Relaxation & Wellness

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Postural Check-Spinal Alignment

If we were to drop an imaginary string (vertical plumb line) beside your body from the ceiling to the floor andyou were in a good spinal alignment and proper posture, that line would pass through your:

  • Ear
  • Shoulder
  • Hip
  • Knee
  • Ankle

Good spinal alignment in a seated position keeps the upper body the same with ear, shoulder, and hip in line.

  • Sit in your chair so that your feet are flat on the floor and your hips are at about a 90 degree angle.
  • You may need to place a pillow or towel roll along the backrest of the chair to assist with postural improvements
  • Keep your elbows bent at about 90 degrees with your shoulder srelaxed back
  • Adjust your computer screen or your chair up/down if able so that you can look straight ahead
  • Take a posture break to avoid straining your body by getting up to move around every 15-30 minutes if able

At least once every day do a posture check-try some of the following visualizations. Choose a few that work best for you.

  • Pretend you are two inches taller
  • You have an invisible shelf extending from your sternum with a tea cup balanced
  • Feel the back of your neck lengthening (picked up by the scruff)
  • Lift your tie high or proudly show off your jewel at your breast bone
  • Keep your pelvis level-do not spill your tea cup
  • Increase the distance between your hip bones and your rib cage

Think of these images when you are sitting, standing, and walking throughout the day.

Sleeping Positions for Improved Spinal Alignment

Side Sleeping Position

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  • Lie on your side with the pillow tucked securely around the neck not going onto the shoulders or upper back
  • Bring your knees slightly towards your chest in a comfortable position
  • Place a pillow between your knees and thighs for improved hip alignment
  • To get up-keep your head, neck, and shoulders relaxed while using your arm to prop you up to a seated position & swinging your legs down off the bed

Back Sleeping Position

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  • Sit down on your bed and slowly lay down onto your side
  • Keeping your head and neck supported on your pillow; roll over onto your back using your hips and without lifting your head and neck
  • Lie on your back with the pillow tucked securely around the neck not going onto the shoulders or upper back
  • Place a pillow, bolster, or wedge under your knees as needed for increased comfort of the knees, hips, and low back
  • To get up-slowly roll to your side without lifting your head off your pillow.  Keep your head, neck, and shoulders relaxed while using your arm to prop you up to a seated position & swinging your legs down off the bed

Transition from Stomach to Side Sleeping Position

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  • Lie on your side with the pillow tucked securely around the neck not going onto the shoulders or upper back
  • Bring your top leg towards your chest in a comfortable position and rest it on 1-2 pillows
  • Place a pillow at the stomach region and slowly roll yourself onto the pillows in a position that is in between lying on your stomach and lying on your side
  • To get up-keep your head, neck, and shoulders relaxed  and roll back to a side sleeping position while using your arm to prop you up to a seated position & swinging your legs down off the bed

Walking With A Purpose

Walking is a great way to exercise to burn calories, lose weight, decrease stress, decrease blood pressure, improve bone health, improve feelings of well being. Walking is easily done indoors on a treadmill, in the hallways of a mall, school, or office; or outside anywhere. Walking with correct form can strengthen weak muscles, stretch tight muscles, and improve breathing capacity and posture. Walking with incorrect form can lead to neck, back ,hip, knee, and ankle problems.

Use the following visualizations as you walk:

Posture check guidelines

  • Think of your (plumb line) ear, shoulder, hip, knee, and ankle in the same vertical line
  • Pretend you are two inches taller
  • You have an invisible shelf extending from your sternum with a tea cup balanced
  • Feel the back of your neck lengthening (picked up by the scruff)
  • Lift your tie high or proudly show off your jewel at your breast bone
  • Keep your pelvis level-do not spill you tea cup
  • Increase the distance between your hip bones and your rib cage
  • Imagine someone is pulling you forward with a string attached to your chest
  • Tighten and strengthen abdominal muscles by pulling your belly button towards your spine
  • Tighten buttocks when your leg is behind you
  • As your foot reaches forward strike your heel first the roll towards your toes
  • Walk lightly as if your feet were feather light
  • Swing arms deliberately in opposition to your legs
  • Breathe evenly as you walk

Pick a couple of these images to focus on each time you walk. You don’t need to remember them all. Try to walk regularly, building up to at least 30-40 minutes, 4 times per week depending on your exercise goals. If you are just starting , begin with 5 minutes and gradually increase your speed and time.

