There are reflexes in the feet that relate to the rest of the body. Many people get pain relief from releasing the feet. If you can’t get a professional reflexology treatment, you can help yourself by working your own feet.
Sit comfortably and roll a massage ball under the foot, to allow the muscles and tendons to flex and stretch. You can also concentrate on certain areas of the foot for different parts of the body:
Head and neck – the toes
Chest – the ball of the foot
Spine and back – along the inside or arch of the foot from heel to big toe
Stomach and bowel – middle of foot, in the arch
The human foot was designed to walk on natural surfaces such as grass, sand and soil with undulations and natural cushioning. Our feet were not meant to stand all day and walk on hard surfaces such as concrete, tiles and bitumen.
Wearing shoes all the time, also stops the foot from flexing, stretching and adapting to the environment so muscles become stiff and underutilised. Rolling a massage or tennis ball under the arch of the foot helps release and flex those muscles and improve circulation. Wriggle those toes, stretch and flex the feet, rotate the ankles in both directions.
Regularly have a pedicure or do your own to exfoliate the layers of dead skin, trim nails and attend to calluses and corns. Some deformities in the feet come from neglect and can change the way you walk, causing further problems with ankles, knees, hips and back.
Are you aware of your body and what’s happening with it? This simple awareness can help you bring about positive change to any pain or discomfort. Become a body detective and get in touch!
Become aware of how you move. Tune into your body regularly throughout the day and night – how does your body feel? Are there certain activities during the day that trigger or aggravate your pain? Once you are pain free you want to be aware of and avoid anything that can cause re-injury.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to start becoming your own Body Detective!
Body Detective Questions:
Where exactly is your pain?
Does it change position or is it always in the same place?
Do you have it when you first get up in the morning? If so, what is your rating? No pain | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | Most intense pain
Do you have it in the evening or later in the day? If so, what is your rating? No pain | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | Most intense pain
When is it worse – in the morning or in the evening?
How frequent is your pain? Is it constant? Is it daily? Is it weekly? Is it monthly? Other?
Does it affect your sleep? Do you wake up in pain?
Is there an activity or position that makes it worse?
Be really aware of the activities you do today. Before you do each activity, rate your pain levels. Write it down. After the activity, how are your pain levels? Did they change? Did this activity increase, decrease or made no difference to your pain? If it increased your pain, can you change the activity so it doesn’t cause you pain? Or do you really have to do that activity? If it is necessary, can someone else help you or can they do it?
This is a great exercise to see what is actually impacting on your pain levels and with that awareness you can then bring change. If you are in intense pain just doing this for one day will bring some knowledge and insight. Even better if you can manage this for a week to really get an idea of the impact of the things you are doing daily. Respect and love yourself enough to do this little bit of homework.
It will be invaluable in helping you and your health professional identify what is happening in your life that triggers or aggravates your pain. Being a body detective, monitoring my posture and supporting my body as much as possible has helped me stay pain free for more than 30 years.
Golden Milk is an ancient Ayurvedic drink that is great for helping inflammation. There are numerous golden milk recipes around using variations of turmeric, black pepper, coconut oil, ginger, cinnamon, honey etc.
You can make up your own golden paste which you keep in the fridge and then just use a little each time to make your golden milk.
You can also use raw turmeric and ginger (some think it’s more effective). Of course you should do your own research and find the best recipe for you but for your information, here’s a simple recipe I use:
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon of Golden Paste
1 cup milk (can be coconut, almond or cow, preferably not homogenised)
Ginger, vanilla and/or cinnamon to taste (optional)
Honey (or natural sweetener) to taste (optional)
Preferably in a stainless steel pot, gently mix and heat to steaming (but do not boil) 1 cup of milk with up to 1/2 teaspoon of golden paste. Remove from heat and add optional vanilla, ginger, cinnamon and/or honey to taste.
