Quick fix for back pain, hernias, restless legs and more

Summary: a few easy and quick fixes for your back, to prevent injuries, appearing old, as well as make you healthier and more attractive at the same time.

-Arching your back, and rotating your hips.

Length: 1187 words; pretty short (just as your psoases)


 

Sitters are people too

-LOL, as if


Let me guess; you’re a “sitter”.

-meaning you sit down in a chair or couch/sofa for several hours a day, sometimes even stretching single sitting-sessions to over an hour (sic).

If you are one of those lowly, ignorant and generally useless excuses for a human being, here’s a quick fix for you:

(I’m sure you’re looking for quick fixes; I mean, being a sitter and all, it’s pretty obvious you like short-cuts)

  1. Cobra-ups
  2. Hip-3D

“Fix for what?”, you ask.

“Whaddyamean ‘fix for sitting’? Sitting is normal, and not just for ‘hours’ but for double-digit hours per day”

  1. The fixes prevent injuries like disc bulges, hernias and stiff necks – even restless legs
  2. You’ll become a better bench presser through more practice arching
  3. Your posture will naturally straighten from your current slouch
  4. With better posture comes improved hormone levels and immune system

Let’s describe these slippery suckers now. First up: the cobras.


Cobra-ups

During a particularly slouchy period of my life, I developed a disc bulge in my vertebrae. To get rid of it I was prescribed sets of 15 cobra-ups every waking hour, later every second hour, and yet later twice a day.

It took me about 8-9 months to get rid of the pains, sudden powerlosses and tingling in my back, glutes and hamstrings, not to mention restless legs syndrome (link to my article on how to get rid of RLS=WED).

I wish I had sat straighter, sat less or at least done a short set of cobras a couple of times a day, to prevent that disc from bulging in the first place.

-Yeah, yeah, yeah, get to the point already. How do you do the snake-y thingies?

A cobra-up is basically a push-up from the floor without raising the hip from the ground. You simply push off from the ground and arch your back as evenly distributed over the vertebrae’s all discs as possible. Then lower yourself back to lying flat on your stomach. Spend a few seconds on your way up as well as down, but there is no need to stay in either position.

Like this:

Cobra-up

Cobra-up


Hip-3D

If you’ve ever had a hernia or a stiff neck, I’m sure you’re already familiar with this technique. It’s recommended for loosening cramping muscles after throwing your back out.

However, it’s even better as a preventive tool, in effect “teaching” the body beforehand what range of motion is okay without risk of injury (and consequent painful cramping that can last for weeks). I perform the movements pretty quickly standing up before squatting or deadlifting at the gym.

All you have to do is wiggle your hip in three dimensions:

  1. move your hips closer to your ribs on first the left side, then the right, then the left, then the right… Try to increase the range of motion for every repetition. Do 10 on each side. This one can be tricky for men that never dance.
  2. alternate arching and rounding the back, strive for a stretching feeling in the lower back when rounding. Go slowly and deliberately, spend several seconds on the rounding, e.g. Do ten reps of arch+round
  3. turn your hip to the left and to the right without moving your upper body. This can be done pretty quickly. 10 reps to each side.

Sounds weird and difficult? You couldn’t be more wrong (Chandler Bing), but here’s a video to explain it all (in Swedish, but that doesn’t matter): 


 

More stuff

Neck-3D: Just as with the hips and lower back, you can prevent (or remedy) a stiff neck by doing the 3D exercise for the neck as well. Wiggle the head side to side, rotate it left to right, and up and down. There!

You can do them to loosen up a stiff neck, or as a prevention technique when sitting still too much in an air conditioned office (or before exercising – in particular after a day of sitting).

Foam roller: As a complement to the cobras you can lie down on your back on a foam roller. Just make sure to focus on arching and bending the thoracic spine, and not overarching the lumbar region.

foam roller


 

Old stuff – squatting and couching

Cobras and Hipsters are the new lessons for sitters in this article. They are easy enough, can be performed anywhere and in just about any outfit.

Finding a foam roller takes a little more dedication – a level I don’t expect of a sitter. The neck thing, however, I’m sure even you can fit into your hectic day of 5 coffee breaks, 5 toilet breaks and reading the sport news online. 

If you, against all odds, are interested in (almost) fully compensating for your sins (sitting), you want to add the two big ones to your daily routine. Actually “weekly” is enough if done properly, but daily is better.

