What Your Feet Can Tell You About Your Overall Health

One of the most important things to understand about wellness is how each part of your body plays a role in your health. You may be surprised to learn how some of the smaller features of your body, features that may not always draw your attention, can actually provide clues to your overall health. Your eyes, for example, can reveal to your doctor valuable information about your blood pressure and even diabetes. Your feet, as well, can offer insight into your health.

Let’s take a look at some common foot symptoms and what your feet might be trying to tell you:

Wounds That Won’t Heal

If you have a wound or ulcer on your foot that isn’t healing, you might want to check your blood glucose levels. Open sores, particularly on the bottom of the foot, are an extremely common problem in people with diabetes, and can be caused by everything from circulation issues to neuropathy related to diabetes. All of this, of course, can turn serious. Diabetic neuropathy can also cause foot tingling or numbness. If any of these things occur, visit your GP to discuss the problem, as well as your blood sugar control. Open wounds can end up causing dangerous infections.

Toenail Problems

When examining your feet for problems, take special note of your toenails. Spoon-shaped nails could be a sign of a nutritional deficiency, such as anaemia caused by a lack of iron (or its opposite, hemochromatosis, too much iron), as well as a variety of other conditions. Toenails that are strangely coloured, particularly yellow, could also indicate medical problems, some even serious. This is another time when you’ll want to pop into your GP for a quick foot check-up.

Foot Spasms, Tingling, or Pain

Foot spasms or pain can be a sign of a long day at the office, or an athletic injury, but just like the other symptoms on this list, it can also be a sign of something more concerning. Nutritional deficiencies, circulation problems, injuries, and more can all result in pain or tingling. One condition, plantar fasciitis, is a common cause of heel pain and results from inflammation of the connective tissues on the bottom of your foot. Your GP can help sort it all out.

Swollen Feet

Swollen feet can be another signal of circulatory problems and definitely warrants a visit to your GP. If swelling and even pain is felt more in your joints, like your toes, you might have a form of arthritis. Of course, swollen feet can also just be a sign of too much stress on the feet, but if you’re noticing the symptom regularly, a check-up can help ease your mind.

Freezing Feet

We’ve all had those moments where our feet are icy, and chances are good that you just need some extra layers on your feet, but if your feet are always cold, you could have anything from a thyroid condition to, yes, the aforementioned circulatory issues. If you’re overly tired or have noticed unusual weight gain alongside your freezing feet, you might ask your GP for a thyroid check. If you’ve noticed other signs of circulatory problems, like foot swelling, you might also want to mention this to your GP.

Flaky Skin on Your Feet

A common cause of flaky feet is athlete’s foot, a scaly, red foot condition that is so named because of its association with sweaty feet inside of too-snug shoes. Athlete’s foot typically starts between the toes, and causes unpleasant sensations, like burning and itching. Luckily, your GP can prescribe an easy fix for athlete’s foot, such as an ointment.

Of course, you can also have certain types of skin conditions such as eczema or dermatitis on your feet, as well. Either way, there’s certainly no need to suffer when you could see a medical professional about the problem.

Time for New Shoes?

Poorly fitting shoes can be quite damaging to the feet. Bunions, corns, and calluses all can result from wearing shoes that don’t fit properly. If you do end up with these conditions, there are a few steps you can take (after, of course, investing in new shoes!):

  • For bunions, special shoe inserts can help while your toes heal. Your GP may also recommend a splint to help straighten the toes.
  • For bunions, corns, and calluses alike, pamper those feet. The use of a warm foot spa, followed by the gentle use of a pumice stone, can help heal and soothe these skin conditions.

What About…the Smell?

No one wants to talk about smelly feet, but odour is another area where your feet are trying to tell you something! Poorly smelling feet can result from conditions like Athlete’s foot or just basic daily sweating. Ease the problem by regularly wearing clean shoes and socks, switching out your shoes everyday, keeping your feet well groomed, and letting your feet get some air by going barefoot when you can at home.

Who Knew Feet Could Tell You So Much?

Your feet are at the lowest point of your body, and as such, they can be important signals to problems with the body’s circulation, thyroid, nutritional profile, and so much more. If you’re concerned about what your feet might be telling you, contacting your GP is never a bad idea.

Your feet are a reminder to take care of yourself from head to toe (literally). Curious about more ways to improve your health? Follow my Facebook page and check out my thoughts on mindfulness, hypnotherapy, and the benefits of tai chi.

6 Misconceptions About Tai Chi

Tai Chi is many things to many different practitioners. For some, it is a powerful Chinese martial art. For others, Tai Chi is a meaningful health therapy or fitness plan. Even as Tai Chi has remained in the news as a valuable, healthy exercise for mind and body, there are still numerous misconceptions about this ancient art.

Let’s dispel some of these Tai Chi myths.

