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Wishing everyone a Happy Holiday Season
and all the best for 2020!
I was at a week-long conference in Salem, MA. Upon my return, my pain level increased. This got me wondering – why?
The conference required I sit for hour and a half long sessions. There were two sessions morning and afternoon with a lunch break in-between. There were also evening sessions. That’s a lot of sitting which, for most of us, translates into lower back pain.
The difference between the conference and being at home? Water intake.
During the conference I drank 800ml (3 c. approx.) per 1-1/2 hour session and at least that again in the off-time. That works out to about three litres of water per day. I was hydrated, and pain free.
Upon my return, filled with distractions, I failed to keep up my water consumption. My pain increased. After two days of increasing my water intake, my pain is reduced.
There are equations for water intake online.
During the conference, I drank a minimum 12 cups of water per day.
How much water do you drink per day? Do you notice a difference in your pain levels when you drink lots of water? Let me know – I’m curious.
De-stress with reflexology: you deserve it!
Every year in the last week of September reflexologists around the world celebrate World Reflexology Week to promote awareness of our wonderful therapy.
Members of the Reflexology Association of Canada are Registered Canadian Reflexology Therapists, (RCRT™) so you know you’re getting the best treatment possible from registered, insured, professional practitioners.
Here’s a few comments from some of RAC’s practitioners:
Have questions? I’m happy to answer them.
I have to say, the weather this month is peculiar. Sunday night it began snowing and Monday morning, I awoke to this:
Snow brings its own set of problems – what to wear on our feet? By now, most of you know I’m a proponent of minimalist footwear, and finding winter boots can be challenging. It’s virtually impossible to find zero-drop boots in local stores; one has to look online. Thankfully, there is a growing market for seasonal footwear, and a quick Google search brings results.
One site I’d like to draw attention to is The Foot Collective. I admit I’m smitten with the site, and have no affiliation with it.
If you haven’t clicked the link already, I’ll quote their homepage: “We’re a group of Canadian physical therapists on a mission to help humans reclaim strong, functional and painfree feet through foot health education. We’re empowering people with the knowledge they need to protect their feet from the dangers of modern footwear and the guidance (to) fix their own feet.”
There is a wealth of information on this site, and, best of all, they have an online store! Yippee! I encourage you to check them out. They’re also on Instagram and post daily thought-provoking photos. I’m hopeful you’ll find them intriguing and want to learn more about foot health.
Stay tuned for the final three essays in the Body Systems and Reflexology series. I’ll post them all at the same time.
I encourage you to treat your feet to a lovely soak. Check out the post Here.
Remember that headache, and sleepless night? Considering our bodies are 60% water, low water intake can often be a culprit. When I give a reflexology treatment, it often becomes apparent which individuals might not be drinking enough water.
Opinions vary, with recommendations we drink eight glasses of water per day, to as many as fifteen glasses per day for men and eleven per day for women.
How much water do you drink per day?
Did you know:
Our kidneys filter about 400 gallons (1,400 liters) of blood every single day. In the process, they form urine, but have other equally essential jobs to do.
- Urine is formed to remove wastes from our bodies.
- Whenever the cells throughout or bodies do their jobs, they produce waste products. Examples being: urea and ammonia.
- The kidneys play a role in regulating our blood pressure by removing excess water from our blood, help control pH, or level of acidity, stimulate red blood cell production in the bone marrow, and control the amount of sodium, calcium, magnesium, and potassium in our blood.
- Special cells in the kidneys monitor the level of oxygen in the blood. Other specialized cells in the kidney activate the vitamin D that is made by the interaction between skin cells and sunlight. Vitamin D’s presence is necessary for bones to be able to convert calcium into bone tissue.
During a reflexology treatment, as well as the reflexes from the Nervous, Endocrine, Respiratory, Cardiovascular and Digestive systems, the reflexologist will work the kidney, ureter, and bladder reflexes of the Urinary/Renal System.
My challenge to you: Drink a minimum 8-10 glasses of water per day. (This doesn’t include herbal teas!)
If you do suffer frequent headaches, it might be interesting to note whether an increase in water intake helps decrease the frequency of your headaches. And, with an adequate water intake, chances are you’ll sleep better too.
