Protect Your Joints

iStock_000035306816SmallFor over 26 years I’ve been working with clients who suffer with joint pain often times due to the loss of cartilage that lines their joints. Cartilage is the flexible connective tissue found in many parts of the body, including the joints between bones, the rib cage, the ear, the nose, the bronchial tubes and the intervertebral discs. This loss of cartilage leaves them in constant pain and limited in their movements and activities, thereby lowering their quality of life.

So how do you protect your cartilage to insure that your joints stay painfree, supple and healthy? According to the INH Health Watch report on 5 Ways to Care for Cartilage:

  1. Eat foods that support elastin in the body. Elastin is a protein in connective tissue that allows it to stretch, and it partners alongside collagen. When you lack elastin, not only will you get wrinkles, you also weaken the cartilage in your joints. This reduces your mobility and function. Vitamin C is crucial, but remember foods like kale, kiwi, broccoli and red bell pepper have more Vitamin C per serving than an orange.
  2. Free radicals not only damage your eyes and skin, they also damage the cartilage in your joints. Powerful antioxidants are key to fighting oxidative stress. Astaxanthin an antioxidant that is naturally found in cold water fish, like salmon and some sea algae. It gives salmon its pink or red color. You can find this in supplement form, but check the labels closely to understand the purity and quality of this or any supplement for that matter.
  3. Strong healthy bones and a healthy immune system are built with Vitamin D3. In addition, Vitamin D3 is important in regulating your hormones as well as preserving your joint cartilage. Low levels of D3 advance osteoarthritis, where high levels slow it down. To increase your D3, spend a little time each day in the sun and eat eggs, mushrooms and wild salmon.
  4. Every joint and piece of cartilage in your body is covered in Hyaluronic acid where they bend. Hyaluronic acid allows nutrients to move into your cartilage while taking waste out. As you age, its not uncommon for your body to produce less of it. To help promote production, some vegetables like carrots and peas can be beneficial. Combining with a good Omega-3 source makes for better absorption as well. Caution, many Omega-3 supplements are high in DHA which makes them 95% unabsorbable. Choose one that is pure, safe and beneficial using more EPA.
  5. Proteins in the joint maintain their shape, function and structural strength with the help of Sulphur. Arthritic cartilage has 66% less sulphur than normal cartilage. Lack of sulphur can result in loss of flexibility, joint stiffness and muscle soreness. Foods rich in sulphur include kale, onions, garlic, asparagus and eggs.

Since nothing makes you look and feel older than cartilage damage in your joints, I encourage you to take the necessary steps to preserve and support your cartilage while you still have it and prevent osteoarthritis in the first place. Let safe organic foods as noted above, be your best medicine and use pure, safe and beneficial supplements as needed. Total wellness and peak health begin with the foods we put in our bodies, the products that get absorbed through our skin and the quality of thoughts that direct our actions.

If you have questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact me or use the comment boxes below. Live well, be well, do well.

Traci Vincent, PT, RYT

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shoulder pain

What Pain Are You Shouldering?

I often work with clients who report repeated episodes of neck and shoulder pain. Sometimes these symptoms are also accompanied by frequent headaches and TMJ pain. It is not uncommon for these clients to enlist a series of pain medications, anti-inflammatories or muscle relaxers to manage their pain. Perhaps the symptoms may be temporarily minimized, but will this really address the true problem?

In our modern world, many things have improved with innovation. However, much of this innovation has left us assuming improper postural positions for extended periods of time as we commute to and from work, sit behind a desk or computer all day and then collapse on the sofa for hours of TV or perhaps gaming and social media on a hand held tablet. Overtime, your shoulders stay rounded forward and your neck becomes positioned out in front of your body. To even attempt to sit up in proper posture with your head in alignment with your body becomes an uncomfortable feat that is nearly impossible to attain.

Maybe you have read some of my other blog articles and are starting to think, “Why is this women always writing about posture?” I keep writing about it because I keep seeing the long term effects of it in my clients. Poor posture is just the visible part of much deeper issues. Decreased breath capacity and decreased oxygen intake; increased compression on nerves and blood vessels; increased pressure on the TMJ, vertebral joints and shoulder girdle; and adaptive shortening of numerous muscles, tendons, and connective tissues are just a few of the issues that cause underlying mayhem in your body.

For the purpose of this article, I am just going to address the shoulder and some of the problems that occur as a result of rounded posturing. The shoulder girdle is a complex area due to it’s need for stability as well as the need for mobility. Here is a test you can perform right now: Slump your posture forward and allow your back and shoulders to round. Now lift your arms overhead as high as your can. Do you feel tightness, pinching, or an inability to get your arms all the way up? Next, sit up straight with your ear aligned with your shoulder. Now lift your arms again. What feels different? Does it feel easier to lift? Is there less restriction and greater ease of movement? The answer should be yes, and that’s only one reason good posture is so important in regard to the long term impact on our bodies.

