How To Easily Decrease Your Aches And Pains

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Living life can be painful.

From tight shoulders to achy knees to low back strains — they can all creep in unexpectedly and leave you feeling like you have aged decades.

She prided herself on being fierce in life; Always on the go and challenging her body in ways that would make Superwoman jealous. Long days of taking care of the kids, fitting in her workouts, cleaning the house, or working a physically demanding job. Some days if was all of the above.

But as she got older, things started to change. She started to change. Her body wasn’t as flexible and her mind stopped her from trying feats that were never previously questioned.

She couldn’t squat down as low because her knees ached and her hips hurt if she sat too long.

She had chronic pain in her upper back and neck and noticed that even turning to reach in the back seat of the car caused jarring pain to shoot into her shoulder.

She would wake up in pain, wondering how she could possibly injure herself while sleeping.

She felt decades older than she really was and would say over and over, “I am getting so old.”

The worst part? She felt unattractive and uncomfortable in her own skin. She no longer felt like this young, attractive, vibrant, energetic woman. Life’s sparkle dulled a bit.

Does this sound like a version of you? I hear this story from women all the time. I have been a version of this woman myself!

It can feel daunting to take care of yourself and your body when you have so many demands on your plate. It is easy to push away what doesn’t seem immediately necessary — to change it to another day. But for many of us, that other day never really comes and if that is your story, then you may be left with years of built up tension and tightness spreading throughout your physical body.

You are an energetic being. And being an energetic being, your energy needs to flow through your body or else it could get trapped in areas throughout your body. One example of this is shoulder tightness. Stress and pent up emotion may result in you clenching your neck and shoulder muscles, unknowingly squeezing them upwards towards your ears and creating this tightness to start setting in. That continual contracting (squeezing) of the muscle creates a muscle spasm, which is a continual dose of energy being given from that muscle. This then causes the muscles and other soft tissues (tendons, ligaments, fascia, etc) to start tightening even more, decreasing the flow of natural energy movement through that area. The more energy that gets stuck, the more you are thrown off physically, emotionally, mentally, and so on.

Where To Begin

There are many places you can begin when trying to get rid of the physical aches and pains that may be holding you back. You want to reevaluate questions such as :

  • Are you eating a whole foods, low processed, low sugar nutrition plan?
  • Is your gut health strong? Food allergies, autoimmune disorders (i.e., Celiac disease, IBS, Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus), Rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory diseases, Alzheimers, and even mood imbalances may be signs that it is not.
  • Are your shoes supportive?
  • Do you need orthotics in your shoes?
  • Are you stretching regularly?
  • Do you get massages or other body work?
  • Are you getting enough sleep and rest?
  • Are your workouts supporting you or breaking your body down?
  • Are you getting adequate nutrient support like magnesium or Vitamin D?

This is not an exhaustive list, but it can help you get a little closer to honing in on the long term support you are giving your body.

I am going to give you some pro tips you can do at home or whenever you need immediate relief. But before I do, let’s talk about some areas that will help support you in the long term.

Massage and Other Alternative Medicines

Massage is fantastic to ease pain in several different ways. It affects your nervous system through the nerve endings in your skin. This stimulates the release of endorphins, which are natural “feel good” chemicals, and they promote feelings of relaxation, a sense of well-being, lowered stress, and lowered pain. But it doesn’t stop there. Massage can also increase blood flow to sore or stiff joints and muscles, assists the lymphatic system in flushing away waste products and toxins, helps to ease tightness and break up scar tissue, and it has been shown to be a natural painkiller because of it’s trigger to release opioids into the brain (and speeds up the flow of the hormone oxytocin, a hormone that relaxes muscles and encourages feelings of calmness and contentment).

Massage is not the only avenue to explore. The following have been showing high levels of effectiveness in decreasing pain and body aches from a root cause level:

  • Acupuncture
  • Reflexology
  • Reiki
  • Physical therapy
  • Chiropractic treatment
  • Nutritionist for dietary healing
  • Herbal remedies 
  • Essential oils
  • Yoga, Qigong, and Tai Chi
  • Meditation
  • Hypnosis or guided imagery
  • Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT or Tapping)
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

What Can I Do For Immediate Relief?

