Lend me your ears!
It has been over 2 months since manual therapists had to suspend their services, leaving many people fending for themselves when managing their pain. Here’s an easy way that you can be your own therapist!
You might be surprised to learn that the ear is a pathway to relaxation and pain relief.
German Auricular Medicine suggests that the ear holds the map to the entire body and we can thereby treat the entire body by affecting energy pathways and pressure points by doing acupuncture in the ear. Reflexology and Traditional Chinese Medicine both work with a similar approach. And in Craniosacral work, working on the ear is thought to relieve tightness in a fold in the brain that separates the Cerebrum from the Cerebellum. It is believed that this tightness can cause imbalances and impaired blood flow. Since massage therapy is a layering of these Western and Eastern medicines, it too can be used to tap into the ear’s potential for healing.
To better understand the ear’s role in pain and relaxation, it’s important to know that the body and brain are in constant communication: a back and forth of neuronal signals. Nerves in the body are linked to nerve centres in the brain. Similarly, the brain sends signals down the spinal cord, reaching different neurons around the body and affecting the associated body parts. The ear is packed with nerve endings! So, for example, we can have a positive effect on the left-brain and pituitary gland by massaging the right ear lobe. And we can stimulate the right-brain and pineal gland by massaging the left ear lobe. Simply put, massaging the ear lobes can have an overall calming effect on the nervous system, thus promoting relaxation and easing pain sensations.
If we take a very direct anatomical look at the ears, they sit in the middle of the head. The ear is central or adjacent to our facial muscles, jaw muscles, and scalp muscles. And, tucked behind the ear is the mastoid process of the skull, where some noteworthy neck muscles attach (ie: SCM, splenius capitis, longissimus capitis, and digastric). Alleviating muscle tension and congestion around the ear can have a tremendous positive impact on the neighbouring tissues that are often implicated in headaches and jaw pain.
Further, studies have shown that the touch therapy provided by massage can promote the release of endorphins in both the bloodstream and the cerebrospinal fluid, helping with relaxation and a reduced perception of pain. Accessing these benefits through the ear is no different. So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started with this simple ear massage routine.
Remove your glasses and any jewelry from the ear.
Begin by warming up the tissues in the ear with palmar circles to the entire ear. Place your flat palm over the entire ear. Press in towards the head, and then twist your wrists to move the entire ear. Do this 12 times.
Once warmed up, hold the ear between the thumb and forefingers (or whatever grip feels the most natural to you). Begin at the top of your ear and work your way down, gently squeezing and pulling along the outer edge of the ear. Stop at the lobe and massage in circles, or gently squeeze the lobes. Next, move your thumb behind the lobe to where the ear meets the skull. Gently massage the whole line up to the top of the ear. Once at the top, with your middle finger, move to the inner flats of your ear and massage along the cartilage to the very bottom.
Repeat this entire sequence at least 3 times, and do as many more as feels comfortable for you. Use a light to moderate touch to avoid eliciting any pain responses.
Finish your ear massage with a sustained ear pull: grip your ear cartilage between your thumb and your forefinger and gently pull the ear away from the head in any and all directions that feel good. Hold the pull for up to a minute, and continue for as long as you wish. This routine can be used as a mid-day break from computer work, a pre-sleep relaxation routine, to help relieve a nagging headache or jaw tension, or for when you just need a little break. As long as you have your ears and your hands, the possibilities are endless!
Modern technology allows many jobs to be done remotely. Working from home has its perks, but one of the most difficult aspects for many people is setting up an ergonomically safe workstation. I’ve seen some imaginative work-from-home setups. Some people work from the couch, with a laptop on their outstretched legs, and two dogs curled up and snoring at their side. Wait. That’s me right now! Some people have set up on dining room tables, and I’ve even seen pictures of people working from their tubs! What?! For infrequent short stints these set-ups might be okay (except the tub… please don’t ever work with electronics in the tub!)
The reality is, many people do not have access to a proper desk and ergonomic setup with their makeshift home office. Whether working from home is a new and temporary arrangement for you, an ongoing but periodic thing, or your permanent situation, a safe ergonomic station is critical to your comfort and wellbeing. With the help of pillows, towels, books, and a binder you can make some subtle but very effective adjustments to optimize and maintain your postural health and wellness.
