Health Benefits of Creativity

Health Benefits of Creativity

When we think of wellness and the habits that are vital to our wellbeing, we immediately think of diet, exercise and sleep as the standards of health. But an overlooked aspect of total wellness is creativity. As we learn more about what contributes to a well-rounded and healthy lifestyle, researchers are starting to investigate some of the more intrinsic aspects of life that usually get neglected, including finding that elusive creative outlet.

5 Health Benefits of Being Creative

Developing a creative outlet is an essential aspect of our emotional and psychological wellbeing. Having projects or hobbies to consistently work on and dedicate our time to gives us a sense of purpose above and beyond regular responsibilities. People who consider themselves creatives can attest to how their work makes them feel happy. But not until recently has science gotten involved in helping evaluate some of the more measurable benefits of being creative.

A 2010 review published in the American Journal of Public Health called The Connection Between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Review of Current Literature, aimed to do just that—measure how creative practices enhance health and wellbeing. Their findings revealed strong connections between art and mental health as well as physical health benefits. Specifically, these researchers found that how creativity affects the brain and body leads to benefits like increased mood, decreased anxiety, heightened cognitive function, reduced risk of chronic illnesses and improved immune health.

Here’s a deeper look into how creativity is good for your health.

1. Elevates Mood

One of the most noticeable benefits of having a creative practice is that it’s a way to elevate mood. If you were to ask most people why they pursue a creative hobby or outlet, they’d likely respond with something like “it makes me feel good”. Many people may not understand fully why their creative expression makes them feel good, they just know that it’s something they have to look forward to outside their normal routine.

Having something that you enjoy dedicating a portion of your time to is fulfilling and uplifting. It’s something you can turn to if you’ve had a bad day and use to release and express yourself. Knowing that you have a creative medium that’s yours contributes to building a positive self-identity. Additionally, as you commit yourself to a kind of art, whether it be writing, music or painting, you’re demonstrating to yourself that you can develop a skill over time, which is an important component of self-esteem.

2. Alleviates Anxiety

Building on the first benefit of bettering mood, creative expression is also considered to be healing for those suffering from anxiety, depression or trauma. Research has found that music therapy and theatre are a good method for decreasing anxiety. One of the suggested reasons for this is that music calms brain activity, leading to a sense of emotional balance.

For those recovering from trauma, expressive writing helps victims work out their thoughts. Other creative mediums like painting or sculpting allow the person to use storytelling and imagery as a way to process their traumatic events when it’s otherwise too hard to put into words.

3. Boosts Brain Function

Having a creative outlet has positive impacts on cognitive health. Researchers have found evidence as to how creativity affects the brain. Musicians, in particular, have been studied for the heightened connectivity between their left and right brain hemispheres. This is believed to be one of the reasons why Einstein was a genius—his mastery of the violin allowed him to effectively use both sides of his brain simultaneously.

Working on something creative, whether it’s writing a short story or growing a garden helps apply problem-solving and critical thinking skills as well. Other forms of creative expression, such as theater, have shown to have benefits for older adults in helping them to maintain the cognitive skills required to continue living independently.

4. Prevents Disease

One of the long-term benefits of having a creative practice is its ability to prevent degenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The Mayo Clinic looked at how middle-aged and older adults who had a creative practice of any kind, such as crafting, sewing, woodworking or painting, had a reduced risk of cognitive decline.

The research showed that being creative helps adults build up a reserve supply of cognitive function, which delays future neurodegeneration. The calming nature of creative expression also helps keep blood pressure low, which is essential to preventing heart disease.

5. Increases Immune Health

Another relatively unknown and added benefit of getting in touch with your creative side is its positive effect on the immune system. Studies have looked at how music helps to restore immune system health and decreases the body’s response to inflammation, which is a root cause of many illnesses.

For people with existing chronic illnesses, having a creative outlet can also help in the healing process by reducing stress hormone and inflammation levels. This is particularly true of the benefits of creative writing, which allows patients to have an outlet to cope with the trauma of living with a chronic illness.

The Myth of Creative People

Many people assume that because they don’t have a creative outlet or aren’t naturally drawn to a certain type of art form, they must not be creative. It’s a common misconception that some people are just born creative and others aren’t, as if creativity were a prize in the genetic lottery. But the truth is everyone is creative, it’s just a matter of taking chances and trying new things to discover the creative medium that fits you.

You may not ever “do” anything with the product of your creativity, other than amassing a drawer full of doodles. But this isn’t the goal or purpose of unleashing your creative spirit. The goal is to have a dedicated practice that’s just for you—one that you use to learn more about yourself and life. It’s a way for you to discover a unique way to express who you truly are, even if it never gets displayed in a gallery or listened to on the radio.

Creativity and Wellness

Discovering your creative gifts and taking time to let your artistic side shine is an essential wellness practice. Whether you make art or music or express yourself through writing or theatre, you’re giving yourself the gift of wellbeing while doing something you genuinely enjoy.

It’s easy for people to get caught up in the daily hustle and bustle of life. Between work, family and social engagements, it can be easy to justify dropping your creative passions. But given the health benefits of art and creativity, more people may start to view their artistic practice as a vital health habit just like going to the gym or eating vegetables.

Here are some other ways that creativity can benefit your life:

  • Feel more engaged in your work or career
  • Bring more excitement and enthusiasm to your relationships
  • Find more inspiration in daily life experiences
  • Develop the mindset of a deep thinker

Making time for artistic and creative expression is an aspect of holistic health—the approach to health that addresses all facets of being. By fostering your creative practice, you can find deeper meaning, connection and enjoyment in your life.

