LDL, HDL & Triglycerides. Maybe you are not interested in knowing all this scientific talk, but you do need to know how to keep your heart healthy.
So what are Triglycerides anyway?
Triglycerides link to excess blood sugars from the food you eat and whisk them to fat cells for long-term storage. But when levels get too high, triglycerides can also become the raw material for LDLs, making them another dangerous actor in the heart disease drama.
Newer studies suggest that triglycerides alone can predict a heart’s risk for heart disease.
Smoking, drinking, eating too many refined carbs (including sugar or corn syrup), and being overweight can all elevate triglycerides.
Here are some strategies to help reduce your Triglyceride levels:
Have a “natural” whole-grain at dinner every night
Try brown rice, whole-wheat couscous, barley, even quinoa. Simply choosing whole grains instead of the refined type (think white bread) could cut your risk of heart attack by 30 percent.
Enjoy Mother Nature’s desserts
We’re talking about fruit – fresh, frozen (without syrup), canned in its own juice, or dried. Yes, fruit does have fructose, but in smaller quantities than high-fructose corn syrup has. And, fruit brings you a wealth of fiber, vitamins, minerals, and a host of antioxidants. Have a piece for dessert most evenings.
Avoid “liquid Candy”
We are talking about high-sugar sodas, processed fruit juices, and sweetened ice teas. Switch to seltzer with a splash of orange juice or lemon, plain water, or, if you just love soda, try the diet version.
Always read the label
Even applesauce, stewed tomatoes, and pasta sauces may contain corn syrup. Usually, there is a corn syrup free version right next to it on the shelf so make sure you are reading the labels on what you purchase.
Set an alcoholic drink limit
The limit for women is one drink; for men, two. If your triglyceride level is in the healthy range, the one/two-drink rule is fine. If you triglycerides are high, cut out alcohol all together, since it can actually raise triglyceride levels. Even small amounts can send levels soaring in some people.
If you’re overweight, losing 5 to 10 percent of your body weight – just 10 to 20 pounds for someone who weighs 200 pounds – will reduce your triglycerides by about 20 percent.
If you have high triglycerides, getting at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical acitivity most days of the week may lower your triglyceride levels. Exercise is also an important part of keeping your weight under control.
Eat a moderately low-fat diet
You may be surprised to learn that diets that are extremely low in fat are not as effective at lowering triglycerides as diets moderately low in fat. Experts recommend that people with high triglycerides get about 25 to 35 percent of their daily calories from fat. How do you know you are getting the right amount of fat? For someone who eats 2,000 calories a day, 30 percent is 600 calories. At 9 calories per gram, that’s about 67 grams of fat a day. But remember, not all fat is created equal. Cut Back on Saturated fats and replace trans fat with healthier fats found in things like olive oil, nuts and salmon.
I hope you found a few ways today that you can start immediately to improve your odds of avoiding heart problems in the future.
As important it is to lower your “Bad cholesterol” LDLs, it is as equally important to raise your “good Cholesterol” or HDLs.
Long ignored by doctors HDL is a great heart-protection factor. Every 1-point rise in HDLs reduces your risk for a fatal heart attack by 3 percent. It is as potent as a 1-point drop in LDLs. For too long, doctors only emphasized cutting LDLs. Now we know how to raise HDLs and that is has heart protecting benefits.
Here are 6 ways you can raise your HDLs levels today
Kicking the cigarette habit can raise your HDLs about 4 points.
Enjoy one alcoholic drink per day
A glass of wine with dinner could increase your good cholesterol by 4 points.
Snack on Walnuts or Pecans
You’ll enhance your HDL level by 2 to 3 points if you regularly snack on a small handful walnuts halves or pecans, report researchers from Shiraz University of Medical Sciences in Iran and from Loma Linda University in California.
Achieve a Healthier weight
If you doctor approves of your weight-loss plans, gradually moving to a healthy weight could raise your HDLs by 1 point for every 6 ½ pounds you lose, experts say.
Walk briskly, three times per day
You can raise you HDLs by 1 to 4 points with a fast paced stroll (just vigorous enough that conversation is a little difficult) for a half-hour on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, cardiologist say.
Avoid a Fat-Free Lifestyle
You read that right. Your body needs some fat to help maintain HDL levels. Choose “good” monounsaturated fats, found in olive and canola oils, and omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish, walnuts, and fish-oil capsules, to help your body keep HDLs on an even keel.
