Lower blood pressure

If you’re looking to lower your blood pressure, did you know that massage can help? Few people do. And around one third of people in the UK suffer with this condition. What’s more scary is that many don’t even realise it.

Here’s everything you need to know to help reduce the stress on your heart and improve your health in easy steps.

But first. What is high blood pressure?

High blood pressure is also called hypertension. It doesn’t have many noticeable symptoms, but when you leave it untreated, it can increase your risk of some terrible health issues. These include heart attacks and strokes.

The pressure that we talk about actually refers to the pressure of the blood as it passes through our arteries. Contraction of the heart muscle causes it.

Lower blood pressure with massage

If you want to find out if you have high blood pressure then you can get it checked at your doctors who put pressure on your arteries with a cuff in your arm and then measure the results in two figures.

They check the systolic pressure which is the force with which blood flow pumps out of your heart. This is the measurement as your heart contracts.

The diastolic pressure which is the lower of the two numbers is a figure representing the pressure before your heart contracts. This represents the resistance to the flow in your blood vessels. We measure them in  millimetres of mercury (mmHg).

You can tell whether the numbers are high or low by following the points:

  • high pressure is 140/90mmHg or higher (or 150/90mmHg or higher if you’re aged 80 or more)
  • They usually consider ideal blood pressure to be between 90/60mmHg and 120/80mmHg

If your reading is between 120/80mmHg and 140/90mmHg this shows you risk developing high blood pressure so keep it under control.

Everyone’s blood pressure will be different. What’s considered low or high for you may be normal for someone else.

Risks of high blood pressure

If you have high blood pressure, it’s important to lower it because if not, you’ll be putting extra strain on your blood vessels, heart and organs such as your brain, kidneys and eyes.

If you don’t lower your pressure, then you are putting yourself more at risk of conditions such as

  • hypertension and lowering high blood pressureHeart disease and heart attacks or even heart failure.
  • Strokes.
  • Peripheral arterial disease
  • Aortic aneurysms
  • Kidney disease
  • Vascular dementia

These are life threatening and what’s great is that reducing your blood pressure reading even by just a little can help you avoid some potential knock on health issues.

Causes of high blood pressure

Not everyone has lifestyle issues that create an environment conducive to hypertension. However, there are some key factors which you should consider if you’re trying to reduce blood pressure readings:

  • you’re over 65
  • being overweight
  • African or Caribbean descent are more prone to high blood pressure
  • have a relative with the condition
  • eat too much salt and do not eat enough fruit and vegetables
  • do not exercise regularly
  • drink too much alcohol or coffee (or other caffeine-based drinks)
  • smoke
  • don’t get enough sleep or it’s disturbed

Healthy lifestyle changes may help your chances of being able to lower blood pressure readings.

How does massage lower blood pressure?

They have proven many times that massage improves your circulation and your blood flow. However, one of the best benefits of massage therapy is that it can lower blood pressure. And this isn’t just a temporary reduction whilst you’re having your massage. The studies show that the results are longer term.

As we’ve seen above, your blood vessels are a collection of smooth muscle fibres. These move in a co-ordinated movement to create a contraction we know as pumping. ‘My heart is pumping’. This moves blood through them along with a dilation, which is when these muscles relax.

This contraction and dilation are the two numbers we’ve discussed above in your blood pressure reading.

When your arteries harden or narrow because of a build up of ‘gunk’ over the years (also called plaque if we’re being more technical) then the space available for the blood to pass is more narrow.

This means our blood has a smaller space to pass through, meaning our heart either has to work harder (pump more) to get the right amount of blood and nutrients to the organs that need them. Or, we don’t get that blood and nutrient in sufficient quantities and we end up with a bunch of other illnesses as we’ve listed above.

Stress increases blood pressure.

We’ve all heard that. We know it. But why?

Because stress causes our adrenal glands and our kidneys to produce more cortisol, which is the stress fighting hormone.

Here’s the issue.

It was first developed when we were more active. When our stress is from needing to fight or fly. And so, we burned off the ‘boost’ it gave us,

Nowadays, where our stress is more continued and also created from more sedentary lifestyle options such as office based work, then we don’t have the chance to burn away the excess.