  1. squat
  2. couch-stretch

Squatting is exactly what it sounds like. Sit down as low as you can go with your back straight (no rounding of the lumbar) and your feet flat on the floor. Vary your stance from broad to narrow. Try to stay in the bottom position for two minutes.

mobility squat The Retarded Hedge Fund Manager

The couch-stretch is tougher. The good thing is that you can do it in front of the TV, in the couch. Spend, e.g., the 2-minute Game Of Thrones intro in the following position

couch psoas

The original couch version

 

If you’re not a TV or couch person, you can always stretch your psoases as a pro:

psoas couch stretch

The real deal psoas stretch

 

Full retard way:

couch stretch b

Severely hungover psoas stretch on stone surface

Never mind Mr S to the left, who’s apparently shitting himself


 

Summary: cobras and hipsters

If you sit down several hours a day, you should try to compensate at least a little bit. One way is to add cobra-ups and some hip wiggle-jiggle in three dimensions to your daily habits. It will make you look better, be healthier and prevent injury. You’ll also familiarize yourself with a great remedy should you or someone close to you get injured anyway.

If you’re looking for something slightly more advanced; add neck-wiggling, foam rolling, squatting and couch stretching as well. However, if you’re that ambitious, my guess is you don’t sit that much to begin with.


 

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If you want more advanced mobility tips for more than just sitting and back issues, check out this post on an earlier blog I had.

P.S. Remember that short psoases are the reason old people walk, shuffle and stumble like old people

How to stop 1.5 billion restless legs from kicking

If you like your restless legs you can keep them.

Did you know that several of your friends silently struggle every day with the ominous-sounding Willis-Ekbom’s Disease?

 

(I did too. Well, I still do, there is no definitive cure,

but to a much lesser extent – virtually non-existent.

Read on to see how you can beat this creepy-crawly nightmare.)

 

The affliction is more commonly referred to as Restless Legs Syndrome, which unfortunately makes a quite serious problem seem…, well, less serious.

 

What is Willis-Ekbom’s Disease?

For starters, it feels like this when you’re trying to sleep or relax at the end of the day:

Restless Legs Syndrome Is No Joke

Restless Legs Syndrome Is No Joke

 

WED is when you feel an “irresistible urge to move your legs (most often the legs, arms or phantom limbs) to stop uncomfortable or odd sensations. Moving the affected body part provides temporary relief. These urges are most common around bed time or when relaxing, e.g., when watching a movie.

 

Some simply give up on the relaxing, while others lay awake for hours, kicking wildly both voluntarily and involuntarily, to get rid of the crawling, creeping and tickling, even aching, sensations in the legs.

 

Fantasizing about simply hacking one’s legs off, to escape the symptoms, is not uncommon.

At ANY Cost

At ANY Cost

 

1.5 billion spastic legs kicking in the silence of the night.

Since 1 out of 10 has this “spectrum” (scale/degree) disorder in one form or the other, you might as well have it. Perhaps you just didn’t have a name for it?

Sir Thomas Willis described the syndrome in 1672, almost half a millennium ago. Karl-Axel Ekbom made a more comprehensive study in 1945. Together they have named the syndrome: Willis-Ekbom’s Disease: WED.

 

2 most unwelcome bed guests and 1 cure (9 actually).

As I stated above, I had two of these 1.5 billion legs as my obnoxious companions in the TV-couch and bed. For me the following serendipitous combination worked to reduce 99% of my problems:

  • Cobra-ups (which I did to fix a bulging disc and hernia, resulting from poor couch posture – actually a lack of couch, lying on the floor with my neck up against the wall).
  • Vitamin-D (I gradually read more and more about the wide spectrum benign effects of vitamin D, in particular in the north. I now eat 4000 IU = 100ug per day in the winter. Here is a recent article on vitamin-D and WED).
  • Omega 3 (first and foremost anti-inflammatory, but also generally makes biological organisms work better at a cellular level).
  • Iron (generally better and more varied food for other reasons; iron is used for a precursor to dopamine and dopamine drugs seem to work on RLS).
  • Deadlifting (just a coincidence that I included this cure-all exercise in my program around the same time)
  • Better posture at all times (after fixing my disc and starting to deadlift).
  • Less continuous sitting time.
  • Less sugar (sugar is inflammatory).
  • Reduced stress (my work situation changed gradually to the better from 2005 and onward, but I hardly think that had any measurable effect on my condition).

