Keep your blood flowing to help with pain and stiffness

Keep your blood flowing to help with pain and stiffness

DO YOU SUFFER FROM PAINFUL JOINTS OR CARPAL TUNNEL?

I have been asked recently by a few people what foods to eat and which qi gong exercises and self-shiatsu points would help to alleviate the symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome and painful joints.

WHICH ORGANS AFFECT THE FLEXIBILITY AND SWELLOING IN THE JOINTS?

 If you are experiencing stiff, painful joints or carpal tunnel, this could be due to stagnation of blood flow.   Qi gong is an ideal exercise to unblock stagnant blood flow and qi (life force energy), and combined with some acupressure points, you may find relief from stiff or painful joints.

When we are talking about blood flow, it is important to focus on the Heart and the Liver because they’re responsible for your body’s flow of energy and blood.  

My focus has been on the Heart this year a lot, and two Wellness Retreats that I’m running in Ireland (sold out) and Lanzarote (2 spaces only left for the Lanzarote residential retreat – CLICK HERE for more information) are focused on the Heart. 

BLOOD & THE HEART IN CHINESE MEDICINE

In TCM, the concept of blood encompasses not only its physical components but also its energetic and spiritual aspects.

Blood is seen as the material basis for the Shen or spirit, and its production involves not just physiological processes but also energetic transformations.

The emphasis on the heart’s role in blood production and its connection to the Shen underscores the holistic understanding of health in TCM. The heart is considered the residence of the Shen and plays a crucial role not just in pumping blood but also in nurturing the spiritual aspect of human life.

On the other hand, Western medicine primarily focuses on the physiological aspects of blood production and circulation. Blood is indeed produced in the bone marrow and circulated through the body via the cardiovascular system, with the heart acting as the pump to propel blood through the vessels.

Despite these differences in emphasis and perspective, both traditions recognize the importance of a healthy cardiovascular system for overall health and vitality. A well-functioning heart ensures the smooth and efficient circulation of blood, providing nourishment to tissues and organs while removing metabolic wastes, thus contributing to overall wellness.

HOW BLOOD FLOWS IN CHINESE MEDICINE

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), the concept of blood production and its relationship with the organs is indeed significant.

Below I have set out the basic ‘flow’ of blood in the body and how energy is transformed and circulated for good health.

Blood Production in Bone Marrow: In TCM, the bone marrow is considered to be the primary source of blood production. Blood is believed to be produced from the essence of food, water, and air, which are transformed by the spleen and stomach into Gu Qi (food qi) and sent to the bone marrow to form blood.

Role of Spleen and Lungs: The spleen is responsible for transforming the food we eat into Gu Qi, which is then transported to the lungs. In TCM, the lungs play a crucial role in the distribution of Gu Qi throughout the body, as they are considered the organ responsible for circulating qi and controlling respiration.

Transformation by the Heart: From the lungs, Gu Qi is said to be transported to the heart. The heart in TCM is considered the sovereign of all organs and is responsible for governing blood circulation. It’s believed to transform Gu Qi into blood and distribute it throughout the body via the blood vessels.

Involvement of Kidneys: The original or Yuan Qi (your strength and vigor), which is inherited and stored in the kidneys, is believed to play a vital role in the transformation of Gu Qi into blood by the heart.

The kidneys are considered the root of life and are responsible for storing essence, governing birth, growth, reproduction, and development. The Yuan Qi is seen as the foundation for all physiological processes, including blood production.

Overall, this understanding reflects the holistic view of the body in TCM, where organs are seen as interconnected and working together to maintain health and balance. The concept underscores the importance of a balanced diet, proper digestion, and the harmonious functioning of various organs for the production and circulation of blood, which is crucial for overall health and vitality.

CAN DIET AFFECT INFLAMMATION IN THE BODY?

The short answer is yes! One of my favourite parts of Chinese medicine includes healing your body with food.

In traditional Chinese medicine, each organ pair is linked to a season and a food that can boost your body’s healing properties.

 

You can read lots about how different foods affect your body and your organs in my cook books HERE.

Consider eating Spring vegetables like kale, spring greens and green vegetables and herbs that are often bitter in flavour (rocket, parsley, etc).

The bitterness of these Spring green foods help the Heart and the Liver, which can help your blood and energy flow more easily and smoothly.

