Tag Archives: health tips

What Can You Do to Relieve Hammer Toe Pain?

What is hammer toe?

The term hammer toe came from the way the toe hits or hammers on the floor with each step. Hammer toes are generally caused by a tendon imbalance in your toes and tight muscles in your feet. The discomfort from this and cramping in your toes can radiate to your entire foot and lower leg, and this might lead to posture and balance changes (affecting the way you walk). Often people will develop hammer toe from leaning too far forward causing the toes to grip the ground to keep them upright. People with hammer toe may also have difficulty finding comfortable shoes due to the pain they feel in their toes or feet.  The toe first affected will generally be your longest toe and will only affect your middle three toes.

There is conflicting beliefs in the medical community whether or not shoes might be part of the cause of hammer toe. Shoes that narrow toward the toe may make your forefoot look smaller, but I believe they also push the smaller toes into a flexed (bent) position. The toes rub against the shoe, leading to the formation of corns and calluses, which further aggravate the condition. A higher heel forces the foot down and squishes the toes against the shoe, increasing the pressure and the bend in the toe. Eventually, the toe muscles become unable to straighten the toe, even when there is no confining shoe. Also, the chances of getting hammer toe increases from 2-20% as you age.

What can you do?

Make sure your shoes are:
Properly sized
Lots of room in the shoe box
Made out of breathable and flexible materials
Avoid vinyl or plastic materials

Cushioning or supportive items such as straps, non-medicated felt pads, moleskin, splints, toe shields or caps protect and reposition your toe and relieve pain. Talk to your doctor, podiatrist or chiropractor about corrective footwear, orthotics or other foot devices. These can provide support and alignment (check to see if you wear out the soles of your shoes on one side) You should also avoid super-snug stockings, nylons and socks.

Professional massage, physical therapy, foot manipulation and reflexology are so very good for hammer toe. You could also give yourself a gentle foot massage after vigorous activities or long periods of standing. To take care of your corns and calluses you can soak your toes in alternating warm and cold water baths; gently rub your corns or calluses with a pumice stone or nail file while your feet are in warm water.

Exercises that stretch and strengthen your foot muscles and tendons keep your muscles balanced. Stretching your toes manually by taking each one individually and stretching them in all directions will help increase their flexibility. One exercise can be done by placing corks or foam separators between the toes and squeezing for 5-10 seconds, performing 10 repetitions. You can also use your toes to pick things up off the floor. While you watch television or read, you can put a towel flat under your feet and use your toes to crumple it. Another exercise involves stretching a thick rubber band around all five toes and stretching the band as wide as possible by flexing the toes outward. Repeat on each foot 10 times.

There you go folks, a lot of information about hammer toe. Believe it or not I pared it down. Thanks for reading PJ Harris, LMP http://www.pjharris.com/


Why Should You Avoid Using Mineral Oil On Your Skin?

As a massage therapist, I spend a great deal of my time in close proximity to skin. The care of skin is pretty important to me. I want to let you all in on some information about mineral oil.

Mineral oil is a common ingredient in many household products. It is found in lotions, soaps, cosmetics and motor oil. Mineral oil is a clear, liquid oil with no sent and will not spoil.  The word “mineral” makes this product sound like a nutrient, but in fact it is produced as a by-product of the distillation of gasoline from crude oil. Mineral oil is the leftover liquid, and because it is abundant, it is very inexpensive. In fact, it is more expensive to dispose of mineral oil, than to purchase it.

Remember the skin is the largest organ in the body and the only protective barrier you have. The importance of your skin’s health is immeasurable.

The problem is that mineral oil is foreign to the human body and has many harmful effects:

  • Mineral oil acts as a thin plastic layer on the skin.
  • It is difficult to absorb and clogs the pores, which slows the skin’s ability to eliminate toxins.
  • Once the oil is absorbed, it is broken down by the liver and passes through the intestinal tract. When the oil is present in the intestinal tract, it will absorb all of the fat-soluable vitamins found there. It is essentially stealing important vitamins from the body, which the body will not be able to replace. This can eventually lead to nutritional deficiencies.
  • Studies have also shown forms of pneumonia caused by mineral oil decreasing lung function, known as lipoid pneumonia. Because of these dangers, the medical community has condemned the use of mineral oil taken orally or as an ingredient in medications.

