Hip Joint pain – don’t live with it!

by January 12, 2021

As we get older we all start to become aware of little aches and pains in our body; mostly around our joints and sometimes within our muscles. There is no doubt that over time and yes with age there is wear and tear on a joint, especially if you played high intensity sports as a younger person, but we don’t have to live with the pain just because we are told it’s “part of the aging process”.

Now, there are a number of reasons why we might feel pain, discomfort or stiffness – much of it we may be able to alleviate through our diet, daily exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, professional treatments (such as Acupuncture) and some positive thinking. Perhaps we experienced an injury falling down a step or slipping on some ice, in which case the pain you feel will be acute and probably very specific to the injury site.  This is the time that you should see your health practitioner for treatment if needed and rest.

Hip pain is different for many of us…

Joint pain, especially the hips, can be experienced differently for many people; based up the location of the pain, what makes it worse or better and what the intensity is.

Pain on the outside of the hip may be tendonitis, according to a Harvard article posted recently. Pain around the hip joint that travels into the buttocks and sometimes down the leg is often diagnosed as Sciatica or Piriformis Syndrome according to Dr. Biggers and can often be treated with stretches and exercises and especially Acupuncture treatments. Sometimes if you feel pain in your knee or low back this affects the action of your hip joint! So it may not actually be a hip joint issue but a compensation situation. Again your health practitioner can quickly assess and treat this type of pain fairly well.

I personally have experienced hip pain when sitting crossed legs for too long. For a few years I thought it was my hip joint that was the issue, but after strengthening the muscles around my hips I have reduced and often eliminated that searing pain I used to feel when getting up from a cross legged position to walk.

Let’s talk about the variety of discomfort many people feel from an eastern & western medicine perspective…

DULL HIP PAIN

A dull, achy, chronic pain, felt deeper in the hip socket, is often called arthritis or Osteoarthritis by many western doctors. Osteoarthritis occurs when the protective cartilage that cushions the ends of your bones wears down over time. There are a number of recommended medical approaches, so speak to your doctor if you are having this pain.

Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) often associates this dull ache with a deficiency condition – maybe there is not enough blood, nutrients or fluids keeping the joint lubricated and moving well or the muscles around the area are weak.

How can you treat this holistically?

Seek acupuncture treatments from your health practitioner if possible. Include some lifestyle changes or improvements (get more exercise, reduce stress) and eat well to support your digestion, muscles and bones.

As an Acupuncturist I treat dull hip pain quite alot with very good success, however, treatment works best when it is combined with exercise and lifestyle improvements. I highly recommend strengthening the muscles around the hip to support healthy movement of the joint. I included a simple video below for some hip exercises you can do at home- it only takes 3 minutes!

Need some help with your pain? Let’s chat!

SHARP HIP PAIN

If you are feeling the type of pain that is biting or stabbing, usually upon movement, that can mean there is an issue within the joint capsule itself.  The cartilage may be worn down and sometimes bone spurs can develop in the hip joint.  This type of pain should not be ignored, so seek medical attention to determine what is going on.  This may require imaging of the hip joint.

TCM often treats stabbing, boring pain in the body as a  blood stagnation or stasis condition.  It may also be a condition known as cold bi syndrome – where cold has settled into the joint causing strong pain.

How can you treat this holistically?

Acupuncture treatments, cupping and herbs can definitely assist in reducing and eliminating this pain, but often some rest and a warm bath or applied heat pad can be very helpful. You should not keep working through this pain as it can be something more serious happening.

Your therapist may recommend you see a medical doctor to get some imaging of the hip to determine if there is a more serious issue going on.

A 3 minute Hip Strengthening video – appropriate for anyone
STRONG HIP PAIN

Inflammation within the hip joint that causes pain when lying on it or walking up the stairs is often associated with the inflammation of a bursa.

There are a number of conventional treatment options offered for this type of hip pain, so talk it over with your health practitioner to see what is best. Often rest for a bit then strength exercises are recommended.

Inflammation affecting a joint may be diagnosed in TCM as a damp bi syndrome – where dampness has settled within causing a strong pain.  Some people feel stiffness when they’ve been sitting along time and get up to move or experience or feel pain when it’s damp outside.

