I am one of those people who doesn't deal well with pain. It bothers me. I know some people have an ability to simply shut it off, and ignore it and continue with what they want to get done, me, not so much. This is in some ways a contributing factor to why I do what I do. I really needed to learn how to clear out the root cause, because pain can really stop me in my tracks.
Somewhere along my journey, I discovered the topic of body pH. From the reading I have done, I would guess that almost every human being is more acidic than their body would like. I have had 2 fairly profound experiences in the regions of body pH (acid/alkaline balance) and if you do a little research on the topic there is plenty of science to explain what I experienced.
About 3 years ago, after having lost a lot of weight, I hit a plateau. I couldn't seem to drop any more no matter what I tried, and I had successfully dropped of 20kg (around 45lbs), and, to attain a healthy weight meant dropping the same again, but it just wouldn't budge. So I started doing more research. And that is when I got really interested in pH (I had heard of it but paid little attention before). The first of the 2 profound experiences I mentioned occurred at this point. I started taking "green powders" .
Green Powders, are a vegetable and algae based whole food supplement. Some contain only a handful of ingredients, some nearly 100 ingredients. Being me, I researched and found what seemed to be the 3 best brands, working with a combination of looking at ingredient quality, ingredient sourcing, company community and environmental policies and such like things. I then ordered, and started taking the green powders.
The results were pretty amazing. Many of my food cravings disappeared - what has this to do with pain, well it does have a round-about connection. Over a few weeks, I started really enjoying the taste of the powder stirred into water. What was possibly most impressive for me, and totally not what I was aiming for, my joints didn't hurt as much when I went form still to moving, and I was leass achey if I did a lot of activity in one day. My knees and hips hurt less, I was less stiff and "tight". I did loose a bit more weight, not everything, but some. The green powders are very alkaline, and help the body to alkalise and balance some of the acid that most aspects of our lives create.
Much more recently, I knew had some other health problems, and I know from past experience, that juice cleansing agrees with my body. So I embarked on a pretty big juice feast with the help of a wonderful coach, Courtney. About 3 weeks into my juice feast, it became clear that I needed to be on 100% green juices, with nothing sweet, no fruits, nothing! A pretty scary thing for me, but I did it. The 2nd amazing and profound experience occurred 2 days after going green. My feet stopped aching. In the months leading up to this cleanse, I had even woken up in the night in tears my right foot was so sore with no apparent cause. I had days I could barely walk, and would limp around because life needed to keep going. It was a wonderful realisation that, I wasn't sore, I hadn't sworn in discomfort and complained I was in pain, or begged my husband to gently massage my feet because of how much they were bothering me, I simply was going about life. The green juices, that are made from a LOT of fresh green leaves, fresh celery and fresh cucumber, are incredibly alkaline.
Both of these stories are about helping my body move to an alkaline state (and some of the tangible results). A completely neutral substance has a pH of 7, lower than that is acid, higher alkaline. Ideally the human body is a little over 7 which is just a tiny bit alkaline. Unfortunately, most of us are a bit or a lot acidic. And Acidic means among other things, usually means SORE. I will not go into detail of all the problems acidity of the body causes, as that is enough to write multiple books on, and I don't have all the science qualifications to back me up, but other people do and have writen a number of helpful books on the topic. (a good one to start with is The pH Miracle by Dr Robert Young)
I will suggest that if you suffer any illness, chronic, or recurring acute, or pain and soreness, maybe doing a little research into acid/alkaline balance and what you can do to help your body move a to healthier balance.
A few quick tips to get you started on helping your body alkalise:
Please use common sense, you are fully responsible for any actions you take, and any results you experience, I have no medical qualification, I simply share my experience in hope of helping people to help themselves.
I suggest always using good quality ingredients to get good results.
1. Drink at least 2-3 litres (quartz) of water a day - warm is best
2. 1 Tbs apple cider* in warm water when you wake up in the morning.
3. add fresh lemon* to your water
4. get a good quality green powder and follow the instructions on the packaging (I find they are best absorbed on an empty stomach and most effective stirred into plain water, but if using a fresh fruit juice or having it with a meal means you are more likely to use it, do that)
5. reduce the quantity of sugars (particularly processed, and hidden) that you consume - eating more cinnamon can really help here
6. reduce the quantity of animal origin products you consume, they have an acidic response in the body.
*interesting fact - lemon juice and apple cider vinegar are acidic on their own, but create an alkaline response in the body
This is sadly something that is on the rise. This is not to say that "explainable" pain is not on the rise, it is just that when it is unexplainable, it is often more scary for the person experiencing it. It raises questions like
- am I going mad?
- why me?
- how severe is this really?
- is there anything I can do?
