pain management

nightmare period pain young woman sitting on a hill, head in her arms

How to get free from nightmare period pain

This is a recent testimonial from a client, who brought her daughter to see me for her nightmare period pain. I’ll let her tell the story:

“My 15 yr old daughter suffered terribly when she got her period. She couldn’t walk, had unbearable pain and vomiting and she missed days of school – not to mention the mood swings.

She had 3 sessions with Janine and the first period after that was fantastic – almost no pain, no vomiting or nausea, the pain meds worked and she went to school as normal. Then she had another session a week before her next period and again had a great result – the period symptoms were gone. We didn’t see Janine before her third period yet she had the same result, an easy period – as she puts it “this is magic”.

My daughter has now had three periods since her first session with Janine and the results are amazing. Her periods were completely different, all her symptoms had disappeared. No vomiting, no cramps or pain and she was able to go to school. Her mood was completely positive because she had no pain to deal with.  Best move we ever made! Everyone was suggesting I should put her on the pill but I knew there was a better solution – and we found it.” – Annette

I had a similar experience in my teens and 20s. Unfortunately my doctor did put me on the Pill, which stopped my period pain and PMS but led to many other health problems including trouble conceiving when I was ready to have a family.

Yet this young woman’s experience shows how, with only a few sessions to balance her pelvic alignment, her body’s natural cycle was restored and those awful symptoms were gone. No diet change, no special exercises, no surgical or other interventions – and a LOT less pain meds.

How to get started

It doesn’t matter if your periods have just started or you’ve had them for years, you CAN get free of the pain and other symptoms.

If you or your daughter suffer with nightmare period pain, book an appointment to see me for in-person sessions. If you’re not in Melbourne (Australia) we can work together online with my Body Reset coaching package

Take the Period Quiz

You can find out if you have a pelvic imbalance by taking my Period Quiz – and be sure to sign up for my free Period First Aid Kit to start balancing your body right now.

Photo credit: Kelli McClintock – Unsplash

period pain woman holding her belly

Get free from period pain by balancing your pelvis

No. 2 in the series: Why are your periods hard?

If you have period pain and other PMS symptoms, chronic low back or hip pain, fertility issues or postnatal pelvic pain it’s likely your pelvis is out of balance or alignment in some way. In my clinical practice, every woman who has come to see me with period problems has had an imbalance in the structure and muscle tension of her pelvis.

But how does the alignment of your bones cause these problems?

Your uterus (womb) and ovaries are held in place inside your pelvis by ligaments – like bands of firm elastic – which are in turn attached to the bones and other tissues of your pelvis.

The role of Posture & Movement

When you sit a lot (like at your computer for work) or stand all day and don’t walk or move around much, if you cross your legs whenever you sit or you sit slouched back in a soft slouchy chair or sofa – hang on, this is most of us now isn’t it?

Anyway, when we do that it makes the muscles through the pelvis, low back and legs really tight, and this can pull our bones slightly out of alignment in their joints. This out-of-balance structure in turn pulls on the ligaments between the bones and the organs they support, which in some people can lead to organ dysfunction – which is why it can be one of the causes of period pain, PMS, cycle irregularity, PCOS, endometriosis, fertility issues and more.

The imbalance in the bony structure of the pelvis can also be the cause of muscle and joint pain in the low back, hips, buttocks and legs, as well as the pelvic pain experienced by many women during pregnancy or after the birth of their baby.

But what to do about that? 

Balance your body first, before trying anything else.

The right foundation

The foundation is everything. Like the foundations of your house – if they’re unbalanced nothing works right, your doors won’t shut properly your windows get jammed and there are gaps where draughts get in. Like the structure of a business – it can’t function and grow if you haven’t set up the legal framework, banking and insurance.

One of the osteopathic principles of Ortho-Bionomy is ‘structure governs function’, meaning the functioning of everything – organs, circulation, breathing, digestion, thinking – is dependent on the state of your structure, your bony alignment. You feel this when you sprain an ankle and have to limp for a while – everything in your body feels a bit off and you get a headache or pain in the shoulder or just don’t feel right.

Maybe you’re thinking, ‘Okay, if I have an imbalance in my pelvis, what can I do about that? Am I stuck with it? Will it be hard to change? Will it take a long time?

I know for sure that your body knows exactly what to do to get back into alignment when we give it the right support. Periods just get a whole lot easier when your body is balanced.

It doesn’t take an intense exercise program over months or a long-term treatment plan or a new diet. Those things may be useful to address other health issues, but you don’t need them to restore your natural pelvic balance.

