What is Required for Avoiding Stiffness with Age?

Is your body getting stiff as you get older? Over decades, the gravitational effects of standing, walking and running causes fluids to pool in our legs, hips and low back. Sometimes our pumps, our muscles, are not being used consistently enough to keep our fluids moving.  Over time these fluids, which are rich in connective tissue cells, begin sticking the muscles of the legs together fixating us in our use or misuse patterns.  The muscles become increasingly inefficient at pumping fluids because they can’t move.  The legs feel heavy; the feet muscles get weak; plantar fascitis, shin splints and ‘neuropathy’ develop.  (I put this in quote marks because many times an ankle muscle that is not working is labeled neuropathy), often accompanied by swelling.  Some of these situations are just dysfunctional muscle coordination patterns resulting from adhesions between the layers.

Poor circulation in our legs affects the conditioning of our feet and legs for walking.  Muscles that aren’t being used become unable to move.  We feel stiff and lose the grace of moving freely. We walk in stiff and stomp along ways, using our feet as platforms rather than functional movers.

Here are 3 things you can do to avoid stiffness as you age:

  1. Stretch and wring out your tissues. The yogis have always said “To stay young, keep your spine limber.”  You can do this by holding the arms of your office or arm chair and twisting and breathing multiple times a day. Twisting your spine stimulates CerebroSpinal Fluid circulation.
  2. Hang over and dangle daily; maybe more than once. Let your hips and legs hold you up as you let your back sway and hang loose! Stiffness in your back affects your comprehension and produces cognitive confusion.
  3. Get bodywork!  The older your tissues get the more dehydrated or waterlogged they become.  Good bodywork and massage will keep those fluids moving and not sticking you together in ways that make you STIFF.  Good bodywork will wake your feet up and get them working again.

If your feet and legs are feeling heavy and weak perhaps you would benefit from a session with our talented NeuroMuscular Reprogramming® Therapists at Healus Neuro Rehab Center. Give us a call at 415 388 9945 and make an appointment today. Don’t let rigor mortis set in early…!

If you’ve never been here before and don’t understand how we can help you, you can ask for a FREE NeuroMuscular Assessment where you will meet with Jocelyn Olivier, founder and clinical director at Healus and the creator of NeuroMuscular Reprogramming NMR®.  She will assess your movement patterns and tissue quality and educate you to the best approach to correct those problems that are plaguing you.

Here is a great talk by British anatomist Gil Hedley on the facts about Fascial ‘Fuzz’ and how it sticks our layers together when we stop moving.  With NMR we test all your muscles and make sure they are all moving and working, we release your adhesions and wake up your coordination, more of your muscles working will get the work done easier. As my last client today said going out the door:  “I feel LIGHTER!”  That’s because all the stuckness was gone!

Give us a call at (415) 388-9945 and make an appointment today…Feel better for the rest of your life.

The Biomechanics of the Neck

The neck is the most vulnerable structure in our bodies. It is composed of only small moving parts supported by a myriad of very small muscles fastening one vertebra to another and the segments of the column to the head and ribcage.  The head itself weighs a good 14 pounds in the average adult with nothing to hold it up but a moving column of bones and the tone and integrated function of the neck and shoulder muscles.

Why the Neck Develops Pain and Restriction

In addition to having very little support to start with, we engage casually in high velocity activities such as driving and take our kids to amusement park rides. Our preferred exercise activities such as snowboarding, surfing, rollerblading, skiing, provide further risk of potential whiplash injuries to the neck. The current fashion of extreme sports takes these risks to the limit.

When we injure our necks we don’t always know it.  Sometimes it takes a couple of years for the effects of a whiplash accident to show up. This is why the current auto insurance environment provides for a year to 2 years for a claim to be open pending the long-range results of even a minor impact injury.   By the time the effects are noticed the habits in the motor coordination system are long established patterns in the cerebellum. Our movement strategy has been permanently altered by the event and we don’t even know it.  All we know is that our neck hurts and doesn’t move as freely in some direction.

What is the Anatomy of a Neck Injury? 

