Monday, May 25, 2009

Pain! Pain! Pain!

Hello. This is so difficult, going back to the beginning and writing it all down. I've started this blog thing, and I don't know how to piece it together and explain about this problem. I'm really struggling with trying to remember and make sense of it all.

One morning last spring, I got out of my bed and felt a terrible pain when I put my foot down. It hurt right where the arch is. It was Plantar Fasciitis, though of course I didn't know that at the time. Yes, the running girl on All My Children has it, but I had it first! The longer my day went by, the worse it hurt, until by evening I was dragging my foot behind me.

I was so scared! One of my biggest fears was coming true. I was gonna be old, wearing a diaper, and in a wheelchair.! Oh, don't forget - I was gonna be in pain! This went on for a while, with me crying everyday, until a wonderful lady (thank you Denise!) told me to go on-line and research my disease.

Duh! What was I thinking? Usually I research on Google about everything. It took a while, but I finally read about the stretch for Plantar Fasciitis. Who knew you had a muscle there?

2/24/2009 3:15:51 AM
Around about this time, I was reading an old health magazine called Prevention. I happened to pay attention to an article about joints. The person who wrote the article claimed that your joints can't cause you to feel pain, rather, it's the muscles connected to the joints that are hurting. The article talked about something called referred pain and about electrical activity in your muscles that causes spasms that hurt you.

I hope I can explain this right. I was doing a stretch for my Plantar Fasciitis. I would stand on my tiptoes, on the foot that hurt, as often as I could, especially when the pain was there. It was a routine I did regardless of whether I was in pain or not. I would do this at home and at work, at least three times a day (sometimes more). I would hold this stretch until the pain subsided. Then, I can't remember how long this went on, but I finally got tired of the pain always returning, and really raised myself up there. I got very aggressive with it, and really tightened my leg and foot and gritted my teeth through the pain. Very soon, I did not feel pain except every few days, and then like once a month. I would get an ache in that foot, and have to do maybe three minutes of stretch, one time.

OK, so far so good, but shortly after that, I was researching a problem my brother had with pain. The info I found for him at that time didn't help, but he very generously let me experiment on him (thank you, Cliffy!). We were also trying to help our mom. She's had life-long back pain (mom, I hope you're reading this!). My mom lives kinda far away, so I'm writing all this down for her, and you, if you should happen to be reading here.

Guess what? I developed the very same problem that my brother had. Lots of people get this - pain in the butt and groin that radiates down your leg. Can you believe that I couldn't even sit down to have a bowel movement? The pain was so bad! Oh, and I forgot to tell you, I was already researching why it sometimes hurt me so badly to pee!

Oops! I can't believe I said the P word! Now, I hope I don't offend you, my darling little reader. In order to get this info out correctly, I intend to be frank. I'm tired of the ignorance concerning the workings of our bodies. We all have Psoas and Piriformis muscles. We all have Sciatic Nerves. I'm almost sixty years old, yet I had never heard of these muscles. How they could mess you up! I've since learned that plantar fasciatis is caused by the contraction of my psoas muscle. Yes! The muscle that's causing a lot of the trouble in my legs and feet is actually up-river of the pain.

Go to and type in stretch your muscles + psoas, or, stretch your muscles + piriformis. If you type in just psoas or piriformis you will be shown medical sites that advocate surgery, injections, etc...

