Bolsters and pillows for joints comfort

Supporting your joints with the right pillows is more important than you might think.  With good support as you sleep or rest on the couch, you can help retrain your body to be in better alignment.  You can also reinforce any training you are doing throughout the week.  Bolstering means to support or to strengthen.  A pillow that is not correct for your head and neck alignment can cause pain and discomfort down the road.  It can also lead to headaches.  This is so simply avoided by taking the time to find the right fit for you.

Bolstering can really help relieve your knees, lower back,  hip, neck  and shoulder joints.  The correct  pillow between your legs/knees aligns your hip and keeps them from knocking together.  They also allow your bones, muscles and ligaments to decompress because they are able to let go and feel supported.

It is soothing and comforting to use pillows this way.  For example. many of us hyper-extend our knees.  In this case, it’s great  to place a pillow under them while laying in a face up position watching t.v. or using a  a laptop computer as it helps decompress your tendons, ligaments and muscles.

Here are some suggestions to get you started:

The cylindrical-shaped pillows are great for both your neck and knees. However, make sure that the size is not too large since you don’t want your head to be pushed too far forward.

Tempur-Pedic memory foam pillows are designed to cradle your head and make space for your shoulders to keep you in good alignment as you sleep.  This way your shoulder does not creep  up into your ears while you are sleeping.  Experiment with different ones till you find the brand that works best for you.  Be aware that some of them are expensive but they can keep you in comfort for over three years.  Generic brands can work well, but tend to wear out faster.  Both cylindrical and Tempur-Pedic type pillows are available at local medical supply stores and on the Web.

For neck and shoulders, use Tempur-Pedic contour pillows (memory foam).  For lower back, use wedge-shaped pillows by placing them under the knees.  Cylindrical-shaped pillows are used for either knees or neck.

Often I will place a heating pad directly on my Tempur-Pedic contoured pillow because the heat is then pressing just on the right spots  to to relieve my tense neck and shoulders.  Keeping these area as relaxed can prevent headaches and other aches and pains.  Be aware  that your pillow will probably not last as long doing this because it does wear down its firmness.  Do not use a heating pad if you have high blood pressure or any other condition where it is advised not to use heat.  Do not fall asleep with it on, and do not use for more than ten minutes as it can actually begin to tighten your muscles if placed on too long.

There is an emotionally supportive and restorative benefit to relaxing and feeling held by the pillows.  It is a great way to decompress and meditate at the end of the day.  Place your pillows strategically under your joints  to let them feel held and they will repay you in the long run.  Helping to relax your body will help you feel centered and connected with more focus and energy for your mind.

In this new age of computer screens and Blackberries, our eyes are forced to undergo a whole new adaptation to decipher and process digital information. The nature of computer screens themselves present a vision challenge. Computer images are not solid characters since they’re made up of pixels, which makes focusing on them difficult for the human eye.

Here are two exercises that can help relieve tired, sedentary or strained eyes. There are six external muscles of the eyes. They are: Superior, Inferior, Medial and Lateral Rectus, and the Superior and Inferior Oblique muscles. Just as we need to stretch our hamstrings or our gastric muscles, it is equally important and worthwhile to stretch our eye muscles. It feels good too. You will probably want to do this one alone or with people that know you really well-since you might look pretty crazy while doing it!

Procedure one: Counterbalancing eye strain for the external muscles of the eye:

Imagine a large clock in front of you. Look up to the TWELVE. Now down to the SIX. Do this movement three times slowly. Now look to the THREE and then over to NINE. Repeat three times slowly. Next, do ONE and SEVEN. Three times slowly. Now, ELEVEN and FIVE. Yes, three times slowly. TWO and EIGHT. Three times slowly. Lastly, do TEN and FOUR. Three times slowly. When you have completed the whole cycle move your eyes in a clockwise circle three times slowly and then counterclockwise three times. Now, rub your hands together fast to warm them up and cup them gently over your eyelids.

Notice the interesting sensation when you do the diagonal movements. These muscles are not used as often(unless you are a frequent eye-roller:-) and its good to activate and get circulation to these areas of the eyes. You may notice more of your periphery (side vision) as this is a good way to enhance it.

Procedure two: Counterbalancing eye strain for the internal muscle (the Ciliary) which controls near and far vision.

The constant close proximity to our computer screens does not give our eyes the chance to use the long distance focus as often as we probably should. Get outside and look at a far distant point and give this muscle a chance to shift into far focus.

This heightening and care of your senses leads to a more tactile awareness overall. Our eyes receive and are at times even bombarded with so many images. These exercises should help in giving them some much needed relief. As with all of these exercises they are meant to promote good health. Please see your eye doctor for regular checkups and any issues.

foot exercise

This exercise will help you feel more solid on the ground.  Feeling more solid on your feet will help you with standing, walking, and exercise.

The muscles of the lower leg insert on the foot.  Some of these are Gastrocnemius, Soleus (which both insert via the Achilles tendon), Tibialis anterior, and the Peroneal muscles.  If they are tight they can often lead to other issues.

You can do this while laying on the couch watching t.v. at the end of a long day.  Always put a bolster under your knees to protect them.  With time, this exercise can become second nature and you will begin doing it before you even realize it.

Procedure:

Trace the alphabet with your feet.  Do it in large block letters.  Do each letter and movement slowly-the intention is not to get through the alphabet, but to stretch and to strengthen the  muscles of your feet.  You may sense places of your feet that are rarely moved-this is a sign that you are really getting circulation to places where you need it.  Notice the middle of the foot when you do the finer movements of  the letters B and K.  Those can be difficult muscles to isolate.

You may only want to go to N the first few times you do this exercise as you will see it is not easy and your feet can get tired.  Many of these muscles are not used to being activated so specifically.  Don’t overdue it.  When you are finished, do three circle in each direction.  Now you can massage them a bit.

I’m often asked whether to lead  with the toe or heel.  Take as much effort out of it as you can.  I would say in general try to lead from the ankle and let the rest of the foot go along for the ride.  The movement should flow with ease not with effort.  Let it feel luxurious!

When you stand up, go slowly and mindfully.  You will notice different sensations than you did prior to the exercise.

This is a seemingly simple exercise but it is very effective with long lasting and strong results.  You will begin to notice, over time, how your feet look and feel stronger and less tense.  This is important as they are the base for the rest of your body.

The root chakra begins on the foot as well as many acupuncture channels (that begin and end there).  Reflex points for the whole body are located on the foot.  By creating a strong structure physically, you are helping these channels to flow better and as a result you will have greater well being overall: better circulation, better flow of Chi/Prana and better alignment.  By relaxing the foot you are stimulating the rest and digest response in your nervous system.  This restful state can help your breathing, digestion and on and on! Most importantly the rest of your body’s joints are stacked upon your feet.  Your knees, hips, shoulders and neck.  If your feet are off center it can have an effect on the rest of your body.  So take care of them and do so sensibly. This is an exercise and is meant for the prevention of foot pain.  If it hurts doing this stop and go see a foot doctor.

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