Injury Recovery and Rehabilitation Exercises

Injury Recovery and Rehabilitation Exercises

If you’re used to exercising regularly, then it can be pretty disheartening when you’re sidelined due to an injury. Whether you perform moderate or more intense levels of exercise, an injury is still an injury and it needs time to recover.

Knowing how to safely return to exercise after injury is critical so you don’t do further damage or suffer a new injury altogether. With the right rehabilitation exercises, you can speed up your injury recovery time and get back to exercising regularly.

Injury Rehabilitation and Exercises

How you return to exercising really depends on the injury you’ve suffered—where the injury is located and how severe it is. Your existing level of health will also impact your recovery time and the rehabilitation progress you’ll make.

Below are some of the types of injury recovery exercises for specific types of injuries and what to expect as you return to exercise after your injury. These are exercises you can repeat multiple times daily to promote strength and rehabilitation.

It’s encouraged to review all rehabilitation and recovery exercises with a professional trainer or physician before diving in. Getting expert advice will ensure you’re not doing too much too soon.

1. Back Injury Recovery

Properly recovering from a back injury is critical to your spinal health. It ensures you maintain your mobility, posture and muscle strength so you can protect your spine. The key to recovering from a back injury is your core.

After having suffered a back injury, it’s important to focus on strengthening your core—a powerhouse muscle group consisting of over 30 muscles in your abdomen and low back. Having a strong core will reduce the risk of developing chronic pain from your injury and will mitigate the chance of reinjuring your back.

If you’re returning to exercise after an injury to your back, try these core strengthening moves:

  • Pelvic Tilts: Lie with your back flat on the floor, knees bent. Place your hands on your hip bones and slowly tilt your pelvis toward and then away from your rib cage. You’ll feel your low back lift. Continue this movement for one minute.
  • Bird Dogs: Begin on hands and knees with a tight core. Slowly extend one arm straight forward and the opposite leg straight behind, holding for 3-5 seconds. Bring your arm and leg back to center and switch sides. Repeat 6 times per side.

2. Shoulder Injury

Shoulder injuries such as bursitis or tendonitis can be chronic and take a long time to heal. They can cause severe pain and impact your quality of life, making it difficult to perform movements such as reaching, pulling or pushing.

Because shoulder injuries often occur due to overuse, such as from repetitive motions, it’s difficult to perform shoulder injury rehab right away. Your shoulder needs time to rest so it can actually get stronger before you start exercising again.

Once you’ve been cleared to begin using it again, shoulder injury rehab is the next step. You can rehabilitate and strengthen your shoulder muscle with the following exercises:

  • Pendulum: In a standing position bend forward at the waist and support yourself on a counter or chair with one arm. Let your injured arm hang down. Gently swing your arm back and forth, side to side, then in circles. Repeat on the other side. Perform this exercise 3 times daily.
  • Crossover Arm Stretch: Stand with shoulders straight and relaxed. Gently pull one arm straight across your chest. Hold the stretch for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

3. Hamstring Injury

Hamstring strains can be incredibly painful and debilitating. Like shoulder injuries, if a hamstring injury isn’t properly rehabilitated, it can become a chronic or recurring problem. To properly rehabilitate your hamstring, it’s important to find ways way to continue to use it without straining it even more.

You can perform isometric hamstring exercises which flex the muscles without stretching them. Additionally, as part of hamstring injury rehab, you’ll want to strengthen your glutes. Because your hamstrings and glutes work together, having strong glute muscles can prevent future hamstring injuries.

To start your rehabilitation, try these two hamstring exercises after injury:

  • Single Leg Bridge: Lie on the ground, back flat and knees bent. Activate your glute muscles and raise one leg up. Keeping your leg raised, push into your heel and raise your hips off the floor. Keep your shoulders flat to the ground, and your core, glutes and hamstring engaged. Repeat 10 times on each side.
  • Hamstring Curl: Lie on your front with your legs straight. Place a pillow under your stomach if it’s more comfortable. Slowly bend the knee of your affected leg toward your buttock, stopping when you feel resistance. Continue this motion 8-12 times per side.

4. Groin Injury

Groin injuries can be caused by pulled or strained groin muscles (adductors). These injuries typically affect athletes and can recur if not properly treated.

After resting and icing a groin injury, you may decide to return to physical activity with some groin injury rehab exercises:

  • Adductor Squeeze: Lie down with your back flat on the ground. Raise bent legs so your shins are parallel with the floor. Place a soccer ball between your knees and squeeze them together until you feel your groin muscles activate. Hold the squeeze for 2 seconds. Release and repeat 10 times.
  • Side-Lying Leg Lift With Crossover: Lie down on the side of your injury. Bend your top leg and place your foot flat on the ground in front on your bottom leg. Keeping your bottom leg straight, slowly raise it up as far as it will go. Hold for 5 seconds and repeat 15 times. Switch sides and repeat for 2 sets.

5. Knee Injury

Knee injuries are very common as it’s one of the most used joints in the body—and the most susceptible to wear and tear. Initially following a knee injury, you’ll want to work on getting your range of motion back, and it’s advisable to work with a physiotherapist for this.

Chronic knee injuries can be rehabilitated by strengthening the muscles around the knee joint, which provide stability and mobility. Additionally, having strong hips takes pressure off the knee so it can continue to function properly.

To help rehabilitate, try the following knee strengthening exercises after injury:

  • Straight Leg Raises: Lie with your back flat on the ground, one knee bent and foot flat to the floor. Extend your other leg long and raise it slowly up to the height of your bent knee. Repeat 15 times per leg, 3 times daily.
  • Step-Ups: Standing on the bottom stair of a staircase, bend one knee and lightly touch the other foot to the floor behind you. Raise it back up. Repeat 15 times then switch legs. You can increase the height of the step-up as your knee feels stronger.

Tips for Safe Injury Recovery and Rehabilitation

It’s important to be cautious before diving into any injury recovery exercises. Achieving safe, sustainable rehabilitation should be the ultimate goal of any injury recovery program. Suffering an injury drastically increases your risk of developing a recurrence or even a new injury. We can mitigate these risks by being safe and smart about how we hard we push ourselves.

If you’re ready to rehabilitate, then here are some tips on safely returning to exercise after an injury:

1. Come Back Slow

One of the biggest mistakes that you can make when recovering from an injury is to get back to a full exercise routine too quickly. It’s wise to start off slowly—even slower than you feel is necessary—and gradually increase your exercise intensity. Coming back slowly helps you build confidence and prevent a recurring injury. It also gives you the opportunity to notice any changes and build better body awareness.

2. Undergo Therapy

If you’ve suffered a particularly bad injury or you’re experiencing chronic pain, it’s important to seek professional therapy to help you better understand what’s happening. Depending on your injury, you may wish to see a chiropractor or a physiotherapist or both. Chiropractors can help you alleviate chronic musculoskeletal pain, while physiotherapists can put together a rehabilitation plan for you. Getting an expert opinion can give you the reassurance to return to exercising safely.

3. Listen to Your Body

Not only is it important to listen to your physical symptoms (don’t ignore your pain), it’s also essential to listen to any emotional symptoms you may be experiencing. Injuries, and the chronic pain that accompanies them, can take a toll on your emotional wellbeing. You may feel frustrated and helpless that you’re not able to perform tasks like you used to. You may also feel anxious about returning to exercise for the fear of re-injuring yourself. Remember to practice self-compassion and get support as you need it.

Support for Injury Recovery from Relax The Back

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to healing any injury. Every injury recovery exercise program should be tailored to your unique diagnosis—including any support products you’ll need.

Relax The Back provides a variety of support products to help in your injury recovery. Having the right fitness and therapy products and devices ensures that you’ve got the support you need to safely rehabilitate your injury.

Shop our fitness and therapy products to find the right solutions for your injury recovery program.

Sources:

  1. https://www.acefitness.org/education-and-resources/lifestyle/blog/5131/core-strengthening-exercises-that-help-with-back-injury-rehab
  2. https://www.webmd.com/back-pain/ss/slideshow-exercises
  3. https://www.bodybuilding.com/content/recovering-from-shoulder-injuries.html
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  5. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/hamstring-strain#1
  6. https://thebarbellphysio.com/ultimate-guide-hamstring-strain-rehabilitation/
  7. https://www.healthline.com/health/groin-strain
  8. https://www.stylecraze.com/articles/best-exercises-strengthening-groin-muscles/#gref
  9. https://www.summitmedicalgroup.com/library/adult_health/sma_groin_strain_exercises/
  10. https://www.webmd.com/pain-management/knee-pain/injury-knee-pain-16/slideshow-knee-exercises
  11. https://drjohnrusin.com/5-smart-strategies-to-rehab-your-own-knee-injury/
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  13. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/exercise-after-injury#2

Chiropractic or Physiotherapy: What’s Right for Me?

Chiropractic or Physiotherapy: What’s Right for Me?

When managing and treating chronic pain or injury, it’s important to seek professional treatment to help you heal your condition and prevent further damage. But with so many different treatment options and approaches, it can be difficult to know which type of professional to see.

If you’re suffering from chronic backshoulder or neck pain, you may choose to pursue therapy to help correct spine, nerve and muscle issues. Two types of therapy can help you address chronic pain: chiropractic care and physiotherapy.

These treatment approaches have important similarities and differences to be aware of before choosing a therapy route. Here we’ll review the purposes of each treatment approach and the unique benefits each offers to help you choose between chiropractic care or physiotherapy for your chronic pain.

What Is Chiropractic Care?

Chiropractic care is a form of complementary therapy that treats the musculoskeletal system—your bones, cartilage, joints, muscles and tendons. The musculoskeletal system is what allows you to have mobility and protects your internal organs.

When an injury, illness or deformity affects any part of this essential system, a chiropractor can manipulate your body with their hands to provide pain relief and improve mobility. Chiropractors make targeted adjustments and realignments to your spine and joints, and many perform deep tissue work as well to target muscles and tendons.

For the most part, chiropractic care doesn’t claim to be a replacement for conventional medical treatment. Rather, it’s a form of therapy that works in cooperation with other medical professionals to improve the patient’s overall health.

What Is Physiotherapy?

Physiotherapy, also called physical therapy, is a broad term to describe any kind of therapy that encourages the body to rehabilitate strength and mobility. By contrast, chiropractic care is more specific, while physiotherapy can have more applications. Many physiotherapists can perform some of the work that chiropractors do, such as spinal manipulation and muscle release techniques.

But what does physiotherapy do exactly and how is it administered? When an injury or illness has impacted a patient’s mobility, balance or strength, a physical therapist works to restore their health gradually over time through different treatment techniques. Physical therapists may use techniques like joint manipulation, muscle stretching and various exercises, depending on the unique patient.

Physiotherapists can work in conjunction with other medical professionals to diagnose conditions and to put together a comprehensive treatment plan for a patient’s physical rehabilitation.

Chiropractic or Physiotherapy Treatment Approaches

Both chiropractic and physiotherapy are considered complementary treatments in that they are non-invasive and don’t require pharmaceutical or surgical intervention—they work alongside these treatments.

Though similar, the two therapies differ in:

  • Treatment methods and techniques
  • Diseases and conditions treated
  • Types of patients treated

Chiropractic Treatment Approach

In chiropractic care, professionals view the body as having an inherent interconnectedness as well as an ability to heal itself. Therefore, chiropractors use a non-invasive but hands-on approach to heal their patients.

Chiropractors assess each patient’s body individually and find spinal and muscular misalignments that may be causing pressure within the central nervous system, leading to chronic pain.

If you’ve got a back or neck injury, you may be wondering what does a chiropractor treat and whether it can help your condition. Chiropractors can treat several musculoskeletal, such as:

  • Sciatica pain
  • Neck, back and low back pain
  • Repetitive motion injuries
  • Sports injuries
  • Whiplash and other car accident injuries
  • Arthritis
  • Chronic headaches

Chiropractors can also use their knowledge to further specialize in areas like pediatrics, orthopedics, sports medicine and even nutrition.

