Low Back Pain Part 1: How To Stretch Your Hamstrings

Jonathan here, again.

We sure hope so; it is your blog.

No need to be incogitant now—I’m trying to help you out with this post.

This is part 1 in a series I will be writing which aims at helping you deal with low back pain. Subscribe if you’d like to receive the next ones as they are posted in the following weeks.

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Always trying to get people to subscribe…

Yes, for sure: I’d love to make it to a double digit subscription number!

Alas, let’s get into it.

For those of you who do not know: I am an osteopath.

One of the main reasons of consultations that I see in my office is back pain—whether it be upper or lower. This series of posts will focus more on aiding those who have low back pain, although it is just as important even if you are pain-free.

There are a few important muscles that must be worked when low back pain is present. A lot of this work can be done right in your home, by yourself, for free.

One of these aforementioned muscle groups are the posterior thigh muscles, called the hamstrings.

A blurb of anatomy:

The hamstrings consists of three muscles: the semimembranosus, semitendinosus, and bicep femoris. They attach from the pelvic bone’s ischial tuberosity—that bony lump you sit on, right in the middle of the bum—to the knee joint—that knee joint, the one you have two of. These three muscles run along the posterior surface of your thigh.

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Now, for the stretching: first and foremost, do not do the hamstring stretches standing up, where you bend over and try and touch your toes, or the one where you are seated, bending your entire back, trying to bring your head to your toes. These put a lot of stress on the back, and can actually accentuate and worsen your pain and prognosis.

Here are two ways to stretch your hamstrings, which are much safer for your low back:

1. Lie on your back, on a comfy surface, such as a yoga mat. Take a towel or band, and loop it around the underside of your foot. With the leg relaxed and extended, gently pull the towel or band towards you, until you feel tension in the posterior surface of your thigh. Your other leg can stay straight—as shown in the picture below—or can be bent at 90 degrees, with your foot planted firmly on the ground. The bent knee will diminish the tension in your low back.

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2. Stand in front of a couch, chair, or anything that is around or slightly lower than the height of your hips. Keep the leg straight, and gently bend forward at the hips; keep your back straight! An easy way to do this is to imagine that you are approaching your navel—belly-button—to your toe. If you do this, your back should stay straight. There isn’t much movement required for you to feel the stretching in the posterior surface of your thigh.

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Different beliefs exist on the amount of time that stretches should be held. I generally tell my patients to hold the position for about 30-45 seconds, 3 times per leg, several times a week or every day. The tension during the exercise should feel no more than 2 or 3 on a scale of 10, where 0 is no tension and 10 is maximal tension. If for any reason you feel numbness during the stretch, slightly lower the amount of tension that you are applying to your hamstrings.

There you have it: two safe hamstrings stretches to help with low back pain.

More to come in future posts!

What do you normally do to help with low back pain?

Lumbar-note: plugging semimembranosus in a sentence always gives you a nimbus of awesomeness.

Sources: all images taken through the Google search engine.

What Do You Do While You Wait For Your Laundry?

This post is geared towards those who do not have a washer and dryer at home; to all those lucky ones who must go to a laundromat to do their laundry.

And what if I do have a washer and dryer?

You can read anyways, if you’d like to make me smile.

**Smile**

I moved out from my six and a half apartment on July 1st, where I was living with one roommate. Now I am in a three and a half, living alone. In my old apartment, we had a washer and dryer. Back then—sounds like a long time ago, but this was up until June—, I would not wait around for my laundry: I would simply put the clothes in the wash, and come back to them later on in the day to say hello—and put them in the dryer.

Now, I do not own a washer and dryer. Luckily, I do not need to go to a laundromat either.

Are you saying you just don’t clean your clothes anymore..?

No, not at all: my mother lives five minutes away—on foot—, which is practical with laundry in mind.

That’s good. I am glad that you have kept proper hygiene while living alone.

Sometimes I will go put a load of laundry in, and ask my mother to put the clothes in the dryer when the wash cycle is finished when she has a chance. Then, a few days later, I’ll go pick up my clean clothes from her house.

