SKINCARE- THE BODY

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This week I am going to be random and just talk about products that I like for the body. It is so important to keep the skin on your body matching the luxuriousness of your face. Especially after you put so much time, effort and money into it.
All of us deal with different skin dramas- dark spots, freckles, spider veins, crepey-ness. Here’s a list of some of the things I have found to help with these problems and also a list of tanning products I like since you HAVE to stay out of the sun, or all of those above problems just get much worse.
1. Exfoliating bath gloves– Here’s your first step. Exfoliate a few times a week. These are so effective and easy. Just pop them on and take your shower using your favorite body wash. They will get rid of all the dead skin cells making your arms and legs smooth, less crepey and ready to absorb your products or to self-tan.

exfoliatingmitts

2. Moisturizing Body Lotion with a sunscreen– These, luckily, are becoming more available now. There are a few that I found recently at the drug store and one that is a higher end product that’s been out for a while. These products are not greasy or sticky, which is a pet peeve of mine. I hate getting all ready for the day then putting on a sunscreen that makes me feel sticky, hot and dirty. These leave you feeling soft and smooth and protected from the sun. Save your Bath and Body works fragrant lotions for the winter since they do not protect your skin from sun damage.

3. Two Items for “Crepey-ness– Not sure how to spell this since auto-correct doesn’t show it as a word. BUT it’s definitely a thing as we age. My favorite products for this are The Josie Maran Whipped Argan Oil Body Butter and Coconut Oil. I use a recipe that I have made myself that I whip with solid coconut oil, or I use fractionated coconut oil that is in liquid form (not the cooking stuff). The fractionated oil for the body you can get at Amazon or at a health store. These products applied nightly and regularly help to plump the skin and help it retain its natural oils. The fractionated coconut oil is a carrier oil so if you would like your regular products to absorb a bit better put a layer of that on first then your regular lotion. It will absorb a lot better.

4. Tanning products– Want that glowing tan but not the damage? I have tested so many self-tanners high end and low end. Truthfully the one I have found recently is now my current favorite. It’s Jergens Instant Sun. Apply this mousse with a tanning mitt and rub in well. It dries in 60 seconds and then over the course of a few hours develops into a nice glow. I use the deep tan since I have found that the fair skin ones always look orange. If you have that problem I would try the darker ones. Do a test patch somewhere that’s hidden. Keep this tan looking good with their gradual self- tanning daily lotions or the Jergens BB body cream that hides small imperfections. These products are all affordable. In fact I will apply the self- tanner and then after it’s dry, apply the BB Cream for the body. Together my skin looks even and glowy.


BONUS- Here is my special recipe for……
DONNA’S WHIPPED LAVENDER BODY BUTTER (Top Secret)
1 Cup of Coconut oil
1 tsp Vitamin E oil
1 tsp Jojoba Oil
¼ tsp Grapeseed oil
40 Drops Lavender Oil
Put everything in a Kitchen Aide Mixer and whip on high for 7-8 minutes. Use the whisk attachment.
For larger batches- you can get giant jars of coconut oil at Sam’s club. Containers can be found on amazon as well under beauty product containers. Other oils can be purchased on line or at Better Health. (Vitamin E oil you can find at the drug store)

This will be a fluffy whipped cream. It will harden up a bit depending on the temperature of its surroundings. This makes a great gift.

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Nailed it !

 

Skincare of a beauty female feet
infinityhealth.org
This week we tackle the nails. This may be old news for some of you I know. But for others maybe not. So here we go.  I am not a huge fan of going for manicures. After you have worked in a hospital you get a bit touchy about germs and cross-contamination etc. So only for special occasions do I venture out of my isolation booth and get a manicure or pedicure. Another reason I like doing them myself if that I save a lot of money that can then be put toward other fun beauty products I find more rewarding and beneficial.
SO that said. Here are a few of my tips for doing your own mani/pedis. I often get asked “how does your manicure last so long?” I do think it’s all in the prep. Of course, it is not going to have the staying power of a shellac/gel manicure but that’s ok for me. I find those types of manicures very damaging for my thin nails, taking months for them to recover.
Step 1:

Make sure your palette is clean, smooth and prepared. Using your regular nail clippers, files, and buffing pads all help to get the nail ready. You all know this drill. What I like to do to prior to a mani, is the night before I soak my nails in olive oil or use my homemade cuticle/nail balm. This really moisturizes my nails and cuticles and then it allows the polish to go on better. You can use coconut oil on your cuticles/nails too which really helps to soften them. A great nail oil is Solar oil.

cuticle oil
Step 2:

Base coat— The best base coat I have found is China Glaze- Strong Adhesion Base coat. One coat of this gives your nails a slight “tooth” so that the polish can adhere better and really helps your manicure to last.

strong-adhesion-base-coat-china-glaze
Step 3:

Good quality polish. Yes there are differences in polishes. Brands like OPI, Essie, China Glaze are great quality. But there are some drugstore brands like Loreal that make a nice polish. Always use two coats and make sure to get those edges so that you don’t get chips.
Step 4:

Top coat: The absolute best top coat I have found is “Seche Vite”. This gives you the look of a gel manicure and will make your manicure last. This polish tends to shrink when dry, so get as close to the edges of your nails as you can. This top coat also is great if you do nail art and will smooth out any waviness in the polish from your art design, stickers etc.
Step 5: Wear gloves for washing dishes. The best thing you can do to keep your manicure lasting longer is avoid soaking hands in water and keep oils away from the edges. Oil causes polish to lift.

sechevite
Rough Heels?
Some of you may already use this or have had it used on you at a salon but this is really the best way to get rid of the dreaded “Hoof” heel. I have used all the cool hand held motorized callous buffing tools. And the sandpaper hand held callous file/removers. But by far the microplane cheese grater works the best. You can purchase these anywhere there are kitchen tools. It will last forever (the other foot devices all require replacement heads etc.) Be careful, these can be sharp. I find that using it on dry skin works the best. Use it to get off the hard callous and then use your sandpaper foot file to smooth it out to a fine finish. YOU will be shocked at how much stuff comes off. Be sure not to go too deep or you will have sensitive feet for a while. Moisturize when done and you will have the prettiest Pilates feet in class.

grater
Maintenance: Want to keep things looking nice longer? Pop on another layer of top coat 2 days after your manicure. Also make sure to keep cuticles moisturized and skin soft. Keep the oils to the perimeter of the nails to avoid oil seeping under polish.
Enjoy these tips and let me know how they work for you.

