Reflexology

Quelling Winter Blues

 

If the shorter days and colder temps get you down, you’re not alone. SAD—Seasonal Affective Disorder—is a kind of depression that can occur when we don’t get enough sunlight.

Here are 10 strategies experts recommend to lift your spirits.

  1. Wake up to flowers. Put a vase of flowers where it’ll be the first thing you see in the morning—especially cheerful, bright hues like yellow, or whatever colors you associate with joy and energy.
  2. Do something fun. Laughter reduces stress and boosts the brain chemical serotonin. Watch funny videos. Or get out of the house and meet a friend who always cheers you up (you can look up jokes and tell them to each other). Go see a funny movie or live comedy show. Even forcing fake laughter can sometimes generate genuine laughter!
  3. Change your routine. Making small changes can yield surprisingly big results. If you don’t usually make your bed, just doing that one small task tells your subconscious that you are worth the effort! You know how good it feels to finally clean the garage or organize a closet. Plan a trip so you have something to look forward to.
  4. Exercise. Just 5 minutes of moderate exercise is enough to release the feel-good endorphins. Being outdoors is even better for clearing the mind and improving our mood. It’s nice here in Florida to get some sunshine while it’s not overly hot and humid! Try going for a walk with a friend if you want to add some socializing.
  5. Brighten up. Open the curtains and let sunshine into your home when you can. Wear brighter colors in accessories like scarves or fun socks. Buy a lime green pen, or a tangerine orange towel, or turquoise sticky notes. Seeing vivid colors can increase our feelings of vitality.
  6. Make a photo album. Positive memories can reduce depression! Sort through your photos and pick out happy ones. Put them in a book you can look through any time you feel down. (I’m no expert, but I would add that creating any kind of journal—writing, doodling, collecting pictures and little bits of art that make you happy—could lift one’s spirit. In fact, creating always makes me happy!)
  7. Use all your senses. This is part of mindfulness and really being aware in the moment. Notice “seasonal” sounds around you (the clacking of bare branches maybe), and things that you can only see or smell this time of year. I miss the hummingbirds, for example, but I delight in seeing other birds that only pass through here in January as they migrate. And soon the citrus will be ready to pick and enjoy—just think of peeling off that fresh rind and feeling/seeing/smelling the juice squirt out!
  8. Eat plants. Speaking of fresh produce, fruits and vegetables feed the “good” gut bacteria that helps regulate brain chemicals and mood. It’s so easy in the winter to justify eating comfort foods that are warm and heavy. But we have a better chance of avoiding the doldrums if we eat lighter and healthier.
  9. Pamper yourself. Carve out some “me time.” Read, take a bubble bath, watch a sappy movie, treat yourself to a pedicure (or a massage or reflexology session!), whip up a new recipe—do something you thoroughly enjoy. Do something that makes you happy at least once a week.
  10. Fake it til you make it. Research shows that people who walk as if they were sad actually start to feel sadder! Just walking with an upright posture and swinging our arms more can boost our mood. And, even if we don’t feel like it, forcing a smile with our eyes and our mouth can increase feelings of happiness. Before you know it, it won’t be a fake smile and our stress level will be reduced.

Sources: https://www.activebeat.com/diet-nutrition/10-lifestyle-methods-to-cope-with-seasonal-affective-disorder/

“Winter Mood Lifters to Try Today,” by Karyn Repinski, “Parade” Magazine, December 2, 2018

Category : Blog &Massage Therapy &Personal Growth &Reflexology

Giving Healthy Gifts

 

This is the time of year when many people are buying presents. While I don’t like how much emphasis our culture has put on shopping, it is nice to celebrate the holidays with a gift as a gesture of love.

So with that in mind, I appreciated a supplement in a recent “Parade” magazine—an “article” by Nicole Pajer to drive traffic to the site greatcall.com/gifts where you could get stuff for 50% off—highlighting healthy choices for gifts this year.

My own #1 recommendation would be to purchase a gift certificate for reflexology or massage therapy. Supporting relaxation and boosting wellbeing—presents don’t get any healthier than that!

