Category Archives: Illnesses and Ailments

A list of common illnesses and ailments, including symptoms & Complementary treatment methods.

Stress Management the Holistic Way

Stress Management

Stress management - stress can affect anyone, even the carers.

Stress management refers to a variety of techniques and psychotherapies that are designed to controlling stress levels within an individual, especially chronic stress.

We all know, or at least think we know, what stress is but even the professionals, who have spent their lives studying it, still have difficulty in exactly what stress is. Despite their efforts over the last half-century there is still no agreed definition yet we all know what stress is, in the same way that we all know what happiness is, but like happiness it has different qualities for different people.

Basically, stress is a term that describes our natural fight or flight response. Our primeval survival response that helped our species to continue existing. It is this inborn response that prepares us for fight or flight from anything that we perceive as dangerous, or a threat to our survival. And in the interests of our survival, this response is extremely sensitive and is set to recognise and react to even minute levels of potential danger, whether it is real or merely a perception.

In the 21st Century we may not be being chased by sabre-toothed tigers but this response to danger is still hard-wired into our system. Today’s modern stressors produce the same emotional and physical response but are brought on by a perceived imbalance between demands placed and what resources and time are available. They can be the result of fear of missing a deadline, of making a mistake in a tender, of not getting the job right, of redundancy, of not matching up to one’s peers…………… the list goes on. This means that you experience stress whenever you are faced with an event or situation that you perceive as challenging to your ability to cope. If you see the event or situation as only mildly challenging, you will probably feel only a little stress; however, if you perceive the situation or event as threatening or overwhelming your coping abilities, you will probably feel a lot of stress.

Is this, in itself bad? No, not really. Imagine the relief and sense of achievement of the caveman who has outrun the sabre-toothed tiger………….. Stress is a motivator and, on completion of a successful task, it can be rewarded and the stress levels drop to be replaced by a feeling of euphoria…………… However, it rarely works that way and one stressor can be piled on another until coping is no longer possible. Daily exposure to stressors can have negative consequences by causing hyper-vigilance or over-reaction during times when a state of calm awareness would be more productive. With daily exposure to these stressors, stress hormones can accumulate in the body and cause feelings of being burnt-out or depressed.


Effects of stress hormones

Stress hormones act by mobilizing energy from storage to muscles, increasing heart rate, blood pressure and breathing rate and shutting down metabolic processes such as digestion, reproduction, growth and immunity.

Constant stress causes continual release of various stress hormones which can cause:

  • High blood pressure
  • Stress-induced hypertension
  • Effects on metabolic processes
  • Lowered energy levels
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Decrease in testosterone levels in males
  • Irregular menstrual cycles in females
  • Lowered immune system

Research has shown that stress hormones are a major contributing factor in many major illnesses including cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Certain skin disorders, infections and psychological problems like generalised anxiety, panic, OCD, PTSD, depression, dissociative disorder, phobias and psychosis, have also been linked to cumulative stress.


Self-help methods of managing stress

  • Exercise – The easiest way to deal with cumulative stress is through physical exercise. During exercise, we metabolise excessive stress hormones and restore our body and mind to a calmer, more relaxed state. Even five to ten minutes of exercise, where a sweat has been worked up, will metabolise stress hormones and prevent their excessive  build-up. Exercise releases endorphins, which help us to feel better.
  • Taiji – Developed by the ancient Chinese, Taiji is one of the internal (soft) martial. It is increasingly practised in the West as a means of stress management and holistic exercise. Taiji is a series of slow, choreographed movements, or postures. At the core of Taiji is the concept of life essence, or Qi (pronounced ‘chee’), that flows, in meridians, through the body. When the flow of Qi is disrupted, illness is the result. Regular practice of Taiji is said to strengthen and improve Qi and according to scientific studies, Taiji is an effective healing tool for a range of disorders, particularly chronic (for example, arthritis and heart disease) and stress related conditions.
  • Qigong – Qi Gong is a combination of meditation and gentle, fluid, body movement with an emphasis on abdominal breathing. The, proper, practice of Qigong fills the mind to the point where there is no room for the stressors that permeate our daily lives. It is extremely difficult to empty our minds, our thoughts. The universe loves a vacuum and as we try to empty our mind, it takes the opportunity to fill it to overflowing. With Qigong the mind becomes full, full of one thing, the focus on the Qigong exercise. There is no room for anything else and this lets the practitioner step into the eye of the hurricane, to that calm spot where the stresses of life are absent. From there, these stresses can be observed with an air of detachment and life can be prioritised in a way that is beneficial to body, mind and spirit.
  • Meditation – It does not necessarily take years of meditation to combat stress. Meditation provides stillness and nourishment for our conscious (spirit) brain (cognitive mind) and. There are many types of meditation to choose from but they all share the understanding that the more you meditate, the lower the stress levels and the better you will feel. Zen meditation is particularly good for reducing stress levels.
    During Zen meditation, you become more accepting of your thoughts and feelings and how they relate to the world around you. This enables you to reassess your life, your goals and your relationship with the world, enabling your mind to become increasingly peaceful.


