The Basics of Back Pain
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From sciatia of the spine to sports injuries, here's the basics of back pain. Watch this video to learn more.
Transcript: Four out of five Americans will endure a serious episode of back pain at some point in their lives. Why...
Four out of five Americans will endure a serious episode of back pain at some point in their lives. Why do so many of us suffer from back discomfort? One of the main reasons we experience back pain is because we sit in chairs. It's really that simple! Even though millions of years of evolution have designed our spines to do otherwise, we eat, travel and sit in chairs for hours at a time. Sitting on the floor cross-legged, as is standard in many developing countries, is much better for our backs. This forces the spine into perfect alignment and maintains flexibility in the hips. For this reason, back pain is much less common in Asian nations. Our modern chair-bound lifestyle cramps and stresses our spinal discs, weakens back muscles and reduces hip flexibility. It is clinically proven that the less flexibility one has in the hips, the more back pain will result. To understand why our backs hurt, it helps to look at the how this part of the body works. The back is made up of layers of interwoven muscle that wrap around the S-shape of the spine. The spine has twenty-four vertebrae connected by facet joints. The vertebrae are cushioned by shock-absorbing pads, called intervertebral discs. These discs fill with fluid that absorbs shocks and dissipates the energy of harsh impacts. When we're born, this shock-absorbing fluid is 80 percent water. But as we age, these discs gradually lose water and turn brittle. This is one of the underlying causes of persistent back pain and loss of flexibility. This natural aging process, combined with our chair-bound lifestyles, contributes to our back pain epidemic. Another surprising cause of back pain is actually, "all in our heads." A relaxed, balanced posture is the key to a pain-free back. To achieve this healthy stance, a group of cells, called proprioceptors, send data to the brain regarding the proper position and alignment of muscles. But in our hectic lives, we often don't stop to listen to the signals our bodies send us. The more we ignore these signals, the worse our posture-and our pain-becomes. To test your own body and mind connection, try this. Stand on one leg with your arms extended at shoulder height. You'll notice a little wobble, but probably nothing you can't control. Now, increase the difficulty by closing your eyes. The better your mind/body connection, the longer you'll be able to maintain this position. This exercise demonstrates that the mind is a vital instrument in maintaining healthy balance in the back. Whether it is from consistent poor posture, excessive chair sitting, or just from the natural process of aging, back pain is all too common. The good news is: there's help for chronic back pain! For more information on treating and preventing chronic pain, check out my book, Back RX a 15 minute a day yoga and pilates based program to end low back pain or other videos in this series. Remember to please see your doctor immediately if you are experiencing persistent back pain.More »
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Through simple exercises and controlled breathing, treating back pain can be very easy. Take a look at this video to find out what steps to take.
Transcript: When you spend a day moving boxes or flying across the country, severe back pain can often result. After...
When you spend a day moving boxes or flying across the country, severe back pain can often result. After a back injury, try these tips to ease your discomfort. Back pain can be frustrating. While lifestyle adjustments are the best way to avoid the likelihood of painful injury occurring, there are a number of treatments that will minimize back pain in the short-term. After a back injury, take modified bed rest for two days. Spend most of your time resting in a comfortable position, such as lying flat on your back with your legs raised or on your side in the fetal position. Remember, long periods of being chair-bound are frequently the culprit of back pain. While you recover, avoid sitting in chairs and, of course, lifting anything heavy! During the day, get up every few hours to walk around a little and arch your back, priming the body for its return to full activity. Seniors should substitute walking with riding a stationary bicycle. This may be more comfortable for older people, as it's low impact and presents little risk of falling. While resting, focus on your breath. Breathe in a slow, controlled rhythm. Believe it or not, mindful breathing can be one of the most effective pain relievers. Here's how you can control your breath: Start by inhaling deeply through your nose for three counts. Hold this position for three more counts, then exhale fully for three counts. Continue breathing this way for at least three minutes. Controlled breath shifts the mind's attention away from pain and the body's response to it. Many people who suffer from back pain also find that a heat and ice treatment works wonders. To try this therapy, begin by applying ice to a recent injury. You can get the maximum benefit from ice by applying it to painful areas two to three times a day for fifteen minutes at a time. Repeat this treatment over a twenty-four hour period. After a day of ice treatments, apply moist heat to an injury, either in the shower or with a heating pad, for up to thirty minutes at a time. After forty-eight hours, begin alternating heat and ice in sequence. Apply heat in the morning and before physical activity. Switch to ice in the evening and after exercise. Self-massage is a great way to ease the discomfort of a muscle strain. Massage works by spreading out the small sacs of water in your muscles which bunch up to cause pain. Try it by standing with your feet shoulder-width apart, resting your hands on your hips. Your fingertips will touch the psoas muscles in your abdomen while your thumbs rest on the paraspinal muscles. From this position, you can apply soothing pressure to all areas of pain. A combination of bed rest and the other tips in this video should ease discomfort within three days. For tips on preventing back pain, check out my book, Back RX: A 15-Minute-a-Day Yoga and Pilates Based Program to End Low Back Pain.Remember, if you experience severe back pain for more than seven days, please see a doctor immediately.More »
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Back pain can be debilitating, but you don't have to take it forever. Changing a few habits can help in preventing back pain. Click on the video to know more.
