Little aches and pains
Do you pay attention to little pains and take care of them before they become big pains?
All of us are prone to ignoring warning signs, including me! For months I’ve had a recurring pain in my forearm, right along the radius bone. I thought, bone bruise, stress fracture? But could recall no injury.
Finally it dawned on me – gripping my phone and iPad. The thumb has many long muscles, giving it great mobility. They extend down the forearm. Overuse = tendinitis or tendinosis – inflammation and/or tiny tears in the muscle and tendon fibers. I am now much more conscious of how and for how long I am holding my devices.
We’ve probably all heard of “phone neck” from leaning over your phone. But phone thumb is also a risk, especially for you text-addicts!
I mention this as a cautionary tale. Pay attention to little pains so you can adjust your activities and save yourself from chronic pain and disability!
And consult your massage therapist for care and prevention! She can often help you pinpoint the source and cause of your pain, as well as suggest therapy and self care.
I have been reading a fascinating book “What Every Body is Saying” by Joe Navarro
While people vary somewhat due to temperament and cultural differences, the limbic brain expresses some very basic emotions in universal ways.
Everyone instinctively reacts to stressors in remarkably similar ways. When a surprise or threat pops up, we all freeze. When we are in an unpleasant situation, we attempt to either distance ourselves by changing our posture and/or soothe ourselves with gestures such as touching the neck or face, rubbing the forehead, or smoothing our legs with our palms.
We can also use posture intentionally to try to change our mood. Play act different moods by assuming the posture associated with it, and you will be amazed at how your feeling changes. I’m not suggesting this as a cure for depression, but as a mood lifter and attitude changer.
On a related thought, we can also pay attention to what we say to ourselves about our body. I encourage clients to identify with the progress they are making rather than the tension. A human being is always growing and changing, and while we may not always appreciate those changes, a kindly attitude towards our body goes a long way towards having a more contented life.
Taking the time to pay attention to your body mechanics and posture while working is a way of telling yourself that you matter and are worth taking care of. It is powerful to think of the implications of our actions and take charge of the situation accordingly – and don’t beat yourself up when you forget!
To prevent or recover from low back pain, exercise is terrific. But there is always the caution of avoiding exercises that put too much strain on untrained muscles and vulnerable joints.
Avoid toe touches, double leg lifts and full sit-ups.
Go for partial crunches, bridges, wall sits, bird dogs, press-up back extensions, knee to chest, pelvic tilts, and hamstring stretches.
Also, personal trainers have told me to avoid the back extensions weight machines at the gym. Because you are supported by the machine, it gives the illusion that you can do more weight than is really advisable. It is almost always more effective to do free exercises that recruit multiple muscle groups to stabilize you even while they focus on certain muscles.
Massage therapy is also a proven aid to any training program or recovery from strain or injury.
To see a slide show of good and not so good back exercises, follow this link:
Safe skin care can include educating yourself and being aware of changes in your skin. Your massage therapist may be the next best person after your dermatologist to alert you to anything that looks concerning. Your therapist can also use a massage lotion or cream that is safe and beneficial to your skin and avoid any allergies you may have.
Sun protection is a first line of prevention. The best way to protect yourself from too much sun exposure is to stay in the shade, wear a large brimmed hat and long sleeves. Many sunscreens on the market have problematic ingredients, and many do not perform according to the label claims. I consulted the Consumer Reports testing results for effectiveness, and the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) database for ingredient safety.
The ingredients in question are octinoxate and oxybenzone, which have shown hormonal effects in animal studies, but not in short term human studies. Also retinyl palmitate has shown carcinogenic effects in animals but has not been studied in humans. The FDA has also raised concerns about inhaling the mist from spray-on sunscreens, and recommended avoiding their use with children. Mineral sunscreens work by creating a physical barrier (think white noses of lifeguards).
When I cross reference these two sources for safety and effectiveness, the list is VERY short. For spray-on, the best product is Banana Boat Sport Performance Cool Zone, which ranks as 67 out of 100 in effectiveness and 4 on a scale of 1 (unquestionably safe) to 10 (definitely toxic). The best mineral cream as tested by Consumer Reports is Alba Botanica Sport 45 ranked at 67 and 2. Some mineral creams were not ranked for effectiveness, such as Honest Company which is available at Costco. Consumer Reports also notes that most lip balms are not effective as rated. It is hard to keep up with all of this as there are dozens of brands; each brand has numerous formulas; and formulas come and go regularly.
EWG does not rate insect repellents, but there is a widely available and very effective natural insect repellent: Repel Lemon Eucalyptus.