Of course our bodies are amazingly resourceful and adaptive, but let me be real here. There is no way around subtle damage occurring in the shoulder joint when you have the posture of rounded shoulders that leads to a skull that is mis-aligned way out  in front of the shoulder. Outside of forceful impact injuries, many shoulder problems are due to improper alignment and mechanics that slowly wreak havoc on the rotator cuff tendons and the tendon of the biceps. Perhaps you or someone you know has had a “bone spur” in their shoulder.

Now a spur is not something that occurs overnight. It is caused by years of inflammation due to faulty posturing and movement patterns. Just like your body forms scar tissue due to the inflammation response at a wound site, the inner body can do the same thing with repeated micro-wounds to the joints. As the fibrous tissues continue to lay down layer after layer, a bone-like protuberance forms and thereby creates a situation where the surrounding tissues such as muscles, tendons and cartilage are now subjected to greater friction and subtle trauma with every movement.

Overtime, the tendons weaken and when presented with a sudden movement or unexpected load on the joint, may possibly tear. Maybe you have heard the term, “torn rotator cuff”. Once this happens, the joint has now lost some important stability. Since the body tries its best to adapt and survive any circumstance, other muscles begin to accommodate and work outside their intended purpose to support the shoulder since the shoulder is the stabilizing joint that places our hand anywhere in space for the purpose to eat, work or perform hygiene tasks to name just a few. Pain often begins to spread to the neck, shoulder blade and down into the arm as more and more accommodation takes place. Now these other areas are being submitted to inflammation and subtle trauma. Soon the low back and hand get into the picture, and on and on the snowball grows.

So now that you know some of the shoulder problems that can stem from rounded posturing, what are 3 simple things you can do to improve your posture and prevent injury and chronic pain in your shoulder?

  • Take breaks periodically at work to sit up at the edge of your chair aligning the ear, shoulder and hip in a straight line. Take slow, deep belly breaths while maintaining this position for one minute.
  • Squeeze the shoulder blades together and clasp your hands behind your back. Breathe deeply, expanding through the chest for 30-60 seconds while squeezing the blades.
  • Squeeze your shoulder blades down toward your back pockets prior to and during any overhead arm lifting. This helps to better position the bone in the socket, so to speak, and to minimize unnecessary stress on the soft tissues of the joint.

The old adage that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is very true when it comes to shoulder pain. If you have questions or comments, please feel free to contact me or write in below. I am always happy to help you learn tools for better health and wellness that work.

Traci Vincent

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Pain Free While Working at Your Laptop

using laptopWith today’s technology, it seems like more and more of us find ourselves working on a laptop or tablet while seated at a desk for long hours, or for you trendy-types, perhaps at your local coffee place or even from your sofa. As your work stations become less predictable or adaptable to your specific body, how do you keep yourself from falling victim to those nagging aches and pains in the neck, shoulder and back that are all too common when using a laptop or tablet?

Here are a few important tips to remember…

1. Use a wireless keyboard and set your laptop on a 3 inch binder or stack of books to get the height of the screen up to a more appropriate eye level. Most people tend to let their head and neck gravitate forward when using a laptop or tablet since the screen is well below eye level.

2. Take short pauses and breaks every 30 minutes to look at something in the distance to give your eyes a rest. Get up and walk around briefly. Change tasks momentarily.

3. Sit at the edge of the seat, clasp palms together behind your back and expand your chest up and open; breathing deeply. If you are unable to clasp your palms, reach for the back of the chair and hold for 30 seconds.

4. Rotate your upper body to the side clasping the chair that you are sitting in. Hold 30 seconds and breathe deeply. Maker sure weight stays distributed equally in your buttocks. Repeat on the other side. This wrings out toxins and stale energy in the internal organs in addition to unwinding tightness in the neck and back. Notice the increase in circulation following this stretch.

5. Be mindful that your ears, shoulders, and hips are aligned vertically. Keeping an upright posture allows you to breathe easier and is less fatiguing to the postural muscles of the spine. Remember, oxygen is the gas that fuels your cells. The more fresh oxygen you consistently supply your body with, the better. You will feel less fatigued also.

Even though these reminders may sound familiar, each of us need to hear these things repeatedly. Our bodies are amazing and are able to reach improved work output performance when using a laptop merely by using simple adjustments and movements.

Well, I need to go follow my own advice…time for me to do some stretches and walk around. Peace and joy to you!

