Monday, November 28, 2016

Fibromyalgia: What is it, really?

Most Americans are familiar with the condition, “Fibromyalgia.” However, many Americans are not clear on the symptoms, or even the experience of it.

There are some who consider it an illusive illness, and there are those who will tell you having the symptoms is quite tangible. Either way, fibromyalgia can be a daily challenge.

There are many opinions on fibromyalgia, we sought out some reputable sources for theirs. You can read and see if the symptoms are familiar to you or perhaps someone you care about. If so, Miracle Stretch® recommends consulting with your physician.

The definition of fibromyalgia according to WebMD:

Fibromyalgia Syndrome is a syndrome with a set of symptoms. When they exist together, they imply the presence of a specific disease or a greater chance of developing the disease:

·      - Anxiety or depression
·      - Decreased pain threshold or tender points
·     -  Incapacitating fatigue
·      - Widespread pain

Your muscles may feel like they have been overworked or pulled. They'll feel that way even without exercise or another cause. Sometimes, your muscles twitch, burn, or have deep stabbing pain.

Some patients with fibromyalgia have pain and achiness around the joints in the neck, shoulder, back, and hips. This makes it difficult for them to sleep or exercise.

And one more very interesting point according to WebMD:

More than 12 million Americans have fibromyalgia. Most of them are women between ages 25 and 60. Women are 10 times more likely than men.

Causes of Fibromyalgia per are:

While the exact cause of fibromyalgia remains a mystery, doctors do know that patients with the disorder experience an increased sensation of pain due to a glitch in the central nervous system's processing of pain information. Studies have shown that people with fibromyalgia also have certain physiological abnormalities, such as elevated levels of certain chemicals called nuerotransmitters that help transmit pain signals (thus amplifying, or "turning up," the signals in the brain's pain-processing areas).

In some cases, an injury or trauma, especially to the cervical spine, or a bacterial or viral illness, may precede a diagnosis of fibromyalgia. This has caused researchers to speculate that infections may be triggers as well.

Fibromyalgia Risk Factors

A number of factors can increase the odds that you may develop fibromyalgia. These include:

Gender. Fibromyalgia is more common among women than men.

Age. Symptoms usually appear during middle age, but can also manifest in children and older adults.

History of rheumatic disease. People who have been diagnosed with a rheumatic disorder — chronic inflammatory conditions — such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus are at increased risk of also developing fibromyalgia.

Family history. Having a relative who suffers from fibromyalgia puts you at increased risk.

Sleep problems. Doctors aren't sure whether sleep disturbances are a cause or a symptom of fibromyalgia — but sleep disorders, including restless legs syndrome and sleep apnea have been cited as possible fibromyalgia triggers.

Options for Treatment per Mayo Clinic:

In general, treatments for fibromyalgia include both medication and self-care. The emphasis is on minimizing symptoms and improving general health. No one treatment works for all symptoms.

Medications can help reduce the pain of fibromyalgia and improve sleep. Common choices include pain relievers, antidepressants, or anti-seizure drugs.

Talking with a counselor can help strengthen your belief in your abilities and teach strategies for dealing with stressful situations.

Alternative and additional treatments for fibromyalgia, according to

Yoga: Research from Oregon Health & Science University found that fibromyalgia patients who participated in yoga classes experienced less pain, reduced fatigue, and improved mood. The classes included gentle stretching poses, meditation, breathing exercises, and group discussions.  Other studies have found similar results. 

Some Miracle Stretch® customers who suffer from symptoms of Fibromyalgia and Piriformis Syndrome or associated Sciatica have found relief using the Piri-Stretcher® exercise tool to help gently stretch at home and relieve low back, buttocks, and leg pain.

Accupuncture: A study published in the Journal of Rehabilitative Medicine showed that fibromyalgia patients that received acupuncture benefited from pain relief compared to those who didn’t.

Vitamin D: Fibromyalgia patients often have low levels of this vitamin. According to research, supplements could help with pain.  In a 2013 study, researchers tested to see if supplements would make a difference in symptoms. The researchers found that patients felt much better physically and experienced less fatigue when they were given vitamin D supplements.