Here are some additional great HDL increasers to add into your diet
Olive oil: The type of heart-healthy fat found in olives and olive oil can increase you HDL and lower the inflammatory impact of LDL cholesterol in your body. Swap Extra-virgin olive oil for all you other oils and fats when cooking at low temperatures, as extra virgin olive oil breaks down at high temperatures. Use Olive oil in salad dressings, sauces, and to flavor foods once they’re cooked.
Whole Grains: Whole grains including bran, cereals, and brown or wild rice may give your HDL levels a boost. That’s because they contain fiber, specifically soluble fiber. Have at least two servings of whole grains per day. Things like Oatmeal for Breakfast, Whole-grain bread at lunch or a side of brown rice for dinner are all great ideas for getting this staple into your diet.
High Fiber Fruit: Fruits with lots of fiber, such as prunes, apples, and pears, can boost your HDL levels and lower your LDL levels.
Fatty Fish: Omega-3 fatty acids, which are found in fish, can lower your LDL and increase your HDL. Look for fattier options, such as salmon, mackerel, albacore tuna, sardines, and rainbow trout.
Not sure what your Cholesterol levels are? Then it is probably a good time to schedule a physical exam with your doctor and have a blood screen panel done. This is something you should do at least once every year. An ideal HDL level is 60 milligrams or above. Your HDL is considered low if it’s below 40 milligrams.
If you’re used to automatically thinking that cholesterol is bad for you, here’s news: At healthy levels, this natural substance isn’t a demon at all. Your body uses this soft, waxy material every day to build cell membranes and to produce sex hormones, vitamin D, and fat digesting bile acids.
But modern day cholesterol levels are out of balance – and it’s not simply a matter of too much. We eat too many “bad fats” – saturated fats and artificial trans-fatty acids that raise levels of heart-threatening LDL cholesterol. We consume too little of the “good fats” – the unsaturated fats omega-3 fatty acids found in foods like nuts and fish – that protect levels of “good” HDL cholesterol. And we skip exercise, the key to keeping LDLs lower and HDLs higher.
The result? Not just dangerously high cholesterol but also dangerously out-of-balance levels of good HDLs and bad LDLs. The latest research on heart health shows that ignoring this balance, by focusing solely on lowering your cholesterol, can lead to trouble. Cutting-edge cardiologists are finding that the higher you HDLs and the lower your LDLs, essentially, the closer you can come to the “natural” cholesterol balance human were meant to have. It’s the most powerful way to lower your risk for clogged arteries, heart attacks, and strokes. At the same time, maintaining healthy levels of another important, though less well-know, blood fat called triglycerides, is important too.
Today I want to focus on 8 ways to lower LDLs. Again, simply put, high LDLs raise your risk for heart attack or stroke. Lower levels reduce your risk.
Cut trans fats out of your diet
Eat chopped vegetables instead of snack crackers, and fruit instead of boxed cookies or store-bought cakes and pastries. Choose margarines that clearly state on the label that they contain no trans fats, too. Trans fats are worse for your heart than saturated fats because they boost levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol and decrease “good” HDL cholesterol. Avoiding these processed fats could cut your heart attack risk by 55 percent!
Keep your slow-cooker on the counter and actually use it
Eating leaner cuts of meat can cut your LDLs because you’re getting less cholesterol-raising saturated fat in every bite. Low-fat meats can be tough; cooking them in a slow cooker is an easy way to tenderize without adding lots of fat.
Make your own salad dressing
Use olive oil and vinegar or lemon juices, spices, and crushed garlic. You’ll get more cholesterol-lowering unsaturated fat and avoid the trans fat and saturated fats swimming in most bottled dressings – especially the creamy types!
Sit down to a steaming bowl of Oatmeal most mornings
Oats are packed with soluble fiber called beta glucan that whisks excess cholesterol out of your body. Having 1 ½ cups of oatmeal on a regular basis could lower your LDLs by 12 to 24 percent.
Have a pear or a grapefruit half every morning
Both fruits are rich in pectin, another soluble fiber that helps lower LDLs. Other great pectin sources are apples and all types of berries.
Devote 10 minutes a day to resistance training exercise
Women who did 45 to 50 minutes of muscle building resistance training exercises three times a week lowered their LDL levels by 14 percent. If you can’t do that much start with 10 minutes. You can work your way up and anything here helps.
