January 28, 2014

The Importance of Shoes in Relation to Back Pain

There are plenty of different things out there which may end up leading to the development of back pain; your posture when sitting, your genetics, your line of work, and the shoes you wear. Though some of those things are harder to control than others, avoiding the wrong kinds of shoes will, in the end, only take you a few seconds and prevent you from hurting your back even further.

As a matter of fact, it is very possible that you are wearing harmful shoes right at this moment, and that foregoing them may save you a lot of time, money and effort on pills and potential surgeries. In any case, on with the show.

Flip Flops

Flip Flops for back pain

Though they may seem like the ultimate invention in terms of footwear comfort, nothing could be further from the truth. Whenever you take a step, you must sink your toes into the flip flop to prevent it from falling off.

As a result, you compromise your foot’s ability to move forward, which must then be overcompensated for with the hips and lower back. Avoid flip flops like the plague, for wearing them often leads to lower back pain in virtually everyone’s case.

High Heels

High Heels and back pain

Chances are you were already expecting to see high heels listed, and to be frank, it’s not for nothing. Though they may provide a little boost to your appearance, high heels have the effect of pushing your spine upwards, causing you to arch your back and bend your knees for compensation… not to mention all the stress your knees will suffer.

Also, it should be mentioned that this also applies to men and their dress and cowboy shoes; the back is affected by them in the exact same manner.

Toning Shoes

Toning shoes and back pain

Though all of the hype around them may tell you otherwise, toning shoes are some of the worst things that can happen to your back. The curbed bottom is supposed to help you burn extra fat while walking, something corporate-sponsored studies seem to claim (these types of studies are generally extremely biased and are used to boost sales, not to bring the truth).

However, what happens is that the loss of stability to your gait forces your muscles and joints to work harder than they should, especially in the mid and lower part of the back. In other words, toning shoes will really only end up hurting your back, so avoid them at all costs.

Flat Shoes

To finish things off, there are flat shoes. As counterintuitive as it may seem, flat shoes offer very little in the way of support, with every step forcing around 20% to 25% more pressure impact on your foot than regular running shoes. That pressure accumulates over time in terms of damage, running through your knees, hips and lower back mostly, causing you a lot of pain and trouble in the process.

What am I Supposed to Wear?

So what exactly are you actually supposed to wear to improve your chances of defeating back pain? Well, to put it simply, you need to wear flexible shoes which also provide support for your foot. These shoes should have low heels, a contoured insole, the ability to flex with your foot, about half an inch of wiggle room for your toes, and perhaps a seal of acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association, though that last one is more assurance than actual requirement.

All in all, the path to becoming back-pain free will be long and hard, but choosing to wear the right shoes while discarding the wrong ones will already go a very long way towards leading you to victory.

January 27, 2014

The Magic of Swimming for Back Pain

Exercises of Swimming for Back Pain

Swimming in a pool of water is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable sensations known to human beings, and surprise, it is known to be effective for the relief of various muscle and joint pains. Most notably, many people turn to swimming for back pain relief, and not without reason.

As certain Japanese researchers have found out, around 90% of people who perform aquatic exercise for their back at least twice a week see a noticeable improvement after about six months, regardless of whether or not they have swimming skills. However, you need to be properly versed in water exercises before beginning, and what follows is a brief guide teaching you the three basic moves.

The Importance of Proper Form

Before looking into the exercises, I feel like I should give you a word of warning. Have the proper form and paying attention to how your body moves is essential to doing the exercises right and benefitting from them. It is preferable that you have a teacher with you to help find the forms which are right for your pain… as a matter of fact, I’d say it’s mandatory if you want to have the highest chance possible of getting good results. Don’t be afraid of using equipment or really any method or trick that will allow you to find and use the form which is the most beneficial for you.

Wall Circles

To start things off, here is a very simple exercise that doesn’t even require any kind of swimming skills. It is a low-impact working and will help to align your muscles and improve your range of motion. To do it, simply walk along the wall until the water reaches your neck, at which point you will only feel about 10% of your total bodyweight.

Put yourself perpendicular to the wall, hold it with one hand, and use your foot to draw circles along the floor. After five to ten circles, do the other side. Then, do the same thing with the arms while keeping one on the wall and the other one extended.

Walking in Water

In order to improve your lower back as well as your legs, water walking is a very good and simple exercise. To start it, reach a level where the water is below your chest and above your waist (there is no specific measurement here, so just do what feels right), so that you can feel a bit of resistance from the water.

Once you are at the proper depth, take slow and deliberate steps through the water, gently kicking yourself in the rear with each step. Make sure to extend the leg as much as your range of motion allows you to. As long as the actions are smooth, you will feel a certain relief in your lower back.

Swimming Without Twisting

There are many types and forms of swimming that put you in a position where it is very easy and convenient to twist your spine. For one, it is the result of poor form and even professional swimmers don’t do it.