How can you treat this holistically?

We often treat this type of pain at the clinic with acupuncture, moxa and cupping.  We recommend lifestyle changes and dietary improvements, especially avoiding foods that can exacerbate dampness (fried, greasy, processed, dairy and overeating).

Strengthening the muscles around the hip to support healthy movement of the joint is super important too, but listen to your body…if the pain continues while exercising stop.  Seek the help from a trainer or therapist to know what exercises are the best and most appropriate for you to do.

The CLAM (exercise below) is great for anyone to do to strengthen the muscles around the hip. Careful not to move your pelvis and only work on the action of the top leg!

STIFF/TIGHT HIPS

Stiff hip movements may be the result of tight muscles around the area, especially the hamstrings and hip flexors. Your therapist can determine which muscles are tight and in need of stretching or strengthening.

Sometimes you may get up from your chair and feel stiffness as you start walking, but then the stiffness eases as you continue walking. The stiffness may come and go, depending on your stress levels or emotional/mental challenges.  In TCM we may consider this type of hip discomfort a qi stagnation – qi is stuck and not moving well around the joint causing pain, but with enough movement it often subsides or reduces.

How can you treat this holistically?

Work with your health practitioner or trainer to learn some exercises that will target the areas that need attention.  This will require commitment on your part, to continue with these exercises regularly.  Next don’t forget to get up from your desk or chair frequently and make movement a priority, whether it’s going out for a walk or doing a workout at your gym daily.

Weak muscles often lead to tight muscles, so it is important to maintain strength within the muscles surrounding the hips. Stretching is also going to be key to loosening the pull on the pelvis.

Often a warm bath, a small walk or a gentle swim can help reduce or eliminate stiffness around the hips.

This hip stretch is great for most people to do but IS NOT APPROPRIATE for those who have had a hip replacement.

What can you do to help keep your hip joints in good shape?
  • If you are feeling acute/new pain around your hip, make sure to get it checked out and seek treatment if needed…don’t wait for it to become a chronic condition.
  • Strengthen the muscles around the hip joint. Work with a trainer if needed. (see the video for some help)
  • Apply some heat using a heat pad or warm bath if your hips are feeling stiff
  • Keep moving, especially if you are sitting for a long time, get up and walk around to get your qi flowing again.
  • Maintain good bone health through exercise and proper diet

TAKE CARE OF YOUR JOINTS TODAY!

About the author

Cindy is a registered acupuncturist, Pilates instructor and holistic nutritionist. She takes a holistic approach to achieving whole body health, educating others about the importance of self care and seeking help from professional practitioners when needed.

Healthy Tips for the Holiday Season

by December 9, 2020

‘Tis the season to be merry and glee, but it’s also a time when we may gain a few unwanted pounds; eating more dessert than normal, not exercising like we used to and drinking a few alcoholic or sugary drinks.  It’s a different holiday this year, living within the restriction of a health pandemic and many people have talked about the challenges they have faced maintaining good eating habits while staying at home without the usual social events to attend or classes to sweat in.

My personal challenge this year has been moving part of my practice within the confines of my living room and with that comes a big adjustment to working and existing in a small space.

Keeping up with my own good eating habits hasn’t always been easy, I have seen some amazing feats of cooking and baking on social media platforms lately, but I have not been inspired to add a lot of that into the mix of the chaos I live in.  Now on the other side of things our eating habits have taken into account the local restaurants in our neighbourhood that we have been trying to support a few times a week with take out…more than our usual, but worth it if we can do our part to keep them open.

Let’s talk about ways you can still celebrate and have a great end of this year.

angel

I have been thinking about my own personal goals for this holiday season and although I can’t see friends and family in person to share good food and laughter, I hope I can offer some simple ways you can still enjoy the best of the holiday season, nourishing your body, mind and soul. So as many of you know I like to take a holistic approach to health and wellness…that means I am going to look at many aspects of life that nourish and feed us, not just food.

Taking a detour away from food, let’s start with something really important for many people right now, setting up a space that nurtures and supports you (this has been one that we’ve been working on and there is nothing better than a space that is comfortable and clear of clutter).

