Managing Back Pain and Nerve Pain – tips to get your back on track

February 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

Do you wake up with lower back pain or stiffness and gingerly roll out of bed?  Does it take you a minute or two to straighten up from sitting?  How about a dull throb in the back, hip or deep into your sciatic nerve when you stand or sit for too long?   These symptoms as well as burning heels, numb or throbbing feet, knees or legs, constipation, tight upper back and shoulders and even heart burn may well be an indication that you’ve got back trouble brewing.

If you have significant back pain, you must take steps to improve your lifestyle and take a critical look at what you might be doing to cause irritation to the spine and nerves. If your back pain is ongoing then it’s likely you’re going to need some gentle intervention to aid in recovery and prevent your condition from worsening.

Body Stress Release (BSR) is a health technique which is concerned with accurate assessment and releasing of stored muscle tension in the body which has a direct influence on the nervous system and is useful in cases of muscular stress, nerve disruption (bulging and slipped discs), back pain, neck pain, headaches and related symptoms.  For more detail on the technique click here.

Tips to take care of a bad back:

The bones, muscles, and joints that make up your back are among your body’s biggest support systems. When any part of that system is weakened or injured, it becomes harder for your back to bear your weight. Up to 80% of adults have low back pain at some point in their lives.  If you have a seemingly healthy back, here are some preventative measures you can take to ensure that you remain that way.

  • Try to avoid bending, lifting, or reaching while twisting. These movements put extra stress on your back and exert pressure on the inter-vertebral discs.
  • Take extra care when you lift heavy objects. When you must lift, ensure that you bend your knees and flex from your hips.
  • In bed, try lying on your side with a pillow between your knees. Or lie on your back on the floor with a pillow under your knees.
  • When you sit, place a small pillow, a rolled-up towel, or a lumbar roll in the curve of your back for extra support and make sure your car seat is well supported and in an upright position

ergonomic bsr

  • Stand or sit tall without slumping or arching your back too much. Slouching and slumping increase stress on your back. Make sure you’ve set up your workstation ergonomically to prevent wear and tear in the workplace as repetitively bad posture may irritate the back, neck and shoulders
  • If you have back pain, do not bend over when you put on pants or socks. Instead, stand with your back against a wall. Then slide your shoulders down the wall, and bring your knee up. Gently step into your clothes, one leg at a time.
  • Avoid movements that are jolting and jarring and avoid all exercises that reverse the lumbar curve (such as sit-ups).  High impact sport (such as running or squash) is not recommended.  See my blog for further detail on Exercises you should AVOID when you suffer from back pain
  • Avoid slouching, lazy boy chairs, sitting with your legs up on the coffee table or twisting and sitting on your legs … all of these movements create pressure on the lower spinal vertebra resulting in irritation to the area.

Case study: Back pain and bowel problems

When Jack phoned he warned that he would be a challenging case as no one had ever been able to help him. He was desperate for help and eager to try BSR, which he had heard of only recently.  He shuffled into the practice, unable to lift his feet properly, and sat down painfully. At fifty years old, he had virtually lost control of his bowel functions, which was intensely embarrassing. Besides lower-back and sciatic pain, his knees were always aching and often swollen.

His story dated back twenty years, to his time as a paratrooper. He had severely injured his back on a jump, crushing several vertebrae in the lumbar spine. This had caused the spinal nerves to become compressed and damaged, including nerves which connect to the digestive system. As his condition worsened over the years, he consulted orthopedic surgeons but was told that surgery would be hazardous, and there was a 50 per cent chance that he would end up in a wheelchair.

The muscles in the lower back were rigid, in a protective spasm.  After a couple of releases Jack’s pain had much reduced and he was beginning to regain some control over his bowels. He was so encouraged, he even asked how soon he could start to play tennis.

After a few weeks of regular releases his bowels were functioning normally and he could walk long distances without tiring. The last problem to clear up was the pain in the knees, and with his gradual improvement he found that over the next few months he was able to started playing tennis again. He describes his recovery as a complete miracle.

