More of My Favorite Things

If you can, for a moment and for the benefit of your foot, give up on style and high heels, then come over to the Dansko side. As in Dansko clogs. If you fit this shoe correctly, I think they’re actually one of the best buys around. They’re not cheap (around a hundsky) but they last forever. Because of the wide toe box, it doesn’t put pressure on your toes. For the purpose of foot comfort and health  I recommend only buying the style with the back, as shown in this picture. The back is not made to cup your heel like a traditional shoe. I know it looks like a stiff piece of leather and that’s because it simply serves as a bolster to keep the shoe from sliding off in mid-stance. Fit the shoe with a small fingerbreadth of space between your heel and the back of the shoe and another fingerbreadth of space between your arch and the top of the shoe. That way your foot just floats within the shoe; putting no pressure on your toes or the top of your foot and allowing air to circulate…so they never stink! Try a pair. I personally prefer the red patent leather which I begin wearing after Labor Day. After Easter I start wearing the pink patent.

Dansko Clogs

A large number of the people I see in my office have fallen down! It’s an inglorious way to end up with a broken bone and sometimes the results can be quite devastating. Hip fractures are one of the fastest ways to disability as the result of a fall. But just falling on your knee cap can result in a lifetime of pain. You know I wouldn’t be telling you this if it wasn’t true. Many people resist the need to use a cane, but it would be prudent to use a cane when you are older and have poor balance. But canes are just…well, they’re just…canes. Awkward, ugly, aluminum canes are the ubiquitous sign of getting old. So let’s put a little kick in that concept. Get a walking stick. And better yet…a collapsible walking stick. They’re sporty. They are based on ski pole technology so they just look cool. They’re actually easier to use than a cane. You hold them a little more in front of you than at the side so they give you a better third point contact with the ground. If you’re a hiker, a walking stick is a must-have. I would love for everyone to get a cane or walking stick before they fall. Alas, that is not usually the case, but when you decide you need one, consider the walking stick. Get two. They’re cheap.

Collapsible Walking Stick

Don’t reach for high things in the closet…over and over again. First of all, bring things you use on a frequent basis to a lower shelf. But if you must leave things up high then get a step stool and keep it handy. Frankly I keep one in every closet because I’m too lazy to go to the garage to get one when I want to get something up high or to change a light bulb. But always be safe on a step stool. If you have poor balance then make sure you use one you can hold on to. This particular one is very handy. It’s lightweight (but strong), and collapsible, so I carry one with me to horse shows and use it to get up on my horses. Saves my bad left knee.

Collapsible Foot Stool

Foot Stool with Handrail

People often associate carpal tunnel syndrome with work related, repetitive use, but frankly I see carpal tunnel syndrome in the general population just as much as I see it in computer programmers and secretaries. Let’s face it. We use our hands…a lot. And we use them repetitively. And we live a long time so they take a beating. Anything you can do to lessen the work your hands have to do on a daily basis might make a difference. It might slow down the progression of the arthritis in your hands, especially if you’re genetically scheduled to get it. It might lessen the potential for you to develop carpal tunnel syndrome. Here’s something you might consider.

If you read a lot, then you have to hold books open. This can put a strain on your hands. Consider using a Kindle or a Nook. They’re light. You don’t have to hold them open for hours at a time. They’re also easy on the eyes.

If you read in bed, consider plopping that Kindle on a reading pillow and keeping your arms free to rest. Even the pressure of the bed against your bent elbow can also irritate nerves in the arm.

Book RestI started using this little combination of bookrest pillow and Kindle and within a week my carpal tunnel syndrome had improved. I am no longer waking up in the middle of the night with numb hands. I’m not saying this is a “cure” for carpal tunnel syndrome. It just helps if you’re reading a lot in bed.  And as I’ve said before, anything you can do to lessen some of the unnecessary stresses on your joints is all good in my book.

Book Rest

It’s always good to have ice packs and heating pads around. Just for the record, I think ice is best for acute injuries and acute onset of pain. Heat works well for more chronic conditions, like arthritis. But also for the record; you can’t argue with using whatever temperature feels best. You can always pack a bunch of ice in a baggy and you can always heat up a moistened towel in the microwave. It’s easy to slap those things on an ankle or a knee. But it’s a bugger bear to try to keep anything sitting on top of your shoulder. A patient recommended this one; it’s got options for heat and cold.

Shoulder Wrap

If you have a hard time working at a bench or in your kitchen because the surface is too high (maybe you’re short or maybe you have a problem with your rotator cuff), by simply elevating your walking surface, you can diminish the stresses on your shoulders. This concept is the opposite of lowering your computer keypad. Lift yourself instead. But it’s probably not best to use a simple step stool. It’s not a large surface and you’ll find yourself stepping on and off it too much. Try one of these bench step aerobics platforms. You can adjust them for the best height and it gives you a little more room to move about. I picked this one because I used to own a set (remember…no more bench step aerobics for me). I know it to be of good quality and it has a nice rubber surface. There are other cheaper brands and they would all serve the same purpose. Start with the shortest step and work your way up to the most comfortable height, depending on how short or sore you are.

Step Bench

McKenzie Treat Your Own Back

Everyone should own a copy of this book and if you just read the first twenty pages, you and your back will be better off for it. If you know someone who suffers from back pain, get it for them as a gift. When you have mechanical low back pain (and 95% of us will at some point in our lives) you have to look at the condition much the same as you would look at hypertension. It’s a disease. You can’t really “cure” it. We “treat” it. If you have high blood pressure, you know there is, in most instances, no cure for that disease. You take a pill and you eat less salt. Your blood pressure goes down. If you stop the pill and go back to salt pork, your blood pressure goes back up. Same goes for your back. If your pain gets better when you make some lifestyle changes and do the McKenzie exercise program, then keep doing it, just as if it were a pill to make your pain go away. If you stop, the pain comes back! I guarantee it. I can’t tell you how many folks come see me a year or so after initiating an exercise program which worked for a shoulder or knee or back problem. The pain got better, so what did they do? They stopped doing the exercises…

This program works. I can testify to that. Get the book. And here’s a link for the McKenzie neck program too.

McKenzie Neck Program

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