1/4 cup organic turmeric powder
1/2 cup of filtered water
1 teaspoon black pepper
3 tablespoons virgin coconut oil (cold pressed)
Preferably in a small stainless steel pot, cook the turmeric, water and black pepper until it forms a smooth paste on medium heat, stirring so it doesn’t burn. Remove from heat, cool slightly and thoroughly mix in the coconut oil. Store the golden paste in a small glass jar in the refrigerator for up to two weeks (if it develops a metallic taste, it’s been stored too long so throw it out).
There are many small habits that we do everyday – the way we sit, stand, move and use our bodies that can cause poor posture, stress on muscles and pain in the long term. Here are 8 tips for preventing back and muscle pain.
1. When standing or sitting, stop crossing or folding your arms across the front of your body. That position tends to bring your shoulders forward and over time creates a cramped ‘round shouldered’ posture. Long term, this habit can create a permanently rounded upper back and associated weakness in the thoracic spinal muscles.
2. When sitting, do not clasp your hands together in your lap. If you are sitting upright, your elbows should be hanging relaxed and vertically aligned under your shoulders. Your hands resting gently on your mid upper thighs, allows your shoulders to stay back and for you to have your chest upright and elevated, breathing deeply into the lungs.
3. Carrying a heavy handbag repeatedly on one shoulder places enormous pressure on the nerves and muscles and over time can cause imbalances in the upper spine. Use the handle and hold the bag in your hand, changing sides regularly. Don’t keep your wallets and keys in your back pocket as they may create a pelvic imbalance when you sit.
4. Stand with your feet apart, not together. Standing and sitting with your feet together can put pressure on the iliotibial band which stretches from your hip to your knee and can create that outer thigh, leg ache. The wider you are in the hips, the further apart your feet may need to be. So simply changing the way you stand over time may help prevent pain.
5. Do not cross your legs (standing, sitting or lying) – besides putting pressure on nerve pathways and possibly triggering pain, that position can affect circulation and lymphatic drainage to the lower limbs.
6. When standing, take your weight evenly on both feet. Don’t slouch onto one hip or lean to one side. This places huge strain on the pelvis and back. If you are required to stand in one spot for any length of time, keep your body weight evenly distributed and simply bend the back of the knees ever-so slightly. Alternately place your buttocks and back flat against a wall and maintain weight evenly on both feet. If you find this difficult to do, it can be an indication that are structural imbalances and you may benefit from physical correction.
7. When lifting, first move in close to the object, bend your knees, hold your stomach muscles in tight before and as you lift. Do not over reach or twist.
8. Be aware of how you are entering or alighting from a car. Getting out of a car, most of us tend to ‘throw’ a leg out and start walking. To avoid strain on the hips and pelvis, keep knees together, tighten stomach muscles and turn the trunk of your body to the open car doorway,, sit close to the edge of the car seat and swing the legs out together if possible, placing both feet on the ground. You can use your arms to lift your legs if necessary. Try not to get in and out of a car if it is parked on a slope, flat even ground is better for back and leg pain conditions.
I hope these 8 tips for preventing back and muscle pain have got you thinking! Do you do any of these habits? Is it time to change them up?
Please get in touch if you need further assistance with your back and muscle pain.
Pain is a warning sign that will tend to amplify in duration and intensity if the cause is not addressed. Of course you can mask the symptoms with medication and that may work successfully for some conditions or be effective for a long time. But ultimately for chronic pain getting to the cause and dealing with it, is really the solution for living pain free!
Medical and health professionals will generally classify your pain as either acute or chronic but you are the judge of its intensity, whether it is mild, severe or anything in between
Here are some indicators of both acute pain and chronic pain.
What are the indicators of Acute Pain?
Sudden and usually short term.
Normal response to trauma.
Sharp, aching or throbbing pain which may worsen on movement.
Cause is known, typically resulting from trauma to body tissue eg., broken bones, burns, cuts, surgery, dental problems, pregnancy and childbirth.
Expected symptoms as per the trauma identified. Physiological signs such as wincing, grimacing, sweating, rapid pulse and breathing etc., which go away with healing.
