationTraining.com also offers several free videos, and their thought provoking first book called: Foundation: Redefine Your Core, Conquer Back Pain, and Move with Confidence. Even More Tips to Beat Back Pain Preventing back pain is surely easier than treating it. Besides the recommendations already covered above, which included getting chiropractic adjustments, Foundation Training, Egoscue exercises, and NST, below are several more tips for beating back pain. With
236 this many alternatives available, there are few good reasons to turn to pharmaceutical or surgical band-aids that do nothing to treat the underlying causes of your pain, and might cause additional harm in the process: 1. Exercise and physical activity will help strengthen the muscles of your spine. Make your exercise time count by includinghigh-intensity sessions. You probably only need this once or twice a week at the most. You'll also want to include exercises that really challenge your body intensely along with those that promote muscle strength, balance and flexibility. Remember to build up your entire core to avoid back pain. Always do some stretching and warm-ups before engaging in strenuous physical activity, and make sure you focus on strong, balanced posture. 2. Optimize your vitamin D and K2 levels to prevent the softening of the bones that can often lead to lower back pain. 3. If you spend many hours every day in a chair like I do, pay careful attention to consciously sucking in your belly and rotating your pelvis slightly up. At the same time make sure your head is back with your ears over your shoulders and your shoulder blades pinched. This will help keep your spine in proper alignment. You can hold these muscles tight for several minutes and do this every hour you are sitting. 4. Address psychological factors. Few people want to be told that their pain is psychological or emotional in origin, but there's quite a bit of evidence that backs this up. Underlying emotional issues and unresolved trauma can have a massive influence on your health, particularly as it relates to physical pain. Dr. John Sarno,5 for example, used mind-body techniques to treat patients with severe low back pain and has authored a number of books on this topic. His specialty was those who have already had surgery for low back pain and did not get any relief. This
237 is one tough group of patients, yet he had a greater than 80 percent success rate using techniques like the Emotional Freedom Technique (he has now retired from practice). 5. Get regular massage therapy. Massage releases endorphins, which help induce relaxation and relieve pain. 6. Keep your weight spread evenly on your feet when standing. Don t slouch when standing or sitting to avoid putting stress on your back muscles. 7. Always support your back, and avoid bending over awkwardly. Protect your back while lifting this activity, along with carrying, puts the most stress on your back. 8. Sleep in a firm bed. Sleeping on your side to reduce curving of your spine and stretching before getting out of bed is also helpful. 9. Use chairs or car seats that offer good lumbar support. Switch positions often while sitting, walk around a bit and do some light stretching to relieve tension. 10. Wear comfortable shoes. For the ladies, it would be good to not wear heels most of the time. 11. Drink plenty of water to enhance the height of your intervertebral disks. And because your body is composed mostly of water, keeping yourself hydrated will keep you fluid and reduce stiffness. 12. Quit smoking as it reduces blood flow to your lower spine and your spinal disks to degenerate.
238 7 Surprising Back Pain Mistakes How many of these mistakes are keeping your back in pain? By Jesse Cannone In working with tens of thousands of clients over the years, we here at the Healthy Back Institute have found there are a number of common mistakes people make in trying to find relief from back pain. I would like you to read all about 7 mistakes I have identified and consider which of these mistakes you are making and how they relate to you and the way you have been treating your back pain. Here are all seven of these back pain mistakes in video, audio, and article format. Take your pick! Click play to hear the full back pain & sciatica teleseminar Download the teleseminar MP3 here Mistake #1: Continuing to do what doesn t work Why would anyone keep going to a health care professional for months and months without seeing any improvement? Beats me. But before coming to us, one of our clients actually went through 70 treatments with a chiropractor and got no relief at all. Our advisory panel suggests that you don t go beyond a threemonth period without improvement before considering making a change. It s not the number of treatments as much as it is the need to see steady gains. At the very least, you should insist on getting a monthly evaluation of your progress. You need to be clear that there is a plan of care, and that a proper diagnosis has been made. Mistake #2: Not dealing with pain the first time
