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I can’t say enough about how useful tennis balls are for dealing with shoulder pain.  (Watch the video here.)And I’ve recently become a convert to tennis balls to help with sore feet, especially as people ask about dealing with foot soreness, ankle pain and issues like Plantar faciaitis.

Just as you would use a tennis ball (or two) to relieve tension in the upper back/shoulders, you can do the same with the feet.

  • Take a used tennis ball, and put it in a sock.  You can use the tennis ball alone, but I think the sock helps keep the ball from rolling around.
  • Before starting, stand in your socks or bare feet on a flat surface, and check in with how your feet feel.  Notice any discomfort.
  • Sit down in a chair that allows you to sit straight, with both feet on the floor.
  • Start by rolling the tennis ball under that foot that is bothering you (or bothering you more).  Roll the ball slowly–ball of foot, arch and heel areas– , and notice if there are any places where it feels especially good, and stop at those points for a few deep breaths.  If you feel any pain, stop.
  • If you think your foot can bear more pressure, take your foot off the ball, and stand up.  Roll the ball under your foot again; this time put as much weight on the ball as feels like a good massage.  Take a few deep breaths as you bear your weight on the ball.  Touch a wall or furniture if you need for balance.  If you feel any pain, stop.
  • Take your foot off the ball, and once again stand with both feet on the floor.  Notice how you feet feel, compared to before, and compared to each other.  The foot you just massaged with the ball should feel flatter on the floor.
  • Sit back down and do the same with your other foot.  Even if you don’t have discomfort in that foot, or think it needs a massage, spend at least a minute to roll the ball under it.  Following the principle of yin/yang, it’s always a good idea to give attention to the other side.  You’ll likely feel that the other foot feels flatter on the floor, too.

If you’re at home and have the time, you can follow up by giving both feet a massage with your hands.

If you want to get the benefit of this at work, take a tennis ball and roll it under your feet while you work.  You can do it while you’re working, or dedicate a few minutes to the above exercise.  Your feet, the rest of you body, and your mind will thank you for the brief but effective break.

You are encouraged you to seek the advice of a qualified health care provider for questions about a medical condition.

A student in a class recently asked about acupressure points to address dry eyes.  While factors such as diet, stress, and other health issues can cause or exacerbate dry eye, there are some points–directly around the eye–that may be helpful.

Before you start, wash your hands well with soap.  Then sit in a comfortable chair, with your feet flat on the floor.  Experiment with using your right hand or left hand, or both; whichever is comfortable for you.  Also, whether it is the right or left eye which is dry, try the acupressure on both eyes.

When you hold the points–which I will describe shortly–use your index finger or middle finger, and gently place it on the point.  There is no need to apply pressure; simply placing a finger in a relaxed manner will be effective.  Take a deep breath, as you hold each point. 

The points. There are three points, which are around the eye, as you see in the image.  They are the same on each eye.(My drawing–which I hope conveys the basic concept of the eye to you!–is of the left eye, as you look toward it.)  I’ve included the meridian point name, as well as the names translated from Chinese; some are more poetic than others.

  • Bladder 1 (Eyes Bright): This point is on the inside corner of the eye, where it meets your nose.
  • Stomach 1 (Tear Container): Directly below your pupil, this point is on the ridge of the bone around the eye.
  • Gallbladder 1 (Pupil Bone Hole): On the outside corner of the eye socket.

A recommended routine for these three points is to start by placing a fingertip on the Bladder 1 point.  Take five (5) deep breaths as you hold your finger there.  Remember to keep your shoulder and arm relaxed as you do this.  Next move your finger to the Stomach 1 point, and hold for five deep breaths.  Finally, move to the outer corner of your eye at the Gallbladder 1 point, and hold for five deep breaths.  Repeat this on the other eye.  If it’s comfortable, you can hold the points on both eyes at the same time.  Start out with one round of holding these points, then increase daily to about five minutes total, if that is comfortable. 