Make-up Problem Solvers

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So continuing on with our Pilates Beauties- Series Week 3. I think its time for my secret tips to help with common problems that all of us girls struggle with.
After being a glam-life girl for a while now, I have found several items that help to solve problems that we all experience. Does your foundation breakdown during the day, eye shadow crease, do you have large pores, dark under eye circle or get goopy globs in the corners of your mouth with lip gloss? Many of these problems can be solved by using the right prep and the right products. Sometimes though it is just trial and error until you find the right product for your skin type. Here are a few of my holy grail items that I have to have to keep my glam going all day- EVEN while doing Pilates. Don’t judge- I do like to look pretty while working out.
1. Face Primer– First things first. Just like your walls you must prime your face. Face primers go on after you moisturize. They help to keep your foundation IN PLACE all day, without breaking down. Apply your moisturizer let set and then you can apply your primer. Usually you should let that set too for a couple minutes. I have tested MANY of these primers to help deal with my oily T- zone problem. There are sooooo many to choose from when you go into the store- oil control, brightening, color correcting (for redness). You may have to test a few. Ask for samples. The ones I have found that work great are the Smash box Photo Finish Foundation Primer
(available at Ulta and Sephora) and the Boots No 7 Photo Fix Wrinkle Filler and Primer (available at Target and Ulta). These both work great to keep make up fresh all day. There are also spray primers. A highly recommended one by make-up artists is Skindinavia Make- up primer spray (available on line). It’s a bit pricier but it works. So if you have a wedding or special event you need to go to and have your face last all day, it’s worth the investment.

primer

2. Eye Primer– SO just like your face you need to prime those lids. Eye shadow primer does a few things- smooths out your lids (if crepey lids are a problem), allows your shadows to go on with full color payoff, and keeps your eyeshadow from creasing all day. My favorites are Urban Decay Primer Potion. I use the anti-aging one or sometimes a tinted one called Eden. Eden hides blue veins if you have those. I also like the Tarte Clean Slate 360 Creaseless 12 hour Smoothing Eye primer. Both can be found at Ulta and Sephora. Since beginning to use these years ago I absolutely cannot live without them. Your eyeshadow will stay, and won’t budge all day. I even got dipped in the ocean while para-sailing in the Caribbean and my shadow was still ON.

eyeprimer
3. Bye Bye Under-Eye (by IT Cosmetics) – Do you have dark circles under your eyes, age spots, scars? This stuff is amazing!! You can even hide tattoos with it. You only need a TINY, and I mean TINY bit of this to conceal any redness, blueness, or darkness anywhere on your face. I used it,after having a spot removed on my face, to hide post-surgery redness and it worked like a dream. This product has won many awards by the beauty magazines for how good it works. Use a brush to dab on and then you can either pat in with your finger or beauty blender sponge. Set with a light finishing powder. You can get this at Ulta or my preference QVC. At QVC it will come with the brush which is a huge bonus.

Bye_Bye_Under_Ey_4a6e692239968
4. BUXOM Lip gloss– I love lip gloss but hate STICKY lip gloss that clumps in the corners of your mouth after talking for a bit. You’ve been there right? I usually will use a lipstick and put a bit of gloss in the center of my lip for a highlight. My favorite gloss, and it happens to be a plumping formula, is by Buxom. These lip-glosses are available at Ulta and Sephora and are great! I talk A LOT in a class and it keeps my lips moisturized and never leaves me feeling dry. You will get a slight tingling sensation when you apply, that’s the plumping happening. Give them a try. I think you’ll like them and there are TONS of colors to choose from. I’ve tried others but always go back to these.

Buxom-Time-to-Shine-Gloss1

5. Bye Bye Pores— As we age many of us will begin to notice our pores getting larger. This product from IT Cosmetics is a great finishing powder and also causes pores to disappear. It comes in a loose formula and a pressed (to take with you) The best way to apply a finishing powder is with a puff. I know – you’re thinking WHAT? Not a brush? Try it. Use a small bit of powder on a puff and press/roll it into your problem areas. This is available at Ulta and QVC or the IT cosmetics website.

byebyepores

6. Finishing Spray– Okay so you did all this beautiful make-up application. Now what? Your last step. A finishing spray. Much like the primers this last step helps lock in your foundation, powder and blushes for the long run. I have found 2 that work amazing. Urban Decay- All Nighter ( available at Ulta and Sephora) and Skindinavia- Finishing spray ( available on line) I don’t always use these sprays, but if I have a day when I know I do not have time for touch ups or I will be at a special event, I will use them.

allnighter

7. Rose water spray– An alternative to the finishing spray could be a Rose Water spray. This is not only refreshing but will keep your skin looking dewy. If you’ve over done it with the powder, give yourself a spritz and it will make your powder melt into your skin and look natural again. When traveling, I carry a small bottle of this on the plane with me to mist my face and refresh my makeup. It also smells great and makes you feel like you just cleansed.
You can find Rose water sprays at Whole Foods, Better Health, and on line. Buy smaller containers at the drugstore for your purse and just fill.

rose water

SKINCARE…A Ba-zillion Dollar Industry

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OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

You’re Beautiful !

I have to admit it….. I’m a skincare junkie. I have tried hundreds maybe more skincare products and always perk up and pay attention when any new product claims to be the fountain of youth. I will buy the snake oil- yes sir. But over the years of doing a lot of research into the science behind skin care and what really works and what doesn’t I have, for myself, settled on some products that I have truly seen results with. Now just a disclaimer—I am not an esthetician, I am not a dermatologist. I am just an average woman who likes to see results and these products have worked for me, they may or may not work for you. SO don’t hold me responsible if you don’t look 20 by next week. Oh and get some snacks and refreshments this is gonna be a long blog.