Physical and Cognitive Therapies: A 2011 study found that using ultrasound and transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation twice a week reduced muscle aches and improved disturbed sleep.

An earlier 2000 study reviewed treatment options for fibromyalgia patients. Researchers found that physical therapy techniques could help reduce pain. 

Fibromyalgia pain can take an emotional toll on your health. Therapy sessions focused on the mind-body connection, meditation, and movement can help improve pain, fatigue, mood, and sleeplessness. Ask your doctor if they can recommend a cognitive behavioral therapist.

We hope this answers some of your questions and offers a few helpful solutions. At the very least this blog can start a conversation and provide understanding of what people with fibromyalgia are dealing with on a daily basis.

Please feel free to pass this along to anyone you know who may benefit from learning more.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Dog Days of Summer, What Does it Really Mean?

What does the term “Dog Days” actually mean?

We all know the modern definition of hot, humid sultry days in August. Days so hot efforts seem to be at a minimum just to conserve energy. To some it is too hot to work, so why not go on vacation.

Seems to work for Europeans. (Try to get service in Paris during August.)

Back to the definition. Turns out National Geographic was just as curious about this term. They wrote:

Many people today use the phrase to mean something like that—but originally, the phrase actually had nothing to do with dogs, or even with the lazy days of summer. Instead, it turns out, the dog days refer to the dog star, Sirius, and its position in the heavens.

To the Greeks and Romans, the “dog days” occurred around the day when Sirius appeared to rise just before the sun, in late July. They referred to these days as the hottest time of the year, a period that could bring fever, or even catastrophe.

The phrase “dog days” was translated from Latin to English about 500 years ago. Since then, it has taken on new meanings.

So, did the Greeks get it right? Are the dog days, around when Sirius rises, really the hottest days of the year?

Well, no.

Although July and August are generally known as the hottest months of the year in the Northern Hemisphere, the hottest period can vary from year to year. And depending on your latitude, the astronomical dog days can come at different times.

In Athens, for instance, Sirius will rise around the middle of August this year. But farther south, it’ll happen earlier in the year; farther north, it’ll happen later.

There’s another reason that the dog days don’t correspond neatly with the heat: the stars in Earth’s night sky shift independently of our calendar seasons.

This means that the dog days of ancient Greece aren’t the dog days of today. What it also means is that several millennia from now, this astrological event won’t even occur during the summer.

So. It sounds like we can call them the dog days for any reason we want to.
Maybe we can call them dog days because these are the final days of this summer, and like a dog, we should enjoy them in a carefree manner:

Enjoy each day.
Go crazy over every person you meet.
Learn a new trick-and show it off.
Greet people you see everyday like you haven’t seen them in years.
Play with your best friend.
Go exploring.
Act as if the food you’re eating is the best food you’ll ever have.
Take in those belly rubs.
Know the answer to “Who’s a good dog?!”
Chase a ball, bring it back and insist they throw it—just don’t give it to them right away for some reason.
Drink in the summer by the bowlful
Be thankful
Give paw.
Run as hard as you can—even if limited.
Be thrilled to go somewhere in the car
Support those who enjoy the chase
Be so excited about life you cannot help but jump up and down.

Live in the moment and own these dog days.
Miracle Stretch

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

The Rocky Road of Chronic Pain & Motivation to Move Forward

“Let me tell you something people suffering in pain already know…”

As you search the internet for motivational speakers, speeches and the like, you may be surprised at one of the top picks.

Surprised that is, unless you are a fan of the ROCKY films. Rocky Balboa, in particular.

(Warning: The following paragraphs contain spoilers)

In this 6th film, Rocky is living a modest post-fight career life, running a restaurant and coping with the loss of his wife, Adrian. Meanwhile he is watching his son become bitter and looking for his own identity and place in the world.

In the middle of the film, Rocky addresses the son’s frustrations with a speech that had as much impact on the moviegoer as it did on Rocky’s son.

Here it is:

“When things got hard, you started looking for something to blame. Like a Big Shadow.