This creates a pressure on our heart because cortisol diverts blood away from our vital organs to save them should we be stabbed with a spear, etc. Except that working in an office doesn’t work like that. Our bodies haven’t caught up with the strain we’re placing them under yet, though…

You see the problems?

Constant stress creates a situation where our body is continually diverting the quality stuff away from the places that need them in order to mistakenly keep us alive. Our stomach stops digesting so we can use this energy to flee. And our blood feeds more vital tissues so we can run faster, forgetting that our liver may need oxygen rich blood.

When that stress eases, repair mode starts. We secrete endorphins which is our body’s natural pain reliever and the antidote to cortisol. You see how clever our inbuilt pharmacy is?

To relieve the pain from our ‘battle’ and related injury, our blood coagulates (clots) to stop us bleeding to death.

Now you’ve seen how increased blood pressure is caused, you can now see the issue that stress creates and why people who are under more stress have more chance of also having high blood pressure.

The magic of massage.

This is where we see the magic of massage. Experts have proven it. After just 20 minutes of massage, our body releases endorphins. These trigger our blood vessels to relax and so reduce the intensity at which our heart needs to pump. It reduces our blood pressure.

Massage means that our blood flow increases and so oxygen and nutrient rich blood cells get where they need to. This improved flow also helps to move on stagnant by-products of cortisol which we haven’t burned off through an active lifestyle associated with traditional hunter gatherer activities.

Just as exercise, when we perform massage regularly, our body becomes conditioned to this improved state of wellbeing. It learns to push blood in this new, more relaxed way. This leads to the longer-term effects of massage lowering blood pressure.

What’s the research associated with massage lowering blood pressure?

 1999, researchers from the Touch Research Institute, the University of the Miami School of Medicine and Nova Southeastern University in Florida. Their study was “High blood pressure and massage therapy reduced associated symptoms”. They split participants who all had controlled hypertension into two random groups.

One had a massage, the other didn’t.

The massage therapy group showed decreases in sitting diastolic and systolic blood pressure and their cortisol stress-hormone levels.

 2005, University of South Florida tested the effects of a applied back massage on the blood pressure of patients with clinically diagnosed hypertension.

Researchers found regular massage lowers blood pressure in people with hypertension.

To book in for your massage and to start on the track to a healthy lifestyle with lower blood pressure, book online now.

Lower blood pressure with massage

Garlic benefits

Garlic benefits our health. We know this, because we’ve been told it. But, for the health benefits of garlic, specifically cancer, then we need to delve a little deeper.

Let’s back up a little

Have you noticed how every month there seems to be a trendy new diet, but still obesity rates continue to rise? We’re not talking about that. This piece is about digging deeper into the demonstrable health benefits of the garlic bulb.
Superfoods and setting the background.

There are two categories of superfood most adept at blocking cancer cell growth in a petri dish. But which is healthier?

Imagine you’re standing queuing for one of those salad bars. You have no strong family history of cancer, so you’re not looking at avoiding one specific type of cancer.

Five popular food choices at the salad bar.

Spinach. Number one against:
Breast cancer
Brain tumours
Prostate cancer
Stomach cancer
Lung cancer
Paediatric brain tumours. That’s why we need to feed kids spinach.

If the salad place were out of spinach, then you’d want to choose your second choice from that salad bar.

Radiccio. Number 2 against
Brain tumours
Four toppings on our salad:
Shredded beets
Brain tumour
Kidney cancer – helps suppress tumour growth in approx 50% of cases
Cucumber – suppresses rumour cell growth less than 50%

Tomato and potato are largely ineffective. Nor iceberg lettuce and carrots. And this is the issue, this is what we eat. If we choose a vegetable or salad, the ones we commonly eat have little or no effect at stopping cancer growth.

The one veg that stands out amongst the crowd. It stopped cancer growth in 7 out of 8 tumours.

Garlic benefits. Number one against
Breast cancer
Brain tumours
Number 2 against
Kidney cancer
Lung cancer
Childhood brain tumour
Pancreatic cancer
Prostate cancer
Stomach cancer

A garlicky salad dressing would therefore be great on our spinach!