Wear supportive shoes, preferably a pair of athletic shoes designed for walking and fitted to your feet. You should always feel like you can breathe evenly as you walk and could hold a conversation- this is a good test of a moderate exercise intensity.

Proper Form With Bending Forward And Lifting

Goal: reduces pain/imbalances in shoulders, back, sacroiliac joint, pelvis, hips, knees, ankles, feet and prevents re-occurrence of instability and injury.

Purpose of repetitive exercise – increase flexibility of buttock muscles (gluteals) and hamstrings: decrease lower back (lumbar) flexion movement/ instability; train to move at hip joint rather than the lower back which improves stability in spine.

Note: large hip (gluteal) muscles and leg (quadriceps and hamstrings) are made for power and lifting. Not your back muscles which are made for endurance for holding up your trunk and supporting your spine. Also hip joints are a ball and socket type joint and offer more range of motion and flexibility with bending opposed to the small planar joints in your spine if you bend too much are strained easily.

Bending at hips first:

  • Start in standing with proper alignment of hips, knees, and feet
  • Toes straight ahead as best as you can
  • Shift weight towards the balls of feel – (keep most of weight off of heels)
  • Slight bend of knees – (do not lock knees back)
  • Rotate legs outward at hips and knees
  • You may notice that you are standing on the outside of your feel (okay for now)
  • Place golf club, broom stick, yard stick, etc behind your back and head
  • Line up spine and back of head as close as you can to the stick or golf club
  • pull belly button to spine and tuck chin in (do not tilt head backwards)
  • It is normal that you may have points in your spine or even your head that do not touch the stick/golf club – just try to maintain the position without letting the curves of your spine change as you bend
  • While maintaining position against the stick/ golf club – relax hip and knee joints
  • Begin to move hips backwards – using your “ball and socket – hip joints” for movement (not your back joints)
  • Then start to bend knees – maintain spine against golf club
  • Goal is to initiate movement at hips when bending
  • Do not initiate bending at the head, shoulders, or back – this will eliminate instability and strain on the spinal joints and muscles

Common Mistakes

  • Do not move head and shoulders forward during bending
  • Do not hyper-extend knees (lock knees back) while bending hips
  • Do not tilt head back to get it to touch the stick/golf club
  • If you are having difficulties getting your spine or head against the golf – do not push beyond your comfort zone – work within your available range which is different for every person.
  • Practice this bending 10-30 repetitions 2-3 times per day. This is a mindful exercise and you must concentrate on technique which is more important than repetitions. It is like retraining your mind and body to write your name differently than you have for all these years – you have to think every time you start the activity to facilitate effective change.
  • Very important and effective: practice this way of bending and moving every time you start to bend forward; lift; get up and down from sitting; standing and working at a counter top; golfing. Think of this and move this way several times throughout the day. Repetition is what creates change.

Documents

Proper Hip & Knee Alignment

Download File


Proper Hip and Knee Alignment in Standing/Bending

Goal-reduces pain/imbalances in the back, sacroiliac joint, pelvis, hips, knees, ankles, and feet and prevents re occurrence of instability and injury

Standing:

  • Toes straight ahead as best as you can
  • Shift weight towards the balls of the feet – (keep most of weight off the heels)
  • Slight bend of the knees – (do not lock knees back)
  • Rotate legs outward at hips and knees
  • You may notice that your are standing on the outside of your feet, okay for now-it will build up strength in your arch
  • If you bend knee slightly your inner edge of knee cap should be over second toe or towards the outside of your big toe
  • Remember to pay attention to your upper body posture as well-lift sternum/relax shoulders, imagine you are 2 inches taller to decompress spine

Controlled Small Knee Bends:

  • Toes straight ahead as best as you can
  • Shift weight towards the balls of feet – (keep most of weight off heels)
  • Slight bend of knees – (do not lock knees back)
  • Rotate legs outward at hips and knees
  • You may notice that you are standing on the outside of your feet, okay for now-it will build up strength in your arch
  • Begin to bend knee slightly making sure to look down as your inner edge knee cap should be over second toe or towards the outside of the big toe
  • When you return to upright make sure you do not lock your knees back
  • Come up to “soft knee” always keep a slight bend in the knee
  • Note: locked knees (hyper-extension) are bone on bone and set up for weak muscles, arthritis, and injury
  • Practice these knee bends 10-30 repetitions 2-3 times per day. This is a mindful exercise and you must concentrate on technique which is more important that repetitions. It is like retraining your mind and body to write your name differently than you have for all these years – you have to think every time you start the activity to facilitate effective change.
  • Very important and effective: practice this way of bending and moving every time you sit down and get up from a chair and even your car; when you are standing/bending in the kitchen; watching sports; waiting in line at the grocery store; golfing; several times throughout the day. Repetition is what creates change.

Proper Hip and Knee Alignment in Walking

Goal-reduces pain/imbalances in the back, sacroiliac joint, pelvis, hips, knees, ankles, and feet and prevents re occurrence of instability and injury.

Walking:

  • Keep STANDING and CONTROLLED SMALL KNEE BEND principles in mind-start to be mindful of position and movement in stand and with controlled small knee bends and it will be help walking to be improved and less imbalance created in your muscle and joints.

Basic Guidelines:

  • DO NOT let your knee lock back as your bring your weight over your foot. Roll over a knee that is straight (soft) but not hyper-extended (locked back)
  • As you roll over your foot, push the ball of your foot into the floor and not just the inside of your big toe (causes bunions or irritates bunions)
  • As you roll over your foot “think” about turning your hip and knee outward, very slightly. The inner edge of knee cap should be over the second toe or towards the outside of your big toe
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Ribcage Breathing

Purpose: Allows continued breathing when pulling the belly button towards the spine; loosens
the ribcage, and fills the lungs with air without losing core control.

  • Deep breathing all the way down the spine and into the pelvic region expanding the breath into the
  • back and sides of the ribcage.
  • Abdominals properly pulled in by drawing the belly button towards the spine so that they provide a
  • supportive corset for the whole trunk.
  • Knowing how to breathe while keeping the abs contracted gives us extra support throughout
  • movements and exercise.
  • Being able to perform lateral/ribcage breathing as well as diaphragmatic/belly breathing will increase
  • your overall breathing capacity and body awareness.
  • Use while lying down, standing, or sitting so that your expanded ribcage can help support the weight of
  • the upper body and minimize pressure on parts below.

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  • Practice ribcage breathing first lying on your back with your knees bent, then progress to a seatedposition with feet and legs spaced comfortably apart. Place your hands at both sides of the ribcagewith fingers in front and thumbs at the back. Slowly inhale (breathing in) and let your ribcage expandout to the sides and towards the back and then slowly exhale (breathing out) letting your ribcage relaxand move down and in. DO NOT hold your breath! Draw the abdominal muscles in to the waist pullingyour button towards your spine.
  • Hyperventilation is possible if this breathing exercise is done too many times continuously, so normalbreathing should be resumed after 3 or 4 deep breaths before repeating.

Relaxation Handout

RELAXATION
Relaxation means different things to different people and is taught by many different methods. Most
techniques of relaxation consist of a physical as well as a mental component.Muscle is the only tissue in the body that contracts, thus, from a true physiological standpoint: relaxation is
the physical ability to relax muscle tissue. When you let muscle soften, lengthen and become still, you are
relaxing. “Letting go” is a description of relaxing muscles.

Relaxation is a learning process that requires continuous practice and practical application. We learn new
muscle habits by practicing over and over until relaxing muscles becomes automatic. “Letting go” becomes
natural following the normal use of muscle during our daily activities.

The tight, hard areas of our muscles will begin to feel more relaxed and we will gradually learn to use only
those muscles that are necessary to perform any given task.