Physiotherapy Treatment Approach

In physiotherapy, professionals diagnose physical abnormalities in patients and help them restore strength, improve balance and gain greater mobility and range of motion. Physiotherapists can also identify health risks in their patients and work with them to improve overall fitness and wellbeing.

Physiotherapists put together a personalized plan for each patient based on their underlying condition. Physiotherapists will focus on the long-term rehabilitation of their patient to restore health and prevent future injuries.

Patients can see a physiotherapist for several reasons, including:

  • Increasing mobility in aging adults
  • Sports injuries
  • Surgery recovery
  • Disease recovery such as from multiple sclerosis or stroke

Like chiropractors, physiotherapists may choose to also narrow their practice by specializing in sports medicine, occupational therapy, geriatrics and more.

Benefits of Chiropractic vs. Physiotherapy

Chiropractic care and physiotherapy both offer benefits for people looking to heal and prevent back pain or injury. Many of their benefits overlap, which can make it difficult to choose between the two.

By looking at each therapy’s unique approach to treatment and the advantages each one offers, you can better decide whether chiropractic or physiotherapy is right for you.

Benefits of Chiropractic Care

Chiropractic care is specialized, with practitioners providing relief for a variety of conditions. Chiropractors can offer the following benefits for people suffering from a range of musculoskeletal problems:

Personalized Treatment: In chiropractic care, the philosophy is that every body is different and therefore, requires tailored treatments. Chiropractors assess each patient and determine how best to adjust their bodies to provide relief. Patients may even find that they will receive unique treatments from one visit to the next.

Non-Invasive and Safe: If you’ve never undergone chiropractic care before, you may be wondering is chiropractic safe? Because chiropractic care is non-invasive, it means there’s a lower risk of complications compared to invasive treatments like spinal surgeries. Additionally, multiple studies have found that chiropractic care rarely creates any long-term side effects and that the potential benefits for healing low back and neck pain outweigh any risks.

Immediate Restorative Health: Many patients who see chiropractors report feeling immediate or near-immediate relief from their chronic pain. Undergoing spinal adjustments can help to alleviate pressure from nerves and muscles, which reduces the pain. Chiropractic adjustments can also have an immediate impact on mobility, coordination and function.

Benefits of Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy focuses on long-term support and restoration of your overall health and mobility. By seeing a physiotherapist for your back or neck injury, you can obtain the following health benefits:

Rehabilitation and Recovery: For patients who have suffered an injury or illness, physiotherapy can be a great, personalized way to rehabilitate your body and recover faster. Physiotherapists will work with you over time to ensure you’ve recovered properly.

Injury Prevention: Because physiotherapy focuses on strengthening and rehabilitating the body, the result is that the patient becomes stronger, increasing the ability to prevent future injury. Physiotherapists will identify issues and patterns in their patients and develop a care plan to avoid long-term problems.

Reduced Need for Surgery and Medication: Many physicians today will refer their patients to physiotherapists before administering conventional medical treatment. Getting the opinion of a physiotherapist can help the entire healthcare team make better-informed decisions about the patient’s needs, possibly reducing the need for more invasive treatments or pharmaceuticals.

Choosing Between Chiropractic or Physiotherapy

If you’ve suffered a recent injury or you’re looking to relieve chronic pain, it’s important to consider all your therapy options to help you increase your quality of life. Chiropractic care and physiotherapy are only two of several complementary therapies available to help you restore your health and prevent future injuries.

Additionally, you may find that incorporating both therapies into your personal wellness plan can benefit you. Or you may feel that one therapy is a better choice for you over the other. The decision is personal and much of it comes down to your current level of health and the underlying condition.

Achieving a Neutral Posture

Regardless of which treatment direction you choose, it’s essential to get in the habit of maintaining good posture. Neutral posture is a state of relaxed spinal alignment that eliminates or reduces pressure on your spine. Maintaining a neutral posture can help prevent spinal problems and muscle and joint pain, minimizing the need for ongoing therapy.

A neutral posture, combined with building physical strength and regular stretching is a necessary formula for preventing chronic pain. Support products from Relax The Back can help you achieve a neutral spine throughout the day, whether at home, work or on the go. Browse our selection of ergonomic support products today and help relieve back and neck pain.

Sources:

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/308917.php
  2. https://www.wfc.org/website/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=90&Itemid=110
  3. https://www.spine-health.com/treatment/chiropractic/chiropractic-examination
  4. https://draxe.com/10-researched-benefits-chiropractic-adjustments/
  5. https://www.jmptonline.org/article/S0161-4754(07)00178-9/abstract?code=ymmt-site
  6. http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0160037
  7. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/160645.php
  8. https://physioworks.com.au/FAQRetrieve.aspx?ID=30872
  9. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/160645.php

How to Start a Morning Stretch Routine

How to Start a Morning Stretch Routine

Nothing feels better in the morning than sitting up in bed and stretching your arms toward the ceiling—except for an entire morning stretch routine.

Though a couple of morning stretches are almost instinctual, adding more targeted mobility stretches into the mix can help improve how your body feels all day long. A morning stretch routine may include 10 or fewer stretches that target different muscle groups in your body.

A stretch routine can warm up stiff muscles and get your body ready for all sorts of movement during your waking hours. Best of all, it requires no equipment and no gym membership to help you see benefits to your muscles. You can even perform many of these morning stretches in bed.

Benefits of Stretching in the Morning

Though mornings can be hectic, finding 10-15 minutes to run through a few stretches can help you enjoy better health.

Stretching could help you:

  • Get your muscles ready for the day. As you sleep, lactic acid and other fluid gather around your muscles. Stretching can get that fluid back into place, helping you have easier movements later.
  • “Recalibrate” your nerves. The nerves around your muscles send signals to your brain to prevent you from hyperextending (over-stretching), which can cause injury. A morning stretch routine helps your body understand its range of motion.
  • Extend your range of motion. Speaking of range of motion, routine stretching can improve yours. Joints with better range of motion tend to be less painful and less susceptible to injury.
  • Improve your flexibility and prevent injuries. Stretching helps lengthen your muscles and improve their flexibility. A long, loose muscle is less like to suffer an injury than a tight, short muscle.
  • Ease stress. rush don’t get off to a good start. A quiet stretching routine, perhaps even to music that relaxes you, gives you time to calm your mind and think about how your body feels before a busy day.
  • Relieve muscle pain. If you wake up with muscle pain, stretching may help relieve it. Overnight, your muscles may get tight. A nice, slow stretch can release the muscle and help relieve pain.
  • Better posture. Again, stretching can lengthen muscles. This makes it easier for you to sit and stand with a straight back.
  • Increase blood flow. Stretching also sends blood straight to your muscles. Better blood flow helps muscles heal and grow, especially if you had a strenuous workout the day before.

Types of Morning Stretches

You can choose out of literally hundreds of stretches for morning stiffness, depending on your needs. For instance, if you reach over your head a lot at work, you should probably stretch your upper back and shoulders. If you sit at a desk, you should do stretches for back pain and neck tension to improve your posture as you sit.

Most morning stretches are going to be “static stretches.” These stretches involve pulling a muscle group out to its furthest point then holding it there for 15-30 seconds. These mobility stretches are good muscle lengtheners and can release any morning stiffness.

You might also choose to do some dynamic stretches. In these stretches, you gradually move your body to the edge of its range of motion through gentle swinging. These might help you if your muscles are not warmed up and need help getting ready to stretch.

If you have stretching equipment like a foam roller, you might also take part in passive stretching. During these stretches, an object (like the foam roller) or person holds your muscle in their stretch. These types of stretches are best for muscle spasms or muscle soreness due to a workout.

A combination of stretches can help you get your body ready for the day. For the best stretches, wait until your heart rate is up a little and your muscles are warmer before stretching. This may mean you should stretch after you have walked the dog or gone up and down the stairs a few times.

Stretches to Target Problem Areas

You can customize your morning stretch routine to target the areas of your body that tend to be stiff, sore or painful.

Stretches for Back Pain

A nice upward stretch is a natural way to start out your stretching routine. Sit on the floor with your legs crossed then reach your hands up toward the ceiling. Focus on lifting up every vertebrae in your spine and lengthening your neck as you look up at your hands. Hold the stretch for 10-15 seconds.  You can also reach up and to the left or right to help stretch your sides.

To stretch out your lower back, like flat on your back on the floor. Put your arms straight out to your sides so you make a cross. Bend your knees and put your feet flat on the floor. Slowly let your knees fall to one side while keep your shoulders and upper back flat on the floor. You should feel a gentle pull in your lower back as you twist. You can push this stretch further back pushing your knees down toward the floor with your hand. Hold for 10-15 seconds, then slowly twist your knees over to the other side to repeat the exercise.

Using an inversion table daily, whether in the morning or the evening, can also help stretch your lower back.

Stretches for Neck Pain

To stretch out your neck, first slowly and gently roll it in circles stretching it as far out as you can as your roll. Be sure to keep your shoulders relaxed.

Next, tilt your head to the left side as if you are trying to touch your ear to your shoulder. Keep your shoulder down. You should feel a stretch in the side of your neck. You can extend this stretch by putting your left hand on top of your head and gently pulling downward. Hold for 10 seconds, then repeat on the right side.

Stretches for Shoulder Pain

Get your shoulders warmed up by rolling them forward for a few circles, then backwards for a few circles. Scrunch them up to your ears, then push them back down as far as you can.

Stretches for Knee Pain

The key to stretching out stiff knees is to loosen up the muscles in the thigh—the hamstring and quadriceps.

To stretch your quads, hold onto the back of a chair with your right hand for balance. Bend your left knee, bringing your foot up to your butt. Grab your foot with your left hand and pull it higher until you can feel the stretch in the front of your leg. Hold for 10-15 seconds, then switch legs.

To stretch out your hamstrings, lie down on the floor on your back. Lift your left leg straight up into the air, keeping your leg as straight as possible. Put your hands behind your knee and pull your leg forward while keeping it as straight as possible. You can also roll your ankle to stretch it out at the same time. Hold for 10-15 seconds then switch legs.

Stretches for Hip Pain

Both inner and outer hips can get tight during the day, so it is important to target both in your morning routine.

For your outer hip, stand next to your bed. Bend your left knee, turning your leg sidewise so it is parallel to the ground (as if you were going to put your left ankle above your right knee). Lay your leg on your bed, keeping your hips square to the bed. You can put your hands on your bed to help balance yourself. Slowly lean forward until you feel the stretch on the outside of your left hip. Hold for 10-15 seconds, then repeat on the right side.

A nice low lunge can stretch out your inner hip while challenging your leg muscles. For this lunge, put your left foot forward and bend at the knee. Point your right toes so your foot is flat on the floor. Now lunge forward, putting your weight on your left foot. Keep your torso upright so that you feel a stretch in the front of your left hip (you can put a chair by your side to hold onto if you have trouble keeping your balance). For an extra stretch, use your hands to push your hips forward further. Hold for 10-15 seconds, then repeat on the right side.

Start Your Day Right With Morning Stretches

A great morning stretch routine can prepare you physically—and mentally—for a new day whether you sit at a desk, lift heavy boxes or drive a car for hours. By taking a few minutes out of your morning to stretch out those stiff muscles, you’ll feel better all day long.

Sources:

  1. https://www.elitedaily.com/p/why-stretching-feels-so-good-in-the-morning-according-to-science-8367967
  2. https://goodrelaxation.com/2012/02/health-benefits-of-stretching-in-the-morning/
  3. https://www.livestrong.com/article/539154-7-types-of-stretching-exercises/
  4. https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/5-Stretches-Do-Morning-7751119

Relaxation Techniques You Can Practice Anywhere

Relaxation Techniques You Can Practice Anywhere

In our busy world, no matter where you look, there is stress everywhere. Work, personal, physical and other life stress can all take a serious toll on both your physical and mental health. You may notice increasing muscle tension, aches, pains and physical health complaints. You may feel mentally exhausted, experiencing impaired concentration or creativity, anxiety, tiredness or emotional tension.