Pain usually disappears when cause is treated or healed.
If not treated effectively can develop into a chronic pain.
Acute pain is typically caused by muscle, nerve or tissue damage as a result of trauma, injury or surgery. Since the reason is obvious, it is normally relatively easy to correct or remove the source of the pain. Accordingly acute pain will tend to decrease over time as the tissue damage heals or the source of pain is removed.
What are the indicators of Chronic Pain?
Long term, typically more than three months.
May be an abnormal response in that initial trauma may have healed but pain persists. Can be a condition or disorder by itself.
A mix of sharp, dull, burning or tingling pain, often experienced frequently or daily and includes neuropathic pain where the problem may be in the nerves, spinal cord or brain.
Cause may or may not be known. May result from ongoing, degenerative, musculoskeletal, infective, malignant conditions or no identifiable cause.
Varied symptoms eg., headaches, back pain, joint or arthritic pain, nerve pain, tight muscles, limited mobility, tiredness, anxiety, anger, depression, fear, etc.
Pain receptors may become hypersensitive and too easily activated or the brain and spinal cord may be unable to dampen or decrease pain signals.
Pain persists after normal injury healing time or there may be no known cure.
Referred pain and compensation patterns often develop.
Unresolved pain that persists past three months is termed chronic and continues beyond the normal healing time. Its cause may not always be attributed to physical tissue damage. Chronic pain can also be the result of a degenerative or malignant condition or may have no readily identifiable origin.
Chronic pain activates the sympathetic nervous system, the body’s ‘fight or flight’ automatic response. It places the body in continual stress mode which can impact on issues such as heart rate and blood pressure, constrict blood vessels, etc. It is not good for the body to remain in that heightened stress response.
Acute pain or chronic pain? Which do you have? No matter which sort of pain you are experiencing, I can help with both physical relief and mindset.
Get in touch to book your free fifteen minute consult so we can discuss what you need!
“The alternative to daily exercise, stretching or movement is deterioration, aging, loss of muscle tone and circulation, eventually atrophy and the death of healthy tissue – seriously you need to move!”
As humans we are part of the animal kingdom and are made to move – in all directions, every day.
We were not designed to sit all day at a computer desk, be in a car driving around for hours or working a 12-hour shift in a mining truck etc. We are biped with long legs and arms for a reason – we are made to walk, run, jog, dance, stretch, climb and reach.
Our anatomy and physiology is such that if we don’t constantly move, our muscles and joints do physically become stiff and our fascia (connective tissue or membranes that surround line and separate our muscles, stabilises our bodies etc.) will actually start to fuse together and then limit our mobility.
If you have not exercised for some time due to pain, illness or injury, take it slowly and consult your medical professionals. Here are my tips to consider before you start any movement program:
Move with intention – don’t be in a rush. First stop and think what you want to achieve. Secondly visualise it clearly in your mind, mentally feel yourself doing it successfully and then finally make your move. Be deliberate and thoughtful in your actions and you greatly increase success. You also will decrease your chance of accident or injury.
Do any new activityslowly. If you been in pain for a while, chances are you’ve lost some muscle tone and flexibility due to inactivity. Suddenly calling those weakened muscles and joints into fast action is not in your best interest. Start slowly!
Protect your lower back. Statistically the majority of people experience their pain in the lower back, hips and legs. One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself is to tighten your stomach muscles, engage your core, before and whenever you put your back under strain, particularly if you are overweight or have a large stomach. For example, when getting in and out of chairs or your car, lifting groceries out of the car boot etc, pull in and tighten those stomach muscles before and during the activity. This will help support the lower back and reduce the potential for injury.
Start in small ways – with your everyday activities. Go for a short walk first thing in the morning or in the evening rather than watching TV. Take the dog for a walk (or your partner, children or grandchildren). Take every opportunity to move rather than staying in bed or in that chair! That old saying is true, ‘move it or lose it!’ Start with small, realistic goals and work your way up gradually.