Whenever I have too many loads to do—mainly due to laziness, which tends to brood a heaping pile of clothes in my closet—, I will go, and wait for the first load to finish, and then start up a second one. That is a similar situation to those who go to a laundromat, and have to wait for their washer and dryer cycle to finish.

Today I decided to take my mom’s dog to the park while waiting for the first load to finish. There were about 7 other dogs in the park, and Bailey was the second smallest one there, looking like a white little fur ball on four legs.

I stayed for about 20 minutes, and went to pick up the leash and harness which I had left on the ground by a tree—smart me; a dog had peed on it.

Well, if it was by a tree…

Lesson learnt.

This was Bailey during the car ride home—obviously still a little white fur ball, but sprawled out and all huffy-puffy:

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I carried Bailey back to the car, went to my mom’s, and low and behold, my laundry was done! I started up a second cycle, hung up some clothes, put some in the dryer, and asked my mother to do the second dryer cycle tonight after her work.

On other occasions I have simply just relaxed on the couch with Bailey, or played the piano while waiting for the wash cycle.

When you go to a laundromat, what do you do?

Thanks for reading:

**Smile—again**

Paw-note: don’t leave anything outside by the tree when you go do laundry; you might attract some dogs.

What Is Your Favorite Word?

Yes, yes, I’m one of those people who loves words!

Each day I take a few minutes to read the Word of the Day on the Dictionary website. It is my equivalent to a regular non-word-worm’s—I even allow myself to invent words now—morning coffee; my day seems incomplete without it.

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My caffeine is… words!

Not funny. Please, go on.

I started this daily reading about 2-3 years ago. I remember I was working as a cashier at the liquor store, and I would spend the downtime in between customers reading the previous—weeks and weeks worth—Words of the Day. A few months after having started doing this, the liquor store computer system got revamped and employees were now only allowed to browse the website that was used to search for the products of the store.

I feel like I may have been one of the causes of this provincial-wide software change—I guess I am proud of some sorts if I was, I mean, provoking a provincial-wide change: check off the bucket list!

Moving on to my words.

Here a few of my favorites—that I can recall, because honestly, remembering complex words that I have never heard of before isn’t too easy—from the past years of reading:

1. My favorite is without a doubt apotheosis. It sounds like a godlike term, hence my love for it. I love every thing about it. Every. Single. Thing. Apotheosis is a noun that depicts the “ideal example”. Used in a sentence it looks like this: Apotheosis is the apotheosis of a great word.

Well aren’t you a clever Bee.

2. Another word I love is draconian. Draconian is an adjective that refers to something “unusually severe or cruel”. Here is an example: Deirdre’s draconian methods of ruling leave the citizens in a constant state of panic. I love this word because I find it sounds just as cruel as it’s meaning. Say it a few times out loud with a deep voice and see—first take a quick look around to make sure no one is watching you, for your societal sanity’s sake: Draconian, Draconian, Draconian. Does it not sound mean and dark?

3. The last one I will share with you today is scythe, which I assume will be more known than the latter. I love the flow of letters in the word scythe because I find they flow seamlessly—alright, I will admit, even I find myself a little bit of a word-weirdo here. I also love the pronunciation. I always thought it was pronounced “sahy-the” but it is pronounced “sahyth”. To properly understand the pronunciation go to this link and click on the microphone icon. Scythe is a noun and is the tool that death wields. This tool is more commonly used by mere mortal farmers when cutting grass or grain. In a sentence, it looks like this: Death was confused when he arrived to claim the farmer’s daughter’s life, because she too was wielding a scythe.

Witty example #2. I’m on fire today—and I’m as ninja-esque as cats so I am not getting burned (refer to this post to understand the inside joke).

Congrats Jonathan. Congrats.

What are some words that you love? I’m sure there must be at least a few words that you love because of their meaning, pronunciation, sentimental value, or for some other awesome reason.