“Let me tell you something you already know.

The world ain't all sunshine and rainbows. It's a very mean and nasty place, and I don't care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it.

You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life.

But it ain't about how hard you hit…

…It's about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward.

That's how winning is done!

Now, if you know what you're worth, then go out and get what you're worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain't where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain't you. You're better than that!

This speech, or at least its message, is one that could also come from someone who is hit with chronic pain.


This could be a message from the people who get hit with nerve, leg, back, piriformis or sciatic pain-everyday-and hit back.

In fact, over 31 million Americans face chronic pain on a daily basis.

That’s 31 million people who find the will to keep moving forward.

31 million friends and family who take the hits and keep moving forward.

(31 million Americans mostly suffering in silence, too.)

Although they may feel they are losing a battle, they are winning the war. There is always hope.

Perhaps, for many, hope is simply a stretch away. For some, it is much more.

Either way, they keep taking the hits and moving forward.

How’s that for a motivational moment?

(Now time to crank up a little "Eye of the Tiger" Rocky theme song, and some favorite past Rocky clips, courtesy of Survivor, ES, and YouTube.) 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

It's Summer, Time to Get Out and Walk! How to Tackle Low Back and Buttock Pain To Help Get Yourself Moving

It’s Summer.

For most of the nation that means: get outdoors!

While the weather is nice, try to challenge yourself outdoors. Push yourself, sign up to an event designed to push both your physical and mental self.

Be it a 5K walk, a 10K, half marathon, full marathon, cycling centuries, boot camps or even one of those extreme events such as zombie survival runs or the aptly named “Tough Mudder.”

Those events are wonderful and popular and the pride one feels afterwards is exhilarating.

And even better when you are walking or running or biking for a cause like helping to fight heart disease or breast cancer.

But are you concerned about the training and physical strain?

We understand. That's why it's important to follow a training schedule, get proper sleep, eat healthy, and our favorite, stretch. 

Make sure you warm up those muscles before hitting the trails. Simple side steps, hip rotations, toe touches, lunges, and of course, stretch your piriformis muscle. This muscle, located deep to the glutes, works extra hard helping you walk, run, and cycle. 

Why is it important?

It can become tight and if not properly stretched, can compress the sciatic nerve creating low back, buttocks, and radiating leg pain. The key is to target the piriformis with proper leverage and control to gently stretch and relax the muscle. The Miracle Stretch® Piri-Stretcher® patented home exercise tool helps provide you that leverage and control for a safe, effective stretch.

The idea of exercise can be daunting for those of us who suffer in silence with daily chronic pain like Sciatica or Piriformis Syndrome. But little by little, with stretching and movement, exercise can help pain subside. We know it can be an everyday challenge to simply get out of bed. 

Set goals. Take small steps. 

The idea of a 5K walk may seem far off, but our fans who have felt like they couldn't possibly do it, have sent letters relaying how they are walking without pain - starting at home and moving beyond to finish 39-mile breast cancer walks and beyond. We are so proud and happy for them. 

It's not about getting a free race T-shirt or medal. And it's not about admiration of others. It is about living. Going on. Moving. Feeling great.

Not once a summer, but every single day.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Turning the Everyday Question "What's New?" into One you Can't Wait to Answer!

“What’s new…?”

A question asked millions of times a day. Sometimes with genuine interest, and sometimes rhetorical, but always an open-ended starting point.

“What’s new?”

What if the answer is a rhetorical, “nothing?”

Many people may feel that scenario is the worst, and it does lend itself toward self-pity.  “What do I say?” “Should I prep for the question?” “I don’t want to look like a loser.”

According to, it is very common: It can be hard to think of what to say right away. That's one main reason these phrases often lead to little awkward moments. People will often initially respond to, "How are you?" with something like , "I'm good... I'm good... yeah, things are okay..." to buy themselves time to come up with a better response. I think everyone feels a little caught off guard and on the spot to come up with a fascinating answer sometimes. Nothing unusual at all about taking a few seconds to gather your thoughts.

