Tag Archives: back pain

Heal Back Pain

new purse cropped
This new purse holds my hiking sticks. The new normal: carry sticks when I leave the house walking anywhere.

Heal Back Pain

I struck gold when mining my magazine and journal basket in the bathroom recently. In a 2011 issue (January) of Seattle Woman Magazine, Nancy Shatz Aton gives us 10 ways to heal back pain. This excellent list comes from her book, The Healthy Back Book: A Guide to Whole Healing for Outdoor Enthusiasts and Other Active People. It’s a book on my wish list, for sure. Here are her 10 suggestions with my comments. Put this away somewhere handy for when you need it, or put the suggestions to use right now.

Most Americans suffer back pain at least once during their life time and some of us develop chronic lower back pain conditions that give us grief on a regular basis. That would include me. I am so happy I saved and now found Nancy Alton’s tips for managing this pain.

 

  1. Take charge of your healing. Although working with a knowledgeable practitioner who discusses every aspect of an injury can be helpful, it is important to realize you are in charge of your own healing. Whether you experience back pain daily or only a few times a year, living with it is about self-management. This is the premise of my GrandmaBetsyBell blog: self-care. Picture the various types of therapies available to you as spokes of a wheel. Imagine yourself as standing on the hub of that wheel. You can select any combination of therapies, or spokes, from that big wheel.

 

  1. Tune into the mind-body connection. I find it interesting that this is her #2. Becoming self-aware is key. Pain has a physical component, but it also derives from our emotions. We tell ourselves a “story” about why we have low-back pain. We sometimes ignore the emotional side of the tale, But thinking that way overlooks the powerful role emotions play in the story of pain. Both the rational explanation and the emotional component are part of the mind-body connection; that is, how our minds and the emotions, thoughts and feelings emanating from them affect our bodies. “Like all experiences, pain is influenced by everything that is going on in a person’s life at the time, and probably everything that has gone on in the past,” says Dr. J. David Sinclair, a pain-management specialist in Seattle.
  2. Move often. Keep Moving! It is ideal to exercise your body every day. Of course, after a back injury you’ll need your doctor’s OK before you begin exercising. Resume normal activities and movement patterns as soon as possible; moving your body leads to healing. A 1996 health campaign in Australia erected billboards and produced radio and television spots with messages such as, “Does your back hurt? Get up and take a walk.” And “Back pain—don’t take it lying down.” The campaign conveyed the message that engaging in the daily activities of life is often the best treatment for back pain. During and directly after the campaign, the rate of medical payments for back claims fell more than 25 percent!

 

  1. Find a good rehabilitation specialist. When your back goes out, often the first person you call is your primary care doctor. Next time, you might want to try booking an appointment with a physiatrist (fi-see-a-trist) as well. My primary doc. sent me to Dr. Ren, a physiatrist, or Sports medicine doctor. Way more useful than a referral to the orthopedist. Dr. Ren urged me to walk 30 minutes every day, with hiking sticks, if necessary. No sitting down because of the pain from sciatica. Keep walking. She offered me hard drugs, but so far I’ve been able to get by with the Shaklee Pain Relief. She encouraged me to change from Aleve to Tylenol which I think will be good for my stomach. More than 3 Aleve a day made me sick to my stomach.

 

 

A physiatrist is a specialist in treating illnesses and injuries that affect how people move their bodies, and ae especially well qualified to deal with back injuries. Physiatrist believe in educating patients about their conditions and helping people understand that movement is an important tool for easing low-back pain.

 

  1. Try out different bodywork treatments. Hands-on therapies can be incredibly healing. Adding one or more of these complementary practices to your medical care might promote healing, ease pain and contribute to a sense of wholeness. More than 80 types of therapies fall within the category of massage, from Swedish massage to RuiNa. It’s worth finding a well-recommended practitioner and looking into unfamiliar bodywork therapies. Your road to healing may begin with an appointment with a bodywork practitioner. Have you thought about trying Bowenwork, Rolfing, Heller work structural integration, hypnotherapy, chiropractic care, osteopathy or acupuncture?

 

  1. Strengthen Muscles. Back injuries often stem from muscular imbalances. This is why practicing yoga or Pilates can be so beneficial for both easing back pain and preventing future back pain episodes. Both yoga and Pilates help develop a person’s core strength, which includes the abdominal, pelvic floor, buttocks, hip and lower back muscles. During class, you strengthen these muscles, build muscular endurance and learn how to initiate movement from the core area. The way you move on the mat will begin to carry over into your daily life, which can correct poor postural traits and eliminate the corresponding low-back pain. Two other movement therapy practices that have proven successful in easing and healing low-back pain are the Feldenkrais Method and the Alexander Technique. I have posted my recommendations and experience with Myo fascial release therapy, Feldenkrais and Pilates for low back pain.

 

The caveat here is you will be paying for these therapies out of pocket in almost all health insurance plans and it is expensive. I just began a 4 week course with a therapeutic yoga specialist and see results already. Four weeks cost $150. Every Myo facial release session with Cedron Sterling costs $160 for 90 minutes. His work has made a huge difference and certainly worth the expense. Most of us cannot afford these wonderful therapies that keep us out of the orthopedist’s surgery theater.