Brin Jackson, RCRT™
Cool November temperatures, falling maple leaves, and welcome rain, bring home to me the startling passage of time.
Many friends and clients greet seasonal change with gusto, delighting in crisp morning frosts whilst others feel changes in their emotions and bones. I notice this change in my reflexology practice. The focus often shifts from maintenance to one of support. A reflexology treatment can help soothe the emotional swings of Seasonal Affective Disorder, ease wintry arthritic pains, support the immune system in thwarting a cold, or in some cases, accelerate recovery.
This is the season of colds and flu. Several months ago I began a series on reflexology and the body systems. If you’re curious, you can read the first in the series, “Stressed out? Reflexology and the Nervous System” HERE, or the latest entitled, “Reflexology and the Digestive System”, HERE.
Several self-care go-to’s for me are: a soothing mug of fresh ginger-root tea with lemon and honey, a delicious Epsom salts soaking bath at the end of the day, or a tried and true nutritious broth.
Do you have old stand-bys you use to prevent colds and flu?
I’d like to offer you and a friend each a discount. During November and December, when you each book a foot or hand reflexology treatment, mention your names, this post, and you each get $20 off. What a great way to support yourselves!
Go to my Comments page and leave your healthy winter go-to’s or ask a question, or go to my Contact page to book a treatment.
I look forward to hearing from you.
We’ve looked at Reflexology and the Nervous, Endocrine, Respiratory, and Cardiovascular Systems. Now, it’s time for the Digestive System.
The Digestive System has more organs than any other, yet it’s focused on one job: to get your cells the nutrients they need to carry out their different functions.
I think we’ve all encountered a loss of appetite, constipation or diarrhea due to travel, public speaking, or any activity which pushes us from our comfort zone. Adding other forms of stress, sleepless nights, or a headache (one side-affect of constipation) to the mix, only compounds digestive system health issues.
The Digestive System consists of the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, small intestine, large intestine, and rectum.
Digestion begins before food enters our mouths. When we smell or see food that appeals to us, it stimulates the secretion of saliva. Salivary enzymes help breakdown starch.
Once chewed, food is swallowed through the esophagus. Using a peristaltic motion, muscles contract and move the food to the stomach.
The stomach, a mucosal lined sac, secretes a strong acid which starts the breakdown of protein in our food. It’s also an important chemical barrier against germs and organisms. The stomach is mostly concerned with changing the food by continuing to break it apart before moving to the small intestine. Stress can contribute to different types of ulcers affecting the digestive system: mouth, esophageal, peptic (stomach & upper small intestine), and, the ulcers themselves, often cause additional stress.
The liver has over 600 known functions, but one of its major functions is to manufacture bile and to store sugar.
The liver constantly secretes bile (a grease-cutting detergent and emulsifier) like a slow drip, which is stored in the gall bladder. When food comes into the stomach, the gallbladder is alerted through a chemical messenger — a hormone (Endocrine system), and bile comes down the common bile duct onto the fatty food to help break it down. The pancreas, a dual-function organ, is alerted when food is in the stomach. It produces a digestive enzyme called pancreatin that breaks down almost everything: protein, carbohydrate, and fat.
If everything works properly, enzymes are released and the mix, called chime, goes through the small intestine – roughly 18-20 feet long.
We tend to think of digestion as something the stomach does, but really, it happens in the small intestine. It is here food molecules are broken down into their individual components; proteins to amino acids, fats into fatty acid molecules and carbohydrates into glucose molecules.
Once food is broken down into small enough molecules, these have to get to the cells that need them. The absorptive surface of the small intestine is where the nutrients are pulled by the vilii in the small intestine and enter the blood stream.
After a while in the small intestine food is moved via peristalsis to the iliocecal valve and appendix.
This is the junction of the small and the large intestine. The ileocecal valve is like a ring valve and functions to prevent backflow. From this point, food is slated for elimination – no longer digestion. Water is absorbed, and the waste is concentrated. The appendix whose function wasn’t known until recently, helps to prevent mucous production in the intestines and is also immune tissue. The appendix has an immune function.
At this point the food residue travels through the large intestine reaching the rectum and anus. These are valves. They are given messages as to when it’s time to eliminate.