My personal #2 recommendation would be to go to local galleries and shows that feature local artists. You might find a one-of-a-kind treasure that would be perfect for your unique loved one. Every time they see this piece, it will bring a smile. And you’ll be supporting an individual who loves to create rather than supporting the commercial engine of mass-produced merchandise.

Here are some of the recommendations from the article:

  1. A meal kit subscription. People are busy, and services like HelloFresh, Green Chef, and Blue Apron deliver ingredients needed to prepare healthy meals. The upside is that it’s convenient and there’s no waste because you receive exactly what you need for each meal. The downside is that there’s a lot of packaging that may or may not be reusable, and the shipping itself contributes to environmental stress.
  2. Popsicle maker. Using molds to create your own sweet treats allows you to use much healthier ingredients like whole fruit, Greek yogurt, nuts, honey, etc. There are “quick pop makers” that freeze the pops more quickly than putting them in your regular freezer. A fun endeavor like this can be a great family activity!
  3. Sponsor someone on a charity walk. This is a healthy gift that also gives people an activity to do together. A whole family or tribe of friends and neighbors can do a charity walk as a team.
  4. Pay for someone’s plot in a community garden.
  5. Host a dance party. Maybe your gift can be an invitation to a themed dance party—a fantastic way to have fun and get some exercise!
  6. Help someone connect to family. You could get a gift certificate to a DNA analysis service. It’s fun to learn about our own heritage, and some of the services will help participants find relatives they may not have known about.
  7. Give family-friendly games. Encourage game nights! Life gets busy and sometimes we need help making time/reasons to get together in person. Games can help multi-generational groups find common ground.

My hope is that we can find ways to keep joy in the holiday season, making wholesome choices that encourage togetherness, simplicity, and happiness. May your holidays be peaceful and healthy and fun! 

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

If the Shoe Fits

 

Recently I developed a painful callous or something on the inside of my “pinky” toe on my right foot.

Through some keen detective work (lol) I discovered that the achy spot is right where that toe rubs against a bony protrusion of the fourth toe next to it.

I’m scheduled for a long-overdue for a pedicure with a podologist, and I’m curious to learn his expert opinion about the sore place and its cause. But here’s what I think he’s going to say:

As we age, our feet get wider. My shoes that used to “fit just right” no longer do! They are too tight, and they’re pushing my toes into each other every time I put weight forward on my feet. 

I tested my theory by wearing my running shoes to work one day. When you buy running shoes, the knowledgeable salespeople convince you to get larger shoes than you normally wear. This is because when we exercise, our feet swell. (People who are on their feet all day, especially in the Florida humidity, also experience swelling.) Sure enough, when I wore my larger running shoes to work, my “baby” toe didn’t bother me.

Sometimes people choose to wear shoes that hurt (like high heels for instance) because they’re stylish. And sometimes people wear shoes that feel comfortable (like flip-flops for example) even though they’re not particularly good for our feet. While it’s not my place to tell people what shoes to wear, I do think it’s important for us to know what we’re getting ourselves into when we make our selections.

Karen Ball, board certified reflexologist and long-time reflexology instructor recently contributed an article to “Massage” Magazine: “Tips for Buying Shoes that Fit.” She shares the idea that the two inventions that contribute most to modern-day chronic pain are the chair—and shoes!

She offers these tips for wearing the best shoes for YOU:

  1. Since our feet swell as the day warms up, always buy shoes in the afternoon. If you’re going to a store where they don’t measure, have someone trace the outline of your feet on a sheet of paper as you stand on it. (You can’t do it yourself because you have to stand tall and support all your weight on the full length and breadth of your feet.)
  2. If your feet are different sizes, as most people’s are, buy shoes to fit the larger one.
  3. Be willing to get the right size! It’s really OK if you need a larger shoe—our feet get bigger over time. You’re not going to wear the same size in middle age that you wore in your 20s.
  4. Once you’ve purchased your shoes, don’t wear the same pair all day every day. Different shoes will challenge different muscles, so changing them up will help ensure that every part of both feet (and ankles and on up the chain) stays strong.
  5. Sometimes we can’t SEE how our shoes are breaking down internally. It’s important to replace shoes before the outer soles appear worn.
  6. Shoes with inflexible soles will not allow our feet to move naturally in all the ways they need to: flexing, extending, rocking side to side a little, expanding and contracting. Ball writes, “You should be able to take a shoe in your hands and bend it nearly in half.”