 

 

  1. Mediate. Practicing meditation can help bring relief to back pain. Mindfulness meditation had numerous benefits for the chronic back pain sufferers who took part in an eight-week study reported in Pain in 2008. These patients experienced less pain, improved physical function, pain acceptance and better sleep. Meditation can be any activity that elicits the relaxation response in a person, which simply means your body calms down, lowering metabolism, blood pressure, heart and breathing rates. Forms of meditation include the relaxation response, transcendental meditation, mindfulness meditation, tai chi, repetitive prayer and walking meditation. Practicing any movement therapy that has you focus on your breathing while moving your body with intention can be a meditative experience.

 

  1. Watch what you eat. Inflammation often causes pain and swelling. You can modulate your body’s inflammatory response system through diet. Through simple changes, you can decrease your likelihood of generating an overly high inflammatory response during a back pain episode. To decrease inflammation in your body, include the following foods in your diet: cold-water fish, fruits and vegetables, whole grains and high fiber foods and water. The following food can increase inflammation, so minimize these food types in your meal plan: red meat and high-fat dairy products, sugar white food, flavored drink and highly processed foods.

 

I have posted an extensive commentary on foods that reduce inflammation. The best of these posts is here.

 

  1. If it involves a disk, be patient. Disk herniations heal without surgery more than 85% of the time and several studies have shown that after two years, people who have had surgery and people who have not had surgery recovered at equivalent rates. If you feel your back pain stems from a herniated disk or disks, try all avenues of noon-operative care. “Probably upwards of 40 percent of people who eventually get surgery aren’t happy with it in the end,” says family physician Sarah J. D’Heilly, MD.

 

My original injury involved a herniation at L5. It is much less protruded now and had pretty much healed, although that is the place here the sciatica pain originates.

 

  1. Keep trying. Sometimes a doctor or a practice might not be the right fit for your low-back problem. If you try a therapy or new practitioner and don’t find any relief or see any progress after a handful of sessions, it might be time to move on. This can be discouraging. Still, it is worthwhile to try new paths to healing, whether that means trying a different bodywork technique or Pilates or talking to your back specialist about other options. It is also helpful to think about the term healing, which isn’t defined by a cure. There isn’t always a cure for low-back pain, but you can begin to see yourself as a whole person with low-back pain. Healing might mean learning self-care methods to alleviate your pain, practicing yoga a few times a week, seeing your doctor as needed and living your daily life a fully as possible.

 

My new normal is never leaving the house to walk anywhere without my hiking sticks. Sometimes I don’t need them. But it lowers my anxiety and allows me to keep walking when I have them with me. I recently bought a new purse that holds the folded sticks. I can look relatively sheik going to the opera with this purse, don’t you think?

 

Be well, Do well and Keep moving.

 

Betsy

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Keep Moving

Hello, Gentle Reader,

In end every post with “be well, do well and Keep Moving.”  But I spend most of my day at the computer, sitting for hours.  What’s to be done?  You probably don’t move all day at your work, either.  I was talking with my hair stylist, suggesting a trip for her family to La Push and Second Beach, and her first question was “How long does it take to get there?”  Riding in the car for anything over an hour is too much sitting for her.  She moves all day long.  So does my renter, a finish carpenter working long hours on high end construction sites. The last thing he wants to do at the end of the day is an exercise program.  He is constantly in motion on his job.

We are all different in our daily routine.  If we want to make a change to our weight, or our stamina, or the comfort in our joints, we need to change it up.  Movement that is different from the routine is the movement that makes a difference in your health quotient.  Keep Moving means different things for different life styles.

Here’s my routine:

6:00 or so    Up, stumble into the kitchen to draw and heat a 16 ounce glass of water and squeeze half a lemon in it.  This wakes up my stomach and helps digestion.

6:30  after a relaxed complete bowel movement (chewing the warm lemon water helps this), I lie down with the Back2Life machine, which gently lifts the pelvis in a passive Feldenkrais type movement.

6:45   a 10 minute yoga routine which includes Cat-Cow movements (see a past post for pictures), Downdog and calf stretches.

7:15   Meditation and early morning writing.

7:40  Breakfast and reading

8:40 approximately, in the office at the computer.

10:15  break for tea and while the kettle boils, visit the chickens to feed them and collect eggs.

More sitting.

What I do is plot the walking I will do each day.  Today I walk a mile to the Uptown Velvet Foam coffee emporium where I will write for a couple hours.  The walk takes me down a steep hill, up another very steep hill and getting home it is the reverse.

How about you?  Can you fit a walk in that includes stairs?  One of the recommended ways to avoid osteoporosis is to climb 200 steps everyday, carrying 10 lbs of weight.

Move to Improve

What are we talking about here?

Everybody knows we need to be physically active.  But if we have arthritis and hurt much of the time, wouldn’t it be better just to find a comfortable position, take our medication and not invite more pain.  Movement makes you hurt, right?

Not necessarily.  In fact the opposite is true.  Trust me.  Get up and move.  Movement can have specific benefits for people with rheumatic or musculoskeletal disease (RMDs).  Those joints that hurt with every step and every bend, will actually hurt more and more WITHOUT moving them.  To keep the motion you have, you must move.  Moving also improves circulation and will help keep other degenerative diseases at bay.