Microdermabrasion treatments
MICRODERMABRASION-also known as Microderm, is a cosmetic procedure used to remove the top layer of sun-damaged and dead skin cells and leaving behind a healthier, younger looking skin. This is an exfoliating treatment (that can be done at a spa or home) of the outer-most layer of your skin. What does it do?
1. Rejuvenates sun damaged skin – The sun can do a number on your skin if you were like me as a child and never wore sunscreen, causing sun spots, wrinkles and enlarge pores.
2. Eases age spots – Microderm is like giving your skin cells a pep talk, stimulating new cells to replace the damaged ones as you watch your age spots — which is actually caused by sun damage that can strike at any age – fade into the sunset.
3. Painless – This is a very comfortable and relaxing treatment. SO needles.
4. Improves the look of fine lines and wrinkles – Regardless of your age, exposing your skin to UV rays is like begging lines and wrinkles to riddle your face regardless of your age. However, microderm can step in and soften those creases and turn back the clock on aging.
5. Works quickly – Also dubbed a lunchtime procedure, microdermabrasion is a fast technique with immediate results – and with little to no downtime to force you to hide your face from your fans or your friends. Watch for Groupons, that’s how I first tried a session. You get a series of 3 to start and then you can schedule monthly visits to continue.
6. Makes other cosmetic procedures work better – Microderm can be combined with other procedures such as chemical peels to rejuvenate your complexion. It also helps makes it a piece of cake for topical products to penetrate through the surface layer.
7. Helps makeup look smoother – By ridding your complexion of dead skin cells and smoothing fine lines and wrinkles, microdermabrasion lets your makeup glide on for a flawless finish.
8. Gives acne treatment the advantage – Microderm opens up clogged pores that lead to acne, helping to get rid of the junk and leaving cleaner, smoother skin behind. It also opens the door for topical anti-acne treatments, making it easier for medication to penetrate the skin.
9. Improves acne scars – Softening the top layer of your skin with microderm can smooth very superficial acne scars by removing the skin’s dead cells on the surface of your skin and improving the smoothness and texture of your mug.
10. Shrinks pores – Enlarged pores aren’t a pretty sight, but luckily this affordable Tinsel Town favorite will tighten enlarged pores and get your complexion paparazzi-ready
11. At home option: I went for salon microderm for about 2 years. It helped significantly with a scar I had after some surgery. Then I decided to test one of the at home microderms. I have had very good success with mine and have received the same salon results with the diamond tips. My unit is no longer available but there are others out there. Get them from somewhere where you can try and return if you are not happy. That’s why I always shop at QVC and HSN for these new products. You have 30 days to try and can send it back no questions asked if you don’t like it.

Lightstim

LED LIGHT THERAPY FOR WRINKLES: Instead of trying to explain this I am giving you the professional link. I have used this for 3 years now with great results. I can TELL when I do not use it. Not only does it help with fine lines and wrinkles but with under eye puffiness. Shop around for a great price. I got mine for $149 but that again was from QVC so I could try and return. http://www.lightstim.com/wrinkles/

vitC

VITAMIN C SERUM
Vitamin C is a very popular ingredient in skin care products because it is a free-radical fighter and helps produce collagen naturally. This is because the serum from vitamin C has a higher concentration of L-ascorbic acid. When starting out with a vitamin C cream, it’s a good idea to gradually increase usage by starting off with the cream that has a lower L-ascorbic acid concentration. You can start with a vitamin c serum that has a 10% concentration, and as your skin gets used to it, you can increase to a serum that has a concentration in the 15-20% range.
What does the serum do?
• Acts as an antioxidant – The process of oxidation damages the skin cells. Vitamin C serums are rich in anti-oxidants that repair and renew the cells and give the skin a healthier look.
• Helps produce collagen – Collagen binds the cells of our body. Vitamin C serum stimulates the synthesis of collagen in the skin which will give you a tighter, firmer and less sagged feel. It is a good first-step solution to treat the onset of wrinkles.
• Restores and regenerates – Vitamin C attacks the free radicals in your body and does some hardcore damage management. If you have any acne scars left from your previous breakout, you’ll find them fading with regular application.
• Protects you from the sun – Getting overexposed to the sun can cause hyperpigmentation and sun spotting. A vitamin C serTHum will counteract any harmful effect of the sun and also decrease the chances of skin cancer by thickening the dermis layer. But it is important to note that a vitamin c serum cannot replace your sunscreen. A sunscreen provides the much needed SPF protection by shielding the outer layer of the skin while the vitamin c serum acts as a sun barrier from within the skin. You should apply the sunscreen as well as the vitamin C serum before going outside for prolonged periods of time.
How to apply it.
After you’ve chosen a vitamin C serum, it is important that you use it right. Correct method of application will definitely increase the effectiveness of the cream.
• Dampen your face with water and start by applying the serum to your face and neck.
• Let it dry for some time and then apply a moisturizer, if possible use one with a sunscreen in it. It is important that you use the serum before moisturizing and not after. This is because the serum is easily absorbed into the skin, while moisturizers work on the surface. If you use the moisturizer first, your skin will not be able to absorb the vitamin c serum.
• Vitamin C serums are oil free preparations that are perfect for balancing oily skin by exfoliating naturally. Because of its exfoliating properties, it is a good idea to follow up a vitamin c serum application with a moisturizer, especially if you have sensitive skin.
Lastly, after purchasing the serum, it’s a good idea to keep it refrigerated. This will keep the serum from oxidizing too quickly, and will give you a better result for the price. I get my favorite one that is a great price from TIMELESS SKINCARE. http://www.timelessha.com/20-vitamin-c-e-ferulic-acid-serum-1-oz/

argan
ARGAN OIL
I have been using argan oil for years now. The brand I prefer is by JOSIE MARAN. It is available on QVC, Sephora and the Jose Maran website. It really helps to restore moisture and plumpness to dry skin. Again there are so many benefits that you should really read up on it and decide if this is for you. My favorite products are the Pure oil itself and the Josie Maran Argan oil Body Butter. Your skin with be soft, and smooth for HOURS. Even in the winter. Read up on all the uses.
http://arganoilworld.com.au/10-argan-oil-benefits-for-hair-and-skin/

