Sacroiliac joint healed!

Back in late June 2015, I wrote about using a sacroiliac belt for pain in that joint. (See When the healer needs healing: chronic pain in a sacroiliac joint).

I posted a few updates. (See Update on using the sacroiliac beltA cheaper sacroiliac belt, working toward “the new normal”, and SI belt update, plus insoles for Morton’s foot.)

It’s now January 2017, and I’m here to give you an update, prompted by a couple of comments I’ve received recently from readers who are suffering from SI joint pain.

I finally stopped wearing the belt last month, in December 2016. That’s right, I wore it most of the time for 18 months, a year and a half. My pelvis feels pretty aligned now. It’s not perfect but it is strong and tight enough that it stays in place . Since I started wearing it, I haven’t had that unstable, painful feeling of my SI joint going out of place. Continue reading

Gift suggestions that increase well-being

If you’re looking for gift ideas for those you care about, here are a few suggestions. Since I am a licensed massage therapist, that’s where I’ll start.

Although there are a few people around who don’t like to be touched, most people enjoy a professional massage that’s tailored for their needs: the right modality, the right pressure, the right length. One thing people say they’d do if they had unlimited resources is to get massages more often.

Massage gift certificates are welcome gifts, especially with a personal note from you letting them know how much they deserve to be pampered. If the recipient is a busy person, adding the promise of watching the kids or making dinner afterwards so they can enjoy the afterglow is an extra nice touch. Continue reading

Update on using the sacroiliac belt

It’s been a week since I started self-treatment for SI joint pain. I’ve made some changes after talking with my teacher that I want to share, in case you’re doing this at home. (If you’re just tuning in, you may want to read my first post on this topic.)

First, I am wearing the sacroiliac belt at night while I sleep.

Since we spend about one-third of our life sleeping, and we’re unconscious while we sleep, sleep posture is extremely important when working on alignment issues like an SI joint that has been out of alignment for years.

I decided to sleep with the sacroiliac belt on 24/7 to prevent the alignment occurring during the daytime hours from being undone while I sleep. Of course I take it off to shower and swim.  Continue reading

Inviting deep, restful sleep: tips for positioning and good sleep practices

Positioning for Sleep

Getting a good night’s sleep is hugely important for your well-being. Use sleep positioning to align your bones, support your limbs, and open your joints, relaxing muscles and minimizing tension and pain so that your sleep is fully restful.

Have on hand a variety of pillows of various sizes and firmness as well as towels in various sizes to prevent rolling and add support. Special pillows support the neck and head.

When preparing for sleep, scan your body for tension and adjust to relieve tension. Re-scan and re-adjust. You may need to keep doing this for a few weeks as your body responds.

Sleeping on Your Back

Support your neck and upper back. Place a pillow with the bottom edge at the level of the shoulder blades or use a cervical support cushion under the upper spine and neck. You may prefer a pillow that cradles the back of your head as well.

For leg and hip comfort, make a wedge-shaped support under the thighs with the upper edge tucked under the buttocks to create a slight bend in the knees.

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If the small of the back is not resting on the bed, support it with a small cushion or rolled hand towel. If desired, place pillows along the body to support the arms and hands. Continue reading

Therapeutica pillow aids back and side sleeping postures

Even though I’ve had expensive chiropractic work done on my neck and have been told I need to sleep on my back, I’ve always found it difficult to do so. I feel so much more comfortable sleeping on my side and on my stomach, which really puts strain on my neck.

I’m not sure why this is. It just is. I get to sleep well, and I stay asleep well, but I toss and turn a lot trying to get comfortable.

Also, I know from experience and education that the atlanto-occipital joint and the upper cervical area where the neck and head converge is a critical juncture in the body that affects movement, including eye movement. My current chiropractor has actually helped my vision improve. She practices SOT, sacral-occipital technique, which is not mainstream chiropractic but works on the nervous system as much as on the bones.

When I mentioned my difficulty with sleep postures yesterday to Dr. Mary, she showed me a pillow especially designed to help people sleep on their backs and on either side while keeping their necks and heads properly aligned with their spines.

I took a look, read the packaging, tried it, and decided that even though I’m in a frugal phase, I couldn’t afford to not buy one. Back sleeping is so much better for the body, especially the head and neck, but also the internal organs. Not to mention preventing (more) wrinkles.

The packaging also says it helps reduce snoring by keeping critical air passages open.

For back sleeping, the pillow supports the curves of the upper back and cervical vertebrae and has an indention for the back of the head that helps keep it stable.

For side sleeping, it has blocky “wings” that keep the head aligned with the neck. It even apparently has a little “give” to it in just the right places for people who suffer from TMJ pain to sleep more comfortably.

Best of all, these wings come in different heights, depending on the width of your shoulders. Between child-size, petite, average, large, and extra large, there’s a size that fits everyone.

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Average and smaller pillows fit into regular pillowcases; large and extra-large need king pillowcases.

Here’s what it looks like:

Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 10.46.34 AMCrazy-looking, huh?

The Therapeutica sleeping pillow was designed by a chiropractor and an ergonomic designer. It currently sells for $71 on Amazon. There’s also a travel pillow without the wings that currently sells for $58 that would be good for people who only sleep on their backs.

These prices may change, of course, and if you’re on a budget, you may be able to find these selling for less through other Amazon third-party retailers.

You’re probably waiting to hear what it was like to sleep with it! I’ve only done it one night so far, but here’s my report.

