Pregnancy & Heels
These two are what make women different from men. That is what Dr. Sabrina Strickland (Assistant Professor – Hospital for Special Surgery, New York City) has to say when it comes to the causes behind the common muscle pains and joint problems. She knows better because she herself is 40, an orthopedic surgeon and mother of 3 kids (5 to 8). Besides, she sees around 70 patients every week. Out of these patients at the Women’s Sports Medicine Center, around 40 are female.
She says that she has to work for long hours, but when she gets back home she would do tons of squats daily while taking care of her kids. According to her it is a difficult job being a woman. The kind of muscle and joint problems faced by men and women vary because both have different physiology, women have to care more for kids, and due to different lifestyle habits.
According to a current survey (conducted by American Podiatric Medical Association), around 87% women have foot pain because of paining shoes. According to a 2009 study (University of Sydney – Back Pain Research Group), working women are 3 times at higher risk of getting neck pain compared to men.
When considered from a physiological point of view, it is often hard to define why women are at higher risk of some types of pain and aches. Researchers have differences on the topic that women may have more sensitivity towards pain compared to men.
When it comes to the women who are doing more multitasking (moms and professionals), it is an arguable thing. According to Dr. Sabrina, she has so many things to do that she cannot complain of pain and stop with other things.
The good thing is that she has some options. You can use tension release, t’ai chi, dumbbell exercises, acupuncture and others to get relief. These options eliminate the need for using cortisone injections or some pharmaceuticals. The following options (based on latest research and highly effective integrative therapies) can help you get relief from daily pains and aches.
Factors like shoes, pregnancy, motherhood, and anatomy can create the problem of rickety knees in some women. If you have keen pain in your 30-40s, it could result in arthritis in your 50-70s. According to Dr. Sabrina most women put on weight at a fast rate when they are pregnant. ]
As a mother lifting her baby and toting her toddler, you must have taken body actions which your body is not used to. For example, you got up off the floor numerous times (especially when you are not already fit).
It doesn’t matter whether you are pregnant or not, heels could create 26% more pressure on your knees. According to Dr. Casey Kerrigan (Forman Chairwoman – Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation – University of Virginia), the accumulated effects of years of pressure can cause osteoarthritis.
A larger Q-angle could also make the quadriceps puling on our kneecap, which moves the latter away from its normal track. This is why women are at higher risk of experiencing more wear on their lower body joints.
The Solution to the Problems
So many research works have shown that chondroitin and glucosamine supplements are helpful in restoring our connective tissue. But according to a 2009 study (published – Arthroscopy), their efficacy was not consistent. But according to Dr. Strickland, both these supplements are quite safe and could be beneficial to some people. She recommends 1,200mg chondroitin sulfate and 1,500 mg glucosamine 3 times per day. According to her, it comes to around just a dollar per day and she recommends her patients to use it for 3 months to find if they experience any improvements.
Many positive studies have shown that t’ai chi done 2 times per week helps in reducing knee pain. The same results were found when conditioning exercises were used to strengthen hips. It is also crucial to lose weight. Even when you have an additional 5 lbs, it will increase the load on your knees by 10 times.
It doesn’t take much thought to realize that 3-inch stiletto heels could cause lots of damage on your foot. When you walk on tippy toes they can twist your knee and cause metatarsalgia (a condition of tenderness below the ball of your foot). Morton’s neuroma is found 10 times more commonly in women. It is a paining condition in which the tissue around nerves within the 3rd and 4th toes become thick. This is partially caused due to the pressure on your forefoot by high heels.
It is not just the Louboutins that cause this. According to Dr. Kerrigan, most shoes are bad for our feet. Classic design in shoes (little heel and stiff arch) has been made by cobblers hundreds of years ago. According to her, the footwear structures are made thinking that women’s bodies are made in the wrong way.
The Solution to the Problems
When Kerrigan become fed up of the available footwear options, she left her academic world so as to create her own shoe. She says that she wrote around a ‘billion’ papers on the subject and then realized that it was not taking her anywhere – things didn’t change at all.
If you have bunions, you should wear a shoe having lots of room around the toes. It should not have overlying stitching that could restrict normal movement and cause swelling. If you have pain due to plantar fasciitis, you should choose physical therapy. According to research noninvasive therapies involving massage, heat, stretching, and strengthening can help treat muscle and joint problems with more efficacy compared to cortisone injections.
Losing some weight will help with most kinds of joint problems. It will make all the steps far easier.
According to a 2007 study (published – Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation) involving 2,954 adult subjects, 23.5% of women suffer from higher trochanteric pain syndrome. This condition involves pain/tenderness close to the top of your thigh – the point where the thigh bone (femur) comes in contact with the hip. Only 8.5% of the men suffered from this condition in the study.
Neil Segal (MD, Director – Clinical Osteoarthritis Research Program – University of Iowa & lead author), it is probably because of anatomical reason. According to him, the wider pelvises in women alter the angle of pull on their iliotibial (IT) band (fibrous tissue connecting the hip muscles and outer knee). He says that it could also because the muscles connecting to the outer hip may be weaker.