ARE YOU WILLING TO RELAX?
​To benefit from relaxation training, you must:
1. Recognize that you are tense
2. Be willing to learn and practice methods of relaxation
3. Keep a positive attitude that you can and will learn to relax
4. Understand the difference between relaxation, diversion, work, exercise, entertainment and recreation
5. Learn the difference between the feeling produced by a stretched muscle and a tight muscle
6. Be willing to practice relaxation in the manner you are instructed. Together we will find a method that is effective for you.
7. Set aside regular practice times
8. Incorporate relaxation into your daily life (practical application)
9. Understand that relaxation is a learning process that takes time
10. Learn that you can feel the difference between a tense and a relaxed muscle

Strategies to Reduce Muscle Tension in Sitting & Stretches

Posture Check in Sitting:

  • Check your spinal alignment: ears, shoulders, hips should be in the same vertical line
  • Lift chest and imagine you are two inches taller
  • Feel the back of your neck lengthening (picked up by the scruff)
  • Increase the distance between your hip bones and your rib cage
  • Feet flat on the floor
  • Knees and hips are approximately at 90 degree angle
  • Weight is evenly distributed over both “SIT” bones and buttocks
  • Sit forward onto “SIT” bones (ischial tuberosity) and front of pelvis. Do not sit back onto tail bone orsacrum
  • Make sure your upper body is not twisted compared to your lower body by keeping your shoulders,knees, and toes facing in the same direction

Strategies in Sitting:

  • Check your breathing-make sure you are not holding your breath. Try deep breathing for relaxation;and diaphragmatic breathing as a habit for breathing throughout the day.
  • Use timers to take a break from sitting activities every 30 minutes. This will help give your eyes, mind,and muscles a break. Get up and walk if you can or perform breathing and sitting stretches.
  • Try different chairs or supportive cushions (lumbar cushions). Saddle seats are highly recommended,but expensive. Try sitting on a corner of your chair and imagine you are sitting on a horse saddle. Try a small rolled up towel on your tail bone (sacrum) to assist your forward sitting position.
  • Trade 2-5 minute neck and shoulder rubs with your co-worker or spouse, or perform self-massage to reduce muscle tension

Stretches in Sitting

Deep Breathing– hands on the sides of your ribs, cleansing breath in through the nose, exhale out the mouth

Pelvic Rock– rock forward arching your back, then back, flattening your back. Inhale as you rock forward, exhale as you rock back. Then rock side to side naturally.

Posture Lift– hands on top of your head, raise the crown of your head into your hands with resistance, hold for 5 counts, and relax for 5 counts. Inhale as you stretch your spine towards the ceiling.

Shoulder Rolls– move your shoulders up, back, down. Inhale as you move your shoulders up and back and exhale as you relax your shoulders down.

Neck Stretches– chest up, shoulders back and tighten your abdominal muscles, side bend bringing your ear to your shoulder while looking straight ahead; hold for 10-20 seconds while performing 3-5 sets of deep breathing. Rotation- turn head to the right, hold for 10-20 seconds while performing 3-5 sets of deep breathing. You can also perform these movements in small amplitudes without holding.

Chest and Shoulder Stretch– chest up, raise your arms up reaching for the ceiling, take a deep breath and reach higher. Exhale slowly lowering your arms to your side like you are making an angel in the snow.

Back Stretch– lean forward rolling your spine down from head to neck to mid back, then low back. Reach your hands to your toes. Relax in this position and perform deep breathing. (Do not perform this exercise if you have osteoporosis, osteopenia, or pain.

Wrist Stretch– place the palms of your hands together with fingers apart. Lower your hands towards the desk while keeping your hands together. Reach your arms forward and bend your wrists down, and then up.

Safety Concerns

  • Listen to your body and stop with any pain-you can try exercise with less motion or intensity
  • Quality is more important than quantity
  • Start gradual with low intensity and repetitions
  • Check with your doctor before you start a new exercise program or if you have special medical concerns

Reduce Muscle Tension At Work

Posture Check In Sitting:

  • Check your spinal alignment: ears, shoulder, hips should be in the same vertical line
  •  Lift chest and imagine you are two inches taller
  • Feel the back of your neck lengthening (picked up by the scruff)
  • Increase the distance between your hip bones and your rib cage
  • Feet flat on floor
  • Knees and hips are approximately at 90 degree angle
  • Weight is evenly distributed over both “SIT” bones and buttocks
  • Sit forward onto “SIT” bones (ischial tuberosity) and front of pelvis. Do not sit back onto tail bone or sacrum
  • Make sure your upper body is not twisted compared to your lower body by keeping     your shoulders, knees, and toes facing in the same direction