Is it just that garlic is toxic to all cells?

Garlic Benefits. It stops the growth of cancer cells, but does it stop the growth of healthy cells?

They tested for this. Garlic slams cancer cells but doesn’t touch normal, healthy cells. And the same thing with all the vegetables. They’re selective. They go after the cancer cells but leave the normal cells alone.

The two best families of vegetables for cancer prevention are the cruciferous veg such as broccoli, kale, cabbage and the allium family of vegetables like garlic, onions and leeks.

So, you know all those recipes that start with garlic and onions and then you throw in some greens?

The researchers conclude that this is the way to eat if you want to stand an excellent chance of beating cancer. “Including cruciferous and allium family veg in your diet is ESSENTIAL for effective dietary based chemo or cancer preventative strategies.”

Are there any benefits of garlic powder for treating lead poisoning?

Lead is important when we’re talking about cancer because it inhibits DNA repair. And if we want to stand the best chance of beating cancer, then this is critical.

They often base dietary strategies for treating lead poisoning on rodent studies. However, there was a population study for tofu showing low lead levels in people who ate more tofu. There were a bunch of factors within this study.

What they set out to do was develop a kind of placebo which isn’t easy to do with food. It’s not like taking a pill. So, they did a disguised food intervention by using food that was so potent they stuffed it in a pill.

Like garlic.

Feeding garlic extract to chickens reduced the lead build up in the edible mass of chickens by up to 75% or more. What’s interesting is that these chickens were actively fed lead for a week to increase their lead levels. And then they compared the results of feeding these chickens garlic straight away by combining it with the garlic. And then waiting a week.

The results were better.

The value of garlic was more significant by giving garlic after they stopped building up the lead in in tissues.
We used to think the benefit of garlic on lead toxicity was primarily because of a reaction in the effects of the chemical compounds building up. A reaction between the sulphur compounds in the garlic and the lead that would cling onto the lead in the intestinal track and flush it out of your body.

But what this study appears to show is:

Garlic appears to contain compounds that not only pull lead out of the intestines but out of the tissues in our body.

So the results show that garlic contains key latent compounds capable of eliminating lead. so we can feed garlic to humans, which minimises the effect of lead compounds commonly found in meat.

If it is so effective why not explore it more?

There had never been a study to discover the effect of using garlic to help lead exposed humans until 2012.
A head-to-head comparison study between the therapeutic effects of garlic and a chelation therapy drug called deep penicillamine.

chelation therapy chemotherapy cancer oncology


They randomly split 117 workers who were exposed to lead in a car battery work plant into two groups.
They took the drug 3 times a day or 1/8 teaspoon garlic compressed into a tablet 3 times daily which is about the equivalent of 2 cloves of fresh garlic a day for a month.

The drug reduced blood lead levels by about 20%. This is as expected.

But so did the benefits of garlic. It worked just as well as the drug. And had fewer side effects. So this study suggests garlic is safer and as effective.

Garlic supplements such as these tablets that you can buy on Amazon, would therefore seem to be a good bet. This contains Allin, a compound which naturally arises from crushing and chopping garlic. It’s proven to reduce inflammation, and having some significant antioxidant benefits. Fresh garlic contains alliin (an amino acid) and crushing the clove creates an enzyme called allinase.

However, saying that something is as effective as chelation therapy isn’t saying much. It doesn’t sound that impressive.

Remember how for chronic lead levels chelation drugs lower blood levels, but don’t actually improve neurological function? This is where it gets amazing.

They saw significant clinical improvements in the garlic group:

Less irritability
Fewer headaches
improvements in reflexes
Reduced blood pressure
All after treatment with garlic. This didn’t apply to the drug, showing that garlic can be effective at treating mild-to-moderate lead poisoning.

Did you know that garlic and flavonoid nutrients found in e.g. nuts and beans protect against DNA damage induced from mutagenic chemicals found in cooked meat? Remember the study won out as the number 1 anti cancer vegetable?

Well, which kind of garlic would be the best?

Answer any garlic.

Flavonoid nutrients. Do they have a beneficial effect on the damage caused by lead?