A good workstation starts with the chair. You can reference one of our previous blogs: “Chair Ergonomics” to ensure that you have the best guidelines. A folded towel provides great lumbar support. Books can act as a footrest. And don’t be afraid to get out your travel pillow if you want a little head and neck support.
Next, build your set up around the comfort of your chair. Look at your keyboard and mouse. You want your arms to rest at your side, with the keyboard just a few inches above your lap. The keyboard should be tilted slightly away from you to allow your wrists to remain neutral or slightly flexed. Your wrists should never be flexed backwards. Proper wrist angles will help reduce the potential for carpal tunnel concerns or tendinitis at the elbow.
This is going to be a tough one depending on what you have at your disposal. You can prop the keyboard up on your lap with a TV tray, or a binder with the wide end closest to you. Add a towel roll along the front of your keyboard to provide a resting place for your wrists. If you don’t have either of these, you can MacGyver something out of a cardboard box, some duct tape, a towel, and probably a safety pin for good measure. Ideally, though, you can invest in a sliding keyboard tray that you can install under whatever surface you are working from. There are lots of clamp-on versions that can easily be removed if you are working from a multi-purpose table.
Your screen is best set about an arm’s length away from you, adjusted for any vision concerns. The height of your monitor is best when your natural gaze falls in the top 1/3 of your screen. Prop your monitor up on some books until you’ve reached the desired height. Proper screen set up will help you prevent forward head carriage, which is a leading cause of headaches, jaw pain, and upper back pain, and inevitably leads to the dreaded “Dowagers hump.” This hump is the body’s defence as it thickens the tissues at the base of your neck to try and brace against the weight of your head pulling everything forward.
If you are working with a laptop, there are limited ways in which you can make it safe for frequent long duration use. Its design forces you to choose between neck comfort or arm and wrist comfort. If you are able, consider adding a monitor or keyboard to transform your laptop into a desktop station. If you are stuck with only the laptop, a binder comes in handy here too. This time, place the wide end closest to your knees; this gives the screen some height while lowering the keyboard slightly. Place a towel roll under your wrists to maintain a neutral angle. And tilt the screen back slightly to encourage a more neutral neck.
Before you can get to work you also want to make sure you have all your necessary tools at your disposal so that you are not using ill-fitted substitutes. For example, if you were used to having a regular landline receiver or hands-free phone at the office, get some headphones for your cellphone so that you aren’t cricking your neck to hold that ultra-thin cellphone to your ear. And place an end table or TV tray beside you so that your tools are all nearby, to avoid extending and reaching at awkward angles.
Now that you’ve got your station set up perfectly, get up! The key to avoiding the pitfalls from desk and computer work is taking frequent movement breaks. Even with perfect ergonomics and perfect posture, your body is not meant to sit still in the same position for long periods of time. We shared an excellent TedTalk on this topic in a previous blog: “Why Sitting is Bad for You.” The bottom line, to use our favourite motto: MOTION IS LOTION. It’s a catchy phrase, and is at the core of most of the homecare we give our clients. A stagnant body leads to stagnant blood and lymph flow, nerve congestion, stiffening of the muscles, and the list goes on. It’s simple laws of physics: An object that is at rest stays at rest. But, an object that is in motion stays in motion!
Good luck, and happy homeworking!
Hello, my name is Sarah and I work as an osteopathic manual practitioner at the One to One Wellness Centre in Halifax. You or someone you know may be living with pain. Maybe you have tried other therapies and/or medication to help manage your symptoms. My goal is to help you understand what osteopathy is and how it can help you.
Osteopathy is a patient-centred healthcare discipline that uses therapeutic manual techniques to enhance each person’s ability to function and adapt to changes in their environment and circumstances. We use a science-based holistic approach to patient care. Contrary to what the name implies, osteopathic manual practitioners work with more than just bones!
What and Who Do We Treat?
We address the whole body from head to toe, focusing on the musculoskeletal, nervous, vascular, and lymphatic systems. The most common complaints are: muscle pain and tightness (e.g. low back and neck), joint pain (e.g. hip and shoulder), persistent pain, sciatica, arthritis, sports injuries, and headaches.
We work with people of all ages, from infants to the elderly, and from a number of backgrounds. For example, we regularly treat office workers, athletes, teachers, pregnant women, healthcare professionals, cancer patients, etc.
