Self Care Techniques ∞
Do the Upper Body, Standing Backward Bend and Static Back Press/ 90-90 Position stretching exercises, described in this packet, at home and at the end of the workday before bedtime. This restores the flexibility you lost during the day’s work…allowing your body to heal itself properly during tonight’s sleep. Applying moist heat before doing the exercises can help increase blood flow and relax your muscles. Take a brisk walk. This can greatly help your neck, back and total body.
Headache relief ∞
Headaches are a very common problem in society today, but the good news is most occur as a result of our posture habits. Forward head and rounded shoulders posture is one of the key risk factors for headaches. Headaches can be treated naturally by a variety of means such as; Chin tuck stretch performed multiple times followed by chin tuck with head extension (leaning your head backward), stretching the levator scapulae muscle and lying on tennis balls. By lying on two tennis balls, tied up tight in a sock, this works to relieve the muscle tension/ tightness at the suboccipital muscles, which are at the base of your skull. Initially this area will likely be very tender or uncomfortable. With time this discomfort should lessen and your headaches will bother you less or be completely relieved.
Trigger Point Release ∞
To treat posture trigger points (sore areas) another technique that works very well is to use “deep sustained pressure” over the trigger point (sore area). Have you ever had that spot at the top of your shoulder or between your shoulder blades and it felt much better while and after you pushed down hard over this area. This is the same technique. You can use many variations to apply the deep sustained pressure such as; your fingertip, someone’s elbow, or use a purchased pressure/trigger point applicators, lean into a tennis ball against the wall, (Tennis balls in a sock as mentioned above to treat your headaches), etc. A Thera-Cane is a device used to treat these trigger points by physical and occupational therapists at St. Luke’s. If you are interested in trying out this device stop by any St. Luke’s clinic or these may be purchased at any St. Luke’s Rehab location.
Friction Massage/Ice Massage ∞
(To get rid of elbow/shoulder tendonitis and/or pain).
Press your fingertip firmly into the sore spot at your elbow/wrist/shoulder, etc…Rub hard, side to side for 10-30 seconds the opposite direction that you feel the muscle/ tendon going. Warning this technique does hurt, but it is needed to properly clear out the inflammation and scar tissue built up in the tendons and muscles. You may do this technique over the same site 2-3 times or search for another sore spot nearby. Next treat these sore spots using Ice Massage. Ice Massage is done by filling a Dixie cup or Styrofoam cup with water, place this into the freezer and allow to freeze. Tear off the top portion of the cup and rub the ice directly over the painful area for a couple minutes or until the area is NUMB. With cold you should feel the following progression; Cold-burn-ache and then the area goes numb. The numb sensation is the end point of using the ice.
Proper Shoes and Arch Supports (Spenco) ∞
If you spend most of your workday on your feet either standing or walking it is very important to have good shoes with arch supports. The posture muscles in the feet which support the arch get fatigued as we age and most people have a tendency to get flat or pronated (turned out) feet. If you suffer from heel pain or plantar fascitis by purchasing spenco arch cushions/ supports this may help to relieve your problem. They are important because they help restore proper biomechanics of the foot and ankle when we walk. Spenco arch cushions or supports can be purchased at any St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Clinic location or they can be purchased in stores such as Scheel’s, Tradehome Shoes and Footlocker. If arch cushions or supports don’t help your problem schedule an appointment with a physical therapist at any St. Luke’s location for an evaluation to determine the cause of your problem. The physical therapist will give you exercises to restore proper function and body mechanics, education about your posture, lifestyle habits among others to determine the CAUSE of your problem.
Lumbar Roll ∞
If you spend most of your workday sitting, driving or you spend time in this position at home a lumbar roll is for you. This will help to maintain the inward curve of your lower back (Lordosis) while at the same time improve the posture of your head and shoulders thus significantly reducing or eliminating forward head posture (cause of headaches----YEAH). Thus your body will fatigue slower and you will have more energy at the end of the day. You should slowly increase your tolerance in using the lumbar roll to improve your sitting posture. These come in a variety of sizes and can be purchased at any St. Luke’s Rehabilitation location.
Cervical Roll ∞
This is placed inside of your pillow case while you sleep to restore proper lordosis posture (inward curve) of your neck. This can be used if you sleep on your back and/ or either side to keep a neutral head posture while sleeping. These too can be purchased at any St. Luke’s Rehabilitation location.
Ice vs Heat ∞
Many people question whether they should use ice or heat. If ever in doubt use ice. Sore or painful body parts at the end of the work day (At home or during/ after any recreational activity) is a warning to your body signaling the inflammation process and thus why ice is needed to reduce the pain and control inflammation. When using ice you want to keep the ice applied until the area goes numb. Heat helps to increase blood flow and relax your muscles. Because of stress being so prevalent in society today most people enjoy heat or massage to relieve this muscle tension. By relaxing the bodies muscles blood flow (oxygen) to your working muscles is restored, reducing stress and improving your bodies function.
Taken from the book; The Master Key to Self Healing by Andrew Weil, M. D.
“There’s no single more powerful---or more simple---daily practice to further your health and well-being than breathwork.”
The Relaxing Breath:
The Relaxing Breath is the most powerful relaxation method I know, and one that I teach to almost every patient I work with. You may feel a little lightheaded when doing it for the first time, but the sensation will disappear as you practice this breath regularly.
Inhale through your nose quietly and exhale through your mouth noisily, exhaling around your tongue (it helps if you purse your lips). The sound you make when you exhale is a kind of whoosh. Try this a few times so you become comfortable exhaling through your mouth around your tongue.
- Begin the Relaxing Breath by exhaling through your mouth completely.
- Then inhale quietly through your nose to a count of four.
- Hold your breath for a count of seven.
- And exhale through your mouth for a count of eight.
- Repeat that for a total of four breath cycles.
- Do a minimum of four breath cycles twice a day.
- After a month, you can increase the number of cycles to eight, twice a day.
Never do more than eight breath cycles twice a day as this is a very powerful technique, and it has profound effects on your bodies physiology.
The important thing is to maintain the ratio of four, seven, and eight for inhalation, hold, and exhalation. Notice how you feel and are breathing after completing four cycles.
Erik N. Nieuwenhuis, MSPT
Work Injury Claims Prevention Specialist
St. Luke’s Rehab Services
402-412-4275 and E-mail: NieuweEN at stlukes.org