Here are some easy stretches you can do in the office. Do them a couple of times a day and you will be amazed at how relaxed and stress-free you will feel. Just click on each picture to view the stretch in motion. Have a nice stretch!
It is a simple fact that stress is a part of our everyday lives. Some stress is ok like the stress you feel when the alarm clock rings and you have to rush to get ready for school. Stress helps you perform, study, prepare breakfast, and get out of the way of harm.
So the real issue is not stress itself….but how much stress you have in your life and how you manage it.
We have all learned ways to manage our stress but most of the time our methods don’t help. They just make it worse. We try to push thoughts about things we need to do out of our heads. We try to rest. We try to forget about things. We try not to think about that event tomorrow. We try to get rid of stress by eating too much or by being angry or grouchy or by avoiding certain people or things. We don’t appreciate the good things. Everything is negative. We get a cold or flu; our head aches; we get a stiff neck; our whole body starts to hurt.
Stress can be a killer….
Stress can kill our training efforts, our practice sessions, our competition, our grades, our friendships, our bodies, our futures. Stress saps our energy. We are exhausted all the time.
If you think about it, you always know when you are stressed. Your body feels different – tight, sore, out of sorts. Everything becomes an effort. You begin to “trash talk” to yourself. You are not happy.
The Stress Response
These body changes are universal for all people who are stressed. This is called the “flight-or-fight” response. The physical responses to stress prepare you to run away from an enemy or stay and fight it. This “flight-or-fight” response helps you get ready do deal with what you perceive as a threat…like the coach yelling at you or the boss wanting stuff done NOW.
There’s a problem with all this. Your body and mind have no idea what the threat is. It could be a bear running after you or it could be that you are late for practice. So your body prepares you for any response. Here’s what happens in a matter of seconds:
Your heart pumps faster to get more blood to your muscles.
Your blood pressure is elevated as your arteries narrow and your heart beats faster
Your breathing becomes faster to move more oxygen to your blood
Your muscles tense up to get ready for action. You may feel a muscle spasm
Your digestion stops so more blood is available for your brain and muscles
You sweat more to cool off your body
Your pupils get bigger and your sense of smell and hearing become stronger
Your immune system, which protects you from infection, becomes compromised
This stress response affects you on all levels – emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, physically. Decisions you may make while stress may not be the most appropriate.
Stress can be divided into two categories.
Type 1 Stress
Type 1 Stress occurs when the source of the stress is immediate and identifiable and can be resolved in a very short time. An example of Type I stress would be if you were mountain climbing and lost your footing. Your body goes into immediate Type 1 stress and you get your footing back and begin to relax. This type of stress may also be pleasurable as when you are skiing downhill at a very fast pace.
Type 2 Stress
Type 2 Stress is long-term stress. This type of stress occurs when the source of your stress is unclear, less immediate, and sometimes not even recognizable. This is the kind of stress most of us experience. This is not good stress. An example of Type 2 stress would be trying to deal with an athletic injury or worrying that you may fail an exam at school or that you may never get into the college you desire.
Type 2 stress can lead to all kinds of physical as well as psychological symptoms. Some symptoms include:
An increase in muscle tension can result in muscle tightness, back pain and/or chronic headache.
Changes in breathing can result in shortness of breath or rapid, shallow breathing
An increased heart beat can lead to rapid heart beat, a scary situation
Increased brain activity can lead to anxiety, a lack of focus, racing thoughts, and depression
A disruption of your digestive system can lead to ulcers and intestinal problems
A weakened immune system can lead to increased risk of infections, colds, flu and will slow down your body’s ability to recover.
More on stress in follow up posts
Someone once said “You are only as strong as your weakest link” Remember the old song
The foot bone connected to the leg bone,
The leg bone connected to the knee bone,
The knee bone connected to the thigh bone,
The thigh bone connected to the back bone,
The back bone connected to the neck bone,
The neck bone connected to the head bone
The basic message from the song is that everything is connected. I remember back in massage school, there were signs everywhere that said, “Remember: Everything is connected.”
