A Rotator Cuff Exercise That Provides Instant Relief

As we get older and our bodies take longer to heal, things start to catch up with us. Vision gets a little blurry and information is a little slower to call up in our minds. Some of us like myself, have physical aches from either accidents or repetitive stress injury caused by work or hobbies.

I have played guitar for most of my life. Years of a guitar strap holding a guitar have given me some pain in my left shoulder. The pain was so bad recently that I could not lift my arm past about halfway without searing pain. The pain was becoming constant as well, no matter how I held my arm or rested it.  I feared a rotator cuff injury.

Over the years I have looked for information online to relieve these pains. One quick realization I found was stretching. Simple yoga and stretches do wonder for back, arm and shoulder pain. It took a while, but I can now touch my toes after years of not being able to. This simple stretch provides a lot of relief to me. Another instant pain relief exercise was the pendulum exercise that can be found at mountnittany.org.  I do this exercise whenever I have arm pain.

Neither of these, however, were providing me any kind of pain relief from my most recent shoulder pain.  I would classify it as classic rotator cuff pain:  Aching shoulder pain,  poor sleep from lying on the affected shoulder, arm weakness and it was hard and painful to lift my arm or move it behind my back.  I recently took a vacation where I was away from my guitar and the physical demands of my work for a week.  The pain never got any better and I had resigned myself to having to go get it looked at by a specialist.

Rotator Cuff Pain Relief In An Instant

I was in so much pain one day I spent a ton of time searching the internet for some kind of release when I ran across Dr Loren Fishman’s discoveries on yoga and shoulder pain.  He basically got some relief for his own rotator cuff injury by doing a handstand.  Not all of us can do a handstand obviously and there are stretches that can mimic what’s going on during a handstand.  I found a video that teaches one of these stretches and tried it out.  Instant relief of pain.  Let me say that again:  Instant relief from the pain.

Here’s a link to the page on massagelibrary.com that I found so helpful.  There is a video that shows the technique and a downloadable, printable pdf of the exercise.

Should You Take Vitamins And Supplements?

should you take supplementsGo to any health food store, supermarket or pharmacy and you’ll find a huge selection of vitamin, mineral and herbal supplements.  Supplements are not regulated by the FDA, can be quite expensive, and may or may not offer any health benefits at all.  Are dietary supplements safe?  What are the best supplements?  What popular nutritional supplements such as fish oil are worth considering? Should you take vitamins and supplements at all?  There is no easy answer to the question.  That answer depends on many factors including one’s overall health, age, genetics and the environment.

Factors To Consider With Vitamins And Supplements

I would rather get all the nutrition my body needs through the food I eat than to take supplements.  However, I still take certain vitamins and minerals daily.  The main thing anyone can do to improve health is to stop eating the SAD (standard American diet).  The “western” diet in general is high in bad seed and nut oils, sugars and excess salt.  Most of these high levels of health destroying oils and sugars gets into our bodies by eating processed foods.  These “foods” may be convenient in the moment, but regular consumption of these foods can contribute to obesity, diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease and heart disease.  Ideally, one would get all vitamins and minerals through vegetables-I strive to eat a diet where the majority of the food I consume are fruits and vegetables.  Because I eat a  lot of vegetables,  I don’t take a multivitamin.  Someone else my need to take one because their dietary intake is low in vitamins and minerals.  Overall health, based one’s eating habits is the first factor to consider if you want to feel the best you can.  Do you eat like crap?  If you do, you might want to supplement with a multivitamin.  I have high blood pressure that runs in my family.  Because of this, I take additional potassium and CoQ10 because it may help to lower my blood pressure.  One might want to investigate what supplements can help if you are predisposed to a certain disease.  Certain nutrients, can be lacking in most of our diets because the soil our food is grown in is mineral deficient after years of depletion.  As we age, our bodies tend to make less of certain chemicals needed for health.   Here are a few of the supplements I take.  Anyone interested in optimum health, no matter how healthy they eat, might want to consider these as well.

Basic Dietary Supplements For Everyone

Vitamin C

As I stated in my post on vitamin C,  vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant, is needed for tissue repair and growth, and assists in wound healing and bone and teeth maintenance.  Large doses of vitamin C (up to 2 grams a day)  can reduce mortality factors such as heart disease and stroke.  It is  water soluble.  If you have too much in your system, your body excretes it.  Because of it’s safety and inexpensiveness, I consider it a good bet towards overall health insurance.

Magnesium

As stated on the National Institutes Of Health fact page on magnesium: “Magnesium is a cofactor in more than 300 enzyme systems that regulate diverse biochemical reactions in the body, including protein synthesis, muscle and nerve function, blood glucose control, and blood pressure regulation. Magnesium is required for energy production, oxidative phosphorylation, and glycolysis. It contributes to the structural development of bone and is required for the synthesis of DNA, RNA, and the antioxidant glutathione. Magnesium also plays a role in the active transport of calcium and potassium ions across cell membranes, a process that is important to nerve impulse conduction, muscle contraction, and normal heart rhythm.”  Most people don’t get enough magnesium in their diet because of soil mineral depletion.  Even if you eat foods that contain magnesium, the magnesium levels in those foods are lower than they were in the past.  Because of this fact, my genetic predisposition towards high blood pressure, and it’s major role  so many body processes, I choose to take it daily.