And when your body is balanced your periods are easier, your moods are better, you feel more comfortable more often and you feel more in control of your life.

You can focus better on your work, be more present with yourself, your family, partner and/or friends and best of all you’ll know how to take care of yourself.

If you’re in Melbourne (Australia) make an appointment to see me for a few gentle, restorative Ortho-Bionomy sessions – most people get lasting change from 3-4 sessions and you’ll leave the sessions with a personalised toolkit of techniques to use at home to maximise your progress. If you’re not in Melbourne, I’m building an online course – Menstrual Cycle Rescue – to teach you how to restore your pelvic balance for yourself – join the waitlist to hear when it’s open for enrolment.

Either way, I’ve made a quiz to help you find out if you have a pelvic imbalance – when you complete it you’ll receive my free Period First Aid Kit showing you how to start relieving your symptoms today.

shoulder pain - woman with bird tattoo on shoulder

How to relieve shoulder pain by doing nothing

Shoulder pain seems so common in our society. Because: stress – right? One US PubMed article states that “shoulder pain affects 18-26% of adults at any point in time, making it one of the most common regional pain syndromes”. 

But hidden in these stats is the fact that women ‘shoulder’ most of the burdens of the world. Women suffer most from poverty and war. Outside of war and poverty, in most families women carry the larger portion of family care, family scheduling and housework while also working outside the home – and often working harder/longer than their male colleagues for less pay (it blows my mind that this is still true).

Many women have consulted with me for shoulder pain over the years. There are LOTS of suggestions out there for addressing shoulder pain, but a lot of them involve hard work and some could be painful. If you know me, you know that’s not my favourite thing when it comes to recovering from pain!

You may also know that I’m a BIG fan of any opportunity to choose slow over fast and doing less instead of more.

My favourite way to release the shoulder is all of those things I like – slow, soft, doing less. If you work with your arms all day long – say you’re a violinist, a window-cleaner or work on your computer for hours – it’s pretty much a given that you’ll have a lot of tension – and maybe pain – in your shoulders at day’s end.

One way to reduce or prevent this is to check in regularly through the day with where you’re holding your shoulders – are they up towards your ears? Hunched forward in front of your chest?

If so, don’t pull them back to correct it (like a drill sargeant might demand) as this will only create more tension in your upper back. Instead, think of letting your shoulder blades ‘melt’ down your back, allowing the shoulder muscles to soften and your bones to settle back into their natural alignment on top of your ribcage.

The good news is you don’t have to do a whole lot of strenuous shoulder exercises to get them to release. (Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of strenuous exercise, it’s just more effective – and feels better – when your muscles aren’t hurting and your joints move freely).

The technique I’ll show you here is so easy it feels like you’re doing nothing. And really, you are ‘doing nothing’. But your body is doing something – it’s softening your muscles, increasing circulation in the shoulder and arm and re-aligning your shoulder joint.

Try it now:

  1. Lie on your back on your bed or couch, close enough to the edge to allow your whole arm to hang down freely off the side of the bed. Allow the arm, shoulder and hand to soften and relax. If it feels comfortable and relieving, rest here for 1-5 minutes (or more if you wish).
  2. If it’s not completely comfortable and feels too stretchy or pulling, try bending your elbow and tucking your hand under your hip on the bed, to allow just the upper arm to hang down.

This can be surprisingly effective despite being so simple, especially if you use it often. It’s remarkable how your body knows just what to do to take care of you, when you can get out of its way.

Whenever you use these positional rest techniques you create a feeling of safety in your body and rewire your brain to choose ease instead of pain.

I hope this helps you feel better, even for a few minutes. If you’d like to share with me what you noticed, email me or connect with me on Instagram.

soothe the body - person sleeping

Soothe your body to calm your mind

Because we’ve collectively experienced a lot of trauma over the past 2 years, many of us are currently feeling a deep sense of exhaustion, also known as burnout and even depression. This often comes with an intensification of our physical symptoms too; when our brains feel unsafe they sometimes amplify our tension or pain to make us reach out to someone for help.

Despite being cloistered at home so much in recent times we are simultaneously living outside of ourselves, desperately looking for signs from the external environment that things are ‘normal’, that the danger has passed. And when we’re looking outside of ourselves for things to make us feel better, we usually find something – often more than one thing – that makes us feel worse.

So what to do? How can you stop spiralling into burnout, feeling guilty about not being able to do anything about the big traumatic events happening in the world and ending up in a heap, unable to look after our families or ourselves or get out of bed each day?