Eat six small meals per day
In a large British study, people who “grazed” throughout the day had lower cholesterol levels than those who ate big meals twice a day.
Avoid saturated Fat Traps
Your body uses saturated fats to produce LDLs. Overeating foods like cheesecake, cheeseburgers, premium ice cream, and steaks provides way too much raw material for producing this heart-threatening stuff. A better plan: Always stop and think before saying “yes” to the foods heavy with animal fat. Ask yourself: What could I have instead? The answer might be a fruit salad or a piece of grilled chicken or fish. Even just choosing a low-fat or fat-free helping of a frozen dessert such as sorbet is a much better choice.
These are 8 great ways to start guarding yourself again the #1 killer in America.
Start trying these out today. Your life depend on it!
We have now entered the third age of history. In this third age we now have the knowledge to prevent diseases and in some cases we know how to cure them. But with all this scientific knowledge that we have at our fingertips, Heart disease is still the number one killer of men and women in the United States.
Even with this statistic, more people are afraid of getting diseases like Ebola than heart disease. We cannot keep trying to ignore this killer. This should be what keeps you up at night. We are all at risk!
Once doctors believed that the biggest risk factor for heart attacks and strokes was getting old. Conditions like high blood pressure, out-of-balance cholesterol levels, and high levels of blood fats called triglycerides were seen as unfortunate, yet normal, parts of the aging process. But that was then, and this is now. The evidence today is overwhelming: Making healthy lifestyle changes can powerfully reverse those three threats and others that are the underlying causes of heart attacks and strokes.
That’s the happy conclusion of hundreds, even thousands of studies conducted around the world. And it holds true for people of all ages and health levels- whether you have arteries that are in tip-top shape, are taking medications to control somewhat problematic blood pressure or cholesterol levels, or have already had one heart attack or stroke and want to avoid a second.
Making small, healthy changes at any age can dramatically lower your risk for a life-altering blood clot. People who newly adopt a healthy lifestyle experience a prompt benefit of lower rates of cardiovascular disease and mortality.
But it is all up to you. Only you can take charge of your health and stop from becoming a heart disease statistic.
What causes high blood pressure, out of balance cholesterol levels, and high levels of blood fats? It is all about what you eat. And the American diet is heavy in processed foods and sugars.
If you grew up eating hamburgers, pizza and ice cream and you regularly get your dinner from fast food and take out restaurants, changing your eating to prevent things like heart disease isn’t going to be easy. There is food you shouldn’t be eating at every corner Fast Food restaurant and donut shop. Your taste buds have now been trained to crave the high sugar taste of high fructose corn syrup and the fats and other chemicals that make food stay moist.
You will not only need to retrain your taste buds but your brain as well.
In my blog on Friday we will first tackle the ways we need to combat things like cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. The first step to making changes is to know the facts and that is what we will start with first. After we know the facts we can then make plans of how to make the changes in your lifestyle so that you do not become one of the Heart Disease statistics.
Let’s not let Heart disease have the last word. Make your commitment today.
For most of history, viruses, bacteria, or injuries were mankind’s main causes of death. This is called the “first age,” and it continued well into the 20th century. But with the discovery of vaccines, antibiotics, and general medical knowledge regarding how to fix a broken body, we began to control many killer diseases and repair what once would have been fatal injuries. And as a result, this “first age” ended, and average life spans began to rise incredibly fast in modern countries over the past 100 years.
This newfound expertise in combating disease and injury was a huge leap forward. What was still ignored or misunderstood, however, was the science of good health. Many of us – including doctors – smoked, overindulged in alcohol, ate fatty foods, embraced the emerging comforts of modern life (such as television), and didn’t think at all about exercise. The result was the “second age” spanning much of the past 60 years, in which heart disease and cancer rates grew to epidemic proportions and replaced viruses and bacteria as the leading causes of death in modern nations.
But something amazing has happened in just the past two decades. Researchers figured out what makes a heart go wrong, and how to fix it. We even began to understand and successfully treat cancer. Today, a diagnosis of either condition carries with it a greater measure of hope and recovery than ever before. And along the way we how nutrition, exercise, stress, and compulsive habits like smoking and drinking affect our bodies and cause disease.