  • For tightness and pain and tension, you can try one of the above therapies that is easy to implement at home. Try 5-10 minutes of quiet or moving meditation (which could come from yoga, qigong, or tai chi). You could also perform some self-massage on the affected area using some healing salves or gels to increase the healing process. For this, I love using Badger’s Sore Muscle Rub. It has a nice soothing warming effect by using cayenne extract and it helps to ease some of the muscle tightness with it’s essential oils.
  • If it is tight muscle spasms you are experiencing, try some trigger point release. This is a technique in which you apply deep, constant pressure on the sore muscle spasm with your finger, elbow, thumb or whatever is most comfortable for you. It that is uncomfortable or you need to get deeper, you can use household items, such as a tennis ball, lacrosse ball, or golf ball. Hold each muscle spasm for about 10-90 seconds or until you start to feel some release in the tightness. You can either hold each with a constant pressure or use small, kneading, circular movements to help loosen. Again, whatever feels most effective for you.
  • For tight and sore muscles, you can try foam rolling for an at home self-massage that massage the muscles and the fascia in your body. Here is a link to show you how to get started.
  • If you are experiencing tight feet, arch pain, or a sharp pain in your heel, you may be on the verge of (or already experiencing) some plantar fascitis. Try stretching and self massage. Perform a standing calf stretch or a standing step stretch. To loosen up the arch, roll a golf ball under your foot with moderate pressure,or whatever pressure feels comfortable, for a 3-5 minutes. For better results, you can use a small water bottle with frozen water inside to add the cooling effect and calm down the inflammation. For heel pain, try some light massage over the painful area, again for 5 minutes or until it feels as though the pain is subsiding slightly.
  • For cuts and burns and scraps, there are a few easy home remedies to give you relief:
    • Mix three or four drops of lavender oil together with a few drops of coconut or tamanu oil, always after it is cleaned.
    • Cayenne pepper can be used on minor scrapes and scratches for quick relief, but never on open wounds. Cayenne contains capsaicin, which helps speed healing and blocks pain messages to the brain — wipe off when pain is lessened.
    • You can also try an aloe vera plant.  Break off a leaf and squeeze gel directly onto the affected area. Aloe vera seals the injury, relieves pain and provides quicker healing. Reapply 3-4 times daily.
    • Limes and lemons have been proven to have an antibiotic effect and can kill bacteria.
    • Tea tree oil is great because it is antiseptic, antimicrobial, and has many healing properties.
    • Arnica gel provides excellent pain relief and healing of cuts, scrapes, and burns.
  • If you got an upset stomach or nausea, try sniffing some lavender essential oil and/or ingesting real ginger. There are ginger chews and ginger snacks that can relieve an unsettled stomach. I also like using Doterra’s DigestZen for immediate relief in bloating, indigestion, and nausea. It is my go-to oil for motion sickness!
  • If you are looking for some over the counter products that are reliable and easy to use, I recommend the following:
    • Topricin for soothing relief associated with arthritis, lower back pain, carpal tunnel, fibromyalgia, or work and sports related injuries.
    • Arnicare by Boiron is an excellent homeopathic medicine to assist with pain relief, stiffness, swelling, and bruising.
    • Skin Gel by AloeLife is my go to for burns, wounds, and scars (and much more).

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Women, Weight-Loss, And How To Balance Your Hormones

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It all shifts.

Every single inch seems to shift to a part of the body that it wasn’t meant to be. 

The thighs move up to the hips, the butt moves up the belly, and the back of the arms extend their goodbye with just a little extra jiggle than you might want. 

The shift happens for men and women, but women are more afflicted because of their delicate hormonal balance that can easily get upset. 

It Isn’t All About The Calories

People have been brainwashed to think if we eat a little less or follow the latest fad diet, that the weight will just melt off of us — regardless of your age or current hormonal disposition. 

Unfortunately, there continues numerous dieting models that place this hypothesis on a pedestal, promising their female clients success. And then when it doesn’t work or only works for a short period of time? 

Well…

You blame yourself. You must have done something wrong or did not have the magical willpower unicorn to help you stay on track.

I discovered that the calorie-in/calorie-out hypothesis has been widely disproven and remains the greatest misconception women have about diet and weight loss. Calories matter, more to some women than others, but hormones matter more.