How do we know when we’ve been injured?  How do we define an injury?  Typically our medical approach overlooks any disruption of function that is not sprained or broken or torn and bleeding.  Survival is the measure of importance when remediating problems.  Is this a life threatening issue?   Where is the branch of medicine that deals with dysfunctional coordination strategies?  What injures those strategies?   Any abrupt jolt that involves an overstretch of some tissue while other muscles spasm or contract abruptly to protect the intrinsic structures and the integrity of the spinal column can disrupt the motor coordination information governing normal function.  This disruption can have long-range effects. Once the motor coordination is disrupted we build compensation patterns or coping strategies.  Neighboring muscles begin substituting for what isn’t working.  A coping strategy is a memorized coordination for getting a movement done.  We are now using big muscles to do what the smaller muscles should be doing.  We notice we can’t turn our head without turning the whole ribcage. We feel pain when we tip our head to one side but not the other.

What corrects neck pain?

Is it enough to find all the tight muscles and trigger point them into elasticity? Not really.  Muscles that are tight are that way because they are splinting a missing function.  If you use deep tissue releases to force those muscles to relax you can be left with a lack of support altogether and a vulnerability to further injury.  At best the body is going to have to put back the tension that was just forcefully removed by sustained pressure or fascial stretching.

Is it possible to really correct these dysfunctional coordination patterns once they’ve been disrupted?  The answer is YES. We need a strategy for re-educating the coordination among the muscles.

First, we need to look at all the movement potential built into the neck.

Second we need to determine which movement functions are not enabled.

Third we need a strategy for reprogramming the coordination system.

Fourth we need to know which patterns need to be corrected first.

How to Change Neck Pain

In order to understand neck problems one needs to understand what the normal movement potentials of the neck are.

At each segment of the neck it is able to Flex, Extend, Side bend, Forward Translate, Lateral Translate and Rotate.

Due to its preferred curvature in extension the flexion and extension functions need to be corrected first.  Side bending is always accomplished only when the extension function is enabled.

Because everything is being supported in gravity, the problems at the top are built on the problems at the base.  Even though many clients report symptoms at C2 (‘My neck is out of place’), you can’t change the top before you change the base.  The biggest problems in neck function, those that can send pain and weakness into the arms and hands are rotations and counter rotations at T2, C7, C6 and C5. This results in compression and nerve impingement. Trying to adjust this situation abruptly can make it worse.  Dealing with the upper thoracic rotations first enables the neck to even begin to be able to unpack the problem of rotations.

If the base is locked in flexion, rotation will not be possible. In a normal neck, rotation is enabled with the column in extension. Being locked in flexion is what causes herniation and bulging discs.  Simply relaxing the muscles of the neck will never solve these deep coordination dysfunctions.

In Conclusion…

A good strategy for correcting neck problems requires a detailed understand of the movement functions of the neck and a method for determining priorities in correcting them. More information on strategies for reprogramming the neck begins in Module 3 of NMR.  Find more information on training in NeuroMuscular Reprogramming NMR®  on www.NeuroMuscular-Reprogramming.com.

See the Video:

Have you ever had a muscle spasm that came out of nowhere? Do you have any chronic pain patterns that show up worse when you are under a lot of stress? Most of us understand that stress causes dis-ease, but not many people understand how or why.

Muscular coordination depends on easy communication between the two hemispheres of the brain. We call this Contra-lateral coordination, because both hemispheres of the brain must be functioning and in communication for our bodies to coordinate movement bi-laterally (on both sides). Stress shuts this down this function.
This disconnect is one of our essential survival skills, it enables us to react quickly without thinking. However, prolonged stress, or the after effects of traumatic injuries can create a permanent condition of disconnection between the hemispheres of the brain. On a hormonal level, this results in an increase in adrenal activity, leading to chronic anxiety difficulty sleeping, and the feeling of being on edge and restless.

Adrenal hormones put us on our toes, and cause us to tense up a predictable group of muscles: the low back, back of the neck, calves, and our diaphragm. Adrenaline also affects our muscle tone and resilience. Muscles all over our body tense up: the tight ones get tighter, and the weak ones have spasms. This is what leads to the phenomena we call “My back went out.”
Coordination confusion resulting from a prolonged stress effect is the underlying problem with many physical conditions and symptoms that most bodywork modalities cannot resolve. Luckily, there are a few simple techniques that can resolve this complex coordination problem. Once this underlying “operating system” is corrected, the nervous system will allow the body to change, heal, and reorganize more quickly.

