Updated: Aug 14
One of the things that I've loved about Osteopathy is the independence I've had by learning how to move and stretch between my own monthly appointments. Moving pain signals healing, and often after a single 10–20-minute session of floor work, I find that I can move more comfortably, resolving most issues within 24-72 hours.
Any pain pattern that "sticks" for longer than 3 days or 3 weeks enters the chronic zone and signals that I need another adjustment. It's definitely working for me to stay ahead of the chronic pain curve with daily or weekly efforts to get moving combined with my monthly "system's checks."
This is not a guilt blog or formula that requires strict discipline and a daily regime. Instead, I find that random exercise cycles really work well for both my schedule and my body. I choose consistency by alternating the type of exercise I do. I've already discussed the benefits of walking and crawling--this full-body muscle warming, and resetting will find themselves into my schedule once to 3 times a week or a month. And, when not this week, then they become my movement priority for the next week or weeks.
My focus has changed from the "shoulds" of exercise guilt to listening to, challenging and supporting my body in multiple healthy ways. Here's a list of upper, full, and lower body activities that are keeping myself and my clients moving, feeling, and living better:
Massage Gun--We cannot easily foam roll our upper extremities with the kind of impact we can on the legs. Drive the gun from the sternum atop the pec muscles right out to the delts and upper arm muscles. Make sure to loosen the tissue between the bones of the lower arm. Improve your payoff by moving/malforming the muscle so that it can reset after your work--the 10-minute setting often lets me do both upper and lower body, and I prefer the lower power levels, as well as the round foam head. Less is more for me. This is a similar technique in the IT Band foam rolling instruction.
Wall fingertip pushups--great for posture and strengthening the upper shoulders and pecs.
Foam Rolling the rib cage. Side lying and gentle movement--use the upper leg for leverage to gently rock from the front to the back of the ribcage. Ribs are the primary long bones for red blood cell production. Flexible bones mean better support and circulation.
Upper body stretching. Neal O'Neal the instructor for my Osteopathic Manual Therapy Training and career Physical Therapist has posted multiple upper body exercise videos. Experiment for yourself. Each video lasts less than 2 minutes. Here is the direct link for foam rolling instruction for the ribcage.
Yoga--Neal advocates Yoga and several of the men's and women's exercise programs I've studied and followed over the years include at least 1 day in 7. Neal advises that we do the hard stretches for our bodies. Over time, a year or more, I can now bend to touch the floor--my palms are flat even if my knees are not straight, yet. Work up to a 20-minute stretching time to help your body move into the healing zone as a side benefit to your work--becoming breath conscious. A simple online search will offer multiple options to get started.
Season changes invite outdoor activities, many of which introduce a big change to winter norms. After vigorous and sometimes not so vigorous activity Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, DOMS, sets in 12 to 24 hours after the event. Anything from biking to weeding, can trigger muscle soreness.
Calf and foot pain can be helped with stretches via tennis or other balls. Neal demonstrates this along with Downward Dog and Forefoot rotation. This is excellent work that I do weekly! Plantar Fasciitis, foot, calf, heel, Achilles, ankle, neuropathy, and toe pain - YouTube
Neal's top 3 videos include: Piriformis Stretch, Bear Stretch, and How to Foam Roll. these tools are excellent helps on rotation in my exercise regimen.
Ping-Pong does everything that a treadmill cannot. Choose your favorite kind of play for random exercise of your body systems.
Remember to have at least 2 paths or directions to alternate your crawling and walking as it keeps the mind awake and less likely to lose benefits to habit movement.
There is much research-based information and suggestions on how to be more present in the moments of your life. I loved the quote from the movie After Earth about fear/stress.
Fear is not real. The only place that fear can exist is in our thoughts of the future. It is the product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may not ever exist. That is near insanity. Now do not misunderstand me, danger is very real, but fear is a choice.
I find that when I find my stress levels ticking up the scale, when I choose to focus on the real choices that I do have in the moment, my mind calms and my options open even further. Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankle illuminates the power of our reaction even in the dire circumstances of the concentration camps of WWII. Here are some other helps:
Research has shown that a person gets the full benefits from a massage after 15 minutes. This indicates the time period needed for the Parasympathetic Nervous System to take charge, allowing rest, healing, and supporting immunity.
Learn and practice deep breathing exercises. I found this habit during my commutes helped me be prepared for a happier arrival to work and school. There are many apps and videos available.
Epsom Salt Baths--with or without the 2 cups of Epsom Salt--for 20 minutes can not only support tissue and muscle healing, but it can help you change the channel from the list, push, or the schedule of the day.
30-minute naps--set a timer and expect that it will not interrupt your night's sleep, as reported by NPR.
Fiction--whether by book or screen, 30-minutes can bolster your immune system. Just like sleep allows your subconscious to clean up the clutter of the days' exposure, fiction can let your mind rest and the body follows with greater capacity to heal.
Using our 5 senses of touch, smell, taste, sight, and sound--including some great research about the impact of music on our mood and mind will be impactful during the transitions of our busy lives.
Yes, this Blog is my personal library. I love leveraging science and others' specializations in the body and exercise world to my benefit. We can trust ourselves to know which tool to use as we become more aware through daily, weekly, or monthly practice and application of the power of our many options.
The photo below was taken from an article by the Institute for Integrative Health Care. Their article on the Mind and Body connection to pain and the use of massage/manual therapy is simple to follow and reinforces the discussion above. Cheers! Rachel