Friday, May 21, 2021

Problems Sleeping? No Problem!! Try THIS!


Let's face it, having trouble sleeping really stinks!! Not only do sleep issues affect how you feel during the time you should be sleeping, but lack of sleep can greatly impact your mood, work abilities, and daily activities during the time you are awake. According to a Sleep Foundation article, sleep experts report that 10-30% of adults live with some form of insomnia. Some of the types of insomnia include: "Sleep-onset insomnia" occurs when people have difficulty falling asleep, even when they are tired. "Sleep maintenance insomnia" refers to difficulty staying asleep during the night. "Mixed insomnia" is a hybrid condition characterized by sleep-onset and sleep maintenance insomnia symptoms. There are many reasons why people have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep, and there are equally as many treatment approaches to try to help resolve these different issues. This article could be a BOOK if we went into all of that! Instead, we'll focus on how to position your body and best support yourself to optimize your ability to fall and stay asleep comfortably. 

My clients often ask "What is the best position for sleeping?" I believe the best answer to that is "Any way that YOU are comfortable!" That might not be the answer you were expecting. Truly, sleep positioning and comfort is such an individual thing. Some people can sleep flat on their backs, some prefer side-lying, while others prefer stomach sleeping, or even sleeping in a recliner chair. Unfortunately, body pains often get in the way of sleep tolerance no matter what your position. Overall, being in a position that YOU find comfortable and supportive is the best one for YOU! 

To best align the spine and allow the body to fully rest and restore itself during our sleep, there are some recommendations based on positioning.  It is best for our spine and muscles to sleep on our backs.  If you are able to sleep on your back, it is ideal to place a small pillow under your head and neck, not your shoulders. In fact, if you are able to pull the corners of your pillow up over your shoulders, this provides even more support to the small curvature in the bones of the neck. Keeping your legs straight is ideal to rest the hip flexor muscles on the front of the pelvis and minimize tightness throughout the night. Some people can sleep on their back, but they need some type of bolster or pillow support placed under their knees to take pressure off of their back. Others have the fancy, adjustable beds that bend to provide an elevated head or allow the knees to be supported in a slight bent position or even with the feet elevated. These are all acceptable positions especially if you find them comfortable and can fall and stay asleep without issues. 

For side sleepers, it is important to have support through your hips and legs to keep tensions minimal through the pelvis and spine, and it is helpful to have your head, shoulders and arms supported to minimize tension through the neck or prevent your arms from falling asleep. Personally, I am a side sleeper and I can't do it as well without my trusty "Body Pillow." Many of you have heard me sing the praises of this lovely, simple support for my body. This long pillow goes between your legs to keep your top leg supported, instead of having the weight of the the leg pulling down with gravity, which creates tension through the pelvis and lower spine. This pillow is long enough to support you between your lower legs and feet as well, which further supports the natural alignment of the legs, pelvis, and spine. The top of the pillow comes up to about chest height, allowing space for your face to breathe, and a nice place to rest your top arm and hand. As for your head, it is best to have a medium pillow to take pressure off of your bottom shoulder and support a neutral neck position. Propping your lower arm and hand on top of the pillow in front of your face is a better option than tucking the bottom arm underneath your head pillow, as this second position really pulls on the shoulder rotator cuff and stresses the nerves that run through the front of your shoulder. I usually alternate between resting my bottom arm on the head pillow and hugging the body pillow in front of me. (I'm getting sleepy just typing this...) If you are looking for a good body pillow, HERE's the one I recommend. There are so many fancier options available, but this simple one seems to do the trick for me. 

For those of you who are stomach sleepers, don't worry...I'm not going to tell you NOT to do this. Many practitioners do caution people to avoid this position as it can create undue stress through the neck and upper back. As long as you don't use a huge pillow (in fact, opt for NO pillow at all) and you are comfortable, you might be okay. If you can try any of the other recommended positions instead, your spine might feel even better. 

Another question often asked is "What type of pillow or mattress should I be using?" This is another very individual thing based on your body size, preferred sleep position, budget, etc. A firm mattress is best to support the spine and a small to medium pillow usually does the trick to support the head and neck. Personally, I sleep on a firmer memory foam mattress and love it, but I can't stand the memory foam pillows I've tried! I prefer a medium density, medium sized pillow since I am a side sleeper. Some of my clients love their Sleep Number beds as they can find their preferred comfort level and so can their significant other. A pillow topper can help to make a mattress that is too firm feel a little more comfortable, or a memory foam topper can do the same thing if your budget doesn't allow for a full memory foam mattress. Some clients have always slept with a feather pillow, while others are allergic or like more support. The right mattress and pillow is based on what feels best to the individual sleeper! 

As simple as some of these suggestions seem, they can really help your body to have the support and comfort it needs to relax, restore, and allow for a better night of rejuvenating sleep. Let me know if you have any other positioning advice or what sleep comfort aides have worked best for you, as I am always open to learning more and having more suggestions to help others.