When you have a long standing orthopedic problem somewhere in your body, chances are the problem is connected in some way to another area of your body. If your ankles or knees hurt just from walking, you may have some issues with your feet. Even if your feet are hurting, there may be an issue with your calves. Tight calves can lead to problems in your knees, hips and lower back. This in turn can cause problems in your upper back, shoulders, neck and even head. You see, everything is connected, a kinetic chain. When a part of this chain is weak or damaged, it will affect other parts of the chain. Those parts affect other parts and so on.
People come to me complaining about sore, creaky knees, shin splints, achy shoulders, hurting ankles, bad feet, etc. While some of these problems are “acute”, meaning that they just occurred, usually from an outside force or trauma, most are linked and directly related to other issues in the body. And in most cases, these issues are created by trigger points – hypersensitive little knots of tissue that form in the body’s soft tissue. The unique thing about trigger points is that the trigger causing the pain in your arm may be located in a different part of your body. So focusing on the site of the pain may be counter productive.
Scar tissue build up or adhesions from previous injury. Most active people have some scar tissue somewhere in the body. Some of us have more than others. If you were ever injured, than you have scar tissue. This scar tissue can cause an obvious limit in range of motion, thus causing improper joint mechanics.
- Improper movement patterns. If you swing a golf club the wrong way long enough, not only will your golf game suffer, but you will quickly develop bad motor patters or mechanics. This in time will lead to imbalances of strength, and flexibility, pain, injury, and over compensation patterns. Bad movement patterns can occur in anything that you do, whether it is as simple as running, or more complex like throwing a baseball. Bad patters cause bad things to happen over time.
It is important when dealing with your own “issues” that you look at yourself more closely and try to find out where your problems lie. It is very important that those you choose to help you with your issues do not use a “cookie-cutter” approach. Hooking everyone up to an ultrasound machine may not be the best course of treatment. Everyone is different. Every person’s pain is different.
In the traditional medical world, the word “chronic” means “we have tried everything in our tool kit – x-ray, MRI, drugs, physical therapy, rest and more – and we don’t have any other way to help you. You are just going to have to live with it.”
I strongly believe that there are numerous “fixes” to most problems in the human body and most of these fixes can be done through simple means to correct the imbalances. Most people however use the band aid approach to the problems as they arise. A handful of Advil, a week off from your activity and some ice might make things feel better temporality, but until the real problem is solved, these issues will continue to haunt you.
Do yourself a big favor; the next time something is hurting, or you finally realize that you have chronic pain that has been with you for more than a month, find out why. Just by pinpointing the other issues in your body, you will better be able to figure out what is causing the current issues and hopefully get them fixed. I cab help you with this investigation.
Back or hip Pain?
Shoulder or Neck Hurt?
Recent research has shown that approximately 75% of most injuries and chronic pain conditions are a result of trigger points. Trigger Points are hypersensitive knots of tissue that form between other tissues causing the muscle, tendon, or ligament to contract. As the trigger grows, more tissue becomes involved creating more contractions and finally inflexibility, pain and injury.
Trigger points or stress points may also cause muscle soreness and decreased flexibility. These points are specific spots in muscle and tendons which cause pain when pressed, and which may radiate pain to a larger area. They are not bruises, but are thought by some to be small areas of spasm. Trigger points may be caused by sudden trauma (like falling or being hit), or may develop over time from the stress and strain of heavy physical exertion or from repeated use of a particular muscle.
Each trigger point in the body has a distinct pain pattern associated with it. In traditional medicine, focus is on the pain itself. Doctors prescribe medications, physical therapy, and other treatments focused on getting rid of the pain. But what happens when the pain caused by a trigger point in another part of the body?
As a nationally-recognized Trigger Point Therapist, my job is to find the trigger points causing your pain and eliminate them. If you suffer from chronic pain in your shoulder, back, neck, knee, ankle or virtually any other part of your body, you owe it to yourself to try trigger point therapy.