6 Tips for Avoiding Back Pain During Sex

6 Tips For Avoiding Back Pain During Sex
Source: YourTango, by Connie Merk, March 26, 2013For people with lower back pain, just the thought of sexual activity can induce fear instead of excitement. Sex is supposed to be pleasurable, but when it’s associated with physical pain, sexual activity stops. And when that happens, relationships suffer.

The most important advice I can give, not only as someone who is working with back pain patients all the time, but also as someone who suffered from back pain for many years, is to be open with your partner. Communication prevents tension and misunderstandings.

Your partner needs to understand that you haven’t lost your interest in him or her, but that you are afraid of aggravating your pain. Your partner needs to feel that you still love him. Otherwise, your condition could jeopardize your relationship.

Openness is key. Talk about what works for you and what doesn’t — for both of you. It is not just the position that matters. Having sex is more than a performing act. Lovemaking is about closeness, sharing, understanding, pleasure, fun, and orgasm.

There are plenty of ways people can find sexual fulfillment besides penetration. If you’ve never experimented with oral sex, sex toys, different positions, now is the time! Get creative and explore. You may find that your sex life suddenly becomes much more interesting and fun.

Here are some more useful tips:

1. Prepare well. For many people, sex is something that happens spontaneously, and thus they believe that any kind of planning makes it less valuable or less enjoyable. But nothing could be further from the truth.

When you are dealing with acute or chronic back pain, proper preparation for “the act” may be the only way to enjoy the experience. Nothing kills passion faster then a sudden onset of pain or the constant fear that the wrong movement will render you helpless on the bed.

Due to your constant pain, it may be difficult for you to relax and let go. Thus, trying to relax the affected muscles by taking a muscle relaxant or pain killer might help to prepare for the sexual encounter. Or, even better, have your partner join you in a warm bath or hot shower, or give you a gentle massage as part of your foreplay.

2. Try different positions. Plan exactly where to have sex and in what position in order to avoid pain. In the beginning, you might need to try out different positions until you find the right one for you and your partner, where you both can be comfortable.

Try preparing the room with cushions, towels and covers under the knees, head, or lower back for support. Remember, it is all about feeling relaxed so you can enjoy your lovemaking.

If it is the man who suffers from back pain, you may want to try lying on a firm surface and using pillows to support the knee and/or head. A small, rolled towel under the lower back may bring additional comfort. You could also sit on a chair with a back rest and have your partner straddle you.

If it is the woman who suffers from back pain, the missionary position with the legs bent toward the chest may be worth trying out. Sitting on the edge of a chair with your partner kneeling between your legs is also a position that works for many woman. Or, have your partner sit on a chair while you sit on his lap, facing away from him.

Finally, regardless of who suffers from back pain, a side-by-side position may be the best. Both partners should on their sides, she with her back to him. Then, he can enter from behind, which is normally a very comfortable position for both.

3. Don’t rush. Plan your sexual encounter with your partner so that you have all the time in the world. Enjoy what you are doing. Maybe you were never too much into foreplay. If so, now is your chance now to explore that part of lovemaking and get to know your partner in a new, sensual way.

Choose sensuality over sexuality as you may not be as vigorous as you once were.

4. Undress first. As I have said before, when dealing with back pain, thoughtful preparation goes a long way, and not just when it comes to your position. In the throes of passion, we are not necessarily paying attention to anything besides our sensations.

We definitely don’t pay attention to our bodies and how they move. Therefore, undress carefully. You don’t want to struggle to get your clothes off in an awkward position that may knock your back out.

5. Masturbation, oral sex and sex toys. If penetration is too painful for one of the partners, there are plenty of other ways to give your partner sexual pleasures. Oral sex, masturbation and dildos or vibrators are great ways to bring about sexual fulfillment and spice up your sex life.

The most important thing is to communicate openly about what you both like and don’t like, and to explore and experiment with new ways of giving and receiving pleasure.

6. Make sex fun. If you are up for it, why not bring some spice into your bedroom? Try playing doctor.

The more you are distracted from your back pain, the better. Sex raises the spirit and puts you in a better mood. Plus, having an orgasm also relaxes all the muscles in the body, and if your muscles are relaxed, your will feel less pain.