Second, these spine twists do back pain no favors, which is why it is recommended that you swim with techniques that don’t put you in a position to twist. The breaststroke and backstroke are good starters, and perhaps you can even move on to back floats later on.

January 6, 2014

Using Coconut Oil for Acne – An In-Depth Exploration of the Topic

We've already covered how coconut oil can be effective for treating your hair as well as skin problems, though until now we haven’t truly discussed how it can be used as a medicine. As it happens, research conducted not too long ago suggests that using coconut oil for acne is a safe and effective practice with mountains of potential still in front of it.

Acne is a very widespread problem around the world, and though the symptoms do die out for most people after adolescence, there are still countless people who aren’t as lucky and have to deal with the condition itself, or at the very least the ravages it left on their bodies.

Using Coconut Oil for Acne – An In-Depth Exploration of the Topic

Just to make things clear, before proceeding, using coconut oil for your acne problems isn’t exactly going to cure you instantly, nor is it likely to eliminate the root cause of your troubles. What it will do, however, is tenaciously fight the symptoms of the condition, allowing you be, feel and look like you don’t have acne, giving you the opportunity to truly fight the cause at the base of it and take all the time you need in doing so.

The Cause of Acne

Before looking into how coconut oil can be used as an effective treatment, it is important to understand what causes acne in the first place. Though the exact reason tends to vary a bit from case to case, in a majority of them the condition is birthed due to an infection in your sebum glands which have for role to secrete oils which protect and preserve your skin.

An obstruction in sebum secretion results in inflammation, pain, redness… basically acne. Teenagers are at an extra risk to suffer due to hormonal changes during puberty, many of which tend to mess around with their sebum secretion.

How Coconut Oil Works Against Acne

So how exactly is a liquid coming from a coconut going to help you treat acne exactly? Well, the coconut oil has a number of different ingredients to it, each one having a beneficial individual effect on the condition.

  • First off, there are the fatty acids. I have already discussed how they can keep your hair and skin moisturized, and as it happens, they also have antimicrobial properties. More specifically, there are the Capric and Lauric acids, some of the most powerful antimicrobial agents found in nature (they are even found in breast milk and prevent infants from getting infections).

    As you can guess, these properties help to clear your skin of any unwanted external agents and bacteria that have clogged it up. When these acids are used on the skin, they are converted to Monocaprin and Monolaurin, contributing to the replacement of the basic protective layer on your skin (generally torn away by vigorous washing). As a matter of fact, eating the oil will have a similar effect, though applying it topically is a bit more effective.
  • Second of all, we have vitamins A, E and K, all of which are found in generous quantities in all coconuts, and as you can guess, coconut oil. Vitamin A helps to regulate your skin shedding bring it to normal levels, making sure your cells don’t fall too often.

    This will ensure that no unprepared skin cells are exposed to hazardous agents. To get the most out of the vitamin A though, it is recommended you eat the oil for applying it topically will deprive it of the internal process which makes it effective.

    When it comes to vitamin E, its role consists of helping the sebum glands to function properly, clearing any blockages that may be harming them. In other words, this is an ingredients which can help you treat the actual cause of acne, affecting the main root of the problem rather than just its symptoms.

    While we’re on topic, it is recommended that you consume lots and lots of vitamin E, whether through food or supplements, to shorten your battle against acne.

    To finish things off with the vitamins, the vitamin K, rather close to potassium in its composition (something the coconut oil is full of as well) has for main purpose the protection and maintenance of your body’s integrity. This means it is dotted with rather powerful antimicrobial properties, reducing the likelihood of suffering from any infections.
  • Finally, the last type of ingredient heavily present in coconuts is the anti-inflammatory. This is the reason why the coconut oil feels so soothing when applied to your skin; it contains agents that, when absorbed, start acting immediately and reduce the amount of inflammation in your body. If you apply it topically, the relief will be local and mostly external, but if you consume it, the anti-inflammatories will be able to affect your whole body.

Making your Selection of Coconut Oil

Needless to say, if you are going to be using coconut oil for acne, then you should try and get the best one possible in terms of quality. How can you determine that? Well, there are unrefined and crude oils which you should steer away from; they are not completely “sanitary” and may actually contain ingredients that will further block your sebum glands and worsen the problem. What you want to go for is virgin organic coconut oil; it costs more, but has absolutely zero drawbacks whatsoever while being bursting at the seams with health benefits.

Keep in mind what was said at the beginning though; it will mostly help treat your symptoms, and it is unlikely that coconut oil for acne alone will help you permanently get rid of the condition. You have to attack the problem from multiple angles, and think of the oil as something to tide you over for however long you need, until you find a solution.

I recommend that you consume it and apply it topically as well to reap all the benefits it has for you. The results do vary from person to person and take a bit of time to manifest themselves, so you may have to arm yourself with a bit of patience.