Acupressure can be effective when you practice it on a regular basis.  So try this routine once or twice a day at a regular time.  After you get up in the morning, and before you go to bed are often times when it’s easier to develop a regular routine.

You are encouraged you to seek the advice of a qualified health care provider for questions about a medical condition.

I realize that quitting a long-term smoking habit can be a huge endeavor.  Once in a while I’ll meet someone who quit cold turkey, but that is likely an exception to the rule.

The thing about any habit is that it’s familiar and comfortable, so letting go of it is a difficult thing to do.

Therefore, the LETTING GO point is a wonderful point to hold, if you are thinking about or working on quitting smoking.  It’s a great point to use on a friend of relative who is going through this, too.  Fittingly, it’s the first point on the Lung meridian, so while it’s really helpful for letting go in many areas of life, it’s so appropriate for letting go of something that pertains to the Lungs. 

To learn more about this point, see this post.

Last night, I just had to have a scone.  Just HAD to.  I found this post with recipe online, halved it, used regular milk instead of cream, and raisins instead of currants.  Wow!  Sooner than I would have imagined, I had amazingly fluffy scones. YUM!

This morning, in a fit of contemplation, I thought to myself, “What is this pastry–sweet and fatty–craving?”

AHA!  It’s about that time when I get my PMS symptoms.  Either I’m really tired or feel like I’m going to catch a cold, or want to eat lots and lots of butter.  I happened to be sitting cross-legged on the floor, so I put my index finger on the Three Yin Intersection acu-point, on my lower leg.  And immediately, I took a nice deep long breath.  Like a sigh of relief.  Ahhhhhh.

It’s so easy to forget.  I do all the time.  And if I took a moment to reflect and test out some acu-points, before reaching for the scone (or croissant or cookie), I might get some longer-lasting relief.

Anyway, wanted to share that with you.  But since I like to look for a silver lining in each cloud, I am thrilled that I’ve come across such an easy and yummy scone recipe!

 

Do you suffer from chronic constipation?  Or have some times when you’re not so regular?  In addition to eating a balanced diet with fiber (cut down on sweets), getting exercise and drinking plenty of water, try these acu-points.

You can try any one, or go through all of them.  Especially if you have chronic constipation, spending 5 minutes every day holding these points can be helpful. Sit in a comfortable position, and pay attention to your breath — deep and slow — while you hold the points.

Hoku, Large Intestine 4

LI4 demo1  This is considered the number one point for dealing with constipation.  You can experiment with the length of time and the strength of the holding.  Try rubbing in a circular motion, palpating it, even thumping it with a knuckle.  The length of time you need to hold it to feel its effectiveness will vary by person.  Try both hands, and be sure to take breaks so that the hand that’s holding doesn’t get tired.  Get detailed instructions here. NOTE: Do not use this point on pregnant women.

Crooked Pond, Large Intestine 11

LI11 hold

This point doesn’t require much pressure.  Rub this point in a circular motion, and you may feel relief during an uncomfortable bowel movement.  Get detailed instructions here.

Hara

This is a couple fingers width below your bellybutton, where you “belly” is.  This is considered your “center”, the place from which you find balance.  So imagine the unbalance when you’re constipated or otherwise uncomfortable in your digestive system.  Just putting some attention to the hara can bring comfort.  Gently rest the palm of your hand on your belly, and breathe slowly and deeply.  Try gentle clockwise circles around your hara, too, to support movement in your bowels.  Get detailed instructions here.

Warning: Do not use this point on pregnant women.

Name: Three Yin Intersection (Spleen 6)

This point, on the inside lower leg, has one of those helpfully descriptive and practical names, because it is indeed where the three yin meridians–spleen, liver and kidney–intersect.

This point can help address reproductive disorders, including menstrual cycle irregularity, pre-menstrual discomfort, and menstruation pain.  Since it’s on the leg, it can be used for pain in the lower leg and ankle.  Helpful also for digestive problems and pain in lower abdomen, for “restless” fatigue and insomnia.