They took white blood cells from colon cancer patients and exposed them to increasing doses of fried food carcinogens.

They added some plant micronutrients to this, found in apples, red onions and berry and also buckwheat and asparagus. This brought the damage down.

There was more DNA damage present found in the blood cells of the cancer patients. But note. they didn’t have blood cancer. They had colon cancer, so in theory their fried food intake shouldn’t affect their blood.

Even though the cancer was in their colon, their entire body was under increased oxidative stress showing significant higher DNA damage or maybe the DNA damage came first and that’s why they had cancer int eh first place. This study has no way to tell that.

Either way, they experienced less reduction of induced DNA damage suggesting that it would require higher concentrations of flavonoids to achieve the same protective effect. So, cancer and other chronic disease victims need even more fruit and veg intake to reverse the damage from carcinogens.

A note on raw foods. Almost all vegetables have an increased level of vitamin and mineral capacity when eaten raw. The one major exception to this is tomatoes, which improve when cooked. However, as we saw above, these are not part of the main cancer beating food groups and garlic trumps the lot.

Source: Dr Michael Gregor MD FACLM

Read more about how we can help you beat the effects of cancer treatments.

Progesterone hypersensitivity and how it affects fertility, miscarriage and early menopause.

What is progesterone hypersensitivity?

progesterone hypersensitivity skin rash example
This is a mild example of what you might expect

Progesterone hypersensitivity is a challenging disease also known as autoimmune progesterone dermatitis. Heterogeneous skin eruptions characterise the condition which start out feeling like you’re getting a burn.

Your symptoms can be multiforme and range from slight to extreme. Extreme side effects to progesterone can cause

your skin to feel like it’s burning, coming up in lesions and blisters.

Less severe outcomes in women may be hives or a skin rash.

These rashes may happen cyclically during the second part (luteal phase) of your menstrual cycle, post ovulation, because they link it to the rise in your progesterone hormone levels, but this isn’t a fail-safe diagnostic tool.

The phases of fertility and successful conception

What does progesterone do for fertility?

Progesterone does a bunch of stuff in our female body, but when we talk about pregnancy, it creates a thick and warm environment in our womb for our embryo to embed.

It is therefore a key fertility hormone.

Six hormones that are key to pregnancy and avoiding early miscarraige

How does progesterone hypersensitivity affect fertility and miscarriage?

During the stages of your early pregnancy it is imperative to maintain your levels of progesterone because it helps to prepare your uterus for the baby to implant by thickening the lining of your womb.

After about 9 weeks, the placenta takes over this role. But, it’s easy to see why ladies who suffer with the unfortunate but highly rare condition of progesterone hypersensitivity, are more likely to suffer an early miscarriage.

Without this thick bed lining our uterus, it’s difficult for the embryo to nestle in with enough stability to see it through the developments that take place during the first trimester of your pregnancy. It’s difficult for women to control their response to the hormone.

Therefore, if you don’t have enough progesterone, you have an increased chance of early miscarriage.

Progesterone hypersensitivity can happen during a normal pregnancy and also, as we see below, when you’re having fertility treatment.

I’m having IVF, can I avoid this situation?

If you’re a patient of any fertility treatment including IVF and ICSI, then you’ll take progesterone on the same day that your eggs are collected. This is to stimulate a nice, thick lining to your womb.

Some side effect of the progesterone pessary (suppository) or less common, an injection which fertility clinics prescribe their patients are:


*Dizziness and/ or tiredness/ nausea

*Mood swings

*Bloating, often accompanied by cramps

As with all hyperstimulated hormonal balancing techniques, there are a ton of potential side effects besides the above. We’ve listed these below this article** for the sake of being diligent. But your fertility clinic should run through these with you. So, please don’t panic, these severe side effects are incredibly rare.

However, today, we’re picking out one of these rare forms of reactions, progesterone hypersensitivity, which results in the reddening of your skin.

Can I get tested to see if I’m likely to suffer with progesterone hypersensitivity?

First off, we’re talking about a rare disease here. But, if you like the idea of getting a standard dermatology allergy test to determine a pre-existing sensitivity, then they are available.