Transcript: Back pain is the second leading cause of lost work days in Americans under 45. Here are ten tips that...
Back pain is the second leading cause of lost work days in Americans under 45. Here are ten tips that will help prevent you from joining the ranks of back pain sufferers! Millions of people suffer from back pain. Luckily, some basic lifestyle changes can ease the recurrence of discomfort. A few are so easy, you can literally do them in your sleep! When lying in bed, try to rest in a back-friendly position. Sleep on your side with your knees bent, or on your back, using several pillows to elevate your legs. In your waking hours, select a mattress that will help keep back pain at bay. A medium-firm mattress supported by a solid frame or box spring is best. And for those of you getting lucky, try to let your sexual partner be the more active, athletic participant! Lie on your back or side until you feel like yourself again. Ever feel like you're always at work? Your back feels that way too, so it's important to select a comfortable desk chair! Pick one with a medium-firm seat, and a height adjuster. You can alleviate the strain that sitting puts on your back and hip joints by sitting up straight at your desk and keeping your shoulders aligned. Adjust yourself so that you are looking at your computer straight on, or at a slight downward angle. No matter how busy you are at the office, try to get up every thirty minutes and take a quick stroll. While you're out of your seat, stand still for a moment for some stretching. Rest your hands on your hips, positioning your thumbs in line with the muscles on either side of your spine. Slowly arch backwards and hold for thirty seconds. Another way to help your back is by taking care of your body's shock absorbers: Your feet! Choose shoes with good heal and arch support and a rigid sole. Generally, when lifting or carrying heavy objects, keep the top of your head, shoulders, hips, knees and ankles aligned in the same plane to prevent strains and pulls. After a day of heavy lifting, or any back strain, it can help to spend some time stretching and exercising these overworked muscles. Here is an example of a move you can do at home. To stretch your lower back and tone your abs to boot, try a Cat Cow Stretch by positioning yourself on all fours. Inhale for four counts while you arch your back toward the ceiling. Exhale for five and let gravity pull your belly downward. These ten tips are easy to incorporate into your life and can help reduce the recurrence of back pain by up to 70 percent! For more information on back pain prevention, check out my book: Back RX: A 15-Minute-a-Day Yoga and Pilates-Based Program to End Low Back Pain, or other videos in this series. Remember: Never begin an exercise regimen without first talking to a health care professional.More »
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There are several helpful tips to healthy restaurant dining. Check out this video to learn more.
Transcript: Monitoring your weight doesn't mean that you can't enjoy an evening on the town! Keep watching for ten...
