massage, Traditional Chinese Medicine

What is TCM remedial massage and who can it help?

Massage pushing web2Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) remedial massage, otherwise known as tui na, is a therapy that dates back two thousand years ago to ancient China. The words ‘tui na’ translate to ‘push grasp’ which describes this style of massage with its assorted techniques including kneading, tapping, rubbing and pressing. The pressure used is suited to the individual patient and can be light on the skin or firm for deep tissue techniques. Pressure is applied to acupuncture points to stimulate them for specific conditions.

This form of massage is part of the greater system of TCM, a diverse system of medicine that covers all major systems within the body; which means it can be used for a wide range of acute and chronic ailments. TCM is focused on treating the underlying cause of disease as well as the presenting symptoms. This involves a holistic approach linking the body, mind and emotions in both the cause of disease and its treatment. TCM remedial massage may also be used to optimise overall wellness.

How does TCM remedial massage work?

By using a range of massage techniques your massage therapist will aim at best treating the particular condition you wish to have treated – whether that’s pain relief, reducing tension, healing injury or just making you feel better.

Peer-reviewed medical research has shown that massage techniques may provide:

  • Pain relief – For musculoskeletal injuries, tension headaches and back pain.
  • Mental alertness – After massage, EEG patterns indicate enhanced performance and alertness on mathematical computations.
  • Reduced anxiety and depression – Massage nay reduce subclinical depression.
  • Detoxification – Massage may stimulate the immune system by increasing blood flow and lymph drainage.
  • Muscle recovery – Massage may help to clear muscles of lactic and uric acid that build up during exercise.
  • Muscle tone – Improving muscle tone and delaying muscle atrophy resulting from inactivity.
  • Prevent injury – Deep massage may separate fascial fibres, prevent adhesions and reduce inflammation and oedema.
  • Relaxation – The release of endorphins and serotonin inducing a relaxed, ‘feel good’ state may improve sleep, reduce blood pressure and heart rate.
  • Healing – Massage may increase circulation and therefore improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the cells.

Traditionally, acupressure is explained by influencing the flow of Qi (energy or life force) within the body. For example, someone with throbbing headaches has too much Qi moving upwards, or someone with pain that is worse for rest has Qi that is ‘stuck’ or not circulating well. Researchers have identified that stimulating an acupuncture point (with a needle or acupressure) can create measurable changes in the body. Acupuncture points have an influence over the area that surrounds them. An acupuncture point can also have an influence over areas far removed from the actual point being needled.

Who can benefit?

TCM remedial massage is ideal for most musculoskeletal pain. It can also be beneficial for other health conditions, particularly when combined with acupuncture and/or other techniques such as cupping or herbal medicine.

People who can benefit from TCM remedial massage include those with specific pains such as stiff neck, tight shoulders or lower back pain; as well as anyone who suffers from chronic stress or general muscle tension.

I have many clients who choose to book regular monthly massages to promote wellness, reduce stress and prevent injury.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

acupuncture, emotional health, exercise, food, health, herbal medicine, massage, mental health, motivational, nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Make next year the start of your healthy ageing program, no matter how old you are.

tai chiLike it or not, we’re all ageing.  But what is most important is how we age.  We want quality of life as we grow older so that we can keep up with our hobbies, sporting interests, working commitments, social life and family. The reality is however, we are living longer but our older years are spent in poor health.  It is up to us as individuals to be the exception to the rule.

In practice, patients often seek help when the symptoms they have begin to negatively impact on the things they like to do. Most of us can tolerate pain or slight inconvenience but having the things we love out of our reach, well no one wants to let that happen.  And so it is then that we are most motivated (by desperation) to make the changes needed to return to good health.

My advice: don’t wait for your health to get that bad!  Seek help as soon as things feel ‘out of balance’.

The Harvard School of Public Health has just reported on a study highlighting the “need for greater attention to non-fatal consequences that limit people’s physical and mental function, including mental health conditions and musculoskeletal disorders.”