Strategies In Sitting:

  • Check your breathing-make sure you are not holding your breath. Try deep breathing for relaxation; and diaphragmatic breathing as a habit for breathing throughout the day.
  • Use timers to take a break from sitting activities every 30 minutes. This will help give your eyes, mind, and muscles a break. Get up and walk if you can or perform breathing and sitting stretches.
  • Try different chairs or supportive cushions (lumbar cushions). Saddle seats are highly recommended, but expensive. Try sitting on a corner of your chair and imagine you are sitting on a horse saddle. Try a small rolled up towel on tail bone (sacrum) to assist your forward sitting position.
  • Trade 2-5 minute neck and shoulder rubs with your co-worker or spouse, or perform a self massage to reduce muscle tension.

Stretches In Sitting:

  • Deep Breathing – hands on sides of ribs, cleansing breath in through nose, exhale out mouth.
  • Pelvic Rock – rock forward arching your back, then back, flattening your back. Inhale as you rock forward, exhale as you rock back. Then rock side to side breathing naturally.
  • Posture Lift – hands on top of head, raise crown of head into hands with resistance, hold for 5 counts, relax for 5 counts. Inhale as you stretch spine towards ceiling.
  • Shoulder Rolls – move shoulders up, back, down, and breathe.
  • Neck Stretches – chest up, shoulders back and tighten abdominal muscles, side bend bringing ear to shoulder while looking straight ahead; hold for 10-20 sec. Rotation- turn head to right, hold for 10-20 sec. Can also perform these movements in small amplitudes without holding.
  • Chest & Shoulder Stretch chest up, raise arms up reaching for the ceiling, take a deep breath and reach higher. Exhale slowly lowering arms to side like you are making an angel in the snow.
  • Back Stretch– lean forward rolling spine down from head to neck to mid back, then low back, reach hands to toes. Relax in this position and perform deep breathing. (Do not perform this exercise if you have osteoporosis, osteopenia, or pain).
  • Wrist Stretch-place palms of hands together with fingers apart. Lower hands toward desk while keeping hands together. Reach arms forward and bend wrists down, then up.

Safety Concerns:

  • Listen to your body and stop with any pain-can try exercise with less motion or intensity.
  • Quality is more important than quantity
  • Start gradual with low intensity and repetitions
  • Check with your doctor before you start a new exercise program or if you have special medical concerns

Diaphragmatic/Belly Breathing

Purpose

  • Relaxation
  • Reduce strain on your neck and shoulders while breathing
  • Slow your breathing rate
  • Activate your inner core

Place one hand on your belly just below the ribs and the other hand on your chest. You can do this while standing, but it may be more comfortable while you are lying on the floor with your knees bent.

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  • Take a deep breath through your nose. As you inhale, let your belly rise into your hand. Keep your chest from rising as if you have a book resting on it.
  • As you exhale through pursed lips as though you were whistling, feel your hand go down. Take your time exhaling using a slow count of 7-10 in (inhale) and a slow count of 7-10 out (exhale).
  • Repeat these steps 3 to 10 times. Take your time with each breath.

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Belly-breathing helps you engage your deep inner core muscles for improved core stability.

  • Belly-breathing can be progressed to varying positions and activities to challenge your breathing.
  • Lying flat
  • Sitting
  • Quadruped position-on hands and knees
  • ½ kneeling position-kneeling down on 1 knee with the other knee out in front of you
  • Standing

Inflammation is one of the body’s natural ways of protecting itself. It includes many chemical reactions that help to fight off infections, to increase blood flow to places that need healing, and to generate pain as a signal that something is wrong with the body. Unfortunately, as with any process in the body, it is possible to have too much of a good thing.