So what can I do? The most appropriate form of activity will depend on a number of factors including the type of RMD you have.  Which joints are affected and how bad is the joint damage?  Articles like this always tell you it is important to consult your doctor or physiotherapist about the type of exercise you need therapeutically, as well as the type of activities you enjoy doing to keep you healthy.  One friend who was just one step from a wheel chair because of her arthritis, did not like any activity.  Her chiropractor told her she just had to find an activity she loved.  She stumbled on a scull, a single racing shell.  She fell in love with the water and rowing.  Got off all her medication.  Began taking a prescribed regimen of food supplements from Shaklee Corp and went on to win world championships in her age group.

Find something you love to do and begin, slowly with guidance.  Don’t stop.

Let’s see what physical activity is.   Physical activity is any form of daily activity that involves movement, rather than sitting or lying still. This could include playing with children, doing housework, walking the dog, gardening etc. Being physically active can release stiffness and lift your mood.  I find that the playing, housework, gardening activities often lead to more stiffness while some form of regulated, prescribed exercise reverses or controls those negative results from just any daily physical activity.  In other words, exercise can make the fun stuff easier.

The term exercise describes planned, structured and repetitive movements that are performed frequently, at a given intensity and for a set duration of time. Exercise can be therapeutic, such as in rehabilitation, or taken as an enjoyable way of improving or maintaining:

§ muscular strength and endurance

§ flexibility and joint mobility

§ motor functions including coordination and balance

§ aerobic capacity and increased energy expenditure, which can help with weight control

§ bone mineralisation contributing to the prevention of osteoporosis

§ mood and self-esteem leading to increased positive attitude

Level of exercise

You have to decide what you can handle.  One person may have an easy time doing water aerobics while another will have to begin slowly and increase intensity. For example, walking, cycling or swimming at a gentle pace (low intensity), might have an aerobic effect (increase your heart rate and breathing) for some people, while others would need to exercise at a moderate to high intensity to experience the same effect. How old are you?  How is your general state of health?  How advanced is your disease?  How regularly have you been exercising?  Are you carrying too much weight?  Begin at a level of exercise that works for you.

Starting out

Always begin gently and build up slowly over time. It is better to do little and often than to try and overdo things and to push yourself too hard when you start exercising.  So many people begin with fervor and peter out after the third day or so.  I believe that dietary changes need to accompany a new exercise program to support your recovery.  Here is an article about foods and supplements that help.

If you do need to stop exercising for any reason, always start again gently and build up slowly. When you reach your desired level of function, you will need to keep up regular activities to maintain this level.

How much exercise

When you repeat activities regularly your body will adapt over time and you will find you can do more with less effort. You may need to change up your program to continue improvement.  People hit a plateau and get frustrated because they are not improving beyond a certain point.  Make little alterations in your routine and your muscles will respond.  It’s the surprise factor in training.

Really.  Regular exercise slows, or may even prevent loss of function due to disease progression.

Ideally, do stretching/flexibility exercises every day, muscle strengthening and endurance exercises two to three times a week and some form of aerobic exercise for 20 minutes three times a week. Mix it up.

The key is to find things you enjoy doing so that being active is something you look forward to and becomes part of your daily life.

Did you know?

The word ‘fit’ comes from:

Frequency – how regularly you exercise

Intensity – how hard you exercise

Time – how long you exercise

Now the word fitness is used to describe health and the ability to meet the demands of a physical task.

 What are we talking about when we say exercise?

 Aerobic / cardiovascular – Exercise that raises the heart rate and breathing, e.g. walking, cycling, swimming, dancing etc. at a moderate or high intensity

 Balance – The ability to control the body’s position when either stationary or moving

 Endurance – How long you are able to exercise at low, medium or high intensity

 Flexibility – The ability of muscles to stretch. Stretching muscles helps to keep them supple and relieves stiffness

 High impact – Exercises where the body weight impacts forcefully against a surface, for example running or jumping

 Low impact – Exercises where there is minimal impact through the joints and pelvic floor or where the body is supported whilst exercising, e.g riding a bicycle or swimming

Mobility – The ability of joints to move through a range of motion

 Posture – Good body alignment

 Strength – The extent to which muscles can exert force by contracting against resistance (e.g. free or fixed weights, bands, moving in water etc)

 Weight bearing joints – Joints that support the weight of your body against gravity when you are upright, i.e. your spine, hips, knees, feet and ankles

 Weight bearing exercises – Exercises where your body is working or moving against gravity, for example walking (swimming is non-weight bearing because the water supports your body weight)  Weight bearing exercises also help maintain bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis

I went to the Arthritis Foundation.  Their website has excellent articles about taking control.  This posting borrows  from their pages.

Be well, Do well and Keep Moving, Betsy

Betsy Bell’s Health4u

206 933 1889

Betsy@hihohealth.com

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low back pain

Gentle Reader,

Yicks!  Low back pain. Leg numbness.  JR, my twenty something trainer, moved me up to a new set of exercises last week.  I’m not the only ancient mariner at the Xgym by a long shot, but the way they schedule us in half hour slots for a 25 minute hands-on workout, I don’t have the opportunity to see how the other over-70 year olds are doing.  What I do know is the numbness in my right leg showed up on Sunday morning while I was navigating between the choir corner and my chair in the Ensemble (a little pick up band that plays the family service at our Episcopal Cathedral here in Seattle.)  And my lower back was killing me.