Soothe the body to calm the mind

The best way I know to help yourself is to come home to your body. It’s the only thing that’s with you in every moment. It’s the only place where you can create a tangible, repeatable feeling of safety, a sense of being in control. It’s the only place where you can really take care of yourself. And taking care of yourself is the only way to start making a difference in the world, when everything else is out of your control.

Traumatic and stressful events are emotionally – and physically – exhausting. Our recovery from them requires two things:

1. Complete the stress cycle

We must release the built-up charge from our bodies so that we don’t stay in the stress cycle. There are examples of this in Nature – when the deer outruns the lion it shakes all over and leaps about, discharging the excess adrenaline, sweating and releasing the intense energy from its muscles – and signalling safety throughout its nervous system. This is a great model for us too, because we, like deer, are animals in Nature (though we deny it to ourselves). The difference is that we live with constant daily stresses, so we must actively release the charge every day to complete the stress cycle and return to a calm baseline, allowing our bodies to repair, recover and restore. Some great ways to do this are

  • walking, running, cycling, swimming – any exercise that increases your heart rate
  • punching or screaming into a pillow
  • dancing (on a dancefloor or in the loungeroom)
  • laughing – with kids, with friends, at funny movies
  • rolling around on the ground outside – with kids or animals if you have them (with the added bonus of connecting with the immune system-supporting natural biome)

2. Deliberately, intentionally R E S T

Resting is one of our superpowers – one we vastly underestimate. We must rest as a matter of course every day. It should be scheduled in – it’s a non-negotiable basic daily need, like drinking water, moving and eating real food. Nature is always seeking to repair and restore balance and your body is the same. You don’t need to force it to repair itself, it happens naturally given the right conditions – one of which is rest.

Fortunately the Ortho-Bionomy self-care techniques offer a way to deliberately take your body into a deep resting state to soothe your body AND calm your mind. One of the ways we do this is by using the principle of exaggeration. It assumes your body knows best what it needs right now.

Test it now:

  1. Sitting where you are now, close your eyes and tune in to your sit bones – the two big bones under your butt. Is your weight evenly balanced on both sides, or do you feel more weight on one side?
  2. If it’s the latter, normally we would try to ‘fix’ it, to correct it by adding more weight on the lighter side to even it up. Instead, I want you to try exaggerating what is present by leaning slightly towards the side that feels heavier to add more weight to that side.
  3. Stay there for about 30 seconds, breathing slowly, then move back to the centre.
  4. Now notice again how the weight is distributed on your sit bones. Do you still have the same imbalance with more weight on one side, or has it changed?

When I use this with clients, they almost always notice the weight has at least changed – if not completely balanced. This happens because your exaggeration of the imbalance has acknowledged something your body needed – with gentleness, not force – and your brain has responded by restoring balance.

You can use this with any part of your body that feels tight or sore. Find a way to exaggerate the positioning or tension in that area – e.g. if your shoulders are held up towards your ears, position them up closer to your ears while lying down (so you don’t have to hold them up) and relax into the position, breathing slowly for up to a minute. Then slowly sit up and notice the changes and responses in your body (in your physical body and also in your breathing, emotions and thoughts).

This process brings you into a calmer state because it also brings your whole self – brain/nervous system/body/mind – into present time, into your body, into your breath. And it avoids re-traumatising you because you’re not talking about the things that are stressing you.

I hope this helps you feel better, even for a few minutes. If you’d like to share your experience with me, email me from the Contact page or send me a DM via Instagram.

Image credit: Shane – Unsplash

Jaw pain relief techniques

How to relieve jaw pain and save your teeth

Do you suffer from jaw pain or clench your teeth while sleeping? Learn to prevent it and save your teeth.

I went to see my dentist recently. We (well, mostly she, because my mouth was occupied) chatted while she worked. I learned that the no.1 thing she did in 2020 was make mouth guards for her patients. The aim was to relieve jaw pain and help them stop grinding their teeth. She believed that the extra stress her patients were experiencing from COVID-19 was creating the increased jaw tension and pain they were reported.

I remembered when I used to clench my teeth during sleep, at a stressful time in my life. Happily I was able to stop it and save my teeth by using some simple Ortho-Bionomy techniques to reduce the tension and pain.

In case this helps you or someone you know, here’s how to do it:

General muscle tension release:

When you hold a lot of tension in your jaw it often feels really tight and possibly sore in the strong chewing muscles at either side of your face. These extend from your cheekbones just below your eyes down to the jaw bone below your lower teeth. It might also hurt around your jaw joints just in front of your ears.

