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Helpful Hints

by Heloise | June 6, 2023 at 1:50 a.m.

DEAR HELOISE: I am a massage therapist in San Antonio and appreciate the exercises you suggested for people who sit a lot that ran in your column recently. Here is something else to add to that, which many of my clients find helpful.

Sitting for extended periods, or bending and lifting, can cause a person's hip flexors (the psoas muscles) to become shortened and tightened. These muscles attach to the five lumbar vertebrae on each side and run through the groin to the front of the thighs. So, when tightened, they can cause or exacerbate lower back pain.

A quick, easy way to get relief after sitting for long periods is to stand with your hands placed on something for balance, as if facing a wall. Lift one leg behind you and hold it there for 5 to 10 seconds; then repeat on the other side.

This action requires you to contract your glutes and hamstrings, which causes the brain to stop firing the muscles. It also gently lengthens the muscles in the front of the thighs. Thanks.

-- Mary Donnell

DEAR HELOISE: Make a photocopy of all your cards (driver's license, insurance and credit cards), front and back, in your purse or wallet. Keep a copy of the printout in a safe place within your home to verify information in case you lose your cards.

-- Tom B.

DEAR HELOISE: If you are caring for delicate African violets and want to avoid getting their leaves wet when watering them, a condiment bottle works well. You can also add the appropriate plant food to the bottle, but just remember to label it accordingly. This also works for other fragile plants as well.

-- Karen B.,

Long Beach, Calif.

DEAR HELOISE: I'm writing in regarding Helga's question about the free greeting cards given to her by charities she supports. A friend of mine who volunteers at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Long Beach, Calif., collects unused greeting cards to give to veterans who are in the hospice program. Those veterans will take and use every card my friend provides. I see this is an easy but valued way to honor those veterans and their service.

-- Carol,

North Tustin, Calif.

DEAR HELOISE: To add to the suggestions for senior citizens in the shower, the best gift is a handyman. Our handyman is actually a "handy couple."

My husband is a foot taller than I am. Several years ago, before we used a shower chair, the couple installed a bar on the back side of the tub. Instead of being horizontal, it slanted up from the end near the drain. That made it the right height for each of us. We could also hold onto an upright bar on the outside where we get in. Now, we have a bath chair with a back. These things still work well.

We have three pie-shaped steps from the kitchen to the side door. After they left, we found that they had also put a grab bar there. We open the door, hold the grab bar and feel much safer. We think of them with gratitude several times a day. This couple is a treasure who we have shared with friends. We are like a family.

-- Safer,

Kingston, N.Y.

Send a money- or time-saving hint to Heloise, P.O. Box 795001, San Antonio, Texas 78279-5000; fax to (210) 435-6473; or email

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