In my private massage practice, I have started using a lotion from all natural ingredients. It wont clog my client’s pores or leave them feeling greasy after they leave my office.

Here are some other helpful links about mineral oil:

Material safety Data Sheet from JT Baker http://www.jtbaker.com/msds/englishhtml/m7700. htm

Call For Change To Mineral Oil Label http://www.personalmd.com/news/a1998122802.shtml

Thanks for reading, PJ Harris, LMP. http://www.pjharris.com/

Can Massage Help Heal Frozen Shoulder

Frozen Shoulder is also known as adhesive capsulitis. The capsule that holds the bones, ligaments and tendons of your shoulder thickens and tightens around the joint causing a restriction in movement.  The symptoms start gradually, get worse over time, and include stiffness and pain in your shoulder joint. Some people might notice their pain getting worse at night when they are sleeping.

There are typically three stages of Frozen Shoulder:

  • Painful stage. This is the stage where pain and limited range of motion start.
  • Frozen stage. In this stage the pain might decrease and, unfortunately, your limited range of motion and stiffness gets worse.
  • Thawing stage. During the thawing stage, the range of motion in your shoulder begins to improve.

Massage can break up the holding associated with Frozen Shoulder. Massage incorporated with exercises and stretches a therapist can give you, will help you to be well on your way to recovery.

Some others things that have been known to help heal Frozen Shoulder:

  1. When lifting with just one arm, lift with your unaffected arm.
  2. When lifting with both arms, do not lift over your head.
  3. Ice your shoulder after heavy activity for up to but no longer than 15 minutes.
  4. Heat your shoulder by taking a shower or using a heating pack in the morning.
  5. Heat your shoulder, if you are not inflamed, before doing your exercises.
  6. Ice your shoulder several times a day when you are inflamed or in a lot of pain.
  7. Support your elbow with a pillow when you sitting and your arm with a pillow when you are sleeping so that gravity does not pull your shoulder down.
  8. In the first painful stage, don’t do something that causes pain. Be very gentle.
  9. Do the exercises you get from your treatment massage therapist every day. The improvement might seem slow but this is very important.
  10. Acupuncture has been known to be helpful with decreasing the pain and symptoms that come with Frozen Shoulder.

Thanks for taking the time and reading this post. If you have Frozen Shoulder, I hope you recover quickly. PJ Harri, LMP http://www.pjharris.com/

What is Reiki?

reikiReiki is a healing approach that uses light touch from the practitioner to channel the healing life force energy of the universe to the recipient. Used to relieve physical and emotional pain and to promote spiritual clarity and relaxation, Reiki also speeds the healing process and balances the body’s energy.

What a Reiki session might be like can vary from practitioner to practitioner. Some sessions might start with the practitioner placing their hands in a set pattern. Other sessions the hand placement might be more random with the practitioner using a more intuitive approach. Reiki can also be given from across the room. This is known as beaming.

Reiki training usually comes in levels of 3-4 ending in the Master level where the practitioner can teach others the art of Reiki. It is a good idea that a practitioner practices Reiki for a while between levels to gain a greater understanding of this amazing healing tool within each level.

As a Seattle massage practitioner, one of the things I appreciate about Reiki is you can treat any condition. I can not give massage to the severely wounded or on a broken bone. With Reiki that is not an issue. I have had great results giving Reiki to folks in Seattle with conditions that are not advisable for massage.

Another wonderful facet about Reiki is that a practitioner can actually give Reiki to themselves. As a matter of fact, it is encouraged to give yourself Reiki everyday and why wouldn’t you?

Thanks so much for reading this week’s post about Reiki, PJ Harris, LMP and Reiki Master http://www.pjharris.com/reiki.htm#classes

What Can You Do for Restless Leg Syndrome?

awake 5Before we launch into how to relieve Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS), it is important to know you don’t have another condition. There are no test to find out if you have RLS, but there are tests your doctor can give you to rule out some other things. That could be important information because the treatment for those other conditions would be very different.

Some of the symptoms of RLS include:

~A creeping, crawling, jittery, tingling, burning, aching in legs at night or during inactivity

~Irresistible urge to move the legs

~Persistent leg movements during sleep hours

~Sleeping difficulty

~Not usually a muscle cramp or numbness

~Symptoms will have temporary relief with movement

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for RLS and they are not sure what causes it. There are a few treatments that have  provided some folks with RLS relief. If your physician suspects you have RLS check with them to see if you could try these treatments.