Misconception 1: Tai Chi Is Too Slow to Offer Any Health Benefit

Often, a person’s initial understanding of Tai Chi comes from something that they’ve seen on Youtube or in movies. They may have even watched a fitness video of Tai Chi and felt like the slower, continuous movements of Tai Chi couldn’t possibly be offering the workout they desired.

This is one of those areas where looks can be extremely deceiving. On the contrary, Tai Chi is actually one of the most beneficial activities that you can do for your overall health. Research has found that Tai Chi benefits memory, even possibly delaying the onset of conditions like Alzheimer’s. Additional studies have found that Tai Chi contributes to lower blood pressure, reduced inflammation, greater balance and coordination, increased muscle strength, and wider flexibility.

Tai Chi is, of course, not an intense physical activity. Instead, it is often referred to as a kind of meditation in motion that still offers incredible cardiovascular benefits. However, it is the very difference between strenuous exercise and Tai Chi that helps offer these benefits. Intense aerobic exercise has its place of importance, but the calming, strengthening, mentally focused activity of Tai Chi provides separate, even unique benefits — the full spectrum of which research is only beginning to uncover.  

Misconception 2: Tai Chi Is Not an Effective Martial Art

Tai Chi is absolutely an original martial art, dating back to 13th century China, in fact. While Tai Chi is perhaps more often undertaken these days for the myriad health benefits, the martial art aspect is still a key component of the movements and forms. You must learn the basics of Tai Chi before you can proceed more deeply into Tai Chi as a form of self-defence. These deeper techniques include actions known as sparring and push hands, as well as expanding upon the visualization techniques and foundations of the art that you learn early on when beginning Tai Chi. Ultimately, it’s down to the individual martial artist rather then the art itself. A diligently practitioner of just a few years in one martial art would easily defeat a poor practitioner of 20 years in another art.  So making comparisons is never really a valid thing to do.

Misconception 3: It Has to Be Done Outside/In a Group/In a Certain Environment

The beauty of Tai Chi is that it can be practised anywhere, from the park to your own home. While a class is extremely beneficial in helping you learn the proper techniques involved in Tai Chi, and to experience partner movements and other Tai Chi activities, once you’ve learned these techniques, you can easily practise them at home on your own, as well. Tai Chi can be whatever you need it to be to fit your lifestyle.

Misconception 4: Only Certain Ages (Usually Older) Do Tai Chi

Tai Chi is for everyone! While it is of high benefit to elderly individuals for its gentleness and specific health benefits, including research showing it can even reduce the risk of falls and strengthen the mind, anyone of any age can — and should! — consider trying Tai Chi. This is an extraordinary exercise that will change your overall health for the better regardless of age, fitness level, or even injury restrictions.

Misconception 5: You Have to Have a Specific Uniform to Practise Tai Chi

You do not have to wear any specific uniform to practise Tai Chi. Generally, loose clothing is recommended due to the flow of energy (known as Qi) that is an essential part of Tai Chi practise. You can choose to wear shoes, particularly if you do practise outdoors and to assist with balance in your movements, but many Tai Chi practitioners choose to perform their movements barefoot. Eventually, as you find yourself enjoying Tai Chi and wanting to feel more connected to the art, you may wish to purchase traditional Tai Chi attire, but it certainly is never required.

Misconception 6: Tai Chi Is Just Like Yoga

Tai Chi and yoga are both wonderfully beneficial exercises, and even have similar goals, but they are also completely different. While yoga consists of specific postures that are often held for certain lengths of time, Tai Chi is more dance-like, consisting of a constant flow of movement without those same pauses.

Most of the moves and poses of yoga are practised on a mat, while Tai Chi is typically spent standing and moving around, quite possibly making it a little easier for those who might find spending time on the floor to be difficult. There are a variety of styles of both Tai Chi and yoga. If you take yoga, you might consider trying out a Tai Chi class to note the differences and determine your preferences.

Tai Chi Can Make a Difference in Your Health and Wellbeing

If you’ve never tried Tai Chi, or are looking to return to Tai Chi practise, consider attending one of my classes in York. I offer classes three days a week, and am also available for a 15-minute phone consultation to discuss your specific needs and goals beforehand.

You’ll be amazed at how this ancient art form can completely transform your life.

To learn more about the benefits of Tai Chi, as well as other wellness tips, follow me on Facebook.

3 Thoughtful Gifts to Get Your Sweetheart For Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is almost here, but as sweet as a holiday surrounding love sounds, it can be easy to feel a little cynical about the day. Too often, sweethearts celebrating Valentine’s Day seem to simply go through the motions. Buying a gift feels like more of an obligation, and sometimes it can be more of an “easy” gift than a heartfelt one.

Your loved one might not be able to cherish a box of chocolates or store-bought flowers for years to come or get a sense of how you feel about them from that, but it is possible to make sincerity a Valentine’s Day trend again. Consider how you feel about them and what would make them happy. Then consider some of these thoughtful Valentine’s Day gifts.