*If you suffer with some common side effects in the latter part of your cycle, then this could be a principled reason to get tested.

*Or, if you’ve been on progesterone only contraceptives such as an oral tablet or implant and had a poor reaction.

This report will determine whether you have a natural predisposition to reacting negatively to the hormone.

This works by putting a negligible amount of progesterone into your skin and testing your results. If you test positive then you can speak to your doctor or fertility specialist about their view on how sensitive you will be during a pregnancy. Particularly if you’re having months of fertility treatment.

How will I be treated for progesterone hypersensitivity?

Legally we need to spell out that we’re not doctors. We’re giving you a run down of the options we’ve heard of, but your medical specialist will treat you in accordance for what is right for your specific symptoms.

Very often your clinical practitioners will give you steroids to reduce the swelling either by cream or injections.

Is there another way to get the same fertility results without using progesterone?

It’s difficult because our body is so attuned to give us what we need, that each hormone has its own role to play.

When you suffer with a progesterone hypersensitivity reaction, depending on the severity of it, your doctor may stop adding this into your treatment plan. An old way that doctors used to help offset this hole in your plan is to add in HCG.

Read about your cycle and hormone balance throughout.

HCG is another hormone produced by your body. The role of this is to stimulate your corpus luteum.

The corpus luteum is the case of the egg, which once you ovulate dies off. This stimulates a surge in progesterone levels. So, by increasing your HCG, doctors are trying to stimulate your body to produce more progesterone. It hasn’t shown significant results from what we’ve read, but your doctors will know more because they will also have a specific view of your personal situation.

Is there anything else that may help?

Sometimes, after your miscarriage, your symptoms will continue for a period. These symptoms don’t last just a few days and then rectifies after you stop taking the drugs.

There is a possible option which you may want to look at in time. The symptoms don’t go immediately into remission. But, once they have, doctors can look at exposing you to insignificant amounts of progesterone over a prolonged period.

Desensitisation therapy works a little like any other allergy where the theory is that when you have exposure to a paltry amount of something, your body learns to build its tolerance. But this takes time.

We haven’t heard of any other medicine that works against this diagnosis.

We may have another solution.

Medical rectification to this disorder may be limited, but you need not be at a complete loss. We have seen repeatedly at Essential Feeling how powerful reflexology can balance hormones.

Fertility preparation

If we do this prior to you having treatment such as IVF or ICSI, the theory is that your body is more balanced. An autoimmune condition happens when your body misreads the signals and thinks its being attacked. It then does everything it can to rid your system of these invaders.

One way it does this is through your skin. So when you’re sick you’re always told to drink a lot of water, because this is the easiest way for your body to rid itself of toxins. And it avoids these painful inflammations, which is the panic mode used when all else fails. when you’re sick, you’re always told to drink a lot of water, because this is the easiest way for your body to rid itself of toxins. And it avoids these painful inflammations, which is the panic mode used when all else fails.

So, when we add, in this case, a heightened level of progesterone, quickly and unexpectedly, if your body starts out off balance, it tips over the eradication scale faster.

Explanation of progesterone and how hypersensitivity can affect fertility and early miscarraige

I’m not sure I’m explaining this well.

Think about it like this.

You are stressed at work; you have a bunch of emails, the phone rings whilst you’re trying to answer them and your boss calls you in to talk about the state of a massive project you’re working on.

Now, think about that same meeting with your boss where beforehand you know it’s coming, you have spent the night before preparing and you have made some great notes.

Which meeting will mean you get to present yourself and your knowledge in the best light?

This is how the body works.

So, if we let your immune system feel relaxed and at ease, then it’s less likely to spiral out of control, looking to fight fires where they don’t exist.

We can use this to help speed up your recovery after you’ve experienced a symptom such as an eczematous eruption.

Post outbreak/ allergic reaction

The above example relies on you knowing because you’ve already been diagnosed that you have a tendency to react to progesterone. But what happens if you only find out when you’ve already had that reaction. Or an early miscarriage?

This is when we use reflexology to calm the inflammation that results from progesterone hypersensitivity. We aim to balance your progesterone back with your oestrogen through using reflex points on your feet to release that internal stress we described above. This means your body isn’t fighting itself so much with the outcome being that your symptoms decrease.