Sleep well!  

Thursday, March 18, 2021

Celebrating "Women's History Month" in a Unique Way

Mothers, grandmothers, wives, sisters, family, friends, child-bearers, caretakers, cooks, educators, entrepreneurs,  and more...women are some of the greatest Superheroes we know!! It is amazing to see how far women have come and how they have shaped our world throughout "Her-story." It is great to have a whole month to celebrate all of the amazing women in our lives, especially those who brought us into the world! Of course, most great women have tons of support from great men in their lives (thanks fellas!), as it takes all of us to make the world go around! So, if you are reading this and you are a woman, or have women that you love in your life, please read on!! 

One of the greatest concerns that women face is caring for their bodies so they can continue to care for and nurture others. October is "Breast Cancer Awareness" month, but I like to refer to it as "Breast Health Awareness" month. We're ALL aware of the rates of all sorts of cancers, so instead, I like to switch the focus to "What can we do to prevent breast cancer or holistically treat it?" I'm bringing it back for National Women's Month as breast health is so important yet often goes overlooked until there seems to be a problem. A lot of people don't realize that movement is key in preventing and treating breast cancer. 

Breast tissue is imbedded with many lymphatic ducts and channels, which are part of our immune system and allow for waste removal. Gravity pulls us forward naturally, but the increased use of computers, cell phones, and other hand-held devices keeps us flexed forward even more, putting added stress on our neck and shoulders, and limiting the flow of the lymphatic fluid throughout our neck, chest, and armpits. That is NOT good, as this can lead to cystic and cancerous tissues to form. 

For the rest of March, I'm offering a "Breast Wellness Check" as part of each treatment session to assess mobility and tissue health for the muscles of the neck, shoulders, chest and armpits. It's amazing how easy it is to locate compromised tissue areas with some simple movements, and these specific movements can really help to keep tissues healthy and fluids flowing naturally to boost your wellness. Instead of only having your monthly breast self-exam to do, you'll leave your session with some customized and super easy movement exercises to add into your daily routine to help keep you healthy!! 

Call, text (414-405-3956), or email (1212bodyworks@gmail.com) today to schedule your "Breast Wellness Check" appointment. I'm happy to help keep women as healthy and happy as I possibly can so that they can continue their work as Superheroes and continue to shape "Her-story" for YEARS to come!!

Keep Moving Well! 

Friday, February 12, 2021

A MOVE that your Valentine will NEVER forget!


The candles are glowing. The sweet, vibrant fragrance from the vase of red roses in the center of the table has filled the room. The table is elegantly set with your fancy dishes, and that bottle of wine that you've been saving for a special occasion is chilling, waiting for you and your love to enjoy together. The clean, soft sheets and pillowcases comfortably adorn the bed.  The anticipation of the most romantic night of the year has been rising and you're getting excited!  

The only snag in your anxiously awaited special date night plan is that nagging lower back pain, which started as a little, annoying "niggle," and has gradually become a nuisance with every squat, bend and step. You're frustrated because you went through PT for several weeks and the exercises haven't gotten rid of the pain completely. Your Chiropractor gets your pelvis re-aligned, only to have it go "out" again within a few days.  You DON'T want this night to be ruined by this nagging issue!! 

The key missing piece of the puzzle that is likely at the bottom of your unresolved back pain is...likely at the bottom of your pelvis. 

A sore "back" is usually located somewhere near the spine, pelvis, or tailbone. Sometimes it is on one side, and other times it goes across both sides of your body. None of this is fun, and frankly, this pain can really get in the way of your everyday functioning, not to mention take away enjoyment of intimate times with your love. 

What if the root of your nagging lower back pain comes from even lower than you think? 

It is really common to find weakness in the hips and "pelvic floor." Just for a quick reference, this area is located between your pubic bone and tailbone, the area that makes contact with a bicycle seat. You use these important tissues to support your internal organs and stop the flow of urine (now the story is getting really sexy, huh?). Well, as you can imagine, if anything is out of balance in the lower back, front or bottom of the pelvis, other areas have to compensate and tighten up, creating abnormal movement and pain. Sometimes the pain in the "back" of your body is a messenger trying to tell you that something else down below is not working well! The first step in discovering weakness is testing to see if your tissues are doing what they are supposed to be doing. (Don't worry, in my office, there are no gloves involved with pelvic floor testing!) In fact, it's so simple, you probably wouldn't believe me if I told you how I test for this!!  

What if the answer to the issues in your tissues was a simple little squeeze? 
The old-school "Kegel" exercise, otherwise known as squeezing the pelvic floor, is helpful, but it's not the best way to help your weak tissues. Just like the song says "The Hip Bone's connected to the Pelvic Bone..." our body parts truly are all connected! By using your hips strategically (with some simple, yet specific positions) at the same time as performing a Kegel exercise, you can help resolve your back pain, AND you can also help boost the stamina and sensitivity of your most intimate tissues! These Specific Pelvic Activation & Contraction Exercises (SPACE) are so simple to learn! You and your partner will thank me once you learn how easy they really are--in fact, you'll wonder why no one has taught you this before!! 