With a bit of preparation and fantasy, suffering from back pain does not mean that you are doomed to a life without sex. On the contrary. You could find that experimenting with longer foreplay, toys, positions and role-plays —things you would have never considered before — can actually spice up your sex life. Just be open with your partner, and have fun!

Mumanu, not just a sleeping pillow! This fabulous pillow is self-inflating so adjust the height to your own comfort. (This position is not recommended from 30 weeks pregnant.) Visit the website for more ways to use the Mumanu

mumanu-back-position-pregnancy

Sleep And Athletic Performance: How Just An Extra Hour Of Rest Can Make You A Better Athlete

6796015_l

Source: The Huffington Post | By Posted: 03/26/2013If vigorous exercise makes you a better sleeper, can more and better sleep make you a better athlete?

According to Haley A. Davis and James B. Maas, Ph.D. and their new book, “Sleep To Win!”, the answer is yes. Davis and Maas recently joined host Ricky Camilleri to discuss the importance of sleep for athletic performance — and healthy, everyday functioning — on HuffPost Live.

“We take professional athletes and we give them one more hour of sleep,” Maas explained in the clip above. “We make sure every night they’re getting a good night’s sleep, and we make sure they don’t get up too early in the morning. Even at the pro level, these people are amazed that their performance actually improves when they add that extra hour of sleep.”

But how do you add an hour of sleep without cutting into practice time? Turns out, it might not matter. Healthy Living caught up with Maas earlier this month, after the release of the National Sleep Foundation’s annual Sleep in America poll, focused this year on exercise and sleep.

Teams that traditionally have practiced twice a day perform better skipping the morning practice if it allows athletes to get enough sleep than sticking with two sessions, says Maas, a former fellow, professor and chairman of psychology at Cornell University. In fact, a number of professional sports teams, most notably the New York Jets, have changed up their practice schedules in order to afford players more time for shut-eye.

Just like with cognitive memory, sleep seems to solidify muscle memory as well, he says. But the big benefits don’t take place until somewhere around the seventh hour of sleep, he says, an hour many athletes and casual exercisers are missing out on.

“Sleep is food for the brain, sleep is fuel for exercise.” he says. “Sleep is simply not valued in our 24/7 society. We treat it as a luxury and it’s a necessity. If you sleep longer and better, you can be a better athlete overnight.”

Sleep Well, Live Well. Mumanu, for the most comfortable night’s sleep.

Mumanu Side Sleeper Pillow

Sleep Awareness Week: A New Bedtime Routine for Children

Bedtime Routine For Children

Source: The Huffington Post, by Dr Robert Oexman, Director of the Sleep to Live Institute
9th March 2013

Growing up in the ’60s had its challenges, but looking back they seem so minor. My hometown was very small so it was common for kids to walk home from school, stop at a friend’s house or a park and not arrive home until dinnertime. After dinner, kids would meet up outside to practice everything from basketball to baseball and the best sport of all, kick-the-can. We arrived home just before the “street lights” came on to avoid being grounded by mom and dad. We were exhausted and bedtime was always welcome. Routine was common, from the time we woke up, lunchtime, dinnertime, homework time, bath time, and the time we got into bed. Our circadian clock, which is so well-timed with the rotation of the Earth, seemed to enjoy and thrive on our daily, well-timed routine.

Today, the only thing routine in a kid’s day may be the rotation of the Earth! Kids hang out on Facebook or “talk” via text messaging. Dinner is eaten on the run between school activities or sporting events. Bedtime is adjusted depending upon which child needs to be up latest for practices, games or school projects. Electronics in the bedroom keep kids engaged with friends long after the “street lights” come on for the night. Our need for sleep has been hardwired into our brain, but in just a few decades we have chosen to ignore this innate need and sacrifice our health and our kids’ health along the way.Sleep Awareness Week (March 3-10) should serve as a “wakeup call” for America, giving us the opportunity to get you and your child back on track to better sleep, health and learning. Here are five tips to get started.

1. Eliminate Electronics: Research has linked electronics use with sleep disturbances, and has also found an association between sleep deficiency and lower grades among children and teens. Children and teenagers who are sleep-deprived are more prone to obesity and to attention problems at school. Depression is also common and may be due to the lack of sleep. Everything from smartphones to tablets and laptops should be taken outside the room one hour before bedtime. If your child uses their phone as an alarm clock, this is easily solved — purchase an inexpensive clock for an alarm instead. Televisions should not be allowed in the room, either.