It’s almost time to break out the winter shoes—do yours still fit? It’s super important to keep our feet healthy and happy, supported and not squished!

Source: https://www.massagemag.com/tips-for-buying-shoes-94045/

Category : Blog &Health &Reflexology

A (Reflexology) Path to Good Health

 

Many people (me included!) believe walking barefoot is good for us. It builds strength in our feet and ankles and knees and hips and thus helps with balance. 

And many people (me included!) believe foot reflexology is good for us. By putting pressure on reflex points in our feet, we can access all the organs, glands and parts of the body, improve circulation and nerve communication, and help everything function better.

Very smart people have figured out a way to combine both walking barefoot and putting pressure on reflex points in our feet—reflexology paths! 

Imagine a path made entirely of smooth river rocks. Or some combination of stones and smooth glass pebbles, and maybe some other textures to stimulate the bottoms of our feet as we walk along.

A reflexology path can be as plain or elaborate as the designer chooses. Florida International University in Miami just installed a 75-foot path featuring sections representing the Chinese elements of water, wood, fire, earth, and metal (with different levels of texture intensity). It showcases the mascot’s paw and an infinity sign, stones from all over the world that were very intentionally placed by school faculty and staff, instructions in multiple languages, and even ways for those unable to walk to enjoy the path.

It’s not hard to create a reflexology path for ourselves. We could literally just make a simple path of smooth stones, or we could set stones in mortar, create a border and even shape it into a labyrinth. There’s a book titled “The Dao of Foot Reflexology Paths: A Global Self-Care Tradition.” (See the link below if you want more information.)

If you’re intrigued but not ready to commit to constructing your own path, we have a wonderful alternative here in St. Augustine: the beach! Try walking barefoot in the sand. Walk on soft, dry sand and firm, wet sand. Place some smooth shells round-side-up to create several stepping “stones.” 

How do these different sensations feel on your feet? How do your feet feel when you finish? How do YOU feel after walking on a sensory path?

If you could do this every day for a couple of weeks, you would likely notice a difference in how your feet feel—and how you feel overall—after you walk the “reflexology path.” Some enjoy the contemplative aspect of walking mindfully as well.

Whether you enjoy strolling barefoot on the beach or not, I’m happy to give your feet a thorough reflexology treatment whenever you’re ready. And I won’t leave any sand between your toes!

Resources:

https://news.fiu.edu/2018/08/fiu-debuts-east-coasts-first-reflexology-path-at-a-public-institution/125720

https://www.amazon.com/Dao-Foot-Reflexology-Paths-Self-Care/dp/0615626289

Category : Blog &Health &Reflexology

Make One Change (Just as an Experiment)

 

At last weekend’s reflexology workshop (Say Goodbye to Headaches!), we talked about causes of stress, and how we can encourage clients—f they’re willing—to make little changes, to control what they can.

Often, the kind of language that works well for any of us, is something like: would you be willing to try this one (new thing), just as an experiment?

That’s a lot less intimidating than attempting a complete overhaul, isn’t it? 

This month’s “Better Homes and Gardens” has an interesting article called “What Happens When…?” It looks at some pretty questionable—but common—habits and breaks down why they’re bad for our health. Here are some examples:

  • Hitting the snooze button repeatedly. We could feel groggy for up to an hour afterward! The alarm signals our brains that it’s time to rise. If we keep going back to sleep after, we confuse our brains! Better to set a “real” alarm for a time when we can realistically get up, and keep the same routine daily.
  • Postponing going to the bathroom. If we need to pee and we put it off, we increase our chance of getting a UTI—urinary tract infection. This is especially true for women.
  • Brushing our teeth only once a day. Skipping a daily cleansing increases our chance of developing tooth decay by 33%! The bacteria in our mouths also increase our chances of getting gum disease.
  • Sweating and not drinking enough water. Hey, we talked about this in our headache class! What happens is we get dehydrated. In addition to headaches, this can cause fatigue, dizziness, muscle cramping, constipation and more. Experts vary in their recommendations for how much water is enough, but as a general rule, we want our urine to appear pale yellow to almost clear. If it’s darker, you’re probably not drinking enough water.
  • Taking a break from exercise. The bad news is that just one or two weeks away from our fitness routine does have some negative effects: our metabolism slows a little, our muscles use less oxygen, and our speed and endurance suffer (strength doesn’t diminish as quickly, though). The good news is that just one or two weeks getting back into our groove reverses any losses!
  • Eating food we drop. Would it surprise you to know that there’s no “five-second rule”? Bacteria can transfer to food immediately. Perhaps what is a surprise is that the type of surface the food is dropped on doesn’t really matter—the moisture content of the food is what really determines the germiness. Wetter food picks up more bacteria. So, if you really want to still eat something after you’ve dropped it, let the cleanliness of the surface and the moistness of the food guide your decision.
  • Not covering our mouths when we sneeze. Germs in the droplets of our expulsion can travel up to 26 feet for a sneeze, and 19.5 feet for coughs—and they can stay suspended for up to 10 minutes! The best practice is to use a tissue to cover your nose AND mouth. If you don’t have a tissue handy, cover your lower face the best you can with the crook of your arm, not your hand. If you sneeze into your hand and then you touch something like a doorknob or handrail, you’re laying the germs out for someone else to pick up.
  • Scratching an itch. Scratching certainly provides temporary relief, but it backfires in the long run. We trigger a tiny bit of pain—just enough to numb the itch. But at the same time, we release serotonin, which sends an “itch” signal to the brain. So when the “pain” fades, the itch is actually stronger. Better to leave it alone, rub the area with your palm, or make circles on the affected skin for a few minutes with an ice cube.

Interesting, huh? Would you be willing to stop hitting the snooze alarm, stop scratching itches, start drinking more water, exercising more regularly or covering up better when you sneeze? Do you have any other unhealthy habit—just one—that you’d be willing to try a better solution for, just as an experiment?

Source: “What Happens When…?” by Karen Repinski, “Better Homes and Gardens,” September 2018.

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth &Reflexology

Has the “Mystery” of Reflexology Been Solved?

 

In my reflexology training, we learned a few things that we know for sure about how reflexology works. It is relaxing; in fact, it’s one of the very best ways to engage the part of the nervous system that is responsible for calming things down (the parasympathetic nervous system—the opposite of “fight or flight,” also known as “rest and repair” mode). 

We know that reflexology stimulates the circulatory system, responsible for bringing fresh oxygen and nutrients to all the parts of the body. We know that reflexology also stimulates the lymphatic system, responsible for carrying away all the wastes that the cells are ready to dispose of.

But we also know that there’s more to it than that. Some people refer to a “life energy,” like Qi in acupuncture or prana in Ayurvedic tradition—a somewhat mysterious force that we believe exists (sort of like to the biochemical and electromagnetic energy in our bodies), but that we haven’t quite been able to explain in concrete terms.

This inability to explain makes some people uncomfortable, skeptical. If you can’t demonstrate empirical evidence if you can’t explain something with science, how can it be valid?

Some of us are OK with not knowing exactly “how” reflexology works—the “evidence” is in the positive outcomes enjoyed by millions of people over thousands of years.

But, for those who are unable to embrace the mystery, there’s good news on the horizon. We may be able to explain HOW reflexology works, with science. 

We have been making great strides in studying connective tissue, specifically, a tissue called fascia. You may have heard of fascia only in the context of someone having pain in their feet—the bottom of the foot is the “plantar” surface, “itis” is the suffix for inflammation, so “plantar fasciitis” is inflammation in the fascia in the bottom of the foot.

If you eat meat, specifically if you’ve ever cut up pieces of chicken, you might be able to envision the thin, whitish, almost sticky membrane around some of the meat. This is fascia! It is all around and in between layers of our muscles, organs, etc.

When medical scientists first started dissecting human cadavers, they used to cut this tissue and move it out of the way to get to the “important” stuff beneath it. We figured out it was a matrix that helps give muscles their shape and generally holds us together, but we had no idea how critical this connective tissue really is. 