As this case illustrates when disruptive muscle stress is released and muscles start to return to their natural tone, the compression on the spinal column starts to ease, reducing the disruption on the nerve pathways.  When the nervous system optimises recovery starts to take place!

Click here for additional BSR success stories 

5 exercises to AVOID if you suffer from Back Pain / Slipped Discs

August 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

60% of Adults experience back pain at some point in their life, and, for the most part they’re totally unaware that they are exacerbating their back pain by making bad exercise choices.

When you’ve got back pain the last thing you should be doing is rounding the spine (and reversing the natural lumbar curve).  The moment we bend forward or hunch the back, whether sitting or standing, the load on the disc space increases dramatically, putting a huge amount of pressure on the lower lumbar vertebra!.

It may come as some surprise that some of the more common exercises are actually some of the biggest culprits!

1) Toe-touching; and twisting the spine:

Repetitive toe touching rounds the spine and puts pressure on the lumbar curve, performing this repeatedly places pressure on the intervertebral discs which leads to degeneration.

2) Situps/Crunches

While sit ups used to be a favourite for working the belly this move only works 20 percent of your abdominal muscles and puts a huge strain on the back.  Pulling on the neck while crunching hurts the upper back and your lower back gets hit when as your hip flexors pull on the spine to raise your upper body off the ground.  So instead of opting for a gruelling sit up routine, consider planking – which works your entire body while really focussing on your core

repetitive sit ups put pressure on the spine

3) Double leg raisers

Another favourite in the gym, but again a common exercise that can stress the lower lumbar and Sacro iliac joints. For most people, it’s nearly impossible to keep the back from arching as both legs raise and lower. When that happens, the back hyper-extends, placing stress on the spine and increasing the risk of injury. If you’re set on doing double leg raises, try placing your hands underneath your lower back for added support, moving in a slow, controlled way. If you have any back pain – simply avoid this exercise.

4) Spinning with a rounded back

Mountain biking and cycling with an upright posture honours the correct lumbar curve and doesn’t create undue stress on the back, however leaning forward on a spinning bike or doing long distance road cycling may put stress on the lower spine and exacerbate tension in the area.  Commonly cyclist who complain of numbing fingers and numb toes while riding are actually suffering from the effects of locked up muscles which have tightened in response to the body’s rounded posture.

5) Running

 

Running is a high-impact exercise. The faster you run, the harder your feet hit the ground and this repetitive jarring is very hard on the joints and the spine. Studies such as the one published in the September 1986 issue of the “British Journal of Sports Medicine” found that the spine shrank by several millimeters after a 6 km run, and the shrinkage was directly proportionate to running speed. Although the relationship of spinal shrinkage to spine pain isn’t fully known, those results show how much stress running can put on the spine. If you experience chronic back pain, running may not be an option.

SUCCESSFULLY MANAGING BACK PAIN

Rule no 1 : you CANNOT build strength or tone into stressed or tight muscles!

When  one is experiencing pain or tension from body stress being present in the body the first approach is to release the tightly locked up muscles to allow the muscle tone to relax back to a more normal tone.  You’ll do by working with your Body Stress Release practitioner.

When the muscles have had an opportunity to release you’ll be able to build up strength through well directed exercise such as:

  • Swimming ; Walking ; Pilates and Core excercises that your BSR practitioner will give you.
  • Training with an instructor who understands the Biomechanics of the spine
  • Manage your limits :  In doing exercise, remember to listen to your body. Pain in the warning signal that you are starting to push yourself beyond your individual limit into “overload”.   When you feel pain, stop or adapt the activity- don’t try ignore the pain or “work through it” or supress it with pain killers.  In the long run a little rest often goes a long way in bouncing back stronger.

CASE STUDY:  PROLAPSED SPINAL DISC AND RECOVERY WITH  Body Stress Release 

Although the expression ‘slipped disc’  is often used it’s an inaccurate description. The inter-vertebral discs cannot slip, as they are firmly bonded to the surface of the vertebral bodies. However, with incorrect use over time, or as the result of an accident, a compressive force may cause the gel-like centre of the disc to protrude through the fibrous outer cartilage. The resultant bulge, called a prolapsed or herniated disc, may induce pressure on the spinal nerves.