Welcome then to the “Third Age,” in which we are living longer and healthier than ever before. Just because you are living longer doesn’t mean that you are destined to suffer from these diseases and conditions of aging. For one component of the “third age” of health is an unprecedented understanding of the underlying cause of good health. Fifteen years ago, issues like chronic inflammation weren’t understood. Today, we know that a perpetually on-attack immune system is a major cause of age-related disease. We also didn’t know the subtleties of “good” cholesterol or the complex chemistry changes in your body that is caused by stress and relaxation of the power of micronutrients in our food to fight age-related disease and decline.
With all this new understanding, we are on the verge of achieving not just long life, but long health. But- and this is a major but – it’s up to you. Doctors and the health-care system cannot deliver long health. It doesn’t come in a pill. Only you can make it happen. Are you up for the challenge?
Come back on Wednesday in my next blog when I give you advise on what you can and need to do to take this challenge. It may not be easy. It may cause you some discomfort, but It’s time to take back your health today! The results are worth the work.
The quality of your sleep is closely related to the quality of your waking hours. Live happily and actively, and sleep will come more easily.
Here are some ways you can live an Sleep-Friendly Lifestyle
Take a walk after lunch, then read a book on the patio
Exercise cuts stress, and getting exercise in the sun can help keep your body’s circadian rhythms calibrated. You need about two hours of daily exposure to bright sunlight to help your body stay in sync. If you can’t get outdoors, consider buying a light box – a fixture that radiates light that mimics the brightness and wavelengths of natural sunlight.
Or try Tai Chi on the Lawn
In China, people rise at dawn to perform this series of ancient, gentle, dancelike movements in local parks. The sleep bonus: In a study Tai Chi beat out low impact exercise for improving sleep.
Schedule worry time during the day, in the kitchen!
If your mind is accustomed to revving up sleep-robbing anxiety in bed, retrain your brain by moving your worry session to another place and time. Try morning at the kitchen table – pour a mug of chamomile tea (a natural soother) with honey, grab a notebook and pen, and write out your worries. This will clear your mind and break the association between bed, night, and worry. If thoughts keep popping up, keep a notebook by your bed and write them down so you can think about them during the day.
Make herbal tea or water your drink of choice at lunchtime
Nix coffee as well as other caffeine sources like chocolate, colas and other soft drinks and black, green or white tea. Even small amounts of caffeine may keep you up late. Caffeine blocks a brain chemical called adenosine that helps us feel drowsy and fall asleep, and the effect may last longer the older you get. Instead sip some chamomile tea, which contains ingredients proven to calm the nervous system and, at bedtime, can induce sleep.
Instead of an evening cocktail, have a glass of wine with and early supper
Drinking before bed may help you fall asleep, but as the alcohol wears off, you’re likely to have light, easily broken sleep. If you enjoy a drink, have one with supper a few hours before bed.
Now that we talked about what to do during the day to set yourself up for a great sleep, here are some things to do right before bed to prepare yourself for a great sleep.
Soften the mood
An hour before bedtime, switch your phone to silence, turn off the television or computer, pull on your softest pajamas, and cue up your favorite relaxing sounds. The best music is the music that soothes you.
Try progressive relaxation
Sit in a comfortable chair with both feet on the floor or lie on the sofa or your bed. Inhale and exhale naturally. After a few minutes, systematically tighten a muscle group as you inhale, then relax it completely as you exhale. Progressively loosen and tighten both feet, your lower legs, and upper legs, then work your way up to your back, arms, neck, shoulders, and even your face. Then continue to breathe naturally feeling any remaining tension ebb away.
Soak in a hot bath
Immersing yourself in warm water an hour or two before bed helps blood vessels dilate so your body can release heat – part of the natural cooling down that proceeds sleep.
Enjoy a sleepy-time snack
Have a handful of walnuts, a banana, or a glass of milk- all rich sources of the sleep-inducing amino acid tryptophan. (Bananas also pack melatonin, the sleep hormone.) Drink a glass of water – but stay away from juice. In one study, people who drank juice just before bed became extra alert due to the high sugar content of their drinks and need an extra 20 to 30 minutes to fall asleep.
Take antacids right after dinner, not before bed
Antacids contain aluminum, which appears to interfere with sleep.
Give these a try right away, so you can start reaping the benefits of a Sleep-Friendly Lifestyle today!