Finding Your Creative Expression

If you feel out of touch with your creative side and want to develop a practice that’s right for you, it’s important to reflect on what inspires you and evokes an emotional reaction. Many people connect with their creative side by revisiting their childhood and remembering what forms of art they were drawn to. It’s possible that even as a child, you experienced emotional benefits from dance, drawing or coloring that you can reflect on today.

If you’re interested in reaping the benefits of creativity in your life, it’s important to treat your outlet as a ritual. If you continue to fill your creative fuel tank, you will continue to be compelled to create. Here are some tips on how to keep your creativity alive:

  • Carve out space in your home where you can work on your projects
  • Keep a journal of ideas that inspire creativity and write them down as they come to you
  • Schedule your creative time into your calendar and treat it as a priority
  • Embrace creativity as part of your identity and your truest self

As you lose yourself in hours of sewing, crafting or painting, make sure your spine is well supported at your workstation. To help you relax into your creative practice, use back and body support tools from Relax The Back. Try our ergonomic back supports to help you maintain a well-supported spine for better body wellness.

References:

  1. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320947.php
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2804629/
  3. https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/arts-and-health/201512/creativity-wellness-practice
  4. https://www.psychologytoday.com/intl/blog/the-athletes-way/201310/einsteins-genius-linked-well-connected-brain-hemispheres
  5. https://www.forbes.com/sites/ashleystahl/2018/07/25/heres-how-creativity-actually-improves-your-health/#171a97eb13a6

Natural Energy Boosters to Fight Fatigue

Natural Energy Boosters to Fight Fatigue

Fatigue is a common condition among adults. Sleep disorders are one of the major health issues that experts focus on because of how vital sleep is to our health—and because of how easy it is to neglect.

Fatigue happens for several reasons, but for many people, it’s the result of not getting enough regular and consistent sleep. Research has linked poor sleep quality with chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease and even shortened life expectancy. Fatigue also has its share of immediate risks, including impaired driving and other safety concerns. Productivity and focus at work can also dwindle due to a lack of rest.

If you find yourself fatigued most mornings, as 38% of adult Americans reportedly do, then it’s essential to look at your lifestyle habits, including your sleep, exercise and the types of food you eat that contribute to chronic fatigue. Instead of automatically reaching for another cup of coffee for a quick fix, try building healthier habits that help you get natural energy and maintain endurance.

Here are eight of the top natural energy boosters for fighting fatigue. These tips will help you address some of the possible underlying causes playing a role in your lack of energy.

1. Eat the Right Foods

Eating natural energy foods is foundational not just to your energy levels but to your overall health. Food and nutrition are also vital to disease-prevention and longevity. Natural energy foods keep our various systems operating at their optimal levels for proper health. However, eating too much of the wrong foods can lead to nutrient deficiencies and conditions that affect metabolism and cause chronic fatigue.

To help sustain energy, it’s important to avoid high-glycemic foods that cause a blood sugar spike, resulting in the inevitable crash. Natural energy foods are high in protein and fat content and are low on the glycemic index, meaning their sugars are absorbed by the body slowly and provide a longer-lasting energy source.

2. Take Energy Supplements As Needed

Certain nutritional deficiencies cause sluggishness and an inability to focus. If you aren’t getting enough nutrients from your regular diet, you can take natural energy supplements to help compensate and ensure you’re getting enough nutrition.

A common supplement taken to help boost energy and mental clarity is B complex—a group of eight B vitamins. Known as the “energy vitamins”, B vitamins are vital for converting food into usable energy. Nutrition from B vitamins ensures the proper functioning of several body systems, including the circulatory and nervous systems. B vitamins can only be obtained through food sources such as meat, fish and eggs or by taking natural energy supplements.

Other supplements that may boost energy levels include iron, zinc and magnesium. Though dietary supplements aren’t a substitute for food-based nutrition, they can be beneficial for people who notice a difference in their energy levels when taking them.

3. Exercise Daily

Many people don’t exercise as intensely or as often as they should because they get exhausted from working out. But physical activity is critical for keeping up energy levels as exercise gives you endorphins. Working out also boosts circulation and improves cardiovascular health. Active bodies also tend to sleep more soundly as exercise is an excellent stress-management tool and mood elevator.

For mostly sedentary people, getting up every 30 minutes to stretch, walk or perform light exercises can also help reactivate the body and boost blood flow. The more you exercise regularly, the more your energy levels will improve. You will begin to notice that with consistent, moderate exercise, you will better maintain your endurance throughout the day.

4. Go Outside

Fresh air can do wonders for the mind, body and soul. Research has shown that increased outdoor activity improves concentration and creativity levels. Additionally, being in nature and sunlight has benefits for improved memory and elevated mood, making you less likely to feel the effects of fatigue.

If you’re suffering from an energy drop, spending even five minutes outdoors can help stimulate your circulation and give you the jolt of energy you need to regain focus. Heading outdoors as soon as you feel a wave of fatigue coming on can help reinvigorate your body and wake up your mind.

5. Stay Hydrated

If you start to feel tired around the same time each day, it could be due to dehydration—one of the most overlooked causes of fatigue and headaches. Because our bodies are mainly comprised of water, dehydration can affect metabolism, leading to that sluggish feeling. As soon as you feel an afternoon slump coming on, choose water instead of coffee and see how your energy improves.