We have also shown reflexology treatments at Essential Feeling an elsewhere reduce inflammation. If we can do this for you, then we can not only speed up the time it takes for your body to rebalance, but we can also ease the path to your recovery by reducing pain and swelling.

Check out our YouTube video on hay fever. You can see how swelling because of an allergic reaction to pollen goes down in minutes. Without the use of any drugs such as anti histamine,

To book in for reflexology to help balance your hormones and ease inflammation, you can use our online booking system.

** More rare forms of reaction to progesterone stimulation

  • Signs of an allergic reaction including anaphylaxis, anaphylactic shock
  • Pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in one or both legs or anywhere on your skin
  • Chest pain or pressure, a sudden cough or wheezing. Rapid breathing.
  • Vision problems that appear often with a nasty headache
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding
  • Pain or burning when you pee
  • Depression symptoms
  • A lump in your breast
  • Yellow skin or eyes (jaundice)
  • Fast onset of numbness or weakness
  • Other issues with speech, balance, numbness

How can I stop my insomnia?

Definition of insomnia

Before we answer, ‘how can I stop my insomnia?’

Insomnia is a sleep disorder. If you suffer with insomnia, it is difficult to fall asleep, to stay asleep, or both.

When you have insomnia you won’t wake feeling refreshed after a night’s sleep. This is tricky because it has a ton of knock-on effects because of the resultant fatigue.

Of all sleep disorders, insomnia is the most common. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) notes that one-third of adults report symptoms. But, what’s more worrying, is that there are between 6 to 10 percent of us who have symptoms of insomnia which are severe enough for us to get a diagnosis of ‘insomnia disorder’.

The clinical diagnosis of this disorder is when you have trouble falling asleep. And staying asleep.

  • Sleep difficulties for at least three nights a week. This must last a minimum of three months.
  • Sleep difficulties create a major distress or functional difficulties in your life.

Let’s investigate these types of insomnia in more detail.

Insomnia causes

There are many causes of insomnia. And it links them to your particular type of sleeplessness.

You may suffer with short-term insomnia. This is an acute condition often created by a spike in stress from e.g. an upsetting or traumatic event. It can even come from changes to your sleep habits if e.g. you’re travelling a lot with work.

Chronic insomnia is a more continued issue. It lasts for at least three months. This is usually secondary to another problem, for example:

  • A medical condition which causes e.g. pain which keeps you awake. Many of our clients with lower back pain or sciatica suffer with this.
  • Psychological issues also play a part. If you have anxiety or depression, they wake up at night when the world is lacking distraction.
  • Substance use including cocaine and alcohol stimulate us and prevent sleep

Risk factors for a reduced ability to sleep

Some people are more naturally pre-disposed to not being able to sleep well than others, although it may occur at any age. Insomnia is more likely to affect females than males.

According to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)Trusted Source, other health concerns increase your chances of suffering with sleep disruption.

  • top levels of stress
  • emotional disorders, such as depression or distress related to a life event
  • lower income leads to stress
  • travelling to different time zones and changing shift patterns
  • Sedentary lifestyle means your joints may cause you pain. Obesity and cardiovascular disease.
  • hormonal shifts such as menopause.

Insomnia symptoms

You’ll know if you’re experiencing insomnia because you’ll report one of these three symptoms.

  • waking up too early
  • not feeling refreshed when you wake
  • Trouble falling asleep. Or staying asleep.

These symptoms of insomnia then lead to other symptoms, including:

  • fatigue
  • mood changes
  • irritability and difficulty concentrating

Treating insomnia

You can get pharmaceutical drugs to help you sleep, but there are also nonpharmaceutical treatments for insomnia. Always speak to your doctor about what treatments are appropriate for you.

A combination of techniques may work best to cure your insomnia. It depends on your personal circumstances. For instance, if your issues are stress, anxiety or depression, then your focus may well be different to someone suffering because of pain from arthritis.

Sleep hygiene

We’ve adopted behaviours that interfere with sleep and cause us to lie awake at night.

