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Yoga Classes and Looking After Your Health While Living with Hypothyroidism

Yoga classes and massage therapy can be a wonderful and healing part of your routine as you learn to live with Hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism, also known as an underactive thyroid gland, is a thyroid disease in which the thyroid gland fails to produce an adequate amount of thyroid hormone. It’s an increasingly common condition, affecting more women than men. According to the Thyroid Foundation of Canada, it’s estimated that 1 in ten Canadians suffer from a thyroid condition and half may be undiagnosed.

Thyroid hormone is responsible for the body’s metabolism and use of energy. Symptoms of an underactive thyroid gland include poor ability to tolerate cold, fatigue, weight gain, and constipation. It’s not known what causes hypothyroidism; it may be caused by a number of conditions including autoimmune disease, radiation, and medications.

In the majority of cases, hypothyroidism is treated by supplementing the thyroid gland with levothyroxine, a synthetic version of the thyroid hormone thyroxine (T4). This medication is typically taken in pill form on a daily basis. In Canada, a common brand name for levothyroxine is Synthroid.

However, many people find that taking a daily dose of levothyroxine isn’t enough to make them feel well, or as well as they did before they developed the condition. If you too find that you’re struggling to remain healthy while living with hypothyroidism, the following may help.

Exercise Right

While hypothyroidism shouldn’t stop you from exercising, you may find that you can no longer maintain the exercise schedule you previously did, or that you now need a lot longer to recover from a workout than you did before you developed hypothyroidism. These scenarios are fairly common for people with an underactive thyroid gland, so it’s important to learn not to push yourself and recognize when you are overdoing your activity. If you’re struggling to stick with an exercise regimen, consider switching from any high intensity workouts to activities such as aqua aerobics or yoga. The benefits of yoga are many and the various types of yoga classes provide something for everyone. For example, Gentle Hatha yoga classes focus on breathing, basic poses, slow movements, and relaxation to enhance the awareness of the mind-body connection. Yin yoga classes involve passive poses that are held for up to five minutes in order to encourage the softening of connective tissue and induce deep relaxation. These types of activities will still provide a beneficial workout but will be less stressful on your body.

It’s important to continue exercising and remaining active. As well as the physical benefits you will gain, keeping physically fit in group classes can help you avoid feelings of depression, another common symptom of hypothyroidism.

Reduce Stress

It’s especially important that people with hypothyroidism be mindful of any stress they might be exposing themselves to. Cortisol, a hormone released when the body is in a stressful situation, can adversely affect the function of the thyroid gland, in turn exacerbating hypothyroidism symptoms. Take steps to ensure that you’re managing stress as best you can, and if you feel that you’re not coping, then speak to your doctor.

Massage therapy can be a huge source of relaxation and has many additional benefits. For example, hot stone massage therapy is a soothing option.
Another example, manual lymphatic drainage is a type of gentle massage which is intended to encourage the natural drainage of the lymph, which carries waste products away from the tissues back toward the heart.

It may be that you can cut back on some tasks or get support from friends or relatives with certain commitments you have. It could be that you just need to slow down. Put your health first and make any changes you feel you need to.

Gluten-Free Diet

Although there’s currently no scientific evidence to prove a gluten-free diet will help those with hypothyroidism, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence to suggest it might. This is especially true if you suffer from Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, also called Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disease and a common cause of hypothyroidism. With Hashimoto’s disease, the body’s immune system attacks the thyroid gland. The anecdotal evidence suggests that gluten triggers an attack on the thyroid gland; therefore, eliminating gluten from your diet may prevent such attacks.

Further anecdotal evidence has linked an immune intolerance in people with Hashimoto’s disease to dairy products. Again, it’s believed the body may mistake dairy for gluten, which triggers an attack on the thyroid gland.

If you’re failing to see improvements in your health while taking the medication prescribed by your doctor and are prepared to make modifications to your diet, with approval from your doctor, you may want to start by eliminating gluten or dairy, or both, from your diet.

Moderate Carbohydrate Diet

While a gluten- and dairy-free diet may help alleviate hypothyroidism symptoms, there is evidence to suggest that those with hypothyroidism should avoid a diet too low in carbohydrates. This is because insulin is needed to convert inactive T4 (which is what the thyroid gland produces) into active T3 (which is what the body’s cells use), and the production of insulin is generally low on a very low carbohydrate diet. Furthermore, restricting the intake of carbohydrate can cause a drop in blood sugar, which the body compensates for by producing an excess of stress hormones including adrenaline. The thyroid gland is needed for the production of stress hormones, so this process can be taxing on the thyroid gland. So you may want to check that you’re including a moderate amount of healthy carbohydrates in your diet if you don’t feel your health is as good as it could be.

Don’t look at hypothyroidism as preventing you from living the life you used to enjoy before your diagnosis. Yoga classes and massage therapy can be a part of your new lifestyle. All that’s needed are a few changes so that you can better manage your condition, and you’ll be more than able to continue to enjoy life and get the most from it.