Experts suggest that your body weight divided in half corresponds to the number of ounces of water you should drink per day. Remember that if you exercise often, you also require electrolyte replenishment—these are essential minerals like sodium, potassium and calcium. Drinking coconut water provides a great source of electrolytes and can help you stay energized.

6. Use Aromatherapy

Aromatherapy is the use of essential oil extracts to create a pleasant and therapeutic aroma for stress-management and healing. Essential oils like peppermint, orange and cinnamon are refreshing to the senses, helping to wake you up and make you feel more alert and energized.

You can use aromatherapy as a natural energy booster by adding a few drops of your favorite energy-boosting essential oil or oil blend to a diffuser. Or you can rub essential oils on your wrists or neck and breathe in the stimulating scent.

7. Reduce Stress

Stress can have detrimental effects on the body, including chronic pain and fatigue. Chronic stress means that your body is often in fight-or-flight mode, which releases stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline. Being under a lot of pressure can lead to burnout and a lack of motivation, which often results in feeling tired for no obvious reason.

Additionally, people who are overworked and overstressed don’t usually make time for healthy habits, such as diet, exercise and sleep that are required to keep your body operating at peak performance. If you’re feeling exhausted, it’s important to look at the load you’re carrying and lighten it however you can.

8. Improve Sleep Quality

Finally, and arguably most importantly, if you’re feeling fatigued each morning and throughout the day, it’s important to look at your sleep habits. In many cases, poor sleep quality is what’s contributing to chronic fatigue and exhaustion. Going to bed at different times each night, getting less than 7 hours of sleep and tossing and turning throughout the night are contributors to poor sleep hygiene.

To improve sleep quality and get natural energy, it’s essential to cultivate better sleep habits. By following a consistent bedtime routine, getting enough hours of sleep and improving your sleep comfort, you can get a deeper sleep and wake up feeling refreshed and energized. There is no better natural energy booster than proper sleep. With better sleep comes greater endurance and higher energy levels that you can sustain.

Rest Better With Sleep Solutions From Relax The Back

These natural energy boosters are also long-term solutions for improved overall health. The more care and attention you give your body, the more you will feel energized. Of course, if you suspect you have an underlying medical condition related to chronic fatigue, then it’s important to discuss your concerns with a physician.

Being diligent about your sleep habits is a long-term solution for fighting fatigue and maintaining total body wellness. Relax The Back can help you build the perfect sleep solution. From mattresses to pillows to adjustable bases, we can help you achieve the highest level of comfort designed to support your body. To help improve the quality of your sleep, browse through Relax The Back’s selection of sleep support and wellness products for a better night’s rest.

References:

  1. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences/sleep-and-disease-risk
  2. https://today.yougov.com/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2015/06/02/sleep-and-dreams
  3. https://draxe.com/exhausted-ways-to-boost-energy-levels/
  4. https://www.health.harvard.edu/energy-and-fatigue/9-tips-to-boost-your-energy-naturally
  5. https://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/spending-time-outdoors-is-good-for-you
  6. https://fitness.mercola.com/sites/fitness/archive/2015/03/06/spending-time-outdoors.aspx
  7. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/stress-management/in-depth/stress-symptoms/art-20050987

Workplace Ergonomics: How to Improve Your Posture at Work

Workplace Ergonomics: How to Improve Your Posture at Work

If you’re like countless people, your job requires you to be seated at a desk for extended periods of time. However, days spent primarily sedentary are putting people at risk of chronic pain, musculoskeletal disorders and injuries, all of which impact long-term health and productivity.

To prevent chronic health issues and enhance your wellbeing, it’s important to implement healthy workplace habits that improve your posture at work through ergonomic principles.

Desk Work and Back Pain

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, musculoskeletal disorders and injuries (MSDs) accounted for 31% of workplace injuries in 2015. Despite office work being one of the safest jobs you can do, it’s also known today for its own host of health issues that are contributing to these workplace injury numbers.

“Sitting disease” is a term recently coined as new research suggests that sitting for long periods of time without adequate movement and spine alignment can lead to several long-term health conditions, including musculoskeletal disorders. Several studies have looked at office worker habits over the years and many have found strong correlations between sitting at a desk and chronic back pain.

Research has also found that regardless of how much you exercise, sitting can still put you at risk of disease and chronic pain. There are several reasons why desk work causes musculoskeletal symptoms, including:

  • Slouching occurs the longer you stay seated, keeping your spine misaligned
  • Poor workstation set-up causes neck straining if computer monitors aren’t at eye level
  • Bad habits like crossing your ankles and legs cause hip misalignment
  • Lack of movement restricts blood and nutrient flow to spinal discs
  • Continuous sitting increases wear and tear on your spinal discs

Even though desk work is strongly linked to chronic back and neck pain, there are ways to mitigate long-term damage and disease by adopting a few healthy posture habits.

Tips For Better Work Ergonomics

To prevent chronic neck and back pain and other health issues associated with desk work, it’s important to practice better work ergonomics. The term ergonomics generally refers to the practice of fitting your job to your body. This means tailoring not only your desk and computer equipment to your body, but your entire range of working habits as well.

Below are some good posture tips so that you can reduce pain and improve total body health.

1. Practice Neutral Posture

Relax The Back’s guiding principle is the neutral posture concept. Neutral posture is the spine’s natural alignment position—a posture that’s completely straight from head to toe. When the spine’s natural alignment is compromised such as from slouching, hunching or injury, it can cause spinal compression, nerve pinching and muscle tension.

