Vitamin D is often called the sunshine vitamin, since the most natural source of it is acquired through sun exposure. This is great unless you live in an area, such as the Pacific Northwest, where we see more cloud coverage than sunshine most days out of the year. However, we are not the only ones at a greater risk of being deficient in Vitamin D. About 1 billion people worldwide is said to be Vitamin D deficient.
Vitamin D is an essential nutrient that our bodies need to help build strong bones, to allow us to absorb calcium and phosphorus for bone development, and to help ward off infections and diseases. Unlike all other vitamins, Vitamin D is fat soluble and acts like a hormone, effecting the entire body.
Some risk factors for Vitamin D deficiency are if you:
Being deficient in Vitamin D is not always easy to detect on your own. Most symptoms can be subtle or mistaken as symptoms for another health-related condition. If you have some of the above risk factors, you may want to take a closer look at some of the common signs of Vitamin D deficiencies.
Here are some common effects of not getting enough Vitamin D:
If you feel that you may not be getting enough Vitamin D, consult with your Doctor and have them run a test on your Vitamin D levels. If your levels are low, they will prescribe that you increase your Vitamin D intake.
The best sources to get Vitamin D are by:
With supplements, ask your doctor or nutritionist about the amount you should take. Most recommend between 400 – 4,000 IUs depending on your current levels. As with everything, always consult with a health care professional, rather than self-diagnosing and prescribing.
When hip pain and stiffness happen, it can be quite a hinderance. There are many muscles that effect the hips and if any one of them are overworked and tight, they can cause problems for you in your everyday activities, including a poor night sleep. One such muscle that is small in size, but mighty in the hip and knee functions, is the Tensor Fasciae Latae, or TFL for short.
The Tensor Fasciae Latae muscle attaches to both the hip and the femur, making it an important little muscle in everyday functional living. To locate which muscles are your TFL, all you have to do is find the front of the top portion of your pelvic bone. Here, you will find a boney landmark known as the ASIS (Anterior Superior Iliac Spine). I like to refer to this landmark as the headlights, as they should be even bilaterally and pointing straight ahead when all is in proper alignment. If you place your hands with fingers all pointing downward and your thumbs starting on the ASIS, you will be covering your TFL. The tips of your fingers should be approximately where your IT Band starts. Think side of your hips, but slightly frontward, or anterior, but not directly in front and on your Quads.
Now that you know where your Tensor Fasciae Latae muscle is, you can have a better understanding of its functions. The TFL flexes the hip, abducts the hip, and medially rotates the leg. For a visual, think of imitating a dog going the bathroom on a fire hydrant. When you do that same motion, you are engaging your TFL in all functions. Your TFL is also a stabilizer. So, while your one leg is bending and lifting up to engage your TFL, the other leg has activated the TFL muscle to help stabilize you and keep your balance.
How does your Tensor Fasciae Latae Muscles get overworked? Often times your TFL will kick in to do more of the work when your other hip flexors and abductors have become weak. If any of your Gluteal muscles, the Piriformis, or even the Psoas muscles have become inhibited from doing their job, then often times the TFL will step up to help out. This is great for short term use, but when the other major muscles are too weak to do their job and start to rely on the TFL to carry the load, then we get an overworked and tight TFL that causes a lot of pain and stiffness.
If your Tensor Fasciae Latae is too tight, you may experience the following symptoms:
To help alleviate the pain and tightness of your Tensor Fasciae Latae, there are several things you might want to do:
Relaxing the tight and overworked TFL is important to do in order to allow it to rest. Once the muscle has calmed down, you can then engage the other muscles when you do the strengthening exercises. Some common strengthening exercises to do are side lying leg lifts, the clam, and using exercise bands to do slow side steps, as well as lunges with an anchored band to help track the knee and hips. Your Physical Therapist or an advanced Fitness Coach should be able to help demonstrate how to properly do these types of exercises, as well as others that should help strengthen your weakened muscles, giving your TFL the break is needs to function properly.
Have you been feeling stressed, anxious, or have a hard time sleeping? Or do you have some sore muscles from a workout or arthritic pain? Soaking in a bath may help soothe your mind and body. Adding Epsom Salt to your bath will also enhance the benefits of soaking in a steamy bath. Although, there has been no scientific research studies done on the benefits, many swear that soaking in an Epsom Salt bath has many benefits for you to enjoy.
Want to try adding Epsom Salt to your bath? First, you should know a little bit about Epsom Salt. Epsom Salt can be found in most grocery stores or drugstores in either the health and beauty isle with bath products, or on the shelf next to aspirins and laxatives. You will not find Epsom Salt next to the table salt. This is because, despite the name, Epsom Salt is not a salt at all, but a natural mineral compound of Magnesium and Sulfate. It gets its name from a place in England where there is a mineral spring where the compound was discovered. Soaking in an Epsom Salt bath is safe for most people, but because it is made up of Magnesium and Sulfate, you may want to check with your doctor that there are no risk factors for you.
So why should you soak in an Epsom Salt bath? Well, Magnesium helps reduce inflammation and alleviate pain, for starters, but here are some of the most common reasons why soaking 15-20 minutes in a steamy Epsom Salt bath can be beneficial:
Whether you are a male or female, young or old, you can enjoy a soothing soak in an Epsom Salt bath and reap the benefits. Next time you are at the store, pick up a bag (it’s fairly cheap) and pour a couple cups into the bath as you are filling the tub to allow it time to dissolve into the heated water before getting in. Submerge the areas that need relieving and simply enjoy the down time for 15-20 minutes and see how you feel. Does it help you?
Courtney Truax, LMT is a graduate of East West College of the Healing Arts in Portland, Oregon. She is licensed through the Oregon Board of Massage Therapy and a member of the American Massage Therapy Association. She has her own studio massage practice in the heart of downtown Lake Oswego, Oregon.