To give these muscles a rest, first place your palms on your cheeks with fingers pointing upwards along the sides of your head. Support your jaw bone with the base of your palms and press very gently upwards to allow your cheeks to soften under your hands. Close your eyes and breathe slowly for a minute or more (this is a good stress-reliever too). Then try the steps below:

3-Step Release for Jaw Joint:

  1. First, hold your lower jaw bone lightly with your fingertips on both sides of your chin. Move your jaw slightly (using your fingertips) to one side and then the other, noting which side feels better, moves more easily or feels more comfortable. Then move it to the side that felt better and hold it there for 5-10 seconds before allowing it to return to a neutral position.
  2. Next, with your fingertips lightly on your jaw bone again, this time slide it slightly forwards (as if jutting your chin out), then back (towards your neck), again noting which feels better. Hold it gently in that preferred position for 5-10 seconds before letting it return to neutral.
  3. Now use your fingertips on the sides of your jaw bone to guide your mouth open a little way, then guide it closed, noting which felt better. Then hold it gently in that easier or better position for 5-10 seconds.

Be gentle!

Your jaw muscles are super strong and work really hard. Plus we often hold tension there when we’re stressed, angry or tired. So it’s really important to work gently here – if you push too hard in the movements shown above, it can just overwork these muscles even more. If you go gently and breathe slowly, you’ll notice your whole body relaxing.

Use these as often as you like. They’re especially useful first thing in the morning if you wake with jaw pain or tension, and again before you go to sleep at night to reduce the build-up of tension. You can also reduce jaw tension by releasing neck tension – I’ll be covering this in an upcoming newsletter and blog post. 

Sign up here to receive my newsletter each week with my latest post about ways you can relieve pain, tension and stress for yourself.

*****************

Did this help you? Let me know in the comments below.

Image credit: Houcine Nib – Unsplash

natural relief for period pain

Is natural relief for period pain possible?

Is lasting, natural relief for period pain possible?

So many women, girls and other people with periods suffer severe pain, cycle irregularity, ovulation pain, emotional distress and other symptoms of hormonal imbalance – often lumped together as PMS.

Conventional medicine offers pain medication or synthetic hormones (e.g. the Pill) which can relieve some period symptoms. Unfortunately many people experience other health problems caused by these medications, and other just don’t like taking them long-term.

Natural medicine can help by relieving symptoms and balancing the whole reproductive system.

However most people are unaware that one of the most common causes of period symptoms and hormone disruption is structural imbalance of the pelvis.

This can result from:

  • Hips shifting slightly from their natural positions with forward or backward rotation,
  • reduced range of movement caused by tension in pelvic muscles,
  • lack of movement or exercise, too much sitting
  • chronic stress that contracts the psoas muscle, pelvic floor and other muscle tissues in the pelvis.

These can cause tension around the ovaries that over time affects hormone production. The hormone imbalance is often associated with period symptoms, fertility issues, PCOS, fibroids, endometriosis and more.

Many people who suffer these period and hormonal issues also experience low back, hip and pelvic pain that are also associated with pelvic imbalance.

Ortho-Bionomy offers a gentle but very effective approach to all these symptoms. We work to balance the structure of the pelvis to make sure the bones are sitting in their joints naturally, which relieves tension in the muscles and ligaments attached to the bony structure.

This process can then bring balance to the pelvic organs and the hormones produced through the menstrual cycle. Many clients report a dramatic reduction in their menstrual symptoms as well as more ease and comfort in their hips, low back, legs and throughout the body.

Here’s what one client had to say:

Before having Ortho-Bionomy sessions with Janine I was suffering from strong period pain every month. I was seeing Janine for ongoing neck tension and I was really surprised when she said Ortho-Bionomy could help with period pain and PMS. Then I came to see her once when I was in real pain with my period and I was delighted by the immediate results of her gentle work. After feeling these amazing benefits I decided to see Janine regularly to help reduce the imbalance responsible for my pain and after a few sessions I can now enjoy pain-free cycles!” – Marie
 
If your periods are giving you a hard time, take the Period Quiz to find out why and get started on the solution.

Pain relief after wisdom teeth removal

Did you experience pain when you had your wisdom teeth out?

A new client (‘M’) visited me recently, 2 weeks after she had had 2 wisdom teeth removed. Since then she had suffered with constant pain in her whole mouth, feeling like all her teeth were going to fall out.  The teeth were removed from the left side only, but she had pain in both sides of her jaw, as well as up into her left eye and down the left side of her neck.  She was having trouble sleeping, eating and just getting through the day due to the severe pain she was experiencing.  She was taking a number of different strong painkillers but these were only dulling the pain, and she was concerned about unpleasant side-effects from these medications.