Some sleep hygiene routines which may help cure your inability to sleep could be:

  • avoid caffeinated beverages within a few hours of bedtime
  • Give exercise near bedtime a wide berth. Whilst exercise is good, it’s also a stimulant so pick your time.
  • minimise the time spent on your bed when you’re not intending to sleep also helps to train your mind that bed is only for sleeping

Home remedies to help stop disturbed sleep

Lifestyle changes, or home remedies are often effective at curing insomnia.

Warm milk and herbal tea such as chamomile are well known natural sleep aids.


Meditation is one of our personal favourites which we use within our reflexology sleep aid and massage for insomnia. We love it because not only does it work, but it’s a natural and drug-free method for treating insomnia.

Meditation is so effective that the Mayo Clinic says that meditation also helps symptoms of conditions that may contribute to insomnia.

  • stress and anxiety
  • depression
  • digestive problems and pain


The body naturally produces the hormone melatonin during the sleep cycle. People often take melatonin supplements, hoping to improve their sleep. However, this is also produced naturally by the body during a massage. Hence why the massage for insomnia is such a brilliant choice for many people.

Melatonin for sleep

Insomnia and pregnancy

Just like when women head into menopause their sleep cycles can go haywire because of hormones, the same is relevant during pregnancy when insomnia is common. Especially in your first and third trimesters.

It may not be that you can’t sleep per se, more that fluctuating hormones cause you to feel nauseous which prevents sleep. As done the increased need to pee and being generally uncomfortable.

Depending on why you can’t sleep will determine which holistic therapy is best. Reflexology can help with balancing hormones, calming emotional stress and cutting out nausea. Massage helps with being uncomfortable, including cramps.

If you’re looking to change more lifestyle elements that help stop insomnia:

  • keeping active during your pregnancy stops you seizing up
  • maintaining a healthy diet improves constipation, and gut issues
  • it might sound odd as you’re in the loo so much already, but staying well-hydrated stops you from swelling up, improving your comfort
  • maintaining a consistent sleep schedule
  • practising relaxation techniques such as meditation and holistic therapies during the day as we’ve described above

We would always advise that you make any lifestyle changes such as increased exercise with your doctor first though as everyone’s starting point and body are different and it’s important to do only what is safe for your personal circumstances.

Types of insomnia

Distinct ways to characterise insomnia are below. Please note that some of these types of insomnia overlap.

Causes of disturbed sleep

Your inability to sleep can have either  a primary or secondary cause

Primary insomnia is when another condition does not cause your insomnia. Your issues such as stress, work, bereavement cause these changes in your sleep patterns.

Secondary insomnia (often classed as comorbid insomnia) is the opposite. An underlying health condition or lifestyle habit, such as depression or anxiety, are playing with your mind at bed time.

Duration of insomnia

Short-term (acute) types of insomnia include situational insomnia and episodic insomnia. We know. It’s getting technical! Let’s explain.

Situational insomnia (acute) and lasts only for days, sometimes up to a few weeks. But, episodic insomnia lasts for one to three months, so it goes on for longer.

Layered on top of this, there is chronic (long lasting) forms.

These include persistent insomnia and recurrent insomnia.

Persistent insomnia lasts for at least three months.

Recurrent insomnia doesn’t continue for as long. But you will have at least two episodes of insomnia (episodic insomnia) over one year.

Symptoms of insomnia

We’ve discussed symptoms of insomnia in more detail on different pages, so check them out.

These include insomnia and depression and anxiety.

Hopefully we’ve answered your questions, ‘How can I stop my insomnia?’ To book in for one of our insomnia sessions, please read the pages as detailed above under the headings to establish which holistic therapy will best help your personal conditions. To get in touch, text us on 07757 946023.

Surprising causes of lower back pain

Many of our client’s who come to us for deep tissue massage are suffering with lower back pain. We treat approximately 80% of those by working a different area to where they are experiencing pain. This is because the muscles, tissues and ligaments in your body are all connected, so what happens in one area will have an effect in another, you can see this in the image above.

This specific situation of experiencing pain in one area, but originates from an unfamiliar place on your spinal column is what we call referred pain. We can often treat this with trigger point therapy, which we’ve explained in a previous blog. The point of this today is to help you understand why you suffer with lower back pain when the cause may be independent.

