I get a lot of emails asking me what helps ease my chronic abdominal pain. Prescription medication never eliminated my pain, only makes it more endurable. The single most effective thing, for me, has been myofascial release physical therapy. It can be difficult to find a PT who specializes in this area but it is so wonderful.
Each person is different so keep that in mind as I explain the things I do for myself!!!
Let me start by telling you my issue. My pain is in my upper left abdomen, almost to the top midsection of my ribcage. It varies from aching, stabbing, searing, etc. Well, 5 years of lying curled up in pain with heating pad took it’s toll on me and really messed up my alignment. It caused my left hip to “upslip” from the crouched position I spent most days lying in. This upslip pushes my hip up and transfers the pain up into my left shoulder blade–a sharp pain. To fix this my PT has to put my pelvis back into alignment. To minimize and avoid my upslip I have tools that I use at home. The following are the most effective, for me. Will they work for you? I don’t know. Each person is different and each body has it’s own issues and responds differently. This is just information that may help someone else out there.
The first tool is the sacro wedgy. This thing is pretty great. It loosens up the muscles in your lower back and pelvis. Now this is important: Put a pillow under your head. If you forget the pillow you will regret it, trust me. I lay with legs extended for 10 mintues, focusing on relaxing into the wedgy. This is hard, my body wants to tense up. I focus on deep belly breaths. Then after 10 min are up, I bend my knees and set my timer for 5 minutes. I let my legs relax and allow them to fall open a bit. The I flip on my knees and do some “cat” and “cow” stretches (I think these are yoga moves, not sure since I’m not a yoga girl). For the “cat” I arch my back looking between my legs. Then I arch my lower back,, lift my chin so I’m looking at the ceiling, for the “cow.” Does that make sense? I’m not the best at describing things, I’m more of a visual person.
Si lock belt:
The si loc belt. My PT loves this tool and recommends it to a lot of patients. It took me a while to understand where to place it on my pelvis (it comes with a little picture booklet). This could be due to the fact that I have the world’s longest torso. I had to have my PT draw on me with a surgical pen to make sure I had proper placement. Now I can do it fine. When you put it on it’s important to stand with legs together or lay flat on the ground or a bed when wearing. I wear the belt if I will be doing a lot of walking or extended periods of sitting (long car trips). It keeps my pelvis in alignment so my hip doesn’t slip up and out of place. It really does help, especially if I’m doing a lot of walking. The only annoying thing is it’s kinda bulky and I can’t wear it with my jeans. No big deal since I have lots of leggings.
This is the easiest to incorporate into a daily routine. It’s just used to stretch out the body. I lay with my spine on the pool noodle and knees bent. I start with arms extended down each side of my body, palms facing up. After about 5-8 seconds I move my arms up about 45 degrees from my body. Then straight out on either side. Next bend elbows so it looks like I’m hanging on a chin up bar. Finally, arms straight up. Then I reverse, working my way back to the starting position. This is awesome for stretching, it feels so good. Just remember palms face up. My PT says she does these stretches when she gets home from work.
My body is weak, I’m out of shape. Any core strength I once had is pretty much gone. I need to build up my core so my muscles can hold things in place. For this pilates was recommended. My PT explained yoga is more for stretching/flexibility; pilates for strength. She recommended any pilates routine. I have the Windsor pilates DVD series (got them for Christmas years ago). I took a Winsor Pilates class in college and loved it. After college I went to pilates classes but found that I like Winsor the best, for me. But again, any pilates. I know you can find the Winsor workouts on youtube. They are only 20 minutes long but I am s-o-r-e the next day. I could take a class but I like doing it in the comfort of my home.
(Winsor pilates is just a type of pilates taught by Mari Winsor. The instructor of the class I took was a certified in Winsor pilates.)
Where to buy:
My PT has given me tools and tips/tricks to use at home to help keep things in proper alignment. I ordered my wedgy and belt from amazon. You can order the items from PT catalogs but you’ll pay twice as much. Since it was February when I bought my tools I got the pool noodle from a swimming pool store. Then I bought a thicker one during summer from Target.
One final point. The above items, combined with regular PT, has allowed me to eliminate the number of Rx pain meds. Of all the treatments I tried in my medical journey myofascial release has been the more helpful and rewarding.
Any further questions, don’t hesitate to ask (comment/email).
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