When you have low back pain because of a workout, do you quit?  No.  You modify the workout to avoid low back pain.

On Monday, I talked to PJ, the owner and creator of Xgym, who is also a physical therapist.  He knew right away what to do to modify my program and to help me avoid low back pain between the twice a week sessions.  Squats free standing on uneven surfaces using ski poles to support stability strained by back too much.

Picture ski poles and squats on an uneven surface like this pillow
Picture ski poles and squats on an uneven surface like this pillow

He changed this quad exercise to leg raises on one of the machine, hands forward so the lower back is relatively uninvolved.

lean forward drapping your arms over the top cushions to reduce back strain.
lean forward draping your arms over the top cushions to reduce back strain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This round of exercises to strengthen the shoulders and lats meant lifting weights while standing, arms outstretched on either side, ratcheting up two, down one, up two, down one seven times and then back down.

Turn around with the back against the upright frame to prevent low back  strain
Turn around with the back against the upright frame to prevent low back strain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This action aggravated the lower back. PJ changed the move so I stand against a flat surface stabilizing my back and shoulders while I do the same straight arm lifting.

 

I tell you this because it illustrates the importance of hands-on training when your body has areas of weakness from previous injuries, arthritis, or some other cause.  Friends I have talked to about my Xgym workouts shy away because they are afraid of hurting themselves.  “I can’t take all that jumping around,” they tell me.  There is no jumping around. “X” doesn’t mean extreme, insane, sweat pouring activity.  In fact, there is almost no stress on joints at all. These exercises are designed to bring each of five muscle groups to complete fatigue through slow, controlled movements.

The second corrective advice PJ gave was to suggest daily warm up exercises including “cat-cow” and opposite leg and arm extensions from the neutral “cat-cow” stance.  Good old Pilates exercises I have forgotten about.  He explained that when the back is stressed, it seizes up, guarding against further pain.  Doing the “cat-cow” reassures the lower back that it is safe to move.  Relax.  Relax and go with the flow.  This movement gets the blood flowing freely in the area, supported by the breath.

 

Cat-cow exercise
Cat-cow exercise

9-11-14superman pose

People go to the gym for all kinds of reasons:  body-building, endurance, losing weight or at least making that extra piece of bacon inconsequential—calories in, calories out.  I am there for one express purpose:  preventing osteoporosis.  The slow-burning activated muscles pull on the attached bone and the bone reacts by taking on more density.

 

Did you know that medical anthropologists have determined that the people with the strongest bones in the history of human kind were the slave-class women in ancient Egypt, as compared to women from the ranks of Egypt’s elite?  High ranking women were extremely inactive physically.  Same ethnic stock, different life styles.  Different bone density and strength.

PJ Glassey’s Xgym has not cloned itself across the US. He has only two locations in the greater Seattle area, Harbor Dr. in West Seattle and downtown Kirkland on the eastside.  I hope more trainers with extensive physical therapy knowledge develop this low stress, high intensity approach.  Those of us working to avoid the deterioration of joints that comes with aging and keep a high level of fitness and strength need this type of training.  You can read about his methods and the science behind them in his book Cracking Your Calorie Code.  I do not agree with PJ on the topic of supplementation.  The kind of diet his consumes may be adequate for many if you never miss a day eating the way he recommends. As careful as I am about my food intake, there are days I cannot get all the nutrients I need from food.  I am just not home to prepare those fresh vegetables three meals a day.  Some bodies need more nutrients to build optimal health than they can get from good food alone.  Read his book and decide for yourself.  He has so many good pointers and if don’t live in Seattle, it’s the next best thing.

Not all supplements are equal.  They must be sourced from organic, non-genetically modified plants and they must be processed so no contaminants or impurities taint a single tablet. I trust the Shaklee scientists because my body lets me know how well they are absorbed.  If I couldn’t believe my body, I can believe the double-blind clinical trials with real people using these products in independent tests.  If you feel your body is not getting everything it needs from food alone and you are already taking supplements, I invite you to change brands for a minimum of three months to see if the Shaklee effect happens to you.  It takes three months for the blood to be all new.  That length of time would be a fair trial.

By all means, keep moving.  The breath carries the blood to the muscles and joints. Moving means breathing deeply, from the bottom of the belly.  This action alone will do more for your health than any other single thing.

Your comments are welcome and if this post rings true for you, pass it along to a friend.  Sign up to receive this weekly health blog automatically.