We all need sleep. Sleep plays an important part in your physical health. One important reason is that sleep is involved in healing and repair of your heart and blood vessels. When we don’t get good sleep we have an increased risk of heart disease, Kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke.
Obviously sleep is very important and not something you want to band aid with Energy Drinks and Caffeine.
Here are 10 ways you can improve your sleep this week:
Create a Clutter Free Sanctuary.
Your brain deserves the balm of a soothing, organized, pleasant environment, free of worrisome reminders like baskets of laundry that needs to be folded, stacks of magazines to be sorted, or bills to be paid. Consider painting the walls a soothing color, too. How about sage green or a luminous, pale purple-blue?
Block the light
Moonlight, street lights, late sunsets, and early dawns can all interfere with the circadian rhythm changes you need to fall asleep.
Reserve the bedroom for sex and sleep
Don’t water TV in bed and don’t pay bills in bed, experts say. You don’t want to start linking your bed with activities that keep you awake or that cause worry.
Nestle on a new pillow
If yours is more than six months old, or if you wake up in the morning with a sore neck and shoulders or a stuffy nose, it may be time for new head support. The best pillow depends on you, but here are some pointers
Outside walls and windows in your bedroom mean more noise. Locating your sleeping spot along and inside wall could improve things, a Spanish study suggests.
Turn your digital clock to the wall
The problem with having a digital clock, with a big luminous display is that you may have a sleeping problem when you do not. You make wake for a moment at 2 am, drift back to sleep, then wake again at 2:30 – and think you’ve been awake the whole time. It’s annoying and leads to anxiety.
Keep bedroom reading to a minimum
A few minutes of relaxing reading is a perfectly fine pre-sleep ritual. But if you get in the habit of reading in bed for a long time, or if the only time your read is at night in bed, that’s a problem. You should do any prolonged reading in a chair in another room during waking hours.
Splurge on new pajamas
Yes, your old night gown or boxers are still in good condition, but if they’re not completely comfy, you deserve better. Invest in 100 percent cotton pajamas for cool comfort or cozy flannels for cold winter nights.
Scent your sheets with Lavender
Place a single drop of lavender essential oil on your pillow or spray your sheets with lavender water before you turn in. Studies at the University of Leicester in England found that this soothing botanical works as well as sleeping pills for quelling insomnia and tension.
Kick Fluffy and Fido out of your oasis
Sorry animal lovers! Studies have shown that one in five pet owners sleep with their pets – or more accurately, don’t sleep, because their pets are on the bed or in the room. It could be that sneeze-provoking kitty dander, those midnight potty runs to the backyard, or the patter of little Labradoodle feet, but even more incriminating, is studies showed that 21 percent of dogs and 7 percent of cats actually snore!
So, what actually is a Sleep Friendly Lifestyle? Come back on Friday where I explain what that is and how you can live the lifestyle today!
Insomnia. Annoying, exhausting and mysterious. Sounds kind of like a horror flick, and for some people it is, and another thing we can all enjoy as we age.
Many things can cause insomnia, such as medications, diseases, everyday habits and even bedtime routines. The good news is that while sometimes you cannot change inevitable change in sleep patterns, you don’t have to settle for wide-awake nights and dog-tired days.
Experts have found that healthy, active adults can still find ways to get enough rest when their sleep patterns do change, so that they can still live the lives they want to live. It may be true that they need more time to fall asleep, wake up more often and for longer periods of time at night, and even wake up much earlier in the morning, but they still found ways to get enough sleep to feel refreshed.
So, what are these people’s secrets to overcoming this annoying thing called insomnia? They are doing everything from exercising in sunlight to saying no to that after dinner cocktail.
Your first step is to understand and accommodate the way your body and mind are sleeping now. Usually sleep changed don’t happen suddenly (unless you are dealing with a newborn or children…. And that is a whole other kind of sleep deprivation horror flick there!) Your sleep patterns can start changing as young as your 30’s even though you might now notice them right away.
Here are some tips to adjusting to your new sleep patterns:
It is inevitable that your timing and quality of sleep are going to change over time. Monitoring changes and adjusting to then is half the battle.
Tired at 8pm? Go to bed.
Just accept the change and go to bed earlier. Your need for seven to eight hours doesn’t change so don’t miss your chance to get it.
Can’t drop off to sleep in an instant? Be patient – you’ll get there.
As you age for some people it gets harder to fall asleep.