Therapist info

Stress management - stress can lead to poor, physical, health.


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Qigong for Chronic Lower Back Pain

Qigong for Chronic Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is a symptom that can have a multitude of causes.  Any, gentle, exercise where the muscles are being relaxed and toned and the vertebrae are being manipulated tend to be good for alleviating back pain.  Using simple exercises, Qigong for chronic lower back pain, can speed up recovery  and continued practice maintains mobility flexibility and strength.

For example, one Qigong exercise that can be done (both standing and seated) is from the set known as the Shibashi.  It is easy to learn and you only need to do 6 to 8 repetitions on a daily basis to gain the benefits.  It is not an instant cure, it will take time and that time is dependent on the current pain levels and mobility.

This is the seated variation of “Rowing the Boat”.


Sitting, upright, on a firm chair (dining chair, etc) with the visualisation that your head is suspended by a single thread, from the crown. The arms hang, loosely, at the sides and the feet are placed flat on the floor.  The speed of the movement is guided by your speed of breathing…………. try to relax and take your time.

Qigong for chronic lower back pain



On inhalation, bring both hands above the head (as though surrendering) and gently curl the fingers as though you were holding the oars of a boat.




Qigong for chronic lower back pain


As you exhale, bend the body forward at the waist, letting the chest drop onto the thighs, circling the arms forward and down.  As the arms swing to their lowest point, let the head hang down (this will increase the gentle stretch on the lower back).  Finally swing the arms to the rear.



On inhalation, continue swinging the arms back, to your comfortable limit, and slowly straighten up (uncurling from the lower back,  keeping the chin gently tucked in until the body is upright), and raise the arms above the head, opening the hands and turning the palms forward.


Remember to uncurl from the lower back, keeping the head hanging forward with the chin tucked in.  Repeat six to eight times.

Self Shiatsu for headache relief

Self Shiatsu for headache relief

Did you know that you can use Self Shiatsu for headache relief? We all know what it is like to have a pounding headache.  Our usual response is to reach for the painkillers but what can we do when there are none at hand?  Well, one option open to us is to do some self Shiatsu and stimulate some, easily accessible and easily remembered, acupoints.

It is best that these are stimulated at the onset of the headache while you are able to focus on what you are doing rather than waiting until the headache is in full flow.


GB1diagram of GB meridian (Level with the eye corner, on the temple): Apply finger pressure and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.

GB14 (Above the middle of the eyebrow in the small groove that is halfway up the forehead):  Finger pressure and/or small massaging rotations for 20 to 30 seconds.

GB 12 (Below and behind the mastoid process): Apply finger pressure and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.

GB 20 (At the base of the skull, between the two large muscles [trapezius and the sternocleidomastoid]).  Apply finger pressure and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.


diagram of LI meridian

LI4 (Midway between the joint of the thumb and the index finger, and the border of the
web): Known as “The Great Eliminator” this point draws energy (qi) away from the head).  Apply thumb pressure and hold for 20 to 30 seconds.




The time quoted for stimulation is an approximation.  A good guide is that you hold the acupoint until any discomfort, from the finger pressure, starts to subside.

Easy to remember, easy to do, and all without ingesting chemicals.

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Arthritis relief through Qigong

About Arthritis

Arthritis means “joint inflammation” and there are over 100 types including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis and gout. Inflammation is one of the body’s natural reactions to disease or injury, and includes swelling, pain and stiffness. Prolonged, chronic, inflammation can lead to tissue damage.