5 Powerful Relaxation Techniques

Mental and physical stress is no way to live. You deserve better—to experience a relaxed, calm, balanced, healthy and happy state of being. There is good news for you. You can achieve a sense of calmness and reduced tension anywhere with the right relaxation exercises.

Using these 5 powerful relaxation techniques for anxiety and stress, you can reduce tension, regain balance, sleep better and feel more joy in your life in both mind and body.

1. Progressive Muscle Relaxation

Progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) was developed by Edmund Jacobson in the 1920s to help patients with muscle pain and tension regardless of a physical or mental illness. PMR can not only help with general relaxation but give relief to those dealing with various health conditions, including headaches, anxiety and even cancer.

To practice PMR, follow these steps:

  • Find a quiet place and get into a comfortable position sitting or lying down.
  • Start by inhaling deeply through your nose and slowly exhaling through your mouth for 3 – 5 cycles.
  • Tighten your muscles by squeezing your body, clenching your toes and pushing your heels to the ground.
  • Release, then flex your feet towards your head for a few seconds until releasing again.
  • Move onto new muscle groups, your abdomen, legs, hands, arms, shoulders, neck and face.
  • Tighten then release.

You can repeat these sequences as needed and finish your practice with some deep calming breaths.

2. Breathing Exercises

Controlling and regulating your breath through various breathing exercises is a powerful way to calm your mind and relax your body. You don’t need to go to a yoga class. You only need a couple of minutes to practice any of these three breathing exercises and achieve fantastic results over time.

  • Stimulating Breath: Stimulating breath is an ancient yogic technique that can bring you more energy and mental focus. Keep your mouth closed and relaxed. Keeping your breaths short, inhale and exhale rapidly through your nose. You will make some funny noises and that’s normal. After three cycles, take a quick break. Breathe normally then try again. Start with 15 seconds or less, then increase it gradually.
  • 4 – 7 – 8 Breathing: The 4 – 7 – 8 breathing exercise is quieter and you can do it anywhere. Get ready by exhaling all air through your mouth. Close your mouth. To the count of 4, inhale through your nose. Count to 7 while holding your breath. Let it all out through your mouth to the count of eight. Repeat this cycle at least 3 times twice a day.
  • Breath Counting: Breath counting is a Zen technique that can help you with relaxation as well. Find a comfortable sitting position keeping your spine straight. Close your eyes. Begin with a few deep and cleansing breaths. Breathe in then count to 1 as you exhale. Breathe in again and count to 2 as you exhale. Next time count to 3, then 4, then 5. Never count to more than 5—instead start the cycle again. Over time, you can work up to 10 minutes of this breath counting Zen meditation practice.

3. Stretching

Sitting at the computer working all day creates muscle tension. Regular stretching, especially stretching your neck and shoulder can help with aches, chronic pain and mental health. Repeating these 5 simple stretching techniques daily can help your muscles to relax and make you feel better both physically and mentally:

  • Shoulder Shrugs: Take a few deep breaths, then start with a shoulder shrug. First, lift the top of your shoulder close to your ears imitating a shrug. Hold for 3-4 seconds, then release. Repeat 3-5 times, then move on to chin turns.
  • Chin Turns: Begin by looking forward, then slowly move your chin to your left stretching the left side. Hold for 5-10 seconds. Move back to center then move your chin to your right repeating the same thing. Repeat this 2-3 times, then move on to head tilts.
  • Head Tilts: Your starting position should be center. Tilt your head towards your right as if your ear was trying to touch your shoulder. Hold for 5-10 seconds, move back to center then move on to the other side. Repeat 2-3 times and get ready for a back stretch.
  • Back Stretch: Place your palms on your lower back and bend your knees. Push your back forward using your palm. Hold it for 10 seconds then release. Repeat this exercise 2-3 times before move onto your last stretch, elbow pull.
  • Elbow Pull: First, raise your right arm up as straight as you can the bend it behind your head. Deepen the stretch by pulling your elbow towards your head with your left hand. Hold for 10-15 seconds then repeat the other side. Do this exercise 2-3 times.

Repeat this entire stretching cycle at least twice a day or whenever you feel you need a stretch. If you need to, you can stretch your hips, back and hamstrings as well using yoga straps, wall stretches and the cat and cow pose. Over the course of a few weeks, you will notice more flexibility, less tension and less pain. Dr. Riter’s Real-Ease Neck Support can improve neck and shoulder tension more than most stretches you know. Using ergonomic office furniture that supports a good posture can also help to experience less tension and pain when working long hours.

4. Meditation and Visualization

Meditation and visualization are some of the best ways to alleviate stress. They can also be powerful relaxation techniques for sleep before bed. As you let distractions and worries disappear, you can achieve a state of blissful rest. Meditation and visualization can bring you immediate relief and a more relaxed being. What’s even better is that when practicing regularly, your mind and body will naturally learn to come back to a more centered, grounded and relaxed state when stress, pain or chaos arises.

There are many ways to practice meditation. You don’t necessarily have to sit in lotus pose (the yogic version of cross-legged) either. You can lie down or even find a movement meditation practice, such as dance or walking meditation. You may use a mantra for your meditation, including Sanskrit words such as ‘om’ or any mantra that feels right for you. You may want to take a course and learn a specific form of meditation, such as Vipassana, Transcendental Meditation, mindfulness meditation or Zen meditation.

Using a guided meditation exercise is possibly the easiest ways to guide your body and mind to a state of relaxation and calm.

Visualization is a form of meditation that you can do at any time without guidance. It’s like a quick mental vacation. Close your eyes and visualize your ‘happy place’. It can be anything, a beach, your cozy couch, the top of a mountain, the cozy hug of a loved one, your favorite yoga studio, or any place you love, feel happy and safe. Imagine being in this place by engaging all your senses. What do you see, hear, smell, taste and touch? How does it feel in your body? Let yourself enjoy the moment. You can smile.

5. Massage

Getting a massage is a powerful act of self-care. It also has benefits for your body and health. Massage improves the circulation of oxygen and nutrients in your system. It can stretch tight and weak muscles, improve your flexibility and range of motion. It can help you manage and reduce your symptoms of chronic pain. Massage can improve your stress levels, anxiety, depression, sleep and quality of life.

There are so many massage techniques and similar bodywork therapies that you can choose from. Deep tissue massage and myofascial release are the most popular ones for deep work. There is also Swedish massage, hot stone massage, aromatherapy massage, craniosacral therapy, Shiatsu, reflexology, Thai massage, sports massage, trigger point massage and more. Talk to your massage therapist and experiment to find the one that works the best for you.

You can also practice massage at home. The easiest way is of course to have a partner, friend or family member to rub your back and shoulders. That’s not always available. You can practice self-massage techniques anywhere you are. Get the difficult knots out with a theracane and work on your foot, neck and hips using massage balls. After a long day on your feet, a foot massager feels heavenly. Massage chairs and massage cushions can be lifesavers to get personalized comfort and relaxation at home without any effort.

Integrating Your Relaxation Techniques

Practicing relaxation methods like PMR, breathing exercises, stretching, meditation, visualization and self-massage can ease muscle tension, relax your body, calm your mind, reduce pain and improve your overall health. Go through these relaxation exercises as often as you need and take them on the go with you.

To learn more about how ergonomic office furniture, massage chairs, massage cushions and self-massage tools can aid your relaxation, visit our store. Make sure to check back and share your wonderful results with us.

References:

  1. http://psycnet.apa.org/fulltext/1990-20278-001.html
  2. https://www.anxietybc.com/sites/default/files/MuscleRelaxation.pdf
  3. https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/muscle-relaxation-for-stress-insomnia
  4. http://psycnet.apa.org/record/2006-10511-002
  5. https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/stress-anxiety/breathing-three-exercises/
  6. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0002817715607607
  7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/000579169090046N
  8. https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/acm.2009.0321
  9. https://www.jpsychores.com/article/S0022-3999(03)00573-7/abstract
  10. https://www.karger.com/Article/Abstract/289116
  11. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0005796710001324
  12. https://liveanddare.com/types-of-meditation
  13. https://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2011/561753/abs/
  14. http://europepmc.org/abstract/med/19078022

How to Choose a Pillow for Your Sleep Needs

How to Choose a Pillow for Your Sleep Needs

Table of Contents

  1. Why be choosey with your pillow?
  2. How to choose the right pillow for you

Maintaining the natural curve in your neck and spine is critical to getting a full, restful sleep. The wrong pillow can strain your neck and shoulder muscles and, instead of recovery, it can create more pain while you’re sleeping.

On the other hand, a perfect pillow can help you maintain correct body alignment, relieve pain and prevent injury.

Though your pillow is one of the most important factors for a good night’s sleep, like most people, you may have no idea how to select the right one. Chances are when you are walking through the aisles of a store, you feel overwhelmed by all the options. You likely squeeze a few different pillows trying to figure out what feels the best. But what you likely don’t realize is that you need to consider your sleeping style, body type, mattress and health conditions first when choosing the right pillow.

Let’s dig in and learn more how a perfect pillow can improve your sleep and health and how to choose the right pillow for your needs.

How the Perfect Pillow Improves Sleep and Health

When choosing the perfect pillow, it’s helpful to know the role pillows play in your overall sleep experience.

Your pillow has two main functions:

  1. Support—Providing support for your neck, upper back and spine allows for rest and recovery
  2. Comfort—Allowing a higher level of comfort to rest and sleep deeply

The perfect pillow is not only comforting and helps you sleep better, but it’s also beneficial to your spine health. It plays an important supportive role for your entire body head to toe, including your spine, neck, shoulders and back. It helps to keep your entire body in alignment. The right pillow relieves any pressure and prevents pain.

Support

Your spine is naturally curved. Having the right support for your neck, head and upper back helps your body to maintain proper alignment without causing stiffness or pain. The shape, height and firmness of your pillow are all essential to finding the one for necessary spine support.

A proper pillow allows restorative sleep that helps your body correct postural, physical and nervous system challenges throughout the day, to prevent, reduce or even eliminate pain. A good pillow can allow comfortable rest even when not sleeping deep and just taking a short nap or simply relaxing.

Comfort

Soft pillows may feel like a comforting hug at first, but choosing the right pillow is far from choosing the softest and fluffiest in the store. Chiropractors, physical therapists, body workers and health professionals agree that the right pillow can make a true difference in your health.

The comfort factor of your pillow is fairly subjective, depending on your personal preferences, body size, sleeping position and health conditions. Of course, the right support plays an important role in finding the right comfort level.

Factors to Consider When Choosing the Perfect Pillow

When learning how to choose a pillow, you first need to know what factors to consider in your buying decision. Some factors to consider when choosing the ideal pillow include:

  • Sleep Style—Are you a side, back or stomach sleeper?
  • Unique Needs—What pillow materials or styles will support your ideal body temperature or a sleep disorder you may have?
  • Overall Comfort—Do you need supportive pillows for more than just your head?

Best Pillows for Side Sleepers

If you are a side sleeper, a firm pillow is your best choice. Select one that helps to bridge the distance between your ear and your shoulder. To allow more comfort, encourage proper alignment of your spine and prevent rolling on your stomach, you may want to add a pillow between your knees.

Our ContourSide Pillow is specifically created for side sleepers. It combines the shape-conforming benefits of a memory foam contour pillow with a unique airflow system to improve your breathing. It helps with proper spinal alignment, neck comfort and head support.

Best Pillows for Back Sleepers

As a back sleeper, you may benefit from a pillow with an extra loft that helps to cradle your neck. Choose a memory foam pillow that provides consistent support and alleviates pressure by molding to your body.

Our TEMPUR-Neck Pillow is our best pillow for back sleepers and for maximum pressure relief. It supports your neck, allows your shoulders to relax and prevents snoring and sinus issues that may disrupt your sleep. It has a firm feel and is available in multiple sizes.