 

 

 

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Kicking That Knee Pain

Knee pain - runner injurySometimes knee pain can happen as a result of impact trauma, but often it seems to occur simply after routine activities and workouts for no significantt reason. You might even notice swelling, tenderness, pain and difficulty with balancing or stabilizing on that leg.  Many people begin to focus on the thought that something is wrong inside their knee since that is where they feel the pain. However, this can delay the resolution of the pain because many times, the problem is a result of an unidentified dysfunction elsewhere in the leg or hip.  Dysfunction in the hip can lead to improper loading of the joints in the leg with every step you take. Dysfunction in the foot changes the force load that travels up your leg each time your foot strikes the ground.

Observe people around you today as they are walking. Do you see anyone who’s knee angles inward like the letter “L” as they step on that leg? They may even report knee discomfort and limitation intermittently, but the problem likely did not begin in the knee. The body is an amazing interconnection of tissues that support and stabilize our skeletal structure. Many of these muscles partner together to optimize everyday movements like walking, running or climbing stairs. For example, the posterior tibialis, vastus medialis oblique and the gluteus medius muscles partner dynamically to create stable alignment from the foot to the hip. Because of our often sedentary lifestyle due to long commutes, desk jobs, computer usage and hours spent watching TV, our bodies begin to weaken and de-condition. Frequently the hip flexors (muscles in the front of the hip) become tight as a result of all this sitting and the gluteals (muscles in the side of the hip and buttocks) steadily weaken. This imbalance changes the dynamic function of the hip when walking or running.  Over time, these abnormal forces effect the knee. Hence, the mysterious knee pain that shows up after exercise.

Perhaps when you are standing, you may notice that one foot has a lower arch than the other and that your feet are sore after prolonged walking or exercise. The same principle applies as mentioned earlier. Weakness or tightness in the foot and ankle can impact the alignment and how the forces travel up into the leg. Again the knee joint gets bombarded by abnormal forces coming up from the foot and ankle. Knee pain is frequently the result especially with repetitive use.

Traditionally, when you go to a medical clinic reporting knee pain, x-rays and possibly other tests will be done on the knee. Typically, no one will assess you in a standing position or address your hip or foot and ankle. All the focus will be on the knee since that is where you have pain. You may be prescribed medication for pain and inflammation. As you begin to take the medication, you might even start to feel better temporarily. If this basic treatment does not relieve your knee pain long term, you may find yourself contemplating injections or even knee surgery. Sadly though, the attention will likely remain focused on your symptoms and not neccessarily on the underlying problem.

If this scenario sounds familiar, ask to have a posture and gait analysis done before any decisions are made about surgery. You will be amazed at the reduction in knee pain and the improvement in function that you can have by simply addressing dynamic positioning and stabilization in the foot and hip with proper instruction from a qualified physical therapist or advanced exercise therapist. Their expertise can definitely assist you in kicking that knee pain.

If you have questions, feel free to comment below or contact me for an assessment.

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images

Frankincense-The Wise Men Were Truly Wise

imagesA few months back, I suffered a knee injury in jiujitsu. Initially I had the typical minor swelling, constant pain and inflammation. I began the rest, ice, elevation, gentle strengthening and movement routine that you may be familiar with if you have ever had an injury. Because I use certified pure therapeutic grade essential oils frequently at home, I began researching what oil could be beneficial for my pain and healing.

An interesting oil that began to learn more about during this research is Frankincense. It is derived from the resin of the Boswellia tree, which thrive in East Africa, the Arabian Peninsula and India. You might recognize Frankincense as one of the three gifts that the Bible states were given to baby Jesus by the Wise Men. For over 5,000 years people in East Africa and the Arabian peninsula have produced this resin and numerous Chinese, Greek, Latin and Sanskrit sources document is use historically for personal, religious and medicinal uses.

I discovered ancient traditions are confirmed by modern day research on the powerful benefits of Frankincense as an analgesic, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic, anti-depressant, astringent, carminative (reduce gas), cicatrizant (wound healing), cytophylatic (cell regeneration), digestive, diuretic, expectorant, sedative, immune boosting tonic and anti-carcinogistic.

In addition, Frankincense has been shown to be the most valuable essential oil for slowing and deepening breathing and thus helping to reduce anxiety, stress and nervous tension. It is useful in treating colds, bronchitis, coughs, sore throats and asthma. The unique chemistry of Frankincense allows it to cross the blood brain barrier and facilitate oxygenation of cells. This is the optimal communication at the foundational cellular level. It has even been shown to be helpful to restore some tone to slack facial skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles. It seems to help our cells, tissues, organs and body systems remember how to be perfect again at the deepest of cellular levels. Frankincense is good for almost everything apparently.

I am happy to report that after doing my research, I used Frankincense daily and I no longer have that nagging medial knee pain and my leg strength is good. If you would like more information on therapeutic grade essential oils, please contact me.

 

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