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Posts Tagged ‘low back pain relief’

A yoga class.
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By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach

For those of you suffering from back pain, I must first say this: Make sure you see a doctor or chiropractor you trust before undertaking any new exercise that impacts your low back. Certain low back conditions can be made worse by doing backbends and other yoga poses if done improperly, or if you have certain conditions such as Spondylolysis (a defect in the pars interarticularis of a vertebra). If you have an acute back condition such as a recent herniation, get your doctor’s approval before doing any yoga or any exercises that impact your back!

For people with muscle tension in the low back and those without back injury, gentle yoga poses may help strengthen your back and core muscles.

One website that offers help for back pain is YogaTherapyWeb.com

The site has many articles about using Yoga as a muscle therapy and stress management tool. Read more from YogaTherapyWeb.com about a study done using Yoga to reduce back pain:

Yoga For Back Pain

According to a study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, yoga for back pain may be just what the doctor ordered. In the 12 week study, Dr. Karen Sherman and her colleagues at the Group Health Cooperative in Seattle compared the effectiveness of yoga for back pain vs. physical therapy exercises, and a self-care book with exercises targeting chronic lower back pain.

The 101 adults in the randomized, controlled clinical trial were separated into three groups: the first attended weekly yoga for back pain classes with daily at-home yoga practice. The second attended a program of back pain exercises developed by a physical therapist, also once a week with daily home practice. The third group received The Back Pain Helpbook, an evidence-based book emphasizing self-care strategies for back pain.

By the end of the 12 weeks, it was clear that yoga for back pain not only helped reduce the pain, but it did so more effectively than either the book or the back pain exercises.

Moreover, a three month follow-up revealed that the back pain yoga group continued to enjoy far better results than the groups who had practiced back pain exercises or read the book.

Read the entire post from YogaTherapyWeb.com here.

Source: Comparing Yoga, Exercise, and a Self-Care Book for Chronic Low Back Pain, Sherman, 2005

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by Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Through the years I’ve had a number of massage therapy clients say things like, “I know it has to hurt to be effective,” and “no pain no gain, right?” Actually, massage does not, and should not ,“hurt” to be effective. In fact, if the massage you are receiving is so painful you have to grit your teeth or hold your breath, it likely isn’t going to be very effective.

The idea that we have to experience pain in order to heal is a holdover from the 1980’s when people were “going for the burn” and many bodywork modalities were just starting to take root. Some massage therapy schools of thought held that people were experiencing deep emotional breakthroughs if they cried out or had an emotional “release” during a particularly intense bodywork session. This led to the idea that you HAD to have a deep emotional outburst or had to feel pain to have a really “good” bodywork experience.

Since then, somatic psychology and bodywork has matured. As have bodywork practitioners. Many realize that, especially for people that have already had a physical trauma such as a car accident or injury, the body has already been through deep trauma. Working too deep, giving too much pressure, or expecting clients to have radical transformation from a single session can be retraumatizing.

Some massage therapists still hold to the belief that trigger points need intense compression to release the knot. Sometimes this is true. But holding a trigger point for too long, or pressing too deeply into a sore muscle area can cause more pain and damage than healing. (Trigger points are areas of the muscles that have a cluster of muscular adhesions or “knots” that refer pain elsewhere when compressed.)

Good Pain Versus Bad Pain
Does that mean that massage should be painless? Well herein lies the rub (pun intended). Massage is not painless any more than working out is painless. There can be muscle soreness. When we first press on a sore or extremely tight muscle area, there may be tenderness or soreness. We call this “good pain” similar to the soreness you may experience when you lift weights or do a prolonged cardio session. However, if you are working out and you “pull” a muscle or sprain your ankle, that would be “bad pain.” That type of pain indicates an injury to the tissue and requires medical attention. Muscle soreness during an exercise or massage session is not abnormal and can indicate that healing is occurring.

What About Soreness?
When a tight muscle is massaged, at first you may notice the sensation of soreness or tenderness. Initially you become more aware of that muscle area and that may include an awareness of just how very tight and sore the muscle is. Then as the massage therapist continues to work with the muscle tissue, fresh blood flows into the muscle area as the therapist presses down (as in compressions or gliding strokes). This fresh blood helps “loosen” the muscle tissue and also helps bring nutrients and oxygen into the muscle. At this point, especially in a deep tissue massage, you will likely notice less soreness in the area. If the muscle gets more and more sore, the massage therapist may be overworking the area and it’s best if you tell him or her to stop massaging that area and to move elsewhere!