Don't worry if you don't always have a great answer to the literal "How are you?" question. Often we're really not up to much or not a lot is new. The point is to get someone talking, and as long as that happens then everything is fine. Plus if someone really does want to know what's new in your life, saying "Not much" and then changing the topic technically did answer the question.

It may seem like an end-of-the-world-man-does-my-life-stink scenario, but it is not.

Not by a long shot.

Imagine your friends or loved ones who are suffering from chronic pain. Imagine how they look at that simple question.

“What’s new…?”

(“Nothing…nothing but pain at least.”)

Everyday chronic pain sufferers dread the question for many reasons. Mostly because it asks if there is any change, any hope in the fight against their chronic pain.

Dreading the question becomes hating the question because it reflects the daily struggle.

“What’s new…?”

(“Nothing, nothing is new…I can’t do anything new—I can’t even do the things I USED to do…so how could anything be new except an increase in my pain.”)

Perhaps you are already aware and quite sensitive to the question because you, a loved one, or friend already suffers from chronic pain. Perhaps you have cringed at asking the question and then catching yourself wishing it was a courtroom setting, and you could voluntarily withdraw the question.

Because you know it hurts.

This is where Miracle Stretch® comes in. The mission is to end the suffering of those who suffer in chronic pain, to end a life of missing out and to return people to where they were before the crippling pain.

…to literally be what is new.

The Piri-Stretcher® by Miracle Stretch® is an answer to “what’s new?” And a positive one. We get updates on what’s new by the thousands. People are finding that incorporating a simple stretch with the aid of a professional stretching tool has been the answer, the difference, in their search for success to fight chronic low back, buttocks, and leg pain.

The Piri-Stretcher® allows them to get back in the game and become the person who looks forward to the question of “hey-what’s new…?”

They can’t wait to tell you.

Their chronic pain has ended, and they feel they have re-joined life. The best part? People can’t wait to help others by sharing what they have experienced.

Go ahead, ask them

“What’s new…?”

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The Little Things are the Next Big Thing

The little things in life.

They add up.

Admittedly, many people go through life looking down the road, into the future or at some goal they feel will bring them final and complete happiness. And that is ok, and goals are good to have.

However, don’t miss life as it happens down that same road.

“Stop and smell the roses,” as cliché as it sounds, is some of the best and yet most ignored advice in the modern era. It is repeated over and over in our popular culture. Ferris Bueller reminded us to stop and smell the roses, and even take a day off to do it. The Jedi Master Yoda criticized Luke Skywalker as one who “always looked to the future, never his mind on where he was, where he was going.”

“It’s not the destination, it’s the journey.”

(There’s another one for you.)

All of these messages have the same point. It’s the little things.

Unfortunately, it seems we only appreciate that which is lost.

“Don’t know what ya got til its gone.”

See? They keep coming at you. This one hits us here at Miracle Stretch® as we get so many people missing the little things in life such as running, walking, being active or simply recalling the days where they simple did not suffer from chronic pain.

People suffering from Piriformis Syndrome and Sciatica miss the little things.

The best reward we get at Miracle Stretch® is hearing your thank-yous and success stories. Stories where people tell us they are again mobile and now appreciate being pain-fee and active more than ever before. It is a whole new perspective on life.

And it's about the little things. Being active. Playing with children and grandchildren. Not passing on beautiful weather days due to chronic pain. Being outdoors. Letting a smile lift your day. Getting back in the game.

So here’s a way to heed the advice without going overboard. Take it one step at a time. Begin to train yourself to identify and enjoy the little joys in life.

It can be the cab you found as the rain started, the smiley face drawn on your coffee cup or written in an email, the help from a stranger when you feel awkwardly lost.

Take for example the website, “” It is a website dedicated to only positive and empowering stories. It is a website completely filled with tales about the little things in life. LittleThings was rated as one of the Most Valuable Pages on the Web in Q4 2015. Why? Because people love to hear about and share the little things that inspire, that warm your heart, and that matter most.

Appreciating small, everyday things can raise your spirits. Feeling positive reduces stress. Less stress equals less pain.