Foot-note: wielding a scythe in front of a child is the apotheosis of draconian parenting.

Can You Control Your Dreams?

Something unbelievable is happening to you.

You cannot fathom this as being reality: you get an insane promotion; you win the lottery and are able to travel the world to your heart’s content; you’re soaring above the clouds, living in harmony with birds and dragons; you’re transforming into a Super Saiyan for the first time—that might just be awesome for me and my geeky-ness.become-a-professional-pilot.jpg

Reality?

Fantasy?

Truth?

Myth?

You realize all is too good to be true—except I still believe to this day that the yellow-golden hair transformation is achievable and not too good to be true, all in due time—and that is because it isn’t.

You come to a sudden realization: this is not reality; I am dreaming!

Time to take the reins and fulfill my wildest desires [insert grin].

This phenomenon happens at least several times a year to me; I realize I’m dreaming, I manage to remain inside it, and I take control. It is a delight! I become an omnipresent entity capable of controlling things ranging from the animate to the inanimate, from the corporeal to the surreal. I am able to lead my dream in the direction I want, and I can explore circumstances that would never be possible for me—or anyone, really—within the boundaries of our world.

Here are some of my highlight “self-induced” dreams from the past few years:

  • I inherited the ability to read people’s minds.
  • I was able to hover a few feet from the ground. I have yet to be able to fully fly without any restrictions, although I have tried countless times. This seems to be one of the limits of my dream controlling capacities.
  • I managed to cast several kamehamehas—although all were below 9000.

I brought this topic up while chatting with some people this week, and they told me that they couldn’t control their dreams. One of them said she is able to re-enter a dream if she falls back to sleep fast enough, although he affirmed that he can’t control it upon entering his dreamscape. It seems I was the only one present capable of controlling dreams.

That piqued my curiosity: are you able to control your dreams? Either way, what would you do if you could?

Side-note: this post’s theme definitely seems to be Dragon Ball Z. I have already opened up a tab with the first episode of Dragon Ball Z Kai. Now, decisions decisions…

What’s Your Go-To Meal?

It’s Thursday night. You’ve had a long day. You forgot your umbrella on your way to work this morning—hair and clothes soaked. There was a truck stalled on your way home. The traffic added 43 minutes to your usual 27 minute return itinerary. You finally park your car in the driveway. Saving grace; you walk to your doorstep. But you still don’t have that umbrella.

thai-style-vegetables-in-coconut-milk.jpgOh, and now I need to make supper?

Hmm…

What will I make?

Nothing?

No. I need to eat something at least.

So what will it be?

(At least 15 seconds pass—your brain isn’t quite in an optimal functioning state, credit to the aforementioned described day).

Ah, I know! I will make my favorite go-to meal—in my case a vegetable stir-fry in coconut milk!

20 minutes later you are sitting on the couch watching some TV—or browsing a social media platform—and life feels better.

I’m sure you can relate to a day such as the one described above; one of those days where everything seems pitted against you, urging you to get angry, tugging and grudging to deplete your patience reserve, gnawing ever so slightly but persistently.

Ok, maybe I put a little much there, but you get the point.

When I have a difficult day—or even good days, because it is my go-to meal, and I think I deserve the satisfaction regardless of the day—I’ll have a tendency to cook up a hearty meal that satisfies me. Recently for me that has been a vegetable stir-fry cooked in coconut oil, coconut milk and toasted sesame oil.

Speaking of which, I just finished my last bite of supper, which was…

You guessed it!

I cook this meal frequently regardless of the circumstance; however, I tend to cook it even more on lengthy, challenging, and time-deprived days. It always raises my spirits and makes my stomach smile—yes, a stomach can smile, trust me!

Over time, my go-to meal does change—as I’m sure it does for everyone—, but for the past few months this has been my uncontested #1 favorite meal. I am already eager for tomorrow since I’m sure I will be making it for at least one of my meals, as I have been for the past month almost everyday without fail (**Insert stomach smile**).

What is your go-to meal? When do you make it most often? And how does it make you feel?