A mostly neutral posture at work can be achieved even if you sit at a desk. Here are some tips on how to improve your posture while sitting:

Keep your computer monitor at eye level so your head doesn’t tilt

  • Pull your shoulders back and keep your back flat against the chair
  • Rest your feet flat on the ground—no crossing ankles or legs
  • Use a lumbar support tool to help keep your upper back straight and prevent slouching

Proper work ergonomics is built around the neutral posture concept, supporting it through healthier habits and the right wellness products. By adhering to a neutral posture as often as possible at work, you can greatly reduce your chance of injury and developing chronic pain.

2. Keep Note of Back and Neck Pain

In order to prevent spine problems, it’s important to bring awareness to your daily wellbeing. Monitor your ongoing symptoms such as stiffness, soreness and aching in your back, shoulders and neck. Make daily or regular notes as symptoms arise—it can help you determine any patterns in your habits and routines that may be contributing to your pain.

With enough tracking, you may start to notice that your pain is worse on certain days or at certain times of the day. You’ll also likely notice that your body feels different during work hours than it does after work or on weekend. With this information, you can start to adjust your posture at work and consciously prevent back pain.

3. Give Yourself Movement Breaks

One of the crucial reasons why desk work is tied to back pain and chronic disease is because it limits the amount of movement required for better health.

Research has found that regular movement breaks every 30 minutes greatly reduces the health risks posed by sitting. Other reports show that desk workers who have higher incidences of low back pain can counteract symptoms by taking regular breaks from sitting.

To reduce the health risks of sedentary work, it’s important to make time for scheduled breaks and perform good posture exercises throughout the day. Stretching overhead and opening up your chest and back can counteract slouching. A brisk walk around the room can help boost circulation and energy.

4. Set Reminders

It can be difficult to remember to take regular movement breaks, even with the best of intentions to do so. Becoming better at work ergonomics and taking breaks requires you to build a habit, which takes time. To support you as you cultivate healthy habits, you can use any number of reminder and timer tools available to alert you to take a movement break.

One method is to set a timer for 30 minutes of work. When the timer goes off, set another 5-minute timer for your movement break, and so on. Or you can make use of desktop apps like Stretchly, WorkRave or Big Stretch Reminder, all of which help you keep track of your work time so you can know when to take a break.

5. Use Ergonomic Supports

Maintaining a neutral posture while sitting at a desk can be tough. Years of poor posture habits make it hard to train yourself to remain in perfect alignment at all times. Thankfully, there are excellent support products available that encourage neutral posture and help build better ergonomic habits.

One of the most important products to promote proper sitting posture at your computer is the right office chair. Relax The Back offers a range of adjustable ergonomic office chairs, many with built-in headrests and lumbar support for better spine alignment. Other support products for work ergonomics include office footrests and workstation accessories like monitor arms and keyboard trays.

One desk option that’s growing in popularity is the “sit-stand” desk—an adjustable desk that switches from sitting to standing easily. One study found that giving workers a sit-stand desk reduced their sitting time by over an hour per day and decreased upper back and neck pain by 54% while improving mood states. Check out Relax The Back’s selection of adjustable standing desks.

6. Create an Ergonomic Workstation

To achieve total body wellness that you can feel at work and take home with you, it’s important to set up an ergonomic workstation. Using the above good posture tips and support products, you can make sure you have an adjustable workstation that’s designed to fit you.

An ergonomic workstation takes into consideration things like:

  • Encouraging full range of motion
  • Placing most used items within arm’s reach
  • Allowing adequate leg room and foot placement
  • Alleviating hunched posture

An ergonomic workstation should fit you and your unique body type. With so many ergonomic products for the workplace, you can build the perfect adjustable workstation that keeps you in a neutral position much of the day.

Neutral Posture at Work and Beyond

It’s undoubtedly important to practice good posture at work and use ergonomic products to support spine alignment. But it’s also important to take your good posture habits from the office to home to travel and anywhere else. Maintaining proper spine alignment in all aspects of life is essential to preventing long-term, debilitating conditions.

At Relax The Back, we believe that total body wellness is the key to living a longer, healthier life free of pain and disease. For more resources on wellness and preventive health, browse through our Comfort Zone blog today.

Sources:

  1. https://www.spine-health.com/wellness/ergonomics/ten-tips-improving-posture-and-ergonomics
  2. https://www.bls.gov/news.release/osh2.nr0.htm
  3. https://www.spineuniverse.com/wellness/ergonomics/sitting-disease-its-impact-your-spine
  4. https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/09/170911180004.htm
  5. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0003687016300515
  6. https://www.techworld.com/download/system-desktop-tools/stretchly-017-3331112/
  7. http://www.workrave.org/
  8. http://monkeymatt.com/bigstretch/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3477898/

Solutions to Everyday Wellness Challenges

Solutions to Everyday Wellness Challenges

Wellness and relaxation aren’t just things to do when you’re left with no other choice. Many people live hectic, unbalanced lifestyles without giving priority to wellness and relaxation. As a result, these busy people tend to push themselves to a breaking point that triggers health problems.

For many, these health problems involve the musculoskeletal system: tight and stiff muscles, pinched nerves, slipped discs and degenerating joints. But the good news is that you can prevent these conditions or minimize their severity with the right wellness solutions.

Relax The Back provides not only targeted solutions for back pain relief, but for all areas of the body so you can achieve total body relaxation. Our products address all aspects of your life, supporting you as you live a better life free of stress and the pain it can cause.