Once we finally started studying the fascia itself, we realized that it is an important network of dynamic tissue in its own right. We learned that it can have it’s own adhesions, for example—and so sometimes when people think they have “knots” or aches in their muscles, the root cause of the issue could actually be the fascia. We learned that fascia has “planes” that can affect mobility and balance and posture and more.

Then experts wondered, could fascia also help signals travel faster from one part of the body to the others? Think of the reflex arc that orchestrates multiple movements instantaneously. If you step on a tack, for example, or touch a hot stove—you step back, you lift one hand and lower the other for balance, without even thinking about it.

Scientists were pretty sure that fascia facilitates that. But we weren’t really sure how, until recently. And now, what we’re learning about fascia that explains how it expedites the reflex arc described above, might also explain how reflex points in our hands and feet communicate to all the other parts of the body. 

With modern technology, we’ve been able to study living tissue and not just cadavers. We’re learning things we missed before because we couldn’t see it in dead tissue!

Remember that diagram of a cell that we all learned about when we were kids—the one that sort of looks like a fried egg: kinda flat with a slightly irregular membrane and a yolk-like nucleus in the middle? When I was in massage school, we learned that each cell has to “decide” what substances will stay in the cell and what will pass through the membrane, and we didn’t even clearly understand how things travelled through (except in the case of electrolytes, where positively- and negatively-charged molecules dance back and forth across the membrane to offset each other—hey, that’s energy!). 

One of the presenters at the conference of the Reflexology Association of America I just attended in Chicago showed a graphic of a different model of a cell—a 3-D version that is much more lifelike. 

It’s been discovered that each and every cell in our bodies has a cytoskeleton, a structure of microtubules and various filaments that spread out through the cytoplasm. We know now that everything in our body is interconnected—from each cell’s nucleus through the membrane to the connective tissue between cells. It’s very easy for cells to communicate! They can pass information—and energy—to each other through these fluid-filled microtubules and filaments. It’s a highly ordered structure, literally from head to toe. And from the innermost parts of us to the outermost—the skin.

So, by touching a reflex point on the foot or hand, we can connect with any cell in any part of our body. Information—as evidenced by our self-preserving reflex arc—can be spread very efficiently. 

And because the energy in our body vibrates (as all energy in the universe vibrates), as we use alternating pressure in our reflexology technique—using the right pressure at the right pace will produce the right frequency to encourage repair and optimal functioning in our cells/tissues.

Mystery solved?

Category : Blog &Reflexology

Maintaining a Healthy Brain


Exciting new research in dementia and Alzheimer’s disease suggests that even if a person is predisposed genetically to these conditions, it may be possible to prevent or at least delay the damaging changes from happening to our brains.

The key is prevention—working to change the progress of disease before symptoms even occur. Similar to heart disease and diabetes, we’re learning that lifestyle choices can delay the onset and minimize risk and severity.

There are only a few Alzheimer’s prevention clinics in the US currently since “prevention” is a new idea. They use technology, problem-solving tests, and blood work to assess the ABCs of Alzheimer’s prevention. A is “anthropometrics”—things like body fat, lean body mass, muscle strength, waist measurement and more. B is blood biomarkers—all the standard blood work plus tests for inflammatory and genetic markers that increase risk. C is cognition, measuring thinking skills and mental flexibility.

Some risk factors are beyond our control: genetic predisposition, gender (women are at a higher risk), age; but the exciting learning has been in just how much our lifestyle choices can affect our outcome. Modifiable risk factors include what we eat, how much we eat (abdominal fat raises our risk threefold!), how we sleep, our blood pressure, our overall fitness level.

