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5 Easy Ways to Ditch Leg Cramps for Good

For weeks now, my legs had been threatening to seize. In bed, trying desperately for a restful night’s sleep. When the tight sensation in my legs would start, I would quickly extend my legs, press my heels down and thrust my toes upward until the sensation dissipated. It was working great. I thought I was in the clear.  Until this week.

And Holy Forking Shirt. It hurt like Heck!

My left calf was arrested in the strongest cramp I had ever experienced. I could not move or breathe!

Once the feeling eventually subsided, I gingerly got up out of bed and waddled to the bathroom to spray a liberal dose of magnesium oil onto my legs and feet.

The relief was almost instant. Or was it a placebo effect? Perhaps both. Either way, the cramp was gone, for now.

Many of my clients would complain of tight sore legs and feet, especially in the later stages of pregnancy. And it appears no one in immune.

Why are leg cramps so common during pregnancy and what can be done about it?

It is thought that legs cramps can occur due to fatigue, too much or too little activity, dehydration, magnesium deficiency and pressure from the uterus impacting blood flow to the lower half of the body.

While debilitating, leg cramps can easily be managed at home. Below I share some at-home remedies that can help ease the discomfort of leg cramps

  1. Stay Hydrated

Tight sore muscles are dehydrated muscles. If dehydration is the issue, then increasing water intake may be one easy way to ease cramps. One way to see if you are drinking enough water is to check the colour of your urine. Dark yellow suggested dehydration, while a light-yellow means that you are adequately hydrated. And if you on a lot of B vitamin, your urine may be bright fluro yellow. If you have concerns, please consult your prenatal care provider.

  1. Stretch it Out

Stretching can also ease a cramp as its occurring and potentially prevent them from cramping. An amazingly simple stretch that you can do in bed is to extend your leg, press your heel down as you pull your toes towards your face. Be careful not to pint your toes that this will contract the area that is cramping and make the cramp worse.

  1. Supplement with Magnesium

Magnesium can be beneficial in reducing leg cramps. Taken either orally as a tablet or powered supplement, applied topically as an oil or gel or soaking in a warm foot spa or bath, magnesium could relieve pain from cramping and potentially prevent cramps from occurring. While the research on using magnesium in this was is limited, anecdotal evidence suggests that it can help. Be sure to check with your prenatal care provider to see if magnesium is right for you.

  1. Gentle Exercise

If lack of exercise is the issue, then gentle exercise may help to prevent and ease cramping. Short, gentle, and slow walks or pregnancy friendly yoga postures can not only help to keep you fit and healthy during pregnancy but can increase blood flow, gently working and strengthening muscles in the lower body. Be sure to check with your prenatal care provider before starting any exercise during pregnancy.

  1. Pleasure over Pain

Have you ever stubbed your toe on something? It hurts like heck, right? And what is the first thing you do, after screaming out a few expletives? You will rub the area that has been injured. When we rub our stubbed toe, our brain floods with endorphins, the body’s “happy feel good chemical”. This type of self-soothing massage can easily be applied to calf cramps. Massage to the calves before bed may help to prevent cramps from occurring. Massage can even be applied during a cramp to ease it. Just ensure that you use pressure that is appropriate to your own needs, and do not cause further pain or discomfort.

 

Just because a symptom is common in pregnancy, does not mean you need to put up with it. These easy home-remedies may be the thing between you and a pain-free, restful sleep during pregnancy.

For more info on ways to manage pregnancy aches and pain, check out the blog archive.

 

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7 Ways To Boost Your Health and Productivity While Working from Home

Are you finding it hard to focus while working from home? Has procrastination got the better of you? Is the call of the laundry or dishes more appealing than that report you are meant to be writing? In this blog, I explore the 7 Ways You Can Boost your Health and Productivity While Working from Home.