Stress Effects on the Body

When we become stressed, our bodies instantly react by tensing up groups of muscles. With chronic stress, our muscles don’t get enough relaxation because the stress never leaves our systems entirely. If muscles stay tight and tense for long enough, they can trigger secondary problems in the back, shoulders and neck.

Taking time to counteract stress is essential to injury and disease prevention. When you start making time for full body relaxation, you’ll notice greater alignment between your body, mind and spirit. To begin incorporating more relaxation in your life, take a look at your current lifestyle and how you spend your time. You’ll begin to notice when and where you can add comfort and relaxation to prevent chronic stress.

Daily Wellness Solutions

In all aspects of your life, there are ways to achieve total body relaxation. Wellness products from Relax The Back support you in your quest to achieve greater overall wellness, no matter where you are. Whether you’re at home, work or on-the-go or if it’s for sleep or exercise, our relaxation solutions can help you achieve comfort and relieve yourself from pain throughout the day.

Wellness Solutions for Home

When you arrive home from a long day at work, you likely instinctively want to relax and unwind. This is a positive thing because it means you’re giving your body a break to release tension, which will protect you from future health problems. Making your home as comfortable and stress-free as possible is an essential part of achieving overall wellness.

You can augment your at-home relaxation with products like the Theracane MAX. A handheld self-massaging cane, the Theracane MAX allows you to give yourself a deep pressure massage. The cane-style massager gives you the ability to get at hard-to-reach spots. You can use the Theracane Max to target your back, shoulders and neck as well as your legs and hips for total body relaxation.

Wellness Solutions for Work

We understand that work is a time to focus, maintain productivity and strive for certain results. But you can actually achieve these in greater quantities by bringing awareness to your body as you work.

If you work at a desk, you are already at an increased risk of back and neck issues because of the misaligned posture most people maintain while seated. Additionally, when we sit still for extended periods of time, we reduce our circulation and drop our metabolic activity. To counteract this, you can use certain workplace wellness products that not only support your posture but increase circulation.

The Rock-N-Stop Footrest is a rocking footrest you can use to keep your legs in motion as you work. Rocking your legs back and forth on the footrest activates your lower body, which boosts circulation and oxygenates the body. As a result, you’ll feel more energized and achieve greater mental clarity. You’ll also prevent strain in your upper body, including on your back, shoulder and neck muscles.

Wellness Solutions for Rest

There’s no question that sleep is essential to overall health and disease prevention. Getting regular and deep sleep gives your body the chance to repair and regenerate itself. For many people, the only time they truly rest is when they sleep, and even then they could still improve their level of relaxation.

Most of us have a certain bedtime routine we follow before actually falling asleep. This is important because it signals to your brain that it’s time to wind down. Whether you read a book, work on your laptop or watch TV, there is a way to achieve greater comfort in bed before sleep.

Using the PureFit Adjustable Wedge System, you can reach maximum relaxation in bed before sleep. The 4-piece system allows you to set up the exact right positioning for your body. A wedge for you lower body supports your knees while two separate back wedges give you the right incline for your upper body. A separate neck pillow can help support your head and neck.

A comprehensive wedge support system like the PureFit Adjustable Wedge System, allows you to relax in a neutral spine position, decompressing your vertebrae and releasing pressure. Relaxing in bed using these wedge products will allow you to become fully comfortable so you can have a better, deeper sleep.

Wellness Solutions for Exercise

Periods of exercise are essential for overall health. Putting your body through moderate to intense physical activity improves cardiovascular health, builds muscle strength and increases oxygenation through the body so it can become better at healing and repairing itself.

But it’s also important to pair stretching, massage and other forms of therapy with your physical activity. Therapy Foam Rollers from Relax The Back help to balance out the tightness your muscles experience after strength training and exercising. They’re also good therapy tools for people who live mostly sedentary lives as foam rolling can help increase blood flow and release tight joints.

Therapy foam rollers allow you to self-massage deep into tight muscles, releasing the fascial tissue that connects your muscles, nerves, bones and joints. Rolling out tight spots like your legs, hips, glutes and low back relaxes these areas and improves balance and flexibility over time. Use therapy foam rollers on a regular basis to help ease muscle tension and prevent injury.

Wellness Solutions for Travel

Anyone who regularly travels for work or pleasure knows the types of stresses being on the go can cause. Travel plans may change and unpredictable obstacles tend to present themselves. Additionally, many people encounter the added stress of being out of their regular wellness routine, which only compounds stress further.

In response to this wellness challenge, many product manufacturers have cleverly designed travel-size solutions for on-the-go relaxation. One of the most convenient spine health travel solutions is Dr. Cohen’s Heatable AcuBack Kit. As a heatable back support solution, the AcuBack Kit helps you maintain an upright posture while promoting deeper relaxation of tight muscles and joints.

Whether you’re flying across the country or driving long distances, the AcuBack Kit is a portable back support unit that prevents hunching and slouching when seated for extended periods of time. If you’re prone to stiff back, hips and legs when you travel, be sure to add Dr. Cohen’s Heatable AcuBack Kit to your travel plans. You can also take it with you to the office to incorporate into your ergonomic desk solutions.

Shop Relax The Back for Everyday Wellness Solutions

Reaching total body relaxation can be done no matter where you are and in all aspects of your life. You can improve your relaxation at home or when resting to help your body unwind each day after work. While at work, you can pay attention to your posture and alignment to improve your ergonomics and overall wellness.

To complement your exercise routine, you can relax your hard-worked muscles with self-massage techniques and support. And don’t forget that even when you’re on-the-go, you can take your wellness routine with you for a more relaxed travel experience.