2. Establish Routine: Bedtime should be maintained each night. You should not allow your child to stay up studying late into the night. Multiple research studies have shown that getting adequate sleep after studying increases retention and test scores. It is okay if your child has one night during the week that they need to be up later due to sports or school activities. Just make sure you help them manage their time by studying extra the night before.

3. Soak Before Sleep — Nighttime Baths: A wind-down routine is crucial for a good night’s sleep. A great option is warm baths or showers before bedtime, which may help increase the quality of sleep.

4. Ready the Bedroom — Environment Counts: The bedroom should be designed for sleep! If you and your children have different bedtimes, have your children sleep with a “white noise” machine to drown out sound from those that are still awake. Keep the room temperature cool, around 68 degrees. Make sure the room is dark. If your child needs a nightlight, a “low blue light” nightlight is best, in my opinion, and can be easily purchased online. Make sure that your child is sleeping on a mattress that is supportive for their body type. Most parents spend very little money on mattresses for their kids, thinking that they can sleep on “anything and anywhere.”

5. Prep for Bed: Have your children spend at least 30 minutes preparing for bed, but one hour is optimal. Make sure all electronics are off and dim the lights. Your child can read books or you can read to them. One of my favorite things to do is spend time talking with my kids. Talk about the day, what you and your children need to do tomorrow, and make plans for the future.

Our need for sleep has not changed with our desire for a less routine schedule. It is up to us as parents to institute these routines and instill good sleep habits that will last our children a lifetime!

Breastfeeding in the Land of Genghis Khan

Source: In Culture Parent .com By Ruth KamnitzerMonday, February 28th, 2011

In Mongolia, there’s an oft-quoted saying that the best wrestlers are breastfed for at least six years—a serious endorsement in a country where wrestling is the national sport. I moved to Mongolia when my first child was four months old, and lived there until he was three.

Raising my son during those early years in a place where attitudes to breastfeeding are so dramatically different from prevailing norms in North America opened my eyes to an entirely different vision of how it all could be. Not only do Mongolians breastfeed for a long time, they do so with more enthusiasm and less inhibition than nearly anyone else I’ve met. In Mongolia, breast milk is not just for babies, it’s not only about nutrition, and it’s definitely not something you need to be discreet about. It’s the stuff Genghis Khan was made of.

Like many first-time mums, I hadn’t given much thought to breastfeeding before I had a child. But minutes after my son, Calum, popped out, he latched on, and for the next four years seemed pretty determined not to let go. I was lucky, for in many ways breastfeeding came easily—never a cracked nipple, rarely an engorged breast. Mentally, things were not quite as simple. As much as I loved my baby and cherished the bond that breastfeeding gave us, it was, at times, overwhelming. I was unprepared for the magnitude of my love for him, and for the intensity of his need for me and me only—for my milk. “Don’t let him turn you into a human pacifier,” a Canadian nurse had cautioned me just days after Calum’s birth, as he sucked for hour after hour. But I would run through all the possible reasons for his crying—gas? wet? understimulation? overstimulation?—and mostly I’d just end up feeding him again. I wondered if I was doing the right thing.

Then I moved away from Canada to Mongolia, where my husband was conducting a wildlife study. There, babies are kept constantly swaddled in layers of thick blankets, tied up with string like packages you don’t want to come apart in the mail. When a package murmurs, a nipple is popped in its mouth. Babies aren’t changed very often and never burped. There aren’t even hands available to thrust a rattle into. Definitely no tummy time. Babies stay wrapped up for at least three months, and every time they make a sound, they’re breastfed.

This was interesting. At three months, Canadian babies are already having social engagements, even swimming. Some are learning to “self-soothe.” I had assumed that there were many reasons a baby might cry, and that my job was to figure out what the reason was and provide the appropriate solution. But in Mongolia, though babies might cry for many reasons, there is only ever one solution: breast milk. I settled down on my butt and followed suit.

A Working Boob Hits the Streets

In Canada, a certain amount of mystique still surrounds breastfeeding. But really, we’re just not very used to it. Breastfeeding happens at home, in baby groups, occasionally in cafes—you seldom see it in public, and we certainly don’t have conscious memories of having been breastfed ourselves. This private activity between mother and child is greeted with a hush and politely averted eyes, and regarded almost in the same way as public displays of intimacy between couples: not taboo, but slightly discomfiting and politely ignored. And when that quiet, angelic newborn grows into an active toddler intent on letting the world know exactly what he’s doing, well, those eyes are averted a bit more quickly and intently, sometimes under frowning brows.