I would like to be clear that I am not a fan of "a diagnosis" because often (not always) I see it causing people to give up to some degree. Particularly when conventional medical thinking classifies it something like incurable or we can only treat symptoms but not fix it. I do allow for the fact that for a few people, a diagnosis allows for understanding of a condition, and then the person can tackle it.
If there is only one thing that people take from this post, I would like it to be the following, never give up on investigating options until you have something that works for you on EVERY level. In the holistic therapies world, there are more solutions than most people can imagine. After all, nature's laboratory has been open for business a lot longer than any of the medical schools or pharmaceutical companies, and both of those copy with a small change something from nature, as they cannot patent a truely natural product.
Some of the first suggestions I would make to anyone with unexplainable pain, relate to eating and drinking habbits. And as much as people don't want to hear it, it will often require a pretty radical shift. There is one simple question you have to ask yourself, is that <insert food/drink of choice> worth the pain and challenges of your life? I know from personal experience how hard it can be, I also know the rewards of choosing to change my patterns and behaviours.
Alkalising the diets can make a HUGE difference. I will not go into full detail of what this means here, but a few simple tips,
Foods to avoid: animal origin foods, processed foods, alcohol, sugars (hidden as well as obvious)
Foods to include: fresh vegetables, Leafy Greens, mineral rich foods.
WATER - drink more of it, and preferably warm to hot, but whatever temperature will get it down is good enough to start. A minimum of 2-3litres (quarts) are day for average living, more when cleansing.
Natural supplements, such as herbal or essential oils that are "dietary" or "food grade" can also be extremely helpful. (small note here, it is important to get good quality products as if they are not, more often than not, they will disappoint you.) Most essential oils are not the grade I am referring to, and that is a whole other discussion.
Natural therapies such as acupuncture, massage, reiki, and more can help relieve some of the symptoms, and assist the body to cleanse giving it more space and time to deal with what is going on. An interesting example is Life Activation, which is about awakening the life purpose, has helped clients feel better in so many ways that the pain just didn't matter in one case, and in another it literally went away.
RSI used to be a very rare condition, in the last 20 years or so, it has become progressively more prevalent, and is very strongly linked to the increase in the use of computers. People at highest risk are those whose jobs require them to use a computer for a significant number of hours in the day. The exact number of hours at which someone becomes a high risk is unclear, but I have noticed a definite prevalence in certain industries and almost all of them are computer software related (engineers, programmers, developers etc). This is not to say that people in other fields don't suffer it, it is just people who sit in front of a computer typing and using the mouse all day seem more susceptible.
In very simple terms, RSI is the over use of a few motions of some muscles, and the lack of use of other motions in the same muscles. Muscles have evolved to be used through many rotation axis, and to be used for both macro and micro movement. Using a computer generally only uses one axis, and only a very limited set of micro movements. The resulting problems usually start at a level of minor discomfort or stiffness, and if left unchecked, will escalate to pains. For some people it can go as far as "pins and needles" and even going as far as numbness over time. In Short, it is pretty unpleasant!
This type of injury is not what people usually associate with the word injury. It is much more insidious and tends to sneak up on people because it is a progression of symptoms rather than a rapid onset. This can be viewed either positively or negatively. I tend to take the positive approach, which is that if it is a slow progression or symptoms, mostly related to limited movement, for many people there is a fairly simple way to undo and reverse the problems, by using the muscles differently, and assisting the tendons to release and stretch.
One of the most interesting things I have found about this is that while people experience the worst symptoms in the lower part of the arm (wrist, hand and fingers) the most effective methods of holistic treatment are often around the shoulders. This is not really surprising since there is a major "nerve bridge" in the shoulder-blade/collar-bone area. The muscles around and underneath the shoulder blades are are pretty notorious for being tight without people realising it. Often this is because they feel the tension in the upper shoulders and neck or slightly lower down in the back.
The suggestions I have for this category of problem, I have found are useful for stopping it from getting any worse, and depending on how far along the problem is, they may help reverse it.
This is really really important, and anyone with the type of problem I am referring to in this post, will probably find that the stretches I describe are uncomfortable. It is also really important to remember, never stretch too far, as a wonderful yoga teacher I know puts it, "the edge feels the same for everyone" I will add to that statement, it looks different. Please allow the sensations to guide your stretching. You want that "oohh, I certainly feel that, but it doesn't hurt" feeling. You will probably find your 2 arms have different amount of stretch, it is the feeling that will guide you to the correct "edge" Everything I share here, I do in good spirit, please use good sense, and remember you are responsible for you your actions and any impact on your body and how you use what other people and they have found it helpful.
Hand Down (do both hands separately for about 20 seconds, 2 or 3 times)
Stretch your arm out in from of you, palm down, allow the hand to flop down. Use your other hand to gently pull the whole hand a little closer/down. Now if you are able, holding the hand still with your 2nd hand, rotate your arm back and forth a little, it will be most obvious at the elbow that the elbow is rotating, but it will include the whole arm and include even some of the shoulder muscles.
