Mar 2019 Move that body!
Toe to Top – get that body moving!
So last time I promised you a routine which would work your body from the toes to the top. I know a lot of people will wonder why I didn’t say ‘Top to Toe’ as most folk would, but I am a reflexologist, so feet come first for me.
These exercises are about building movement into your daily life rather than ‘exercise’ as, if you read my previous blog, you’ll know my feelings about that. Exercise is great but everybody needs to make sure they move as well.
So some of these movements can be done sitting or even lying down and, whilst they may seem very gentle, they will assist in moving blood and lymph around your body as well as helping to massage your internal organs - all beneficial stuff.
I’m not going to tell you how many of each movement to make as it depends on your current mobility level, but it’s better to start small and build up. Try keeping a record so that you can track your progress and don’t be put off if you can only manage a few movements – any movement is better than none!
**Before you start please read the instructions carefully. If you have any issues with the joints being worked or you have had surgery on your spine or the target joints, please check with your healthcare practitioner before attempting any of the movements.**
Assuming you’re good to go, let’s start with:
This one will work some mobility into your toes. Either standing or sitting, place your feet flat on the floor, then raise the heel of one foot, keeping the toes on the ground. Rotate your foot so that you are massaging your toes against the floor. Work in one direction, then reverse direction. Now do the same with the other foot. If you have a tennis ball or similar, you can put this under your foot to encourage greater flexibility.
This is really good for mobilising your ankles, which can help prevent or alleviate the build up of fluid in that area. You can do it sitting, standing or even lying down.
Work one ankle at a time and describe the letters of the alphabet by moving your foot to ‘write’ the letter. Doesn’t matter if it’s capital or lower case letters, but if you get really good at it you could try italics or other fonts!
You can do this one standing or lying down. If standing place your feet hip width apart. Keeping your leg straight lift the heel of one foot from the floor so that your hip tilts upwards. Only go as far as is comfortable to start with, you can always progress later. Replace that heel to the floor and repeat with the other leg.
If you’re lying down, make the same movement with your foot; you just won’t have the floor to push against but you can still raise the hip up towards your shoulder.
Stand with feet hip width apart. Place one hand just below your navel and the other on your back at the same level. Tilt the pelvis so that your back straightens, then tilt the other way so that your back curves, only going as far as is comfortable.
This is going to sound odd, but it really can help alleviate back pain. One of the problems with our spine is that because of gravity, sitting a lot and muscular tightness, the vertebrae become closer to each other than they should be, compressing the discs and causing pain. So we’re going to create some more space.
Sitting, standing or lying down work your way up the spine, naming each vertebrae and structure and visualising more space between them (check out a picture of the spine if you’d like a reminder of what they look like to make it more real).
So this might go like this ‘I am creating more space between my coccyx and sacrum, I am creating more space between my sacrum and Lumbar 5, I am creating more space between Lumbar 5 and Lumbar 4’ and so on until you reach Cervical 2&1. In case you’re not sure, your spine consists of the coccyx, the sacrum, 5 Lumbar vertebrae, 12 Thoracic vertebrae and 7 Cervical vertebrae, in that order starting from the bottom. Just name them as I have above, with the higher number at the bottom and counting down as you go up the spine.
If you think this sounds a bit weird and unlikely to achieve anything, try doing it lying on your back with your legs bent. I’d be very surprised if you don’t need to move your bottom down towards your feet a couple of times as your spine starts to feel scrunched up otherwise.
Ever watched the Orchestra conductors on the BBC Proms or something similar? What a fantastic way to get that lymph moving and help keep the arm muscles exercised. You may not have a Philharmonic orchestra in your kitchen, but what’s to stop you conducting the radio?
You can work both wrists at the same time if you like. Just lift your arms and rotate your wrists in one direction, then in the other, then give your arms a shake.
Slowly turn your head to one side as though looking over your shoulder, but only go as far as is comfortable. Then allow your head to drop forward and take it over as though to look over the other shoulder. Then head back in the original direction.
Open your eyes wide, than screw them shut.
Open your mouth as wide as is comfortable, then close it.
Move your jaw from side to side like a cow chewing the cud – you might want to check no-one’s watching this one!
These movements will really help mobilise your face muscles and release tension in your jaw.
**Remember to check with your healthcare practitioner if you have any health issues which could be affected by these exercises. **
Quality is better than quantity so concentrate on doing the movements well and worry about the numbers later.
Feb 2019 Exercise - a dirty word?
Or should I say Movement? You see, I agree with my health hero Dr Rangan Chatterjee when he says that the word ‘exercise’ makes it sound like it’s something you have to make a special effort to do and which happens somewhere else like the gym or in the park.
Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t do any, but I think everyone is more likely to be able to build movement into their lives rather than ‘exercise’. Whether those movement sessions are short, long, fast or slow will depend on individual circumstances.
It’s important that we move about because our bodies were designed to move, so if we are too sedentary we’re not doing ourselves any favours; not moving affects our breathing, digestion, circulation and even our bowel habits.
Studies don’t seem to agree on how much we should move for optimum health, which can make it confusing and difficult to know how much we should be moving around. Should it be a high intensity workout, a moderately paced walk, or gentle exercise (sorry, it slipped in) throughout the day? Well, one thing they do all seem to agree on is that we should be doing something rather than nothing.
