Gliding into a healthy New Year takes effort. Here, our trusty functional health expert Andra Millian MATCM, L.Ac.,C.H. shares timely advice on staying healthy to achieve all your goals.
The quest for eternal youth is prevalent in today’s media. So much of what we read, see and hear are messages based on the concept of freezing time, and avoiding the inevitable seasons of beauty and gracefully transitioning through life. Yet true beauty transcends every age, and begins and ends with vibrant health. In my field of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) it is believed that although the risk of disease and disability clearly increase with advancing age, poor health is not an inevitable consequence of aging. I’ve asked some of my favorite of Texas’ best and brightest wellness experts to weigh in with their insight, too.
I posed this question to several of the state’s best health experts: “What is the single most important health tip that you can recommend for men and women allowing them to age gracefully?” Tom Schnorr, Certified Clinical Nutritionist, functional medicine expert, and owner of Austin Compounding Pharmacy reminds us, “There is no single answer for everyone… that is the basic premise of functional medicine… we tailor therapy to the individual not the individual to the therapy.”
This is true of Traditional Chinese Medicine as well. What’s good for the goose is not necessarily best for the gander when it comes to specific health protocols. Chinese medicine even breaks down the changes aging brings for men as occurring every eight years, whereas women are said to age in seven year cycles. That in mind, here are a few ancient Chinese health tips that are simple to do and believed to be very beneficial for health.
RUB A DUB
Massaging the back is an ancient method that stimulates dozens of important acupuncture points whose primary benefit is muscle relaxation, thus preventing and treating back pain and muscle strain. You and your partner may try massaging each other’s backs and stomachs, which promotes both a loving touch and better circulation, and can help stimulate and maintain the balance of the central nervous system. Ancient Traditional Chinese Medicine philosophy believes that massaging during the day clears the head and lifts the spirit; massaging during the night soothes the mind, preventing insomnia.
Traditional Chinese Medicine states that to rub the feet often is to preserve health. First, soak your feet in very warm water, then rub consistently. This can have a variety of beneficial effects on the tendons, blood circulation, and muscles of the feet, and even other areas of the body. So, take a fun massage class with a friend, or loved one, and do try this at home.
MOVE THAT BODY
Dr. Jason Rogers DC of Everybody Chiropractic in Austin says, “Movement is life. Movement of the joints creates synovial fluid that prevents and protects the joint from arthritis. Movement of the muscles stimulates the nervous system and is responsible for proper chemical and hormonal balance in the brain and body. Our spinal discs (the cushions between our vertebrae in our spinal column that keep our nerves from being pinched or damaged) only receive nutrients to maintain their proper size through movement. No wonder your low back and neck hurt after a day of sitting and or standing still.”
Move your body in any way that sounds like fun. Take a gentle Tai Chi class that will strengthen your lower body as well as your heart. Or try a dance class, some yoga or a brisk walk outside with your BFF or four-legged friend. Ride a horse or pedal a bike. But what if you have knee or back pain? One of my patients at Austin Onsite Acupuncture recently told me, “‘My doctor told me that for every pound that I was overweight, it put 7 pounds of pressure on my knees. Well, no wonder they hurt.” Try low impact exercise like swimming, which gives you the benefit of movement while minimizing joint pain.
THE WAKE-UP CALL
Stretching is the most effective way to lose weight and promote blood circulation and avoid pain in sensitive areas like your knees and back. TCM recommends the waking up of kind of “lazy stretching” that helps you get out of bed in the morning. Straighten your neck upward, lift both arms, take large breaths to expand your chest, yawn, stretch your waist any way that feels good, and wiggle your joints.
This simple wake up stretch (which can also be done behind a desk!) causes several muscle groups in your body to contract and sends blood to your heart, and brain, giving a boost of energy to your metabolism and blood circulation. The result? Elimination of excessive tension, prevention of muscle strain and correcting your posture, while chasing away fatigue and raising your spirits. Ahhh.
Stay tuned for next month’s column on more insight for a spring tune up and until then, get moving into the New Year, surely your healthiest one yet.