The TEMPUR-Neck Pillow works not only for back sleepers but side sleepers as well. We recommend this pillow for those who may sleep on their back one night but on their side another.

Best Pillows for Stomach Sleepers

Due to the twisting of your neck and the pressure on your lower back, we do not recommend stomach sleeping. If you must sleep on your stomach, try an extremely thin pillow or no pillow at all. It is better to teach yourself to sleep on your side.

Try our ContourSide Pillow—specifically created for side sleepers. Put another pillow between your legs and hug a third one with your hands. Or try our Dreamweaver Body Pillow—a versatile option for shoppers looking for the best pillow for stomach sleepers.

With the right pillow, practice and patience, you can learn to become a side sleeper.

Best Cooling Pillows for Hot Sleepers

If you are someone whose body temperature naturally increases during sleep, try our Technogel ContourGel Pillow. We have one for back sleepers and one for side sleepers. A cooling pillow, complete with top-to-bottom air tunnels, the Technogel ContourGel Pillow helps you stay cool and get a comfortable, sound sleep. The best cooling pillows offer ergonomic support for your neck and spine and lush pressure relief while allowing natural movement.

Best Pillows for CPAP Users

If you are a CPAP user, you have nothing to worry about. This CPAP pillow is specifically designed for those who sleep with OSA during CPAP therapy. The best pillows for CPAP users support your neck and spine, provide breathability and have a cooling effect to encourage a comfortable sleep in your preferred position.

Best Support Pillow Options

Sometimes you just need a little extra support. In addition to your head, extra pillows can help support other parts of your body such as:

  • Back
  • Neck
  • Hips
  • Knees

If you are looking for the best support pillows to use between your knees, hug while side sleeping or need a soft, supportive cushion, our Tempur-Cloud Soft & Lofty Pillow may just be your best friend.

For something more versatile, our peanut-shaped TEMPUR All-Purpose Pillow has multiple uses. It can turn into a leg spacer, lumbar cushion or a neck roll. It offers comfort and pressure relief and is the perfect size for travel. Speaking of travel, this Tempur-Pedic U-Shaped travel pillow offers comfortable support while traveling or even commuting.

If you are not looking for sleep but want to take a small rest or need extra support while sitting, this Neck Sofa is your best option. It can help with stiffness, tension, muscle pain and fatigue by stabilizing your neck, offering comfort and providing support.

Pillow Shopping Tips

Your sleeping position is one of your best guidelines when beginning to look for a new pillow. However, there are other personal considerations not to be overlooked.

To recap, here are the top tips to keep in mind when browsing online or in-store for the perfect pillow:

  • Make sure to get the right head and neck support
  • Know your sleeping position and select your pillow accordingly
  • Consider a hypo-allergenic pillow, especially if you have asthma, allergies or sensitivities
  • Consider your body size and choose an appropriate pillow—if you have a larger frame, you likely need a firmer and possibly larger pillow than smaller people
  • Try a memory foam pillow that conforms to your body, eliminates pressure points, allows proper spine alignment and can benefit sleep apnea
  • Replace your pillow every 18 months or less to make sure it still offers the proper support you need
  • Consider size adjustable pillows, especially if you are unsure what height you may need or you change sleeping positions often
  • Buy a good quality pillow that offers good support and is durable
  • If you are unsure, talk to your chiropractor or physical therapist and contact our customer service for advice

Achieve a Fully Integrated Sleep With the Perfect Pillow, Mattress and Frame

Remember, the perfect pillow is not enough—your mattress and bed frame matter just as much.

If your mattress is too firm, it can be hard on your main pressure points. If it’s too soft, your mattress won’t support your pressure points fully. Neither scenario keeps your body in alignment and can lead to restless sleep and achy mornings. Finding the right mattress for your needs can change your sleep and better your health.

Your bed frame supports your mattress, providing support for your body while sleeping and resting. It helps keep everything steady and secure. You don’t want a squeaky or unstable bed frame. Instead, you want to invest in a quality and supportive one.

Keeping your sleep style, body size, personal health and other preferences in mind can help you select the right mattress, frame and pillow to allow for good sleep. A fully integrated sleep system prevents, improves or eliminates pain and betters your overall health.

Knowing all this information, you are ready to find ‘the one’—the perfect pillow that can change your sleep for the better. Which one will you select? Shop Relax The Back’s selection of high-quality, specialty pillows today.

From now until July 31, 2018, visit a store to take advantage of our Perfect Fit Pillow Event and take 25% off a pillow that fits you. Stop by your local Relax The Back today!

Sources:

  1. https://healthfinder.gov/HealthTopics/Category/everyday-healthy-living/mental-health-and-relationship/get-enough-sleep#the-basics_2
  2. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/getting/overcoming/tips
  3. https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/sleep/pillow-support-and-comfort
  4. https://clearwaterchiropractic.net/pillows-role-during-sleep/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3180478/
  6. https://clearwaterchiropractic.net/pillows-role-during-sleep/
  7. https://www.backtobasicschiropractic.com.au/pillows/how-to-choose-a-pillow/
  8. https://www.islandslumber.com/blogs/news/top-5-health-benefits-provided-by-sleeping-on-memory-foam-pillows
  9. https://sleep.org/articles/what-pillow-is-best-for-you/  
  10. https://www.webmd.com/sleep-disorders/features/how-to-pick-your-perfect-mattress#1

5 Zones of Total Body Wellness

5 Zones of Total Body Wellness

Your whole body is one system that works together to maintain your health. When a single part, or zone, of that system starts to break down due to pain or disease, it can throw your whole body, including your physical, mental and emotional health, out of whack.

Each zone of your body is connected. When one zone of your body is unwell, another zone has to change how it works to try to compensate. The healthy zone can quickly become overworked and must rely on yet another zone to pick up the slack. Over time, a small problem like pain in your feet can end up causing problems in your entire body.

Knowing Your 5 Wellness Zones

Because each zone of your body is connected, you need to care for your whole body from your toes to your nose to maintain total body wellness.

Pay attention to these 5 zones of your body to maintain your wellbeing and feel great.

1. Feet

Foot pain is a common problem for Americans with nearly 8 out of 10 people experiencing this health problem at some point in their lives.

Your feet are the base of your body. They provide the foundation for your entire posture, from your knees all the way up to your shoulders and neck. When your feet are in pain, they can end up causing issues in many others areas of your body.

For example, if you avoid pressure on your feet because they are in pain, you may hold your legs in awkward positions as you stand or walk. These positions can strain your knees and hips as they are pulled out of their natural alignment.

Foot pain can also limit your activity, preventing you from exercising or participating in hobbies you love. Your entire wellbeing is connected—a little foot pain can go a long way in hurting your wellness and quality of life.

You can avoid foot pain by ensuring you have chosen the right shoes to support your feet, especially your arches. You can also do exercises to stretch out and strengthen your feet, such as pointing your toes or doing heel raises. Many people find foot pain relief by rolling a ball under their foot to stretch out the fascia (connective tissue) on the bottom of the foot.

You can also seek out a variety of foot care products to relieve foot pain:

By taking care of your feet, you can keep up with the activities you love and lead an overall healthier life.

2. Hips and Knees

Hips and knees are common spots for serious ailments like arthritis, fractures, pinched nerves or even muscle tears. These problems can have huge impacts on your mobility. Without healthy knees and hips, you may find yourself sitting around more often instead of up and doing the things you love. Becoming more stationary could lead to further issues like back pain from sitting too long or in the wrong position.

Regular, moderate exercise is vital for maintaining healthy hips and knees. Hip pain exercise can be as simple as going for a walk. Resistance exercise can also strengthen the muscles around your hips and knees, making injury less likely. By doing knee strengthening exercises like squats and lunges, with or without weights, you can help your legs become stable and strong. You may experience less pain and fatigue in your leg joints as a result of exercise.

In addition to exercise, maintaining a healthy weight helps protect your knees, which bear all of your weight in a small space. A lower weight puts less pressure and strain on your knee joints over time.

You can also seek out products designed to relieve hip and knee pain or strengthen these joints:

The combination of regular, moderate exercise and using these products should provide pain relief and even prevent problems in the future.

3. Shoulders

Your shoulders are strong, flexible joints, making shoulder pain and problems rarer than problems in the other zones. However, if you have a job or play a sport that requires repetitive shoulder motions, you are at higher risk of a shoulder injury. Common shoulder injuries include bursitis, tendinitis, shoulder instability or even tendon tears.

Shoulder injuries can make your shoulder stiff, painful and weak, preventing you from raising your arms above a certain level. To reach up high, you may have to overextend your back, putting extra pressure on the muscles and tendons in your lower back. Over time, both connected zones—your shoulders and your back—could end up injured.

Overuse causes many shoulder injuries, so give your shoulders a break when you can. You should also frequently stretch out your shoulders by lifting your bent arms overhead and pulling gently on your elbows one at a time. You can also stretch by bringing your arms behind your back, gripping your hands together, and then bending over while bringing your arms upward. Hold each stretch for 10 to 15 seconds. Performing these shoulder exercises to stretch muscles and improve posture will help prevent injury and stiffness.

You can relieve inflammation and pain in your shoulders by using products designed to improve joint health:

Combined with rest, stretching and pain relievers, these products can help you regain motion in your shoulders.

4. Back

Chronic lower back pain affects millions of Americans every year, even keeping them out of work.

Your back is connected to every part of your body, involved in every movement you make whether it’s walking or simply rolling over in bed. Back pain can even radiate down into the hips and thighs or up into your head and neck. When you experience back problems like muscle strain, herniated discs, arthritis or osteoporosis, your total body wellness suffers.

A strong core, including stronger back and abdominal muscles, is key to avoiding back injuries. You can strengthen your core through planks, crunches and other ab exercises. Back exercises that target affected muscles groups can also help you improve your posture. Practicing good posture is an easy way to strengthen your core every day, a little at a time. When you do experience back pain, stretching out your back using a foam roller or exercises can help relieve pain

Because back pain is so common, there are many products on the market that can help you find relief. You can improve your back health by using these items:

Remember that strengthening your back and practicing good posture will also help you avoid future injuries.

5. Neck

Neck pain has become more common as more Americans work desk jobs that require them to look at a computer or smartphone each day. Holding the neck in the same position or out of alignment with the rest of the spine can contribute to neck problems. Other causes of neck problems include injury, arthritis or degenerative disk disease.

Like back pain, neck pain can radiate up into your head. Many headaches are actually caused by problems that start in the upper back or neck.

Neck pain exercises strengthen neck muscles and help prevent chronic discomfort and resulting conditions. The combination of neck pain exercises and practicing good posture is key to avoiding neck pain long-term. You can promote good posture at work or home by raising your computer to eye level so you don’t have to bend your neck to see your screen. You should also take breaks from having your neck bent and practice neck pain stretches like rolling your shoulders, bringing your ear to your shoulder or putting your chin on your chest then slowly looking upward.

If neck pain is a frequent problem for you, invest in products designed to support neck health:

These products and simple changes to your workspace can make all the difference in healing neck pain.

Achieve and Maintain Total Body Wellness

Every zone of your body needs care and attention. By understanding the zones of your body and how they are connected, you can pinpoint the real causes of pain and discomfort and find the wellness solutions you need.

When you manage to care for each zone, you’ll experience total body wellness that boosts your quality of life and supports your long-term health.

Sources:

  1. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/shoulder-pain-and-common-shoulder-problems
  2. https://health.clevelandclinic.org/do-you-have-a-stiff-neck-try-these-simple-remedies/

A Guide to Total Body Wellness

A Guide To Body Wellness

It’s important to look at your health from a holistic standpoint. Wellness is like a Jenga—everything is connected and interrelated. If one piece is comprised, the entire system becomes wiggly and under risk of falling apart. This is not something you want for yourself.

Take care of yourself from head to toe considering all dimensions of your health—physical, mental and emotional layers. Practice a total body wellness approach to prevent disease, improve ailments and experience overall health and wellness.