She returned to the dentist twice who confirmed there was no infection and gave some temporary pain relief, but could offer no other solution. A friend explained that she herself had visited me for Ortho-Bionomy when she experienced pain related to dental work, and she suggested M should call me. By now, M was desperate for pain relief, so she called and made her appointment.

During her session we worked to release stress and tension generally from her body as well as gently easing tension from the muscles in her left shoulder, the first rib area and the left side of the neck. Then I worked gently with her cranium, focussing on the left side but working to restore structural alignment to her whole head. We then used specific releases for the jaw joints. After the session M was more relaxed and described that she already felt the pain was reduced. I showed her some techniques to use at home to relieve the pain in her neck and jaw for herself. The good news came the next day when M sent me a message to say that she felt “a lot better”. She went on to say this:

“I wasn’t the best yesterday [the day of the session] but when I woke up today I felt the difference. And after 2 weeks, today was the first day I lasted all day with no medication. You have definitely helped me. Thanks again.”

Ortho-Bionomy is great for relieving pain after surgery or other painful procedures. The techniques are gentle enough that they cause no pain themselves and can therefore be safely used to relieve even severe pain.  Most people are amazed when they experience how quickly and effectively their pain is relieved, with such simple, gentle techniques.  And I personally know how good it is for jaw and dental problems because my own first experience of Ortho-Bionomy was that it relieved a ‘cracking’ problem I’d had with my jaw for 2 years. It was so effective with one session that I was intrigued to find out more about this wonderfully non-invasive approach, and the rest is history!

 

what is Ortho-Bionomy

What is Ortho-Bionomy?

No pain, no gain – really?

In our society musculoskeletal pain management often focuses on stretching tight muscles, applying deep pressure to painful ‘trigger points’ and pushing through pain to gain a ‘release’. We’re told that if a manual therapy doesn’t hurt, it’s not ‘working’. But is this really true?

With Ortho-Bionomy we discover that the opposite is true – when we use positioning and movements that feel comfortable and easy, the body is able to relax and release tension and pain. When your body and brain sense comfort and ease it recognises the opportunity to switch out of the fight/flight state and into the rest/restore state. This is where all true healing happens.

Should I stretch my tight muscles?

Your muscles contract to protect themselves from tearing when they have been overstretched.  So trying to stretch an already tight and contracted muscle only encourages it to contract further, sensing it is not yet safe to relax.  The comfortable positions and gentle compression used in Ortho-Bionomy let the muscles know that the danger has passed and it’s time to relax, thereby triggering the automatic release reflex present in all our muscles. So if the stretches you’ve been diligently using aren’t helping your sore, tight hamstrings, this could be the answer. 

Next time you exercise, try a few star jumps or jogging on the spot to warm your muscles up instead of stretching – and then do some gentle stretching after your walk, run or workout. 

Why Ortho-Bionomy?

Ortho-Bionomy promotes your body’s natural ability to heal. Rather than ‘healing’ you, the practitioner facilitates and harnesses that self-healing capacity that we all have. Ortho-Bionomy isn’t something done ‘to’ your body but in partnership with you. Using non-invasive positioning and subtle movements we engage your self-corrective reflexes, carefully releasing sore, tense muscles to allow your joints to realign themselves. Above all, Ortho-Bionomy movements are never painful. Instead, the gentle techniques teach your brain and your body to look for comfort and ease instead of pain.

Long-lasting results from just a few sessions make Ortho-Bionomy a cost and time effective healthcare choice. It’s an ideal therapy for:

  • Speeding up your recovery from injuries, surgery, muscle sprains, broken bones
  • Relieve constant pain in your back, neck, shoulders (eg ‘frozen shoulder’, chronic back pain)
  • Restore comfort and flexibility to your stiff, worn-out knees and elbows
  • Improve your posture or other structural problems (eg scoliosis, ‘hunched’ posture)
  • Enhance your recovery from stress or trauma, calming your nervous system and restoring a sense of wellbeing

A partnership

A major focus of Ortho-Bionomy sessions is self-care. I’ll provide you with a tailored ‘toolkit’ of techniques to enhance relaxation and relieve pain, as well as new ways to use your body that improve function, mobility and posture. This means you get to participate fully in your recovery process instead of becoming dependent on endless treatments for ‘maintenance’.
 
Ortho-Bionomy is especially suited to those who are looking for a new approach to pain management that doesn’t create further discomfort, use pain medication that masks the cause or involve long-term treatment plans.  If you’re ready to take the journey within and learn to help yourself, you’re ready to benefit from Ortho-Bionomy’s approach to self-discovery and self-care.