In honor of our American Independence and soldiers afar who protect our country, let’s talk about the TOP 4 GOOD HABITS for a healthier lifestyle. At Rehab and Revive, we give all our patients a few general tips that help people of all lifestyles, no matter the pain they may have. Using these tips can get you thinking positively about your health and make your busy summer days a little bit easier.
Remember this is a LONG Journey and the best story, as I always say, is the “comeback story” So let’s write yours! These are the 4 good habits that will have you declaring your independence from pain!
Check out our video for a live demonstration on each of these tips!
We are planning to show you how to:
Sleep Better (side lying and supine)
Get Better Hamstrings For A Better Back
1. Sleep Better
Let’s start with one of the most important parts of our day: bedtime! As most of you know, we need sleep for our mental, physical and emotional health. But who has ever taught you how to sleep? Are you sleeping the correct way?
PLEASE get into the habit of sleeping in the safest way. We are here to tell you how!
If you go to sleep feeling good and wake up stiff, that’s a good sign your sleeping posture is poor. So stop beating yourself up every night with bad habits and FIX IT TODAY.
What you will need:
3-4 medium density down feather pillows (any pillows are ok but invest in down feather pillows for the best results!)
1-2 hand towels
And a bed you love to sleep in
If you sleep on your back:
Pillow underneath your upper back at the level of your mid shoulder blade
A towel folded (not rolled) to support your waist (lumbar spine) underneath your lower back
A pillow underneath your hamstrings to butt against your butt, which supports the weight of the hips
Another pillow underneath your knees for the weight of your legs
Bonus: For those of you with arm and neck issues to support your shoulder blades and arms with bath towels
If you sleep on your side:
Fold your down feather pillow in half, and it will go into the neck shoulder junction
A pillow underneath your rib cage to support your mid thoracic alignment
A pillow between your legs to support the weight of the hips, knees, and ankles
Your legs should be slightly bent so that the pillows encompasses your hips and knees, all the way down to your ankles
A pillow to hug or a bath towel folded up to support the weight of your top arm
2. Stand Better
We mentioned this about a month ago and it is getting discussed again! ***Hint this must be an important habit to have at Rehab and Revive. I am about to re-share this because stacking up your spine the right way will only save you. I tell patients all the time that “how you set up your movement will be the same movement from beginning to end.”
We need the right foundation in essence to produce the safest movement. So listen well and work at this. It will pay off by strengthening your spine and decrease compression.
The “4 dots” is an easy alignment habit to keep in mind. It lines up the base of support over your center of gravity. We can call this the anterior plumb line. Please see the posture section in the Father’s Day blog to adjust the shoulders in conjunction with this tip.
3. Breathe Better - Wavy Gravy
How many of you know about the many purposes of breathing, besides the obvious? Below, we will explain the many benefits that breathing and our rib cage provide us.
Stress Health- Breathing better helps alleviate stress...we know that (especially you yogis and mediators)…but did you know strained and labored breathing or inefficient breathing may also override your brain and put it in a stressed state and release powerful stress hormones, like cortisol, that break down healthy tissues and cells?
Circulation Health-The diaphragm has a shape of a parachute or a giant mushroom. The diaphragm has many purposes, one of them being a stress manager as it massages the vagus nerve. That helps to increase circulation through the constant undulation it does along the ribs and intercostal muscles.
Core Strength- Our core is used for strength and lumbar stability. Although the diaphragm is one of the many muscles of the core system, we refer to it as the lid of the core.
Organ (visceral) Health- Is there a way to massage organs? In our treatment paradigm, there sure is! Let’s face it; organs are at the whim of gravity. This means that our organs are often being pulled down causing them to press together. Wonder why women develop prolapsed uterus’ or bladders or why men develop increased prostate tension or hypertrophy? Hmmm maybe this is a reason? The diaphragm is important in pulling these organs up and massaging them.
Back Health- The rib cage is important for protection. The ribs also assist your body’s rotational ability. The mechanics of the ribs to assist in rotation with the hips and pelvis.
Now we know that the key component for breathing well is in the diaphragm, here’s a simple drill I like to do to activate and strengthen the diaphragm.
The Wavy Gravy: Please refer to our video for a better visual. While laying on your back with your knees bent, inhale about 50% capacity of air. Imagine it as a bubble and move it up and down, from your chest to your stomach. Do so without straining your back or anything else; this movement should come from within and not require extra support. Continue this for about 30 seconds. This simple breathing exercise can make all the difference.
4. Better Hamstrings For A Better Back - Double Heel Slides Let’s get the hips to set under the pelvis. I always tell my patients that the pelvis is like a giant food tray. Being in a quad dominant world, I like to stress the importance of strengthening the hamstrings.
You are working your hamstrings to pull the hips underneath your pelvic girdle and set the hip bones on the right axis. We need our hips to hinge, and the hamstrings are vital components to a foundation for good joint rotation.
How to set it up: Lay on your back. Dig your heels with toes pointed up. Imagine as if you are sitting on a chair at the beach and trying to slice into the sand with your heels, creating a trench. But remember, don’t use those quadriceps. We are in a quadriceps dominant world already. Hamstrings only!!! Use both legs now, and you may feel your lower abdominals working.
What better way to finish up the second half of 2018 than with some simple habit changes? Happy 4th of July you all. We hope it is a good day of rest to cut up the week. I know I will be taking it easy.
Heal Smarter, Not Harder!
Dr. Justin C. Lin