Physical strain in the neck and lower back muscles causes the adrenaline cortisol response resulting in inflammation and sore muscles. Keep the neck and back straight. Use the four calming techniques that include belly breaths, a drink of water, a 10-second freezing cold shower, and the 12-minute walk to settle the nerves and quiet the brain.
Copyright© 2022 by Gary Epler, M.D. All rights reserved. This podcast is for general informational and educational purposes only and it is not a substitute for professional medical advice.
Dr. Gary Epler – The new way of life is to know who you are moment by moment and be your true self. We’re going to apply this to eliminating physical stress and learning about the calming reflex.
Joan – What do you mean by physical stress?
It’s the strain on muscles and joints.
Why is physical stress a problem?
Physical stress causes the adrenalin cortisol response resulting in inflammation and harmful health effects. The neck and pelvis are the two areas that need to be in balance for eliminating physical stress.
What’d you mean?
Let’s start with the neck. The head down while doing computer work, walking, or driving causes stress. Try this. Drop your chin and lower your head. What does this feel like? This feels like the back neck muscles are stressed by trying to pull the head up. This is true, but unknown to you, the front neck muscles are trying to push the 15-pound head back straight. This is a lot of work.
So, when your neck is bent forward doing computer work, the back neck muscles are trying to pull the head up and the front neck muscles are trying to push the head up. That’s two muscles working at the same time doing opposite work causing double strain. What happens if you move your head too far back?
It’s the same thing except opposite. Your back neck muscles are trying to push your head forward and your front neck muscles are trying to pull your head forward. Both muscles causing stress.
What’s the solution?
You know the answer. Maintain your head in the balanced position with chin straight and eyes forward. There is no stress because both muscles groups are relaxed. Balance is restored. There is no stress. You feel stronger. Your voice is strong. You look great.
What about the pelvis?
It’s the exact same thing, different muscles. Leaning forward and bending the back while doing computer work or doing yard work means that your abdominal muscles are straining to push you back to a straight upright position and the back muscles are strained trying to pull the body backward. Bending the back sitting or picking something up causes a huge amount of strain in both muscle groups, and as expected, the strain can cause the low back muscles to go into instant spasm causing severe pain. That’s from the muscle spasm pulling on the big spinal nerves. Therefore, maintain a straight back position. Restore the balance so the abdominal muscles and the lower back muscles are in a relaxed position. This feels good. You’re stronger, healthier, and you look good too.
You talked about the calming reflex for relieving stress, what’d you mean?
We have a parasympathetic calming nervous system to neutralize the excitable sympathetic system. Without this calming system, a continual excited state would destroy all organ systems. I have four ways to trigger the calming system.
What are the first two?
Nervous about meeting with the boss or giving a big presentation? Take a couple of belly breaths. Put you hand on your stomach and take a deep breath moving your hand up and out. This triggers the calming reflex. Take two or three of these belly breaths before your meeting or presentation. The second one is easy. You’re in a situation where your brain is stressed. You brain is racing with thoughts one after another. You can’t think straight. Take a drink of water. It’ll kick in the calming reflex. Calming your thinking.
What’s the third one?
This is very dramatic. It’s the ice-cold shower technique. At the end of your morning shower, turn the shower dial up to the 8 or 9 o’clock position for a couple of minutes. This is like a swimming pool, cool but not shocking. Now, turn the dial to 11 o’clock – it’s freezing. It’s a shock, taking your breath away. You only need 10 seconds or less.This is called the ice-cold face reflex that triggers the parasympathetic calming system instantly. You will feel totally different – filled with energy, and although the daily problems are still there, you don’t care.
Sounds dramatic, but effective. What’s the last one?
I call this the 12-minute walk. Any time during the day in the office or at home, get up, open the door, and go outside for a walk in any direction. Not fast, not slow. Just walk for six minutes carrying nothing with you, turn around, and walk back to where you started. Ask yourself, “Do I feel better?” You will. This is also a good way to start your daily one-hour exercise routine, because this is the same feeling you get after exercising, high energy and a clear head.
Joan – Keep your head and back straight for improved health. Use the calming reflexes to relieve stress. Do you have any closing comments?
Dr. Gary Epler – Physical strain in the neck and lower back muscles causes the adrenaline cortisol response resulting in inflammation and sore muscles. Keep the neck and back straight. Use the four calming techniques that include belly breaths, a drink of water, a 10-second freezing cold shower, and the 12-minute walk to settle the nerves and quiet the brain. Be your true self for a healthy and enjoyable life.