Paulas choice

RETINOL
Retinol or Retin A is the gold standard of wrinkle repair. There is 30 years of science behind it. You want to see wrinkles change you need this. You can get a prescription strength Retin A from your dermatologist or you can use Retinol a weaker strength that can be purchased over the counter and can be found in varying strengths from many beauty brands. I chose Retinol since I have sensitive skin and Retin A was too harsh for me. Both Retin A and Retinol require a careful and committed weaning in process. I use Paula’s Choice brand. This is one of the strongest ones you can find on the market and has a gentler delivery system. That said, I still had to let my skin get used to it over the course of a month- Using one night a week, then twice a week, then 3 times etc. until I did not notice any redness or irritation. If you use too much or get too anxious you WILL see redness and peeling. This can vary from person to person. It is a commitment so be ready. It’s worth it – you will see results. Here’s a video from Paula’s choice on this product and how Retinol works. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D2B0hBiE-vI
Here is the FAQ’s video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQgUzcrjW9s

cccream_fair_main
CC CREAM
So once you use all this great stuff to get rid of the skin damage you MUST protect yourself from further damage. Sunscreen is a must (especially if using Retinol). Cerave skin care lotions are what I use AM and PM. They are affordable and are highly recommended by dermatologists. I use a CC CREAM moisturizer / foundation during the day that is truly amazing. Great coverage and has an SPF 50. Apply with your beauty sponge or brush and set with a light translucent powder. It is by IT COSMETICS and I get it from either QVC (supersize with the brush, a major deal) or from Ulta. Read up on the product info: http://www.itcosmetics.com/your-skin-but-bettertm-cc-cream-with-spf-50

KINESIO WHAT?

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WHAT IS KINESIO-TAPING?

Kinesio-tape or KT tape -is a thin, stretchy, elastic cotton strip with an acrylic adhesive and can benefit a wide variety of musculoskeletal and sports injuries, plus inflammatory conditions.

It is applied along muscles, ligaments and tendons ( soft tissue) to provide lightweight, external support that helps you remain active while recovering from injuries. It creates neuromuscular feedback ( called proprioception) that inhibits (relaxes) or facilitates stronger firing of muscles and tendons. This feedback creates support elements without the bulk and restriction commonly associated with wraps and heavy bracing.

Kinesio- is almost identical to human skin in both thickness and elasticity, which allows it to be worn without binding, constricting or restriction of your movement.

Kinesio- tape is used for treating athletic injuries and a variety of physical disorders. For the first decade after its introduction practitioners in Japan were the main users of the therapeutic kinesiology tape. By 1988 the tape had been adopted by Japanese Olympic and professional athletes before spreading across the world.

You would have noticed that more and more professional athletes use kinesio- taping to improve their sporting performance, prevent injury and allow them to return to sport quicker after injury.

HOW IS KINESIO-TAPE DIFFERENT THAN FROM CONVENTIONAL TAPING?

Kinesio- tape differs from other types of sport tape in both form and function. Most types of tape are non-elastic, and are wrapped tightly around an injured joint or muscle to provide rigid support and restrict movement. They can only be worn for short periods of time, after which they must be removed to restore movement and circulation. Kinesio- tape, on the other hand, has unique elastic properties that allow it to provide dynamic support, protecting muscles and/or joints, while still allowing a safe and functional range of motion. Rather than being wrapped completely around injured joints or muscle groups, kinesio- tape is applied directly over and/or around the periphery of these areas. This non-restrictive type of taping allows most applications to be worn for 4-7 days, allowing therapeutic benefits to accumulate 24/7 for the entire time they’re worn.

Kinesiology tape can be worn during intense exercise, showering, bathing or swimming, and dries quickly after a quick pat with a towel.

 

WHAT CAN KINESIO-TAPE HELP WITH?

Kinesiology Tape May Help..

Acute Soft Tissue Injuries

  • Muscle Strains 
  • Ligament sprains
  • Bruising

Muscle Facilitation 

  • Muscle Weakness
  • Hypotonia – Low Muscle Tone

Joint Proprioception Retraining

  • Joint Alignment and tracking
  • Joint instability or Hypermobility
  • Poor posture: Round Shoulders, Slouched Spine
  • Scapular Instability

Bone Injuries

  • Post-fracture support
  • Shin Splints

Tendonopathies

  • Tendonitis
  • Tendonosis
  • Plantar Fasciitis

Swelling and Edema 

  • Lymphoedema
  • Joint Swelling

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF KINESIO-TAPING?

Kinesio-tape has a vast array of therapeutic benefits. Because kinesio- taping can usually be left on for several days or up to a week, these therapeutic benefits are available to the injured area 24 hours a day, significantly accelerating the healing process from trauma, injuries and inflammatory conditions.

Pain Relief via Structural Support for Weak or Injured Body Parts

Basically it’s flexible elastic tape that moves with your body. This provides support to your body parts without the tape slipping. You don’t need an underwrap tape with this tape.

By supporting your body part kinesio- tape is able to provide you with pain relief and muscular support to help control body parts affected by muscle inhibition.

Muscle Support

As previously mentioned, your muscle strength may be assisted by kinesio- tape via physical assistance and tactile feedback through the skin ie: proprioception  boost. This phenomenon may assist you to enhance your performance and move more freely thus aiding in healing.

Swelling Reduction

Kinesio-tape provides a passive lift to your skin via its elastic properties. This vacuum effect allows your lymphatic and venous drainage systems to drain in swollen or bruised tissue quicker than without the kinesio-tape.

It is also thought that this same principle can assist the removal of exercise byproducts like lactic acid that may contribute to post-exercise soreness eg delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

HOW DO I GET TAPED?

Visit a physical therapist or trainer that has knowledge of training in kinesio-taping. You will be evaluated and the best taping technique determined for you or if taping is right for your condition. After you are taped then you can continue with your activites, training or advice given by your therapist. You may still have to ice, elevate or even limit training somewhat depending on your injury. You will wear the tape for a 4-7 days ( weather conditions like humidity may limit the wearing time) then remove. Re-taping can be done after a few days if condition is still improving and you need longer treatment.