Be well, Do well and Keep Moving,

Betsy

206 933 1889

 

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OTC pain meds

Gentle Reader,

The aftermath of my bike crash calls into question two of my closely held beliefs:  OTC pain meds are bad for you; keep moving, no matter what.  I was on the dunes path at Long Beach, WA with twelve Finneys of all ages.  Nothing like a little crowd around the beginning of the last section of trail to get a person off kilter and into the sand.  My recovery seemed fine while at the beach because I was icing and taking a lot of Shaklee Pain Relief Complex and doing nothing.  (My granddaughter reminds me that I split some wood with a heavy ax.) The pain worsened, keeping me awake at night.  Coughing hurt unbearably.  I went to my doctor.  Dr. Pepin knows I am not a willing patient.  He is working hard to play the role of a team member in my health care.  He makes a special effort to honor my preference for natural healing practices—acupuncture, massage, individual training and supplements.  He sent me for an x-ray.

When I got home, My Chart contained the message that I had broken the 9th rib on the left side, but only a hairline fracture.  In his notes, he suggested more icing and anti-inflammatories.  I decided to take Aleve.  I took another one 8 hours later.  I took a third 8 hours after that.  I iced off and on for the next 36 hours.  Everything improved.  The depression in the muscles beneath the broken lower back rib normalized.  The muscles on the opposite side calmed down to normal.  I slept soundly, happy that pain did not disturb me.  It seemed like a miracle.

What is so bad about NSAIDS? What do they do?  Why have I resisted taking them so consistently?

It turns out when taken for a brief time (2 – 10 days), anti-inflammatories calm down injured muscles allowing healing to take place.  The danger with these drugs appears when taken habitually over a long period of time to manage chronic pain.  The NSAIDS (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) intercept 2 enzymes called Cox 1 and Cox 2 that are involved with inflammation.  Inhibiting Cox 1 has the side effect of damaging the stomach lining, causing bleeding.  Advil, Motrin and Aleve are the most popular of these non-specific anti-inflammatories and regularly cause damage to the stomach lining when taken over a long period of time.

The risks from taking NSAIDS, besides internal bleeding, are most severe for people who have heart conditions.  People with stomach problems should avoid them.  For healthy people with no blood pressure or other heart issues, taking NSAIDS for a few days to bring down inflammation carries low risk and brings much relief.

I am satisfied that taking NSAIDS for a few days to help the immediate problem is a good thing for my body and does not put me at risk.

Now let me think out loud about my other closely held belief: Keep Moving under any and all circumstances.  This week I have not hiked, gone to yoga practice, worked out with my trainer or done much of anything. I did walk around Green Lake, a 3 miles meander on the flat, and twice I walked to the West Seattle Junction, down and up  a hill, repeated in the opposite direction, about 2 miles total.  Moving, yes; pain free, pretty much.  At least pain free around the injured area.  But after a dozen steps, chronic pain kicked in: hips, knees and lower back.  I found myself questioning the value of moving, especially since moving causes pain.

It turns out that Not moving is lethal.

Bone Loss

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, our bones require applied stress for them to grow. Bone stress sends a signal to the body to build bone density. If you don’t stress your bones by exercising, you can suffer from low bone density, which can turn into a case of osteoporosis. Also, if you never exercise and stretch your joints, your arthritic joints will stiffen over time and their adjoining tissues will weaken, causing more arthritis.

Muscle Loss

Your bones need stress exerted on them to grow, and so do your muscles. A muscle’s fibers need to tear for it to rebuild itself larger and stronger. So as you may already know from experience, if you don’t use your muscles, you “lose” them.

Increased Risk of Disease

Muscle loss caused by inactivity makes your metabolism slow down. Your metabolism is the rate at which your body converts food and drink into usable energy. If you have a slow metabolism, your body ends up storing a lot of the food and drink energy instead of using it to get your body moving. This storage leads to weight gain and puts you at a higher risk for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes, breast cancer, depression and anxiety, according to Harvard School of Public Health.

Weaker Immune System

According to MayoClinic.com, without regular aerobic exercise, your immune system weakens. This makes it harder for your body to fight viruses such as the flu and the common cold. So if you never exercise, you’re likely to find yourself getting sick more often.

Keep Moving will remain my closely held belief.  Since the pain I experience when I move is chronic, caused by arthritis, I will continue to use Shaklee’s Pain Relief Complex.  Its herbal formula is a pain path inhibitor (Cox 2 and 5 Lox) but does not interfere with Cox 1.  Therefore there is no risk to the stomach or to the heart.

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving,

I promise I will.  Join me.

Betsy

Comments?  I love to hear them.

Thanks to Lindsay Haskell  of AZ who blogs about health, fitness, culture and fashion.

 

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Gifts for arthritis

Gentle Reader,

Who do you know who suffers from sore, painful knees, hips, fingers or shoulders?  You love this person who has arthritis and you are going to go shopping to buy them something for Christmas.  Why not combine a cozy lap blanket with an herbal pain reliever and a deep-tissue cream that could bring comfort as well as warmth?

I’m not a shopper so I was stunned Wed. night when a friend and I went to a movie in Seattle’s endless mall area with a big AMC.  We were thinking the parking would be easier.  Whoa! People are out shopping already—in droves and into the night.  In this blog, I’m inviting you to shop.  ‘Tis the season, right?

You might appreciate choosing gifts that bring better health to those you care about.  This is an invitation to shop for health.  Bring meaning to every purchase.

Have you watched Annie Leonard’s Story of Stuff?  Take a minute to watch before piling up a mound and consider the necessity of each purchase and how it got to the store and what the received is going to do with that gift later.