Set up a nurturing space:
  • Take a look at the space you live and/or work in – simplify and organize your papers, pictures, books, clothes and kitchen workspace
  • Create a wall of pictures of family and friends, make a nice collection that reminds you of good times
  • Clean out your pantry and stock it with whole grains, low sodium canned soups, organic stock, dried legumes and dried herbs so you can bump up your nutrition of any meal
  • Clean out your fridge – give the shelves a good clean, then restock it full of fresh foods that will nourish you this holiday
  • Create a cool, comfortable bedroom that is free from technology and work to be done
  • Put up some decorations if you celebrate any holidays around this time of year – a little sparkle can help to boost your spirits

rocks

Let’s talk about setting you up for success with your meals this holiday season. Whether you are cooking traditional foods or trying something new, making good food choices can be the difference between feeling nourished and energized or feeling tired, bloated and ready for a nap. Feeling bloated? Here are a couple of tips to help!

Don’t make things complicated, but try to add some variety to the meals you make. Improve upon recipes you know how to make or try a new recipe such as a Warm Winter Kale Salad!. Include colour in your dishes – red/orange (beets, carrots, yams, pomegranate, cherries, pumpkin, sweet potato, oranges, raspberries, kidney beans, lentils), green (broccoli, peas, beans, asparagus, kale, brussel sprouts, lentils), white (cauliflower, turnip, lima beans, rutabaga, white sesame seeds), blue/purple-black (black beans, figs, blueberries, blackberries, plums, eggplant, black sesame seeds).

**The BONUS of eating a lot of the foods I listed above is they are all packed with tons of nutrients and lots of fibre!

Create a simple meal plan to follow this holiday:
  • Keep things simple – since you can’t join festive parties this holiday, plan to make a couple of special meals at home for yourself or your immediate family to celebrate a new year to begin
  • Remember to use leftovers when possible – leftover bones from meat dishes can make a great soup, just add veggies and water (or extra stock) and simmer to draw all the nourishment out
  • Keep snacking and baked treats to a minimal – don’t bake a large amount of dessert unless you are doing a drop off for other people to enjoy
  • If you bring it home you will eat it – limit the amount of sugary foods/snacks you might buy at the grocery shop, because you will eat it if it’s there
  • Did you see the recipe above for a WARM WINTER KALE SALAD?

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So you set up a comfortable and supportive space, you have been eating well and following good sleeping habits, but what about your mental health?  Let’s take some time to tap into a deeper part of you, the part that is artistic or creative (yes we all have a little creative bug in us). Exploring our imagination or creativity can help take our mind off of some of the challenges we all face, especially right now. Art therapy is one of the ways to help relax the mind and nourish the soul.

Here are some more ways to support your mental health

Create a calm state of being:
  • Play some calming music to sit and listen to or something you like to dance to
  • Keep up with gentle exercise and stretching, moving the body can be helpful to move our vital qi and circulation throughout the body
  • Take some time to be creative, do an activity that makes you calm and happy such as painting, writing, reading, singing or dancing
  • Go for a winter hike or snow shoe – dress warmly and pack some water and venture off into the woods (make sure to follow well marked trails and local snow advisory)
  • Deep breaths or meditation help to relax and calm the mind, leaving you more refreshed and ready to go

About the author

Cindy supports and inspires others to be their best self and enjoys sharing the love of the holiday season with others.  She wishes you all a happy holiday and all the best for a new year to come!

Insomnia and Menopause – what’s the connection?

by November 11, 2020
Sleep is often stolen from us as we age…
Why is it hard to sleep as we get older?

Yes, it is true that we may not need as much sleep as we get older, but many women report that the amount of sleep they get is often disturbed during menopause and beyond.  Disruption in our sleep patterns can affect our daily living, so getting enough shut eye is important for us all, especially as we get older.  It can be annoying to be stuck in a cycle of poor sleeping patterns, but there are some things you can do to help you achieve a good nights sleep. The transition into our later years should be an enjoyable one and poor sleep ain’t no fun…it is a time when our collective life experiences culminate into some great wisdom just waiting to be shared with others, so I hope this article can help you get back on track.