If you are interested in getting assessed for kinesio-taping, schedule time with me and we can tape you up !

This Little Piggy …….

this-little-piggy

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This month’s topic and focus in this session of Pilates is foot health.  Do your little piggies go wee wee AHHHHH all the way home? If so read on and then come to classes or schedule a foot private session to learn valuable exercises to help with your foot pain or alignment problems.

Many changes occur in the feet as we go through life’s journey.  Many use, overuse or misuse problems can cause changes in the shape of the foot, size and location of the fat pads on the bottom of the feet, the integrity of the skin and toenails, the health of the foot bones, range of motion of the joints, circulation and also the sensation of the feet.  Good foot health is essential to your quality of movement and of life. Many foot problems can be avoided by proper prevention and early intervention.

Do you have knee, hip and low back problems that you haven’t been able to figure out the cause of ? Maybe looking down at your feet you may discover the source !

Common foot disorders:

  • Hallux valgus– aka bunions. This is where the big toe drifts toward the other toes. A bunion may form on the outside edge of the knuckle of the big toe and occasionally the big toe may overlap the other toes.  Bunions can also form on the outer side of the foot called bunionettes or tailors bunions, where the pinky toe can drift toward the other toes.
  • Deformities of the lesser toes– In hammer toe, the middle joint of the toe sticks up to form a painful callous on top of the joint due to friction and pressure with the shoe.
  • Degenerative joint diseases such as osteoarthritis– joint pain, weight-bearing, and joint tenderness with pressure may interfere with normal walking.
  • Circulatory changes related to diabetes and vascular diseases such as arteriosclerosis narrowing of the blood vessels can affect the integrity of the skin and underlying soft tissues and compromise healing of open wounds.

Foot problems are often related to footwear, but in our society, as popular as this idea is, going barefoot is not a viable option in my opinion. We wear shoes for foot protection, sanitation , and fashion. Even in good, supportive shoes, our feet suffer because the muscles weaken from lack of use. On the other hand, shoes that do not adequately support the foot contribute to foot deformities and pain by : causing muscle weakness from disuse and allowing  supportive ligaments of the foot to stretch, permanently affecting the foot’s structure.

Fashion, especially for women, is a major culprit. Narrow, pointed toes of shoes squish toes together, causing overlapping, pressure points, and decreased circulation. High heels further compromise the toes, decrease ankle stability, and force the ball of the foot to bear an excessive proportion of the body’s weight.  In addition , long-term wearing of high heels can cause permanent shortening of the heel cord, the toe extensor muscles on the top of the foot, and supportive structures in the arch. Combined, these changes significantly alter the structure and functional capacity of the foot.

When the structure of the foot  has changed this change affects the structures  above. The forces that travel up your leg when you walk will travel differently up the leg and can cause problems at the knee, hip and low back. So  taking care of your feet can help protect other areas of your body as well.

Proper conservative foot care is essential to prevent disuse and dysfunction that can eventually lead to debilitating foot problems. To maintain your healthy feet follow these steps:

  1. Check your feet: Look for changes in skin, color,  shape/ position of joints, calluses.  See a podiatrist if something doesn’t look right, especially if you have pain.
  2. Maintain proper weight:  This relieves a lifetime of pressure on your feet.
  3. Wear well-fitting shoes: Over a lifetime, shoe size usually changes. Adjust accordingly. Wearing heels occasionally is ok but make sure the toe box is wide enough so that toes are not squished.
  4. Make sure to exercise your feet: walking,  flexibility exercises, massage and resistive exercises, all can help decrease stiffness, decrease pain, improve joint motion, release tight tissues and help to realign foot structure.

Build exercises for your feet into your daily routine. It’s not that hard. Most exercises can be done while putting  moisturizer on your feet or while sitting at your desk.

The long-term health of your feet is so important and prevention is key. So start now.  Foot exercises on You Tube are many or you can come to a Pilates class or private session to get your own feet assessed and learn what exercises are best for you.  Read back in this blog for my article on tennis ball stretches to start your own foot exercise routine.

Applying My Pilates Principles to Post-Op Laparoscopic Hysterectomy

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FREEDOM pic

As a physical therapist (PT) and certified Pilates instructor (CPI) I am routinely giving advice to my clients as to how to prepare and how to recover from surgery.  My expertise has always been very orthopedically centered. So if you have a knee replacement, shoulder surgery, back or neck surgery, or pain in any of these areas I can help.  I can with confidence apply my knowledge of PT and also Pilates training to give you a program or advice on how to manage your situation and your healing.  However, this female abdominal surgery area was totally new to me. You may be having the laparoscopic approach with punctures and small incision or a full open hysterectomy, but in either case, here’s how my fitness knowledge has benefited me along the way with my experience and recovery.

Of course, in my Pilates classes I focus on all the Pilates principles: relaxation, concentration, control, centering, fluidity, precision, breathing and endurance. What I am constantly reminded of is that in just regular activities of daily living  so many of  these Pilates principles can be applied to most any situation, giving you better control and mastery over your body. This applies to pre-op and post- op situations too!

Recently I underwent a supracervical hysterectomy done laproscopically.  I am  very healthy,  I exercise regularly, teach Pilates classes and private training, eat clean, take supplements, meditate etc. but the issues that I suffered from ( large fibroid, heavy periods and to my surprise endometriosis) were not affected by my healthy lifestyle so medical intervention was a MUST.   I am not alone in this, since many women suffer as I did.

What I was surprised to find is that I was able to take what I have been teaching to my clients for so many years and apply them post- operatively.  I hear myself preaching to my clients about how all energy comes from your center and how the abdominals play a role in all movement. This hits home, and fast, once you have an abdominal incision. I was unpleasantly surprised how much discomfort I had with just the smallest of movements- like drying my hair or even reaching for my water bottle.  So with THAT said, how did I apply my Pilates principles to my recovery? Here’s a list.