What Is Total Body Wellness?

Total body wellness is a holistic approach to integrative health and health management. It’s a lifestyle method that takes into consideration all aspects of your wellbeing. If you pay attention to your body’s needs and integrate all facets of your health, including your physical, mental and emotional wellness, you can achieve higher levels of vitality and overall health.

Total body wellness is essential to prevent disease, reduce the risk of chronic and acute injuries, successfully treat existing conditions and become a more productive and happier person.

Benefits of a Total Body Wellness Approach

Approaching your wellbeing from a total body wellness standpoint helps you identify less obvious underlying causes of disease. It can take care of emotional causes of physical disease or physical problems leading to mental or emotional distress. It can identify and correct imbalances within your body and in your life overall.

Instead of simply trying to fix problems, a total body wellness approach aims to create true health and prevent future health concerns. Unlike less integrative approaches to health, total body wellness is not a band-aid. It’s a multidimensional strategy that provides whole healing helping you to lead a happy, healthy, productive and fulfilling life.

The benefits of a total body wellness approach include:

  • Preventing disease
  • Avoiding acute and chronic injuries
  • Increasing longevity
  • Boosting emotional and physical wellness
  • Achieving balance within the body and mind
  • Creating long-lasting lifestyle changes

10 Steps to Total Body Wellness

To integrate a total body wellness practice into your life, you need the right tools. Total body wellness tools target different aspects of your emotional, physical and mental health, helping you to instill well-rounded health practices that optimize your body from head to toe.

Try these 10 steps to total body wellness for deeper integration into your daily life:

Breathe

Your breath is your most powerful tool to health, yet it’s free and easy to use. Breathing techniques, such as alternate nostril breathing, abdominal breathing and 4-7-8 breath can reduce stress and anxiety, improve your cardiovascular system and achieve relaxation that promotes wellbeing.

Eat Healthy

Don’t worry. Eating healthy is not about rabbit food and doesn’t have to be complicated either. As Michael Pollan said, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” Reduce or eliminate processed foods, refined sugar and artificial ingredients. Focus on real whole foods, preferably organic. Greens, vegetables, fruits, beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, and whole grains are your friends. Pay attention to your body. Eat what makes you feel good, healthy and energetic.

Stay Hydrated

Most of your body consists of water. You don’t want to get dehydrated. Make sure to drink plenty of water, 8-10 glasses (8 oz) each day. More if you are very active or its really hot outside. While green tea, green juices and kombucha are healthy, they should not replace water. Eliminate sodas and sugary drinks. Reduce or eliminate coffee and alcohol

Exercise

Exercise is absolutely important to your health, which should be your primary goal. While inactivity can lead to health issues, over-exercising can also cause health problems, injury and exercise-addiction. Find the balance that’s right for you. Exercise shouldn’t be a chore either. Neither should it hurt you. It should be challenging, but not painful. Find the right exercise forms for you that challenge your body and you enjoy. Mixing up your routine with various forms of cardiovascular and strength training activities is your best bet. As always, listen to your body.

Sleep

In our busy world, it is easy to skip sleep. Don’t do that. Plenty of regular sleep is essential to maintain your physical, mental and emotional health. Aim for 8 hours of sleep a night if you can and try not to go under 7 hours too often. Finding the right mattress and pillow can help you sleep deep and wake up rested each morning.

Pay Attention to Your Posture

Good posture can help you appear more confident helping your social life and uplift your mood as a result. However, good posture is even more important for your physical health. It increases muscle strength, correct imbalances, increase the range of motion and support organ structural and organ health.

Good posture can help with various pains, including headaches, neck pain and muscle aches. Good posture involves a chin parallel to the floor, a neutral spine, even shoulders, hips, knees, braced abdominal muscles and evenly distributed body weight. Ergonomic office furniture, the right office chair, standing desks, seat cushions, lumbar cushions can support a good posture even while you are working or driving.

Stretch

Regular stretching can benefit your posture, balance your body, improve your range of motion, reduce your risk of injury and improve your performance. It can help you after a long day sitting at your desk at work. When stretching, focus on your entire body: your neck, shoulders, arms, wrists, hands, fingers,  back, hips, knees, legs, ankles, feet and toes. Use active and static stretches.

To help you stretch safely and properly, try the following stretch and therapy support products:

Take Care of Your Oral Health

Oral health is extremely important for your overall health. Your digestion starts there. An unhealthy mouth can also be breathing ground for bacteria and other unwanted bad bugs causing body imbalance. Avoid sugary foods and drinks, acidic food, and too much citrus. Use a straw to less direct contact between the liquid and your teeth, especially if you have sensitive teeth. Floss and brush your teeth regularly. Visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleaning.

Socialize

Humans are social beings. Even introverted individuals need time to have regular social interaction to help their mental and emotional wellbeing. Meeting like-minded individuals and having a good time can increase your energy. Laughter and hugs can lift your mood and reduce stress. Join a local community group, take a class, invite your friends over, go for a walk with family, do volunteer work and reach out to lost friends to experience regular, meaningful human connections.

Take Time for Yourself

Balancing responsibilities, work and family is difficult and you may end up sacrificing yourself to take care of everyone and everything else. But having ‘me-time’ is absolutely crucial for achieving total body wellness. It can recharge your batteries, increase your happiness and help you to be there for others more effectively.

Schedule time for yourself. Leave your worries behind. Get offline for a moment. Take a walk in nature. Relax in your recliner. Read your favorite book. Color. Do some arts and crafts. Complete a crossword puzzle. Take a relaxing bath. Practice some self-massage techniques.

Take Control of Your Total Body Wellness

Remember, slow and steady wins the race. Creating small shifts consistently are better than massive changes at once. Small, doable steps create changes that stick and can lead to powerful changes in the long-term.

Start thinking holistically. Be proactive. Feel empowered to create a difference in your health. Take control of your total body wellness today, tomorrow and for the rest of your life.

What changes will you make this week to create total body wellness in your life? Share your goals, steps and experiences with us. We are here to support your goals. Make sure to check out our shop to find ways to support your posture, strength, flexibility and overall health.

References:

  1. https://blog.relaxtheback.com/3754/can-help-achieve-total-body-wellness/
  2. https://blog.relaxtheback.com/2996/the-mckenzie-method-for-back-and-neck-pain/
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  13. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931
  14. https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/gum-disease-health
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Top Sleep Myths Keeping You From Rest

Top Sleep Myths Keeping You From Rest

Chronic back pain affects millions of Americans every year. While many people consider weight loss and exercise as possible solutions, they may be overlooking a simple, relaxing way to help ease back pain: better sleep.

Getting better sleep doesn’t have to be complicated, but you need to ensure you have the right information and habits for better rest. With all the information on health and sleep online, it can be hard to figure out what’s true and know what sleep habits are best for you and your life. You’ll need to avoid common sleep myths if you want to overcome sleepless nights, enjoy better health and find relief from back pain.

5 Myths About Sleep and Your Health

To get a good quality sleep, it’s important to understand the real sleep facts and avoid falling for these sleep myths.

1. Snoring Is Normal

Snoring may be common, especially among men, but that doesn’t mean it’s normal or healthy. Snoring can disrupt your sleep and be a sign of bigger problems like sleep apnea. People with sleep apnea have periods of time during sleep when they don’t breathe. They may wake up frequently, sometimes gasping for air. The condition can be life-threatening and increase your risk for heart disease and other serious health conditions.

If you snore, you should speak to your physician about the possible causes to both improve your sleep and protect your health.

2. You Can Get Good Sleep in Any Position

Not every sleeping position is the right one for your body. While most people sleep on their side in a fetal position, others prefer to lie on their backs or stomachs. Each position can have its benefits and drawbacks for your back and your sleep quality.

For instance, if you have arthritis, sleeping on your side or on your back in a recliner can relieve pressure on your joints. But if you have degenerative disc disease, you may want to lie on your stomach to relieve strain on the discs (tissue between your spine bones).

Each of these positions has negatives, too. Sleeping on your stomach may cause hip pain if you bend your legs. Sleeping on your back may cause you to snore more. Both can affect your sleep quality in negative ways.

You will need to try sleeping in different positions to find the right one for you. You can also try placing pillows in different places to improve comfort. For instance, you can place a pillow between your knees when you sleep on your side to better align your spine and relieve knee pain. Each night, try out a new position and then reflect on your sleep when you wake up. Did you feel any pain during the night? Did you wake up multiple times? Do you feel refreshed in the morning? The right position will relieve pain and help you rest.

3. Alcohol Helps You Sleep

Though alcohol may help you fall asleep, it won’t help you get the deep, restful sleep you need. Alcohol can prevent your body from producing melatonin, a hormone that’s important for quality sleep. As part of your sleep and wakefulness rhythm, melatonin helps you fall asleep, stay asleep and wake up appropriately.

By disrupting melatonin, alcohol may cause you to wake up more often, keep you from dreaming and leave you feeling more tired than ever in the morning.

4. You Need a Stiff Mattress to Sleep Well

One of the most important sleep facts to understand is that choosing the right mattress is essential to high-quality rest. The right mattress for good sleep and for a pain-free spine is not too firm and not too soft. Each person may need a different amount of firmness or softness for restorative rest. The mattress should support your body so that your spine can stay aligned all night long. The wrong mattress can lead to back pain that interrupts your day and affects your quality of life.

Remember, you should replace your mattress every 7 years to ensure the springs don’t get saggy. An uncomfortable mattress can lead to back pain and poor sleep.

5. Sleep Doesn’t Really Affect Your Health

It’s not just diet and exercise that affect your health—sleep has a big impact, too. Good sleep can boost your mood and even help heal aches and pains, like back and neck pain. Restorative sleep allows your body to heal cells and relieve pain.

On the other hand, too little sleep can have negative consequences. People who don’t get enough sleep have a higher risk for:

  • Obesity
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Diabetes
  • High blood pressure

Long-term sleep deprivation can have long-term impacts on your health. By developing good sleep habits, you can protect your health and feel rested every night.

How to Sleep Better

Now that you know more the truth about sleep, you can develop the right habits for how to sleep better every night. Though a lot of apps and other technology promise to help you sleep, a few simple tips is all you need for better rest.

1. Create a Great Sleep Environment

Your body needs the right environment for good rest. To sleep better, your bedroom should be cool, dark and quiet. While you can use white noise, the volume should be kept low. Any nightlights should be dim. Invest in blackout curtains if light from outdoors sneaks in.

Your bedroom should also be free of all electronic devices that emit light. No tablets, phones, computers or TVs. These devices can keep your brain too active for rest.

2. Get Enough Sleep for You

All adults—even seniors—need 7-9 hours of sleep. Be sure to set a bedtime and wake time that allow you to get enough sleep. Stick to those times so your body knows when to expect sleep. Keeping a consistent clock is one of the key ways to sleep better.

3. Make Time—and a Routine—to Fall Asleep

Going through the same actions every night signals to your brain that it’s time for sleep. Your routine might include:

  • A shower or bath
  • Putting on pajamas
  • Brushing your teeth
  • Washing your face
  • Reading for 30 minutes

If you have back pain, you may even include some light stretching before sleep to loosen up and relax your back muscles. However, moderate exercise can make it hard to fall asleep, so be sure to stick with light yoga stretches and nothing more.

Your routine should not include:

  • checking your phone,
  • watching TV,
  • exercising,
  • eating or drinking anything with caffeine or alcohol.

These things can affect your brain’s ability to wind down.

4. Invest in Quality Bedding, Mattresses and Frames

Bedding should feel comfortable and help you stay at the right temperature all night. In the winter, you may need a duvet with goose down to keep you warm. In the summer, you need 100% cotton or linen sheets and blankets that are breathable and stay cool.

The right mattress also provides the right support to prevent uncomfortable positions and back pain. While a mattress needs to be at least a little firm to provide support, if it becomes too firm it can hurt points on your body that carry the most weight while you sleep. If you sleep on your side, for instance, a stiff mattress may end up hurting the hip you lay on the most.