Here is some information about this problem.
"Sciatic Nerve and Sciatica
Stewart G. Eidelson, MD
SpineUniverse Founder, Orthopaedic Surgeon
South Palm Orthospine Institute
Delray Beach, FL
The sciatic nerve is the longest and largest nerve in the body measuring three-quarters of an inch in diameter. The sciatic nerve originates in the sacral plexus; a network of nerves in the low back (lumbosacral spine). The lumbosacral spine refers to the lumbar spine and the sacrum combined. The sciatic nerve and its nerve branches enable movement and feeling (motor and sensory functions) in the thigh, knee, calf, ankle, foot and toes.
Sciatic Symptoms
If the sciatic nerve is injured or becomes inflamed, it causes symptoms called sciatica. Sciatica can cause intense pain along any part of the sciatica nerve pathway - from the buttocks to the toes. If the nerve is compressed, caused by conditions such as a bulging or herniated disc or tumor (rare), symptoms may include a loss of reflexes, weakness and numbness besides severe pain. Sciatic nerve pain can make everyday activities such as walking, sitting and standing difficult.
How Sciatica Pain Can Spread
The sciatic nerve exits the sacrum (pelvic area) through a nerve passageway called the sciatic foramen. At the upper part of the sciatic nerve, two branches form; the articular and muscular branches. The articular branch supplies the hip joint. The muscular branch serves the leg flexor muscles; muscles that enable movement. The sciatic nerve also enables movement (motor function) and feeling (sensory function) to the thigh, knee, calf, ankle, foot and toes. Other complex nerve structures are involved; the peroneal nerves and tibial nerves. The peroneal nerves originate from the nerve roots at the fourth and fifth lumbar spine (L4-5) and first and second levels of the sacrum (S1-2). After the peroneal nerves leave the pelvis, they travel down the front and side of the leg, and along the outer side of the knee, to the foot. The tibial nerves originate from the nerve roots at L4-5 and S1-3. The tibial nerves pass in front of the knee and downward into the foot (heel, sole, toes)."

I remember being very young and having a lot of pain in my legs. Now it's too late to figure out if my psoas muscle was responsible for horrifying cramps during my menstrual periods - I don't have menstrual periods anymore (!!!). Maybe it was all the tugging against the quadratus lumborum. But I do know that doing a simple stretch every day (I named it The Doozie) is un-locking my hips so that I can straighten up and walk without pain and stiffness when I first get out of bed in the morning! I can swing my pelvis back and forth with ease. I can dance again! I can smoothly step sideways and cross one leg behind the other when I dance!

I know you're not believing this. Stay with me here, cuz I'm gonna be telling you many things that are hard to believe. I want to try and help you, if you're in pain. Or even before you have any pain. I'm finally putting it all together - the menstrual cramps, the short but memorable bout with hemorrhoids, the deep sway-back, accompanied by way-sticking-out-belly. I didn't know that the rib bones jutting out beneath my breasts (almost like I had four breasts!) was not how I was supposed to look.

I've spent many years believing that I had arthritis, and carpel tunnel syndrome (more about this later). I spent years of nights in agony, jumping out of my bed, legs and feet cramping, sometimes my big toes pointing straight up to the ceiling! I kid you not (Ihad to stand on them to make it stop). Because this was always the mantra - I ate potassium, magnesium, calcium, vitimin D - you name it! I drank tons of water. Nothing helped. I researched it as well as I could (especially after getting the internet). My heated mattress pad helped. Another thing I learned was that sleeping down towards the middle of the bed, knees bent, with the footboard preventing my legs from straightening, did help for a while. Unfortunately, this practice makes the problem worse or can cause it to start (more about that, later). Nothing ever worked for long, until I found the stretch for Plantar Fasciitis.

Yes, my darling reader, I have gotten relief from those horrific, painful, disruptive leg cramps! It's not easy, and it's not over yet (more about why, and the sudden appearance of daytime leg cramps, later).

Are you seeing the correlation here? Muscles, Muscles, Muscles! Who knew we had so many! The're everywhere! You can't even turn around without stepping on one! You can't blink an eye without using them! And they're all trying to tell us something.

