Stretches that help

Hi again,

Stretches not only promote a feeling of well-being, keeps you flexible and less prone to activity-induced injuries but also proves beneficial at keeping migraines more manageable. However, as far as migraines are concerned, some stretches are more equal than others. Of note are the Alternate Limb Latissimus Dorsi Stretch, the Spinal Twist Stretch and the Neck Rotation.

I shall discuss the Spinal Twist Stretch in this post. This is an active stretch and massages the spine and the back beautifully without putting undue pressure on the limbs nor does it require support. Here is how you can do the Spinal Twist Stretch:

1. Place your mat on an even floor.
2. Lie on your back (Supine position).
3. Spread out your arms on either side of your body, so that they are perpendicular to your body.
4. bend both your legs at the knees.
5. Cross one leg over the other by placing your right ankle over your left knee. (This posture resembles one of you sitting on a chair with one leg crossed over the other – but only in a lying position).
6. Use your left palm to gently bring down the crossed legs on to the floor on the left side.
7. Take care not to apply abrupt or too much pressure while doing this. If you are stiff or are uncomfortable bringing the legs down completely to touch the floor on the left side – then do only to the point you are comfortable.
8. Turn your head to the right.
9. hold this position for 10 seconds.
10. Repeat this process off the other side (left ankle over the right knees)

Be careful not to injure yourself – it is advisable that you get a physical before you try the stretches.
This stretch is simple and keeps your spine and back supple. Spine and back muscle stress is often experienced by migraineurs and often acts as an auxiliary trigger for some.

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Aromatherapy as a support therapy

Aromatherapy basically addresses physical stress, mental and emotional anxiety, though it is used to heal other conditions and serves as a support therapy. It aims to increase the overall well being of a person by using inhalation, massage and bathing techniques. Inhalation and massage are done using natural oil concentrates, which are distilled.

Different oils are used for migraines with different orientations. Diluted solutions of oils are used for therapy.

• Lavender and Peppermint are used to tackle migraines arising from neck and shoulder muscle tension. They are massaged into the neck, shoulder and temples.

• Chamomile and Lavender are used to manage menstrual migraines and migraines arising from emotional upsets. The diluted essential oils are massaged into the solar plexus and forehead. This is followed by inhaling the volatile fumes of the oils while in bath or through any diffuser.

• Marjoram and Chamomile oils are used to waylay migraines arising out of mental stress.

• Eucalyptus, Basil and Jasmine oils are used for migraines arising out of sinus conditions and physical and mental fatigue.

Check with your local aromatherapy store or pharmacist on the various natural aromatherapy flavours and oils. Resources are also available on the internet where you may consult aroma therapists for guidance, right choices of oils and method of application. Visiting a spa may provide you with a beginning.

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Poll results and Poll Of The Week

My Dear Migraineurs,

The results of the poll run between 27th Jan 2009 to 9th Feb 2009 are here:

Poll Topic: Which of these are your migraine triggers?

The Poll Options were as follows:

Menstrual Cycles, Dehydration, Ignoring Hunger, Sensitivity to MSG and other Artificial Additives, Caffeine Overdose, Sleep Deprivation/Stress, Prolonged Exposure to Sun, Change in Weather, Temperature and Weather Conditions, Heredity and Others.

Evaluation:

Of the voting population, 54% suffered migraines due to, in, and around menstrual cycles. Caffeine Overdose worked as a trigger for 23% of the voters and dehydration triggered migraines in 10% of them. Ignoring hunger proved another trigger for 4% of the voters and 3% of the populace also cited each Heredity and Sleep Deprivation/Stress as triggers. Only 3% of the migraineurs taking the poll checked Other triggers. None of those who voted was affected by MSG Sensitivity, Exposure to Sun, Changes in Weather etc.

Conclusion:

On the basis of the outcome, posts in the month of March will attempt to address (beginning from the most common trigger, first) each trigger from the perspective of why/how a particular trigger sets off a migraine attack and what can be done when the attack is underway to minimize discomfort.
I sincerely thank you all for taking the time and making the effort in poll participation. This encourages and inspires me to do more to address specific issues on the basis of the results I receive, in the vast science of migraines.

I have put together another poll, which I request you to take that will provide the base for future issues/posts. Again, thank you for staying with me.