That all said, after a deep tissue massage, you may feel some muscle soreness a day or two afterwards, just as you may feel sore after a workout. In essence, a deep tissue massage is like having someone else give your body a workout. Soreness or bruising lasting longer than a day or so may indicate the massage was too intense. Let your massage therapist know if this happens so he or she knows to work with less pressure for your next massage. (If you go back to him or her at all!)

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By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Do you have a great backrest, but your chair or car seat is too hard or you find yourself sliding off the seat? Or is your chair a wire mesh type with a supposedly great ergonomic design but no comfy cushioning in the seat?

Why settle for uncomfortable car seats and office chairs when you can easily upgrade your seating setup with a foam cushion! Pair your backrest with a foam seat cushion.

For about $100-$150 you can put together your own “ergo” seating. We’ve reviewed many of the products out there and found the best prices and reviews on Amazon. You may be able to find the same or similar products elsewhere, but you will pay about 10-30% more from other vendors.

To save you time, we pasted the links and pictures of the products in a few separate posts about backrests and seat cushions. Find the situation that describes your issue (you are taller than average, shorter than average, of wider girth than average, etc.) and read the associated post to find out about the product we think may help you best. In this post we discuss three different seat cushion options.

We also included pertinent tips from the Amazon customer reviews so you don’t have to wade through them yourself. However, if you want to read all the reviews yourself, simply go to the Amazon product link and check out the customer reviews.

Note: Many car seats are smaller and office chairs may be deeper and wider in the seat than some cushions. So when adding a foam seat cushion to your chair or car seat, keep the existing seat dimensions in mind. Amazon customer reviewers make note of this for some of the cushions discussed below.

1. Essential Medical Supply Memory P.F. Sculpture Comfort Seat Cushion

Essential Medical Seat Cushion

A bargain on Amazon for $28.92!


According to the manufacturer:

• Relieves Pressure
• Seating cushion includes molded, 6 lb. density memory foam
• Comfortable seat for individuals sitting in chairs, riding in cars, scooters, etc.
• Encased in removable and washable luxurious zippered blue velveteen cover.
• The sculpted design is anatomically correct and provides maximum comfort.
• Product Dimensions: 18 x 2.5 x 16 inches

Amazon Reviewers Say:
• The memory foam is dense so it doesn’t collapse into nothingness when you sit on it, and it gives you very good support. It raises the seat about two inches, which can make getting up from the chair a lot easier.

• My only complaint is that it would be nice if it was at least 2 inches wider and 3 inches deeper so it would approximate the seating area of my office chair. At its current dimensions, it only covers the seating area of a traditional dining room chair.

• While it does have a dense foam, it is not memory foam, as I understand the term. It compresses and quickly bounces back like any other foam. Would also have liked it to be a bit bigger, particularly in depth. Really only good for a small chair.

2. Kensington Memory Foam Seat Cushion

Kensington Memory Foam Seat Cushion

On Amazon for $37.64

According to the manufacturer:

• High-density memory cell foam was originally developed by NASA to relieve G-force strain during lift off.
• Temperature- and pressure-sensitive, it molds to the body’s contour, offering optimal comfort.
• Dissipates pressure while conforming to body contours.
• Leather-like bottom cover reduces movement on chair.
• Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 2.6 x 16.2 inches ; 2.6 pounds

Amazon Reviewers Say:

• No customer reviews on this product as of yet. We purchased one for one of our clients and so far she loves it, but she weighs only about 120 pounds.

Review from the similar Kensington Memory Foam Seat Rest (L82024)

• I ordered this cushion for my rather large desk chair at work- and it works great! The foam is very thick, but conforms to the body to support it well. The cushion is tapered at the front to prevent pressure on the legs. I would highly recommend this to improve posture and support while working at a desk. I am buying a second one to keep at home so when I work at my kitchen table on my laptop I am at the proper height.

• Heavier people may find the cushion smashes quickly, according to Amazon reviewers.

3. Obus Forme Ergonomic Seat Cushion

Orbus Forme Seat Cushion

From Amazon for $59.46

According to the manufacturer:

• Polyurethane foam construction absorbs compression forces and dissipates the vibration created in moving vehicles, making it ideal for use on the road.
• Can be used on its own or with any Obus Forme Backrest support to create a complete and comfortable ergonomic sitting experience.
• The removable front section is easily unzipped to allow for use with narrow chairs and benches.