Where two or more bones come together, such as the knee or hip they are covered with a smooth, spongy material called articular cartilage.  This cartilage cushions the bones and allows the joint to move, as it has no nerve supply, without pain. The joint is encapsulated by a thin film of tissue called the synovium and the synovium lining produces a slippery fluid called synovial fluid that reduces friction, acts as a shock absorber, nourishes the joint (supplies oxygen and nutrients) and allows the body’s waste management system to remove carbon dioxide and metabolic waste from the chondrocytes within the surrounding cartilage . The articulating bones are stabilised and held together by strong bands of tissue, called ligaments. Muscles and tendons also support the joints enabling movement.

With arthritis, an area in or around a joint becomes inflamed, causing pain, stiffness and, sometimes, difficulty moving. Some types of arthritis also affect other parts of the body, such as the skin and internal organs.

About Qigong

Qigong can help in the relief of arthritis pain.

Although the exercises that are now termed Qigong are estimated to be at least 5,000 years old, Qigong is a relatively new term to describe them (first used in the early 20th Century).  The type of Qigong that this article relates to is health giving, beneficial to Mind, Body and Spirit. Qigong combines graceful, flowing, movements with focus and breathing to increase and balance your vital energy (in Qigong speak this is the Mind – the Yi guiding the Qi). In “Active Qigong” there is movement of the body that gently utilize the full range of motion in your joints. Because Qigong is low-impact it has minimal impact on your joints and can be performed by almost anyone and although it is normally practiced in a standing position many of the exercises can be adapted for a seated posture.

There are numerous studies for the effect of Qigong on arthritis.  Here are a couple: –

Benefits of Qigong

Qigong can be done while moving, lying down, sitting or standing, making it an ideal exercise for arthritis patients. With part of the focus being on correct posture, Qigong reduces the load/strain on joints.  Incorrect posture can lead to injuries and joint strain and blocks Qi flow.  The relaxed, deep, abdominal breathing increases oxygenation, benefits the cellular processes and can reduce stress and tension.  Not all Qigong is beneficial for arthritis so it is best to talk to an experienced qigong instructor about which exercises are right for you.

Here is one example of a simple Qigong exercise that can help.

This is good for regulating the breathing allowing the lowering of the breathing rate.  It is also good for maintaining the balance of the blood pressure, it strengthens the function of the Kidney meridian, calms the nerves (Shen), and it has a therapeutic action in the alleviation of arthritis.


Standing with the feet shoulder width apart, the knees unlocked (very slightly bent), the feet parallel, the shoulders relaxed and the tailbone (coccyx) tucked under.  Breathing should be relaxed, through the nose and into the abdomen (deep abdominal breathing using the abdominal muscles and the diaphragm).  The breath should be silent (with no tension in the throat) and the tip of the tongue should rest against the palate.
The movement should follow the pace of respiration…………. If you breath fast you move fast, breathe slow you move slow.  As you become more familiar with the movement you will notice that you start to relax more and your respiration slows down.  This bio-feedback will continue until your movement and breath are harmonious, relaxed and slow.

  1. Inhalation – With the palms facing downward, slowly raise the arms so that the hands are slightly higher than the shoulders, and extend the fingers.
  2. Exhalation – Keeping the spine erect, simultaneously lower the hands gently to waist level with the palms facing downward whilst bending the knees.  When bending the knees, the movement should not be excessive, and the knees should not extend beyond the toes (i.e. when looking down, with the back erect, you should just be able to see your toes).

N.B.  Make sure that the shoulders are relaxed and that the elbows are pointed down, with a “rounded” rather than angular feel/look to the arms.  There should be a harmonious co-ordination between the raising and lowering of the arms and stance.

This is the first of the Shibashi Qigong exercises and would normally be repeated six times if it was being done as part of the full Shibashi set.  However, as a solo exercise it can be repeated to your own comfortable limit……………… Take your time to build this up.

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Salt and High Blood Pressure

Salt and High Blood Pressure

We need salt to survive………….. but too much is possibly a health risk too far.