According to a study, from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
17% of perimenopausal women after menopause report trouble with falling asleep
36% of women after menopause have trouble sleeping through the night
56% of perimenopausal women report getting less than 7 hours of restful sleep a night
40% of post menopausal women report getting less than 7 hours of restful sleep a night
Sleep and menopause – what’s going on?

I treat a lot of women who are going through menopause and even those many years after who have a lot of challenges with their sleep. Whether it’s night sweats, bathroom breaks that get you up in the night, just waking up for no reason or waking really early, insomnia during and after menopause is a real health issue for women all over the world.

When we get older our body’s physiology changes and our ovaries no longer make the same amount of hormones (especially estrogen) as before and that decrease may be part of the reason why we experience all of these uncomfortable symptoms, including anxiety, mood disorders and sleep disruption.  Like I said above, it’s not just those going through menopause who suffer from lack of good sleep, I have spoken to many women in their late 60’s and late 70’s that still continue to feel the brunt of poor sleep each day. 

How can you improve your sleep quality?
Here are some tips…
  • Set up a good sleep habit at night – go to bed at the same time at night
  • Try using some essential oils to relax and calm your mind – lavender and chamomile have been known to have relaxing properties
  • Turn off or put away technology earlier at night to reduce your exposure to blue light and read a book…I even took up knitting at night to help get me out of my head by focusing on my hands
  • Try sleeping with a sleep mask – I added this for myself about a year ago
  • Don’t drink too much water late at night to avoid getting up in the night to use the washroom
  • Try listening to some guided meditation – there are many like headspace that may help you relax at night
  • Book an appointment with your acupuncture therapist for some treatment – we can treat insomnia and symptoms of menopause very well
Sleep from an eastern perspective

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), we may experience disturbed sleep at any age and for many different reasons.  Insomnia during menopause and beyond is, unfortunately, a common occurrence for a lot of women. Menopause symptoms, such as sweating and hot flashes, often wake us from sleep or prevents us from falling back to sleep easily. Western doctors concluded that there is a connection to lack of sleep and the loss of estrogen, while eastern doctors look at insomnia during menopause as a slowing down and decline of our Kidney energy, essence, a decline of blood, our qi and yin.

How can you support your body as you get older with good dietary choices? More on that to come!

TCM treats symptoms that disturb our sleep using acupuncture, dietary therapy and herbal medicine.  Each person is treated and diagnosed individually, as everyone experiences poor sleep due to a differentiating number of imbalances. If you are yin deficient you may experience insomnia, hair loss, dryness, tinnitus, hot flashes, night sweats and weakness in the low back and knees.  If you are blood deficient, you may also be feeling dizziness and memory loss as well as some of the other common symptoms listed above. When things get stagnated, you will feel irritable, nervous or emotional which can lead to insomnia.  A yang deficient person will feel cold in their hands and feet, have loose stool, a pale complexion and weak or sore low back and knees. Once our essence declines, our bone density decreases which is directly related to osteoporosis. Symptoms are often compounded from overwork, unmanaged stress, smoking, eat poorly or choosing a poor lifestyle.

What strategies can you use to get a better sleep?

Dr. Marcin shares some simple sleep tips from her article on Healthline…

  • Eat well and exercise – avoid eating late, sugary or processed foods and exercise regularly
  • Wear loose clothes to bed and use cotton sheets – natural fibres help the body to breathe
  • Keep a cool room – this might help you feel more comfortable when you begin to feel hot
  • Avoid eating spicy food – this can make you feel hotter and sweat more
  • Avoid nicotine, alcohol and caffeine
  • MANAGE STRESS!
So take the time to work on things in your life that will help you get the sleep that you need – seek help if you need it.

HAPPY SLEEPING!

About the author

Cindy is a registered acupuncturist, Pilates instructor and holistic nutritionist. She takes a holistic approach to achieving whole body health, educating others about the importance of self care and seeking help from professional practitioners when needed. 