For all your wellness needs, shop Relax The Back for total body relaxation products. Our solutions aren’t just for back pain relief. We have a wide range of products designed to address all areas of life so you can achieve comfort and relaxation anytime, anywhere.

Sources:

  1. https://www.apa.org/helpcenter/stress-body.aspx

Top Healthy Aging Tips

Top Healthy Aging Tips

As part of September’s Healthy Aging Month, we want to celebrate the wonderful aspects of growing older—greater wisdom, more freedom and a deeper appreciation for life. While aging usually has a negative connotation in our society, getting older doesn’t have to be something that we feel ashamed of.

Instead, we can focus on healthy aging and the feeling that you’re getting better with age. Healthy aging is all about increasing longevity by taking proactive steps to:

  • Prevent chronic disease
  • Maintain your physical health
  • Optimize your mental and emotional wellbeing

Let’s look at the top healthy aging tips to help you live a fuller, healthier life. These tips to live longer cover the physical, mental and emotional aspects of aging so you can experience greater enjoyment in life as you grow older.

1. Maintain A Healthy Diet

Following a healthy diet is one of the most essential tips for how to live longer. Your diet provides you with critical nutrients that help keep your body in proper working condition and prevent chronic disease associated with aging.

Though there are endless dietary tips to live longer, here are a few basics for aging adults to follow:

  • Add fiber to maintain healthy and regular digestion
  • Get enough nutrients—vitamins and minerals—to prevent disease
  • Avoid processed foods and refined sugars that offer few nutrients
  • Practice portion control to avoid consuming more than you need

What you choose to eat over the long-term can have a dramatic impact on the health of every system in your body from your heart, to your digestive tract, to your brain. Additionally, making healthy changes to your diet can help you control and even reverse many existing conditions you may be at risk for, including diabetes and heart disease.

2. Exercise Regularly and Consistently

Physical activity is a critical aspect to long-term mobility and overall longevity. According to experts, it’s never too late to start an active lifestyle and begin reaping the benefits. It’s more important to start with moderate but regular activity than to exercise intensely but sporadically.

Exercise is important for your cardiovascular health and preventing chronic disease. Daily walks are an excellent practice for older adults, but there are other forms of light exercise to try your hand at. Tai chi and yoga for healthy aging have proven to be excellent for healing chronic conditions like fibromyalgia and other arthritic conditions. These activities stretch your muscles and tissues, improve circulation and increase mobility and range of motion, all of which tend to decline with age if not maintained.

While exercise certainly falls under the category of physical health, it also contributes to your emotional and mental wellbeing more than many people realize. When we exercise, our bodies release chemicals into our brains, making us feel happy and energized. Older adults who suffer from anxiety and depression can help manage these conditions with ongoing exercise.

3. Maintain Social Connection

Several studies have looked at the impact of loneliness on older adults and how it relates to their overall health. Part of healthy aging is maintaining your friendships and continuing to engage in social activity. Humans are hardwired for social connection, requiring it to feel happy and to live with purpose.

But social connection is also good for disease prevention. One study found that among older women with large social networks, there was a lower rate of dementia. The study showed that having strong social connections may actually protect you from future cognitive decline.

4. Get Enough Sleep

As you age, you may find that your sleep habits change. When you were younger, you might have felt you were able to get away with 6-7 hours per night. However, older adults tend to need more sleep but many find it increasingly difficult to sleep soundly through the night.

If you experience more chronic pain as you age, this can cause you to wake up during the night. Restless sleep can cause irritability, memory loss and even depression. Part of healthy aging means prioritizing your sleep so you can feel more rested each morning. Avoid drinking caffeine or exercising within three hours before bedtime, and try not to nap in the late afternoons.

5. Keep a Positive Outlook

Over the years, several studies have looked into the impact that having a positive outlook has on overall health. One study showed that people who consider themselves optimists had a lower risk of heart failure compared to those who identified as pessimists.

Overall, research is finding that the ability to make the best of life’s situations actually leads to a longer life, better immunity, greater disease survival and better pain tolerance. The good news is that even if you’ve never considered yourself to be an optimist before, a positive attitude is a learned skill and can be cultivated on a daily basis.

6. Prioritize Learning and Skill Development

An expected part of getting older is experiencing a change in your daily routine and priorities you once had. Having your children leave home, followed by eventually retiring from work causes many people to look for new meaning in life. Part of embracing healthy aging is maintaining the belief that you’re never too old to learn a new topic or pick up a new skill.

In fact, you may find that you’re finally able to dedicate the time to a hobby or topic you once loved but couldn’t make the time for. Continuing your skills development and learning journey is critical to maintaining healthy cognitive function. Learn a new language, play a musical instrument or take up painting. Hobbies that engage your creativity and critical thinking can help prevent memory loss.

7. Reduce Stress

Research is consistently pointing to the harmful long-term effects of chronic stress. Many older adults begin to feel a different level of anxiety or even depression later in life. There may be new financial obligations that arise, loved ones may pass away or you may be faced with unexpected health problems.

Being aware of the factors in life that create stress and cause depression is the first step. Once you’re aware of what causes stress, you can begin to find ways to minimize it and handle it in a constructive way. Many of the above tips offer excellent methods for managing stress, such as practicing a hobby, exercising regularly and getting enough deep, restful sleep.