Fingers backwards (do both hands separately for about 20 seconds, 2 or 3 times)
Hold your arm out in front of you, palm facing forwards, and fingers to the sky, now use the other hand to gently hold the top of the fingers and pull them backwards, for some people simply the action of getting their fingers to point upwards will be uncomfortable. It is important to use the other hand to "pull" the fingers back as it actually allows certain muscles to relax, that would be working if the fingers were not being "held" by the other hand.
Hands over your head (do 10-15 times SLOWLY)
A very simple and underrated shoulder release stretch. Move very slowly when you do this one.
Stand with your hands by you sides. Keeping your arms fairly straight, raise your arms in front of you, until your hands are above your head with your arms by your ears. Now slowly lower your arms out to the sides (the way a birds wings would move on the downward stroke of flying). I have had people who have found this made them a little light headed the first few times, please use your discretion as to whether it is safe to do this one for you personally.
The Sciatic Nerve is a big long nerve that runs on the outside back of the leg. If there is any impingement, inflammation or compression of the nerve itself, or the nerve casing, it is referred to as Sciatica. The experience of this problem can be varied and is sometimes hard to diagnose specifically, yet at the same time, the term is applied to a wide range of pains starting anywhere from the lower back moving down the leg(s).
The types of pains people experience can be any combination of heat, cold, sharp and sudden, dull and constant, shooting down the leg, pulsing or erratic. Some people find that the problems can be related to to back problems such as inflammation of spinal disks or muscles around the spine, or it may start in or around the hips, or sometimes in the hamstring (back of the leg) area. This is not even necessarily a complete list of causes and manifestations of sciatica, but it does give an idea of how varied the problems that can all fit under one title can be.
Having suffered from sciatica many years ago, and having had many of the symptoms appearing at different times, I have a very good idea of how much it can interfere with living life and being functional. I have worked with a number of people who have suffered with different manifestations of sciatica, and there is a generally resigned attitude that comes with it.
One man I worked with had inflammation of a vertebral disk in the lower back that caused him pain that was manifesting all the way down his legs. It was so severe that he had been seeing an orthopaedic surgeon, and was considering having back surgery, but was hoping to avoid it. In hope of relieving the pain that was so severe he could not drive or sit at a desk, and even walking was painful, which was quite a problem due to the nature of his job. Out of a combination of desperation and curiosity, he decided to try a series of sessions with me. After 5 sessions, in a little under 3 weeks, he went back to see the surgeon who was amazed by the progress and speed of his healing. The inflammation was almost gone, he could sit comfortably, and he was able to walk with relative ease, and even drive short distances. The surgeon had estimated 6 months to regaining his normal lifestyle, after 3 weeks of completely natural, drug free and holistic therapy, he had recovered about 80%.
Interestingly, there are a few simple things that a person can do that can ease some of the symptoms of sciatica. Obviously, I request that you use common sense with all of these, if they make any symptoms worse, stop using them. For finding pressure points I mention, you will know you have found them, because they will be uncomfortable and you really wont need to use much pressure when rubbing or massaging them. This is by no means a complete list of approaches, but the simplest for self applied methods.
Stretching - please be extremely careful and gentle with yourself on this. Stretching can be very valuable and reduce pain, but if pushed too far, or at non-beneficial angles, you can hurt yourself more. If you know your stretches you probably already know what I am talking about, if not, you may want to have a private session with a good personal trainer, pilates teacher, yoga teacher or the like.
1. stretch your legs - gentle stretches of the hamstrings, front thighs, inner thighs and outer thighs - you may well find that the area of the knees and legs below the knees will feel stretched at the same time. Be particularly careful with any stretch you feel in your knees.
2. stretch your lower back - very carefully and gently.
1. side of thighs: using the heel of your hand, starting around the top of the thigh bone, rubbing down towards the kneed, gently rub down, the correct line will vary a little from person to person, but you will know yours as it will be sensitive and tender.
2. just below the hip on the outside, there is a soft spot that is tender, and if massaged, can reduce pains in the hips, and down the thighs.
3. in the middle of the buttock (imagine the buttock as a circle, and the very centre of that circle is the spot) you can either lie on your back and place your fists under your bottom and lie on them, or use a tennis ball under each cheek.
Detoxification and alkalising the body can also be very beneficial in reducing pain. A few very simple things you can do to help your body alkalise. (in fairness, I recommend this for almost any disorder or imbalance in the body :) )
1. Add the juice of 1 fresh lemon to a mug of warm water each morning when you wake.
2. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons of organic apple cider vinager to a cup of warm water 1-3 times a day.
3. Eat more dark green leaves.
4. Reduce your intake of any processed foods.
5. Reduce your intake of animal products.
6. Reduce your intake of sugars.