The Things We Do...
"Why does my back always hurt?" "Why does this pain start near my spine and travel down my hip and leg?" "Karen, make it stop!"
I'd love to make it stop. I'd love to put my hands over the painful area and simply erase the pain. I can only do so much, though. I will always take you as far as I can on your journey to feeling better, having more range of motion, being able to sleep.
Sometimes, I'm not enough. Sometimes you need to make some changes in your own world - your work station arrangement, your eating habits, exercise or stretching regimens; these are just a few possible changes you may need to make for your own comfort and health. But there are a few changes that a large number of my clients may not even be aware of that can start the ball rolling for major improvement.
Ladies; in our ongoing efforts to look just right, we have a tendency to wear garments intended to "smooth the lines" of our figures, or boost the appearance of our bosoms. Almost daily, we are presented with pictures of what we "should" look like. I'm not going to launch into a speech on self-image and body-shaming here. That's not my area. What is my area is how to make you more physically comfortable in the body that you have. And I'm here to tell ya' - that brassiere that pushes your breasts up towards your nose to pretend they're still just as firm as they were when you were 18 is not helping your body. The same goes for those body sculpting panties that hold your tummy in to prevent that "unsightly muffin top," or those pantyhose that accentuate your buttocks, or those super high stiletto heels that squeeze your toes into cramped and uncomfortable positions. I see lots of women who are absolutely gorgeous without any help at all, not because they naturally have the body of a super-model, but because they let their bodies be what they are.
Why am I preaching about this? Because these garments that you are using to improve your appearance are causing you harm. When you cram your tummy into those super-constricting panties, you aren't simply constricting fat; there are organs under that fat; there's a spine under that fat; hips; muscles. You're smart; you get the picture. When you constrict that fat, it presses in on all those things beneath it, and that constriction then reduces the ability of that organ, joint or muscle to do its job properly. When you wear that fancy push-up bra, one of the things that gets constricted is your axial lymph node - the lymph node located in your armpit, which helps move lymph and toxins from your hands and arms up into the lymphatic system for filtering and/or removal from your body. When you wear those shoes with the pointy toes and high heels, over time the joints and muscles begin to re-position themselves to fit in the cramped space or to allow for the extreme positions forced on your toes, feet, legs, hips, and spine. I'm not saying you shouldn't ever use the items. I like to dress up once in a while, and when I do, I want to look "just right." And believe me, in my case, I'd probably need every single thing on the list. But, wearing those items too frequently definitely has a negative impact, and I see it almost daily in my line of work.
Help your spine stay balanced properly by carrying a balanced load when you are out and about or going to work. We women tend to carry a lot of stuff just in case we need it. I'd love to say that you should only carry what you need to survive, but most of us tend to work on the principle of being prepared for anything. I call my purse my magic bag of tricks because you never know what I'm going to pull out of it. But I have learned to give my spine a break even with the load I carry. If you can give up a little bit of fashion, go for a back-pack style purse, or a messenger bag with a long strap that can be worn sash-style instead of all on one shoulder. If you don't want to give up that fashion, there are a lot of nice options out there that are both fashionable and functional.
Gentlemen, you are not in the clear, either! The biggest thing I see causing problems for men - aside from heavy lifting and general over-exertion - is your wallets. Look up "slim wallet" or "streamline wallet" and look into trimming down how much stuff you pack into the pocket on one side of your buttocks. I would be willing to believe that a man's wallet was the real problem that caused the Leaning Tower of Pisa to lean. I say that because that is exactly how a man's hips, sacrum and spine look to me after he has spent years sitting on a wallet stuffed full of family photos, business cards he never looked at, credit cards and cash. Put your family photos on your mobile device. Same for the info from that business card. Only carry the cards and ID's you actually need. HELP ME HELP YOU!
We are not designed for this! Every little change we make has a ripple effect on the rest of the body. An improper gait when we walk eventually causes reduced function in the knees, then the hips, the back, right on up to the neck. I'm not a chiropractor - I work muscles, not joints - but when your joints are out of line, your muscles rearrange themselves to be able to do their jobs in spite of the joint issue. The result is pain and lost range of motion. That leads to less desire to get out there and move, which reduces energy levels to carry you through the day, which reduces your ability to rest properly. When you can't rest properly, you can't heal yourself properly and the cycle continues and escalates until you experience a major injury or health issue.
Again, I say: HELP ME HELP YOU! Do what you can to minimize the daily damage to your body and maximize your health potential. Breathe. Move. Get a massage. Sleep. Repeat. Be kind to your body so it can carry you through a long, comfortable and happy life.