In Mongolia, instead of relegating me to a “Mothers Only” section, breastfeeding in public brought me firmly to center stage. Their universal practice of breastfeeding anywhere, anytime, and the close quarters in which most Mongolians live, mean that everyone is pretty familiar with the sight of a working boob. They were happy to see I was doing things their way (which was, of course, the right way).

When I breastfed in the park, grandmothers would regale me with tales of the dozen children they had fed. When I breastfed in the back of taxis, drivers would give me the thumbs-up in the rearview mirror and assure me that Calum would grow up to be a great wrestler. When I walked through the market cradling my feeding son in my arms, vendors would make a space for me at their stalls and tell him to drink up. Instead of looking away, people would lean right in and kiss Calum on the cheek. If he popped off in response to the attention and left my streaming breast completely exposed, not a beat was missed. No one stared, no one looked away—they just laughed and wiped the milk off their noses.

From the time Calum was four months old until he was three years old, wherever I went, I heard the same thing over and over again: “Breastfeeding is the best thing for your baby, the best thing for you.” The constant approval made me feel that I was doing something important that mattered to everyone—exactly the kind of public applause every new mother needs.

The Lazy Mum’s Secret Weapon

By Calum’s second year, I had fully realized just how useful breastfeeding could be. Nothing gets a child to sleep as quickly, relieves the boredom of a long car journey as well, or calms a breaking storm as swiftly as a little warm milk from mummy. It’s the lazy mother’s most useful parenting aid, and by now I thought I was using it to its maximum effect. But the Mongolians took it one step further.

During the Mongolian winters, I spent many afternoons in my friend Tsetsgee’s yurt, escaping the bitter cold outside. It was enlightening to compare our different parenting techniques. Whenever a tussle over toys broke out between our two-year-olds, my first reaction would be to try to restore peace by distracting Calum with another toy while explaining the principle of sharing. But this took a while and had a success rate of only about 50 percent. The other times, when Calum was unwilling to back down and his frustration escalated to near boiling point, I would pick him up and cradle him in my arms for a feed.

Tsetsgee had a different approach. At the first murmur of discord, she would lift her shirt and start waving her boobs around enthusiastically, calling out, “Come here, baby, look what Mama’s got for you!” Her son would look up from the toys to the bull’s-eyes of his mother’s breasts and invariably toddle over.

Success rate? 100 percent.

Not to be outdone, I adopted the same strategy. There we were, two mothers flapping our breasts like competing strippers trying to entice a client. If the grandparents were around, they’d get in on the act. The poor kids wouldn’t know where to look—the reassuring fullness of their own mothers’ breasts, granny’s withered pancake boasting its long experience, or the strange mound of flesh granddad was squeezing up in breast envy. Try as I might, I can’t picture a similar scene at a La Leche League meeting.

When They’re Walking and Talking…and Taking Their Exams?

In my prenatal class in small-town Canada, where Calum was born, breastfeeding had been introduced with a video showing a particularly sporty-looking Swedish mother breastfeeding her toddler while out skiing. A shudder ran through the group: “Sure, it’s great for babies, but by the time they’re walking and talking?” That was pretty much the consensus. I kept my counsel.

It was my turn to be surprised when one of my new Mongolian friends told me she had breastfed until she was nine years old. I was so jaw-dropped, flabbergasted that at first I dismissed it as a joke. Considering my son weaned just after turning four, I’m now a little embarrassed about my adamant disbelief. While nine years is pretty old to be breastfeeding, even by Mongolian standards, it’s not actually off the scale.

Though it wasn’t always easy to fully discuss such concepts as self-weaning with Mongolians because of the language barrier, breastfeeding “to term” seemed to be the norm. I never met anyone who was tandem breastfeeding, which surprised me, but because the intervals between births are fairly long, most kids give up breastfeeding between two and four years of age.

In 2005, according to UNICEF,1 82 percent of children in Mongolia continued to breastfeed at 12 to 15 months, and 65 percent were still doing so at 20 to 23 months. A mother’s last child seems to just keep going, hence the breastfeeding nine-year-old, and if the folk wisdom is right, Mongolia’s renown for wrestling.