What if you don't even HAVE back pain? Can this still be helpful for you??
Absolutely!! As a back pain prevention activity, or to simply boost your body's ability to support itself, both inside and out, these SPACE techniques are a game changer! According to this article from the Pelvic Floor First website, activating and strengthening the pelvic floor can "improve bladder and bowel control, reduce the risk of prolapse, enhance recovery from childbirth or gynecological surgery, improve recovery from prostate surgery, increase sexual sensation and orgasmic potential, and increase social confidence and quality of life." Sounds pretty nice and helpful, huh??

Don't let your nagging issues get in the way of your body's enjoyment of everyday activities and special Valentine's Day or Date night (or day, or morning...) plans! Get to the root of the issues in your tissues once and for all!! It might be a lot simpler than you think. 

Are you ready to help Valentine's Day last all year? Now offering a "Pelvic Wellness Check," complete with an alignment test, functional analysis (no gloves involved!!), and instruction in your own unique "SPACE" techniques to improve your health, both in and out of the bedroom. 

Simply call, text [(414) 405-3956] or email [1212bodyworks@gmail.com] to schedule your next session.
**The first 3 people who mention this blog post when scheduling will receive a free gift!**  
Looking forward to serving you soon. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

How do you really WANT to FEEL??

WE MADE IT!! Here we are, settling into 2021. What a crazy year we all had in 2020, but the important thing is that we made it through!! Every year, many people like to reflect on the previous year and then look ahead to the new year as a fresh start.  Many people set resolutions as in "This year, I'm going to stop snacking after dinner," or "I'm going to start walking every day," or after 2020, a resolution might be "I'm going to stop finishing a bottle of wine every night!" Many people make resolutions involving something that they want to stop doing or start doing, and often these resolutions have something to do with improving health. Often times, a few weeks or even a month or two will go by with the best of intentions, but then the efforts toward the resolutions fade out or stop all together. I know this because this often happens to me! This year, I did something different and it has already impacted my life so much in two weeks that I HAD to share it with you! 

My childhood friend, Kristen Finch, is a Life Coach and the hostess of the Podcast "Show Up and Love." She has a podcast episode about setting "Re-SOUL-utions" and she offers a simple yet very effective way to actually make positive changes in your life. Give it a listen HERE. Instead of focusing on stopping or starting something, she recommends you focus on how you want to FEEL about 9 categories in your life: Body, Mind, Work, Marriage/Relationship, Family, Home, Money, Soul, and Life. Once you have the feelings identified, you make a list of all of the activities you can do to help you get to the feeling place for each category. By being focused on how you want to feel in these various areas, you will be more likely to make choices that will lead you to the feeling place. I re-read my "Re-SOUL-utions" daily and sometimes re-write them and I can already feel a difference in most of those categories! Sometimes simple things make the biggest difference. 

I started thinking about how I can use this concept to improve my client sessions. Most clients I see have some sort of "not-so-good" sensations in their body, such as pain, tightness, or stiffness. Or, they have some "not-so-good" movements that restrict their ability to perform their daily tasks or fully enjoy their life. Up until now, I've always started the sessions asking "How are you feeling?" Then, my clients report where their aches and pains are located, or which movements are limited. As a PT, I've always taken responsibility for trying to help get rid of those "not-so-good" sensations. Many clients feel better in their bodies after moving through our treatment sessions with the therapies and exercises used to help their body's efficiency improve. But one session is not a cure-all and often doesn't help to fully resolve the undesired sensations, especially if those sensations have lingered for a long time. Sometimes I would feel unsuccessful if I wasn't able to take someone's pain away in a session or even throughout a series of treatments, which would then turn into feelings of negativity, sadness, disappointment with myself, and lack of confidence in my abilities as a therapist. After listening to the podcast and doing the work to identify the way I WANT to feel in my life, it made me realize that I have been focused on the wrong sensations with my clients. Now, instead of just asking where the "not-so-good" sensations are located, I have started asking clients "How do you WANT to FEEL in your body?" The answers have been simple, yet profound sometimes. So far, clients have shared that they want to feel "relaxed," "free," "flexible," "youthful," "vibrant," and "energized." By spinning the focus to something so much more positive and desirable  the level of satisfaction with our sessions has improved, both from the client perspective and from mine as the providing therapist. What a relief! And what a simple way to  make such a huge difference! 

So, how is it that YOU want to FEEL in your life? In your Body? What do you want to be able to DO more easily? What happens as you start to focus in on those feelings and activities? Is there something you can do to make yourself feel just a little bit better? Is there something I can do to help you feel just a little bit better? 

I'd love to hear how this process is beneficial for YOU as you begin the fresh start of this new year! My hope is that you find ways to feel relaxed, free, flexible, youthful, vibrant, energized or any other way that YOU want to feel EVERY day this year!