Taking Care of Our Lungs During the Fall Season

by October 8, 2020

In traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), fall is connected to the lungs and is at its height of activity during the season. The lungs are associated with emotions such as sadness and grief as well as the metal element. The lungs are partnered with the large intestines and both are responsible for getting rid of toxic byproducts made within the body.

Our respiration provides the body with valuable qi and helps energy circulate around the body nourishing our protective wei qi, our skin, tissues, organs, vessels etc..  The lungs are nourished by its ‘mother’ the spleen/stomach and together they provide valuable nutrition for our body.

Our lungs are tied in with our immune system (from an eastern and western medicine perspective) and right now keeping our immunity strong is probably the biggest thing on all of our minds these days. Taking a deep breath helps reduce tension and stress, it relaxes the nervous system and calms our mind.

How can you strengthen your immunity?

According to TCM (traditional Chinese medicine)

  • Focus on deep breathing to calm the mind and nervous system
  • Take deep, slow, long breaths – taking in good air and expelling the old
  • Enjoy whole foods that support the colon (root vegetables provide lots of fiber)
  • Pears, apples, persimmons, figs, pumpkins, nuts and seeds are thought to nourish the lungs
  • Get plenty of sleep and reduce stress
  • Avoid sugary/processed foods
  • Eat for the season – cooked root vegetables, grains, and warming soups
  • Cover your neck with a scarf to avoid the wind

There is a real shift in the environment around us during the fall…the leaves change colour and drop, animals gather and bury their food, the days get cooler, it gets darker earlier and warm sweaters, mitts and hats come out. It is the season when we begin to harvest lots of great root vegetables and start to prepare for the winter to follow. It is thought to be a time when we should still our hearts and minds then gather and collect the spirit and the qi within us. Think of your body like that of a tree…it draws in valuable energy to store for the winter and it lets go of what it doesn’t need (its leaves).

Autumn leaves don’t fall, they fly. They take their time and wander on this their only chance to soar.


Delia Owens, Where the Crawdads Sing

Watch a simple video that may help improve your immune system!

About the author

Cindy is a registered acupuncturist, Pilates instructor and holistic nutritionist. Her training in eastern dietary therapy gives her a larger view about the affect foods can have on our body and overall wellness.

Strengthen your immunity

by October 1, 2020

Our immune system is responsible for keeping us healthy and strong, fighting germs, toxins, fungi and viruses using a complex collection of special blood cells along with a variety of organs in our body.

If our body is unable to produce these special antibodies or the organs charged with supporting our immunity are weak, we may find ourselves susceptible to a variety of infections or diseases.

Eating specific foods and having good life habits can help.

Here’s 5 simple ways to strengthen your immunity:
  • Consume Probiotic-rich Fermented Foods and Beverages
  • Healthy Whole Foods/Less Sugar
  • Get Plenty of Sleep and Reduce Stress
  • Support Your Body’s Natural Detoxification Systems
  • Vitamin D

Probiotic foods:

The best way to boost your immunity is to introduce fermented foods into your diet. The probiotics (healthy or beneficial bacteria) found in these foods are far more effective than any supplement. Stock up on naturally-fermented or cultured fruits and vegetables (sauerkraut, chutneys, kimchi, kale, carrots), drinks (kombucha, lassi), dairy (kefir, yogurt, sour cream) and more (unpasteurized apple cider vinegar, miso). Just 2 oz. per day is all you need to boost immunity.

Whole Foods/Less sugar:

Super natural immunity begins with the bounty of nature (whole or unprocessed). First choice should always be what’s fresh, local and seasonal. Get cooking with quality Unrefined fats (i.e. virgin coconut oil, organic butter or cold-pressed olive oil) and try to limit refined white sugar, which has been shown to suppress our immune system.

More Sleep/Less stress:

A good night’s sleep allows our body to regenerate and rejuvenate. Stress can tax our adrenals, which can lead to weight gain, anxiety, insomnia or fatigue. When the nervous system is calm and relaxed it can create valuable energy, manage stress and help to support the body when fighting an infection.