Get out of the house! A change of location can increase your energy levels, allow interaction with people, create a diversion and take the focus off your pain. A walk in the garden, along the river or at the beach can give you fresh air to breathe and help improve morale. If you are alone, head to your nearest shopping centre or park and make some new friends.
Adopt a positive ‘YES’ attitude. Whenever you get invited anywhere, automatically say yes! Even if you don’t feel like it, the majority of times when you make the effort and get there, you will be glad you did and your body will appreciate the variety of activity and movement.
Get out of your pyjamas! When you are not feeling well, you’re tired and you could just stay in bed all day, please don’t! It’s so easy to get stuck in that rut and then the days drag into weeks and months and you just get weaker and weaker. If the least you do in a day is to drag yourself out of bed, clean your teeth, get dressed and brush your hair – you’ve done well. Give yourself a simple daily “must do” routine and commit to looking after yourself!
So the truth is that a movement program takes effort and commitment, however the benefits are immeasurable and the alternative is very scary. Getting started may not be easy but you just have to do it if you want to relieve your pain long term.
Are you aware of how you sit? It might be causing you pain and creating bad posture.
Often lounge and TV chairs are made to look good, but they may not be the best for your back. They may tilt your back too far backwards and if they are too soft, you can really sink into the seating and then find it difficult to get up from that position. So while soft seems so inviting, in reality it may not be good for your back.
The ideal chair is one that allows you to keep your back relatively straight and vertically aligned. Generally you should be sitting slightly forward on your hips and tailbone – not leaning backwards with your spine past vertical. Push your buttocks into the back of the chair so you are sitting upright.
Extend and pull up through your spine – don’t sag into the chair and allow your rib cage to collapse onto your stomach and hips. Pull up through the crown of the head and rest your hands on mid thighs (not clasped together or crossed in front of your chest). Shoulders should be down and relaxed to help keep an open chest with your elbows hanging vertically.
Chairs that tilt your spine back will make you (unconsciously) push your head and neck forward so that your body can find a centre point of gravity. Your body has an inbuilt balance mechanism that means when your body is tilted backwards, your head will automatically come forward to compensate. As soon as that happens, neck and shoulder muscles strain and tighten, circulation is affected and pain can be initiated or increased.
Most lounge chairs today are plush and you tend to sink deeply into the seat – I avoid those chairs because I know they can trigger my back and I want to stay pain free. Soft chairs can be a trap for people who end up sitting all day and maybe falling asleep in the chair. For many pain conditions, being ‘lazy’ and sitting all day can have painful consequences. If you have back issues, you should choose wisely how, where and how long you sit.
People also come with different leg and spine lengths so one chair design is not ideal for all. For example a too high chair can press on the hamstrings, the back of the legs of a shorter person and over time can compromise circulation and lymphatic drainage. This can result in tight calves and swelling of the feet and ankles. Pick a chair where your legs are not swinging but your feet comfortably reach the floor (or use a foot stool). Also flex your feet and stretch your legs regularly while seated to avoid circulation problems.
If you have back, hip or knee pain, and the length of the chair seat is too long, you may have difficulty getting out of the chair suddenly. Or if you’ve been sitting far back into a chair, do not stand up immediately from that position. First, bring yourself forward horizontally towards the front edge of the seat until you can get your feet firmly on the ground. Tighten your core or stomach muscles, lean slightly forward over your knees and then rise. Stand for a few seconds for your circulation to equalise and to regain your balance before you move away. Stop and visualise what you want to do next and then move – no need to rush. Do not jump up quickly from a chair that is not optimal for you.
If you go somewhere and the chairs don’t suit then stand up and walk around. Don’t allow other people to dictate that you remain seated and put your back at risk. Stand off to the side or at the back so that you can move unobtrusively and protect your back.
You might think that sitting in chairs is simple because it is something we do all the time and often for many hours a day but it can be the number one thing that it is triggering your back or leg pain.
Do you need to improve your sitting habits?? Let me know how you go with these tips.
Do you feel you are ready for something greater but not sure what that might be?
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