How Salt Affects Blood Pressure: Salt and High Blood Pressure
Salt (sodium) is essential for our bodies to function and it is our kidneys that control the level of salt. Too much salt and our kidneys extract it, passing it into our urine. But the kidneys can be overloaded, when our salt intake levels are very high, and they cannot keep pace, leaving excess salt in our bloodstream. This makes our bodies hold on to more water, increasing the blood pressure.

Recommended Salt Intake:
Adults should eat no more than 5g of salt a day: that’s around one full teaspoon.
Children should eat less:

  • 1 to 3 years: 2g salt a day
  • 4 to 6 years: 3g salt a day
  • 7 to 10 years: 5g salt a day
  • 11 years and over: 6g salt a day

Lowering Your Salt Intake:
Processed foods tend to use salt as an additive and flavour enhancer with around 80% of the average person’s daily salt intake coming from processed foods. So, it is in our best interests if we cooked our own food and had complete control over our salt intake.
Make use of the nutrition labels on food packaging:

  • High is more than 1.5g salt per 100g
  • Low is 0.3g salt or less per 100g

Some foods are almost always high in salt simply because of the way they are prepared.
Other foods, ones that we tend to eat a lot of such as bread and breakfast cereals, can contribute a lot of salt to our diet. This is due to the amount eaten rather than their individual salt levels.
Foods to Avoid:
These foods are almost always high in salt. To cut down on salt, eat them less often or have smaller amounts:

  • bacon
  • ham
  • pickles
  • prawns Salt and High Blood Pressure
  • cheese
  • salted nuts
  • dry roasted nuts
  • salt fish
  • smoked fish
  • smoked meat
  • soy sauce
  • stock cubes
  • gravy granules
  • salami
  • anchovies

In other foods, the salt content can vary widely between different manufacturers or brands. It is best to compare these before purchasing and choosing the variety that has a lower salt level. This is one of the real benefits of nutrition labels.
These foods include:

  • pizza
  • sandwiches
  • bread products such as crumpets, bagels,etc
  • sausages
  • pasta sauces
  • crisps
  • breakfast cereals
  • ready meals
  • soup
  • tomato ketchup
  • mayonnaise
  • sauces

Remember to check the label and save your kidneys, heart and blood vessels any grief.

Shiatsu treatment for Whiplash

Shiatsu treatment for Whiplash

Shiatsu treatment for Whiplash-Shiatsu is an effective treatment for whiplash


Whiplash in an injury, commonly caused by motor accidents, to the muscles of the neck and back that is caused by sudden and forceful jerking of the head forward and backwards.


Symptoms of whiplash include headaches, pain and soreness to the neck, shoulders and back, and can also include numbness and tingling in the arms and hands. Self help by applying ice to the area as soon as possible may help to reduce local inflammation but medical attention should be sought if there are more serious symptoms such as confusion or loss of consciousness.


Treatment by Shiatsu is usually extremely effective in alleviating the symptoms and pain of whiplash, especially if treatment is undertaken soon after the injury.   When left untreated, whiplash can appear to get better, after a few days or even weeks, but it can have long lasting, chronic, effects such as muscle pain, stiffness and headaches.


By working on Tsubos (acupuncture points) and muscles of the back and neck, Shiatsu can effectively reduce pain and soreness, improving mobility and flexibility, helping to prevent any future problems.

Sciatica treatment method

Sciatica treatment method

Before discussing sciatica treatment, it is best that sciatica is defined.

Exactly what is sciatica?

Sciatica is a symptom of an underlying medical issue and is not a medical condition on its own. It is the effect rather than the cause.

Sciatica refers to pain, weakness, tingling, or numbness in the leg and  is caused by injury to or compression of the sciatic nerve (The sciatic nerve has many branches so the symptoms will not be in that same part of the leg, including the foot, in every case).
Sciatica occurs when there is damage to, or pressure on, the sciatic nerve. This nerve starts in the spine and runs down the back of each leg. This nerve provides sensation to the back of the thigh, part of the lower leg, and the sole of the foot as well as controlling the leg muscles.