 

  1. Clear Desk – Clear Mind

I am a big believer in removing clutter from your desk before getting to work. Now this isn’t an excuse to procrasti-clean. Rather, ensure that you have all the essential things you need in your immediate work area to make the day run smoothly. For me, I make sure I have my diary, to-do-list, a range of pens highlighters and post-it notes (more on this later) and a beverage close by.  By clearing your desk, you can create a fresh start and reduce unnecessary distractions.

 

  1. Write a To-Do-List the Night Before

At the end of your workday, or over the weekend, spend a moment to jot down the important tasks that you need to get done the following day. Writing down a to-do-list means that you won’t use mental energy “trying to remember everything”. It also means that when you get ready to sit down to work the next day, you already have a plan of what you need to do. My to-do-list hack is to write one task that I can easily achieve, so that at the start of my day I can cross something off. It’s mind-game I pay with myself to demonstrate how efficient I am. And it’s so satisfying crossing a task off the list at the start of the day.

 

  1. Eat the Frog

Mark Twain is famously quoted as saying “If the first thing you do in the morning is eat a live frog, you can go through the rest of the day knowing the worst is behind you.” The frog in this context is the biggest and most daunting task on your to-do-list. It can be easy to get side-tracked into all the little tasks and avoid the big ones. You’ll be surprised how much more you can get done when you complete the biggest task first. So go on, Eat that frog!

 

  1. Keep Your Workspace Separate

If its possible, set up an office space in a study or spare room. This way you can “compartmentalize” the time when you are at home and the time when you are at work. Then at the end of the day you can close the door to your “office” and enjoy being at “home”. If you do need to set up your office at the dining table, then have clear boundaries around that space. Set it up and pack it down at the end of the workday. Try to find another space to take breaks so you don’t feel like you are “at work” during your lunch break.

 

  1. What’s a Pomodoro?

The Pomodoro technique is a time-management hack. It was created by Francesco Cirillo who used a tomato shaped timer (Pomodoro is the Italian word for tomato) to improve efficiency and time management.  Using this technique, you set the timer for 25 minutes, start a task, when the timer goes off put a tick on a piece of paper and when you have more than 4 ticks, you can take a break.  Now you can vary the working time limits to whatever suits you. For shorter attention spans, work in 10-15-minute blocks before taking breaks. Work with whatever if best for you.

 

  1. Find Variety in the Everyday

Sometimes there is nothing more boring than feeling as though you are chained to your desk, without freedom to move. This taps into one of our core needs. The Need for VARIETY. (You can read more about the core needs here). The need for variety can mean that we distract ourselves of procrastinate to keep ourselves entertained if a task is particularly arduous. As a visual person I fulfill my need to variety with tones of pens, highlighters and colorful post-it notes on my desk. This gives the option of choosing either the blue or green highlighter to mark tasks off my to-do-list or the pink or yellow post it notes to write a reminder on to.  I also make sure I have variety of beverages on hand, so I don’t get sidetracked thinking “I can’t get to work yet – I don’t have a coffee.” I usually have a coffee, water bottle, a glass of mineral water with lime juice within arms reach so once again, I can choose what I want to drink.

 

  1. MOVE IT!

Sitting for long periods will kill your motivation to work, and your productivity will plummet! When the Pomodoro timer goes off, use this as an opportunity to stand up and stretch and move. Stretch your neck, your arms, your back and your hips. Walk up and down the hallway. Do squats, lunges, star jumps.  Take a walk around the block at lunch time. Get your body moving and blood pumping. A little bit of movement not only breaks up your day, but it can ease postural aches and pains from sitting, improve productivity so you get more done and boost your mood thanks to the endorphins that exercise creates. If its a struggle to leave the house for exercise, try walking around while on the phone to get a bit more movement into your day.

 

By making a few small changes to your routine, you can ensure that working from home is just as, if not more productive than working in the office.

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The 3 Reasons Why Pregnancy Is A Pain In The BUTT

… And What You Can Do About It NOW!

 

It’s no secret that pregnancy can be painful. In fact, I’ve written about it before (in this blog on the 3 Ways to Beat Pregnancy Pain).