 

Cobra-ups neutralize the vertebraes, after a day of sitting at the office, in the car and the couch.

CUs can prevent restless legs and sleep issues but most of all prevent throwing your back.

Cobra-up

Cobra-up, I did 15 every second hour for three months, to cure my bulging disc

Cobras may seem unnatural, but so is walking on two legs. Humans’ back problems are due to us being fish and reptiles by construction. We still are as phoetuses. The quick and dirty adaption of a horizontal spine to a vertical one, with several compensatory bends, form the backbone of all hernias and related problems.

Blame the crocodiles!

Standing up further complicates the blood flow and oxygenation of various body parts – which is central to WED.

 

There is no known cure

I’m not saying I’ve found the cure. Curing RLS or WED would be like curing allergy; the spectrum of symptoms is too wide, as is the collection of causes.

Not even the mechanism is fully clear. A couple of things seem involved though: iron levels, oxygen levels (in the central nervous system as well as the muscle tissue), dopamine levels, blood flow, fitness level, inflammation, pinched nerves and electrolyte imbalances.

In general it seems the disease is hereditary (iron storing, oxygen transportation, blood vessels, dopamine) but its expression depends on nutrition (iron levels, inflammation, fitness, blood flow), the level of fitness (affects blood flow and oxygenation) and state of inflammation (affects blood vessels and blood flow).

As you see there is quite a lot (scientifically-based, as well as empirically tried by yours truly) you can do to get hours more of quality rest per day:

  • Keep your iron levels in the correct range (iron is used in the dopamine system, as well as for transportation of oxygen, but too much is still too much).
  • Keep your inflammation levels low (eat omega 3 and D-vitamin, avoid sugar. My guess is that the right lactobacteria would help too).
  • Stay fit (obese have poor circulation and reduced oxygenation, and often poor posture too).
  • Control your posture (to avoid bulging disks, hernias, pinched nerves: sit straight, don’t slouch, hold your cell phone at eye leveldamn it!).
  • Do mobility exercises (spine: cobra ups, chest/shoulder: morpheus, psoas: couch stretch, hip: squat).
  • Try nitrate rich food for increased blood flow (beetroot juice, spinach, chard widen blood vessels; the gene for Nitrogen oxide is a marker for WED).

You really should do all of the above.

 

In addition, the drug Pramipexol widens the blood vessels as well as reduces pain, both of which provides relief from restless legs. I’ve never tried it, since my symptoms all but disappeared with a natural approach anyway.

Just say no to drugs (unless they are for recreational purposes, although a spliff probably reduces RLS/WED as well).

at least good for umara composis

at least good for umara composis

 

Other suggested “solutions” include cold showers, anti-depressants and sleeping pills. I wouldn’t go there – I mean who thinks a cold shower will help you fall asleep?

Sleep tight

Sleep tight

You decide how much trouble you want to pass on

An educated guess, based on epigenetics research, is that highly expressed WED, due to poor nutrition and low fitness level, will be inherited, so take care of your restless ones now before you pass them on to your children to a larger extent than you have to.

 

It’s a warning

See your restless legs as a warning, a signal to change your lifestyle. Eat better, exercise, don’t stress and you will short circuit the entire RLS chain of problem with fitness/posture/nerves/circulation/iron/dopamine/inflammation/vessel condition/blood flow/oxygenation.

 

Summary – there is hope, there is relief

  1. WED is not fun at all, I know.
  2. The causes are multifaceted and so are the cures (try them all to slide as far to the bottom of the WED spectrum as possible).
  3. The lifestyle changes you need to make do not guarantee total relief, but they are all beneficial anyway.
  4. At least do it for the kids.

 

DO THIS

Okay, in practice here is what you should do:

  • Add 15 cobra-ups twice daily to your routine. It takes one minute and you shouldn’t get sweaty.
  • Take omega 3 supplements and vitamin D if you don’t already.
  • Add beetroots or spinach to your weekly food.
  • Mobilize your hip, psoas, thoracic spine and shoulders regularly.
  • Avoid sugar.
  • Minimize sitting, but sit straight when you do.

 

Read more about Restless Legs/WED here at rls.org.

And more about possible cures here at rlcure