A too-soft mattress, on the other hand, will sink under your weight, pushing your spine out of alignment. You want your spine from your neck all the way down to your hips to lie in a nice flat line. The right mattress supports you so your spine remains in a comfortable, neutral position.

Many mattresses currently on the market can help you find this balance. Tempur-Pedic mattresses, for instance, contour around your body’s shape, helping you lie naturally. Adjustable bed bases and mattresses can have both the head and feet moved to fit your spine’s natural curves. Whenever you shop for mattresses, you should try out many types of beds to find the right one for you and your back.

Pillows also play an important role in keeping your neck and back in a proper position all night long. A pillow that is too high puts your head at an extreme angle, which might leave your neck aching in the morning. A pillow that is too flat doesn’t help your head and neck stay aligned with your back. Tempur-Pedic also makes pillows that conform to your head shape the same way the mattresses conform to your body, providing comfort in every position.

Restorative Sleep Leads to a Healthier You

Great sleep and a pain-free back go hand-in-hand. Sleeping in a comfortable position not only relieves stress on your back, but improves your quality of sleep. When you get high quality, restorative sleep, your body can work to heal your painful back.

But great quality sleep does more than just support a heatlhy back—it supports mental health, cardiovascular health, joint health and much more. You owe it to both your body and mind to develop great sleep habits that help you rest easy every night.

Sources:

  1. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/index.html
  2. https://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/myths-and-facts-about-sleep
  3. https://www.rd.com/health/wellness/sleep-facts-myths/
  4. https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/sleep/mattress-guidelines-sleep-comfort
  5. https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/sleep/restorative-sleep-brings-back-pain-relief

Neutral Posture: Taking Pressure Off Your Spine

Neutral Posture: Taking Pressure Off Your Spine

As NASA researchers have learned from astronauts, spending more time in neutral spine position can decrease chronic back and neck aches, muscle pain, stiffness and numbness as well as increase your work productivity. Here at Relax The Back, we believe in bringing you products that allow you to achieve a 24-hour neutral spine position, so you may reap its many health and productivity benefits. But first, you’ll want to know what neutral posture is and why you need it.      

Static Posture vs. Neutral Posture

In our sedentary society, our spines are under constant pressure. We spend most of our daily activities, including sleeping, in a static posture. As a poor posture condition, static posture can create spinal compression, tension and pain throughout our bodies.

In fact, 80% of us experience chronic back and neck pain resulting from working, relaxing and sleeping for many hours in a static posture. 

We sit up to 8 hours slouched at our computers or hunched over paperwork at our desk jobs. We spend another 2 or more hours lying on the couch watching television, or stuck in one cramped position while driving or commuting. Our spines fall out of alignment and, instead of our bones supporting our body weight, our muscles are forced to. This puts strain and tension on our muscles and can result in pain and cramps.             

Additionally, many of the physical activities we do throughout the day, like lifting and carrying heavy objects incorrectly, can strain and create pressure on our spines. And when we sleep, our mattresses sag and our pillows flatten. Consequently, our necks and spines are not properly supported for at least 6 to 8 hours each night. Unaligned spines during sleep can cause the vertebral discs to compress on, leading to pinching and irritating the nerves surrounding them.     

As a result, you can wake up with a stiff or painful neck and lower back, overall muscle tension and even numbness or tingling in your hands and feet.

Benefits of a Neutral Posture

Researchers found that astronauts in space had virtually none of these physical complaints. It was discovered that their bodies naturally assumed a proper spine alignment as they free floated throughout their space capsule’s environment.

Researchers discovered that a neutral posture is our body’s naturally preferred position. It’s a stress-free state in which our body naturally curves our spine.

A neutral posture is similar to the relaxed position we assume floating in water while swimming. A neutral posture puts zero pressure on your spine. It opens all the spaces between your vertebral discs creating an equal space between them.   

How to Find Neutral Spine Position

When you’re going through your daily activities, spending as much time in proper spine alignment will help improve your health by boosting circulation and reducing stress and tension. When you feel your best at work, you’ll also boost your productivity.

Here are some things you can do to help you achieve neutral posture at least two-thirds of your day.  

Working  

A neutral posture is one in which you maintain a 128-degree angle between your torso and thigh and a 133-degree angle between your hamstrings and calves.

You can achieve this while sitting by doing the following:   

  • Feet on the floor (or a footrest), don’t cross your legs
  • Hips slightly higher than your knees with a small gap between your knees and seat
  • Lower back is supported
  • Head, neck, shoulders, elbows, hips in alignment
  • Shoulders relaxed
  • Elbows bent at a 100-degree, or more, angle
  • Wrists straight
  • Fingers slightly curled and relaxed
  • Get up to stretch, take a brief walk around every 30 to 60 minutes

Standing

Standing with poor posture often causes the most pressure on your spine. You can avoid this by doing the following:    

  • Let the balls of your feet bear the most of your weight
  • Keep your knees slightly bent
  • Keep your feet shoulder-width apart  
  • Allow your arms to hang naturally at your side
  • Keep your shoulders pulled backward, head level
  • Shift your weight from toes to heels in long periods of standing

Sleeping

As mentioned, sleeping on sagging mattresses or pillows can create spinal pressure and result in morning stiffness and pain. Maintaining a good sleep environment with the proper mattress and pillow can help you prevent spinal pressure by helping you achieve proper spine alignment.

The following sleep tips can help you stay in neutral position throughout your sleep time:    

  • Don’t sleep on your stomach. Doing so encourages spinal pressure from lack of support.  It also keeps your neck in a twisted position for several hours.   
  • Use specifically designed bed wedges atop your mattress at the head to elevate your head and one at the foot of your bed to elevate your knees.      
  • If you like to sleep on your side, use a knee spacer pillow to alleviate pressure on your lower back and relax leg muscles. Knee spacers also take pressure of knee joints to prevent morning stiffness.   
  • Adjustable bed bases allow you to mechanically elevate the head or foot of your bed to keep your spine in neutral position as well as improve circulation.  
  • Whole-body pillows help to take pressure off your lower back and support an overweight frame. Especially good for pregnant women or men with larger, pendulous abdomens.
  • Lumbar pads help pad the bones, muscles, tissues surrounding the hips and lower back to prevent pressure and pain while sleeping.  
  • Travel pillows support your neck correctly if you sleep while on a plane, train or bus.  
  • Memory foam mattresses adjust to your specific body weight and shape and support you throughout the night.  
  • Memory foam pillows keep your head and neck supported correctly throughout the night to prevent neck strain and pain.  

Relaxation

Spending time watching television or reading in a chair can keep you in neutral position when using the right recliner. A zero-gravity reclining chair removes tension from your spine. It elevates your feet to the same level as your heart, relieving strain on your spinal vertebrae from the pull of gravity.

Exercise

Posture-strengthening exercises will help offset static posture activities you do during the day. Strengthening exercises include core-stabilization to strengthen your torso, pelvis and back muscles.

Try the following strength-building exercises:

  1.  Bridges. Lie with your back flat on the floor, knees bent. Lift your pelvis off the floor 20 reps.  
  1.  Planks. Lie prone on the floor, supported by your elbows, hands down, resting on your tiptoes. Hold this position to the count of 20. Extend the count by 10 until you reach 60.  
  1.  Back extensions. Lie prone on floor, resting your head on your hands. At the same time, lift your feet/legs and head creating an arch in your lower back. Lower, then repeat 20 reps.    
  1.  Side lying leg raises. Lie on your side, point your toes, slowly raise your leg as high as you can. 20 reps, then switch sides.   
  1.  Hip flexor stretch. Sit on the floor in a “butterfly” position, legs spread, knees out to side, soles of feet touching in the center. Bounce your hips to the floor and back for several reps, stop, then repeat.   
  1.  Standing thigh stretch. Stand with your feet 2-3 shoulder widths apart, your left foot pointed slightly out. Stretch your left foot out, bend knee, your torso bending back onto your right hip.  Hold for 30 seconds. Switch sides, repeat on your right side.

Other general exercises that help strengthen the core and spine include:  

  • Simple walking. But, be sure to walk with good posture by keeping your shoulders straight, head up and your stomach held toward you.
  • Low impact aerobic exercise. Helps elevate your heart rate, improve circulation without putting pressure on the spine. It also relieves stress, muscle tension and stiffness.  Low impact exercise includes dancing, walking on a treadmill, using an elliptical, or stair-stepping machine, swimming or bicycling.

Correct movement. Just moving properly throughout your day can help you prevent the strain of poor posture on your spine. Many of us sit, stand, bend forward, stoop and squat throughout the day. It’s important to move smoothly and fluidly as you change positions. Avoid sudden jerking, twisting motions of your spine and too-deep squats that put pressure on the lower back, hamstrings and calves.

Weight Maintenance

Maintaining a healthy weight helps your spine, back and neck more than you may realize. A heavy, pendulous abdomen, a heavy rear, or large, pendulous breasts, can pull your spine out of balance, putting strain and tension on neck and back muscles which causes pain.

Too much overall body weight makes it difficult for your body to move fluidly and smoothly, causing you to put strain on lower back, legs and feet.     

Maintaining a Neutral Spine for Better Health

Staying in neutral posture most of the day allows your spine to move freely without pressure on vertebral discs. Nerves can then exit between them without becoming pinched or irritated.  They’re then free to send the proper signals to all the organs of your body, muscles, ligaments and tendons in the correct manner. As a result, you stay healthier and reduce the risk of chronic injury or illness.

Neutral spine position allows your body to perform in the tension-free, fluid movement that nature intended. And, you can go through your day without pain and stiffness, feeling great, enjoying your activities and increasing your productivity.

Sources:  

  1.  http://www.neutralposture.com/_site/neutralBody.php
  2.  https://www.health.harvard.edu/pain/4-ways-to-turn-good-posture-into-less-back-pain
  3.  https://ehs.ucsf.edu/maintain-neutral-posture
  4.  https://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/Backpain/Pages/back-pain-and-common-posture-mistakes.aspx
  5.  https://www.relaxtheback.com.html
  6.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rv2woojl-KM
  7.  https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/ergonomics/good-posture-helps-reduce-back-pain
  8.  https://acatoday.org/content/posture-power-how-to-correct-your-body-alignment
  9.  https://www.bodybuilding.com/exercises
  10.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7h_WtBWu2vY

How We Can Help You Achieve Total Body Wellness

From everyday wellness to targeted pain relief, at Relax The Back you’ll find solutions specifically designed to improve your life from head to toe. Built on the McKenzie Method of back and neck self-care, our mission is focused on helping you improve your overall health and wellness through products that support not only your back and neck but also knees, hips, feet, and proper sleep hygiene. We truly believe with the right products and information, customers can take control of their health by creating spaces that provide support, comfort, and relief all day long, for every part of the body.

For 33 years, our core values have stayed the same; provide every customer with individualized attention to help them find solutions based on their specific needs. No two bodies are the same. We understand what may work for one person is not the right product for another.

When you visit a Relax The Back location, our consultants will speak with you one-on-one to determine the best products that will help your individual pain-relief needs—whatever, and wherever, they might be. Whether you are in need of a workspace assessment, want to relieve the pressure in your hips and knees, or would simply like to find new ways to relax at home, you will have the opportunity to try our products first-hand. Feel the difference of a foot massager in improving circulation and preventing foot and ankle injuries. Experience immediate comfort and relaxation in one of our many massage chairs, or feel what it is like when your hips and spine become properly aligned while using a portable posture cushion as you sleep.

We pride ourselves in being more than a retail store. We become partners with our customers to help them improve their lives. Our franchise owners and trained staff know the investments our customers make when purchasing quality products. From following up with a customer after a purchase to see how they are doing to working with manufacturers to repair items, they strive to find the best solutions for you. We are committed to helping you feel your best and living pain free, from head to toe.

