Pregnancy: The top FIVE medical reasons you should give up your seat to a pregnant woman.

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Pregnancy: The top FIVE medical reasons you should give up your seat to a pregnant woman.

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Why new Yorkers should give up their chairs to pregnant subway riders.
Pregnant New Yorkers face an array of challenges that pregnant women in other parts of the country don’t ever have to deal with. One of them is dealing with the subway day in and day out. The subway can be a hugely stressful event if you’re pregnant. If you’re a New Yorker and you’re not pregnant, here are the top medical reasons you should not only give up your own seat if you have one, but suggest someone else give theirs up too.

1. Pregnant women produce 50% more blood than you. The normal adult human body is around 50% liquid, so you can imagine what is going on in there. Ever hear that a pregnant woman is glowing? That is why. You are actually seeing the blood closer to the surface of the skin as it moves through the capillaries causing a rosy glow. More blood in the same amount of space raises your blood pressure . A higher BP raises your respiration, temperature, and can cause dizziness and fatigue. At the very least your heart is working much harder just to do the normal tasks it is doing at rest, let alone fighting a rush hour crowed on a sweltering platform in mid town.

1. Her feet. Your feet are a fairly complex structure of interlocking bones and supportive ligaments. All that extra blood is HEAVY, not to mention the extra weight of the baby. An average pregnant woman could be carrying 35 pounds of extra weight. That extra weight pressing down can literally overwhelm the arches of the feet causing inflammation as the bones press together and micro tearing along the bottom of the foot causing painful conditions like plantar fasciitis. Pregnant women’s feet have often been reported to grow, when actually its more likely that the arches are stretching length wise under the stress of the extra weight. Giving up your seat may actually be saving her from future health problems with her feet.

2. Pregnant women might fall over, especially if pushed or jostled. All over your body you have small sensors called proprioceptors. These sensors constantly give you feedback on where your body is in space, so you can navigate your environment. When you’re pregnant, your body often can’t keep up with the changes because you remember your non-pregnant form. It’s a lot like when kids going through puberty get really awkward and klutzy because they grow really fast, but instead of growing up… pregnant women are growing out.

3. They are unstable, literally. If a pregnant woman falls or slips she is far more likely to hurt herself than you are. There is a fantastic and beautiful reason for this. During the end of her pregnancy, she will start to secrete a hormone called Relaxin. Relaxin does a number of things like helping them adapt to the need for more oxygen, but the other thing it does is soften all of their connective tissue to prepare for birth. This means they have a lot more space between their joints then us because they are preparing to open the joints in their pelvis so that they can have a safe delivery. Because of this, pregnant women are subject to sprains and joint injuries more so than the rest of us. So if she were to fall, she would be far more likely to do serious damage to herself as her bones are much more mobile.

4. It’s the right thing and it will make her feel good. Remember when she feels good so does the baby as there is a direct connection, she is passing all the hormones that she feels to her unborn child. So you’re not really making just her day better, you’re making two people’s days better.

Body Mechanics has a lovely prenatal massage therapy service where we can help you address all the issues previously mentioned so you can feel good and enjoy those special months. Stay tuned to the following blogs for our ongoing series on pregnancy health and massage.

Your Posture Might be Killing You… Really….

(update: We no longer agree with the idea that your posture is bad for you…hey, science changes! But we are keeping this up here to prove that point)

 

Feel like you have a noose around your neck at the office? Feel like the stress is killing you? That might be exactly the message you’re sending yourself by nerve transmission. The neck is a complex structure that houses vulnerable and important components that act as the relay between the brain and the organs. While the dome of the scull protects the brain and its fluid within, and the ribs and spine protect the organs and the spinal cord, the neck is surprisingly vulnerable.

The majority of important structures are protected by bone, but 12 pairs of cranial nerves descend from the head and pass through the soft tissue of your neck and flow into your body. The longest of these, Cranial Nerve X or Vagus nerve controls most of your sympathetic nervous system. If you are not a science geek pull out that 8th grade biology and dust it off. The parasympathetic system controls much of your involuntary organ control.

