Strengthening the Lower Back

I have often felt that part of the problem for those of us suffering with Restless Leg Syndrome had to do with a weaker lower back. Mainly, I have focused on exercises and stretches that would strengthen the back; or developing the habit of walking every evening to increase  strength and relieve some of the tensions of the day. However, recently I visited my chiropractor and we discussed more in detail the advantages of the pettibon system and inparticularly the folcrum exercises. These exercises consist of a series of exercises done on various foam folcrums designed to put the curve back into the spine. The reason was, I learned, that 70 to 80% of our bodies strength comes from the correct curve of the spine in the lower back and neck. So not only can weak muscles effect us but the actual curve of the spine. That explains why even after hitting the gym frequently or doing nightly stretches our lower back can still be weak and cause problems, because the real conundrum is without the right curve in our lower back and neck, exercises won’t be as effective and we will always be weaker than we should. Now I don’t advocate giving up on those exercises but maybe it’s time to ask your doctor about the pettibon system and how you can get the curve back in your spine.

Happy New Year to all of you.



Christmas and Having Joy!

Sometimes when people have chronic pain it is hard to focus past the hurt. But doing just that might help us in the long run. I remember one story where a son was far away from his family and trying to learn new things and to make a difference to those around him. He felt he was failing at everything, so he wrote home complaining about all the many things that were going wrong in his life and how he wasn’t being successful and how no one was listening to him, in general he said nothing was going as he had expected it to. A week later he got a letter from his father that had one short line. “Forget yourself and go to work.” Now I know that living with a constant reoccurring pain is different in many respects than this young man’s story, but I think we all can benefit expecially at this time of year to forget ourselves for a season and think of how we can help others. It just might in the long run help us to forget for even one day the pain we constantly have to deal with, and that can’t be a bad thing for any of us.

Merry Christmas and may you have joy this Holiday Season!


How To Breathe The Right Way!

I decided that talking about breathing and knowing the right way to do it doesn’t always go hand in hand, so I decided I needed to research what are the common thoughts on breathing correctly. This is what I found.

Most of us breath incorrectly, we do something akin to the exact opposite of the way we really should. We suck in our tummies and raise our shoulders. This fast, shallow breathing expels carbon dioxide too quickly and has many bad effects on our physical and emotional health. Without sufficient oxygen, your body becomes more susceptible to health problems. One way to find out if you are a shallow breather, is to put your palms on your lower abdomen and take a big breath. If your abdomen expands when you inhale, you’re on the right track.

The right kind of breathing is done by expanding our diaphragm. This kind of deep abdominal breathing helps to massage and detoxify our inner organs, promote blood flow and peristalsis, and pump the lymph more efficiently through our lymphatic system. How often should we breathe six breaths per minute is considered optimal or as some say count to 5 or 6 when breathing in and then again when breathing out. You don’t have to work at breathing all the time, just start out by spending 20 or 30 minutes a day sensing and observing your breath. One suggestion was to do some correct breathing just before you go to bed or before you get out of bed in the morning. I am always for the most convenient because then I will do it. Some easy steps to remember are:

1. Have good posture.

2. Try breathing through your nose.

3. When breathing in fill the lower part of the lungs (expanding the abdomen) first and then the upper part of the lungs.

4. Breathe in slowly, maybe hold your breath and then breathe out slowly.

5. Relax your abdomen and shoulders.

I hope that gives you a good start to a very healthy habit.


Breathing Through Restless Legs

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I find myself reflecting at this time of year on all those things that I am thankful for; such as family and good health. Even though RLS can effect our lives dramatically, so many others have much worse circumstances to deal with that I am glad my worst health trial is only RLS.

I am also grateful for the ability to breathe deeply. I had asthma as a child and sometimes taking a single breath was an excruciating exerience. I remember the panic of not being able to take a deep breath and feeling as if I was going to suffocate. Sometimes those feelings of panic return when I think I am not going to be able to sleep through the night again for the millionth time, and as the panic sets in I begin to breathe much more shallow and I feel that tightness around my chest. That sets me thinking. Poor circulation has been associated with RLS, not only in making it worse but as a possibly cause. Circulation is increased when the blood is high in oxygen and there are no restrictions. Could the answer to helping our RLS be as simple as our ability to breathe deeply? Think about it for a minute. Panic, stress and pain have never helped anyone to breathe deeply quite the contrary and the more shallow we breathe the less oxygen is absorbed by the blood stream, thus decreasing the quality of our blood and it’s ability to deliver the nutrients to the major organs of the body let alone our extremities. Maybe what we need to do is breathe through the pain with long slow deep breaths over and over again. If nothing seems to change right away, I will bet you notice less stress. You might find you can think more clearly. Your heart will thank you and you might even improve the antioxidant status in your blood. Seems a win win situation to me and  you just might find yourself sleeping more peacefully through the night.

Just an interesting idea, that might be worth trying.