I shifted from my back to each side numerous times, spending more time sleeping on my sides because it felt so darn comfortable. This is new, having my head supported at the right height.

I did sleep on my back occasionally but did not automatically become a back sleeper. I imagine that over time, I’ll become more comfortable back-sleeping.

And I’m extremely happy to say that I did not sleep on my stomach at all.

Today I can get rid of some of the many pillows I had on my bed to attempt to accommodate my various sleep postures. I am really grateful for this find.

Body care tools make great gifts!

When you are considering gifts to give during the holiday season (or for birthdays or special occasions year-round), here are some recommendations from a professional bodyworker. All of these relax, relieve stress, release tension, and enhance well-being. Who doesn’t want that?

First of all, please consider giving your loved ones gift certificates for massage. There are many modalities available ranging from Swedish to Ashiatsu to craniosacral to hot stones and more. This is a great way to show love — by surprising your loved one with a health-giving, rejuvenating, relaxing massage.

Your loved one will love you for it, and you’ll enjoy their relaxed, post-massage company even more!

Plus, supporting a private practitioner keeps the money in the local economy, so you’re being generous twice.

Here are my recommendations for tools that bring relief between massages:

  • Therapeutica Sleeping PillowThe Therapeutica Sleeping Pillow helps side sleepers keep their heads aligned with their spines while they sleep and encourages healthy back sleeping by providing nice curves for neck and head alignment. It is designed to reduce snoring and to relieve TMJ pain. Comes in five sizes based on shoulder width.
  • Check out the smaller Therapeutica Travel Pillow if your loved one travels a lot.
  • The Sacrowedgy is designed to be placed under the sacrum while you are lying on your back. It can relieve sciatica, back pain, piriformis syndrome, and more. Massage therapists and bodyworkers know that the keys to activating the parasympathetic nervous system (opposite of fight or flight) lie in pressing nerves at the occiput and/or the sacrum. This device cradles the sacrum similar to placing a hand under it, the way we often hold infants. Very calming and relaxing! Sized to fit male and female sacrums. Makes a nice stocking stuffer.
  • Place a Still Point Inducer under the occiput when you are lying on your back. Just as the Sacrowedgy induces relaxation via cradling the sacrum, the Still Point Inducer calms by cradling the occiput. A “still point” is a pause in the rhythm of the cerebrospinal fluid that results in better functioning of the central nervous system. Inducing a still point can relieve headaches and eye strain, lower blood pressure, and enhance the immune system. Craniosacral therapists induce the still point manually. You can do it yourself at home with one of these.
  • neckpillowA flaxseed pillow shaped to fit your neck and shoulders can be heated or chilled as needed for stiffness and pain. Better yet, get two of these! Freeze one and microwave the other, and then alternate heat and cold on your neck and shoulders for some wonderful circulatory and metabolic stimulation. Comes unscented — add your own fragrance if desired. Lavender is always relaxing.
  • TPWBThis item might inspire a New Year’s resolution! The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook by Clair Davies shows where to find trigger points  and describes how to release them in layman’s language. (Third edition is recommended.) If regular deep tissue massage is too expensive and you and your partner or friend suffer from trigger point pain and limited range of movement, this book is a fantastic resource. You’ll also need an inexpensive tool, such as a knobble or maybe a back buddy. If you and your partner or friend are able to spend time weekly helping to find and release each other’s trigger points, you’ll both feel so much better by the same time next year!
  • spine alignerThe wooden Spine Aligner does just that. You lie on it, on a bed or cushioned surface at first, then on the floor when your body has adjusted. Rest the two central knobs between two vertebrae starting between your shoulder blades. Lie back on it for 10 breaths, then roll it down between the next pair of vertebrae, take 10 breaths, and so on, all the way down to L5-sacrum. The Spine Aligner relieves kinks and misalignments in the back, like you get when you sleep in a strange position or on a strange bed and wake up with a spasm-y, crick-y back. You can even put a knobby end under a glute for a nice tension-relieving stretch that definitely works some pressure points. You can roll the corrugated parts with the soles of your feet for a nice foot massage.

Some body care gifts you can make at home without spending a lot of money:

  • Two tennis balls tied in a tube sock. If your loved one’s car does not have built-in lumbar support, and he/she spends much time driving, you can easily make this simple gift. Put two tennis balls into a man’s tube sock. Tie a knot at the open end to keep the balls from coming out. They’ll place the sock behind their low back while driving, with a ball on either side of the spine. They can press into them, giving the low back a nice little massage.  Good for between the shoulder blades, too. This is  great on long car trips and to relieve the stress of driving in rush-hour traffic!
  • Scented bath salts. Buy Epsom salt in bulk at the grocery store, pharmacy, Costco, or online. Measure two cups of Epsom salt into a 16-oz. glass container. Add an essential oil such as lavender, chamomile, orange, sandalwood, rose, or peppermint for different effects. Stick an attractive label on the jar identifying the scent and include instructions to dissolve in a hot bath and soak for at least 12 minutes.
  • Make your own gift certificates for foot, hand, or scalp massage, or a back or shoulder rub. No training is needed, and 15-30 minutes keeps it at a good length to be effective but not tiring for you. Ask the recipient to tell you what they especially enjoy, and deliver that.

Taking care of your body, and helping your loved ones take care of theirs, is the essence of healthy living. Body care gifts create good will and make the world a better place, because people who feel great do great things!