To learn more about how you can achieve your health and wellness goals, visit your local Relax The Back store to speak with our trained specialists to learn about products and solutions that will help you live your best life. We can help you feel happier, healthier, and more productive where you live, work, and sleep. We’ve helped over a million people. Let us help you.

Routine Refresh: 5 Tips To Spice Up Your Workout For Spring

With the start of Spring, it is a great time to reboot your current routine. Warmer, longer days are on the horizon, winter clothes are being put away for the season, and many people are looking forward to more spending more time outdoors. Whether you’re looking for ways to jumpstart your workout routine or want to switch up your current program, these tips will help you set a new mindset for Spring.

Change Your Daily Routine

Switch up the things you do on a regular basis. Opt for a bike or a long walk instead of driving if you live near work or school. Use the stairs instead of the elevator. Set a timer to get up and walk around for a few minutes each hour to keep blood circulating. Add a short strength and balance-building workout to your morning routine using our wide selection of fitness and therapy products. Simple tweaks like these are the easiest ways to add to your regular activity levels.

Add Full Range Of Motion

Full range of motion exercises are especially important for those who lead a more sedentary lifestyle and sit at a desk for most of the day. By moving as far as anatomically possibly during a given exercise, you are getting the most out of each move. For example, when doing a bicep curl, start and end each rep with your arms straight. These movements will help keep muscles and joints flexible and stable.

Utilize Active Rest Days

It is important to let your body rest and recover however, all rest was not created equal. Having passive rest days, think movies and lounging around on the couch, is not the most beneficial way to use your days off. Instead, incorporating active rest days into your weekly routine will keep you on track and allow for better recovery of your muscles. Active rest can include a low-intensity activity such as stretching, walking, or even exercising at home. Items like our Inversion Tables allow you to increase flexibility and circulation in just a few minutes each day from the comfort of your living room.

Join A Program

Motivation and knowledge are two huge factors when it comes to sticking with a regular workout schedule. While some people need help finding and keeping their motivation, others may struggle with the knowledge of what exercises they should be doing. There are numerous resources on the internet these days to help keep you on track. Join a program that focuses on a healthy lifestyle rather than a crash diet. Often times, you will find communities within these programs that can offer motivation and support. Group classes at your gym, fitness studios, online guides like The Daily Burn, and YouTube offer fitness and health programs for all levels.

Find A Partner

There is a reason so many fitness communities and instructors advocate for the buddy system. Accountability is a powerful force when it comes to sticking to your goals and finding motivation or support when you need it. Friendly competition to reach your daily, weekly, or monthly goals can also add an extra boost to your regular routine.  Whether your partner goes to the gym with you or you check-in with each other every day, having someone invested in your health routine, asking if you’ve hit your goal for the day, will keep you on track.

To learn more about how to jumpstart your workout routine this spring, visit your local Relax The Back store to speak with a trained specialist who will help you find the right exercise and fitness products specifically catered to your needs.

#YourDayBeginsWithSleep: The Connection Between Sleep And Effectiveness

Think about your average week. After you have had a chance to wind down from your work day, had dinner, and settled into bed, how many hours of sleep do you normally get before your alarm goes off the next morning? Five to six? Seven to nine? Do you feel productive when it comes to crossing items off your to-do list the next day? Our levels of effectiveness are linked to our quality of sleep. Getting enough sleep is paramount to optimizing our productivity and improving our overall health and happiness.

This year, the National Sleep Foundation has dedicated their annual Sleep Awareness Week to highlight the importance of quality sleep and its connection to effectiveness. In this year’s Sleep In America Poll, nearly 65% of Americans believe sleep contributes to next day effectiveness, yet only 10% of people actually prioritize it.

Unfortunately, sleep is usually very low on our list of priorities. For instance, only 1 in 10 people considered sleep their top priority compared to other personal activities such as work, fitness and nutrition, social life, and hobbies. We often believe by increasing our waking hours that we are being more productive when in fact we would be perform more efficiently if we were getting adequate rest.

Prioritizing sleep will not only lead to a more productive day, it will also protect and improve mental health, physical health, and quality of life. Numerous studies have proved that a good night’s sleep can improve our mood and learning capacity, support our immune system, heal and repair muscles, blood vessels, and our heart while also promoting a healthier metabolism.

The amount of sleep one needs varies from person to person. The National Sleep Foundation provides these questions to help assess how you feel after different amounts of sleep:

  • Are you productive, healthy and happy on seven hours of sleep? Or does it take you nine hours of quality ZZZs to get you into high gear?
  • Do you have health issues such as being overweight? Are you at risk for any disease?
  • Are you experiencing sleep problems?
  • Do you depend on caffeine to get you through the day?
  • Do you feel sleepy when driving?

It’s important to listen to your body when determining the right amount of sleep that works for you, as well as finding the right products and solutions to get the best sleep possible.

For instance, if you haven’t replaced your mattress within 7-10 years, it might be time to purchase a new one and upgrade your sleeping environment. We offer a wide selection of Tempur-Pedic mattresses that adjust to your body throughout the night, so you’re able to achieve the personalized comfort and support you truly desire and need. When it comes to your pillow, you should replace it even sooner— after two years max. Pillows are just as important as your mattress and account for 30% of your total sleep experience. We offer a full line of high-quality ergonomic pillows focused on pain relief and comfort, so you can be sure both your pillow and mattress are optimized for the best sleep possible.

For any additional sleep needs that you might have, visit your local Relax The Back location to speak with one of our trained specialists who can provide more ideas for improving your sleep. They will work with you one-on-one to help you find the mattress, pillowbed wedge, or other sleep products that fit your needs so you can sleep better and live better. After all, your day begins with a good night’s rest.

6 Ways To Achieve Your Health & Wellness Goals

The steps to making positive changes in your life can be simple to recognize, but difficult to put into practice. With time, planning, and willpower, you can make the changes you want to better your life.

Whether you want to reduce stress, lose weight, sleep more, or create a wellness routine, these tips can help you achieve your health and wellness goals.

  • Set attainable goals: While your goals should push you out of your comfort zone, they shouldn’t be so far-fetched that you feel overwhelmed or anxious. Set specific goals that you feel confident achieving. For example, if, overall, you want to lose weight, set small goals each week such as working out at least 30 minutes a day or eating more vegetables for your snacks. Looking to increase your strength and balance? We offer a wide variety of fitness therapy products that can help you get off to the right start through simple, easy-to-do exercises. Small victories will help you reach your main goal while keeping you motivated to continue.
  • Make it personal: No two people are the same. Set goals that are relevant to you and your lifestyle. There is also a higher chance of achieving your goals when you make them for yourself and not for someone else in your life. Create a health and wellness routine that will better your life because you want it for yourself.
  • Find support: In today’s connected world, it is easier than ever to find others who share your goals. Reach out to friends, family members, or online communities to create accountability. Having like-minded individuals around you will help you achieve your goals.
  • Sleep better, feel better: When it comes to your health and wellness, sleep plays a vital role in improving your mental and physical health, from decreasing stress and fatigue to improving blood pressure and stamina. Our Tempur-Pedic mattresses help reduce the number of pressure points on your body, so tossing and turning can be a thing of the past. Looking for a pillow? We offer the best ergonomic pillows for side-sleepers, back-sleepers, or stomach sleepers so you can feel comfortable and stress-free whenever you rest.
  • Establish realistic timelines: Take it slow. Success will not happen overnight. Nevertheless, having an endpoint helps you stay motivated as you work towards a deadline while also giving you a chance to reflect on how far you have come in your journey. Whether bi-weekly, monthly, or quarterly goals, write down your personal deadlines and check in with yourself when you reach those dates.
  • Be persistent: There is a chance you may “fall off the wagon.” Be easy on yourself if, and when, this happens. It’s part of the process. If you stray off course from your goals, use that as a learning experience. Think about why you fell back into a bad habit and what you can do in the future to prevent a lapse from happening again. Eventually, your new healthy habits will come naturally.

To learn more about how you can achieve your health and wellness goals, visit your local Relax The Back store to speak with our trained specialists to learn about products and solutions that will help you live your best life.

Calm Mind, Healthy Heart: How Meditation Can Reduce The Risk Of Heart Disease

Can a calm mind lead to a healthier heart? In addition to reduced anxiety, increased focus, and a boost in overall happiness, meditation and mindfulness can also have a positive impact on your heart health. According to a recent scientific statement by the Journal of the American Heart Association, the mind-calming practice of meditation may help reduce your risk of heart disease.

Having a consistent meditation practice can help you cope with stress, help you relax, calm your mind, and improve your heart health. Through reviewing dozens of studies performed over the last two decades, researchers found meditation has helped with a number of factors linked with heart disease including lower blood pressure and lower stress levels. One study showed 15-minutes of meditation a day reduced the risk of heart attack, stroke, and death by 48 percent.

As with any new practice, it may take time to find a routine that works for you. Set aside 5-minutes just a few times a week for meditation, then gradually increase the time and frequency until you’re comfortable with daily sessions up to 15-minutes.

Meditation techniques to try:

  • Moving meditation: Yoga and tai chi are popular forms of moving meditations that emphasize slow movements, controlled breathing, and mental focus. Check out a local studio or pick a yoga routine on sites like Gaia or Youtube that can be done at home.
  • Seated meditation: Sit quietly in a comfortable position. Close your eyes and begin to breathe slowly. Beginning with your feet and working up towards your shoulders, focus on each group of muscles and relax them with each breath. Once you’ve reached your shoulders, roll your neck gently from side to side. Focus on your breathing throughout this process. When your mind begins to wander, which can happen, do not feel discouraged. Simply bring your focus back to your inhales and exhales. Continue for 5 to 10 minutes.
  • Guided meditation: Listening to a soothing, directive voice allows you to focus on the present while relaxing body and mind. Apps like Headspace and numerous sites online allow for guided meditation anytime, anywhere.

There is no “right” way to meditate. Try different techniques to find one that works best for you. If you are looking for more ways to reduce stress, visit your local Relax The Back location to speak with our trained associates. They can recommend a number of product solutions that can help you reduce stress, feel better, and live a healthier, more fulfilling life.

Targeted Solutions To Achieve Total Body Wellness 

While our neck, back, and shoulders get most of the attention when it comes to relaxation and relief, our hips, knees, and feet are just as important. From your head to your toes, every muscle in your body deserves attention and proper support.

With these targeted solutions, you can achieve total body wellness to feel your best during your daily activities and enjoy your life free of discomfort.

Neck
Neck pain has become more common as many people lead a sedentary lifestyle. Build strength in your neck to help ease tension.

  • Stretching and strengthening exercises focused on the neck muscles can be extremely helpful in preventing discomfort and pain.
  • Deep kneading Therapeutic Massagers loosens muscles and reduces aches.
  • Stay hydrated. The discs in your spine require water in order to both maintain proper alignment and take pressure off the spine, thus reducing neck pain.
  • With a memory foam interior, the Neck Sofa keeps you properly aligned for lasting support.

Shoulders
Full range of motion through your arms and shoulders allows you to feel your best every day. Alleviate shoulder stress, stiffness, and soreness to improve your overall well-being.

  • Lighten up those heavy bags. Carrying a heavy purse or bag can put stress on your shoulders and surrounding muscles. If you have to carry a lot with you, consider a two-strap backpack.
  • Quality pillows provide relief to the shoulders, head, and neck for comfort all night long. Try the TEMPUR Contour Side-to-Side pillow for a deeper, more restful sleep.
  • Before heading out, be sure to engage in some light exercise and stretching which helps to warm up your shoulder muscles for increased circulation.

Back
Back pain is one of the most common reasons for missing work or going to the doctors. Relieving existing back pain and reducing recurring flare ups can lead to an improved quality of life.

  • Back cushions offer proper ergonomic support and comfort for long working days or your daily commute.
  • Take a warm bath to release tense back muscles. This will also help you unwind and relax before bed.
  • Find back tension relief and relaxation anytime with a Kneading Back Massage Cushion.
  • Improve balance, strength, and overall flexibility with foam rollers.