A lot of my clients tell me that their doctors aren’t too helpful in helping them understand their pain, which why I have compiled this list of the 3 main causes of hip/back and glute pain in pregnancy and most importantly how massage during pregnancy can help you reduce pain, feel freer and more engergised!

 

Pelvic Girdle Pain (AKA: Pelvic Girdle instability)

 

Pelvic Girdle Pain (PGP) is a condition can affect 20% of women during pregnancy. PGP can occur due to changes in ligaments because of the hormone relaxin, which increases joint laxity.

Every day activities such as walking or standing can aggravate and cause strain within the joint. Pain may not be felt until several hours later. In some cases, pain can be constant.

PGP can be managed by avoid aggravating activities, such as lifting and weight bearing activities.  Strengthening exercise that support the abdominals, pelvic floor and lower back can also be beneficial.

Massage can also help alleviate the symptoms of PGP through releasing tight muscles and ligaments in the glutes, hips and lower back.

 

Round Ligament Pain

Several ligaments support the uterus as the foetus grows. One of these ligaments is called the round ligament. The role of the round ligament is to keep the uterus in a forward titled position.

As the round ligament stretches due to foetal growth pain can be felts from the top of the uterus to the groin and can even extend to the vulvar and upper thigh.

Depending on foetal positioning pain can be felt on one side, or both sides.

Massaging the abdomen can help to alleviate round ligament pain by assisting in maintaining uterine positioning and stabilising the lower back.

 

Sciatic Pain

Sciatica is the name given to a series of symptoms, not a specific problem. The sciatic nerve runs down the lower back, through the glutes and innervates the lower leg and feet.

A slipped or injured disc can be the primary cause of sciatica, but sometimes, the functioning of the nerve can be affected, causing pins and needles or pain down the back of your leg.

In some cases, tight gluteal muscles can mimic the pain symptoms of sciatica. Massage can assist in releasing tight glute muscles and provide support to balance the lower back.

 

The next step…

Just because pain during pregnancy is common does not mean that you must put up with it. Understanding the cause of pain can help in alleviating the symptoms so that you can have a happy and healthy pregnancy.

 

Struggling with Pregnancy Aches? Book a Massage now!

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3 Ways to Beat Pregnancy Pains

While a time of joy and excitement, pregnancy can also be a time of discomfort, pain and general feelings of exhaustion. Many women experience similar common ailments, such as low back pain and leg cramps. In this blog, I hope to give an overview of these common ailments, why they occur and more importantly, what you can do about it!

 

Posture

During pregnancy, a woman’s center of gravity shifts forward as their baby develops and their belly gets bigger. This causes a woman’s posture to, for want of a better term – “go outta whack”. Shoulders slouch and curve, the neck is pushed forward, bums stick out. In some cases, women enter pregnancy with postural complaints and these issues become exacerbated during pregnancy.

 

The Role of Hormones

Smooth muscles, connective tissue, cartilage joints and ligaments “soften” during pregnancy thanks to the hormones progesterone and relaxin.  This means that the hip, sacroiliac and pubic symphysis joints become less stable. Most women can cope with these changes, but for women with hypermobility (extra-flexibility) may suffer from additional discomfort.

 

Shoulder Pain

Shoulder pain can be the result of changes to posture. Slouchy shoulders cause tightness in the upper back, shoulder, neck and chest. Shoulder tension may also lead to headaches.

 

Shoulder and Neck Stretch

Sitting in a chair, place you left hand under your bottom. Then tilt your head to the right, drawing your right ear down to your right shoulder. Use your right arm to hold the left side of your head above your ear to intensify the stretch. Hold for 30 seconds and repeat on the other side. Click Here For A Visual Guide.

 

Leg Cramps and Pain

In the warmer months, many of my clients complain of leg cramps. Common from the second half of pregnancy, leg cramps can have a sudden onset and often occur at night.  Leg cramps can be eased by gently exercising and stretching the calf prior to going to bed. Painful legs can often be a result of increased weight in the lower half of the body. Extra pressure is placed on the inferior vena cava (the largest vein supplying blood to the lower limbs).

