Aching Backs - FAQ by Cindee McCallister, D.C. and Robbie Pack

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by Cindee McCallister, D.C.

A few words from the doc here. Sorry it's taken me so long to write on this subject, but there's so much to say that I've never had that much time to write. So I thought I would just say a few things that might help some of you.

1. First off, I always tell my patients that when they have an ongoing condition like back pain that they need to put on their thinking caps and use their imagination to see how they might do something just a little different so it doesn't aggravate the condition. You have to think out of the box. You also need to pay attention to your body and see what activities aggravate it and start initiating changes rather than ignoring pain.

2. With those who want to increase the height of the chair, why not do that? Take a look at the new massage tables--both metal & wood & see how they are adjustable. It couldn't be that hard to make that type of attachment for your chairs.  And by using something a little wider at the bottom, it would make the chair real stable. And those pieces come off real quickly as I change mine often on my table with the different kinds of work I do.

3. Keeping one foot raised about 3-4 inches is enough to take a lot of stress off the back while standing. Bring along a block or book, whatever & put it in the spot where you find you stand the most. Then alternate resting one or the other foot on the block.

4. Stretch. But you need to stretch the right muscles. The psoas muscle, also known as the hip flexor, is a major culprit in low back pain. If you stretch it daily, you may find that your back pain is less when you work, that is, if your pain is muscularly induced. Take a 20 second break to do a psoas stretch every hour & you'll be surprised.

5. Most people's calcium-magnesium balance is low. Especially those who take things like tums and or just calcium carbonate--they have very low absorbability. Decreased mineral balance can cause muscles to tighten and get stiff even without provocation. By increasing your body's cal-mag stores, you may find your back handles your demands easier. However, that requires that your body be able to assimilate the mineral. If you need help in finding a high quality absorbable form of calcium, email me off list.

6. Instead of drinking just water when the weather is hot, lace the water with fruit juice. It helps to keep your electrolytes up and your muscles full of potassium whose deficiency is another source of muscle spasm.

7. If you feel strong or sharp pain; numbness, tingling, burning or other odd sensations in your back or neck or radiating into the extremities, be aware that what you are experiencing is not muscle problems. This is indicative of a very unhappy joint & nerve. Best thing to do is use ice on the area and call a good doctor of Chiropractic.

Well, gotta go. Hope this is helpful to you folks.


Cindee C. McCallister, D.C.
Healing Touch Holistic Health
9582 Hamilton Ave #317
Huntington Beach, CA 92646, USA
cell 714-743-7440

by Robbie Pack

There are many things you can do to help protect your back, but realizing that you want to continue to do this a long time can help
you to remember to be good to yourself as you paint. You can change the angle of your chair and that of the child after a while so you shift what angle you are working at, looking at the crowd, going for your paints. I like to be about a 45 degree angle to the line. Set up your table with ergo dynamics in mind. Have the table on your dominant side so you are not reaching farther than you need to. Put items you use most often closest to you. Be very aware of the height of your table to your chair and that of the child. Adjust your chair so your feet firmly reach the ground or put something there for your feet to rest on. Consider a back pillow on your chair.

Don't hunch over your work or stretch too far forward to the child. Have them lean or move towards you if needed. Have the chairs close enough together. Set a small child on the parent's lap. Make an "excuse" to reach down and touch your toes on occasion to stretch your back. (tie your shoe, get supplies under the table, whatever). Occasionally flatten your back against the back of the chair. Do a head tilt while "contemplating" what you need to put on to finalize the design or outlining something. If you stand while painting, have a box to put one foot up on. Switch feet from time to time. Shift weight from foot to foot occasionally. Twist or turn your feet occasionally...and other joints for that matter. Before you start painting, do range of motion exercises with all of your fingers (up/down, circle, fists/open to stretch, touch each fingertip to the thumb). You can do this as well as shoulder shrugs and rolls and/or head tilts and rolls in the car right before you arrive.

In cold weather, wear gloves while driving over (other athletes wear warm up pants, etc., why can't we?). Become aware of any excess tension we put in our muscles, whether a finger holding a brush, a shoulder as we reach or jaw or other body part while we think too hard. Try alternating how you hold your brush or the angle you load it at to shift the stress repetitive motions put on the body. Look at whether you hold too severe an angle on any joint as well as whether the movement comes from the finger, wrist, elbow or shoulder. Some motions are meant to be small, others large (from the shoulder not the finger). Typists and sign language interpreters have learned the hard way that we need to care for our bodies or pay the price in the long run. Face painters need to as well. I like what I'm doing too much to ever stop. I hope this helps you.

Robbie Pack, WAUBBIE the CLOWN, Fairfield, CT

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