Monitoring your weight doesn't mean that you can't enjoy an evening on the town! Keep watching for ten easy tips that will ensure your dining experience is a healthy one. Most Americans eat out four to five times a week. If you're watching your weight, that doesn't mean you can't join them! A few simple tips make it easy to exercise restraint so you can dine at a restaurant without a side of guilt. Let's start with a simple tip. Before leaving home, ask yourself this question: Which will I enjoy most: an appetizer, a cocktail or dessert. A. After you make a selection, stick to your resolve. You shouldn't have to sacrifice your favorite part of dining out, B. but be smart - indulge in what you really want, and practice restraint elsewhere. These days, restaurant portions are bigger than ever. The average restaurant meal is usually 5 times the FDA recommended size for a full meal! When you are eating out, remember that portion size is important! How much food you eat is almost as important as what you eat. A great way to watch your intake is to set aside a reasonable amount of food before you start eating. You can ask for a separate plate or a to-go container to help you portion your food. Another means to control restaurant indulgence is to ask for toppings, dressings and sauces on the side. Doing this allows you to enjoy exotic flavors while still controlling how much you consume. Whenever you can, ask for extra vegetables to be added to your dish. Not only are veggies a healthy choice, they're also rich in fiber, so they leave you filling full fast! Avoid all-you-can eat deals and buffet restaurants. Studies have shown that most of us eat up to 25 percent more when the price is all-inclusive, simply because we want to get more bang for our buck. And watch your liquid calories! A restaurant-sized soda with one free refill will set you back 400 calories. And an 8-ounce margarita has five-hundred and forty calories! A better bet is to replace that soda with water and lemon. Instead of a highly caloric mixed drink, try a glass of wine instead, which has about 110 calories. When you're eating out, look for waist-friendly words on the menu. Steamed, baked, grilled, broiled or poached are all likely to be healthier options. An insider restaurant tip is to make friends with salsa. This low-calorie, tasty treat is a great topper for potatoes, chicken, fish, and even salads! Remember that restaurant-dining is about customer-service. Most chefs will be happy to cater to your dietary needs. Ask to speak to a chef, or explain to your waiter that you'd prefer a lighter preparation. Eating out doesn't have to mean missing out! By choosing wisely, you can find a meal to enjoy at any restaurant.More »
Last Modified: 2014-04-02 | Tags »
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To make sure you stay fresh and alert during the day, it is important to get a good night’s sleep. Learn how to train yourself to sleep deep by viewing this video.
Transcript: Taking a nap in the middle of the day: A great plan in kindergarten. Not so great in a professional environment....
Taking a nap in the middle of the day: A great plan in kindergarten. Not so great in a professional environment. If you're tired in the middle of your workday, you're probably not sleeping enough at night. But you can train your body for deeper sleep. Start your sleep training by restricting yourself to only five or six hours a night, forbidding yourself to sleep more even if you are tired. That means, if the alarm is set for 7AM, don't even think about hitting the hay before 2AM! This may sound counter-intuitive, but it will actually teach your body that bed is for sleeping, not tossing and turning. Once you're sleeping the full time allotted, increase the amount of time you sleep by 15 minute intervals. Follow this routine for a few weeks, and you'll quickly begin sleeping a healthy amount at night-so you can actually stay awake during the day!More »
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Do you have a long day ahead of you and want to get a good night’s sleep? If the answer is yes then try to relax progressively to sleep deep. Click here to find out how.
Transcript: Sleeping is good. Sleeping at work is bad. Here's how to get zzs tonight so you're awake tomorrow! Progressive...
Sleeping is good. Sleeping at work is bad. Here's how to get zzs tonight so you're awake tomorrow! Progressive muscle relaxation is a tried and true technique for easing into a restful night's sleep. Warning: Don't try this in the office! Lie down on your back with your arms slightly away from your body and your palms facing up. Focus on your feet and ankles, noticing if they are painful or tense. Tighten the muscles briefly to feel the sensation. Then, let the feet sink into the bed. Feel them getting heavy, allowing them to float away from consciousness. Very slowly move your attention upward through different parts of your body. Relax your calves, thighs, lower back, hips, and pelvis. Move to the middle back, abdomen, upper back, shoulders, arms, and hands. Finish with your neck, jaw, tongue, and scalp. Once you reach your head, relax any spots that are still tense. Breathe gently as you drift off to the dreams of a productive tomorrow!More »
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Not getting a good night's sleep can really affect your productivity at work. Watch this video to learn about wacky ways to sleep in hopes of keeping your career wide awake.
Transcript: What do socks and salt have in common? They could both put you to sleep! Lack of sleep is a leading cause...
What do socks and salt have in common? They could both put you to sleep! Lack of sleep is a leading cause of lost workplace productivity. Protect your career with these not so obvious tips! First, increase blood flow to your feet by putting on a pair of thick socks. When you lie down to sleep, the body encourages rest by redistributing heat to its extremities. Insomniacs often experience poor blood flow, and, consequently, poor sleep. Wearing socks regulates your temperature for evening, persuading you to sleep deep. And if socks don't work, try salt! Drink half a glass of water, then put a pinch of salt on your tongue and let it dissolve. The combination actually alters the electrical charge of the brain to sleep mode.Now go to sleep already-just don't forget to set the alarm!More »
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When travelling abroad, make sure not to miss out on any vaccinations you might need. It's a good idea to shoot up before you ship out! Watch video for the details.
Transcript: Vaccinations are required for travelers to many areas of the world, so if you want to pass customs, find...