Apart from the hip pain that comes with childbirth, there are no additional hip problems for women (compared to men). But weaker hips could cause pain that extends throughout the leg.
The Solution to the Problems
What protects our pelvic area from bending and rotating excessively? It is the gluteal muscles that protect against this. When you have weak butt, it could make your hips unstable. When the hips become unstable, it could result in leg injuries and pain in the knee.
You can make your hips stronger by performing abductions – lying on one side, keeping legs straight and lifting top leg). Another exercise is the alternate arm-leg raise – you kneel on the hands and knees and lift/straighten an arm while doing the same with the opposite led. Hold it so for 5 seconds and repeat with the other side.
According to Christopher Powers, PhD (Co-Director – Musculoskeletal Biomechanics Research Lab – University of Southern California and author – JOSPT review), you can also benefit from conventional lunges and squats.
Do this exercise for stretching your IT band:
– Stand upright
– Cross left foot in front of right foot
– Raise right arm and lean towards the left (slowly) (there will be a light pull on top of your right hip)
Dr. Strickland recommends doing this slowly without concern you are returning to exercising after an injury or after having a baby.
Studies show that back pain affects around 85% of Americans and is the top cause behind disability (among age group <45). Around one third of visits received by complementary medicine practitioners are from those seeking treatment for back/neck pain. This is bigger than for any other health problem.
According to Dr. Strickland, the cause may be pregnancy. She states that nothing else could be as bad on the core strength. And when the core become weak, women’s backs become highly vulnerable. She also says that ligaments remain lax when you need to lift car seats and kids. This could cause pains, pulls and many other paining conditions.
The Solution to the Problems
It has been found in short-duration trials that 240mg salicin-rich willow bark extract and 50mg devil’s claw extract can help in improving back pain in a better way compared to a placebo.
The results of acupuncture studies are even more remarkable. In a study, 638 subjects suffering from chronic lower back pain there was significant improvement in 60% of the patients with acupuncture compared to 39% within the control group that relied on conventional pain medicines and physical therapy. The study was conducted at the Group Health Center for Health Studies, Seattle. Acupuncture was given 2 times a week for 3 weeks and then 1 time per week for 4 weeks. After a year, around 65% of the first group claimed of improvements.
If you are not comfortable with acupuncture needles, there’s another study. According to a 2008 study (published – British Medical Journal), 6 lessons on Alexander Technique combined with proper workout helped in treating back pain with more efficacy than massage. Alexander Technique is about teaching improved posture, releasing tension from daily movements, and easing mobility. Two dozen lessons helped in reducing the days of pain for the subjects by around 85%.
Most people feel grounded and lighter just into a few lessons. If you want to locate any kind of specialist (including acupuncturists) near you, check naturalsolutionsmag.com.
Shoulders & Neck
Julia Hush (PhD, Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy Expert & Researcher at Back Pain Research Group – University of Sydney) found that women office workers suffer neck pain 3 times more than men. According to a current ongoing research from Denmark, around 50% of women office workers suffer from regular neck pain. Around 2/3rd of them have trapezius myalgia (aches and tension in large muscle that extends from neck to shoulder to upper back).
The likely causes behind and neck and should pain are:
– Setting at computer for long hours
– Stress (it can double the chances of neck pain)
– Lifting and moving with heavy handbags
According to Dr. Strickland, when you carry a heavy purse (>10% of your own weight), you will have to bend to one side. This can cause high amount of stiffness.
The Solution to the Problems
You can treat your paining neck and shoulder in a number of ways. According to Julia Hush, if you perform basic exercise just 3 times per week, and had more flexible necks, were at reduced risk of experiencing neck and shoulder pain.
She recommends the following neck movements:
– Looking up at a gradual pace
– Looking down
– Looking side to side
– Touching ear to the shoulder
All these exercises help in improving flexibility.
When you perform targeted exercises for neck strengthening, they could give even better results. Danish researchers claim that 5 dumbbell based exercises when done 3 times per week will help in reducing women’s neck pain by almost 50%. These exercises are:
– Reverse fly
– Shoulder abduction
– Upright row
– Shoulder elevation
– One-arm row
If you want to get instant relief, it is recommended to use Traumeel. This is a homeopathic ointment featuring anti-inflammatory herbs such as chamomile, Echinacea and arnica. According to a 2008 research (published – Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine), it was found that Traumeel had same effectiveness as normal medications in reducing the pain associated with mild and moderate injuries.
It is recommended to minimize “mouse shoulder” at the workplace by ensuring that your forearm is placed on the desk, chair and the lap. It will be best if you can use your mouse by keeping it on top of your thigh. Strickland says that you should also carry only the essentials in your purse. You should also distribute the carried weight into 2 bags to be carried on each side.
Source: Just Naturally Healthy