A number of medical conditions are linked to too much inflammation in the body. Some of these include:

  • Alzheimer’s disease
  • Asthma
  • Cancer
  • Chronic obstructive lung diseases (emphysema and bronchitis)
  • Chronic pain
  • Type 2 diabetes
  • Heart disease
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis)
  • Stroke
  • Diseases where the immune system attacks the body, such as rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, or
  • scleroderma

Often people take medications to decrease inflammation. Drugs like ibuprofen and aspirin can change the
body’s chemical reactions, but they are not without side effects. Research has shown that other things can
decrease inflammation too. Many things we have control over, such as stress levels, how much we exercise,
and how much we eat will influence how much inflammation we have in our bodies. How we eat can affect
inflammation, and certain diets are more likely to decrease pain and other symptoms of disease. Many
studies have shown that people who eat certain types of foods are less likely to have the health problems
listed above. Some important guidelines for people who want to eat an anti-inflammatory diet are:

  1. Avoid unhealthy fats. Trans-fats that are high in omega-6 fatty acids cause inflammation. These fats are found in many animal products and in any foods designed to have a long shelf life. Monounsaturated fats, like olive oil, are better choices. Omega-3 fats, like fish oil and flax oil, are especially good for decreasing inflammation.
  2. Eat fruits and vegetables. Many studies are showing that a diet high in fruits and vegetables is good for decreasing inflammation. The more servings eaten, the better. 8-10 servings per day is a good goal. ½ cup-1 cup servings.
  3. Eat Fiber. Diets high in fiber are shown to help decrease inflammation. A good goal is about 30 grams per day, ideally from a diet rich in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables.
  4. Drink more water. Drink ½ your weight in ounces per day.

The information in this handout is for general education. Please work with your health care practitioner to use this information in the best way possible to promote your health.

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Detox Bath

Detox Bath
Sweating is the body’s natural way of detoxifying, so just soaking in hot water helps to pull toxins out of your
body onto your skin’s surface. Toxins are also drawn out of your body as the water in the bath starts to cool
down.Important Considerations before Taking This Bath:
This bath and the detox process can be fairly dehydrating so make sure that you drink plenty of water during and after the bath. Make sure you are drinking plenty of water throughout the day, so that you do not dehydrate at bath time.

Daily water intake recommendation: ½ your body weight in ounces. This will help flush your system and rid your body of toxins.

Warning: If you have high blood pressure, heart or kidney problems/disease or are diabetic, or pregnant-do not do the detox bath.

Easy Bath Recipe #1:
3 cups of Epsom Salt (or 1 cup for every 60# of body weight)
1 cup of baking soda
1/3 cup hydrogen peroxide
Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl or jar

Easy Bath Recipe #2:
1/3 cup Epsom Salt
1/3 cup sea salt
1/3 cup baking soda
2 ½ tsp ground ginger
1 cup apple cider vinegar
Combine all of the dry ingredients in a bowl.

Draw a bath with hot water as hot as you can stand it. As the water is filling the tub, add the bowl of dry ingredients and the hydrogen peroxide-recipe #1, or vinegar-recipe #2. The flowing water will help mix it, but make sure it is mixed well. (Don’t worry if your water turns yellow or orange, that’s just the ginger and the vinegar.)

Soak in the bath for about 40 minutes and enjoy! If you want to you can rub your skin gently (always towards your heart) to stimulate your lymphatic system and help clear out the toxins. When you are getting out of the bath please be careful and move slowly. You may feel weak or light-headed if
you stand up too quickly.

If you like the bath you can make a bulk version of the dry ingredients and store then for future use. If you have a fun container to put it in, this would also make a great gift! Just mix up all of the dry ingredients and store it in something with a lid. Then just grab 1 cup of the mix and 1 cup of vinegar when you want a bath.

Benefits:
Epsom salts: helps make you sweat, reduces inflammation, relieves muscle aches, and promotes lymphatic drainage, found in most bath salts

Sea salt: another common bath salt, helps leach out toxins, soothes open sores or blemishes

Baking soda: highly alkaline, helps balance an overly acidic system, helps eliminate chlorine in the water, mildantiseptic, opens pores, relieves itching and skin irritation, and softens water and skin

Hydrogen peroxide: provides oxygenation

Apple cider vinegar: helps restore the acid-alkaline balance in your body, helpful for acne, soften skin

Ginger: increases circulation, open pores, makes you sweat

Healthy Gardening

Basic Safety Rules for spring, summer, and fall

  • Drink plenty of fluids- water is the best
  • Wear sun screen/ hat / proper clothing to protect you from the sun, but remember everyday 15-20
  • minutes of exposure to the sun without sun screen is good for vitamin D uptake
  • Wear bug spray to avoid bug bites and Lyme’s disease
  • Wear comfortable clothes
  • Wear proper supportive footwear