ACUPRESSURE FOR PAIN

In my latest Ask Me Anything podcast episode, I demonstrate some self-shiatsu acupressure points, including Large Intestine 9 which is great to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Watch the full episode HERE (Painful Joints & Carpal Tunnel) to see how to find this source point and connect with it, allowing the energy within this point to flow smoothly, relieving any pain or tension in the area.

HOW TO PRESS ACUPRESSURE POINTS

When you are practising Qi Gong or any Shiatsu practice, it is important to know how to connect the movement to your body’s energy flow.

It is just as important to understand how to find an acupressure point as it is to know how to use it by connecting your mind and body to its purpose.

ASK A QUESTION, ASK ME ANYTHING!

The Ask Me Anything podcast series has been created to answer your questions using my knowledge of Chinese medicine, Qi Gong, Qi Food therapy and Shiatsu.  You can ask a question by clicking HERE, or you can watch or listen to past episodes to see if your question has already been answered.

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Acupoints and exercise for Parkinsons

Acupoints and exercise for Parkinsons

April is Parkinsons Awareness Month so Im going to be sharing lots of information regarding Chinese Medicine and Living Well with Parkinsons, culminating in a free Qi Gong class at the end of the month, plus a whole month of Qi Gong, Acupressure and Food Medicine during the month of May.  Sign up for the free class at the end of this blog.

Apathy and fatigue can be the nemesis of people with Parkinson’s.

Regular physical activity can help your mood, your energy levels, your balance and your motivation, but you need to plan it. You need to make sure it works around your medication timings and be careful that it is not so intense or tiring that you get thrown off course.

Chi Flow with Jo is a gentle daily exercise class with a dedicated community full of support, when you feel like giving up.

My husband, Davy was diagnosed with Parkinson’s eight years ago; as a Qi Gong teacher and Chinese Medicine Practitioner, he and I work together so that he sleeps well, maintains flexibility, balance and strength plus working on the emotional aspects that are not so visible. 

He practices Qi Gong every day in Chi Flow with Jo which helps him live with ease, confidence and flow, physically and emotionally.

But it’s not just about him, as his partner, I find strength and support practicing Qi Gong, which strengthens loving compassionate kindness, knowing my limits and how to stay healthy.

Click here to watch Joanne and Davy discuss what works for them and how they work together. 

“I use Chi Flow with Jo to relax the body and helps body move in a smooth way. Even when I’m out walking, I try to think about my Qigong moves so I walk in Qigong way, not a robotic way.”

Simple things like imagining he has little lemons under his armpits, gives Davy space so when he’s walking, his elbows don’t end up stuck to his waist, there’s more flow and less shuffle.

The Qigong practice that we do every morning helps to just bring centered ease to the body. 

Research shows that exercise and physical activity can not only maintain and improve mobility, flexibility and balance but also ease non-motor PD symptoms such as depression or constipation.

“People with PD who start exercising earlier in their disease course for a minimum of 2.5 hours per week experience a slowed decline in quality of life compared to those who start later. Establishing early exercise habits is essential to overall disease management.”

There’s a super easy exercise demonstrated in the free mini ebook called “The pendulum swing”

Begin by inhaling and bringing your arms up to shoulder height, then exhale, letting the weight of the arms swing down.  If you let them just swing effortlessly down and they naturally come back up.  Repeat for at least one minute to get the blood and the energy moving.

Do check out the free mini ebook for the full video demonstrating the simple, fun and effective Qi Gong move.

By learning to match your breathing with movement into your daily life can help to reduce stress levels, improve focus and concentration, and boost overall physical and mental health.

In my last blog I discussed food medicine for Parkinsons in terms of Traditional Chinese Medicine.  Primarily we focused on supporting the liver energy system and healthy blood flow to nourish the organs, ligaments and tendons for ease, reducing cramps and rigidity and increasing flexibility  throughout the body.

Following the 5 element system, the nourishment of blood by the liver relies on Kidney jing

When Kidney jing is weak, liver energy and the strength of the blood also becomes weak. 

Therefore is we strengthen Kidney energy through exercise, and acupressure we help vital blood to flow and nourish organs, ligaments, muscles and tendons, relieving spasms, cramps, twitching, improving sleep and ease of the body.

If you are a caregiver, you can do this for somebody and then swap, let your partner do it for you.  It calms anxious nerves and releases excess, stagnated or agitated energy. 

Simply stroke from the top of the head, down over the spine to the small of the back, following the bladder meridians in the image.  Repeat slowly and gently from 30 seconds to 2 minutes.  Don’t worry about believing all the Chinese Medicine or knowing all the meridians simply try it and see.  

