It’s that time of year again. That time when the temperature drops, you bring out the long sleeves, pants, and coats. That time when you may notice more sniffles and coughs in your home. That time when you really should be disinfecting your home. But is bringing out the bleach or hospital-grade cleaner to scrub every surface actually going to work? Is it actually going to kill the germs that are spreading to every member of your household, and even spreading outside your home? If it is, what else is it doing for your health? If it isn’t, what’s the point of doing it anyway?
Volunteering just in general is good for your own soul but volunteering abroad … that will be so much more soul bearing than you could ever imagine!
First of all, let me squash a misconception that I had myself and that I heard a few times from others: “I don’t have any special skill that would be useful.” You do not need to have any special skills to volunteer abroad. You just have to be willing to put your own needs aside and help others. There will be many opportunities for you if you open your heart to this.
I set out from Cusco, Peru on a 4-day trek to my number 1 bucket list travel destination, Machu Picchu. I left Cusco in the wee hours of the morning and I was off on my journey that would take me over 87 km through mountains and back and forth across the rocky river.
I’ll be honest, the first time I tried essential oils, I didn’t think they would work. I was very skeptical, and my mind was closed off to learning about natural forms of healthcare. But, I was also at the end of my rope with a situation where nothing was working. I was trying absolutely everything and still nothing was working. A friend of mine then introduced me to essential oils. Since nothing else had worked, I thought there was no way this would work. But, it did.
Diffusing essential oils doesn’t only make your home, office, bedroom, etc, smell nice, essential oils also offer health benefits for you, your family, your pets, and your guests.
These diffuser recipes are meant for a diffuser that is specifically designed for use with essential oils. The diffuser should utilize tap water and the essential oils in these recipes, depending on what benefit you want to achieve.
Did you know that the secret to health and life is not actually a secret? Yes, I’m here to tell you that all of those diet fads and diet super drinks are not helping you. Surprised? I certainly hope not! The key secret to a long life of health is not a “diet” but it is your whole diet! Let me explain… The word “diet” is a horrible 4-letter word. It sounds just like “work” to me, doesn’t it to you? Therefore, if you look at a diet as something horrible from the beginning, then nothing successful will come of it. Ever! But, obviously what you eat is important. What you eat gives your body the fuel it needs to survive the day and to burn off the fat you’re trying to get rid of. This should be a lifestyle, not just a “diet”, so start thinking of it that way and then you’ve got the basic foundation for what I’m going to get into next. Exercise.
mmmmmm…. Meat loaf! Such a wonderful comfort food and easy to make! This recipe has the meatloaf topped with mashed sweet potatoes that helps keep the meat loaf from drying out!
So… why use sweet potatoes?
Does the thought of the word CrossFit intimidate you? Does the thought of walking into a CrossFit box make you shudder? You’re not alone. Actually, more people tell me they’re intimidated by thinking about CrossFit; and they haven’t even tried it. To be honest, I was intimidated by it first. The thought of not being good at something. The thought that I wouldn’t be good enough, that I wasn’t strong enough, that I didn’t know anyone … all of it scared me.
We have progressed to become a world of sitters. We sit at desks all day, we sit and watch TV, we sit at restaurants, we sit to drive, we sit. I’m sitting here typing this now so shame on me. We sit too much. Why is sitting bad? Oh, don’t get me started on that! I’ll just pick one small topic for today … Your Thoracic Spine!
Do you know where your thoracic spine is? Don’t worry, a lot of people don’t know. Quite a few people I’ve met have told me that the spine is the spine, it’s all one part. But, in reality, the spine is broken into parts. My focus is the thoracic spine. It starts at the base of the neck where your shoulders meet and goes down most of the length of your back. Above the thoracic spine is the cervical (neck) and below it is the lumbar (lower back). There are 12 vertebra in the thoracic spine. The thoracic spine is also where your ribs attach. This is what I refer to as the “forgotten zone” in the spine. Forgotten because we forget to move it!
The thoracic spine likes to be mobile. It is built to move, to help you move. It is made to rotate, flex, and extend; basically that means it is meant to move in all directions. But, since we don’t use the thoracic spine, we are developing into a world of stuck middle backs. Do you find yourself slouching a lot? Do you find it difficult to lift? Difficulty lifting overhead? Difficulty taking a deep breath? If you answered yes to any (or all) of those, then you have a thoracic spine mobility limitation.
Now that you know you have a thoracic spine mobility limitation, how does this impact the rest of you? A LOT! You see, your cervical and lumbar spine (above and below the thoracic, remember me saying that earlier?), well, they’re build for stability. Which means they’re not built to move as much as the thoracic spine is. BUT, when you have a mobility limitation somewhere then there is a compensatory action that happens elsewhere. So, for us with limited thoracic spine mobility, that means that our cervical and lumbar spines now have to make up the movement to help us get the job done. This causes abnormal stresses in the neck and the back. So, do you have low back pain? Does it hurt to move your neck sometimes? Does it hurt your neck and/or lower back when you lift anything from the ground or overhead? Now, for simplicity sake, I’ll just say that you have a thoracic spine mobility problem (understand that there may be other musculoskeletal movement disorders too and you should seek out help from a trained professional such as a physical therapist).
How do you fix it? How do you work on improving your thoracic spine mobility? It’s really not that difficult…. You just have to start moving it. Moving your thoracic spine will make for a happy thoracic spine.
For starters, stop sitting so much. Get up and start using your legs. After you do that for a bit, then you can work on using these stretches:
- Corner stretch. Simple. All you need is a corner. I find a few of them around my home and have a few at work. Come to think of it, corners are in lots of places.. usually in corners (yes, I crack myself up, humor me). Once you find your corner then stand with your feet together facing the corner. Raise your arms out and up to shoulder height and bend your elbows to have your hands face the ceiling. Place the inside of your elbows on the walls. Lean your whole body forward to the corner. Be careful not to let your back extend or to push your neck out. I’ve had some people try to put their nose on the wall. This is not the time to play turtle with your head. Keep your head and back in line. Just lean forward. Hold that position for at least 30 seconds. I recommend you do that a few times. I also recommend you do it a couple of times during the day to help get you out of the slouched seated position you’re probably in all day.
- Thoracic extension. This requires you to have either a roller (best), a couple of tennis balls (next best), or a chair with a low back rest (not preferred but it can work). The idea is to extend your back over this. If you’re using a roller, then I would start with a few back and forth passes, 5-10 is good, and then start working your thoracic spine into extension. If you’re using the tennis balls, you can do the same thing with the back and forth passes but it’s more difficult. The tennis balls will allow you to get a slightly more specific extension stretch based on where you have them placed. Either way, hold the extension position for a few seconds then start to flex and extend your spine over the roller or tennis balls. (flex and extend means that you lift your chest up and then press it back down over the roller/tennis balls).
- Thoracic spine rotation. This one is best performed at the bottom of a deep “ass to grass” squat. Once you get into that deep squat position, then put your right hand on your left foot, then put your left hand behind your neck, then rotate. Hold this position for at least 10 seconds, longer if you’re brave… be brave! Repeat on the other side. Go through at least 3 times on each side.
I know I don’t take the best pictures… but you get the idea!
I hope you give it a try! Let me know how it feels after. Are you able to stand taller? Sit up straighter? Lift heavier? Keep your body more upright in the squat? I bet you will! 😉
Don’t let yourself become like this….
Happy thoracic spine = happy human!
Now, go off and do great things for yourself! 🙂
Dr. Cori Campbell, DPT
You’re going to LOVE this recipe! It’s easy. It’s healthy. It’s YUMMY!!!