Back hurting?

Not to worry, if it is a muscular cramp, it will pass by itself. Therapy can be used to soothe it, look why it happened and what you can do to prevent it happening again. Caution: There are cases of serious back cramping which don’t come under this category.

I have just had a spell of this myself. Last week I made an unguarded lift in a client session and was awarded with a fantastic muscular spasm to guard the right side of my lumbar back. When you move your body, the different parts work in a beautiful harmony creating motion. When I lifted, I did not engage my core muscles to stiffen the lower back area and my brain was of the opinion that I was about to compromise the integrity of my lumbar back.

You don’t need to consciously squeeze your core in a lift, if your body is working as it should. As many of us spend far too much time sitting, the core activation becomes easily compromised and needs more conscious effort.

In my case it felt as if the right side of my back was in a vice. I did stretch it immediately by bending forward. I also put some Cryoderm Cooling Gel* on the site to numb it down a bit. I knew that nothing drastic had happened and that I needed to convince my nervous system about it, hence moving and using cold gel. I could have used a pain killer, if I was inclined that way. This is the place where it is good to have one, if you are going to have it. You need to stop the pain cycle in its tracks. Obviously not the gel nor the pain killer is a licence to be stupid and load the muscle. The goal is to allow gentle movement.

I have relatively little problems with my back, so when something like this happens, I study it avidly ‘from the inside’. I got nerval pain down towards my sacrum and snaking around my hip and along my groin. Interesting how many nerves got tickled by this incident!

The only thing I did to ‘heal’ my back was gently massage the cramp away and keep moving/bending forward with good core muscle control.  I did amuse my office colleagues in the beginning of the week by starting my morning with weird stretches for all the lower back connective tissues that felt stiff. (I do work in an office a couple of days a week). I also threw in couple of myofascial releases as I have rather flexible body and can access my own lower back.

A week after I am fine. Yesterday I still felt the ghost of the cramp. I kept using the cold gel occasionally, so my brain wouldn’t get into habit of ‘knowing’ that the lower back hurts. Nothing was damaged as such, but the muscles got bit bruised in the process. Initially they were sore to touch and in the end they felt just internally bruised. It is actually very hard to properly damage your back in the course of normal day to day life. Back is a strong structure, so keeping yourself calm about it is a big part of getting better.

What can you do to avoid this type of lower back injury? Keep your core strong and awake! I have previously pointed towards this little five-minute routine. You do need to have relatively healthy joints to be able to benefit from this particular one.

*Cryoderm is a cooling gel that I use myself. I like it because it has really high menthol content capable of killing even neural pain. It does not have any ibuprofen in it, only essential oils and minerals. I do sell it as it is only available from therapists and some online retailers.

Warning! Do not buy from Amazon, the UK distributor has not sold the product to anyone trading through Amazon.

When a Cold Is Good News And What To Do When It Hits

 

I have a cold. I am feeling rough having endured a couple of days sore throat and now reaching for tissues because my nose is streaming. My head throbs and I feel wobbly. Still I think this is good news.

We need to go back a bit to understand why I can find joy in this without being a Pollyanna. I used to suffer and to a degree still suffer from an irritated and inflamed gut and a host of autoimmune symptoms, the worst of them being severe eczema. By balancing the microbiome in my gut, I have achieved better health. I am no more in pain because of weeping raw skin. I can eat foods I could not eat for a couple of years ago. Admittedly I am still watchful of what I am eating, but I can have a freedom of joining in at celebrations and having a sneaky treat. And there are just straight forward delights like being able to eat strawberries! And boy, did I eat them this summer…

This Cold Is Happy News

See, when I suffered from a low-grade inflammation in my gut/body my immune system was all the time at high alert. This meant that it had a host of (auto)immune reactions, which were not nice. It also meant that any common cold had hard time to get to me. I have worked part time in an office for last twenty months and have not had a single cold. The people around me have been coughing and spluttering through two winters, yet nothing touched me. In addition, I have been exposed to all the viruses carried home from the school by my son. And throw in the ones my husband brings into our household as well…

Having a common cold is a happy milestone for me. It means that in addition to clearly having lessened the inflammation in my gut and skin I have an immune system which seems to have a more normal level of activity. It is obviously not great if you catch every cold going around, but a cold or two in a year is normal.