  1. Breathing:  One of the biggest Pilates principles is the breath.  When you have pain you tend to hold your breath. So first thing I did was to breathe, using my inhale through the nose, exhale through the mouth- Pilates breath.  This helped significantly during simple activities like resting and most importantly when I moved.  By breathing this way you can decrease your intra-abdominal pressure, which can put strain on your incisions, causing increased pain.  So breathe!! Controlled breathing exercises to reduce pain and relax are available on iTunes.
  2. Relaxation: As I mentioned above, I meditate. I NEED to meditate on a regular basis to help keep my thoughts focused and my emotions in check.  Any perimenopausal or menopausal woman can benefit immensely from meditating on a regular basis. But when you have pain, this is one of the BEST pain relieving activities you can do. It calms your nervous system down, which is on high alert at this point, it calms your breathing, decreases blood pressure and heart rate, and decreases the tension you are holding in your muscles due to pain. You can even decrease tension in incision areas with focused meditation.  Healing meditations are my favorite.  You focus your thoughts on blood flow to the area and actual healing of cells.  In my experience with PT I have found that those clients who meditate to help with healing rehab much quicker than those who do not.  Where do you get healing meditations?  ITunes- has a plethora of healing meditations. “The Soul of Healing Mediations” by Deepak Chopra and “Journey into Stillness” by Ramdesh Kaur are two of my favorites.
  3. Concentration and Control: Now we are getting into the more movement part of your healing.  Once you are feeling like getting up and moving around, your pain is managed, and you are off the narcotics you can start this.  Movement heals- we know that. GONE are the days of bed rest when we used to have people lying on their backs for days on end.  Getting up and moving helps with fluid flow, decreases blood clot risk, decreases stiffness in your joints, back etc.  BUT it can still be painful.  Getting up out of bed and going up and down stairs can just plain hurt. This is where your concentration comes in handy.   If you have ever taken a Pilates class, you should hear your instructor reminding you to focus on your moves, coordinate them with your breath, be precise and controlled in your intention to move.  You can do this with early post –op movement too.  Concentrate on your good spinal alignment, that will decrease pressure on incisions, be aware of your surroundings, and placement of limbs. All of this can help with not only safety but with pain control.
  4. Centering:   About  5 day post-op mark is the time to help those deep core muscles reactivate.  All movement stems from your center.  If you have done Pilates you know how long it took you to feel the connection of those deep abdominal muscles.  Well, here you are again taking baby steps. When a muscle is disrupted during a surgery it can be a little sleepy getting started.  Many people have a sleepy bladder after surgery and the pelvic floor exercises can help with that.

So what to do? There are two exercises – 1. Breathing with transversus abdominus contractions and 2. Pelvic floor exercises.  First – set your phone with an alarm to ring a reminder 3 times a day.  Your first exercises will be pelvic floor.  You can sit, lay or stand.  Inhale and as you exhale draw up the pelvic floor muscles (Kegel) and hold for a long count of 10.  Relax. Then perform 10 quick flicks of the pelvic floor as if lifting and lowering it quickly.  Next, you can sit, stand or lay.  Place your hands on your lower waist, near the pelvic crests (hip bones). Inhale and as you exhale, gently draw in your waist, pulling your belly button to your spine.  This may cause a small pulling on your incision but go slowly and only do as tight of a contraction as is comfortable.  As you do these daily you will find those muscles waking up again.  You can also perform this exercise while walking- which is part of your post- op care.  Wait until you get full clearance from your doctor and then return to your Pilates classes or schedule private sessions to gradually get you ramped up to full power. Since you will most definitely have physical activity restrictions for 4-6 weeks post-op, these small isometric exercises are safe and can help you when you do start up with full activity again.

Note on the sleepy bladder:  If you are having problems urinating or getting the flow of urination going here is a technique from PT you can use to help.  This brushing technique we use in PT is to get a muscle stimulated into a better contraction.  Gently (using a pad of toilet paper) swipe the urethra a few times. This can stimulate the muscles and cause urination to start much less hesitantly.

Now I would be remiss as a PT if I did not talk about a few things I think you need to have at home pre-op to make post –op more comfortable.  Here’s my list:

  1. Loose, drawstring pants – to eliminate any pressure on the lower belly. Your Lululemon yoga pants will be too constricting.
  2. A wedge or large propping pillow- Sleeping the first couple of nights on your back slightly propped can help you feel better since rolling or sidelying is not comfortable
  3. A firm pillow or pillow pet ( J) for bracing your incisions when you cough or good grief-sneeze.
  4. Large water bottle for beside- since you will be thirsty from the pain meds and anesthesia.
  5. Heating pad or cold pack- for lower abdominal incision pain. Remember only 20 mins on at a time.
  6. A small basket- now don’t laugh but this was a huge help. With all my electronic devices; phone, iPad, Kindle, earbuds, TV remotes, pill bottles, etc. it was easier to carry my “stuff” around or move it that way, instead of dropping it. Cuz who wants to bend down and pick stuff up? And you know Murphy’s law right?

I hope this helps you after your surgery. I have always found that the best tips I get are from my clients who tell me their war stories. So I hope my war story has helped you.   Most importantly listen to your body, and listen to your doctors.  They know what is best for your specific situation!  Speedy recovery and Pilates on – once you are all healed up.

Want to get started on your Pilates journey?  Visit www.infinityhealth.org for more information or contact me with your questions at infinityhealth@comcast.net.

By Donna Gambino, Licensed Physical Therapist, Certified Pilates Instructor and fitness author.

POSHITIS ?

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I love myself a big handbag. You name the color I have one and it’s usually big enough to hold all my “stuff”- phone, iPad, make-up, and everything else I feel the need to have with me. But there is a price to having this popular fashion look and it even has a name –Poshitis-muscle strain caused from carrying large handbags.  Do you have POSHITIS?

There are many ways we carry large bags-over the shoulder, over a bent elbow, on our backs, hanging from our hand.  Whatever your favorite purse posturing, it can be the source of your aching neck, back, arm and hand when the bag is too heavy. I know, I know, I cannot change your style- you will buy what you like, fashion first and suffer the consequences. So let’s discuss how to make your body stronger but your bag lighter- without disappointing our inner fashionista.