So what exactly does that mean? Specifically what does that mean to you as you sit at your desk reading this??The majority of work these days seems to be computer work. The posture acquired from it is elevated shoulders, chin thrust forward as you scan your screen, eyes squinting, looking for mistakes. In this state, your breathing is naturally shallow as you concentrate, and you switch from a full breath to partial breath, leaving you in a state of chronic hyperventilation. If you were out doors and living wild, this same posture would have you hiding behind a rock, scanning the horizon for prey or enemies. Your body is saying “alert”, possibly danger is behind the next bush, but unless your empty Starbucks cup is out to get you, everything is fine. So why is your posture telling you this? Its all about the Vagus nerve baby. It’s Vagus.

Those anterior neck muscles that have tightened up ( scalenes and SCM) as you peer into the vast wilderness of your pintrest or tumbler screen, are compressing the Vagus nerve. The Vagus nerve in turn tells your breathing to accelerate, your digestion to stop, your metabolism to grind to a halt and your colon to freeze. You have officially entered the state of chronic panic that a lot of us are currently living in, which is the opposite of “rest and digest”. Living is this state is not normal, its meant to save your life not, be your life. Staying in it can lead to long term chronic problems as you can imagine. The short list includes, chronic headaches, dizziness, chronic fatigue, colon problems like ibs or constipation, weight gain, trouble concentrating, hot flushes, irregular heart beat, pain in your neck, and trouble swallowing with dry mouth. Sounds fun huh?

So what can you do? Well for one get up and move. Simply changing your posture has an effect. Try a post-it that reminds you to drop your shoulders, get some exercise, take a break, STRETCH! If you just can’t kick it, you might try getting a massage and let someone stretch it for you, often this is a great solution as you can fully relax, which breaks the cycle of stress. Someone who really knows what their doing as far as massage, can help you reactivate your scalenes as well. If you have a high intensity job, you might just have to commit to a program of your choosing as part of your ongoing health care. Yoga, massage, exercise, and acupuncture can all be beneficial….it does not matter which one you choose…just choose to take care of your self.

For more info there is a great Ted Talks by Amy Cuddly who talks about how posture is connected to your mental state. I have included the link http://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are.html

If you want to go it alone, try this anterior neck stretch and some self massage:

Take your left hand and grab the bottom of your chair and hold on. Lean right, away from the hand that is holding your chair. (your body should now be tilted to one side, away from the anchored hand) put the right hand on top of your head and gently pull it away from the left shoulder. Hold for 30 seconds By raising your chin very slowly and gently you can access the front portion of your neck.

Bloomburg and a Little Canadian Health Care

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Today in the Metro there was a brief article about the Mayoral transition, that cited Bloomberg as warning that the next mayor needs to control pensions and health care costs for city workers, or risk pushing the Big Apple towards insolvency like Detroit.

What do you ask does this have to do with massage therapy? And why would I mention it? I worked in Canada for a number of years as part of their OHIP integrated care. Specifically, I was working for Unions and for workman’s comp claimants. The people on my table were not rich folk getting a rub down in the middle of their entitled days. They were factory workers on the line, doing things like boxing products and food management. These were true middle class, salt of the earth folks. I treated everything from tendinitis low back pain, to chronic fatigue in patients on the night shift. I saw them once a week on a regular basis, based on a prescription from their overseeing nurse or doctor, or until their condition resolved.

The amazing thing is by US standards these patients were also the same candidates for long term pain meds, and surgery, or disability, instead the government had shuffled them off for 10 treatments to see me. But why?

In Ontario the government pays for almost all the health care you need. I can’t speak for exactly what goes on behind OHIP (the health care ) doors but I imagine someone there had the bright idea to up the standards of massage, so that we could deal with the external medicine aspect of soft tissue disorders such as sprains, strains, overuse, aches and pains, while at the same time unclog the doctors offices so they could deal with the actual act of internal medicine . That same someone I imagine, hired a team of cost analysts to calculate the cost of having someone see me for early intervention, rather than sending them off for a costly surgery….that is if the surgery went well. If it did not go well the bill would be for recovery, temporarily disability, and perhaps long term disability. That’s one long list of government paid bills, rather than private insurance making bank on each transaction. And as to the pain meds? Well imagine if you over prescribe them? you might make a bundle up front on the profit, but end up in the red on the rehab. The point is, there is a social responsibility towards heath care there because of the system structure. We don’t have the same set up, but that does not mean that we cannot start taking preventive fiscal responsibility towards our care. Hit the gym, hit the mat, eat the right foods, don’t take short cuts. In the end it starts with you.