Location: You’ll find this point on the inside lower leg, four fingers’ width above the ankle bone.
spleen 6 dot  spleen 6 four fingers
As with all acupressure points except the ones that run down the center of your body, this point is bilateral, which means it’s found on both legs.

To hold: There are several ways you can do this.  It’s important that you are comfortable in your shoulders, arm and hand, and also your legs, so experiment with different ways to hold the point to see what is most comfortable.

spleen 6 fingers

You can take the thumb of one hand, and gently hold the point on the opposite leg, as in the photo above (right hand thumb holding left leg).  Sitting in a chair, you can put one foot flat on the floor and cross the other leg with the shin over your knee, so you can reach the point easily.

Lying on the floor or your bed, you can take the same position as if you were on a chair, with one foot flat on the floor, and the other leg crossed over so you can reach the point with the opposite hand. 

To try it sitting on the floor, on a bed or a couch, bend your knees and bring your feet toward each other so your legs form a diamond or omega shape. Using the same hand as the leg, hold one point or both hands; one hand on each leg.  Depending on your flexibility, this may or may not be easy and comfortable.  Try putting a bolster or cushion under you knees for support.

Experiment to see what is most comfortable, and what is reasonable based on where you find yourself.

How much pressure?  Spleen 6 can be a very sensitive point, and may be tender even with just a light touch, especially for women pre- and during menstruation.  Just rest your finger on the point, there’s no need to apply pressure. If it’s too tender, release gently. 

On the other hand, you may feel nothing, and pushing harder won’t change that.  At such times, it may be impossible to find the point because you don’t feel anything.  Try holding the palm of your hand over the general area; this can be effective even though you don’t feel it directly.

How long?  Some women feel immediate relief from pain and discomfort when they hold this point.  You can start out by holding for 15 to 30 seconds, if that feels comfortable.  If you are dealing with a chronic issue, daily holding of this point can be helpful.  Hold the point longer every day or so until you work up to one minute.  Repeat a couple of times on each leg.

Warning: Do not use this point on pregnant women.

You are encouraged you to seek the advice of a qualified health care provider for questions about a medical condition.

Name: Great Surge (Liver 3)

This point is on the top of your foot and helps address fatigue, headaches, insomnia related to “busy mind”, hangovers, eye issues (swelling, pain) and alleviates pain. It’s also helpful in energizing.  Some people feel a “great surge” of energy move from their feet, up their legs and bodies; hence the name.

Location: This point is on the top of your foot, in the “valley” at the point where your big toe and second toe bones meet, above the arch of your foot.  See where the dot is on the photo below.  (If you’re familiar with the Hoku point on the hand, you can think of this as the similar point on your foot.)
liverTop
As with all acupressure points except the ones that run down the center of your body, this point is bilateral, which means it’s found on both feet.

To hold: There are several ways you can do this.  It’s important that you are comfortable in your shoulders and arms, so experiment with different ways to hold the point, and see what is most comfortable.

You can sit on a chair with your feet flat on the ground, and bend down to reach the top of your foot with your index or middle finger.  Firmly press on the point with a steady pressure.  Hold first for 10 seconds or so, and then work up to a minute as long as it is comfortable.  As with holding all acupressure points, take deep slow breaths as you hold the point.

I find that it can be easier to hold this point by “sandwiching” it between one finger to top of my foot, and another underneath.  See the photos below where I use my thumb on top in one case; the index finger on top in another.

liver32    liver3 3

Often, this point can be tender; if it is, release the pressure if it is too uncomfortable.  This point, too, can take a lot of pressure, so experiment with different degrees of pressure. 

You are encouraged you to seek the advice of a qualified health care provider for questions about a medical condition.

Name: Crooked Pond (Large Intestine 11)

This point on the crease of your bent elbow, helps address constipation , intestinal discomfort from diarrhea and cramping, fever, sore throat, and elbow issues. It’s also helpful in balancing the immune system.

Location: Bend your arm and look at the crease by your elbow. The point is at the end of the crease, closer to your elbow. See where the red dot is in photo below.LI11 dot As with all acupressure points except the ones that run down the center of your body, this point is bilateral, which means it’s found on both arms.