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Best Regards

Endorphins…Part III

And here are the last three ways…

8. Meditation is another front-runner.  Practitioners of meditation experience the same high as the fitness enthusiast does after a good workout. Scientists have found that this ‘into the zone’ feeling post-meditation comes from endorphin release in the hypothalamus of the human brain, 30 minutes into any meditation. Meditation CDs are easily available that help you with techniques or initiate you to Guided meditation. Suddenly, there is an explanation to the stoic-faced Yogi..

9. Alcohol: Though one is expected to practice moderation for obviuos reasons, alcohol is an endorphin booster. Scientists’ research on rats found increased level of endorphin in their blood post consumption of alcohol,  and amphitamine at different points in an ongoing study and reached the same results of boosted endorphin. However other chemicals like nicotine did not have the same effect. However, migraineurs will do good to stay away from alcohol.

10.Sex: Yes, I kept this for the last! During lovemaking, a peptide called oxytocin, responsible for feelings and emotions of affection, is released in the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland. The release of oxytocin triggers the production of endorphins which have a sedative effect. Among women, there is an added benefit. Sex also triggers the release of estrogen, the lack or defeciency of which causes PMS, migraines and a host of other unwanted conditions.

Hope you are enjoying the posts. It will be great to get some feedback once in a while to know if I am not talking to walls. Next week, I shall be covering some CAM techniques that have proven effective in tackling migraines… Until then..

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Best Regards

Endorphins…Continued.

Continuing on the same note, here’s some more snazzy ways you can bolster your endorphin levels. 

One other way is to Smile and/or Laugh. You would be surprised to figure from a recent study, that happier people (as in those that smile or laugh or both more than 8-10 times a day), have higher endorphin levels in their blood and fight pain better. The facial muscles that engage in the formation of a smile and a laugh trigger endorphin release by the pitutary gland and hypothalamus in vertebrates. Feel the pain? Laugh! Fake it (Smile) till you Make It…

Another biggie is of course, Accupuncture. At the risk of flogging a dead horse – when the body perceives mild pricking sensations, it concludes oncoming pain or stress and as a result builds up defence through immediate endorphin release, which acts as a natural pain killer. After sessions of accupuncture on specific trigger points of patients, higher concentrations of endorphins were found in their cerebrospinal fluid.

One other odd way is to get scared. Yes, the operative word is ‘Get’. When you are scared to the point where your heart skips a beat, endorphins are released in good quantity to fight that stress and enable the execution of fight or flight mechanism in us. Notice when an expensive piece of china or glass slips out from our hand and the sound of crash settles – there is instant sense of relief at seing a no-injury situation or getting over with an incident. Of course, this may not be the best way to beef up on endorphin for most obvious reasons.

I shall roll out 3 new ways to build up on your endorphins that should help you tackle pain better, in my next post. Until then, have a peaceful and satisfying day and a most relaxing and pain-free weekend ahead.

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Endorphins Enable Enhanced Endurance

Hi on a beautiful Sunday morning! I am sitting here by the living room window with my cup of tea and the thought of a workout later this morning brings endorphins to mind. I think this will make a good post topic today. Though I have covered endorphins in my earlier post, (where I spoke of it being a neurotransmitter polypeptide that has similar affect as morphine),  here is a brief on how you could beef up your endorphin stock….

Like I said, a workout is a great way – what with all the Christmas and New Year partying, exercises may have a double benefit now. Any physically exertive activity in the range of 20 minutes or over (continuous), causes the body to release endorphines as a defense to fight pain and stress. So you could look at brisk walks, jogging, running, interval training, swimming, dancing, cycling, hiking, group aerobics, gyming – you get the idea….Every bit counts – you only need to clock 20 + minutes of continuous exertive activity and most mentioned as examples are fun! 

Here’s another you will like – Food. This helps in 2 ways – the chewing motion triggers mild endorphin release in all animals including us.  Second, foods like chilli peppers (Jalapeno, Pablano etc) when added to food help – As the body encounters capsaicin, it releases endorphines to fight the distress and pain. Chocolates or caffeine based foods (though not recommended for migraineurs in a big way) or high calorie foods also help though their workings are different on our system.

In my next post, I shall discuss 8 other ways to boost your capability to fight pain by elevating endorphin levels..Till then…

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Best Regards