So, if you are looking for a new year’s resolution, why not use next year as the beginning of your lifetime of good health. It doesn’t matter whether you are 15 or 95 years old, it’s never too early, or late, to start your health-promoting lifestyle:

  • Reduce your chronic disease risk factors (E.g. stress, obesity, substance abuse, processed/fatty/sugary foods and exposure to environmental toxins).
  • Increase what makes you feel well (E.g. laughter, meditation, exercise,  7-8 hours sleep, wholesome home-cooked meals, learning new skills, spending time in nature and nurturing connections with positive, like-minded people).  Here are some ideas.
  • See a practitioner early in the year (as early as you can while this thought is at the forefront of your mind) to get you on track, set goals and make a plan you can stick to. Perhaps some acupuncture, massage and herbs can kick-start your new year of good living (and help you tackle any of the tricky stumbling blocks that you’ve had in the past)?

This isn’t a new idea at all.  The concept of healthy ageing and longevity has been ingrained in Traditional Chinese Medicine for around 2000 years – and here’s how they did it.

Let’s make 2013 our most radiant year yet which will set us on a path of healthful ageing for our lifetime to come.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

health, massage

Take a course in massage for wellbeing

Come and learn to massage with me on Saturday 18th February 2012.

Massage for Wellbeing

Start as you intend to go on! Begin 2012 loving and caring for your body by learning how to give a proper head, shoulder, neck, arms & hands massage.

In this one day course, I will not only teach you how to massage to another person, but will also cover off self-massage techniques for wellbeing.

Details and booking info here.  Early bird rate finishes on 13th January 2012.

You’ll learn from this course:

  • The benefits of massage
  • Common sore points
  • Basic massage techniques and when to use what
  • How to assess tense areas
  • When NOT to massage and practicing safely
  • Learning a simple self massage sequence
  • Basic acupressure points
  • Creating a simple massage sequence to give to another

The course will run in seated positions and fully clothed.

This course is suitable for those who would like to learn how to massage friends and family, as it does NOT lead to any formal qualifications.

Read five reasons why you should learn to massage for fun!

emotional health, exercise, health, mental health, nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Scuba diving: extreme relaxation

Great Barrier Reef Anemone Fish, otherwise known as Nemo

Last week I took advantage of a 5-day gap in my schedule (between speaking at a midwives seminar and supervising the College Acupuncture Clinic) and headed off for a well-earned break to the warm, tropical waters of North Queensland’s Great Barrier Reef.

Yes, the mini-holiday was relaxing, but it was my activity of choice that had far more to offer in tranquility than your average beach holiday.  I wanted to really slow down.  And this pastime had plenty to offer  for busy, city people who rush around, burn the candle at both ends and see the world in a blur.

I went scuba diving: three days living on a boat, ten dives, plenty of food and a few naps.  Bliss.  Not at all an extreme sport, well not the way I do it anyway.

But why was it so deeply relaxing?

  1. Go slow.  Scuba diving makes you slow down.  You can’t swim fast, and if you try to move about in a flurry, you disturb your buoyancy and end up floating towards the surface and/or stirring up the sand on the bottom.  A definite no-no.  In fast-paced modern life there aren’t many activities that are encouraged to be done slowly, diving is one of the rare few.
  2. Breathe.  Remember how to breathe slowly and deeply? As soon as most of us are stressed our breathing rate increases and becomes shallow.  When scuba diving, it’s advantageous to slow your breathing rate down to conserve air, that way you can enjoy the tranquil underwater world for longer.  Breathing slowly also encourages our blood vessels to dilate and our blood pressure to lower, which is relaxing for both the mind and the body.
  3. Enjoy the moment.  This is perhaps the most important point and one that is easily missed in normal life.  The practice of ‘mindfulness meditation’ is built on this concept.  Rather than clearing your mind of thoughts, we focus on really experiencing exactly what is around us, right at this second.  When scuba diving, as we slowly move through the water, the whole idea is to do just that, explore the surroundings – take in the big picture; the beautiful coral gardens and abundant fish life or focus in on the minute detail of a section of rock and its little ecosystem of shrimp, nudibranchs and tiny fish – the things you would ordinarily be too busy to notice (such as the anemone fish pictured above).  Time may almost stand still. (And the added bonus of that is your holiday will also seem longer!)

