Back pain? Try this easy self help method

If you suffer from back pain you will know how debilitating it can be. Life can be very difficult as everyday tasks such as washing up, driving the car or gardening become almost unbearable. Even trying to sleep feels impossible. It can take over your life, making you feel weary and in low spirits.

Do not despair. Here is very easy, cheap and effective way to improve your back pain that I recommend to many of my patients at Ealing Acupuncture & Massage: the regular application of heat to your back. (See below for provisos to this advice).

Something as simple as sitting with a hot water bottle against your back as you relax in front of the television after a busy day can really help to keep your back pain under control. How does this work?

In Chinese medicine, we understand that one of the main causes of back pain is stagnation. The qi and blood should flow smoothly along the channels of the back, However, things like sitting in front of a computer for hours on end, injury and poor posture can obstruct the flow of qi and blood and over time the back can become stiff and painful.

When we boil water, we observe that heat causes movement as we watch the water bubble. The opposite is observed with the application of cold – ice is hard and the particles lack movement. When we regularly apply heat to our back we encourage the movement of qi and blood, which reduces pain by clearing stagnation. It helps to bring nutrients to the affected area and also helps to break down the scar tissue of previous injury.

There are some provisos to this advice:

– As mentioned, heat should not be used on inflamed areas.

– The application of heat is more suited to the mid and lower back areas. This is because the nature of heat is to rise, and the application of heat around the neck and upper back may cause too much heat to enter the head, and may result in headache.

– Heat should be used with extreme caution wherever there is nerve damage, or where the patient has communication difficulties, as burning could result.

– If you think that your back pain could be caused by more than just stiffness, then consult your doctor for further advice.

Ideally, I would recommend that you come and have treatment with me at Ealing Acupuncture & Massage. This should quickly make a huge improvement to your back pain, and then you can use heat and other methods to help maintain that improvement. Back pain is one of my specialisms, and you can be confident that you will receive a bespoke service with treatment and advice perfectly tailored to your needs. However, if you are not ready for a treatment just yet, then give the hot water bottle a go, and let me know how you get on!

Exercise your qi to prevent injury!

If you take part in high impact sports the chances are that you will get injured at some point. Left untreated, even small niggles can turn into big problems that hinder your training and may even cause you to have to give up the sport you love. For real sportsmen & women, this is more than frustrating, it can be heartbreaking.

To better understand the challenges that my some of my martial artist patients face I participated in a Total Krav Maga class last week in Ealing. Thank you to Nick Maison, the instructor, and his students who made me feel so welcome.

Wow, those guys really train hard! Even holding onto the shield as it was punched and kicked took all my strength. I felt the impact resonate through every fibre of my body. Days later, I could still feel the ache in my arms. I was reminded how important it was to look after oneself when taking part in such activities.

Any hard impact will cause obstructions within the body. Even micro trauma, such as redness and bruising (caused by structural damage to capilleries) means that energetic flow is impeded in that area. If left untreated, an area of stagnation can develop, leading to pain and restriction of movement.

So what can martial artists and other sportspeople do to avoid injury? I always recommend to my sporting patients that they take up another, softer practice to balance high impact activity. The goal is to develop the free flow of qi (energy) through the body. Good qi flow helps to prevent areas of stagnation developing. Blood and nutrients flow freely to damaged cells, enabling structural repair and breaking down scar tissue.

In Chinese philosophy terms, the yin (flow of soft, internal energy) balances the yang (explosion of hard, external energy).

For martial artists, tai chi is ideal. As a martial art itself, tai qi enables you to develop a deeper understanding of your own martial art whilst learning to direct your internal energy. Like yoga and qi gong, it focuses on the breath and develops awareness of qi.

Not all tai chi, yoga and qi gong classes concentrate on breathing and the internal aspects of the art, focusing instead on the external ‘moves’ so it becomes just another exercise. From my own experience, I can thoroughly recommend the Shaolin Wahnam Institute for qi gong and tai chi instruction.

Of course, another excellent way to prevent and deal with injury is to have regular acupuncture and massage, or at the very least to have treatment at the first sign of injury. At Ealing Acupuncture & Massage we offer a free consultation for you to discuss any issues you may have.

I’ll blog further with tips on mindful breathing to develop qi flow so watch this space. Please feel free to contact me with any questions and I’ll do my best to answer!

Welcome to Ealing Acupuncture & Massage!

Hello! This is my first blog, ever!

I am so excited to be launching Ealing Acupuncture & Massage. Since graduating from my Traditional Chinese Medicine Acupuncture degree in 2007, my practice has mainly been based in Central London. It has always been my goal however to build my main practice in Ealing – I am an Ealing girl born and bred! After taking some time off after the birth of my daughter a year ago, I knew that when I re-launched my practice it would have to be local.

I was therefore delighted to find an available treatment room at The Broadway Studio, just off Haven Green, a short stroll from Ealing Broadway Station. The Studio runs classes for yoga, martial arts and fitness. Everyone I have met there so far have been lovely and the place has a wonderful atmosphere – it has good ‘qi’, as we Chinese Medicine practitioners would say!

So if you want to get fit and healthy in Ealing, come and sample a class at The Broadway Studio  – check them out on Facebook. If you don’t quite feel up to a class, some acupuncture & massage from me will get you in tip-top condition. You will feel ready for anything!