The major function of the digestive system is to extract the energy value and nutrition from food. Whenever possible, it’s important to eat regular, nutritious meals. Anything we can do to support healthy functioning of our digestive system improves our overall health. We’ve all heard not to eat after 7:00 p.m. The digestive system needs time for rest and repair as well.
During a reflexology treatment, it’s not uncommon for your digestive system to start making noises. This is perfectly normal, and a good sign that you’ve dropped into the parasympathetic healing and rest state.
As well as the reflexes of the Nervous, Endocrine, Respiratory, and Cardiovascular systems, the following reflexes of the Digestive system are worked during a reflexology treatment: Mouth, Upper and lower teeth, Esophagus, Gall Bladder, Stomach, Liver, Pancreas, Duodenum, Appendix, Ileocecal Valve, Ascending Colon, Hepatic Flexure, Transverse Colon, Splenic Flexure, Descending Colon, Sigmoid Flexure, Sigmoid Colon, and Rectum/Anus. Phew! (Pun intended!)
Urinary/Renal System is next, and yes, this body system can also be affected by stress, headache, and loss of sleep.
Brin Jackson, RCRT™
Where did we leave off? Oh, yes, your nervous, endocrine and respiratory systems are struggling because you’re sleep deprived and woke up with a headache.
Unless you’re on life support, the heart powers the show, and life support simulates the action of the heart. We have a four-minute window of existence if we stop breathing before there is tissue death.
The heart and blood vessels of the body make up the circulatory system. The heart is the machine responsible for pumping blood through our 60,000 miles of twisting and turning blood vessels. 60,000 miles!
About the size of a fist, and located slightly off-centre to the left side of the body, the heart beats about 100,000 times every 24 hours. This is our transportation system for blood.
What is blood doing? Produced in the bone marrow, red blood cells carry hemoglobin and oxygenated blood. The blood delivers oxygen to the cells, picks up the carbon dioxide and brings it back to the lungs. It’s a gas exchange going all the time. Our blood also carries plasma: white blood cells; lymphocytes involved in the immune response. They fight infection and clean up debris.
Arteries take oxygen enriched blood to the cells. The arteries branch off, becoming smaller and smaller and go to the capillaries. This is where the gas exchange takes place. Capillaries turn into small veins and venules. They are picked up and go to larger and larger veins. At this point, the oxygen has been dropped off and carbon dioxide is picked up from the cells as metabolic waste. Arteries take blood away from the heart and veins bring it back to the heart. Arteries have bright red blood, because of the oxygen and veins look blue because of the CO2 and waste material. The blood transports nutrients, oxygen, wastes, and carbon dioxide.
All cells require oxygen. The cells of the heart are no different. It needs its own blood supply. The aorta sends off two coronary arteries that circle the heart. Their many branches bring oxygen and needed nutrients directly to the hard-working cardiac muscle.
The arteries are the part that governs blood pressure. There’s a difference between arteries and veins. Arteries have a middle muscular wall which the veins don’t have. They are capable of contraction and act to regulate pressure by how tight this muscle wall is set. If it’s slack, it’s low blood pressure, if it’s tight, it narrows the channels and creates higher blood pressure. The aorta is the largest artery, about the size of your thumb! The aorta leaves the heart and splits into the femoral arteries and then divides.
Unlike the heart, veins don’t have a pressure mechanism – a pump. That means they can’t push the blood. So, the mechanism to deal with that, is uni-directional valves which prevent back-flow. Remember, veins bring blood back to the heart. When the valves are under too much pressure, the blood can back up. For example, varicose veins in the legs. Veins work uphill, against gravity. We don’t want blood flowing back down and pooling into the feet. The veins, especially in the legs, require exercise to facilitate return of the blood to the heart. Exercise is important for blood and lymphatic return from the legs. In the upper body, it doesn’t seem to be as much of a problem because gravity helps the veins drain downward, but we need those large muscles to contract to help move blood from below the knees.
Lastly, there are two little shunts for the pulmonary and portal systems. The pulmonary shunt is like an off-shoot out of the main system. This is where the blood supply goes to the lungs to pick up oxygen and bring it to the heart – re-oxygenate the blood before it’s dumped back into general circulation. The portal system is a shunt that goes to the liver. It’s a digestive and detoxification shunt. Everything we digest is filtered through the portal system before going into general circulation.