The effects may range from pain to loss of sensation to nerve function disorder, leading to muscle weakness and loss of tendon reflexes in the back area or referring into legs and feet.

Simon, an engineer aged thirty-five, had pain radiating from his lower back into his groin, and the pain in his right leg was so severe that at times he could not stand on it. He” had been forced to give up his sports, running and golf. An MRI scan showed a prolapsed disc in his lumbar spine, and the specialist advised disc surgery.

A prolapsed disc puts pressure on the spinal nerve

Simon was strongly opposed to having an operation, and decided to try BSR. His buttock, thigh and calf muscles were extremely tense, as well as his diaphragm, and his back was very sensitive to touch. After the first session, he felt some hope, as the pain started to come and go, and he was aware of tingling in both feet. But he felt worse after the second, with the sensation of electric currents running up and down his right leg. The practitioner assured him that this was a positive sign, as nerve communication was restoring in the process of unlocking the muscular stress .

A few sessions later and he was completely pain-free.  However, his lower-back muscles felt tight, and he was given an exercise to strengthen his abdominal muscles. Soon he was able to play golf again and began to understand  importance of regular BSR for health maintenance so he kept on seeing his practitioner every 6 weeks.

Four years later Simon had another MRI scan, and the surgeon was astonished to see no sign of disc prolapse!

This case study demonstrates that, if the stored tension around a prolapsed disc is released, the compression on the disc space is relieved. In many cases this allows the pressure on the jelly-like core to be redistributed towards normal thereby allowing the bulge of the cartilage to reduce.

For further case studies on Neck pain, back pain, sciatica, headaches, or  information on  how BSR can assist with muscular pain click here www.unlockingtension.co.za

10 tips to prevent back pain

April 24, 2013 in Uncategorized

Back pain and it’s referred effects (i.e. pain down the legs, hip pain and burning feet) affects as many as 80% of adults at some point in their lives. In my Body Stress Release practice it’s the most frequent client complaint, followed closely by headaches and upper back tension. With the ever increasing pace of the corporate world more and more people are starting to suffer the effects of hunching over laptops and mobile devices. With repetitive physical stressors, as well as emotional triggers; over time our body’s coping mechanisms are over-ridden and we start feeling the effects of stress.

Body Stress Release will help to put you back on track and can assist you with managing long term muscular stress, injuries and back problems – but once you’ve been set back on the path to recovery, there are a few simple tips you can keep in mind to avoid re-stressing the body.

Take note of these simple points to keep your back strong:

Strengthen Your Support System:

Keep your back strong and limber by exercising it at least two or three times a week. Walk, swim,stretch and do other low-impact exercises. Add some gentle abdominal exercises that strengthen the core and avoid high impact exercise (like squash or running). If you feel any back pain while exercising, stop what you’re doing! Pain is the body’s early warning sign, it should never be ignored!

Sit Up Straight:

Don’t hunch over a laptop – it puts a massive strain on the back

Raise your chair until you’re at a comfortable distance from your desk without having to reach or slouch. Flatten your back and buttocks against the chair, keeping your knees slightly higher than your hips and your shoulders back. Choose a chair with good lumbar support, and sit in the same good posture; whether you’re working at your desk, watching TV, or driving in your car. If you have to sit for long periods of time, get up every 30 minutes or so to stretch your back. DO NOT hunch forward over a laptop … it wreaks havoc with your back and often results in symptoms of locked shoulders and upper back and neck stress.

Lighten Your Load

Repetitively carrying a heavy bag will create muscular stress and misalignment

When you leave your house in the morning only carry what you need. Remove all non-essential items from your hand bag, lap-top bag or briefcase. If possible carry a back-pack bag with weight distributed across both shoulders, or better still, invest in a pull-along lap-top bag. Carrying ill-distributed weight or heavily loaded bags puts a lot of stress on the neck, shoulders and upper back. Your body tries to compensate for the load and you’ll feel burning between the shoulder blades as your upper back locks up.