Natural Detox:

There are many benefits to cleansing toxins or pathogens naturally. Include filtered water with lemon, chlorophyll-rich foods (dark leafy greens, seaweeds & green herbs), berries (especially blueberries, elderberry), fresh ginger and turmeric. Deep breaths throughout your day can also help the lungs naturally detoxify and relax tense, stressed muscles.

Vitamin D:

Vitamin D has been seen to influence immunity and may be best taken in a supplement form in conjunction with food sources such as organic butter, eggs & wild fish.

Here are more articles that offer
great information to support our immunity…

lemon garlic
mask
fruit

How to boost your immune system

This article from Harvard talks about some more specific medical information about our immunity.  To read more click here.

Strengthen Your immune system

The Cleveland Clinic talks about some similar ways to strengthen your immune system.  To read more click here.

Strengthen your immunity with food

This article from CNN offers more dietary recommendations that have been shown to improve our immune system.  To read more click here.

About the author

Cindy is a registered acupuncturist, Pilates instructor and holistic nutritionist. She takes a holistic approach to achieving whole body health. She is very passionate about educating others on the variety of ways we can support our body’s health. 

Our body changes as it ages…and so does our image of it

by September 27, 2020

Recently I turned 50 and I was asked how it felt? Well first of all I can’t believe how time flies, but overall I told people that I didn’t feel any different than I did 20 years ago…but that wasn’t really true. My body is NOT what it was when I was younger…my hair is a bit thinner and greyer; I am in menopause now, my vision has decreased (now I have to wear readers), sometimes I feel a bit stiff waking up and my waistline isn’t quite the same as it was. My body looks pretty much the same (and even weighs the same), but it has definitely changed, in shape and function.

When you are a young person, you are like a young creek, and you meet many rocks, many obstacles and difficulties on your way. You hurry to get past these obstacles and get to the ocean. But as the creek moves down through the fields, it becomes larger and calmer and it can enjoy the reflection of the sky. It’s wonderful. You will arrive at the sea anyway so enjoy the journey. Enjoy the sunshine, the sunset, the moon, the birds, the trees, and the many beauties along the way. Taste every moment of your daily life.


Thich Nhat Hanh

Looking back my body was already undergoing changes, I just never really acknowledged them outloud, until now.  At first glance my introspective self reflected a body that wasn’t quite as sharp and trim and it was carrying weight in places it never did before…how did that happen? I eat really well, workout regularly, get pretty good sleep and work on reducing stress in my life…but my body now FEELS different then it did before.

Initially I looked at my body through the eyes of my younger self, not the person that has now lived half a century. So maybe my waistline isn’t what it used to be, but that’s ok, I still feel strong, mobile and flexible.

If our mind is trained, His Holiness continued, physical suffering that comes with old age won’t disturb us much. He suggested that we should have the determination and motivation to develop love and compassion. We need to be equipped with internal skills, to develop internal resources. Otherwise, if we are used to looking for pleasure in the sensorial world, when we grow old and lose our ability to perceive sights, sounds and smells, it becomes difficult.


Dalai Lama

Looking at what’s in front of me instead of behind I can begin to see what I am capable of…not just physically, but emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  I think that this can only come with time lived. This is what inspires me to want to be better everyday, connect and share with others and continue to learn and grow.  I have also been inspired by all of the amazing women ahead of me and started a new membership site I call MY FIT OVER 50 My goal is to bring our community together, empowering other women, supporting, sharing, laughing and talking about our journey together.

I will continue to explore the nuances of my body, to challenge it in a safe, efficient and effective way as I continue to age. I am working smartly in a way that provides my body with longevity, by thinking about why and how I can take care of it. I am making a conscious effort to bring my body and mind together, to accept that changes do happen as we age (some of which we have no control over), but if we listen to what our body needs we can adapt to its needs and push it in a healthy way.

My body image has changed and the wiser part of me now sees that I’m now at the starting point of my life, not the end one. I see that aging is more than just a number, it is a complex evolution of the human body.

About the Author

Cindy is a registered holistic nutritionist and a foodie. She takes a holistic approach to achieving whole body health. Her training in eastern dietary therapy as an acupuncturist also gives her a larger view about the affect foods can have on our body and overall wellness.

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