Here are the things the Weill Cornell’s Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic recommends we start doing right now to lower our risk:

  • Get our baseline numbers for things like cholesterol, triglycerides, blood glucose, blood pressure, body-mass index and waist circumference.
  • Take a cognitive test. There’s a 15-minute “SAGE” test we can do at home; for a link, go to alzu.org.
  • Keep our muscle mass. We lose muscle over the years if we don’t work to keep it. Most experts recommend a combination of aerobic and resistance/weight training for best results.
  • Maintain a healthy weight. Being overweight, especially carrying extra abdominal fat, increases our risk for Alzheimer’s and other medical conditions.
  • Eat “green, lean and clean.” Brains benefit from a plant-heavy diet (veggies, beans, whole grains, nuts, and seeds) with lean protein (especially fish). Extra-virgin olive oil is their recommended go-to dietary oil.
  • Eat fatty fish twice a week: salmon, albacore tuna, mackerel, lake trout or sardines.
  • Cut out evening snacking. At least a few times a week, try not to eat for 12-14 hours between dinner and breakfast. At least cut out carbs to encourage the body to burn stored fats.
  • Get some good quality shut-eye. Plan for at least 8 hours of sleep per night; turn off all devices for 30 to 45 minutes before bedtime.
  • Put some downtime on our to-do list. Every 4 1/2 years of work stress equates to a year of brain aging! Things like yoga, acupuncture, and regular vacations help. (I would add massage the reflexology, among other things!)
  • Find joy and connection with others. Hobbies and friendships can both relax and challenge our brains.
  • Play music. There’s a lot of new research pointing out the benefit of music to brain health. Listening to music is good, but making music is even better. Learning ukulele is achievable for most people, and more towns (St. Augustine among them!) have regular jam sessions for ukulele enthusiasts, which adds a social element as well.
  • Keep up with dental, vision and hearing health. Untreated tooth and gum problems cause inflammation that can lead to other complications. Vision and hearing loss can result in social isolation.
  • Don’t smoke. 
  • Consider genetic testing, if you believe that knowledge is power. There is no test that says definitively whether we will get Alzheimer’s, but if we find out that we are at risk genetically, it might motivate us to try that much harder to stave it off with lifestyle changes.
  • Join a clinical trial. If we want to take part in studies that might lead to a cure, we can search for studies at clinicaltrials.gov. In June, the Alzheimer’s Association is funding the largest ever lifestyle study on preventing cognitive decline. Learn more at alz.org/us-pointer.

Source: “Cheater’s Guide to Beating Alzheimer’s” by Paula Spencer Scott, “Parade Magazine,” April 8, 2018

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

What Are Our Feet Trying to Tell Us?

 

 

Sometimes when I work on people’s feet, they’ll ask me “what does that mean?” if a particular area feels tender or extra sensitive.

All I can say is that it’s a sign of stress: either stress to that area of the foot itself or stress to the part of the body that the reflex point in the foot is related to. (Either way, it’s good to work on it!) Sometimes the client can kind of figure out what might be going on in their feet and/or in their body’s overall health.

I’m not able to diagnose. But I am continually astounded at how interconnected and fascinating we are anatomically—from our feet all the way up to our brains!

Along those lines (pun intended!) an article recently caught my attention, outlining several bodily conditions that might show symptoms specifically in the feet.

Spasms (or “foot cramps”). Muscle cramps can be a sign that there’s a deficiency in your body. Sometimes spasms are caused by dehydration when your cells aren’t getting enough water/oxygen. It could also indicate an imbalance of electrolytes or nutrients (calcium or potassium, for example). Cramps can be caused by overexertion and lack of stretching, poor footwear choices, or even circulatory problems.

Enlarged big toe. Gout is a type of inflammatory arthritis and can cause the big toe to become red, warm, swollen and painful. Gout occurs when too much uric acid builds up in the bloodstream. This inflammation often occurs in the big toe and can flare up overnight. Risk factors include genetics, a diet high in purines (meats and seafood, for example), alcohol consumption, being overweight, certain medications (such as diuretics), recent trauma, and some other health conditions including high blood pressure, diabetes, and hypothyroidism.

Cold feet. A person who has perpetually cold feet might have poor circulation, diabetes, an under-active thyroid, or anemia. In a more severe case, when cold feet change color from red to white to blue, it could be a sign of Raynaud’s disease—when nerves overact to cold and cause a narrowing of the blood vessels in the feet (or hands).

Swollen feet. Swelling can be a sign of various health problems, some potentially serious. Poor circulation/heart problems, kidney or liver disease, deep vein thrombosis (blood clots), lymphatic concerns and cellulitis can cause swollen feet. It’s a good idea to seek a medical evaluation and not dismiss swelling if it’s severe or if it happens often.