Avoid Banana Spine

Dont round the curve of the back when sitting

Sitting on the couch with your legs up on the coffee table, bending to touch toes, repetitive sit up excercises, leg raisers or leaning forward for long periods of time reverses the natural lumbar curve and puts EXTREME pressure on the lower lumbar discs. Maintain a healthy back by practicing good posture. When standing hold your stomach in, your head straight, and your shoulders and hips in line. Keep your knees slightly bent and your weight balanced evenly on your feet. Remember the words your mother drummed into you “Stand and sit up straight”!

Take a Load Off

Always bend your knees and lift using your legs, not your back

To avoid lower-back pain later, use the right approach to lifting. Kneel down and get close to the item you want to pick up. Tighten your ‘abs’ so they support and protect your back. Then lift with your legs, not your back, and avoid twisting. Keep the object close to your body while you’re carrying it. NEVER try to lift anything that you know is too heavy for you. The only thing you’ll accomplish is hurting your back!

Sleep Easy

Sleep on your back or your side, with a pillow between the knees

Get rid of your soft featherbed or waterbed and replace it with a firm mattress that offers plenty of back support.  Avoid sleeping on your stomach – this puts undue pressure on your neck and can cause tension. Either lie comfortably on your back or lie on your side to take the pressure off your back. Pop a cushion between your knees to reduce the pressure even more.
Make sure that your head is properly supported with a pillow, in line with your shoulders, without being raised too high or dropping down too low.

Lose Weight
If you’re several pounds heavier than your doctor recommends for your height, losing weight is an important part of pain prevention. Combine exercise with a healthy diet to get down to a lighter frame that will be easier for your back to support.

Bone Up
While you’re changing the way you eat to lose weight, add in nutrients that build bones and prevent fractures. Make sure you’re getting enough calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorous from a supplement and foods.

Ditch the Stilettos
Ladies, high heels might make your legs look sleek, but they’re murder on your back. Walking around on wobbly heels all day can destabilize your posture and leave you with some serious back pain. Leave the towering heels in your closet for special occasions and instead wear low, comfortable shoes that support and cushion each step.

Stress Less
The pace of life has become unrelenting – humans were not designed to sit hunched in front of laptops answering emails all day! Hunching over compresses the chest cavity, and we get into the habit of shallow stressed breathing.  Try and take time out each day to stretch and walk and make sure you break your working routine with frequent short breaks.

INTERESTING CASE STUDIES
Sciatica during pregnancy

Restless Legs

Lower back pain and narrowed intervertebral discs

Pain and weakness down the legs

Calf pain and back pain

I’d love to hear your stories and I’d welcome your feedback.

www.unlockingtension.co.za / sarah@unlockingtension.co.za

 

Groin Pain, Gammy Legs and a Great Dog Story!

March 26, 2013 in Uncategorized

When clients hear that I used to work in magazines they often ask if I miss the glitz and glamour of media.   That usually makes me chuckle because in my Body Stress Release practice seeing the body’s incredible healing potential is so rewarding it’s glamorous enough for me!

This month I’ve decided to share with you a handful of success stories from the past few months – each day I’m reminded of our body’s remarkable ability to bounce back to balance when the nervous system starts to optimise. So, for those of you battling with back ache, headaches, random pain, sporting injuries, fatigue, disease and distress … if you take only one lesson away with you today may it be to trust that your body does have the ability to restore itself when given an adequate chance!

An Athlete with headaches, groin and hip pains

An ex-professional sprinter and cycling enthusiast came to me with a stiff back, shooting pains into the thighs, groin and hips as well as numb fingers and daily headaches.  He also suffered from heartburn and his knees ached.  He was hoping to get back into running again and wanted to start training but he felt like his body was totally broken. He wasn’t making any headway with his training, and each new day he seemed to wake with a new ache or pain.  In time he was able to return to the track <read his story>

For similar cases of back and related leg pains click here.