I make an argument for buying a Shaklee product over something else because I believe in the company’s philosophy of living in harmony with nature in every aspect of their corporate life.  In the end, stuff is stuff, and all the great suggestions I have for you about things you can add to a Shaklee product to make a sweet, health enhancing gift still accumulates stuff.  It is tricky being a fierce environmentalist and a sales person of goods I love and buy myself.

So, having suggested you buy nothing this Christmas here goes my suggestions for what to buy for someone who has been complaining of arthritis.  After all, I know you and I are going to buy some stuff anyway.

Joint & Muscle Pain Relief Cream with a microwaveable comfort pillow.

Pain Relief Complex and Physique After Workout Recovery Drink with Peggy Cappy’s DVD “Easy Yoga for the Rest of Us” especially for arthritis.  Add a yoga mat to make this gift special.

Joint Health Complex and Peggy Cappy’s CD meditation for back health.   I listen to this CD nearly every night and I’m convinced her quiet words have helped heal the arthritis in my lower back.  You can add an orthopedic pillow.  This is the one I have used for the last 15 years and I love it.

I have a lo-o-o-ng list of healthy living gifts on my resource page www.GrandmaBetsyBell.com.

If you decide to do any of these suggestions, I’d love to hear about the results.  You can shop for the Shaklee part of the gift at www.GrandmaBetsyBell.com/shop.  Or you can click on the links above.

Have a great Thanksgiving, pain free and full of love.

Be well, Do well and Keep Moving,

Betsy

206 933 1889

Enjoy the list.  I hope you get some great ideas.  Let me know if you have questions.

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Vitamin D may prevent Diabetes II

Gentle Reader,

Vitamin D, seems to be the miracle supplement as research turns up more benefits. In my recent travels, along the Inside Passage in Alaska, I worried about the many “round” people from the cruise ships.  They may not have gotten a diagnosis of diabetes from their doctor.  But they may, like many of us, walk around leading what seems like normal lives with pre-diabetes.

Dr. Steve Chaney describes the condition in his recent newsletter.  [To read the whole letter, go to Resources: Diabetes is a deadly scourge.]  He says that when we become overweight our tissues become insulin resistant. Initially our pancreas responds by pumping out more insulin to keep our blood sugar levels near normal. It also starts releasing fatty acids into the bloodstream.

At this stage our blood sugar levels are pretty well under control, but our blood levels of insulin and fatty acids are higher than normal. We are asymptomatic for the most part, so many of us never realize that we have a problem.

And lots of us are pre-diabetic!

When the normal range goes to pre-diabetic and beyond.

My grandfather on my mother’s side was diabetic.  He was a Swede-Finn, emigrating to New York City in around 1900 and joining the dock builders union.  He worked hard, driving piles, helping construct the Brooklyn Bridge and the piers along New York’s maritime harbor.  Then he sat down.  His knees hurt.  His hands hurt. His back hurt.  He had arthritis and moving his body hurt.  Then he developed diabetes.

My mother was never diagnosed with diabetes.  I suspected her of being very close to slipping from pre-diabetic to diabetes in the last 10 years of her life.  Her shoulders hurt.  Her hands hurt.  She had old age arthritis at 55 and began taking Motrin.  I remember her and my father both taking drugs for their aches and pains when I was in high school. They both slowed down, walking less and less.  She was never diagnosed with diabetes.  She died of pancreatic cancer.

This family history is a major driver for me to stay slim and active in spite of major arthritis.

Dr. Chaney points out that there are several published clinical studies showing that lifestyle changes (weight loss, exercise and a healthy diet supplying all of the essential nutrients) can significantly reduce the progression of
pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes.

Excercise

Supplement with Vitamin D3 by Shaklee

This is a blog about managing arthritis.  See how stiff joints, slowing down, mild and more severe osteo-arthritis, the kind that comes with aging, can be part of the pre-diabetic cluster of conditions?  The primary focus of Dr. Chaney’s article is the research about the benefit of Vitamin D on keeping the pancreas healthy.  Make no mistake, however, Vitamin D by itself will not prevent diabetes.  

Do not let your aches and pains keep you from moving.  Keep those joints active to the maximum extent of their flexibility.

Take Vitamin D if you are over weight and suspect you are pre-diabetic.  But there is no magic bullet.

I was talking with a young woman today who says she doesn’t want to take pills.  I’m all for avoiding medicines if possible.  It was a major challenge for me to understand vitamins are food supplements, foodlets, if you will.  Yes, they are in pill form.  I seldom refer to my vitamins as pills.  They are my supplements.  I take them to fill in the gaps and to compensate for the sluggish utilization of nutrients that comes with age.  We do not make Vitamin D from the sun the way we did when we were 10.

We are going into the winter months when those of us in the north will get less and less sun exposure.  Why not supplement with Vitamin D3?  Especially if you are little round in the middle.  Then, by all means, consider the 180 Turnaround program for losing those extra pounds.  You’ll be thrilled with how much easier it is to move with even 10 pounds less to carry around.

To your good health,

Be well, Do well and Keep moving,

Betsy

206 933 1889

PS If you would like to comment or ask a question, please email me at betsy@hihohealth.com.  I’ve had too many spammy comments and have limited access to the comment section, but I would still love to hear from you.