I wasted a lot of time worrying about what I was, or was not eating, drinking, breathing, etc... I try not to eat garbage - I quit eating processed sugar, again, about two years ago (it makes me fat). I use Stevia, Erithritol, and Xylitol for my sweetening. I make my own chocolate (gotta have it). I eat potatoes maybe once a year (they make me crave, they make me fat) I don't eat processed foods much (they make me fat, they make me crave, they make me pass out.) I eat real food that I cook myself. I make my own probiotics, my lovely kefir! I make my own ice cream. I've been making my own breads, mostly biscuits and brownies, with whole grains. I'm not good at it, yet, but I devour each one! Sometimes I cheat with carry-out pizza. For the most part, I'm healthy. I believe that if Eskimos lived and survived for so many years on that icy terrain, with no vacuum cleaners, no Walgreens, no hospital on every corner, then it must be more a matter of what you DON'T eat than what you do. And, shame on me, with my cushy life, if I can't do as well.

So, back to the butt pain. You really gotta know how to research fast when it hurts too bad to have a bowel movement. Plus, I had that pinching, spasmodic pain upon urinating. Ouch! What on earth was going on here? I waded through a lot of sites until I came upon the info about piriformis syndrome.

Note: when you are researching (what did we do without Google?) you must try to find out what makes sense for you, and what works on YOUR body. I won't be telling you about anything that I didn't try on my own body first. K? Before I believe anything, I take my time researching the subject. I collect info, tearing up the internet, especially the most remote stuff that you can't even understand. You do understand after a while, though, mostly out of desperation, and also because it starts to come together and make sense. I compare as many reliable sources as I can find that don't contain the usual, ineffective dogma, and then I try it on myself. It takes time - a lot of the stretches you read about won't work for you, so go on to something differant. If you're stretching an area and you don't feel anything, then that muscle(s) is OK. Your muscles should allow you to move without you being aware of them. I try each stretch for at least three months before I move on to something else. Don't ever give up, keep looking and reading on the internet. Keep learning about yourself. Your precious little body is worth it!

Pain! Pain! Pain! You shouldn't be in pain. Don't live your life in pain! If you think, or have been told, that you have arthritis, irritable bowel syndrome, incontinence, scoliosis, crushed vertabrea or pinched nerves, neuropathy, plantar fasciitis, sciatic nerve syndrome, hemorrhoids, pelvic floor dysfunction, spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis, or if you have pain in your back, butt, thigh, when you first stand up, sit down, lay down (or even just contemplate doing one of the above), please read here about these stretches. Try them for awhile. What have you got to lose, except for maybe the pain? It takes just minutes a day. It's not some drug that's dangerous and never works anyway. It's not the same old stuff that's been told to us for a hundred years that doesn't work and never will, no matter how much money and research they throw at it.

Try something different! Start with your worst symptom (painful or stiff area). Learn what muscles are in (or controlling) the area where you hurt. Learn how to stretch them. Be gentle with yourself, but be persistant. Always remember that it is STRETCHING, not STRENGTHENING that you need to do (strengthening comes later). Not exercising the muscle, but stretching it. If you have pain, numbness, tingling, or muscle failure, then that area of your body is receiving no blood, no oxygen, no nutrients. Does that sound like a good thing to you?

The thing is - if you do nothing about this issue, it'll get worse! Your muscles can't go away! Over the years, they'll pull and twist your bones. And you can't correct that! I've seen it for myself. When I was young, my family had a neighbor that was in a wheel chair. One thing I remember about her was her twisted, deformed fingers and wrists. I can't remember what she said was wrong with her, and I never saw her legs - she wore long skirts. But her poor hands - when you can't use or move your body parts because it hurts too much - that area can become damaged. The contracted muscles are pulling on the bones and joints and tendons, and all kinds of bad things happen! You can actually produce new bone there. This is how doctors make people grow taller than they would otherwise.

At this very moment, my right hand is like that. I've avoided using it for over ten years. It's now weak, bent, and so very painful! I'm working on it, since I've discovered these stretches. I'ts actually my thumb that hurts. I've been researching info and stretches about it. So far not much has helped.