~Make sure you are eating a healthy diet.

~Avoid caffeine.

~Exercise has been known to help. Make sure you don’t overdo or excercise too late in the evening.

~Massage can help you relax.

~Try other relaxation techniques like yoga, a warm bath or meditation.

~Make sure you have a regular sleep cycle and are getting enough rest.

~Alternating heat and cold packs or just one or the other can lessen the sensations.

~Have your iron levels checked.

~Cut back on alcohol and tobacco and see if that helps.

Hopefully these ideas can provide you with some relief. The RLS Foundation is also a font of information. Thanks for reading PJ Harris, LMP http://www.pjharris.com/

Can Massage Help Relieve Your Cold Symptoms?

noseYou wake up in the morning sore and stiff because you were in bed all day yesterday with a cold. You then realize you have a massage schedule today. Aaahhh, that will  provide relief to your achy muscles and give you a brief hour of feeling good instead of feeling terrible.

Actually, getting a massage when you are sick with the flu or a cold is a bad idea. Depending on what stage of the illness you are in, the massage can send the virus zooming through your body by increasing your circulation. Maybe you might get better faster, but it is more likely you will feel a lot worse. Also, when you go to a massage with a cold you put your practitioner at risk to catch your cold.

I was a child care provider for many years and would often get sick from being around the kids and babies. While I am not a doctor and can not prescribe cold treatments, I have found these natural remedies to be quite helpful.

Echinacea ~ This wonderful super herb stimulates the immune system and promotes T-cell activation. Remember when this herb was first available? It was in a horrible tasting tincture. Yuck. Some still swear that is the best way to take it but there are many other forms now found like tablets, capsules, teas…

Vitamin C ~ My favorite source of Vitamin C is Emer-gen C. Yummy powdered drink that helps hydrate you as well as give you lots of Vitamin C.

Zinc ~This is great to help with sinus type colds. Not so great for nausea. Be careful how much you take.

Drink lots of fluids ~ Water, herbal tea or any other clear liquid is best. They help replace fluids lost during mucus production or fever. Avoid alcohol and caffeine, which can cause dehydration, and cigarette smoke, which can aggravate your symptoms.

Chicken soup or Pho ~ The warmth of these soups helps to move that mucus out of your nose and on to your kleenex and provides nourishing hydration.

 Get lots of rest ~ Stay home from work, keep warm and sleep as much as you can. Your body needs all of its strength to heal and you reduce the risk of infecting others.

Gargling with warm salt water  ~ Not sure why this helps. It might be that the salt draws out the inflammation. Doing this several times a day can really help relieve your sore throat.

Saline nasal drops or Neti pot ~ Either one of these methods can help relieve nasal congestion. The drops are found at most local drug stores. Be careful when using the Neti pot and follow the provided directions. If you are not careful you can get water in your ears.

Thanks for reading and feel free to share remedies you might have in the comment section. PJ Harris, LMP http://www.pjharris.com/

Can You Get a Massage If You Have Cancer?

50933_FullThere are so many ways someone with cancer can benefit from massage. Massage is incredibly nurturing. This is much needed by a person living with cancer. They often feel isolated, depressed and positive touch deprived. Many times their loved ones can not support them due to living far away or sometimes they are afraid of the stigmas attached to the disease.  Loved ones also might feel afraid that they might hurt the cancer patient if they touch them. Massage provides relief from stress and restlessness, sleep improvement and pain relief. Fortunately, there are many hospice and cancer support organizations that have massage practitioners who donate their time.

Old school beliefs were based on the opinion that massage increases circulation and can promote the spread of cancer. We now have seen many studies that state that massage does not promote the spread of cancer, though some types of massage are inadvisable for certain types of cancer. For example, we need to be especially gentle when touching people with bone cancer, so deep tissue massage is a very bad idea. Another example might be someone undergoing cancer treatment might have nausea and jostling their body or aggressive movement of their limbs could agitate their symptoms. So, as always, talk to your oncologist about whether or not massage is a good idea for you. If your oncologist gives you the green light, make sure you find out what parameters the therapist should work within. I also suggest you see someone who is trained in how to address the special needs of someone dealing with this disease.

If you know someone with cancer, suggest to them to get a massage. They especially deserve some enjoyment from life. Thanks for reading, PJ Harris, LMP. http://www.pjharris.com/