So how can you build movement into your already busy day?
Try writing out how your day proceeds i.e. get up, have shower, eat breakfast, drive to work.
Then think about all the little time slots when you could be doing some movement such as squats while the kettle is boiling, side steps in the supermarket queue (nobody batted an eyelid when I did this, probably just thought I was a fidget or needed the loo), offering to make colleagues a coffee so you can get up from your desk and go to the teapoint (bonus – they’ll love you for doing it), or walk around the car park before going into the office.
Whilst doing something is better than doing nothing, I do remember reading a while ago about a study done by Stamford University I think, which examined the effects on fitness of three groups of people.
The first followed an exercise routine for the duration of the study, the second visualised themselves doing the exercise routine, whilst the third group were couch potatoes and did nothing. Interestingly the second group who had visualised the exercise benefited from doing so although the health gains were not as great as the first group, but definitely beat the couch potatoes.
Apparently if we imagine ourselves exercising it sends messages to our bodies which are similar to those when we actually do exercise so it can help improve our breathing, oxygen intake and muscular health. You have to make it as real as possible though, so if you visualise going for a run you need to imagine the detail of your outfit, your warm up, your route, the weather, etc. to make it as real as possible. Something to try if you’re laid up perhaps?
Watch out for my next blog when I’ll be taking you through a toe to top movement routine which you can easily build into your day
Jan 2019 (2) - I’ve had one!
In the blissful moments after I’ve finished their Reflexology treatments, quite a few of my clients ask ‘ So do you get to have Reflexology?’
My answer is invariably ‘Not nearly as often as I’d like!’
Happily now though I can answer, ‘Yes, I had one only on Friday last week’.
Every now and then I get together with a couple of the girls who were in my group when I did my original Reflexology training and we treat each other to a wonderful Reflexology session.
Not only does it mean that we get to experience that float away feeling that you get during a treatment, but it also gives us the opportunity to try out new techniques on each other, swap tips and have a chat about what areas of Reflexology we’ve adopted since our basic training.
For instance, I was able to tell them about the Mindfulness Reflexology workshop which I had been on, whilst both of my colleagues have completed a foundation Aromaflex course so they can mix some balms using specific essential oils which would suit their clients, and one of them has undertaken a Facial Reflexology course. Now before you rush onto Google to try to locate them, I have to disappoint you and tell you that they are not local – I have to go to Norwich to meet up with them.
My Reflexology treatments are a bit like London buses at the moment though as I’d not had one for ages, but I’m due to have another this Friday when a friend visits me. How lucky am I?
Jan 2019(1) - Don’t do it!
If you haven’t already, don’t do it! Don’t make a New Year’s Resolution. Why not?
Because it’s entirely the wrong time of year to do it, that’s why not.
Let’s face it, most people will resolve to:
So what’s wrong with that I hear you ask? Shouldn’t I be trying to improve my health? Yes, absolutely, but leave the main event until later in the year. Here’s why:
Let’s start with losing weight.
Did you get lots of chocolates at Christmas or buy in extra biscuits and sweets? Chances are you’ve still got some lurking in the cupboard, calling to you to finish them up. So what’s going to happen to them? Either you’ll resist them for a couple of weeks then check the use by dates and decide you’d better eat them before it’s too late, or they’ll beckon to you when you’re only a couple of days into your diet. Then before you know where you are you’ll have succumbed and the diet’s gone for a burton (who was Burton?)
So the Christmas break is over, you’re back to work with all the associated stresses and you could really do with a cigarette to help you through the day. Just one – or maybe two, or three, or ten?
Got the new workout gear for Christmas? Only trouble is it’s dark, cold, possibly raining and you don’t feel like going out for a run or leaving your cosy living room to head for the gym, having just got in from work or sorted out the kids’ tea. Or maybe you’ve succumbed to the lurgy that’s doing the rounds?
So what should you do instead of a New Year Resolution?
First off, put the big deal Resolutions to bed until about March when the days are getting longer, hopefully it’s a bit warmer and you can see signs of Spring arriving with bulbs shooting up and birds singing their hearts out.
This is the time of year when your energy is rising as is the sap, so it’s the perfect time to start something new.
Second, give yourself permission not to have a New Year’s Resolution and don’t feel guilty about it just because lots of other people have made them. Be a rebel!
Third, work out some small improvements you can make such as eating an extra portion of veg. a day, having one less cigarette, going up and down stairs four times just for the hell of it.
Here’s the really important thing – do them and make a big deal out of it. Jump up and down with joy when you’ve eaten that extra veg or smoked less ciggies or worn a bit off the stair carpet. Pat yourself on the back (literally if you can), shout ‘Whoop, Whoop’, do a jig.
Anything to celebrate.
This might seem overkill but it’s making your brain send the right messages about the positive changes you’ve made, which is more likely to encourage you to add another small challenge. Before you know it you’ll be looking forward to making those changes and by the time you get to March you may not even have to stage the main event as you’ll already have been making all those changes and seeing results.
So 4 steps to a new you:
Put the big Resolution on hold
Give yourself permission to ignore it for a while
Decide on a small change and do it