Spoon-shaped toenails. Nails that are soft and sort of scooped out with a depression usually are a sign of a nutritional deficiency—too little or too much iron. It can also be associated with heart disease and hypothyroidism.

Yellow toenails. Nails turn yellow from conditions like infection and fungus, rheumatoid arthritis, jaundice/liver problems, lung issues/breathing problems and even sinusitis. If you have a sudden change in the color or texture of your nails, seek medical attention.

Tingling or numbness. Circulatory problems, peripheral nerve damage, an impinged nerve, multiple sclerosis and a range of other ailments can lead to numbness, tingling or “pins and needles” in the feet. Like swelling, this symptom is not something to take lightly if it persists.

Achy joints. Pain in the toe joints is usually a sign of local injury or trauma or a malformation in the bones of the foot like a bunion or hammertoe. But it can also be a sign of something systemic like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis.

Drop foot. If someone has difficulty lifting the front part of their foot, they could have a condition called drop foot—which is indicative of an underlying muscular, neurological or anatomical problem. Nerve or muscle weakness/damage in the leg, hip or spine can cause the foot to drag when walking. A combination of therapies is used to try to correct the problem including a brace, nerve stimulation, chiropractic adjustments, physical therapy or surgery.

Lingering sores. If you have sores that don’t heal, or you have an injury you didn’t feel or treat that led to a more severe wound, you might have nerve damage to the feet caused by diabetes. Nerve damage, or neuropathy, results in being unable to feel injuries, and when they go unnoticed, even little boo-boos like blisters can lead to bigger issues like ulcers and gangrene. Dry, cracked, peeling skin, calluses and poor circulation in the feet can all be signs of diabetes.

Our feet can tell us a lot about our health! We owe it to ourselves to keep our feet and our whole system as healthy as possible. Regular foot reflexology sessions can help!

Source: https://ia.meaww.com/read/health/10-things-your-feet-are-trying-to-tell-you-about-your-health

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology

R-E-L-A-X

 

Recently I was asked to give a brief talk on how to relax to a civic group that is feeling very stressed about current events and political developments. I figured the last thing anybody needs is pressure to add lengthy, complicated tasks to their to-do lists! So I came up with 30+ things that we can do in minutes from almost anywhere.

I’ll share half this week, and half next week. Some are geared toward breaking tension in a moment of anger or frustration. Others deal with more long-term, chronic feelings of being generally “stressed out.” Enjoy, let me know if you have any questions, or if you have another strategy that works well for you!

Breathe. This is the simplest and most effective thing we can do. Take a deep breath in, hold for a second, let a longer breath out. Exhaling engages the part of the nervous systems that calms and slows things down.

Step outside. Fresh air, sun, natural beauty—a change in perspective. Get out of your head! If you can’t get outdoors, look out a window—one with a nice view.

Go for a walk. If you can take a quick walk outside, even better. Or walk around indoors—get blood and lymph flowing, and change your focus for a moment.

If you feel especially aggravated, run in place for a minute. Or do some jumping jacks. Or jump rope!

Stretch. Reach up, breathe deep. Make gentle circles with your neck, shoulders, arms, hips—whatever you can comfortably manage.

Don’t make pain.

Do a few yoga poses if you know them. If you don’t know any, try this one: lie with your butt close to a wall, and put your legs straight up the wall. Rest your heels on the wall, and let it support the weight of your legs. Just lie there and breathe for as long as you like. It’s amazing how good this feels!

Try progressive relaxation. Start at one end of your body and purposely squeeze muscles in one body part at a time; then very deliberately release all that tension. Move on to the next part and slowly contract and release everywhere until you’re more completely relaxed all over.

Give yourself reflexology/massage your hand. Press around in the fleshy part between your thumb and index finger. “Thumb walk” down toward the base of the thumb. When you find a point that’s tender or sensitive, hold comfortable pressure and take a few deep breaths. And/or pull on and massage your outer ears.

Chew gum. It’s centering and can be calming for the brain.