 

 

 

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Who is Peggy Cappy?

Gentle Reader,

Whether it is the new exercise classes or the intense gardening, I cannot say for sure.backcaremed (1)  What I am sure about is increased pain and then the magical release from it.  Here is the unexplainable magic.  I have mentioned it to you several times in the past.  It is a 20 minute meditation tape by Peggy Cappy about Rejuvenating the Back.   She talks in a soothing voice about how every cell in your body is capable of reproducing into a fresh, new creation, whole and healthy.

 

 

I come in from the garden hurting in every lower back, hip and knee joint, shoulders and hands, as well.  I turn on the Ipod to her voice and prop my knees over the Back2Life machine (I have described this contraption several times in previous posts) and when the tape is over, I stand and walk without pain.

BAck2Life machine

 

 

Back2Life

 

 

The third thing I do is take an herbal tablet that inhibits the pain path.  The Pain Relief Complex is helpful but does not bring such complete results by itself.

 

I urge you, if you suffer pain, to invest in Peggy Cappy’s cd.  You might want the Back2Life machine, too, but it probably is less important than her relaxation/rejunvenation message.

 

I’d be interested in hearing your techniques for curbing acute pain.  So let us hear from you.  If you investigate these techniques and like what I have shared, please pass the message along to your friends. While you are at it, like my facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/BetsyBellsHealth4U.

Fondly,

Be Well, Do Well, Keep Moving

Betsy

Injured at 52. Diagnosed and sentenced to a wheel chair at 55.  Hiking, skiing, dancing and walking at 75.  Read my story

206 933 1889  betsy@HiHoHealth.com   www.GrandmaBetsyBell.com

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Oh, my aching hamstrings

Gentle Reader,

What a ski season it is here in the Northwest.  The snow conditions surprise us every Wednesday as my band of 16-24 friends head up to the pass on a big bus (potty included).  It’s a good thing to use this bus company for January and February when the road conditions are dicey and icy.  The bus drivers have gotten stuck twice!  The ladies who ski are mostly over 65.  Yesterday I learned that one companion, a tall, slim brunette with impeccable make up and style is 80.  We are still climbing logging roads and snow plowing down, but we have become partial to the groomed Nordic tracks, of which there are a few.  One of oldest members skis with the blind across the US and Canada.  We do have a special club here with a pair of set tracks for the blind skier and her companion guide.  We often see dog teams, although mid-week is a quiet time to ski.  People-watching happens on Saturday and Sunday.  Yesterday the only viable skiing was on the reclaimed rail road track which snakes its way up from Seattle, through the pass and on East.  Long ago this track was pulled up and remaining bed has become a favorite mountain bike and Nordic ski trail.John Wayne track

Pushing and gliding for 3 hours and 8 miles along this relatively flat track awakened muscles I had not used so strenuously.  This morning I have been on the floor getting the creaks and groans out of my joints-back and hip and knee pain are no fun, nor are arthritis flare-ups.  Several techniques work well.

 

1.  tie a strong flexible tubing around your thighs, squat and walk to the left 20 steps and then to the right. In the picture, the tubing is around the ankles.  I find the tubing stays put better at the thigh.squat walking with tube

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.  Lying on your side with your knees pulls up part way, lift one knee up and then back down in a clam-shell move.  Several reps on each side.Clam shell exercise

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.  Put one end of the flexible tubing in the door jam and loop the other around your foot.  Stand side ways to the door and take the outside foot, lifting straight legged 10 reps.  Turn and draw the foot away from the door across the body.  This is a classic standing Pilates move.  Change legs and repeat.  Years ago I bought a heavy steel foot stool off Ebay to use for this exercise as it works better if you are standing a few inches off the floor.  Gyms have portable durable plastic steps that can be used.  Personally, my little upholstered foot stool would never be taken for an exercise prop as it sits by the front door.  This is the best picture I could find.  Imagine the end of the theraband as a knotted tube in the door jab, the bottom around your shoe.Hip-abd-with-TB-finish

4.  face the door and, with the foot in the loop of the tubing, push it away from the door while standing erect, in perfect posture, on the other foot.  Several reps on both legs will help.

 

 

I am glad I climb stairs every week (200), going up and down sideways with the grape vine step.  I found yesterday that straight way skiing tired the knees.  Most women have slightly knock-knees and prolonged straight walking, hiking or skiing stressed them.  Whenever you have the opportunity to go up or down stairs side-ways, one foot behind, then in front, do it.  Your knees will not stress on the straight-away as much. I am going to get someone to film me doing this.  There are no pictures on the web that I can find.

Avoiding arthritis pain in the knees, back and hips can be challenging, and fun.  Get out there and enjoy the winter weather if you are lucky enough to have snow.  Don’t let the diagnosis of osteoarthritis or spinal stenosis keep you from moving.  Browse the techniques I have offered in my blog postings and try some of them.  Better still, leave a comment about the techniques you have found work well.

Fondly,

Be Well, Do Well, Keep Moving

Betsy

Injured at 52. Diagnosed and sentenced to a wheelchair at 55.  Hiking, skiing, dancing and walking at 75.  Read my story

206 933 1889  betsy@HiHoHealth.com   www.GrandmaBetsyBell.com

 

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Is it Woo-Woo?