Lucy The Daschund … straight from the owner’s mouth:

“In January our 9 year old female dachshund, Lucy, started having back problems. Her back would go into a spasm causing her pain and limiting her mobility. We were in quite a panic because we had to put our male dachshund, Frankie, to sleep a year ago with the same problem. We were devastated.

We visited the vet a few times and the vet prescribed muscle relaxant/pain pills and did an X-ray. We were told that she might have a slipped disk and that they would need to do an MRI, but since the MRI is very expensive we decided to see if the pills would help.

After the third vet visit the vet gave us a week – if Lucy didn’t get better and they didn’t operate, she would have to be put to sleep. Lucy was given more pills. (We could not afford to pay +-R13 000 for an operation)

I had previously been to see Sarah for a few BSR sessions and decided to ask her if she could work on Lucy.  Lucy went for her first BSR session in February and after just two sessions we could see a noticeable difference. Lucy had a total of four BSR sessions and she improved remarkably, by the 4th session she had no sign of pain or discomfort – and it actually looked as if she was looking forward to her BSR!

It’s now a few months later and Lucy is running around, playing with the puppy and enjoys her walks in the park, and the vet is thrilled with her progress.  Lucy got a second chance, thanks to Body Stress Release”.
Lucy’s Owners: Lyndall Blake & Janine Morris

What is Body Stress Release

Unfortunately we often don’t realise how much stress our bodies are functioning under.  Most of us just accept daily aches and pains as part of the norm and put it down to getting older.   How many of you wake up with a stiff back, sore neck, numb fingers or a dull sinus headache which seems to pass when we get up and move around?  Or how about those nasty calf cramps that sneak up on you at night, burning toes while cycling or that sudden knee pain that comes on when jogging?

All of these effects including others like Indigestion, heartburn, constipation, hormonal imbalances and fatigue are signs that the body is not adapting adequately to stress and in time you could start to see more serious effects starting to manifest. There are some basic things we can do to alleviate stress such as meditation, breathing techniques, moderate excercise, proper planning and scheduling in adequate relaxation time.  But lets face it, most often we start of the year wtih great intentions and find that things have fallen by the way side by Easter!

Look out for my next blog on Ergonomics where I will give you some simple meaty tips on setting on your workstation correctly to avoid the regular repetitive upper back and shoulder stress office workers tend to suffer with.

For further information on the BSR Technique and success stories see www.unlockingtension.co.za

From Migraines & Magazines to Body Stress Release: My journey back to health

February 23, 2013 in Uncategorized

For long as I can remember I wanted to be famous.  As a child I’d spent hours dreaming of being a ‘doo-wah’ girl in Bruce Springsteen’s band, but soon discovered that I didn’t have the voice or moves for Rock-Star status.  I was forced to set my sights a little lower and I focussed on ‘mini-fame’, a quest to have my name  in lights somewhere public. I guess at the time that was my bench mark on ‘making- it’ in the world.

Well “mini-fame” all happened faster than I’d imagined: my name soon appeared on the credits of the Big Brother TV Show, in the mast head of some well- known magazines, and in the TV credits of a travel series … I was managing magazine events, working with big brands, doing radio interviews, living a very fast pace and clocking up my fame points one after the other … but my body wasn’t keeping up.  More to the point I felt a million years old, I felt like hell.  That’s the media industry and the corporate ladder.  Eventually the years of burning the candle at both ends,  managing work and a social life, seem to catch up with you.

In my 20’s I thrived, I was running on passion, adrenaline and caffeine. By my 30’s I’d become an expert juggler, but my body started to take some strain.  I found I needed more sleep, I was less resistant to infection and I had mild aches and pains that I put down to ageing. I’d been plagued with hormonal imbalances from my mid-20’s (which was likely as a result of living in flight or fight mode) and stress slowly started to  wreak havoc in my system; gradually eroding away enthusiasm and energy and replacing it with various mild afflictions.  I had frequent tension headaches, jaw pain, constant tight shoulders, upper back and neck stress, constant sinus problems and a dull pressure cooker in my head …. until… BAM!! One day I started suffering from frequent and severe tension headaches which turned into regular debilitating migraines.