Vaccinations are required for travelers to many areas of the world, so if you want to pass customs, find out about the shots you'll need! It's best to talk to your doctor about vaccines at least six weeks before you depart for your destination. That's because it may take several weeks for certain immunities to develop, and you might need more than one dose. Visit the web sites of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization for information. Immunization laws vary not only from country to country, but also from city to city in certain underdeveloped countries. And don't forget to call your health insurance provider ahead of time to find out if your policy covers vaccinations. While shots aren't always fun, neither is getting stopped before your trip starts! So talk to your doctor about vaccinations.More »
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Clean water is necessary when you're traveling or camping. Watch this video to get tips on getting safe drinking water.
Transcript: Water's the healthiest beverage on the planet, right? Wellnot when you're traveling to foreign locales....
Water's the healthiest beverage on the planet, right? Wellnot when you're traveling to foreign locales. Because it's nearly impossible to guarantee the safety of drinking water in any country, taking precautions is just smart. Start by drinking only sealed bottled water and beverages made with boiled water, like hot tea and coffee. You can also safely enjoy commercially canned and bottled, soft drinks, beer and wine, but remember that international brands are safest. If your plans include camping, purify your own water by boiling, adding iodine, or filtering it. Now that you know what TO do, here's what to avoid. Remember, don't rinse toothbrushes in tap water. Avoid ice unless it is made from boiled, bottled, or purified water. Steer clear of wet cans or bottles-the water on them may be contaminated. Following these rules may bring a little work to your time off, but it beats spending your vacation in the restroom!More »
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Consuming unfiltered water during your travels can come with a host of problems. Watch this video to learn more about water safety and travel.
Transcript: Planning an intrepid journey to the great plains of Africa, or the mountains of South America? Think...
Planning an intrepid journey to the great plains of Africa, or the mountains of South America? Think twice before you fill up that canteen. To ensure that the water in your travel destination is safe to consume, bring it to a rolling boil for one minute before you drink. If it's not possible to boil water, chemical disinfection is an alternative. Most diarrhea pathogens can actually be killed by household iodine. Add five drops of an iodine tincture to a quart of clear water, or ten drops if the water is cloudy. Then let the solution stand for thirty minutes. To improve the taste of your water wizardry, add a vitamin C tablet to the solution. While you may not decide to make a habit of self-made water, your bowels will thank you for making the extra effort while you trek the foreign wilderness!More »
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Trying exotic food can seem exciting and adventurous but how prepared are you to guard the safety of your stomach? Learn more about food safety for globe trekkers in this video.
Transcript: Don't wind up wishing you had never (ever!) tried that exotic cuisine! While local food is an inherent...
Don't wind up wishing you had never (ever!) tried that exotic cuisine! While local food is an inherent part of cultural immersion, stomach upset can turn your global trek into a train wreck. As many unfortunates can attest, diarrhea is the most common problem effecting travelers, especially in developing countries. Travelers' diarrhea is an intestinal infection caused by bacteria, parasites, or viruses transmitted through food and water. But it IS avoidable.The highest-risk foods are unpasteurized milk products un-bottled beverages and drinks served with ice foods that aren't piping hot and undercooked meats and fish. Many times, fare from street vendors can also be the culprit of travelers' diarrhea! No precaution is foolproof, but a little know-how goes a long way in those far-away locales!More »
Last Modified: 2013-06-13 | Tags »
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Jet lag is the temporary condition after a long air journey when the body’s circadian rhythm or internal clock gets disrupted. Get to know all about it in this video.
Transcript: Would you rather spend your vacation recovering from the flight-or seeing the sites? Jet lag is the temporary...
Would you rather spend your vacation recovering from the flight-or seeing the sites? Jet lag is the temporary disruption of your body's circadian rhythm, or internal clock, which regulates biological functions like sleeping. If you have jet lag, you'll know it! Symptoms include exhaustion, trouble sleeping, and headaches. Studies show that for every time zone you pass through, it takes a full day to recover natural rhythms and energy levels. Though you can't do anything about changing time zones, you can take steps to reduce recovery time. The effects of alcohol are multiplied at great altitudes, so stay away from booze the day of your flight. But do hydrate with other liquids! The recycled air in planes dries out the body, inhibiting cell function and increasing the effects of jet lag. Finally, when that seatbelt sign dims, cruise the aisles at regular intervals to keep blood pumping. These tips are simple, but they really can make a world of difference as you cruise the world!More »
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