Reduce Back Pain with Yoga, Massage and Simple Lifestyle Changes

Eight out of every 10 people will experience back pain at some point in their lives. An estimated one in three sufferers find the symptoms severe enough to affect their daily lives, including interfering with work. These figures come at no surprise, as back problems are more or less an accepted part of modern life.

What’s perhaps more surprising is that nearly nine in 10 sufferers never discover the primary cause of their condition, which makes it almost impossible to find a suitable cure. For the vast majority of patients, treating back pain is all about the reduction of symptoms, allowing you to lead as normal a life as possible while your body works to heal itself.

Here’s how to do that with some simple lifestyle changes that don’t require medical intervention.

1. Light Exercise

When you’re stricken with painful back spasms, exercise of any kind may not feel like the right thing to do. However, staying active as long as possible is one of the best ways to counteract the symptoms of chronic backache. Light exercise, such as walking or swimming will strengthen your muscles, tendons and ligaments to help support your spine in a natural way.

It’s important not to exercise your way through acute pain, as you don’t want to risk further damage. Make use of relatively pain-free periods to tone your back and reduce the recurrence of symptoms in the future.

2. Pain Management

Sometimes your back pain will feel debilitating regardless of what measures you take to control it. In these situations, soothing the discomfort is important. Pain and stiffness can quickly become a vicious circle where you’re too tense from the pain and immobile from the stiffness to release the spasms. Medication is often the only option here. When taking medication for pain, be careful that you’re not simply masking the symptoms and making them worse by moving when you should be resting.

For a more natural treatment, try alternating between hot water bottles and ice packs, pressing them into the painful area for ten minutes each whenever the discomfort becomes too great. Try relaxing in warm Epsom salt baths to ease muscle pain. A Registered Massage Therapist can also work wonders (Try Evolve’s Registered Massage and Hot Stone Massage therapy sessions.). Some people find that acupuncture and chiropractic therapy offer relief. Try a variety of therapies that won’t further aggravate your condition until you find what works for you.

3. Relaxation

Lastly, trying to relax as much as possible is important although naturally this is difficult when you’re in pain. Tension, stress and anxiety all tighten your neck and shoulders, putting extra strain on your back. This can cause you to tense up, further exacerbating the problem. Yoga (try Evolve’s Gentle Hatha Yoga, Restorative Yoga, Relax & Rejuvenate by Candlelight Yoga classes), meditation (try Evolve’s meditation class), aromatherapy, breathing exercises and other relaxation techniques can all be of great help during a painful episode.

4. Pay Attention to Posture

Light exercise will help to improve your posture, but it’s also important to be mindful of how you’re sitting and standing throughout the day. Try to avoid putting your back under too much strain. If you feel yourself slouching or bending, try pushing your shoulders outward and backward to gently move your spine into a straighter position.

5. Take Care with Sitting

More than half of people with backache symptoms report that they spend the majority of their day sitting down with poor sitting habits often playing a major role in the worsening of symptoms. If you spend your working days at a desk, it makes sense to invest in an ergonomic office chair to provide proper support for your back. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. It’s important, however, to always choose a solid chair that’s not too soft and giving and that supports your lumbar region.

It’s essential to make sure your chair is properly adjusted for height; your arms and thighs should be in a right angle position when sitting comfortably at your desk with your hands on your keyboard or desktop. Try keeping your shoulders relaxed yet upright and remember to get up from your desk and walk a few steps at least once an hour to reduce muscle cramping.

6. Sleeping

Back pain sufferers need to sleep like anyone else, but spending up to eight hours a night in a soft or lumpy bed isn’t ideal for the lumbar region. Your mattress should be reasonably firm so your body doesn’t sink into it and you should try to sleep on your back, which is the best position for relieving back pain. Although it may be relaxing to read in bed before sleep, this habit is particularly bad for your posture, so try to do your late night reading in a comfortable armchair instead.

7. Slim Down a Little

There’s no need to panic about carrying a few extra pounds, but being overweight will put extra strain on your back. Making the effort to shed even a little extra weight will help. If you’re already suffering from back problems, the extra misery of a crash diet is probably not the answer. By bringing the yoga mindset into your eating routine, you can transform your body into its healthiest version.

8. Quit Smoking

If you smoke, you’re probably already well aware of the many good reasons to kick the habit. However, you may not know that smoking can also contribute to backache among all the other health problems it causes. Not only can smoking cause degeneration in the spinal discs, but every bout of coughing places extra strain on your back and can quickly lead to spasms when you already have a weakness.

9. Comfortable Footwear

Poorly fitting footwear that makes it difficult to balance will eventually create problems, such as back spasms and back pain. Specially made orthopedic shoes can be extremely helpful, but even padded insoles can help correct poor walking posture. Avoid high heels whenever possible. If you must wear them, switch to flats when you can, i.e. when you’re sitting at your work desk.

Back pain can quickly make life a misery. Surgical treatments are to be considered if no primary cause can be found, but they are a gamble at best. Thankfully, making these simple lifestyle changes can reduce back problems to a level where they don’t interfere too much with daily life, allowing your body the chance to heal naturally.