What to do?

In my experience you should drop everything and prostate yourself on the sofa with hot drinks and just rest. This will return you to full productivity faster and not spread the virus around you. Alas, this is not how the most employers think as yet, so here are some tips how you can help your body to shift the cold a bit quicker when you cannot have a flop down.

Rest

As much as you can. Do not go on doing heavy exercise, gentle walk will do. Sleep as much as possible.

Supplements

Vitamin D is what you will be needing to combat a cold infection. If you don’t take supplements already, this is the time to hit the bottle, vitamin bottle that is. You could add zinc and omega 3 oil on the list.

Steam

This is an effective, old and safe way to relieve sinus pressure and congestion accompanying a cold. Pour steaming water in a bowl, sit with your head covered with a towel getting a steam bath. Do not place your face too close to the steaming basing that scolds! You can even add few drops of essential oils of eucalyptus, tea tree and/or peppermint in the water.

Acu-Points

Gently massage the points to relieve the cold symptoms.

The ones under your cheek bones you will find having a little indentation on the bone. The same goes with the two locations on the brows. They might feel tender, so do not press too hard! This is something you can do even at your desk at work where steaming would not be practical.

 Back to the hot drinks now…

First Steps to Health

I have said it many times and will say many more: Your health starts from your gut. Both your health now and your future health. So almost anything wrong with you will get better if you take care of your gut. It might not “cure” your condition, but it will almost certainly make you feel better and considerably ease the symptoms.

So what should you do? The first step is to drop sugar in all of its refined forms (including honey and agave syrup) from your diet. This alone is likely to make you feel very different. Do pay attention to the hidden sugars in processed foods. Remember that sugar has many names like dextrose, maltose, glucose and xylitol. Please do not make your way over to the sweeteners as those don’t help. The one thing you can use in moderation if you really, really cannot give up sweetening your drink or food is stevia. It doesn’t cause the same amount of insulin release as sugar and sweeteners do.

Second step is to eat real food. Make it yourself from the raw ingredients. It does not need to be complicated. The key is to sit down and do a bit of planning once a week.

Breakfast

Decide maybe two or three different variations. I for example often eat the same breakfast all the weekday mornings and then have slightly different thing for the weekends. I vary my breakfast according to the season, my current fancies and most importantly my health. At the moment my weekday go-to is a stir fry with eggs! Get rid of the notion that breakfast is cereal or toast.

Lunch

This can be tricky if you have to take it with you. Plan, plan, plan. Make it ready to grab with you the night before. This could even be leftovers from the dinner, my favourite. I see people with best intents having packed lunches made hastily from ingredients which are not going to keep the hunger away. Result? They buy snacks of unhealthy kind, so you must make sure that you have enough.

Dinner

Dinners can be made in bulk and frozen in portions for later use. Write your shopping list as you make your menu plan. If you are crafty, you save the plan and the list, so you can re-use them. You might think that you eat a lot of different things, but in reality most of us cycle around four to eight dishes and their variations. Weekends are the time to be creative and try new recipes.

Aargh…running late

You didn’t plan to work late or stay in town this long. You are getting really hungry and have nothing more to eat with you. What now? Go and get some olives, maybe a tin of tuna or packet of liver pate or hummus, cherry tomatoes, an avocado and some lettuce. Scoop your pate with the lettuce and pop the tomatoes and olives after. Enjoy the avocado. This is by no means the best meal ever, but miles better than grabbing a microwave pizza.

Does this make you healthy? No. We all have different requirements, so I cannot guarantee that this is all that it takes, but you are in much better place to start your journey from. There is much more to consider especially if your health is already faltering. And although your nutrition plays a major role, so does exercise and sleep.  I will write more about specific topics in depth later on, but this is a good and practical place to start. Consider your meal planning as the practical way of expressing love for yourself and your family.