239 Many people will experience back pain that lasts a few days and then they forget about it when the pain disappears, rather than making the effort to identify and address the cause of the pain. Here s an example. About 10 years ago, my mother had her first bout of back pain. She had back spasms for a few days, then the pain went away and she went on with her life. Two years later, it came back much worse than before. It got so bad she couldn t work. If she had dealt with it in the beginning, I doubt that it would have come back. Even if it had, it wouldn t have been nearly as bad. When you have a fall or some other accident, it s easy to figure out why your back hurts. But in most cases, your back pain could be caused by any number of things. You need to know what conditions are developing in your body, and more important, what is causing those conditions to develop in the first place. Mistake #3: Thinking you re too fit to have back pain You may eat right, exercise regularly, and be in good health, but that doesn t mean you can t experience back pain. Having been a personal trainer for many years, I ve seen lots of people in excellent shape who suddenly found themselves with lower back trouble. Those in good shape may be more likely to get back pain The reality is that people who exercise frequently are just as likely if not more so to develop back pain. Certain groups of athletes runners, cyclists, swimmers, dancers, gymnasts, bodybuilders are prime candidates for back problems. Cyclists, for example, almost without exception have serious muscle imbalances in the lower body primarily their quads, hamstrings, hip flexors, and glutes. This is because the constant
240 repetitive motion of peddling a bicycle overworks one set of muscles while underworking other muscles. The same thing can happen to non-athletes. Even if you don t do any of the above-mentioned activities, your workout program can create muscle imbalances if you re concentrating too heavily on certain areas of your body and neglecting others. Fit or not you will be in trouble. Mistake #4: Treating only the symptoms The majority of the treatments people receive for back pain cortisone shots, anti-inflammatory drugs, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and the like address only the symptoms. You must understand that pain is merely a signal that something is wrong. Even if you get rid of the pain, the problem is still going to be there. Here s an illustration: Suppose the oil light comes on in your car. You could put a piece of duct tape over the light which would eliminate the aggravation. But it s not going to solve the problem. Your engine is still going to need attention. And it s only a matter of time before it will shut down unless you do something. It s the same with pain. You re hurting because your body is going through abnormal changes and those changes are causing abnormal postural conditions and those abnormal postural conditions are causing your muscles, joints and ligaments to function under increased stress and strain until they eventually fail causing a painful condition like a herniated disc. Mistake #5: Not understanding that back pain is a process Most of the time, back pain and sciatica take weeks, months, or even years to develop. But you re not aware that there s a problem until something starts to hurt. Rarely is back pain the result of a one-time incident. Barring an injury, it just doesn t happen overnight. Consider this story from my business partner, Steve Hefferon.
241 When his child was learning to walk, he put up a baby gate at the foot of the stairs. Being lazy, Steve would lift his leg over the gate rather than opening it and walking through. He did this more than 30 times a day. One afternoon, he was cutting the grass and felt a radiating pain in his butt. The next time he cut the grass, the same thing happened. He eventually figured out that the awkward movement of stepping over the gate time after time had created a muscle imbalance. Driving to work, sitting at a desk, or performing some other seemingly routine activity can do the same thing. By now you re probably wondering: What exactly is a muscle imbalance? Try this analogy: You re driving your car down the road and your front end is out of alignment. This is going to cause your tires to wear unevenly. This can also happen to your muscles. To take this a bit further, let s do something we call the Glute Squeeze Test (Do not attempt this if you ve had a total hip replacement). Stand up and put your heels together, with your toes pointing out like a duck (at least at a 90 degree angle). Now, clench your butt muscles. Reach back and feel how tight they are. Relax. Next, turn your toes inward as far as you can. Now, with your toes touching, try to tighten your butt muscles. You can t tighten them nearly as much, can you? The reason is that your muscles are in an unfamiliar position they re simply not used to working this way, so they re not as strong. This should give you some idea of what a muscle imbalance is like. If you correct the imbalance, the condition that s causing the pain will go away. The good news is that it s easy to find out where these muscle imbalances and postural dysfunctions are on your own body. In 30 minutes or less you can find them if you know what to look for.