There are many things that can go wrong. When stressed, the heart rate increases. Medications are often prescribed to slow down or speed up the heart-rate. Pace-makers or ablation is performed to steady an irregular heart-beat. So, that sleepless night and headache? affects the cardiovascular system as well as the nervous, endocrine, and respiratory systems.
There is such emphasis placed on the heart: emotional, spiritual, physical, which can bring its own types of stressors, and we all know the importance of self-care – eat right, get plenty of exercise, drink lots of water, and all will be well. This isn’t always the case, and, it’s easier said than done, right?
At the end of the day, we do the best we can. Breathing exercises, journaling, meditation, walks in the forest or along the sea-shore, a reflexology treatment. All these things help the cardiovascular system.
There is only the heart reflex. A reflexologist will always do a full treatment because blood is everywhere. It permeates every part of our body.
Next month we look at the digestive system – it’s a really big deal!
Did I leave you hypothetically sleep deprived and headachy last month? Bear with me.
Breathing seems like such a simple activity – moving air into and out of our lungs. Did you know we do it about 15,000 times per day? It is so important to our survival it’s only partly under our control. The brain automatically causes our respiratory muscles (diaphragm) to contract. Think of a child threatening to hold its breath!
How we breathe plays a vital role in our well-being. It’s a gas exchange! Oxygen and carbon dioxide switch between the air, lungs, and the blood. Oxygen allows the body to change glucose (a sugar molecule) into carbon dioxide and water. One of the by-products of that reaction is energy. And, our respiratory system has other functions: smelling, vocalization, and cleaning and warming the air we breathe.
One of the first things I notice during a reflexology treatment, is the client’s breathing rhythm changes. The person may take a deep breath and sigh, as these reflexes are being stimulated.
The nervous, endocrine, muscular, skeletal, and circulatory systems are intimately involved with the respiratory system whenever we take a breath.
The nose is for both inhalation and filtration of air. It filters using nose hair and mucous secreted by its lining to trap dust and other harmful particles. The nose warms the air and mucous membranes also moisturize the air before it goes to the lungs. Our nasal cavities make olfaction (smelling) possible. I’m concerned by the prevalence of removing nose hair for aesthetics. It’s there for a reason!
The pharynx is basically a connector to the larynx.
The larynx leads to the trachea, sometimes called the windpipe; the air comes down the trachea, splits into two bronchial tubes, which then split into bronchioles, like an upside-down tree root system, which expand into the lungs. This is where the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange take place.
The lungs are made up of tiny sacs called alveoli. Millions of these make up the lungs. The lungs are a spongy organ with a rich blood supply. The expanding and contracting action of the lungs is important for lymphatic drainage. This expansion and contraction acts like a bellows and pumps the lymph. We have a high surface area for the blood to make its gas exchange with the inside air in the surface area within the lungs.
The diaphragm is actually a muscle, but is included in the respiratory system to understand how it works. Located beneath the lungs and above the stomach, it is a dome-shaped muscle that separates the chest area from the abdominal area and tightens and releases to act as an accelerating pump for breathing.
The hypothetical sleep-deprived, headachy scenario:
You’re not sleeping, so the nervous system is immediately out of whack. Stress and chronic pain are two culprits that often keep us awake at night. Our emotions affect our nervous system. Many people find soothing music, meditation, or journaling helpful.
Amongst the tossing and turning, or lying staring at the ceiling, the endocrine system is trying to release hormones to balance things, but the nervous system isn’t cooperating. Physiologically, the body is stuck in a fight or flight response rather than a rest and repair state.
Chronic pain and sleep deprivation go hand-in-hand. Muscles tense and our brain wills them to relax, we get into a vicious circle. I don’t want to get into the use of pain medications here, but soothing soaking baths or foot soaks often help relax tight muscles.
And, I imagine the respiratory system is acting up. In all likelihood, you’re shallow-breathing, rather than taking nice deep, calming breaths, so you might be interested in trying out a breathing exercise.
We haven’t got to them yet, but chances are our Digestive System and Cardiovascular systems aren’t happy either – further contributors to the headache.
Can you see how the body systems relate to and impact each other? Though we’d like to think so, overcoming illness, particularly chronic illness, is never a simple, quick fix.
Next month, take a look at the Cardiovascular system with me.