BBPT Health Tip: Sleep Better

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Fiona McMahon DPT

Anyone who has had or knows someone with a newborn knows how much sleep or lack thereof, can affect your health, comfort, and emotional well being. Here at BBPT, we see first hand how nights or even just a night of poor sleep can affect our patients’ symptoms from aches and pains, to constipation, to any chronic or acute pain condition and many more. Disrupted sleep is often the first thing we try to tackle in physical therapy because it is so integral to our patients’ health and recovery. Let’s explore some easy tips here:

Cut the screen time: There’s multiple reasons to do this. Incoming messages and news can jar us out of the relaxation we need to fall asleep. It has also been shown that the light emitted from our electronic devices can affect our sleep hormones making it harder to go to sleep.

Keep your bedroom dark: Lights emitted from chargers, light from outside can keep you awake.

Limit caffeine and alcohol intake: Both affect your ability to fall asleep and stay asleep

Keep your room cool: Your body cools as you sleep. A room that is too hot may prevent this. Keep your room around 65 degrees

Manage your aches and pains: Pain keeps you up at night. If an orthopedic condition like a shoulder injury is keeping you up at night, visit a physical therapist who can not only treat your injury, but allow you to find a comfortable sleeping position while you heal.

Manage your anxiety: So many of us suffer with anxiety and there are many ways to deal with it. From meditation, to deep breathing (include hyperlink), to restorative yogaand meditation, to mental health therapy, there is something that can help. Take the time to find what works for you.

Sources

https://sleepfoundation.org/bedroom/see.php. Accessed: November 30, 2016

BBPT Health Tip: Diaphragmatic Breathing

just-breathe-in-cloudsFiona McMahon DPT, PT

WE LOVE DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING! We do, we really do and we hope you will too. What is diaphragmatic breathing you ask? Diaphragmatic breathing is a form of deep breathing where you breath deeply into your stomach. As you breath in, you will actually see your belly extend and get bigger, and as you breath out, your belly will return to it’s old spot. It’s not like our typical breathing patterns where we breath from the chest; it is a much more deep and deliberate breath.

Why We love Diaphragmatic Breathing

Diaphragmatic breathing accomplishes a lot in the body. First of all, it supplies the body with a large dose of oxygen, which is pretty obvious, but it is a much more robust breath than a simple chest breath.

Diaphragmatic breathing also works wonders on the tissues of both the abdomen and the pelvic floor. By taking a big diaphragmatic breath in, the diaphragm lowers and provides a gentle stretch to the tissues and organs of the belly as well as the pelvic floor. As you breath in you are actually providing a nice stretch to the pelvic floor.

Deep breaths can also calm down the nervous system and allow you to better relax. When you are more relaxed your body can attend to the day to day tasks such as digestion and healing. It really is amazing what some deep breaths can do.

How to breathe diaphragmatically

Start off by putting one hand on your chest, at about the area of your breastbone. Place the other hand on your stomach. You can do diaphragmatic breathing just about anywhere, so get in a position that is comfortable for you. Start by slowly breathing in. In order to tell if you are using your diaphragm, you should feel the hand on your stomach move more than the hand on your chest. As you breath in, bring your awareness to your ribs and feel them expand out to the side and back.  Finish by slowly breathing out. The out breather should be longer than the inhale. It is really that easy.

How does one actually use diaphragmatic breathing?

Really you can use it in anyway you need too. Some people find it tremendously helpful to do 10 diaphragmatic breaths every hour, while others employ deep breathing techniques in times of stress or pain. The important thing about diaphragmatic breathing, or any exercise for that matter is consistency. Try to at least get in 20 deep breaths a day.

Is It All In My Head?

By Riva Preil

Join us tonight at Beyond Basics, 7:00 PM, for the next installment of The School of Pelvic Health.  The next fascinating class is entitled Sexuality and Pain- Is it All in My Head?  Stephanie will discuss how pelvic floor muscle tightness and dysfunction contributes to dyspareunia, pain with vaginal penetration, arousal, and erectile dysfunction.

As a pelvic floor physical therapist, one of my biggest pet peeves is when patients inform me they have been told by medical care providers there is apparently nothing wrong with them.  When diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, MRIs, and blood tests, are all negative, and there is nothing apparent or blatantly obvious that is “wrong,” patients at times begin to question themselves. Some patients have even told me that they were encouraged to “Just take a Xanax.”

This, my friends, upsets me tremendously.  Not only are some patients being mis/un-diagnosed with a proper diagnosis of pelvic floor dysfunction, but they are being told they are psychosomatic or simply too stressed.

I like to make a clear distinction to my patients: It’s one thing to say it’s all in your head, and it is another thing to acknowledge there is a strong mind body connection. I believe in the latter, and many of my patients will admit they notice a worsening of symptoms when they are stressed.  The reason for this is because stress affects our muscles and body in actual physical ways and the manifestation of these physical changes are often associated with muscle tightness and pain.

To learn more about the mind-body connection and how it relates to PELVIC PAIN, be sure to join the class tomorrow night!  We look forward to seeing you there!

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