242 Once you know where these imbalances are, you can work toward correcting them by doing a combination of targeted exercises, stretches, and self treatments specifically designed for your condition. Another important thing to keep in mind: X-rays, MRIs, and CT (cat) scans do not reveal muscle imbalances or postural imbalances Mistake #6: The I ve Tried Everything Syndrome Insist on a complete head-to-toe assessment before treatment You tell yourself that there s nothing out there you don t already know about, that surgery is the only option left, or even worse that you ll just have to learn to live with the pain. I can almost guarantee you that you haven t tried a head-to-toe assessment, which is absolutely essential for identifying your muscle imbalances. I d be willing to bet that your doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist hasn t done them. I ve worked with a lot of chiropractors, so I have a pretty good idea how most of them operate. Maybe 10 to 15 percent of them will do a head-to-toe assessment. The rest do a single manipulation and nothing else. This will probably work for a while. But then you re going to find yourself having to go back three to four times a week until the insurance runs out. Mistake #7: Not taking control No one knows your body as well as you do, and nobody cares about your health as much as you do. Even if you re working with a great professional, you still need to educate yourself. Unfortunately, most people don t know much about how their own body works, let alone what actually causes back pain and how to get rid of it. Patients who are knowledgeable get better and faster results. Make the decision to be active in your own rehab.
243 Here s what you need to do: 1. If what you re doing isn t working STOP! Whatever treatment you re trying, you must see steady improvement. Otherwise, you need to make a change. 2. Deal with the problem NOW Waiting will only make things worse. 3. Recognize that fit people have muscle imbalances, too Athletes, in fact, may actually be at greater risk. 4. Treat the symptoms AND the cause Getting rid of pain is not the way to long term relief. 5. Remember, it s a process Your condition didn t happen overnight, and it s not going to go away overnight. 6. Be open-minded and positive If you try something new and believe it will work, then it just might. Negative thoughts guarantee failure. 7. Take control and take action Don t go to a doctor and sit there with your mouth shut. If they throw a word at you that you don t understand ask what it means. In the end, the power is in your hands
244 Here's The Sciatica Advisory You Requested... Eliminate Your Sciatica in Just Days by D. Robert V. Duvall, DPT, ATC, Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT and Steve Hefferon, CMT, of The Healthy Back Institute What's Covered In This Report: 4 Things Cause Sciatica... What's Causing Your Pain? Plus, Details on a Promising New Treatment... Dear Sciatica Sufferer, By requesting a copy of this sciatica advisory, you have joined over 500,000 people who have benefited greatly from the information covered in our advisory... Here at The Healthy Back Institute we have spent the last 10 years researching and studying back pain and sciatica... We've tested nearly every treatment, technique and product available... We promise you will find the information in this advisory to be extremely informative, educational and helpful. We've heard nearly every imaginable story and we are confident that yours is not that much different... While every case or situation is unique, there are some underlying elements that are always present. For example, there are 4 primary conditions that are responsible for nearly every case of sciatica... 4 Conditions Cause Sciatica...Which is Causing Your Pain? Sciatic pain is simply caused by pressure being placed on the sciatic nerve and there are primarily four things that can create this... you may have one or more of the following conditions: Condition #1 - Piriformis Syndrome
245 This is the most common cause of sciatic pain and is created when pressure is placed on the sciatic nerve by the piriformis muscle. Muscle imbalances pull the hip joints and pelvis out of place and this change of position typically shortens and tightens the piriformis muscle, which then places pressure on the sciatic nerve. Here's a illustration of a study done on over 1500 people who were suffering from sciatic pain... As you can see in example A, the sciatic nerve runs under the piriformis muscle the majority of the time... however, it occasionally will run thru or around the piriformis muscle as shown in the other examples. Whatever the case, muscle imbalances will cause major problems and are the underlying cause of piriformis syndrome. What The Heck Is a Muscle Imbalance Anyway?
246 When a muscle overpowers the opposing muscle, you have a muscle imbalance... Think Tug-of-War... When your muscles are out of balance they pull your bones and joints out of their normal position and this places your muscles, bones and joints under constant stress and uneven pressure... For example, the position and curvature of your spine is determined by numerous muscles and whether they are balanced or not... There are over 640 muscles in the human body! Nearly every muscle in the body affects your spine and if just one of these muscles are out of balance you're in trouble... ature In The Lower Spine Due To Muscle Imbalances... He re' s An Ex a m pl e Of Ex ce ssi ve Cu rv This is just one of the manyproblems that can be created by undetected and untreated muscle imbalances...
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