Monthly Archives: July 2014

Dealing With IT Band, Low Back or Thumb Pain?

This was an article I produced for the Orange County Wheelmen’s newsletter:

IT band_bikeThere is a common thread between some low back pain, Iliotibial band and thumb pain. When the large intestine is not functioning optimally pain, weakness and/or spasm can manifest in the thumb, the flank (quadratus lumborum) muscles of the low back or in the iliotibial band of the outer leg. IT Band Syndrome can produce pain in the outer knee or outer hip which effects many cyclists and runners alike. The good news is the problem is readily eliminated when appropriate lifestyle changes are instituted. Often the challenge is identifying the true cause. Is it bike fit, a food intolerance, or a nutrient deficiency?

For this article and group it will be assumed that you have already addressed bike fit. A saddle height that is to high may cause outer knee pain or flank area pain as one sways back and forth to compete the peddle stroke. Not to mention robbing valuable energy and power.

If any of these areas have given you grief chronically chances are pretty good that there is a food that you are eating which isIT Band causing the large intestine to dysfunction. A simple place to start might be to log your diet and note when the pain flairs. Did you eat whole wheat products, corn or possibly beef shortly before experiencing the pain? The food possibilities are diverse and different for many, but with determination and diligence can be identified.

Maybe the intestine has not been functioning properly since being sick or on an antibiotic regimen? If this is the case a good probiotic supplement may be in store. I typically find that probiotic supplements are best taken at bed time. Start with a high dose like six capsules for 1-2 weeks to initially repopulate the colon (intestine) then reducing to three at bed for another 1-2 weeks. Another supplement consideration for the colon is chlorophyll. Are you eating enough green leafy vegetables? They are one of the best preventers of colon cancer. Additional benefits for us aerobic athletes come from all the iron we derive from foods like spinach, kale and beets. Iron helps us carry that vital oxygen in the blood for enhanced stamina.

Got fiber? If you are not having 2-3 well formed bowel movements per day the colon is likely sluggish. You might benefit by consuming a good, not wheat based fiber product as well as increasing your veggie consumption. If there is also bloating experienced, digestive enzymes could well be the “Holy Grail” for you. The great news here is that digestive enzymes are also very anti-inflammatory.

LI 4

LI4

There are some therapeutic points that may give you some relief while trying to ID the true cause. IT band pain rollerThere is a very common acupuncture point named LI4 (pictured) on the thumb web which will be tender when active. Firm rubbing on the side of pain will often give some temporary relief of flank area low back pain, IT band pain or even head band pattern headaches. The popular rolling of the hip (pictured) also is a reflex area that helps to relax the colon.

I pray that this information is helpful in empowering you in the pursuit of optimal health. Follow me at https://www.facebook.com/drscott.vrzal for regular health pearls like these.

Advertisements

Ever Experienced a “Food Coma?”

grandcanyon-colorinthecanyonWhile on a bus tour to the Grand Canyon, we were offered our boxed continental breakfast. It contained a large muffin, peanut butter crackers, chocolate chip cookies, an apple and OJ. Being “others centered” I was relegated to the 1/2 seat left next to a gentleman that took up 1.5 seats.  Fortunately I long ago learned not to count on meals like this, so I had consumed a filling, balanced breakfast befor enjoying the tour. Therefore I was awake and intrigued by the stories and information our fine tour guide had to share.

Remember when you were a child playing the Jello game in the car? Whenever the car turned the objective is to lean and squish the person next to you as if you were a large, unsupported mass of Jello. This game provides hours of entertainment for children, unlike my two hour bus ride. My Jello game partner was a large lifeless, formless mass after consuming a large quantity of simple carbohydrates unbalanced by any sort of protein or good fats. He was in a deep “food coma!”

After the unbalanced, hthe_jello_kingigh carbohydrate meal my Jello game partner certainly experienced a large insulin dump which led to very low blood sugar in the brain (hypoglycemia). Unlike literally every other organ in the body, the brains only energy comes from blood glucose.  The other organs can metabolize proteins or fats for energy when necessary. Since the brain does not, low blood sugar symptoms are primarily mental emotional. Symptoms like the inability to stay awake. poor focus, anger, frustration or even minor seizures can manifest when the brain becomes unfed in a hypoglycemic state. I’ve heard expert criminal witness’ testify that virtually every hate crime done occurs while the offender is in a hypoglycemic state.

Another intriguing concept that my Jello partner experienced is the accumulation of fat. Insulin is a self preservation hormone. When insulin is secreted it causes nearly 40% of that meal to be stored as fat, like triglycerides. The perceptive mind can then recognize that this is part of why the 1980’s low fat mentality led to the fattening of America. If my Jello Partner had simply consumed a good source of protein like eggs, or turkey with some good fats like olive oil, avocado, or almonds he may have also learned from our fine tour guide and if done consistently, would not likely require 1.5 seats.

The take away: When you get sleepy after a meal, something in that meal caused an insulin dump. That insulin dump starved your brain of energy and will likely be stored in large part as fat. The better you learn to manage this experience the better you can capitalize on this God given life and the better your long term health outlook will be.