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, diving offers us real ‘yin’ time.  It’s not only slow and peaceful, but also involves being immersed in cool water.  You can’t get much more yin that that.

This is just one way I like to unwind.  How do you choose to spend your ‘yin’ time?

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

Diet, exercise, food, health, motivational, nature, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Spring into good health!

Finally! It’s September and spring is here. You can feel it in the air – the sun feels warmer, the days are longer and even the water dragons have emerged from hibernation to sunbake around Brisbane’s Kangaroo Point cliffs.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) takes the change of season and its effect on your health quite seriously. We see the transition to be a time when your energy is shifting and if it is not managed well, can make you more susceptable to ill-health and picking up allergies, colds and flus, and generally not feeling at your tip-top best.

So in spring, like the water dragons, we emerge from the cold of winter.  Many of us find winter the hardest time to get motivated and active.  This is because it is natural for us to want to stay indoors wearing our ugg boots and eating casseroles to stay warm during the cold weather.  Cold contracts and has an inward nature, reflected in our winter behaviour.

But as the season changes, spring arrives and so the Yang, the aspect of our body that warms and gives us energy, rises letting us know that it’s time to get moving.  Like a seed that is sprouting we too need some sunshine (think of it as a vitamin D hit) and a clean environment with fresh air (hence the term ‘spring’ clean) to be invigorated.  Add to that some exercise and some lighter foods (think stir frys with lots of fresh seasonal vegetables).  You can even take the spring clean further and do a short detoxification diet. Spring is the best time of year for this and it may help you to shed a few extra kilos you added to keep you warm over the winter.

Spring is a great time to shift your exercise program outdoors.  Think about walking, hiking, jogging, cycling (here’s a great website for finding safe cycling routes around Brisbane), canoeing or even personal training in a park.  Research has shown that exercising outdoors and in amongst greenery is good for our mental health too.

A word of caution for spring, whilst the weather is warmer, the summer has not arrived yet, so be prepared with clothing to protect you from drafts or cold winds that may still be lurking around.

And by following this advice you should be radiant and full of vitality for enjoying the delights of summer.

To book an appointment at the clinic or further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health.

aromatherapy, health

I want my bath…and the essential oils!

I love baths.  There’s nothing like a long soak in a warm bath for your health and happiness.  And in Winter, I think baths are even nicer.

There are endless reasons to justify having a luxurious bath.  It could be because you:

  • Had a bad day
  • Had a good day
  • Had a hard workout
  • Have body aches
  • Picked up a cold or flu
  • Need a good sleep
  • Feel cold
  • Are feeling grumpy
  • Think everyone else is being grumpy
  • Deserve to be spoiled
  • Have some new bath oils
  • Are preparing for a night out
  • Are preparing for a night in
  • Are feeling like romance
  • Just like baths!

Here’s some simple steps to create your perfect mind-relaxing, muscle-soothing and health-promoting bath.  Be careful, like anything that creates a sense of euphoria, baths like these can be addictive!

  1. Remove all unpleasant noises from earshot of your bath (eg. phones, children).
  2. Replace those sounds with your chosen selection of chill out music (perhaps some jazz or classical?)
  3. Run the bath with the perfect temperature water for you.
  4. Add 1-2 cups of epsom salts to soothe your muscular aches away.
  5. Assemble fluffy towels in easy reach of your bath.
  6. Light some candles.
  7. Will you be in the need of a beverage?  A nice cup of herbal tea goes down well, but sometimes a glass of wine fits the mood.
  8. Choose the right essential oils to set the mood for your bath.  Just before you hop in, add 4-6 drops of pure essential oil (that’s the plant-based ones not the artificial oils known as fragrant oils) to the bath and agitate the water to disperse them (or you can add the essential oils to a tablespoon of oil or teaspoon of vodka first).  Here’s some essential oil suggestions:
    • relaxation blend: lavender (3 drops), orange (1 drop), chamomile – often sold as a 3% dilution – this is ok (2 drops)
    • balance blend: geranium (2 drops), rosewood (2 drops), lavender (2 drops)
    • uplifting blend: bergamot (2 drops), lemon (2 drops), geranium (2 drops)
    • romantic blend: ylang ylang (1 drop), geranium (2 drops), orange (1 drop)
    • muscle-relax blend: lavender (3 drops), rosemary (1 drop), marjoram (1 drop)
  9. Sink into the bath, relax and enjoy.

