Back2back PT: Back2back Basics Back2back Physical Therapy: Optimizing function via body balance New Year’s Resolutions: A healthier, more balanced you…is it a fairy tale?
Happy New Year: these words generally bring to mind resolutions and goals for the new year. People often agonize over some of the same resolutions every year, namely better balance and health in their daily lives. We sign up for the gym, buy exercise equipment, and at least think about starting with some new diet plan. But just how can you make it last as in the fairy tales so that you can live ‘happily ever after’? Is it possible? I am here to say yes, one step at a time.
How can we bring Goldilocks and her lessons to current day healthcare?
In The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales
(2002) Harvard University professor Maria Tatar points out that the tale is typically framed today as a discovery of what is "just right" (Tartar M, 2002).
Author Christopher Booker
characterizes this as the "dialectical three", where "the first is wrong in one way, the second in another or opposite way, and only the third, in the middle, is just right." Booker continues, "This idea that the way forward lies in finding an exact middle path between opposites is of extraordinary importance in storytelling".
The Goldilocks Principle
describes a situation, which is just right
in a manner akin to that portrayed in the tale. The concept prevails not only in literature, but also in astronomy
. A Goldilocks planet
is neither too close to nor too far from a star to rule out life, while a Goldilocks economy
describes one which is sustaining moderate growth and low inflation, which is seen as allowing for a market friendly monetary policy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_the_Three_Bears Back2back Physical Therapy
puts a focus on Optimizing function via body balance.
The Goldilocks Principle applies for the body in this situation as well. You do not want too much, or too little; you want to be ‘just right’. This applies to the body as a whole as well as to individual parts, for example, the spine or the shoulder. It seems simple, and it can be. However, all systems need to be in balance in order for each individual to be able to find his or her ‘just right’. And what is ‘just right’ for one person may be different for the next.
A physical therapist can assist you in determining your optimal balance for functioning. Your goal is to be able to then determine your balance point yourself and to apply certain principles so that you can solve the balance dilemma in any given situation. However, healthcare in today’s world is no fairy tale and knowing where to start can be difficult at best.
With the recent resurgence of the fairy tales, I thought it fun and practical to apply these tales and their characters to some of the principles of Back2back PT. Just as the children in the fairy tales need to be smart and keep their wits about them, so do we need to do this when it comes to our body.
Let’s start with the Back2back Basics with Snow White and & 7 Dwarfs.
You should ask yourself the questions of the 7 Dwarfs. Doc
– It is best to seek the care of a healthcare provider? See a Doctor of PT (DPT) or your Primary Care Physician (PCP) sooner rather than later. Do not delay. Seek healthcare. Find a DPT. www.moveforwardpt.com Dopey
– Do you feel dopey and lethargic? Are you not at your best? Do you feel ‘fuzzy’? Sneezy
– Do you have a cold, the flu or allergies? Have you ever hurt your back when you sneezed? What’s pressure got to do with those discs? Happy
– Are you happy? Is pain or discomfort of some sort preventing you from being happy? Are you seeking happiness, but not able to find it? Being happy is generally easier with a balanced back, body and life. Sleepy
– Are you getting enough sleep? Do you feel sleepy all the time? Are you lethargic? Does it matter how you sleep? How is one to sleep balanced? Bashful
– Are you afraid to verbalize your pain? Are you afraid to seek medical care? Don’t be bashful. You will only hurt yourself if you delay. There is no time to start like the present. Grumpy
– Are you Grumpy at home or work? If you are not feeling well, then you may tend to be grumpy. If you are not balanced and do not seek medical care, grumpy tends to creep in more and more in your daily life.
If you answered yes to any of the 7 Dwarf questions, then you should seek medical advice with a DPT or MD, bringing us back to Doc. It only takes a few minutes to find a healthcare professional in your area. Make it your New Year’s resolution to Optimize function through body balance starting with your DPT or MD.
You can find a PT through the American Physical Therapy Association’s website at: http://www.apta.org/apta/findapt/index.aspx?navID=10737422525
There are many places to find an MD, but you can start with the American Medical Association’s Find an MD website: https://extapps.ama-assn.org/doctorfinder/recaptcha.jsp
So, if you want to start on the road to living happily ever after, make a resolution to take it one day at a time. Try your best to maintain balance, but if you do not, then try to bring it back to get it ‘just right’. EXERCISE:
This is the first of my Top 10 Rules for a Healthy Back
PS - You likely learned them all in pre-schoolJ 1. Balance – Front-Back and Side-Side: All areas.
When you are standing, imagine a Plumb Line dropping from the ceiling. Ideally, the Plumb Line should go through your: Ear – Shoulder – Hip – Knee – Ankle in standing. This generally means that your spine is in a neutral or balanced position. Abdominal Bracing:
In standing, keep the knees ‘soft’ or slightly bent, then try tightening your abdominal muscles. Think of bringing your belly button towards your back. This will assist in stabilizing your spine. Practice holding this for 5-10 seconds.
Once you are able to perform this with ease, try doing it in various positions.
Lying on your back with your knees bent may be easier to practice initially if you are having any difficulty in standing. Finding your Neutral Spine (Approximate Neutral):
In standing, keep the knees ‘soft’ or slightly bent, then tighten your abdominals and flatten your low back (posterior pelvic tilt). Next, relax the abdominal muscles and arch your back in the opposite direction (anterior pelvic tilt). Gently, go back and forth from a flat back to an arched back. Perform smaller movements until you find a position that feels approximately in the mid-range of the available motion. This will generally be your Neutral Spine position. We will talk more about this in future posts. TIPS:
Think of your spine as building blocks, you know, the same ones that you used in pre-school. When you are have a neutral spine and are in a balanced position, all the blocks are stacked well and remain in place. However, if one block slips forward, then another one may need to slide back to balance the stack. When this occurs, there is more stress and strain and the likelihood of the stack of blocks being unstable is much higher.
I will give tips to maintaining a balanced spine in various positions on my next post. QUOTE:
“There is no secret to balance. You just have to feel the waves.”
Maria Tartar, Marie. The Annotated Classic Fairy Tales (annotated edition). W. W. Norton & Company, October 14, 2002. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Story_of_the_Three_Bears