Waking up more in the night is common as you age
Once asleep as you age you go through your sleep patterns quicker than when you were younger. Researchers suspect that lower levels of growth hormone in your system may help explain why you spend less time in the deepest, most restorative sleep.
Wide awake at 5am? Get up.
Your body clock may have shifted to an early to bed early to rise schedule. Turning in earlier will help ensure that early wakeups aren’t a rude awakening. Besides that there is a growing trend out there that the most successful people in life, wake up earlier setting up their day for success. All the better is you body is ready for it!
Consider Daytime Naps
Power nap anyone? Even if you suffer from insomnia, studies have shown that a short daytime nap doesn’t have much impact on night time sleep. In other words taking a power nap will not make your insomnia worse, but it may give you the extra bit of sleep you need to make it through the day without hitting a slump in the afternoon. For some people this may not work, so it is best to experiment and try it for a couple of days. You may have to decide which matters most, using the nap to feel more awake during the day or trying to get all your sleep at one stretch at night. Whichever you do choose, the key is regularity. If you’re going to nap, do it at the same time every day to train your body and mind.
Come back on Wednesday when I will you some great advise on Improving your nightly sleep! We all could use some of that! No matter your age.
Back pain is very common to most of us at one time or another and can have many different causes. In fact back pain is a common reason for absence from work and doctor visits. For many people, back pain seems like an unavoidable discomfort but you may have more control than you think.
Here are some tips to help reduce your back pain today.
Get up and move
Once, experts said that bed rest was best for bad backs. Not anymore. Study after study shows that movement helps keep muscles supple and boosts circulation, bringing oxygen and nutrients to heal strained spots. Don’t expect to play tennis tomorrow. Do expect that after a brief rest, you will rise and go about as much of your daily routine as possible, taking it as easy as you need to.
Then Stretch and strengthen.
Add stretching and gentle strengthening exercises, too. After a few weeks, start doing easy abdominal exercises. These strengthen your core – the “inner corset” of muscles that steady your spine. (Go easy on back exercises, though). One study found that walking provided more relief. Aim to exercise for a half hour five days a week – whether you walk, swim, or do aerobics or another activity you like.
Find time for relaxing stretches such as yoga
Many of us unconsciously hold years of tension in our upper and lower backs. There’s some evidence that mental stress can cause physical stress that could push back muscles past the tipping point, leading to pain. If chronic stress is tensing you up, you need regular doses of healing stretches. Yoga is the perfect form, but regular, slow stretching will work fine, too. Better yet, don’t let anger, frustration, and other strong emotions affect your physical well-being.
Walk while you talk on the phone
In one University of California, Los Angeles study of 681 people with lower-pain, those who walked briskly for three hours a week felt better physically and mentally, while those who performed regular back exercises had more pain. Movement of any kind improves the flow of oxygen and nutrients to muscles and redistributes the gel inside the shock-absorbing disks that cushion your vertebrae. In contrast, sitting allows the gel to squash to one side or the other, leaving you with uneven cushioning between the joints of your spine.
If you’re sitting, take a stretch break every 20 minutes
Sitting still for hours deprives your back muscles of oxygen and nutrients, allowing the disks between your vertebrae to bulge if you’re not using perfect posture. Over time, muscles grow tight, and bulging disk can press on nerves, causing pain.
Reconsider the myth of the firm mattress
Spanish back-pain sufferers who slept on medium-firm mattresses for 90 nights cut their morning aches more than those who snoozed on firm beds. Beds with a bit of “give” seem to support and cushion stiffer muscles and joints better than harder, less yielding mattresses – especially for people with lower-back pain.
Uncross your legs
Love to cross your legs? There’s surprising reasons why this sitting position feels so relaxing: Studies show it literally puts muscles in your back and abdomen into “sleep” mode, decreasing electrical activity. The problem with that is muscles that should be supporting your back are now off-duty, leaving your spine literally “hanging” on various muscles and ligaments. Over time, this stretches some and tightens others, setting the stage for the day when the tiniest move – bending to tie your shoe, or reaching for the breakfast cereal at the back of a shelf – will lead to painful back spasms.
Women, lighten your purses
Oversized hand bags, often made with heavy quilted leather and decorated with equally weighty chain handles, are great for carrying everything under the sun – but experts find that they can weigh 7 to 10 pounds. At that weight, these over-the-shoulder suitcases throw off your back’s finely balanced architecture. You hike up one shoulder, putting stress on your neck, upper back, and shoulders, which leads to not only upper-back pain but also a stiff neck.