Vitamin D

Most of us are aware of Vitamin D and its relationship with bone health by helping the body absorb calcium.  It has also been linked to treatment and prevention of cancer, autoimmune disease, heart disease and diabetes. Dairy and seafood are the most obvious sources of dietary vitamin D.  Most if not all dairy in the supermarket has been pasteurized for storage.  Unfortunately, that process destroys vitamins and minerals in the milk and they are added back in after the fact.  Some people feel that these added nutrients are poorly absorbed.  A larger issue is the quality of these dairy products.  Factory farmed dairy has far lower levels of these nutrients including vitamin D, than grass-fed pastured animals.  So, much like the case is with magnesium, dietary intake is less than optimum.  I do not supplement with vitamin D as long as I drink raw whole milk from pastured cows and eat butter made from the milk of grass fed cows.

Omega 3/Fish Oil

I’m not sure of where I stand on Omega-3 supplementation honestly.  It is anti-inflammatory, can help with pain management and depression.  However after reading Chris Kresser’s article on fish oil, I am very concerned that most Omega-3 oils on the market may be rancid.  Eating rancid oil is about as healthy as smoking cigarettes to me and currently I am trying to eat more seafood-up to a pound a week of wild salmon, tuna and shellfish to get my omega-3’s.  Limiting omega-6 fats in the diet will help as well since most people are technically not omega-3 deficient, but the ratio of omega-3 to omega-6 in most diets is skewed.  Most people consume too much omega-6 through processed foods.  The human brain is approximately 8% omega-3 fats  a fact that should motivate everyone to get enough omega-3 fats in their diet.  If I was not eating seafood, I would take moderate amounts of omega 3 supplements just to cover my bases.

Vitamin K2

Vitamin K2 is not widely known to many but very necessary to overall health.  It helps the body utilize calcium by directing it towards the bones instead of the arterial walls.  It may play an important role in preventing certain cancers such as prostate cancer.  Large dose therapy is used to help remineralize teeth.  If you are eating grass fed butter, lacto-fermented foods and pastured eggs, you are probably getting enough in your diet.  If you aren’t eating those things you might want to research the benefits of vitamin K2.

Additional Supplements

N-acetyl Cysteine

N-acetyl Cysteine (NAC) is derived from the amino acid cysteine.  It is the precursor to glutathione-the body’s master antioxidant.  Glutathione supports the liver and detoxification and protects DNA.  NAC can support the body in cases of influenzaAcetaminophen poisoning, and COPD.  As a former smoker, I take it daily as insurance and up my intake when I am coming down with a cold or flu.

Coenzyme Q10

Another antioxidant produced by the body, CoQ10 is responsible for providing energy to cells in the body and production declines with age.  If you know anyone taking a statin to lower cholesterol they need to supplement with CoQ10 as statins deplete the body’s levels.

Betaine HCL

As the body ages, stomach acid production declines.  Betaine is used to help existing stomach acid digest food properly to extract all those vitamins and minerals from those organic veggies you’ve been eating.  Taking it before a meal not cause you problems with excess night time stomach acid.

NAD

This is a precursor to nicotinamide mononucleotide which was discovered in 2013 to help reverse mitochondria degradation.  Supplementation may help the aging of all cells in the body…..pretty huge if it’s true…check it out here.  My next supplement experiment.

Optimum health is built on the building blocks of optimum nutrition.  Consider trying some of these supplements if there are holes in your diet that might benefit from supplementation.

Remembering To Help You Deal With Stress

meditation

Most of us are aware of the many benefits of meditation. It can lower anxiety and increase well being as well as keeping your physical health at its peak by lowering blood pressure and tension.  Most types of meditation involve focusing the mind or attention on one’s breath or repeating a phrase or “mantra” to oneself to still the everyday narrative we all have going on inside our heads.  When people start meditation, the mind wanders and you’ll find yourself thinking about anything but the task at hand.  The task then is to refocus the awareness and continue….eventually you will focus longer and become distracted less.  Basically, keep on trying, and you will achieve greater focus. As I said in my first post, small changes can have large impacts on well being.  If you can turn off the chatter and mental narrative, you can avoid having unconscious responses to imagined scenarios, lowering stress.  Meditation can also be a physical act such as yoga involving both the body and mind to focus concentration.

I have a little idea I like to remember or stumble upon throughout my day.  It’s not really a mantra per se, but is a phrase that I do repeat to myself none the less:  “Each moment is an opportunity to focus and relax”.  I’ll be at work or driving or making dinner and that phrase will pop in my head out of nowhere.  At that point, I usually choose to try to relax my muscles or my shoulders where I hold a lot of tension and try to focus my awareness on staying relaxed or perhaps breathing.  Maybe I’ll just repeat  “Each moment is an opportunity to focus and relax” to myself and try to focus only on that.  The important fact is that I have “remembered” to try to meditate a little bit throughout the day, giving me a break from the routine. I’m not sure exactly how this phrase evolved in my life, but you could certainly try repeating it to yourself as a mantra and see if that repetition doesn’t help cement that thought.  As I come back to what I am doing, I try to focus on only what I am doing at the time and try to do that task as focused and as good as I can.   This form of meditation on whatever you are doing is called karma yoga.

Finding a few moments each day to relax and breathe can only help with your overall health in the long run.  And strengthening your “meditation muscle” can only help you out as well.  Increased focus will improve performance through lower distraction.   Lower distraction will make one more productive as well.  When we strengthen awareness through meditation, you can stop telling yourself how things should be and focus on doing whatever you are doing at that time the best you possibly can. [Tweet “Absolute perfection is impossible. But each moment is perfect in that moment.”]  If you are trying your hardest in that moment and trying your best in that moment, that is perfection attained.