To hold: Cradle your elbow with your other hand, and use your thumb to hold this point. You can lightly touch it, or massage with a firm touch, in a clockwise motion. Try just one arm, or both, if it’s comfortable. Remember to keep your shoulders and arms relaxed.

LI11 hold

If you have constipation or intestinal discomfort, you may feel relief quickly; the clockwise rubbing might work especially well.

For fever and general immune system balancing, lightly touch the point and hold for a few minutes, as long as it’s comfortable. You can do this several times a day.

For elbow issues, be gentle, but firm as long as it’s not painful.

You are encouraged you to seek the advice of a qualified health care provider for questions about a medical condition.

I got through the weekend, and this afternoon’s comfort-cookie crisis with Trader Joe’s Druid oatmeal cookies. As I was savoring the lovely chewiness of my third lovely cookie with tea, I had an “aha!” moment about the sweet-tooth comfort-food connection.

In the Traditional Chinese Medicine system, sweetness is associated with the Earth element. So when Earth element (associated with the Stomach and Spleen meridians) is out of balance, sweet cravings often ensue.

When might Earth element be out of balance?

  • The Earth is associated with home, the place we feel “homey”, so a move to a new house, or traveling could cause a tip in balance.
  • Or maybe you have too many ideas flying around your head, and you don’t feel “grounded.” You might reach for a cookie or ice cream.
  • Think about a plant; only when it is strong and grounded in the earth can it grow up and out.
  • For women, the Earth element is also related to the menstrual cycle, which helps us understand PMS sweets-cravings.

In my case, since I broke my ankle last week, my connection to the Earth has diminished. I can’t put both feet on the ground. I’m hobbling around on my right foot and two crutches. And even though I’m mostly stuck at home, it’s difficulty to feel homey. My foot is up in the air. My energy is way above the floor; I think it’s in my shoulder area because my shoulders are tired from using the crutches. Oy!

So, a few thoughts on balancing Earth energy:

  • First of all, it’s OK, I say, to eat my cookies! As long as I’m enjoying them, and in moderation. (I’ll run out at any rate, and can’t exactly run down to the store to get some more. That’s the silver lining.)
  • Now that I’ve identified this Earth-imbalance, I can be mindful about other ways to address it:
    • Enjoy healthier sweetness. Fruit. Dried dates. I’ve been eating fruit puree (frozen mangoes and blueberries) with yogurt.
    • Squeeze my muscles; the Earth element loves this. My right leg is working really hard, as are my arms, so I’ll give myself a little massage later.
    • Create routine, especially since I’ve had to adjust and adapt so much of the way I normally do things. I wrote about this, plus other tips in a post related to the Earth element.
    • Energize the Three Mile Point (Stomach 36). Sit down with feet flat on the floor. Make a light fist and rub vigorously along the outside of your shins, a couple of inches below your knee.

OK. So I now have a plan to help address my un-earthiness, and tame my cookie monster!

How embarrassing. I broke a bone today, crossing the street.

I was wearing my backpack heavy with my laptop and power cord and mouse and a couple of books and all that other stuff I need, and was looking at the bus stop sign as I crossed the street. Then I felt a snap as my left ankle twisted.

Uh-oh! It was REALLY painful, my breath stopped, and I felt slightly nauseous. I hobbled to the other side of the street and sat on the curb; my ankle swelled up in about two minutes.

In order to deal with the pain, I took deep breaths, and tried to regulate my breathing. I also squeezed the Hoku acu-point on my left hand. Those first 5 minutes were a big blur; I can’t say for certain that squeezing Hoku helped with the pain, but it was part of my coping toolkit.   And I bet I’ll be relying on those again before I’m walking normally again.

Fortunately, through the kindness of a stranger and friends, I got home. The x-ray shows a tiny bit of bone broken off at the bottom of the fibula. I’ll be focusing on acupressure to help with this healing in the next few weeks.