I'm gonna tell you about some strange things. Things going on with my body, or that I've read about on the internet. It can be confusing, but it'll come together for you. Just stick with it. I know that your problems are differant from mine. You have pain that I don't have, or at least not at this time. I'll give you as much info here as I can, and links to other sites. I'm gonna come right out with stuff that's bothered me and made me feel ugly all my life. It's not easy for me to do that because I've always hated for people to notice the way I look. I never wanted new clothes or a differant hairstyle - I just wanted to look normal (whatever that means!).

2/25/2009 - 2:40 AM
The first few times I did the stretch for the piriformis muscle, I had a terrible experience. No one else I've talked to has experienced anything like it. That's how bad-off my poor little body was! I became dizzy, nauseated, and for some strange reason, emotional and near to tears. I've read that the muscles involved in this stretch are some of our flight-or-fight muscles. So, maybe it was an adrenaline rush. Or maybe a rush of oxygen into these tissues after years of being starved. At any rate, it was powerful! It really got my attention. I thought, "I'm gonna be doing this stretch for the rest of my life!" These strange reactions only happened twice, but then returned one more time to scare me to death.

I had just finished doing one of my stretches. I was on the floor, stretching my hamstrings, or doing the pigeon pose. I started to get up and became very nauseated and dizzy. I haven't felt like that since I stopped drinking beer over ten years ago! I crawled into bed and pulled the covers over my head. Later, I woke up and looked over at my clock to see the time, and the clock and everything else was just swirling. This was hours later! It was gone when I woke up the next morning, and hasn't returned since. So far.

The Doozie
I could only do this stretch for a few seconds at first, but in just one day, it took that pain in my butt away!!! Girls and boys, this is the way to go! This is the stretch where you lay on your back, stick your leg up in the air, cross your other leg over that, and pull both legs toward your chest. Right! I couldn't do that - I have no upper body strength. So, I adapted it to accomodate myself on the couch, with my tv and the clicker. Be patient - I'm gonna tell you how to do it.

Here is a great picture of the Doozie with your legs up in the air. Do not go here if you are offended by the word ASS, but you might miss out on a lot of help. The picture at the bottom of the page is the stretch I do that I call the KILLER (more about that, later).

In case you need more help, here are pics of me doing part of the Doozie stretch.

Here is the explanation of how I do the Doozie. Print the next two paragraphs out so you can read as you go along. Remember, it took a long time for your body to get torqued out of shape so that it was in pain or trouble. I'll be telling you soon about how my bones are moving now. It's quite profound, so, in the meanwhile, don't be in a big hurry with this stretch.

I get very comfy on the couch, sitting all the way back, so my psoas won't be working to hold me upright. I have a box that I put my feet up on. You could use a low stool, or whatever you can find that will prop your feet up about 12 inches. I put a blanket over my legs - it's cold around here! Never stretch if you have cold muscles! Be very careful with yourself - slow and gentle, so you don't hurt anything! Bring one foot up and place it on the knee of the other leg (like men sometimes sit with their legs crossed so they won't crush anything). Hold it briefly - no more than 20 seconds. Put it back down on the box, make sure that you are ok, then repeat two more times with this foot. Then do the foot of the opposite leg. Work up to raising each foot three times for about 20 seconds. I try to do this at least twice a day. If I had time I'd do it three times a day. Be careful - if you over-do it, you'll feel like you're having very bad menstrual cramps!

Don't be concerned if you can't maintain perfect posture with this stretch. Yes, your bum will slide out from under you a bit. That's OK. Get comfy.

Now, you want to gradually work until you can bring each foot closer to your body, ending right up against your groin. Then, you want to raise the height of your stool. Challenge yourself - but go slowly and carefully. Now that you can get your foot snug up against your body, you want to pick it up from there, and bring it gently in the direction of your chest.