 

Leg Stretch

Place your hands at arm’s length on a wall. With your hips square, place your right foot behind your left. While keeping your right knee straight and your right heel on the floor, bend your left leg slowly. Keep your back straight and hips forward as you hold the stretch for 30 seconds. Repeat on the other side. Click here for a visual guide.

 

Low Back Pain

Low back pain may result from several factors. Women may enter pregnancy with pre-existing low back and gluteal pain. Low back pain can also be cause by tight or strained lower back muscles. The round ligament, one of the eight ligaments that holds the uterus in place, stretches rapidly. This can often cause pain on one side the body, depending on fetal positioning. Low back pain can be alleviated by sleeping in a side-lying position and placing a pillow between the knees and under the tummy.

 

Stretch – Cat Pose

Come on all fours, with your knees hip width apart, and your hands in line with your shoulders. Begin with the spine in a neutral position. Slowly tilt the pelvis under, flattening the lower back. At the same time, tuck your chin to your chest, causing the shoulders to curve and hunch. If wrists become uncomfortable, you may rest on your elbows instead of your hands. Hold the stretch for a few moments and return the spine to a neutral position. Click here for a visual guide.

 

Feel Freer With Massage

Massage is also a great way to manage the common discomforts of pregnancy. From releasing tight shoulders, applying gentle hip join mobilization and alleviating leg cramps. Treatments are personalized to suit you and your unique pain and discomforts.

 

Partner Massage During Labour

DID YOU KNOW – Massage during labour can help the mother to relax, ease her pain and enhance her overall wellbeing.

PLUS – Partner massage helps the two of you to feel more connected as you bring your new baby into the world together.

Supported and Empowered in Labour – Partner Massage training is held monthly. Click here for more information!

 

If you are not sure if massage is appropriate for you during your pregnancy, please contact Laura on 0407 512 009 or book an appointment now.

For more information on the benefits of pregnancy massage, please visit the blog archive.

 

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5 Tips for a Stress-Free Christmas!

Christmas is a lovely and stressful time of year. The following tips may help you survive the silly season!

Plan ahead

When it comes to shopping, for gifts or food, planning your shopping trip will not only save to money, but time as well. Making a list of presents to buy will keep your budget on track and reduce instances of impulse-buying or unnecessary “Christmas stocking fillers”. Setting a budget for each gift, or even making a home-made gift, will reduce stress on you and your credit card!

Delegate

Whether you have all the family over to your place, or not, dividing up tasks between family members can lighten the load. This will be less stressful for you and everyone will feel like they are contributing. Organise within your circle of family and friends who will bring the side dishes and dessert.

Moderation!

The holidays are a time of over-indulgence. Whether its food or booze, moderation is KEY! Set yourself limits for the number of servings, or number of drinks you will have for the evening.  Allowing yourself to have a little bit of everything is better than stuffing yourself like a Christmas turkey on a smorgasbord. Remember that one glass of wine or one beer, may be up to 2 standard drinks, so make sure you keep track of this.

Keep Hydrated!

I know massage therapists go on and on about water intake, but at this time of year it is especially important! With warmer weather, we need to increase of fluid intake to avoid dehydration. In addition, alcohol can dehydrate your body, so make sure you have a glass of water between each glass of wine. Not only can this keep you hydrated but it may reduce the impact of a hangover the next day! Trust me, your body will thank you!

Make time to unwind and relax

Whether you are the type of person that loves the holidays or loathes it, it can be a stressful time of year. When we experience stress, our muscles tighten, and we can feel tension in our neck, shoulders and back. Massage can help you to reduce tension, alleviate stress and have you feeling wonderful for the holiday season!

For more information about which treatment is right for you, contact us or book your next massage now!

This information is advice only, and should not replace professional recommendations from a GP or psychologist. If you are having trouble during the holiday season, please contact Lifeline on 13 11 14