Switch from old -fashioned high heels to high-style flats
Walking in high heels is like walking downhill all day – you have to lean back avoid the feeling that you’re falling forward, a move that compresses the disk in your lower back. Save your back by switching to shoes with heels that are less than an inch high. Look for a snug, firm heel counter – the part of the shoe that supports the sides and back of your heel. That gives you better foot control while walking and actually help supports your arch.
If back pain is getting you down, these are some great tips to try to ease the pain.
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Even the healthiest of us get muscle pain.
The good news is that you don’t ever have to live with pain. Smart strategies that combine safe ache easers and proven at-home care steps- from ice to heat to gentle exercise, or even getting a new wallet or purse – can cut the pain you’re feeling now and lower the odds that it’ll ever show up again.
So, what can we do about it? Here are some ideas for you to ease your muscle pain today.
Take a walk – and swing your arms
Experts have a name for the general hurt you feel the day after you overexert yourself: delayed-onset muscle soreness or DOMS. It turns out that if you were a little overzealous playing, working, exercising, or even gardening, the best remedy the day after is to get moving again. Staying active works the painful chemical by-products of overexertion out of your muscle tissue and keeps muscle fibers flexible so they can’t tighten up and stay sore longer. Light exercise helps sore muscles heal so you’ll have less pain next time.
Ice down painful strains and sprains
Keep a cold pack, a 1-pound package of frozen corn or peas, or several paper cups filled with a few inches of water in the freezer. It it’s been less than 48 hours since your injury rub the ice in a cup over the sore muscle or ice it down by wrapping the frozen veggies or cold pack in a clean kitchen towel and placing it over the area. Cold compresses reduce swelling and inflammation and relieve pain. Apply for 10 minutes, remove for 10 minutes, then apply for another 10; this strategy helps protect skin from being damaged by the ice. But skip the process if you have blood-flow issues, diabetes, or Raynaud’s syndrome or if you are highly sensitive to cold.
Stretch and prop
IF all you have is mild soreness, we’ve already told you that movement and light exercise are the right remedies. But more severe pain is your body’s signal to stop moving around or putting weight on an injured muscle. If you sense that your soreness crosses that line, stay off your feet or avoid using an injured arm for the first day or so. If you’ve injured a muscle in a hip or leg, keep it raised above groin level with pillows or folded blankets. This helps your body reabsorb fluid sent into the area and reduces swelling. Make sure an injured arm is supported, not hanging down, for the same reason.
After two to three days, add homemade heat
Warmth relaxes right, sore muscles and relieves pain. Fill an old knee sock of long tube sock three-quarters full of raw white rice, tie off the open end tightly with a rubber band, and microwave it for 2 minutes. Lay it over a sore spot or use it to gently massage a healing muscle that feels tight. This do-it-yourself hot pack is reusable and works for muscle cramps as well. Add cinnamon sticks and cloves or dried lavender buds for a spicy scent.
Stash stick-on heating pads in your medicine cabinet and glove compartment
Single-use heat wraps and patches that adhere to your skin or clothes at a sore spot are great for fast relief – and they come in shapes and sizes that fit particular high-ache areas perfectly. Inside are chemicals that warm up when the package is opened and they’re exposed to air. The low-level heat is safe to use for up to eight hours, sometimes longer.
Or soak it
Sink into a warm tub, Jacuzzi, or whirlpool and add 15 drops of relaxing lavender essential oil or muscle warming ginger essential oil to the water along with a half cup of Epsom salts or Dead Sea salts. This is great for muscle cramps also.
Treat yourself to a rub down
Try this on a warm muscle a few days after an injury. Rub the length of the muscle, moving from the pint farthest from your heart toward the point closest to your heart. Research shows that post exercise and post injury massage can reduce pain and speed healing. It can reduce inflammation too.
Listen to your body
Never push through pain or fatigue. The truth is, tired, stressed muscles are injury prone. Pay attention when your arms or legs feel fatigued or your back feels tight. These are signs that it is time to rest and relax. Pushing too hard could lead to cramps and pulled muscles.
Check back on Friday when I give some tips to ease Back Pain. Now that should be a good one!
Giving you the most current and up to date advice on living a longer and active life.
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