I started doing the Doozie two or three months ago, and this is 3/1/2009. At this point, I do each foot three times, gradually working to stretch the muscles and get my leg comfortable, with the last time bringing my foot close to my chest. Each foot ends up at chest height, close to but not touching my body, holding each foot up for 30 seconds.

Check out this site. About halfway down the page are pics of some stretches I do - the first one is part of my modified Doozie, and the second one is called The Pigeon Pose (that's not what I called it!). This is a yoga pose and has several variations. This stretch will really help you!!! This and The Doozie are two essential stretches that I never miss doing every day.

Please take your time with this one - I gradually stretched further each day until finally I was lying down on my leg. Shifting around with your arms gives you more of a stretch sometimes. I'm still searching, but I have yet to come upon a better stretch for the piriformis muscle. This is so important for everyone's pelvic floor. I can't believe how I don't have that pain when I pee anymore. Also, no more leaking problems when I laugh!

3/2/2009 4:38 AM
For over a week now, I've noticed that I'm walking a differant way on my left foot. This is my "bad" leg, since it seems that it's always been twisted. It's now trying to come un-twisted, and sometimes it feels like I'm walking on a big knot. Also, my spine feels sore sometimes, like it's scraping on my clothing, or the chair, or my bed. I looked at my back the other day in the mirror, and my spine was hardly dippped at all! It almost looks normal (whatever that means).

4/8/2009 4:59 AM
Update -
My left foot is is still hurting a little bit, sometimes. It depends on how long I hold my foot up while I'm doing the doozy. I now hold this stretch for 45 seconds. I sometimes get the "feels like menstrual cramps" pain, Right now, my whole body feels slightly irritated and grumpy. I guess my bones are moving! How long it'll take to feel "normal" I don't know.

4/17/2009 3:09 AM
I've been doing the Doozie a new way. I stopped using the stool (box), and now I put my feet up on the couch in front of me. I wedge myself between the arm and the back of the couch, and brace my foot about a hands-breath in front of my bum. You could even sit side-ways, with your back against the arm of the couch. Get comfy. This is a long way to lift your foot and leg, I realize, and it hurts a little bit. See how you feel about it. Take your time. Maybe you don't have to go this far. This is all up to you and how your body feels.

4/20/2009 - 5:15 AM
I'm freaking out this morning! I've been looking in the mirror at my gums. For years, I've had a problem with receding gums. I've never mentioned it to a soul. I was embarrassed. I've received more than enough teasing over the years about my oral issues. First of all, I have buck teeth - my brother said, "Mary, you could eat corn through a fence." Then, at some point, they started to get crooked. Then the receding gums. Of course, I tried to brush very softly. I always buy the soft bristled tooth brush. Remember to floss gently. My gums kept getting more receded. For years and years and years, I despaired. Now, my gums are coming back.

MY GUMS ARE COMING BACK! How is this possible??? They're closing back up over the bottoms of my teeth. Here and there, they're baggy, but MY GUMS ARE COMING BACK! Is it a miracle? Am I dreaming? I just started crying.

Now I'm Googling receding gums, and the info I see is making my stomach hurt. So many people with this same problem. I read stuff from the FDA website, Wikipedia, etc... and they all say the same thing. Here is an example of the same old, yadda, yadda -