What Makes Osteopathy Unique?
Osteopathy’s philosophy and range of techniques are two major factors that help distinguish osteopathy from other manual therapies (e.g. physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractics, etc.).
Our practice is rooted in four fundamental principles that give rise to our holistic perspective of the body. These principles can be summed up as follows:
1) The human being is a dynamic unit of function.
2) The body possesses intrinsic self-healing mechanisms.
3) The body’s structure and function are interrelated.
4) Treatment is based on these principles.
Most osteopathic manual practitioners use a wide variety of techniques, including soft tissue, joint articulation and mobilisation, craniosacral, and visceral work.
The goal of osteopathic treatment is to restore the body’s natural ability to self-heal by enhancing its local and global health by removing obstructions to proper blood flow, fluid flow, and/or nerve function. This ultimately allows for the restoration of function.
How is an Initial Osteopathic Assessment Run?
The primary focus of an initial assessment is to take a case history and perform an examination. The case history allows us to learn more about your lifestyle, health, and details of your presentation. During the examination, we observe your natural morphology, apply our palpatory skills, and will often ask you to perform basic movements. The collection of information obtained from both of these processes allows us to understand:
We will discuss a treatment plan and, if necessary, the need for referral to another healthcare professional.
The 60 minutes we spend with you are also essential to help us understand how your symptoms impact your life and what goals you wish to achieve.
Using all of this information, we can provide you with the appropriate treatment, education, support, and advice to address your symptoms and meet your goals.
Interested in Learning More About Osteopathy?
If you are interested in getting to the root cause of your pain and want help improving your overall wellbeing, please book an initial assessment today. Call the One to One Wellness Centre at 902-425-3775 or send us an email at [email protected] to talk to one of our osteopathic manual practitioners.
What can we do about pain?
– sometimes tissues repair but associated protective patterns may not, and that may be creating the persisting pain. Have you developed protective, but harmful, movement patterns? Are there areas of tension, tightness, weakness, compensation, that are not allowing your body to function normally as it once did?
– some tissues don’t repair as well as we would want, so have you learned how to stabilize, support, mobilize, or strengthen the area to make it as healthy as possible?
What is PAIN?
A leading world pain researcher Lorimer Moseley describes it like this:
“Pain is a CONSCIOUS experience that motivates us to do something to PROTECT the tissues that the BRAIN PERCEIVES to be under threat. Pain does not provide a MEASURE of the state of the tissues that are perceived to be under threat.”
You see, there are 3 main types of pain:
Injury (Acute): Sprains, strains, contusions, lacerations, fractures, herniation, tendonitis, etc.
So in trying to understand a complex topic like pain, let’s focus on the facts we do know:
Pain is an alarm meant to protect you
For much detail about pain and explanation of the facts presented above, please watch the following video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQRqDoNvVYQ
For more information about how you can start to treat your pain, see “What Can We Do About It” on our website in the Blog section.
Sciatica is the general term for symptoms-mostly numbness/tingling/burning- that occur in the low back and down the back of our leg. We mostly hear it being associated with terrifying diagnoses and terms such as bulging disc, degenerative disc disease, piriformis syndrome and the list goes on. I will touch more on this below.
Simplified, the sciatic nerve is a big nerve that starts in our lower back, goes down through the back of the leg then splits into 2 nerves that go into our foot. It is responsible for the movement and feeling in the back of our lower leg and foot. Again, simplified.
It is important to note that the issues mentioned above (e.g, disc bulge, degenerative disc) occur in the majority of the population and people have no sciatic symptoms or pain! So we can not say for certain that these imaging findings are causing your pain. What we do know, is that nerves require a lot of oxygen to function optimally (20% of our total oxygen intake goes toward our nervous system). So no matter how the symptoms are occurring, movement is key.
Movement = Bloodflow
Bloodflow = Oxygen
Oxygen = Happy Nerves
So where do you start if you are experiencing sciatica type symptoms?