Splash some water on your face. Rinsing your face is calming to the vagus nerve, a cranial nerve that is involved in calming internal operating systems down.

Enjoy some aromatherapy. Lavender, chamomile, and fruity/citrus (orange, lemongrass, bergamot, neroli) are good essential oils to use, or something warming and earthy like frankincense. Use what YOU like! Put a drop on a tissue and smell it; don’t put it directly on your skin.

Sniff some favorite flowers or herbs or citrus fruit if you don’t have essential oils handy. Peel an orange or a tangerine and enjoy the freshness!

Sip something soothing. Green tea is said to contain L-Theanine, a chemical that helps relieve anger. But it can also contain caffeine, and that is not so relaxing. An herbal tea might be better. Or warm milk. Hot cocoa might be ok, but we don’t want to overdo sugar—it can make us more irritable!

Take a warm bath. Add bubbles or Epsom salts if you like.

Meditate. Take 5 minutes to sit or lie down quietly and focus on your breath. Free apps offer short guided meditations that are easy to follow.

More ideas next week. Be well!!

SaveSave

Category : Blog &Health &Personal Growth &Reflexology

Supporting a Healthy Back

 

 

Back pain is common, and while a certain amount of wear and tear is part of life, some mindful maintenance can go a long way in staving off strains and aches.

Everything we do every single day impacts our back health. It basically comes down to posture and body mechanics. It’s so easy to neglect! Here are some helpful reminders:

Sitting. Sitting in the same position for long periods stresses tissues and can diminish blood flow. It’s very important to get up and move around every 30-60 minutes. Set a timer on your phone if you must! When sitting at a desk, make sure both feet are on the floor and your weight is evenly distributed between your hips.

Standing. Think about your alignment: ears, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles should be pretty well lined up and facing forward in a centered, neutral way. Do you put more weight on one side? Do you hold your head forward? Not good. Do you hold your shoulders too high toward your ears? Set an alarm to check yourself a few times a day. Take a deep breath, and deliberately drop your shoulders down and back as you exhale.

Lifting/Carrying. I set myself up for hip trouble by always carrying books, babies, etc. on one hip jutted out supporting all the weight. As much as possible, it’s far better to divide a load (groceries, laundry) into two totes and carry equal amounts on both sides. For things that can’t be divided (babies!), a backpack is best. When lifting, we need to bend at the knees, avoid twisting, and engage our abs to make sure our backs aren’t doing more than their fair share.

Phoning. Tilting our heads forward to see our phone screens places way more pressure on our necks than you might think. It’s far better to raise our arms and hold the phone up closer to eye level. Use voice commands to send texts when possible, and earphones for long conversations. If you’re reading a tablet or a good, old-fashioned book, see if you can prop it up on pillows to avoid looking down for prolonged periods.

What to do when your back does hurt? OF COURSE, I would recommend massage therapy and reflexology to relax tight tissues and improve blood and lymph flow! You can also try:

You can also try:

Ice, to reduce inflammation.

Heat, to relax muscle fibers.

Alternating between heat and ice (up to 20 minutes of one, enough time to let your tissues to get back to normal temperature, then up to 20 minutes of the other; always end with ice at the end of the day).

Gentle exercise. For an acute injury, a day of rest probably is advised. But then it’s important not to rest too much! Walking a little bit if you can comfortably do so keeps blood and lymph flowing, which is important for healing.

Ongoing supportive exercise, such as yoga or Tai Chi enhances balance, flexibility and good posture long term.

Other “alternative” approaches such as acupuncture and chiropractic can help maintain optimal functioning. Physical therapy can target problem areas, and PTs usually give specific exercises to develop strength so strains don’t reoccur.

Cope with stress. Chronic stress causes tension that causes pain. It’s important to do mindfulness “exercises” like deep breathing, meditation, walking outside in nature, and positive self-talk.

Mindfulness is always a good practice. Most injuries are from misuse or overuse. If we stay aware of how we sit, stand, walk, lift, etc., we can avoid a lot of problems. An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure!!

Source: “We’ve Got Your Back,” by Alyssa Shaffer, “Better Homes & Gardens” October 2017.

Category : Blog &Health &Massage Therapy &Reflexology