And that’s no little thing.

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

The Politics of Negativity and Chronic Pain

The Political Season.

It's worse than flu season, monsoon season, and even that season of Dallas where Bobby Ewing dreamt the whole thing. (If you don't get the reference, you can Google it.)

Election season is upon us, and you know what that means.

A bombardment of attack ads.

Our television and social media will be filled with candidates, mostly going negative.


Because negative ads are effective. They leave a mark. And they just keep coming.

We are mostly turned off by the election season. As most polls indicate, we as a nation are not happy with our candidates, or the offices they are aspiring to be elected to.

So what? This is not news.

And what does it have to do with chronic pain..?

Well, it seems negativity can lead to a buildup of conscious or even unconscious stress levels. And as we are all well aware, mental stress can lead to physical stress--and symptoms of chronic pain.

So mirroring the attack ads, negativity is effective, and can hurt you. Literally.

According to WebMD:
  • At a fundamental level, chronic pain is a matter of biology: Errant nerve impulses keep alerting the brain about tissue damage that no longer exists, if it ever did. But complex social and psychological factors are also at play, and they seem to help determine who fares well despite even severe chronic pain -- and whose lives quickly unravel.
  • Negative emotions, including sadness and anxiety, seem to aggravate chronic pain. For example, people who dwell on their discomfort tend to be more disabled by chronic pain than people who try to take their pain in stride.
Ok, so what can we do? We can't avoid the election. We can't avoid life. And we all know life can be pretty negative sometimes...

You can manage it. Look not to control your world around you, but rather your reactions to it.

A blogger named Sue Faulkner Wood, who writes a blog about chronic pain, knows what it is like. She shared these tips to help deal with the negatives. She wrote these 3 tips on the website "Everyday Health:"

LOOK TOWARD THE LIGHT: No, not that light. I’m talking about the light of life. Imagine you are lost in a tunnel. You’ve become lost and you can’t get out. Look straight ahead. Don’t look back at where you’ve been, look forward. Do you see that little light, way down there at the end of the long dark tunnel? Keep focusing on that light. There is a way out. If you don’t believe that then you are in danger of never getting out of the darkness. You have to keep moving, keep hoping and expecting that spot of light to become a beacon. Eventually, it does.

TAKE LIFE ONE CHALLENGE AT A TIME: Many of us have so many problems we forget half of them when we go to the doctor. That’s why we write down long lists, just so we will remember. We don’t tell our families and friends all of our problems because it would be too much. We most especially do not tell the Sad Sack friends; first of all because they really don’t want to hear it and because we don’t want to give them an excuse to “spill” onto us. It might give them something else to use against us in this battle we’re waging. The human mind can usually deal with one thought at a time. I try to choose my thoughts. It’s often difficult, not always possible, but is definitely a worthwhile goal. If I think about the “what ifs?” in life, it would be overwhelming. Much of those “what ifs?” are never going to come about. Others will occur, in their own time. Then they will get my attention and concern. It is enough of a challenge to take life one step, one concept, and one problem at a time.

FLEE WHEN YOU MUST: There are times when you just shouldn’t and definitely can not deal with the air that is saturated with negativity. Sometimes you have to flee to survive. You might lose a friendship. If the source is someone you don’t want to lose, then you might need to change the subject, leave the room or leave the house.  Walk away from harm. You might even have to ask someone to leave. Such pessimism is extremely dangerous. It can cause harmful biologic affects. It can raise your blood pressure. It can load you down, both literally and figuratively. Flee anyway you can whether that means hanging up the phone or putting one foot in front of the other. Get thyself to safety. Go!

So be involved but don't be abused. Know your candidates and vote (of course). But otherwise avoid the circus, especially if you feel you aren't enjoying the show.

Form your own independent party of one. Support yourself. Contribute to your campaign of life. Watch and listen to things that inspire you. Take walks, enjoy a nice cup of tea, stretch (we can help with that!) Positive thoughts + positive behaviors = positive health. Don't debate in futility-- celebrate in infinity.