Some tests that we perform are to determine how sensitive the sciatic nerve is to movements that restrict it of oxygen. If these are positive, then we typically give exercises that mobilize the sciatic nerve to get it more oxygen and get it used to moving again. This can look very different depending on how sensitive things are. However, if you look at our nervous system, you will realize that there are numerous ways to work into mobilizing the sciatic nerve- there is always a starting point. It is also very important to understand that just because you feel something abnormal along the sciatic nerve pathway, this doesn’t mean there is damage to the nerve or you. Hurt does not equal harm.
It is recommended to get a full detailed assessment of your experience. How sciatica is impacting you and the things you enjoy that you might be missing out on, what you are currently able to do, movements that you can do and movements that are challenging. Coming up with an appropriate progressional plan of movements/exercises that relate to your goals is a good starting point to help you return to the things that make you happy.
If you have any questions or are experiencing any sciatic symptoms please do not hesitate to reach out to our team.
-Tyler Dillman – Physiotherapist at One to One Wellness
November. A month where men become a little warmer and (typically) a little uglier due to a bit more fuzz on that upper lip. One of the main objectives of November is to bring awareness to prostate cancer, the leading cancer diagnosis in men (1). Due to campaigns such as Movember, we are seeing more and more support for the use of exercise in cancer care.
According to the Ontario Cancer Care Guidelines for Exercise and the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia, exercise should be an integral part of every cancer patients treatment plan from diagnosis to post-treatment (2,3). With respect to prostate cancer and the effects of the treatments associated with it, exercise has been shown to improve and/or manage(4):
Exercise goes beyond side effect management and into improving survival rates for prostate cancer survivors. When looking at recurring prostate cancer resulting in death, men who participated in vigorous exercise > 3 hrs/week lowered their risk by 61% compared to those who participated in < 1hr/week However, if you are not at the capacity to exercise at a vigorous level, please do not be alarmed, as those who participated in a moderate exercise for <1hr/week lowered their all cause mortality risk by 46% (5).
Through all that scientific medical jargon, the main takeaway is ANY amount of exercise is beneficial for you and should be started as soon as possible.
One of the more concerning stats I have seen is that 82% of survivors of prostate cancer report their supportive care needs are not met (6), but they are also less likely to bring these concerns up to healthcare professionals, especially if it involves sexual dysfunction (6). Therefore, I encourage you to share with your healthcare team if you are experiencing any symptoms listed below (or any others) (4,8):
Sexual dysfunction; Including but not limited to: Erectile dysfunction, orgasm changes, penile shortening (95% of men)
Bowel/Bladder dysfunction (50% of men)
Loss of libido
It is indisputable that a supervised exercise program is one of the best medicines you can provide yourself. It improves physical, social, emotional, and mental wellbeing, all of which can be impacted by a cancer diagnosis and the side effects of treatments. It can be challenging and difficult to initiate this process, so if you don’t know where to start or if you are experiencing any symptoms above, please reach out and ask for help.
October is here! That means we should be seeing the leaves changing color, maybe a bit more rain and a lot more pink ribbons. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and with the launch of our new Cancer Rehabilitation Program I thought it would be beneficial to help increase awareness of how movement, exercise, and education can significantly impact people’s breast cancer journey.
Ontario Cancer Care and the Clinical Oncology Society of Australia have both stated that exercise should be an integral part of a patient’s treatment plan and here are a few reasons why:
Pain is one of the main barriers to participating in an exercise program after treatments. So how can one overcome this barrier to start becoming more active?
Here are a couple of myths when thinking of exercise for Breast Cancer Survivors.:
No matter where you are at in your Breast Cancer journey, movement, education and exercise play a significant role in recovery and quality of life. If you want to move easier, have less pain, feel more energized or not feel sick, learning, moving and exercising can be the key to unlock those doors.
People are becoming increasingly aware of the impact and implications of concussions. These are not simply limited to young people in sports. Many people experience issues related to falls, motor vehicle accidents, or even old injuries.
We will explore what can be done to help prevent and properly manage concussion symptoms.
All are welcome to attend this complimentary presentation!
Come join us for an introduction to our new Cancer Rehab program! Cancer Rehabilitation is an ongoing process from diagnosis to post-treatment. Mindset, Mobility, Muscle and Metabolism are proven techniques to provide you with a safe method of maintaining or regaining your strength and mobility to help improve your quality of life throughout this journey.
Halifax Public Library– Lindsay Children’s Room
All are welcome to attend this complimentary presentation!