Amazon Reviewers Say:

• The seat comes in a handy little plastic tote bag with a handle for carrying, and you can zip off the front segment of the seat to fit shallower chairs.

• This cushion saved my butt on a long car trip! I have periodic flare-ups of sciatica and hip pain, aggravated by riding in the car. Even short trips around town usually have me squirming in my seat. With the ObusForme cushion I can ride or drive pain free for hours at a time. I also brought it to a football game, and was comfortable for over three hours on the bleacher seat.

• However, I purchased the Obus Ultra Forme backrest for added support. I was so happy with the backrest that I decided that adding the seat was called for. It unfortunately turned out to be fairly uncomfortable. The support was pretty good, and the problem might have been that it was too small for my recliner, but I ended up returning it. I’m 6’4″, 200lbs, so maybe I don’t have enough built in padding, but regardless, I was disappointed in the seat after being so happy with the backrest.

• Great firm seat cushion. It stays in place well, and is a good complement to the Obus Forme back support device.

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By Sue Shekut, Licensed Massage Therapist, ACSM Personal Trainer, Certified Wellness Coach, Owner, Working Well Massage

Do you get neck and shoulder pain when you drive for long periods? Or do you find that your office chair does not provide enough lumbar and/or upper back support?

Why settle for uncomfortable car seats and office chairs when you can easily upgrade your seating setup with a foam cushion and backrest!

For about $100-$150 you can put together your own “ergo” seating. We’ve reviewed many products out there and found the best prices and reviews on Amazon. You may be able to find the same or similar products elsewhere, but you will pay about 10-30% more from other vendors.

To save you time, we pasted the links and pictures of the products in a few separate posts about backrests and seat cushions. Find the situation that describes your issue (you are taller than average, shorter than average, of wider girth than average, etc.) and read the associated post to find out about the product we think may help you best.

We also included pertinent tips from the Amazon customer reviews so you don’t have to wade through them yourself. However, if you want to read all the reviews yourself, simply go to the link and check out the customer reviews.

One thing to keep in mind when fitting your chair with lumbar and other support, is that you need to make sure your upper back is still in contact with the seat back. According to our ergonomic experts, with a small pillow or half cushion in your lumbar region, you may actually be putting too much of a curve into your low back and forcing your upper back to hunch forward.

First off, a top-rated seat cushion for back support that extends beyond a simple lumbar cushion is the:

Obus Ultra Forme Backrest

On Amazon for $59.99

Orbus Ultra Forme BackRest

According to the manufacturer:
• Clinically proved to reduce lower back pain by 50%
• Designed for back pain sufferers, including those with chronic an severe back pain
• Encourages proper alignment between pelvis and spine
• Improves circulation and reduces pressure on the back
• Patented “S” shaped frame of backrest helps prevent & relieve back pain
• Small, medium and large sizes available

Amazon Reviewers Say:

• These are easy to use and really improve your posture, keeping your back pain free, especially on those long road trips.

• This seat works to put your whole spine in an optimum curve. It is not just a lumbar support.

• This product does force you to sit up straight, which in turn prevents you from slouching your shoulders. This may be somewhat uncomfortable at first, but it sure beats the back pain that I get from leaning back or slouching over in my chair too long.

• It’s not like a super comfort back cushion, but it serves to straight your position and gives you relief. I don’t ever feel back pain when I have this on my chair and my co-workers complain alot about their pain.

• It’s not a cushion, it really a nice back support. It’s like the way I described, a board with foam on it and it can be very comforting. I recommend this product for anyone who works in an office all day. Its a must have and it has straps for you to strap to your chair.

• Long torso people may need the large size versus the medium.

• Another reviewer gave the actual dimensions to make product ordering easier:


Obus Forme Ultra Backrest Dimensions:

Approx. (H X L X W and Weight)
Small Obus Ultra Forme Backrest – 25 x 12.5 x 3.25 — 2.8 lbs
Medium Obus Ultra Forme Backrest – 26 x 12.5 x 3.5 — 3 lbs
LargeObus Ultra Forme Backrest – 28.5 x 12.5 x 3.75 — 3.2 lbs

Obus Forme Ultra Backrest Recommendations:
Ultra Forme Backrest Size Chart:
SMALL Backrest – Under 5’2″
MEDIUM Backrest – 5’2″ – 6’2″
LARGE Backrest – Over 6’2″

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