We’ll do this by giving you a few broad brush examples which will show a few situations common in our patients.

Referred pain

Have you ever hit your funny bone? That seeing pain that shoots from one area to another is a suitable way to demonstrate what happens in our body when we talk about referred pain. You may hit your elbow, but you end up with the pain in your wrist.

The same occurs with your spine health. If we’re specifically talking about lower back pain, a superb example is to look at the biggest muscles in your body. Your gluteals. Your butt muscles. Lower back pain due to tight glutes and hamstrings

Because these are so big, and so powerful, if they tighten, even slightly, they can pull the smaller muscles in our lower back out of alignment. This causes us pain in our lumbar region, but the cause of this discomfort is elsewhere. This means that your treatment plan won’t be under direct pressure on the point where you’re feeling the issue.

This is a common problem in our clients because our lifestyles are conducive to our glutes tightening. Either from too much movement, or too little. Yep, it’s a bit of a Catch 22.

Too much exercise

If you move too much, such as walking a lot, then this will tighten your muscles. The compression will pull down on your lower back muscles, tendons and ligaments which are weaker and either strain these muscles or pull the small joints of your back (spinal cord) too close together. This compression means these slight bones of your vertebrae don’t move around freely.

Insignificant movement

On the flip side, when you don’t move enough, these big muscles stop moving around and seize up. This means that localised nerves get trapped in and around your discs and hip joints, resulting in you experiencing those acute shooting symptoms associated with sciatica.

People rarely realise that they’re not being physical enough either. Hairdressers often suffer with this problem.
But they’re standing all day, right?

The issue here is that they’re in a similar position for lengthy periods of time, and standing often on one leg which puts an inordinate pressure on glutes. This causes injury over a sustained period.

Guidelines on self care include moving around and ensuring that you’re not overdoing moving, or lack of.

We know, it sounds obvious, but it’s such an effective piece of advice that we’d be remiss not to mention it.

If this doesn’t help, come along for a deep tissue massage and we can get this sorted out within one or certainly a few sessions. We’ll usually give you some stretches that you can add into your recovery programme to help speed along your recovery and prevent re-occurrence.

Within your deep tissue massage we may also add in some myofascial release techniques. This is often the case if your fascia has tightened and isn’t allowing a fluid movement of muscles. To help this along, drinking enough water is also useful.

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Chronic lower back pain because of hormones

This is one for the ladies amongst us who suffer with lumbar pain at certain times of their cycle. This is more because of an imbalance in hormones rather than disc management issues.

We’ve found our reflexology clients experience relief from these symptoms countless times. Reflexology develops systematically over several weeks, building up its effects cumulatively. As you become more balanced, so too do your hormones. And then they find that all of their PMT symptoms including lower back pain subside, eventually not being present at all.

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Psychological effects

Having lower back pain can take its toll on your mind because it’s inescapable. This can lead, in time, to a mental disability and physical as the pain grinds you down.

What causes lower back pain?

I think we’ve seen that there isn’t one answer, but there are several common reasons people suffer with lower backache. We’ve discussed a few things that we know support a ton of our clients without them needing to go in for surgery from healthcare professionals.

However, if you’re at the point where surgery is the only option, then you could consider spinal reflexology. This is a fantastic style of reflexology that focuses on the muscles in your spine along with the nerves that run within and around them.

Spinal reflexology works to reduce inflammation and ease the pressure. Although it sounds like a wild card interventions, we’ve seen fast and shocking results. Client’s who couldn’t walk at the start of their session, got out of a reclining chair with minimal effort one hour later.

And all of this without medications or injections.

The fine print. When should I worry about lower back pain?

We’re talking in this article about lower back pain because that is where our specialities lie. Various health conditions may also cause lower back pain including disease such as cancer and female cycles over and above what we’ve talked about above. If you are in any doubt at all, ALWAYS get checked out by your doctor first. Likewise, if you have a bone issue such as fractures or breaks, then massage will not help your medical position. And nor will reflexology. We’re more about freeing up tissue so it can heal itself, via massage and reflexology.