Hips & Knees
Proper spine support starts with the hips and knees. Whether sitting or sleeping, relieve pressure for ease of movement and mobility.

  • Align your hips and spine for sound sleep free from pain with the ContourSleep Posture Cushion.
  • Strengthen your knee muscles and increase flexibility with simple cardio exercises, such as walking, stationary cycling, and swimming.
  • Reduce workday strain, align your body, and improve leg circulation with a rocking footrest.

Feet
It’s important to give your feet a break. Increase circulation to reduce foot pain and relieve pressure with motion, massage, and support.

  • Exercise your feet periodically throughout the day. When standing for long periods of time, try occasionally walking in place and stretching your feet whenever they feel tense or cramped.
  • Rejuvenating rollers and kneading air from foot massagers can provide tension relief.
  • Make sure you wear shoes with thicker soles, which benefit and shield the feet from rugged surfaces and pavements. Also, wear insoles to prevent discomfort and fatigue.
  • Add cooling relief to reduce sore muscles with the freezable Foot Pro Massager.

From everyday wellness to targeted pain relief, at Relax The Back you’ll find solutions specifically designed to improve your life from head to toe. Visit your local Relax The Back store to speak with our trained specialists to see product solutions that will help you live your best life.

Healthy Spine, Healthy Life

Spinal health is vital when it comes to our overall health and wellness. Our spine connects numerous ligaments, muscles, and nerves throughout our entire body. It allows us to bend, twist and move around freely. From wiggling our fingers, to turning our head, to shaking our hips, every movement we take comes from our spine. It protects our nervous system, sending and receiving signals down our spine to areas that feel sensation. Our spine provides us with independence to move around and go about our day-to-day lives.

Suffering from a spinal injury or back pain can be debilitating. By following preventative measures now, we can keep our spine happy and healthy as we age. These simple guidelines will help you maintain a healthy spine so you can feel your best and live well.

  • Practice proper posture. Be mindful of your posture at all times. Whether you are sitting on the couch, in your car, or you are at the office, it is important your spine is always properly aligned. Poor posture can lead to chronic neck and back pain, headaches, or muscle fatigue. Back cushions and ergonomic seat cushions can provide the extra support you need wherever you are.
  • Exercise without overdoing it. A regular exercise routine will keep your muscles strong and flexible, improve circulation, and keep excess weight gain at bay. However, it is important to listen to your body. Repetitive movements and overexertion can cause sprains and muscle strains.
  • Consider investing in a new mattress or pillow. A quality mattress and pillow will protect and support your spine throughout the night.
  • Evaluate your sleep position. Your preferred sleep position may be causing more harm than good. Take a look at how these sleep positions can provide lasting comfort and relief.
  • Avoid lifting objects heavier than 25% of your own body weight. Ask for help when possible or use tools that can assist in lifting heavy objects to avoid straining back muscles.
  • Create a spine-friendly, ergonomic workstation. Invest in products that promote movement such as standing desks and rocking footrests. Ergonomic office chairs with Core-Flex technology strengthen the spine while promoting constant, natural motion when seated.
  • Strengthen core muscles. Incorporate targeted exercises such as aerobics, core work, and stretching into your exercise routine. A strong core will support your spine while taking pressure off of your lower back.
  • Make time to relax. Take a warm bath, sink into a massage chair, or use a handheld massager to loosen tight muscles in your neck, back, or entire body.

Visit your local Relax The Back store for more information on how you can improve your spinal health. Our trained associates will work with you one-on-one to find a product or solution that works best for your specific needs.

Sleep Well: 5 Tips For Buying New Pillows

A pillow is more than just a place to rest your head. It is vital to your best night’s sleep. Using a pillow that fully supports your head, neck, and shoulders allows you to rest comfortably throughout the night.

When did you replace your pillows last? The National Sleep Foundation recommends replacing your pillows every two years. Though, the best way to know if it is time to replace your pillows is to evaluate your sleep quality and comfort levels when you wake up. If you are feeling stiff and your body is no longer being supported or you are unable to stay in a neutral position, your sleep setting needs an upgrade.

If it is time for you to replace your pillows, use this as a guide to help you find the right one for you.

  • Consider your preferred sleep position: It’s important to maintain our neck’s natural curve. Different pillows provide different support based on your sleeping style. Back sleepers should look for a medium support pillow such as the TEMPUR-Neck Pillow. If you prefer to sleep on your side, a pillow that is high with firm support will help you maintain proper spinal alignment throughout the night. Try our ContourSide Pillow by Relax The Back.
  • Determine a budget: Once you have established a budget you are comfortable with, speak with our sales associates to see the selection of pillows we offer that fit into your budget and match your sleeping style.
  • Utilize our sleep experts: We understand no two bodies are the same. Our trained associates can help you find a pillow that supports your head, neck, and spine for lasting comfort. Determine the best size and firmness that is perfect for you by testing out pillows in one of our stores.
  • Personalized support and comfort: Pillows are not one size fits all. From preferred sleep positions, to the type of mattress you sleep on, to your body type, there are many factors that determine the best pillow for your specific needs. The key to a better night’s sleep is finding a pillow that correctly aligns the head and spine for maximum comfort and pressure relief.
  • Test it out and give it time: When you visit one of our stores, you have the ability to try numerous pillows. Lay on a pillow for at least 10 minutes and gauge your comfort levels. Does your neck feel supported? Do you feel your neck bending forward or to one side? It is important to get fitted for a pillow that allows your head, neck, and shoulders to be aligned. Once you are home, it may take a few days to adjust to sleeping on a new surface. Give your body time.

Finding the perfect pillow for your body type and sleep type is essential for your overall health and well-being. It’s amazing what a quality pillow and better night’s rest can do for your mind and body. Wake up feeling revitalized, refreshed, and ready to start your day.

Visit your local Relax The Back location to find your perfect fit today.

6 Ways Massage Therapy Improves Health And Happiness

If you have ever gotten a massage before, then you are familiar with the post-massage feelings of satisfaction, clear mind, and relaxed body. While these are great benefits of massage therapy, there are many more that go well beyond relaxation.

Getting regular massages can be life altering. Studies continue to show that maintaining a regular massage routine can have a tremendously positive impact on your overall health and wellness.

Be your best physically, mentally, and emotionally with these benefits:

  • Better Sleep: It’s no secret that getting enough sleep is vital to your overall health and wellness. Massage therapy is extremely helpful in improving your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep by reducing pain and stress hormones.
  • Increase range of motion and flexibility: Massage therapy works on connective tissues, ligaments, muscles, and joints to keep your joints more fluid while reducing risk of injury.
  • Relieve headaches: Do you suffer from chronic headaches and migraines? Massage can help ease the pressure and pain of headaches while reducing the frequency and chance of getting one.
  • Promote relaxation: Reduce anxiety and stress through decreased levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, while feel-good hormones, serotonin and dopamine, are increased.
  • Improve circulation: With regular massage, oxygen and nutrients are kneaded through soft tissues and vital organs, thus improving your circulation.
  • Relieve pain: Massage therapy can also be just as or more effective than medication and acupuncture treatments. By relaxing tense muscles, our massage products can alleviate back, neck, and all-around muscle pain.

Now, imagine coming home to your own personal masseuse. We understand it can be difficult to find time to visit a massage therapist. Having a massage chair in your home allows you to indulge whenever you want. From Swedish to Shiatsu to traditional style massages, you can have personalized comfort and relaxation when you need it most. All it takes is a few minutes a day to feel the immense benefits. Quiet your mind. Soothe your body. Feel blissful comfort in your own home.

While the reasons for getting a massage can vary from medical reasons, to relaxation, to a special indulgence while on vacation, incorporating regular massages into your health regimen has a positive impact on your health and wellbeing.

Visit your local Relax The Back location to test out our massage chairs first hand. We will help you find the perfect chair to meet your specific needs. Ask our associates about our 48-month financing options on select massage chairs.

5 Ways To Relax After Work

Life is all about balance. Think about your current routine when you get home from work. How often do you come home, sit down in your favorite chair, turn on the TV, and spend the rest of your evening there? Do you have difficulty turning off work mode, continuing to answer emails and finishing projects after you’ve left the office? While we understand there are days where you need to finish work, or you want to catch up on TV shows, doing so time and time again can leave you feeling burnt out and unfulfilled.

We all deserve a break from our busy lives. Create an after-work routine that makes the most of your time and one that will leave you feeling relaxed with these helpful tips.

  • Put your computer away, turn off email alerts: Possibly the most important task of all – set boundaries for work life and personal life. Do your best to leave work at work. Take a break from electronics by turning off your work email, putting away your computer, and being present with yourself or your family at home.
  • Read a book or listen to music: Instead of turning the TV on, listen to some soothing music or settle in with a book. Enjoy the peace and quiet and use this time to fully relax and unwind.
  • Prep for the next day: Make a list of tasks you would like to accomplish and items you may need the next day. This could be snacks, your workout gear, your computer charger, your lunch, etc. You’ll feel prepared for the day ahead and you’ll be able to fully relax without worrying about forgetting something.
  • Set aside time to learn something new: Get your creative juices flowing. Learn a new language with apps like Duolingo, sign up for a free class on Skillshare, cook a new meal with the help of HelloFresh or Blue Apron. You will feel more accomplished and satisfied with your time at home if you’re working on something you enjoy.
  • Make time for massage: Have some much needed “me-time” to fully decompress, release the tension and stresses of the day, and allow for uninterrupted massages. Find relief and relaxation with our wide range of massage products.

We hope these tips are useful in having more relaxing nights at home. If you’re looking for even more ways to relax at home, visit your local Relax The Back location to speak with our trained specialists. They can show you our full line of massage chairs, recliners, and massage products for ultimate relaxation at home.

7 Natural Ways To Beat The Flu and Colds

Cold and flu season is in full swing and this winter, the entire country is seeing an increased number of cases. Doctors and healthcare professionals say the flu season can last through April. Though cold winter temperatures create ideal conditions for the flu virus to thrive and replicate more quickly. Symptoms such as body aches, chills, fever, sore throats, and sneezing can last from days to weeks.

These natural remedies will help alleviate and relieve symptoms and have you feeling better sooner. If you are still feeling sick after a few weeks, make an appointment to see your doctor. As always, consult your physicians before starting any new treatments.

  • Take a hot shower: Relax achy muscles and breathe in steam to moisten nasal passages and scratchy throats.
  • Humidifier: Dry conditions cause the influenza virus to spread faster and more easily. Similar to the benefits you get from steam in a hot shower, using a humidifier can help increase the humidity in your home to help you breathe easier and reduce nasal inflammation.
  • Hydrate: Drinking a lot of fluids is more important than ever when you’re feeling under the weather. Dehydration can lead to new or worsening symptoms causing you to feel more even more sick. Staying hydrated helps control or prevent nausea, keep fevers down, and helps clear your head and chest of congestion.
  • Get enough sleep: Possibly the most important of all, getting adequate sleep is a vital cold remedy. Sleep deprivation can weaken our immune system’s ability to function at an optimal level.
  • Add an extra pillow: In addition to getting enough sleep, using a bed wedge system or an extra pillow to elevate your upper body opens up nasal passages, promoting sinus drainage down the back of your throat. This allows you to rest more comfortably throughout the night and it will help you sleep easier.
  • Drink hot beverages: Sooth a sore throat and nasal congestion with hot tea or hot water with lemon and honey. Warm herbal teas can also promote calmness and relaxation before bed to help you fall asleep easier.
  • Gargle salt water: While this won’t cure your cold, gargling warm salt water can bring temporary relief to a sore, scratchy throat. Dissolve half a teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of warm water and gargle a few times a day to relieve pain.

If you are having difficulty sleeping comfortably, visit your local Relax The Back store to speak with our trained associates. They will work with you to find product solutions to help you rest comfortably all-night long.