California Dental Association
Gums that recede to expose the root surfaces of teeth is a common condition in adults over the age of 40. Many consider it to be just a sign of aging, and in some cases it is essentially that - often the result of wear and tear or years of aggressive tooth brushing. However, sometimes receding gums can be a sign of something more.
In many cases, receding gums are caused by periodontal disease (gum disease). Three out of four adults have some form of it, and in most cases, it doesn't cause any pain and goes unnoticed.
Common in adults, gum disease starts when bacteria containing plaque builds up on the teeth and gums. When the plaque is not removed daily, it produces toxins that irritate and inflame the gums. Eventually the inflammatory process destroys the gum tissues, causing them to separate from the tooth and form spaces called pockets. The pockets hold more bacteria, which only compounds the problem.
In the early stages, gum disease (gingivitis), marked by red or swollen gums that bleed easily, is reversible and can be detected and treated by your dentist or dental hygienist during regular check-ups. As the disease progresses (periodontitis), it can destroy the bone and soft tissues that support the teeth. In advanced stages of periodontitis, teeth can become loose, fall out or have to be removed by a dentist. In fact, periodontitis is the culprit in 70 percent of tooth loss in adults over 40.
The good news is these gum conditions can be prevented by good daily oral hygiene habits. Receding gums are best prevented by brushing with a soft toothbrush, using mild-to-moderate pressure and small circular or very short back and forth motions. Avoid hard toothbrush bristles and long horizontal brush strokes with excessive pressure on your toothbrush.
If your gums have receded, it is sometimes possible to graft tissue to cover a portion of the exposed root surface and to reinforce the fragile, receding gum tissue to protect from further recession. Also common to receded gums is sensitivity that results from the exposed root surface. Your CDA member dentist can apply medications in the office, and /or recommend products for you to use at home that will help reduce sensitivity of these root surfaces and help protect the now vulnerable root surface from decay.
Remember, with daily brushing and flossing and regular visits to your CDA member dentist, adults can look forward to keeping their natural teeth throughout their life.

Now that I think back, the only time I ever got inflamed gums was when I was bedridden due to illness. I thought it was caused by having fever or a virus. I never put this together before, but, I wasn't getting up and moving around much. Knowing me, I was probably on the couch, curled up in the fetal position. I'll just bet my psoas muscles loved that!

About ten years ago, I developed fissures in my tongue. Lots of them. I was on the internet by then, and looked up info about it. There wasn't much, but it doesn't matter anymore, because the fissures are going away.

I need to organize my thoughts and tell you guys about the stuff I've learned about our pelvic floor. It's harder than you know to do this blog thing. If it confuses you to read here, I don't blame you. But I promise I'll try hard.

4/23/2009 5:30 AM
Yesterday I had weird pains in my forehead. Like headache spasms. I never get headaches, but lately I've had painful twinges (sp?) Also, sometimes when I lay down my temples feel bruised.

So, here are some issues I'll be talking to you about, soon:
Smooth Tongue
Stem-cell treatments for pelvic floor dysfunction
Crooked Teeth
Receded Gums
Heart-Attack Fat (way-sticking-out-belly)
Back Fat, Bra-Strap Bulge, Love Handles, and Cellulite
Leg Cramps
Vericose Veins

So, my darling, tender little reader, have you been trying these stretches? Have you noticed anything differant about your body? Please consider leaving a comment here. I hope you're careful with yourself, and that you're having less pain. Tell your daughters about stretching these muscles. Talk to your sons about it as well, because they have all of these muscles, too, and could have their health affected. I'll be telling you a little bit about men's issues. Don't forget to tell your mother, your aunt, cousins - tell everyone you love. Chances are, every one of them has the same muscles that you do.


Davina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Davina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Surfer said...

Hello Mary, is there anyway I can contact you? I am interested in any pain relief/stretches you might have for haemorrhoids.

Anonymous said...

Hello, Surfer.
Did you read the poopy page? There is some very interesting info about hemorrhoids on there. Do the doozie and pigeon pose. That way, you can start getting put back to normal down there. Also, I use a lotion that I swear by. I use it for everything - it even gives me relief for hours from poison ivy itch and burn! It is called Ocean Potion Aloe Lotion and it is sold at Walmart with the sunscreen products. It has tea tree oil and other goodies, and it works!
Take care, Mary

Simone said...

Hi Mary,
I have just found your blog by googling psoas and plantar fasciitis - I am 35 and having issues with both since the birth of my second child 15 months ago - I am going to try your stretches with more regularity than I have been! Thanks for your lovely, encouraging words, you write beautifully :)
Hope you are feeling healthy and doing well, all these years later!


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