8. Take Charge of Your Health

Finally, one of the most essential aspects of healthy aging is your ability to take charge of your own health. Just because you’re getting older doesn’t mean you’re destined for poor health and immobility. You can fully maintain an active, enjoyable life provided you take preventative health measures and don’t neglect the basics such as diet, exercise and sleep.

To stay proactive in their health, older adults are encouraged to undergo regular disease screening, particularly for conditions they may be at risk of developing. Aging women should schedule regular breast and cervical cancer screenings, while all older adults should be screened for colorectal cancers.

If you’re at risk for heart disease or diabetes, be sure to have your blood pressure and blood sugar levels tested regularly. These are both manageable diseases that don’t need to result in serious health complications. Being proactive means you’ll need to report changes in your health to your physician and schedule routine check-ups.

Healthy Aging With Relax The Back

A major component of healthy aging is preventing debilitating spinal conditions. To maintain a healthy, active lifestyle into your later years, it’s critical to protect and strengthen your spine. Maintaining a neutral posture throughout your day ensures that you’re relieving all pressure from your spine so that there is equal space between each of your vertebral discs.

Neutral posture can prevent several spinal conditions, including degenerative disc disease and spinal stenosis. For healthy aging for your spine, use the right support products that encourage neutral posture at work, home and as you travel. Shop all Relax The Back support products, recliners and ergonomic furniture to promote better spine health so you can live a longer, healthier life free from pain.

Sources:

  1. https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/weight-management/health-tips-older-adults
  2. https://www.healthywomen.org/content/blog-entry/7-top-tips-healthy-aging
  3. https://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/894331?src=WNL_infoc_180825_MSCPEDIT_TEMP2&uac=259507CX&impID=1719767&faf=1
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2424087/
  5. https://www.helpguide.org/articles/alzheimers-dementia-aging/staying-healthy-as-you-age.htm
  6. https://www.nia.nih.gov/health/good-nights-sleep
  7. https://www.livescience.com/35863-grow-old-gracefully-tips.html
  8. https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?contenttypeid=1&contentid=4511

Pain Awareness Month: Living With and Healing Chronic Pain

Pain Awareness Month: Living With and Healing Chronic Pain

September is Pain Awareness Month. It’s a month dedicated to shedding light on a relatively unknown problem in society—the millions of people living with chronic pain. Many chronic pain sufferers live without ongoing chronic pain solutions and, as a result, their quality of life diminishes progressively over time, including their physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.

One study looked at what type of emotional and behavioral effects people with chronic pain experienced compared to people without chronic pain. The study clearly showed that pain sufferers are much more likely to:

  • Experience more stress
  • Have more bad moods
  • Become more easily agitated
  • Develop depression
  • Feel tired and fatigued

This Pain Awareness Month, we’re helping bring awareness to the types of chronic conditions that cause pain, especially back pain, and the wellness solutions for managing chronic pain.

What Is Chronic Pain?

The medical definition of chronic pain is any pain lasting longer than 12 consecutive weeks. Unlike acute pain, which comes on suddenly for a clear reason and heals quickly, chronic pain is a long-term condition, often persisting for months. Chronic pain, also known as chronic pain syndrome, can become a “tolerable pain”, whereby the person experiencing the pain can ignore it or live with it long-term.

According to the National Institutes of Health, 25 million Americans suffer daily pain. Eight million of these daily pain sufferers have pain that interferes with their everyday activities. Many people suffer with pain in silence. They’re unsure of what’s causing their pain, and their symptoms may be too vague to know how to treat them.

Chronic pain affects every person differently, making it a difficult condition to identify the root cause of. Chronic pain can’t be measured. It’s often difficult to precisely locate because the nature of chronic pain is that it can appear in multiple places throughout the body.

Chronic Pain Causes

For people suffering from chronic pain syndrome, identifying the underlying cause can be a frustrating process as the reasons for chronic, non-specific pain aren’t always obvious. But uncovering the underlying cause contributing to your pain can help you implement necessary solutions for managing chronic pain.

The following are some of the most common causes of chronic pain—all of which can be managed holistically for a better quality of life.

Arthritis

More than a quarter of American adults have some form of arthritis, a group of more than 100 inflammatory diseases that target the joints and surround tissues. Arthritis symptoms can range, depending on the underlying cause, but it’s a major reason for daily, chronic pain. Generally, people with arthritis experience joint stiffness, inflammation and soreness in one or more joints throughout the body.

Repetitive motions, such as movements performed for work or in sports, are some of the leading contributing factors to a type of arthritis called osteoarthritis—joint degeneration caused by long-term wear and tear. Some other common types of arthritis include gout and rheumatoid arthritis.

Fibromyalgia

Technically, fibromyalgia is considered a form of arthritis. Also known as widespread pain, fibromyalgia is pain that spreads across the entire body. Because it isn’t a localized pain, it’s difficult to identify a single underlying cause of fibromyalgia. It’s possible that people with fibromyalgia have a higher sensitivity to pain, so they perceive widespread pain throughout their bodies more intensely.

Fibromyalgia can cause sleep disturbances and can lead to emotional and psychological distress if not managed. Widespread pain can also make it tough to concentrate, affecting the person’s ability to work or go to school.

Sciatica

Sicatica is felt on one side of the buttock or down one leg. It’s a pain that starts at the low back and travels down the sciatic nerve, producing pain and possibly tingling or numbness. Not a condition in itself, sciatica is actually a symptom that indicates there’s a deeper, underlying health problem.

The sciatic nerve can become pinched when there’s a herniated discdisc degeneration or spinal stenosis—narrowing of the spinal column. These conditions and others can put pressure on the sciatic nerve, producing sciatica.