Most diets don’t work for women. They fail to address the hormonal root causes that are the most common reasons for resisting weight loss resistance — excess cortisol, insulin and/or leptin blockage, estrogen dominance, a sluggish thyroid, low testosterone, and problems with the HPA (hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal) control system.

The HPA (Hypothalamic–Pituitary–Adrenal) Axis

The HPA axis is the boss of all your hormones. It sits up high looking out over the hormonal kingdom and communicating based on how it interacts with other hormones. The root cause of cortisol imbalance is usually a dysregulated HPA axis. 

When the HPA is up-regulated, you churn out too much cortisol. Think muffin top, feeling like you’re constantly racing from task to task, feeling wired but tired, quickness to anger and irritability, and rapid weight gain.

When the HPA is constantly up-regulated, it can get super burned out, like how you feel after those days of back-to-back meetings and then coming home to making dinner and managing your kid’s soccer schedules.

At this point, the HPA becomes down-regulated and suddenly you have a lack of stamina, you are quick to catch a cold, your viewpoint turns more negative, and your thyroid begins to show imbalances.

Since the HPA is often the root cause, the key is resetting it. Any other attempt at fixing the hormones will likely fail in the long run if the HPA is not addressed and stabilized.

It All Starts With Cortisol

There are so many steps you can take to address your cortisol and it really is bio-individual. Some are more researched than others, with my suggestions below being some of the most researched and successful with my clients. Here is my simple protocol to get you started for balancing cortisol.

  • Start a regular massage routine. Getting a massage once or twice a month not only prioritizes self-care, but it also helps the muscles and the fascia to release tightness and it helps to move stuck energy throughout the body. You can do this by paying for massage and/or you can start a foam roller practice, which acts like a self massage. 
  • Add B Vitamins and Omega-3’s if you are deficient. Both of these nutritional gems helps to soothe the nervous system. You can get them in supplemental form or you can eat foods like salmon, leafy greens, liver, beef, eggs, sunflower seeds, and nutritional yeast for B vitamins. Want more Omega-3’s? Fill your meals with foods like walnuts, almonds, fatty fishes, avocados, and chia seeds.
  • Honor your voice. This was the biggest action step for my own personal success! Talk through what’s stressing you with someone you trust. Get it off your chest and learn how you can work through it so it doesn’t consume you. While you are at it…
  • Honor your energy. Restore your energy by regular meditation or yoga sessions to help calm the nervous system and bring your conscious awareness back into homeostasis and alignment.
  • Drink more green tea. L-theanine, an amino acid found in green tea, helps to reduce stress. Limit your coffee and alcohol, especially if you are more sensitive to either of these. 
  • Eat more dark chocolate. Yes, eat more dark chocolate, but make sure that it is the 75% or higher variety or raw cacao. Dark chocolate is high in magnesium, a mineral necessary to balancing your stress response. 
  • Take phosphatidylserine.  Phosphatidylserine is helpful to take until you perceive less stress and your HPA is no longer hypervigilant. 
  • Add an adaptogen that helps to reset cortisol. You can try Ashwagandha or Rhodiola, often being successful when taken at night. To help increase your testosterone, you can try some Maca in the morning. 

As you get older and your hormones begin to naturally transition into a peri-, post-, and menopausal stage, it is even more important to pay attention to your stress levels and to the hormones that play critical roles. Next blog, I will be talking about the key hormonal players that you need to know about that keep you in balance and living your best life yet!

References: 

  1. Cuciureanu MD, Vink R. Magnesium and stress. In: Vink R, Nechifor M, editors. Magnesium in the Central Nervous System [Internet]. Adelaide (AU): University of Adelaide Press; 2011. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK507250/
  2. Hellhammer, J., Vogt, D., Franz, N., Freitas, U., & Rutenberg, D. (2014). A soy-based phosphatidylserine/ phosphatidic acid complex (PAS) normalizes the stress reactivity of hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal-axis in chronically stressed male subjects: a randomized, placebo-controlled study. Lipids in health and disease, 13, 121. https://doi.org/10.1186/1476-511X-13-121

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5 Steps To Healthy Happy Feet

The foot and ankle contain 26 bones, 33 ligaments, and over 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

Yet, it is one area of the body that often gets forgotten.