Proper body mechanics to avoid strains and pains in your body
Bending

  • Bend at hips, knees, while keeping back straight & your belly button drawn in towards your spine
  • Use a golf club/rake along spine as you bend to practice and strengthen

Lifting

  • Use your legs, wide base of support, keep object close to your center of gravity, bend hips and knees, back straight – belly button to spine
  • DO NOT twist while you are lifting. If your object is to be moved to your side. Lift to an upright position then turn your whole body by moving your feet, then lower again using hips and knees
  • Ask for help if the object is too big/heavy for you

Digging

  • Use good mechanics as in bending and lifting
  • A small shovel usually works better

Pulling Weeds

  • Kneel using knee cushions or knee pads. Sit on a stool or the ground if you have bad knees, or stand and hoe using good posture
  • DO NOT bend over at the waist. You could use the golfer’s bend if you cannot kneel or sit

Take Breaks

  • Do not overdo it. Listen to your body and rest when needed. Work on projects in stages. Weed a little bit every day. Don’t save it up for a full day marathon.
  • It is good to do standing extensions (standing up and bending backwards or reaching up to the sky while taking in a deep breath). Stretch in the opposite direction of the position that you have been working in.

Stretching and Strengthening
Should be done daily or 3 times per week for a strong healthy body. There are many wonderful exercise routines and philosophies available today at classes, on DVDs, TV, books. I recommend seeing a physical therapist if you have medical problems, or a trainer at a local gym, or sign up for a class, talk to friends. Good programs- Pilates, Yoga, Tia Chi, Qiqong, water aerobics.

  • Stretching before and after gardening
  • Strengthening for a strong back, legs and arms to make gardening easier
  • Recovery from the inevitable – strains and pains
  • Use RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation)

Balance is the key to life!
Gardening is one of life’s greatest pleasures, as is enjoying the fruits of your labors. Relax your mind, exercise your body, then sit back and let your senses take in all the beauty you have helped nature to create.

Neck Saving Tips

  1. NO stretching at end ranges with your neck.
  2. Turn your whole body and DO NOT turn your head to its full limits.
  3. Perform small movements of head and neck side to side and turning right to left and looking down, but remember DO NOT stretch, just perform small movements to lubricate joints.
  4. DO NOT roll head backwards or look up to the ceiling-causes too much damage and irritation to upper neck vertebrae.
  5. Start good posture with lifting up chest and bring chin in.
  6. Avoid pillows that are too high or chairs that rest/push head forward. Recommended pillow-Indulgence Side Sleeper by Isotonic found only at Bed Bath & Beyond online or in stores (Rochester, MN or Madison, WI-closest location) Standard/Queen size=$40
  7. Avoid sitting in a recliner that puts you in a “C” position which is legs up, back rounded, head forward. Instead sit in a chair with buttocks all the way back/pillow behind back for support/ and can put feet up on a stool if needed-recheck that head is not leaning forward.
  8. Roll shoulders up, back, and down to loosen up tight shoulders.
  9. Never hold you phone between ear and shoulder-this compresses your spine, tightens your muscles, pinches nerves and sets you up for injury.
  10. Deep breathing throughout the day to relax and decrease tension and stress.
  11. Check head, neck, hands, & jaw for tension and holding throughout the day. Practice performing activities with less tension and tightness in your body.
  12. If your head feels heavy or tight-lie down in a supported position when able.
  13. Check for proper posture which is a key to reducing muscle tension in the head, neck, and shoulders-be mindful of good chairs with goo support.
  14. Sleep is very important to heal your body and for wellness. Ideas to help with stress: stress management throughout the day, warm bath or shower, heating blanket or pad, ice pack, meds by doctor or over the counter supplements, relaxing music, meditation, relaxation techniques, going to be early, ear plugs, eye mask.

PAIN RELIEF STRATEGIES

  1. Kinesio taping if you tolerate it
  2. Biofreeze or other topical analgesic creams or roll ons
  3. Ice pack for 10-20 minutes
  4. Heating pad or rice pack for 20-30 minutes
  5. Self-massage or from someone else
  6. Homedics electric massager, chair massager, trigger point/massage tools