Different people experience sciatica in different ways and may feel their pain worsens when standing, walking or sitting.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis occurs when some components of the spine change over time. The spine’s discs and vertebrae or muscles and ligaments may start to degenerate or weaken, leading to a narrowing of the spinal column.

As the spine narrows, it puts pressure on the spinal nerves, causing pain, tingling or numbness in the area. Spinal stenosis can affect the neck and low back most commonly. Spinal stenosis in the low back (lumbar) can cause sciatica.

Wellness Solutions for Healing Chronic Pain

Many people live with chronic pain because they aren’t sure of how to manage or correct it. Life gets busy, and it’s common to sacrifice your health for the responsibility of work and family. Over time, it becomes natural to just put up with pain and you may become good at ignoring it.

But listening to your body is the important first step in healing. The reason your body produces pain is to alert you to a problem that needs addressing. Often, chronic pain is the body’s way of saying it needs greater overall wellbeing—more exercise, better diet and less stress.

As part of Pain Awareness Month, pain awareness advocates want to highlight ways to safely and holistically manage chronic pain without the use of pharmaceuticals like opioids. In many cases, you can choose alternative or complementary wellness solutions that focus on improving your quality of life so you feel less pain.

The below chronic pain solutions not only manage existing pain, but they also help correct health issues so you can prevent the condition from worsening.

Exercise

A lack of exercise often worsens chronic pain. It actually becomes a vicious circle—the more pain you feel, the less you want to exercise. But the less you exercise, the more pain you will feel.

Physical activity helps increase mobility and range of motion, which are often limited by conditions like arthritis and fibromyalgia. Some of the exercises you can perform to help heal chronic pain include:

  • Walking: One of the simplest but most beneficial forms of exercise, walking can help ease chronic pain. Daily walking gets your muscles and joints moving and helps reduce stress.
  • Strength Training: Chronic back, neck and hip pain can often stem from weak muscles. Building your leg, glute, back and shoulder strength can help prevent degenerative conditions that lead to chronic pain.

Relaxation

For many people, it’s during relaxation and sleep that pain intensifies because there isn’t anything to distract you from it. But becoming better at relaxation and prioritizing restful activities can help you manage pain more effectively.

Muscle tension is a major reason why people experience pain. Stiff, sore muscles need intentional care and relaxation to alleviate stress. Some relaxation solutions for healing chronic pain include:

    • Massage Therapy: Massage therapists work tense muscles with their hands to loosen and smooth fibers and tissues that have become tightened due to stress and not enough stretching. Massage therapists also use special techniques to release pain in certain joints.
  • Yoga and Stretching: A daily practice of yoga or deep stretching can help improve your flexibility, increase blood and oxygen flow to your joints, and improve your posture and alignment. Yoga, specifically, is also a proven way to enhance mindfulness and reduce the effects of stress.

Overcoming Chronic Pain

Pain Awareness Month is a way for us to discuss the widespread issue of chronic pain and the hidden issues it leads to. When people are in pain, it causes emotional and mental disruption that prevents people from living a better life. In turn, this can have an impact on families and communities.

By shedding light on the problem of chronic pain and the chronic pain solutions that are available, people can rely less on pain-killing drugs and rely more on creating a life of wellbeing for themselves.

If you’re living with chronic pain, there are chronic pain solutions you can implement in daily life to help achieve a neutral posture and relieve pressure from your spine. For back support products for work, home, exercise and on-the-go, shop Relax The Back online and find the wellness solution that’s right for you.

Sources:

  1. https://medlineplus.gov/magazine/issues/spring11/articles/spring11pg5-6.html
  2. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/News-Events/Directors-Messages/All-Directors-Messages/September-Pain-Awareness-Month-2017
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3052406/  
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/risk-factors.htm
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/arthritis/basics/fibromyalgia.htm
  6. https://www.spine-health.com/conditions/sciatica/what-you-need-know-about-sciatica
  7. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/spinal-stenosis/symptoms-causes/syc-20352961
  8. https://www.bustle.com/p/7-exercises-for-chronic-pain-that-can-actually-help-you-manage-it-7524955
  9. https://www.painpathways.org/the-important-benefits-of-stretching-for-pain-relief/

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
  4. https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/recovery/rotator-cuff-and-shoulder-conditioning-program/
  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/
  12. https://www.webmd.com/fitness-exercise/exercise-after-injury#1
  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
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  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
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  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/
  3. http://www.jstor.org/stable/3560273?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents
  4. https://shapeamerica.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/19325037.2004.10603599#.WxVVqEgvw2w
  5. http://www.healthguidance.org/entry/11858/1/the-benefits-of-holistic-treatments.html
  6. http://blog.aoma.edu/blog/holistic-healing-in-modern-times
  7. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0005796710001324
  8. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1038/oby.2001.100
  9. https://www.cdc.gov/nutrition/data-statistics/plain-water-the-healthier-choice.html
  10. https://journals.lww.com/co-psychiatry/Abstract/2005/03000/Exercise_and_well_being_a_review_of_mental_and.13.aspx
  11. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/benefits-of-sleep
  12. https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/why-good-posture-matters
  13. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/fitness/in-depth/stretching/art-20047931
  14. https://www.webmd.com/oral-health/gum-disease-health
  15. http://newsroom.ucla.edu/releases/we-are-hard-wired-to-be-social-248746
  16. https://www.webmd.com/balance/features/prioritizing-time-for-yourself-for-health

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.