Gentle Reader,

Climbing up a long snowy track on cross country skis yesterday, my companions and I talked about little miracles, ‘woo-woo’ magic, the unexplained healing that sometimes occurs.  The husband of one friend has suffered from arthritis in both ankles for about 5 years, so bad that he could barely walk.  He is in his late 50’s.  The friend herself worked a stressful tech job that required her to bend over patients.  She suffered from excruciating pain from her head down her neck, along her shoulders and down her arms.  In time the pain reached down her back.

The man, slim, fit, an avid cyclist who couldn’t walk without extreme pain, got one of his ankles fused, a newish operation for arthritis.  They chose the more painful of the two to work on.  The operated ankle no longer hurts.  The ‘woo-woo’ miracle is that the other ankle no longer hurts. He can walk 5 miles.  The x-rays indicated that both ankles were equally damaged by the disease.  Hum. . . . . .

The friend with the pain from bending over at work?  Her doctor’s diagnosed fibromyalgia and offered drug therapy.  After much consideration, she retired from her job.  All the pain has vanished.

Were the x-rays wrong?  Were the doctors missing something?

In my own case, I hurt my back badly at age 52.  By the age of 55, I was diagnosed with a severe condition that my doctor said would put me in a wheel chair.  At age 75, I am pretty much pain free.  I haven’t had any of the operations they suggested.  A check up with more pictures at age 65, the doc said, “If I didn’t know you, I’d say you should be in a wheel chair.”

What’s going on here?  These three stories, my friend with diagnosed fibromyalgia, her husband with arthritic ankles and me with a back condition so bad I should be in a wheel chair all have to do with pain and the skeletal structure, nerves and pain messaging.  Compelling research has been done with thought, intention and cancer.  Here is a short video about this healing work. Do Thoughts Have the Power to Heal? Could similar healing happen with skeletal and nerve problems?  Even if you don’t direct intention to the condition such as with my friend’s husband?  He’s not interesting in discussing the ‘miracle’ healing of the second ankle.

You can read my story and what I’ve done to be pain free today in past blog posts.  Perhaps the most important thing is hope, belief and action, in that order.  I seldom miss my morning routine to limber everything up.  I listen to a CD meditation that declares night after night that my cells have all the right nutrients to recreate themselves new and healthy, even the ones in my back that are supposed to be all messed up.

Miracles of healing?  As the doctor says, “whatever you’re doing, keep it up.”  And so I do.  How about you?

Fondly,

Be Well, Do Well, Keep Moving

Betsy

Injured at 52. Diagnosed and sentenced to a wheel chair at 55 and 65.  Hiking, skiing, dancing and walking at 75.  Read my story.  

206 933 1889  www.GrandmaBetsyBell.com   Betsy@HiHoHealth.com

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Tips for women who have back pain because of osteoporosis

Here they are:

Tip #1 Increase your vitamin D3   (more info about Vitamin D3 for bone density here)

Tip #2 Add weight bearing exercise to your routine

Tip #3 Eat more greens

Gentle Reader,

You have a sharp pain in your back and can’t remember that you lifted that bag of groceries 3 days ago even though you knew it was too heavy for you.  The pain subsides after a few weeks with the help of rest and some pain meds.    And then it happens again.

What’s going on?   You probably had a vertebral compression fracture, caused either by falling or by placing a load on outstretched arms such as raising a window or lifting a small child or a bag of groceries.  The front of the vertebrae collapse.  The spine is weakened by low bone density.  Our bodies can repair these hair line fractures on their own.  The trick is to lessen the chances of reoccurrence.

You go for your check up and they do a bone density test.  The dreaded report comes back. You have osteopenia.  They tell you that is probably why you’ve been having back pain.  This happened to me a few years ago.  My doctor immediately offered me drugs to increase the bone density.  I asked him to give me a couple years to change this picture and reverse the trend to osteoporosis.  The next bone density showed full blown osteoporosis.  I was very disappointed.  I’d been taking a good quality calcium for years.  Why hadn’t it protected me?  I was very physically active, walking all the time, skiing, working in the garden.  I pleaded again for more time and turned down the prescription.  It worked.  Here’s what I did.

#1 Increased Vitamin D3 to 6000 mg a day.  My blood test indicated a major increase was necessary.

#2 Stair climbing.  The advice was climb 200 steps every day while carrying 20 lbs.  I climbed 200 steps several times a week but didn’t carry any extra weight.

#3 Add minerals by eating lots more greens.  I eat 3 – 5 heads of greens (kale, chard, mustard greens, and collards) every week, usually steamed or in soups.  LacinatoKaleSpinach is good, too.  I also increased the supplement Alfalfa.

I was able to reverse the condition.  You can too.

I know you have done amazing things to turn osteoporosis around.  Let us know by leaving a comment.  If you found this helpful, pass it along.  And thanks,

Fondly, Betsy

Be Well, Do Well and Keep Moving

BetsyBell’s Health4u

www.GrandmaBetsyBell.com

206 933 1889  1 888 283 2077

betsy@hihohealth.com

 

 

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