One technique that we use every day at the Healus Center is called “Brain Buttons.” This simple tool comes out of educational kineseology, and was developed to help students prepare their brains for learning in school. It also helps to correct the contra-lateral coordination system, and can correct a wide array of functional inhibitions in the body. Using Brain Buttons regularly will improve your ability to pay attention, increase your coordination, reduce your risk of physical injury, and mediate the impact of stress in your life. It is the single most effective tool we can recommend to clients with occasional but recurring pain patterns.
Brain Function Facilitation enables us to reconnect the communication between the hemispheres quickly. Clients feel better immediately, sometimes with an immediate cessation of muscular pain patterns. The best part is: You can do this for yourself! Click Here to learn how.

Mental clarity and physical coordination are intimately connected. If you have a chronic or acute physical condition, you can come in for a free 1/2 hour assessment and we will give you a copy of Brain Buttons and show you how to calm your nervous system so your body can heal. Stay tuned to the Healus Neuro Rehab Center blog for our next piece on the correct biomechanics of your low back and hips.

Holding breathHidden Hyperventilation is a state of metabolic imbalance that produces a felt sense of worry or anxiety. Test yourself by following these simple steps:

Sit quietly and observe your breathing. How fast is it? Is it shallow or deep?
Now see if you can slow it down to a count of 3 on the in-breath and 3 on the out-breath.

At the end of a regular out-breath, hold your breath with no air in your lungs and count the seconds. Don’t breath until you absolutely have to. Relax if you can, you’ll last longer. The goal is 35 seconds.

If you can’t make it to 35 seconds, your blood chemistry is NOT normal. If you hit the panic button at 15 or below you do not have enough carbon dioxide retained in your blood and your body has shut down your oxygen/carbon dioxide exchange rate. This is a crucial problem for many metabolic activities. Thus when you hold your breath out, you quickly run out of oxygen… And survival becomes a question. Hence the panic response right below the surface. Some people experience regular panic attacks. This is why. Their metabolism is out of control.

If you can’t push past the first limit to get to 35 seconds, you should call the Healus Center clinic and schedule a FREE NEUROMUSCULAR Assessment/appointment.

photo16Getting a good night’s sleep is crucial to our attitude and energy level. Yet sleep in our older years tends to become elusive as our stress hormones are no longer mediated by the abundance of estrogen we had in younger years. When hormone levels fall, muscles harden, exacerbating migraines and tension.

 

Here are some natural ways to help you relax for deep sleep:

Hot baths before bed are notoriously effective in relaxing hypertension and regulating deep relaxation. Taken before bed, a bath can produce a relaxation effect within 20 minutes by dilating blood vessels and reducing blood pressure when cortisol levels wake you with worrisome or anxious thoughts.

Hold points on your governing meridian. Before going to sleep at night lie on your side and touch the spot at the very top of your head with one hand, and your tailbone with the other hand. Take slow, deep breaths, counting to four on the inhale, and four on the exhale. Imagine your breath filling your torso, and then sinking behind you, through your back and into the space behind you. You can also trace your mind up and down your spine, slowly, from top to bottom. This exercise helps to unwind tension, stress, and spinal trauma. With regular practice, you will definitely see the quality and quantity of your sleep improve.

Have a family member or friend hold your adrenal points. Two reflex points will release your adrenal stress before you go to sleep, enabling you to sleep more readily and more deeply. Once your partner finds the points, no pressure is needed. Just touching and holding those points will bring the system to equilibrium and put you to sleep.

The Adrenal Stress Points:treatment
The location of the first point is on our shoulder blade 1″ from the medial border nearest the spine, and 1″ down from the top edge of the bone. If you touch the blade with 2 to 3 fingers, you can’t miss it, as it will be tender to the touch upon pressure. The second point is halfway down the back of the hand, between the 3rd and 4th hand bones (ring and little finger). Hold the points for 1-3 minutes on each side of the body or until you feel pulsation under your fingertips.

With a little attention and regularity, these simple steps will have you sleeping through the night and awakening fully restored and rejuvenated!