As important as your feet are, they are usually only thought of when there is a problem with them. Your feet are very complex.

As a busy person, you have many responsibilities. Your foot problems can wait…right? Your mind is tired, you’re emotionally drained, and your body is exhausted. The only thing keeping you standing right now are your feet. They are your superstars!

Your feet keep you balanced and upright while taking the impact of your full body weight. Now that’s a feat!

But as life happens, so does foot problems.

75% of Americans will experience foot problems at one time or another in their lives.

We are talking injuries, ingrown toenails, corns, calluses, foot odour, fungal infections, cracked skin, as well as the effects of wearing improper footwear. There are a bundle of foot problems that can occur in this complex area. Most of these problems can be avoided with some regular TLC. As luxurious as it might be to get a daily foot massage or to spend an evening soaking your feet in milk and honey baths, there are other was to get easy TLC each and every day (some of them with no extra effort at all).

adult alternative medicine care comfort
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

5 Ways To Healthy Happy Feet

A daily routine of foot care is all that is needed to keep your feet healthy and functioning properly.

1. Wear Comfortable and Supportive Shoes

I know, I KNOW — some of the cutest shoes do not provide the most comfort. As a woman who feels like a rocking diva in any heels, I can attest that comfort does not come in the form of heels. When it comes to heels or your cutest uncomfortable shoes, wear them like they are worth a million bucks — sparingly!

Focusing on wearing comfortable shoes the majority of the time will help improve your foot health in many ways.

The “good shoes” checklist

  1. Replace your running shoes every 300 miles.
  2. Nice flats or boots can usually be fixed, but watch for cracking on the upper part, softening in the soles, and damage to toe boxes.
  3. Check high heels for the same concerns, as well as for exposed nails, an indicator you need a new heel lift.
  4. Check sandals for loose or broken straps.
  5. Repair, recycle, or toss out when appropriate.
  6. Make sure that your shoes have a proper fit. If shoes are too tight they can cause hammer toes, ingrown toenails, corns, and foot pain. If they are too big, your heels will not sit securely in the shoes and this can cause blisters, calluses, sore heels, and increase wear on your shoes. Wearing shoes that do not support your arch can cause plantar fasciitis and other foot discomfort.
  7. Leather and cotton are your best options because they allow your feet to breathe and release moisture.

Be aware of timing

During the day, your feet can swell up to half a size larger. It is best to shop for shoes later in the day instead of in the morning. This will ensure that you have the best-fitting shoe.

exercise female fitness foot
Photo by Tirachard Kumtanom on Pexels.com

2. Take a Walk

Your feet are full of muscles and those muscles need exercise too. Sitting and standing for long periods can cause tightness and weakness in those precious little piggies. Get up and walk (even if it is short distances) or move around — it is good for strengthening the muscles of the feet and stretching out your tendons, ligaments, and muscles. Just make sure that you are walking with those comfortable shoes!

3. Wash Your Feet Every Day

Goodbye stinky feet! Because your feet are trapped in shoes all day, the sweat and moisture that builds up is the perfect breeding grounds for bacteria and fungi to grow. Especially between the toes. This can lead to unpleasant foot odors, infections, and other skin conditions. This would be a perfect time to indulge in a relaxing bath and an exfoliating foot scrub. Just make sure to scrub between the toes and to dry your feet completely!

4. Massage and Moisturize

After a long day of being on your feet, those muscles can get T.I.R.E.D. I don’t have to tell you that, though. One of the best things you can do, for loosening up tight muscles and for giving you a good dose of stress relief is to massage and moisturize those feet.

The moisturizing helps them to remain soft and prevent extra drying. Not only does it feel luxurious and soft feet typically feel better than cracked, scaly feet, but it also helps to cut down on infection from potentially cracking skin. The key with moisturizing? Don’t put it between the toes.

5. Pull Your Toes

Toe tugging is beneficial for a few reasons. Bend your forefinger and middle finger and pull on each toe vigorously, waking up the tiny joints and releasing stagnation from the area. Grab a reflexology chart, and you’ll see that the toes relate greatly to the eyes, ears, sinus’ and brain functions, yet they are usually the ones that suffer the most in our shoes. Tug at your toes and see if this brings any extra sinus relief.

Tell me, what are your tips for maintaining healthy and happy feet?


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