Common causes of sciatica include:

  • Degenerative disk disease
  • Slipped disk (Compression of a dorsal nerve root (radix) –  causes sciatic nerve pain and inflammation.)
  • Pelvic injury (including upslip of the sacro-iliac joint) or fracture
  • Spinal stenosis
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Enlargement of vertebra, a condition known as spondylolisthesis
  • Tumors

There is also pseudo-sciatica, a condition causing sciatic nerve pain that is caused by to damage to the joints of lower back and back portion of legs and calf.

It is vitally important that any incidence of sciatica should have the root cause properly diagnosed.


As previously stated, sciatica pain can vary widely from individual to individual.  Indeed, it often changes within the one episode as it worsens or heals. It may present as a dull ache, mild tingling, or a burning sensation. In some cases, the pain can be so severe that the sufferer is incapacitated and unable to move.

Typically, the pain occurs on one side and may get worse:

  • After standing or sitting
  • When sneezing, coughing, or laughing
  • When walking more than a few metres or when bending backwards (especially if in the case of spinal stenosis).

Some causes of sciatic nerve pain:

  • Poor posture can lead to chronic sciatic nerve pain
  • Physical activity –   Activities such as martial arts, five-a-side football, squash, etc can lead cause sciatica when there is physical injury from landing badly (after a martial arts throw), stopping forward movement by “digging in the heel”, etc.
  • Lifting objects (they do not need to be heavy) from an awkward position or by not using correct kinetic lifting techniques.
  • Herniated discs, where the spinal discs protrude and press against the nerve.
  • Pregnancy and childbirth – Pressure on pelvic region (common in pregnancy) is also one of the common causes of sciatic nerve pain. During childbirth, when the pelvis is opening, it is possible for pelvic deviation to occur.


Sciatica is a symptom of an underlying medical condition so the root cause should be identified and treated.

Home treatment methods include:

  • Applying heat, or ice, to the painful area. Use ice for the first 2 – 3 days, then apply heat.
  • Painkillers and anti-inflammatory drugs.
  • Using pillows to create a comfortable sleeping position by placing them under the knees, or between the legs, etc.

Sports Injury therapy:
There are various treatment regimes on offer.  Here, we will concentrate on Shiatsu, Seitai & Sotai.  You might not be familiar with these names so a brief explanation is in order:

Shiatsu – The literal translation is “Finger pressure”.  This is a Japanese therapy that has its roots in Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Japanese massage system of Amna.  It is often described as “massage” but this is rather inaccurate as it is a therapy and is recognised as such by the Japanese Medical Establishment.  It utilises stimulation of acupuncture points (using finger pressure), stretching and realignment.
Seitai – Is a method of realignment, in this case used to realign the pelvis if a distortion has been caused by a misalignment of the sacroiliac joint.
Sotai – This is the use of reciprocal inhibition and post-isometric relaxation that is used, rather than stretching, to allow the muscles to regain their normal relaxed state.
Someone who presents the symptoms of sciatica will have a consultation regarding the onset of the ailment, any underlying medical conditions, etc.  Observations will be made of their posture and, in the case of chronic sciatica, their shoes may be checked for uneven wear.
Treatment will normally be carried out on a futon, at floor level but occasionally, if the client is unable to lie down, the initial treatment can be carried out on a therapy chair, or couch.  After checking for signs of deviation of the pelvis, if there is any, the practitioner will use Shiatsu to lower the pain and help relax the muscles, Sotai to further relax the musculature of the lower back and legs, and, finally, use Seitai techniques to realign the sacroiliac joint and the pelvis.

By using these methods, the practitioner is treating both cause and effect and this can lead to a more rapid recovery.

It must be noted that pelvic deviation is not the only cause of sciatica and that the Shiatsu therapist should always tailor the treatment for the individual rather than the ailment.  In this way, the root cause and the effect (symptoms) should always receive attention.

Treatment of Iliopsoas injuries

Iliopsoas injuries

In basic terms, iliopsoas tendonitis is an inflammation of the tendon or area surrounding the tendon of the iliopsoas muscle. Major causes of iliopsoas tendonitis are overuse (from repetitive hip flexion) or acute trauma.muscles of the pelvis

The iliopsoas muscles consist of the psoas muscles that extend from the inner groin to the spine behind the diaphragm and the iliacus muscles, that extend from the groin to the sides of the pelvic cavity. As a group, because they share the same tendon that inserts at the groin, they are called, the iliopsoas muscles”.