As three-year-old Calum was still feeding with the enthusiasm of a newborn and I wondered how weaning would eventually come about, I was curious about what prompted Mongolian children to self-wean. Some mothers said their child had simply lost interest. Others said peer pressure played a part. (I have heard Mongolian teenagers tease each other with, “You want your mommy’s breasts!” in the same way Canadian kids say, “Cry baby!”) More and more often, work commitments force weaning to happen earlier than they would have otherwise occurred; children will often spend the summer in the countryside while a mother stays in the city to work, and during the extended separation her milk dries up. My friend Buana, now 20, explained her gold-medal breastfeeding career to me. “I grew up in a yurt, way out in the countryside. My mom always told me to drink up, that it was good for me. I thought that’s what every nine-year-old was doing. When I went to school, I stopped.” She looked at me with a mischievous twinkle in her eye. “But I still like to drink it sometimes.”

Pass the Milk, Please

For me, weaning from the breast seemed a fairly defined event. I always expected that, at some point, feedings would decrease and continue to taper off until they ceased altogether. My milk would dry up and that would be that. Bar closed.

In Mongolia, that’s not what happens. Discussing breastfeeding with my friend Naraa, I asked her when her daughter, who was then six, had weaned. “At four,” she replied. “I was sad, but she didn’t want to breastfeed anymore.” Then Naraa told me that, just the week before, when her daughter had returned from an extended stay in the countryside with her grandparents and had wanted to breastfeed, Naraa obliged. “I guess she missed me too much,” she said, “and it was nice. Of course, I didn’t have any milk, but she didn’t mind.”

But if weaning means never drinking breast milk again, then Mongolians are never truly weaned – and here’s what surprised me most about breastfeeding in Mongolia. If a woman’s breasts are engorged and her baby is not at hand, she will simply go around and ask a family member, of any age or sex, if they’d like a drink. Often a woman will express a bowlful for her husband as a treat, or leave some in the fridge for anyone to help themselves.

While we’ve all tasted our own breast milk, given some to our partners to try, maybe used a bit in the coffee in an emergency (haven’t we?), I don’t think many of us have actually drunk it very often. But every Mongolian I ever asked told me that he or she liked breast milk. The value of breast milk is so celebrated, so firmly entrenched in their culture, that it’s not considered something that’s only for babies. Breast milk is commonly used medicinally, given to the elderly as a cure-all, and used to treat eye infections, as well as to (reportedly) make the white of the eye whiter and deepen the brown of the iris.

But mostly, I think, Mongolians drink breast milk because they like the taste. A Western friend of mine who pumped breast milk while at work and left the bottle in the company fridge one day found it half empty. She laughed. “Only in Mongolia would I suspect my colleagues of drinking my breast milk!”

Living in another culture always forces you to reevaluate your own. I don’t really know what it would have been like to breastfeed my son during his early years in Canada. The avalanche of positive feedback on breastfeeding I got in Mongolia, and Mongolians’ wholehearted acceptance of public breastfeeding, simply amazed me, and gave me the freedom to raise my child in a way that felt natural. But in addition to all the small differences in our breastfeeding norms, the details of how long and how often, I ended up feeling that there was a bigger divide in our parenting styles.

In North America, we so value independence that it comes through in everything we do. All the talk is about what your baby’s eating now, and how many breastfeedings he’s down to. Even if you’re not the one asking these questions, it’s hard to escape their impact. And there are now so many things for sale that are designed to help your child amuse herself and need you less that the message is clear. But in Mongolia, breastfeeding isn’t equated with dependence, and weaning isn’t a finish line. They know their kids will grow up—in fact, the average Mongolian five-year-old is far more independent than her western counterpart, breastfed or not. There’s no rush to wean.

Probably the most valuable thing about raising my son in Mongolia was that I realized that there are a million different ways to do things, and that I could choose any of them. Throughout my son’s breastfeeding career, I struggled with different issues, and picked up and discarded many ideas and practices, in my search to forge my own style. I’m glad I breastfed Calum as much and as long as I did – it turned out to be four years. I think breastfeeding was the best thing for my son, and that it will have a lasting impact on his personality and on our relationship.

And when he wins that Olympic gold medal in wrestling, I’ll expect him to thank me.