The combination of the weight of your bag against muscles, tendons, nerves and ligaments- plus the way you compensate with your posture to accommodate the load can lead to many problems like: headaches, upper neck/shoulder pain, back pain, scoliosis, kyphosis and tendinitis in the elbow. When you carry something heavy every day, the accumulated stress can lead to significant injuries that require you to seek medical intervention.  Everyone has seen articles on the effects of teenage posture caused by carrying heavy backpacks.  So how can you change things to improve this situation?

purseskel

It’s not only the size and weight of the bag but where you carry it. You can make simple adjustments that can help with this.

  1. Change sides: Carrying your bag on the same side all the time can severely overwork muscles, which can over time change posture. Form follows function – meaning if you are always in the same position (form) performing a function, you will strengthen that form- i.e. – change posture to adapt. Switch the side you hold your bag on every 30 minutes to help balance forces.
  2. Purchase Wisely: Purchase bags that you can easily switch from carrying on your shoulder to carrying on your elbow or from your hand. This will give muscles a breather and let posture muscles recover.
  3. Do Your Pilates: If you have been to a Pilates class you always hear about stabilizing, breathing, and engaging your core. Well, here is a time you could do all those things. Heavy bag? Not a problem. Pull your shoulders back and down, stabilizing your shoulder girdle, hold in your abdominals, engaging that Pilates powerhouse. First and foremost this will help you carry the load of your bag more efficiently and secondly make you stand up taller so you look statuesque and more fashionista –like. No slouching models.
  4. Cross Body: If you are traveling and know that you will be lugging around other bags then use a cross body bag. This will minimize swing and allows the muscles of the trunk to carry more of the load so the upper body can relax.
  5. Disperse Load: Purchase wider strap bags, at least 2 inches across, to disperse weight evenly. A narrow strap concentrates force whether on your shoulder, elbow or even the hand.
  6. Downsize: If you are having pain issues then you must try to opt for a smaller size. Package extra necessities in pouches that you can store in your car or desk instead of carrying them around with you. Remember the bigger bag, the more junk you haul around.

PUT YOUR PURSE ON A DIET

  • Buy bags with minimal hardware, and made from lighter weight materials like nylon or fabric.
  • Empty your wallet of the tons of spare change, reward cards (use the APP “Card Star” to store these), and extra credit cards.
  • Lighten your key chain. Remove the keys, zip drives, hand sanitizers etc. you don’t absolutely need and use on a daily basis. Key chains can add up to 2 # of weight to your bag.
  • Purge some of the extra lipsticks, lip glosses, compacts etc. you are storing in your purse.

So you’ve done all I have said but you still experience postural fatigue? You can do a few things.

First consider taking a Pilates class to help you strengthen postural and core muscles. Your strength comes from your center so if you boost up the power there you are less likely to suffer postural fatigue.

Secondly, you can do a few self-treatment techniques that can help you to decrease pain.

  1. Foam roll– Grab your foam roller. Lay on in for 5-10 minutes just to get your posture back in a neutral position. You can also use it horizontally across your upper back to help roll out the kinks. Need help with this?- Check out one of my roller books- http://www.amazon.com/Donna-Gambino/e/B00J3PS0RS/ref=dp_byline_cont_book_1
  2. Neck Stretches– Stand tall. Place your right hand near your left ear. Gently pull down toward right shoulder, hold 10-20 secs. Repeat 3 times and switch sides. Be gentle with no tugging or forcing.
  3. Shoulder rolls– Stand tall. Lift shoulders up, pull them back and then down, in a circle 10-20 times, then reverse directions.
  4. Forearm stretches—Hold arms out in front. Flex hands downward, the upward to stretch out the forearm muscles ( Do this if you hold your purse in the crook of your elbow)

Hopefully these tips will help you to avoid “Poshitis” but still help to keep you looking fab. Share with me your favorite bag and how you choose to carry it on my facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Infinity-Health-Pilates/219846168067529

Interested in trying out a Pilates class? Visit my website at www.infinityhealth.org for a schedule of ongoing classes or private instruction.

THE PELVIC FLOOR AND TWO EXERCISES YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT!

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There is a group of muscles that are rarely talked about in your exercise classes or anywhere else for that matter, but they are hugely important for both women and men during daily life, while exercising and while at rest. These are your pelvic floor muscles.

Where are they?
These hidden muscles of the pelvic floor are located in the base of your pelvis. They stretch like a muscular trampoline from the tailbone (coccyx) to the pubic bone, from front to back, and from one sitting bone to the other sitting bone, from side to side. These muscles should be firm and thick.

What do they do?
The muscles of the pelvic floor have 4 main functions in both men and women:
1)They help support the abdominal and pelvic contents from below.
2)They work with the abdominal and back muscles to stabilize and support the spine.
3)They help control bowel and bladder function.
4) They are involved in sexual response and function.
Like other muscles in the body, if they get weak they are no longer efficient at doing their job.

What causes weakened pelvic floor muscles?
Common causes are childbirth, obesity, chronic constipation, aging, a history of back pain, heavy lifting ( body builders or heavy labor), chronic cough, previous injury to the pelvic region, as in a fall or surgery and finally- not keeping them active.

How do you know if they are weak?
•You accidentally leak urine when you exercise, laugh, cough or sneeze.
•You need to get to the toilet in a hurry, not making it there in time or
constantly needing to go to the toilet.
•You find it difficult to empty your bladder or bowel.
•You may have pain in your pelvic area or painful sex.
• In men, erectile dysfunction and dribbling after urinating.

How do I locate and recognize these muscles?
This is relatively easy. These are the muscles you use to hold back gas or stop the flow of urine. While sitting, envision the trampoline shaped muscle at the bottom of your pelvis, squeeze and lift it up, as if you are trying to make a space between the chair and your pelvic floor. Feel the contraction from front to back. Avoid tightening your buttocks and abdomen to do this. If you are lifting up in your chair you are using your glutes and not your pelvic floor.