The iliopsoas muscles are long; pain may show up anywhere along their length.

As previously stated, acute injury and overuse are the two predominant causes of iliopsoas injuries. The acute injury can be due to direct trauma but typically involves an eccentric contraction of the iliopsoas muscle. Overuse injury mainly manifests in activities that involve repeated hip flexion or external rotation of the thigh. Activities that are inclined towards iliopsoas injuries include resistance training, rowing, fell running, track and field events, soccer, gymnastics and dancing.

As these muscles are deep, they are not easily accessed and are usually treated using a mixture of stretching and strengthening.  Although this, tried and tested method, is a perfectly good treatment regime, the use of Sotai (Post Isometric Relaxation & Reciprocal Inhibition) and, where necessary, Seitai (for realignment of the hips/pelvis) within a regime of Shiatsu treatment usually results in a faster recovery.  One of the main reasons for this is that, rather than stretching the muscle (and taking the risk of causing further damage) this regime encourages the muscle to relax back to its normal resting length.  This also has the effect of allowing any inflammation to die down.

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Shiatsu Therapy – Natural and holistic

Shiatsu Therapy

Shiatsu has a good reputation for reducing stress and relieving nausea and vomiting. Shiatsu is also believed to improve circulation and boost the immune system. Some people use it to treat diarrhoea, indigestion, constipation, and other disorders of the gastrointestinal tract. For menstrual and menopausal problems, chronic pain, migraine, arthritis, and; toothache. Shiatsu can be used to relieve muscular pain or tension, especially neck and back pain. It also appears to have sedative effects and may alleviate insomnia. In a broader sense, shiatsu is believed to enhance physical vitality and emotional well being.

Shiatsu is a Complementary form of therapy that was developed in Japan from a blend of Traditional Chinese Medicine and the Japanese massage system of Amna.  Shiatsu can also be used as a form of a self-treatment.  However, the best benefits are received when treatment is carried out by a fully qualified and experienced practitioner.

It, possibly through its ability to assist the receiver to relax, has the reputation of being able to improve circulation and boost the immune system.  Many people now use Shiatsu to help treat Irritable Bowel Syndrome, constipation, diarrhoea, indigestion, and other gastrointestinal tract disorders.  It is also used to treat  chronic pain, arthritis, migraine, tension, anxiety and depression.  Sports injuries also react well to Shiatsu treatment and it is excellent when dealing with muscular pain or tension, especially neck and back pain.  Shiatsu enhances physical vitality and emotional well being.

Shiatsu is usually given, at floor level, on a flat mat called a futon.  It is applied by massaging certain points (acupuncture points), that may be associated with the symptoms or cause of the underlying ailment, using pressure that is applied by the fingers, elbows, or even the knees.  The literal translation of Shiatsu is “finger pressure“.  Through this stimulation, the flow of energy (ki) is restored and balanced.

Groin Strain

Groin Strain

Groin strain may present as a sharp, sudden pain in the groin or inner thigh area in the course of activity, or the pain may not arise until the next day. In cases of chronic groin strain, the sufferer may not recall a specific incident where the injury could have occurred.
Symptoms include:  tenderness to touch (palpation), swelling (oedema), and bruising along the inner thigh adjacent to the groin. Pain may be reproduced by adducting (bringing the leg to midline) the leg against resistance. Proper physical examination is vital to distinguish adductor muscle group strains from other causes of groin pain.

Western treatment for any muscle injury initially consists of the RICE protocol – rest, ice, compression and elevation. Generally, grade one groin strains should be rested from exercise for about three weeks, and grade two injuries for about four to six weeks. In the worst cases, when there is a complete rupture, the muscle may have to be repaired surgically and the rehabilitation will take at least three months.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, you are advised to avoid ice as it causes further contraction and stagnation of the qi (vital energy).  If ice is used, you are advised to apply it for no more than 10 to 15 minutes per hour during the first 24 hours after the injury.  After the pain and inflammation has gone, or has been reduced, light exercise and stretching can be introduced but with caution, taking care so as not to aggravate the injury.  Massage (Tuina, or Shiatsu) is also recommended in order to speed up recovery by stimulating, among others, the acupuncture point of LV3 and GB34.

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