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.

Diet, exercise, food, health, Traditional Chinese Medicine

Lessons in longevity from ancient China

Last weekend I took a break from my usual routine of hiking training to attend a seminar discussion with Chinese Medicine historian, Marta Hanson PhD. Marta took us on a Traditional Chinese Medicine journey beginning with ancient spiritual healing practices up until modern-day medicine in which Chinese herbal medicine was used in SARS prevention and treatment.  Some ideas have lasted the ages, some were dropped and some have evolved into new ideas to bring us the medicine we now know.

At times in Chinese history, immortality (and longevity) were greatly sought after.  And due to this, medicine placed great importance on preservation of health.  In fact, a line from a poem from the 3rd century attributed to Lao Tzu in the Taoist classic, the Tao te ching, states:

 “The best physicians always treat disease when it is not [yet] a disease

And so [their patients] are not ill.”

Many classical medical texts from around this time describe the role of the medical practitioner in a similar way.  So what was required to maintain this ideal state of glowing vitality?  A good physician/acupuncturist/herbalist would guide their patient with individualised advice on the following (and we still do this today):

  • Balance.  The concept of Yin & Yang represent a type of balance that we see in nature.  Yin and Yang are two polar forces and yet are part of each other and evolve to become one another. They are relative terms.  The Yin Yang diagram (which appeared in the current form we know now much later in time) demonstrates Yin and Yang.  Yin is dark, quiet, cold, substantial and feminine.  Yang is light, loud, hot, energetic and masculine.  Yin and Yang can be applied to anything in life to understand balance.  For instance, a bright office room full of activity is yang in comparison to a bedroom, that is dark and quiet, yin qualities.  People and diseases can be described as more yin or yang.  Even your lifestyle or career can be described as yin or yang.  Running a marathon (yang)  versus lying on the couch (yin).  What is important here, is that we need to work towards balance of yin and yang to preserve good health.  So, if you are a busy career woman, perhaps it’s ok to incorporate a yoga class or even some couch time.  And if you have a desk bound job maybe getting outside for a walk at lunchtime would benefit you well.
  • Exercise – these were described as gymnastics but resemble something more like what we know as tai chi or yoga.  These exercises, when done regularly, were designed to encourage good circulation, movement of the body, strength, flexibility and breathing well to improve the function of the organs and body.
  • Meditation – the Taoists incorporated meditation techniques specifically involving  thoughts of improving the way their bodies functioned.  This is something that some of my patients employ during their acupuncture treatment but can be used at anytime.
  • Diet – given that the second most important medical position within the imperial court was the Dietician (the first being the Master Physician who oversaw the entire medical official team), we can surmise the great significance of good food to maintain good health.  The Dietician was responsible for providing menus that were well-balanced and reflected the seasons.  Most of us now, manage what we put into our own mouths (sometimes not as well as we’d like).   As a general rule, choose produce grown locally, in season (eating with the seasons is still relevant) and combine good quality proteins, carbohydrates and fats.  Also consider warming up your diet in colder weather in both temperature and spice.  A good acupuncturist can help you put together a diet to suit you if you struggle in this area.

There are many ancient medical ideas from China that we do not currently employ.  One in particular that I liked was ‘The Master of Crickets’.  This official was in charge of removing anything that makes a ‘disagreeable sound’.  Back then, they were thinking of crickets and cicadas, but we could now apply this position to noisy neighbours and leaf blowers.

So, who’s up for giving the quest for immortality (or at the very least preserving good health) a go?

For further information on Chinese Medicine contact Dr Sarah George (Acupuncture).  Sarah is a practitioner of acupuncture (AHPRA registered), massage therapy and natural health at her Broadbeach clinic and is the Chinese Medicine Senior Lecturer at the Endeavour College of Natural Health Gold Coast campus.