How do you strengthen them?  THESE ARE TWO EXERCISES YOU CAN’T LIVE WITHOUT.
Although the pelvic floor is hidden from view, it can be consciously controlled and therefore trained, much like any other muscle in your body by doing the contraction mentioned above. Oh and by the way, no one will know you are doing them. So they can be done anywhere.
Here are a couple of exercises that if done 3 times a day, for 3 months can drastically improve if not eliminate your pelvic floor weakness.

THE CLENCH: This exercise works on the holding ability of the muscles, building a strong dam to hold back urine. Exhale as you slowly tighten and lift the pelvic floor and the hold for a count of 10 while breathing naturally. When you release you should feel the muscle relax down. At first you may notice that the muscles do not want to stay contracted for very long. This is a sign of weakness and as you practice this exercise you should be able to hold for longer periods of time.

QUICK FLICKS: This is just as it sounds. You will quickly tighten and lift the muscles and then release, 10 times. This works the muscles that quickly shut off the flow of urine to help prevent accidents.

What is the hardest part about doing the exercises?
REMEMBERING to do them. Go to your smart phone apps and find an app that will ring a reminder for you 3 times a day. SO no matter where you are or WHAT you are doing you can do the exercises. This is fun since you will find yourself doing the exercises while maybe working, cleaning, in the car, shopping, etc ! No one will know you are doing them.

*Remember:
Only exercise the muscles of the pelvic floor, do not tense or contract leg muscles, buttocks or belly. If you are having trouble, do the exercises lying down so there is less stress on the muscles. Bend your knees so you are comfortable and your legs are relaxed.

Keep in mind that these exercises are not just for urine flow problems but help to cover all the other problems listed. Keep in mind when exercising as in Pilates and Yoga, lifting, coughing/sneezing or even just walking, you can practice contracting your pelvic floor.

If your problems persist or are getting worse you should of course seek medical attention from someone trained in pelvic floor dysfunction. There are many treatments available from physicians and physical therapists trained specifically in this area. So there is help out there for you. Clench and flick and you can strengthen up good as new !!

Donna Gambino is a licensed physical therapist, certified Pilates instructor and fitness author. CHECK OUT the her new E-BOOK- “On a Roll @ Home Stretch and Massage” – http://my.bookbaby.com/book/on-a-roll–home

For more information visit http://www.infinityhealth.org for fitness classes and private training in your area.

SPRING CLEANING WORKOUTS

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gardening-back-pain

In Michigan, May is usually the time that most of us are ready to get out into our yards and garages to do some spring cleaning. You have all the right tools for your project but are you prepared physically? In our excitement to make things shine once again we often tend to over-do-it and injure ourselves.

Fortunately, you can lessen your risk of injury before you go down the garden path by making sure you are using proper form while doing spring clean- up. One of the most important things you can do to protect your back and neck is to always make sure you use good body mechanics.

Everyone has heard “bend with your knees and not at your waist” but here are just a few additional ideas to add to your list.

  1. Start with a warm-up. If you are physically unconditioned this is really important. Think of your yard work like a workout. What’s the first thing you do before you begin a run? Warm-up right? So go for a light walk, a slow bike ride, or do an exercise class before jumping out into the yard right after breakfast. Warming up the muscles and joints so they are not cold will help prevent injury. Try 10-15 minutes of low intensity movement before you grab that rake.
  2. If you need to lift something heavy (like those incredibly awkward lawn bags), keep the item as close to your body as possible. Always lift straight up using your legs exhaling while you lift. Exhaling during exertion can lower disc pressure helping to protect them from herniation. Avoid twisting while you lift. Twisting can damage the discs in your back, so turn your whole body toward the load before lifting or setting an item down and bend with your knees to lower it- just like you did to lift. Use a cart to take loads long distances.
  3. If you will be spreading mulch or dirt. Take smaller loads in your wheelbarrow. Instead of bending over to spread the load, use a small “manageable” rake or sit down to distribute it. Using tools that are too big for you can strain muscles. There are numerous ergonomic tools available now at most garden centers. Try on your tools for size and comfort.
  4. If planting flowers -don’t squat. This can put a lot of pressure on your knees and back.  Sit on a pad or small garden stool keeping your back in good alignment facing what you are doing. Hold in your abdominals and lengthen your spine. Don’t lean if something is out of your reach. Just get up and reposition yourself closer. Prolonged awkward positions can cause backs to strain unnecessarily.
  5. When raking up yard debris, soften your knees so that they are not locked, exhale as you pull the rake towards you holding in your abdominals. Make the movement come from your abdominals and not just your arms. Switch arms every now and then too to keep arm strain to a minimum.
  6. If cleaning or trimming something overhead. Be aware and keep your head and neck in good position. If you need to strain to reach use a steady stool to help you get at a better height. Over-arching your neck can cause pressure on these tiny discs and leave you with a sore neck the next day.
  7. Take care of your hands and wrists. Wear gloves and if you will be trimming with garden trimmers take breaks. Marathon pruning sessions can lead to hand pain and even tendinitis in the hand and wrist. Stretch, and vary your activities giving the small hand muscles a break.
  8. Don’t overdo it. Many injuries happen when you are over tired. Spread out your chores doing a little at a time, especially if you have recurring back problems. If you notice your back is feeling tight, consider this a red flag! It will only get tighter from there. Take a break, lie on a foam roller or stretch over a stability ball OR stop for the day.

FUN FACT: Depending on weight, activity and intensity level, it’s possible to burn anywhere from 250-500 calories and hour. But watch out for signs of strain.

It’s very easy to lose track of time when you are working in the garden, especially if you enjoy it. If you overdid it use an ice pack wrapped in a wet towel for 20 minutes at a time. Take anti-inflammatories for pain and perform your stretching and gentle movement exercises. If pain continues for more than a couple days or if you experience radiating pain, numbness or tingling in your leg or arms, see your physician.

If you can follow these easy tips you can keep your entire body feeling happy all season, get your work done and actually get in a great workout out all at the same time. Happy gardening!!

 

Donna Gambino is a licensed physical therapist, certified Pilates instructor and fitness author. For more information visit www.infinityhealth.org for fitness classes in your area. NEW CLASSES starting soon !