Either side of the spine is the bladder meridian which is the partnered to the kidney energy system. This simple exercise strengthens the kidney/bladder energy which governs and regulates the nervous system.

The Kidney energy system in Traditional Chinese Medicine would also govern the bones, the brain, the hormones, glands.  Studies have shown that using this complimentary therapy improves “Non-motor symptoms of PD include cognitive dysfunction, depression, sleep disorders, gastrointestinal, and bladder dysfunction, fatigue, sensory abnormalities, autonomic dysfunction, mentation, behavior, mood, and quality of life problems.”

☯️At the same time as stroking the bladder meridian either side of the spine try incorporating some acupressure points.

This is one you can do yourself of for someone else.

Begin by rubbing gently the occipital ridge, just where the back of the skull meets the neck.  This whole area is great for relieving neck and shoulder pain, increasing blood flow to reduce headaches and migraines caused by tightness, tension or stress.

Then find the hollow area at the base of your skull, slide up until your thumb finds the bony protrusion and you have landed on Governing Vessel 16: Wind Mansion.

This point

  • ☯️ Nourishes the “sea of marrow” and the brain.
  • ☯️ Eliminates wind (not flatulance but rather an internal chaotic energy that causes tremors, spasms and dyskinesia, see previous blog for details)
  • ☯️ Calms the spirit, relieving anxiety, worry, insomnia and mania.

Traditionally we use the thumb to massage the acupoint with deep and steady pressure.

HOW TO PRESS A POINT

Massage the point in a circular motion without removing the thumb from the skin. You can also hold and gently press, imaging energy travelling from the core of your body, out of your thumb and into the point you are connecting with.

Massage the point anywhere between 30 seconds and 3 minutes until you feel a change in the energy. This might be an all over body sensation, not just in the point. Remember consistency is key so massage your favourite points daily

There are many points that benefit the body but even without knowing their location TOUCH is the most important thing.

TOUCH FOR HEALTH

Studies show touch can reduce chronic pain and it is recommended it as part of a daily routine

If you are living with Parkinson’s to get regular massage.  If you have a partner, give and receive  healing touch daily. 

All touch, done with loving intention, is healing touch.

Connect in with yourself and use touch, touch your own body, touch your own chest, your arms, your legs, your belly and touch each other.

FEEL WELL, LIVE WELL

Chi Flow with Jo uses natural and easy Qi Gong movements, self acupressure point massage, breathwork and food medicine every weekday morning to nourish the blood, clear the Liver, support the Kidney and calm your nervous system.

Plus daily Q&A helps you to return to deep acceptance and ease with a community full of support.

Doors open the last few days of the month so that we begin the new moves together at the beginning of the new month.

Enter your email to receive the FREE CLASS – where myself and Davy are live to ASK US ANYTHING

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HOW CAN QI GONG HELP REVITALISE YOUR LIFE?

If you’re eager to revitalise your daily routine and prioritise self-care for both your mind and body, consider exploring Qi Gong as a transformative practice.

Qi Gong is all about being well and loving yourself with gentle exercise, and the best part is that everyone can benefit from it.

Hope to see you in the Chi Flow.

Self-administered acupressure or Chinese Medicine is not a substitute for visits to qualified healthcare practitioners.

Knowing how to treat yourself and your loved ones with complimentary therapies like acupressure can be greatly beneficial and convenient. However, for serious and chronic conditions, you’ll want to visit an Shiatsu therapist / Acupuncturist or other qualified healthcare practitioner who can develop a treatment plan based on your unique medical history and combination of symptoms.  The information provided should not be considered medical advice.

 Joanne Faulkner is a Qi Gong teacher – Chi Flow with Jo – teaching live daily online Qi Gong classes to hundreds of people; a Shiatsu practitioner specializing in the energy of food in Traditional Chinese Medicine and a published Author. Her residential and day Wellness Retreats focus on Chi Gong, self-Shiatsu & Conscious Cooking Demonstrations, and are extremely popular.

Joanne is currently the Irish representative to the European Shiatsu Federation and until recently was the Chairperson of the Shiatsu Society Ireland.

 “Good Food: Better Sex” and “Shiatsu & the Art of Conscious Cooking” , both written and published by Joanne, are modern cookbooks full of delicious recipes, Traditional Chinese Medicine plus acupressure points for health and wellbeing.

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