I didn’t have time to take time-off, so I found myself in a mad cycle of trying to find quick fix solutions, medicating symptoms where I could.  At this point I was living on pain killers; I’d tried every technique that I knew of.  I was at the chiro and physio weekly, I’d been for electro- balancing, needling, alignment, magnetic therapy. Some things had helped, but nothing had seemed to give me long term relief. I’d been referred to a neurosurgeon and had the standard brain tumour brain scan.  I’d tried mind power, positive thinking and get well mantras, deep breathing (in between bouts of violent headache vomits).  You get the picture? Things weren’t going too well for me.

I went away on a diving holiday.  By this point I’d been put on a strong drug at night to try and “relax my muscles”, it didn’t really help with the neck stress but left me feeling groggy and vague.  Even on my stress-free holiday my tension headaches were so severe I missed out on some of the dives.  There were days that I felt I couldn’t lift my head off the pillow. I was desperate.  I didn’t know where to turn.

I was fortunate to stumble across Body Stress Release through recommendation from a friend. I’d never heard of it and I thought it sounded a bit “away with the fairies” so I was sceptical to say the least.  I was surprised to learn that it was a technique developed by two local ex-chiropractors who’d studied internationally, and even more surprised to hear it had been around for 20 years and was practiced in 18 countries worldwide.

At that point I was running out of options, so I figured I had nothing to lose by giving it a go.  Now, make no mistake, Body Stress Release (BSR) was not an instant fix, I had to give my body a chance to recover, re-align, adapt and heal. BUT I can say that BSR was the start of my body’s gradual healing process and unbeknown to me at the time, also the start of a brand new direction in my life.

While most of the previous health care professionals I’d seen had focussed only my head and neck, from manipulation to x-rays, massage and migraine meds – with BSR I discovered that the root of my problems came from my lower back as well as my neck – working together as a unit.  The nerve supply from the spinal area not only affects the muscles and limbs but also influences our vital organs and entire system.  Muscular stress in the lower back, coupled with a few old whiplash injuries, falls and a fast paced life had literally pushed my body into coping mode and my body was battling to adapt.  It had been shouting at me for years with the warning signs and I was desperately trying to drown out the its voice with pain killers!

Body Stress Release didn’t focus on the symptoms, my practitioner simply nudged my body into restoring its natural communication and by doing this so many other things fell into place. I went from being a headache zombie to a more energised and positive person with a lot more respect for my body! By releasing stored body stress one automatically upgrades the body’s entire communication system (nerve pathways), allowing it to focus on healing and getting on with key activities rather than having to focus all its energy on “protective” or “splinting” action.

It was only after a couple of years of seeing my own gradual transformation back to health that I realised how much I’d sacrificed for “success”.  My body had some serious recovery to do and I’d inadvertently stumbled on something that inspired me so much I realised that this was the path I wanted to follow.  My migraines had led me to a new vocation and at age 37 I announced to the world that I was tossing my media career and the job security that came with it and embarking on a new adventure.  Most people thought I was a fruit-loop, but it was the best decision I’ve ever made!

I realise now that I had to go down this path of pain to get out on the other side … and while I may not have the flashy name in lights, the glamour, the perks or the security of a monthly pay cheque; I am wiser, healthier, and far more successful than I’ve ever been by the benchmark of happiness.

Now I’m truly blessed to wake up every day looking forward to helping others.  I work with babies, children, corporate high flyers, pensioners, and often even their pets.  So many people come to me in a frenzied mess and it brings me such joy to see them evolve as they slowly start recovering.

Perhaps the biggest privilege I have is in this work is to witness the transformation that takes place when clients realise that they have a unique ability to regenerate and heal and discover that their bodies are finally worth trusting once again.

For more on Body Stress Release: www.unlockingtension.co.za or mail me on sarah@unlockingtension.co.za

Hello world!

February 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

Welcome to Health24 Blogs. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!