Something Relevant to Their Interests

One way to break out of the Valentine’s Day cliches is to consider your sweetheart themselves. What do they like? What hobbies and passions do they have? You don’t just want to buy a Valentine’s Day gift that you could give to just anyone. You want to buy something that’s personal to them. For instance, maybe if they love to do tai chi, you can get them a pair of tai chi slippers. For food enthusiasts interested in eating healthy, a halogen oven could be the right choice. Listen to your loved one talk about the things they enjoy throughout the year and take notes. You never know what you might need for gift inspiration.

Something That Invites Them to Relax

Another way to be thoughtful with your Valentine’s Day gifts this year is to cater to your loved one’s relaxation. After all, everyone needs a break sometimes, and you know better than most how much your loved one has earned it. Consider enabling them to have their own spa day at home with Arnica massage oil from Weleda. Do they have to walk frequently or have problems with pain in their feet? Offer them a chance to relax with a foot spa. This will help your significant other feel validated in the hard work they do throughout the year and cared about.

A Play On a Classic

Roses or flower bouquets are a popular romantic Valentine’s Day gift, but they only last for a few days. Instead, consider something similar but a little longer lasting. Consider a pot of gerbera daisies or jasmine. Not only are these flowers lovely, but studies have shown that they and other plants can help you to sleep better at night. This isn’t limited to flowers. If your sweetheart has a fondness for succulents or herbs, they might appreciate that more than a bouquet of roses, anyway. This is the kind of gift that will live on with a little care, and could be a fun activity to enjoy with your loved one.

Are you tired of the conventional Valentine’s Day gifts? Or does this list inspire you to give more creative Valentine’s Day gifts this year? Let’s discuss these and other thoughtful gifts on Facebook.

How Desk Cycles Can Help With ADHD Symptoms

Many of us spend a good portion of our time at work sitting. Students, as well, find themselves sitting through lectures and classes for most of the day. Of course, spending so much time in a desk chair, staring at a computer screen or text book, isn’t the best for our physical or even our mental health. We need to take breaks. In fact, numerous studies over the years have shown that physical activity during the work or school day improves productivity.

If you or your child has attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, physical activity is all the more important. You or your child may have a difficult time focusing when you aren’t moving.

Physical Activity Helps Students and Adults with ADHD to Learn and Concentrate

It’s been estimated that up to five per cent of British children have ADHD, a condition with symptoms that commonly includes difficulties with impulse control and maintaining attention, as well as noted hyperactivity and fidgeting. Interestingly, a growing body of research is showing that these active movements may play an important role in how the person with ADHD learns. Researchers are beginning to find that students with ADHD — and even students without ADHD — function best and learn more in an environment that allows them to move. Modern classrooms are beginning to incorporate fidgeting tools and other various opportunities for physical activity throughout the school day, and there has been a particular interest in pedal desks.

This is where the DeskCycle can make a huge difference.

How Can a DeskCycle Help with ADHD at School or at Work?

The DeskCycle is like a small bicycle that fits under your desk, allowing you to pedal while you work or study. Because it uses magnetic resistance, it isn’t particularly loud, so it won’t disturb classmates or co-workers, and is designed to provide a smooth ride that won’t jostle your workload.

For a student with ADHD, the DeskCycle can potentially help improve the executive function challenges caused by the condition, including helping with memory, planning, and concentration during the school day. For adults with ADHD, the DeskCycle provides these same benefits, making it easier to remember and focus on the task at hand.

The DeskCycle has multiple resistance options, allowing the teacher, student, or adult to choose the appropriate resistance for the school or work day. Adults will likely end up enjoying the challenge of pedalling at tougher resistances, while kids could even make games out of their DeskCycles by timing themselves and pedalling faster or slower depending on the events of the classroom.

Schools and workplaces are slowly beginning to change in ways that are beneficial to students and adults with learning differences. Gone are the days when a student with ADHD was told over and over again to “sit down and focus” with little positive result. These days, that same child might be offered a DeskCycle or a subtle fidgeting tool that allows them to use that hyperactivity — something they are actually doing to help themselves learn, it seems — to better focus and complete assignments without disturbing other classmates.

Everyone Benefits from Physical Activity

Everyone is more productive and focused after physical activity, but adults and children with ADHD may particularly benefit from increased activity during the work or school day. While a DeskCycle is an extremely helpful choice, other ways to improve concentration include flexible seating arrangements in classrooms, standing desks, tactile tools like Play-Doh or clay, and even those trendy squish toys.

If at all possible, adults and children alike will benefit from regular walks and exercise activities beyond the DeskCycle, as well as activities that involve meditation and mindfulness.

How have you found physical activity to be beneficial for you or your child’s ADHD symptoms? What tools have you tried? Have you tried a DeskCycle?

Let me know your thoughts here or on Facebook, where I share my own thoughts for living a more mindful, active life.