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Magnesium: what is it & what does it do for you?

I regularly recommend my clients use magnesium, either in the form of a supplement, topical cream or oil, or as salts dissolved in a warm bath.

But what is magnesium, and what does it do for our body?

The Science

Magnesium

Magnesium is a chemical element. It is the fourth most common element on Earth, and the third most common dissolved in seawater. Magnesium is the eleventh most abundant element by mass in the human body and is essential to all cells and some 300 enzymes.

The important interaction between phosphate and magnesium ions makes magnesium essential to the basic nucleic acid chemistry of all cells of all known living organisms. More than 300 enzymes require magnesium ions for their catalytic action, including all enzymes using or synthesizing adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

Now I don’t want this to turn into a boring chemistry lecture, but ATP is a complex organic chemical that participates in many processes, including providing energy for nearly all of the body’s metabolic processes and muscular contraction. 20% of the body’s magnesium is for skeletal muscle function.[1]

Magnesium is also an imperative part in;

  • Nerve conduction
  • The production of energy from carbohydrates and fats
  • The production and maintenance of healthy bones, including the synthesis of bone matrix, bone mineral metabolism and the maintenance of bone density
  • Maintenance of healthy heart function and normal heart rhythm.[2]

Where can we source magnesium?

The Source

Nuts, Greens, Cocoa & Spices

Spices, nuts & seeds, cereals, cocoa (W00T!) and leafy green vegetables are rich sources of magnesium. [3]

Thankfully, if we are not getting enough magnesium in our diet, or are experiencing symptoms of magnesium deficiency alternative methods for magnesium intake is readily available.

Bath salts

Magnesium chloride

Magnesium chloride is extracted from seawater and is more readily absorbed through the skin than other forms of magnesium, so it’s perfect for bath salts. It is not for ingestion.

Magnesium sulfate

Magnesium sulfate is more commonly known as Epsom salts. A great source of magnesium and available in most supermarkets and chemists, Epsom salts have been popular since it was discovered in the British town it was named after, in the 17th century. [4]

Topical creams and oils

As both magnesium chloride and sulfate are absorbed through the skin, they make great topical applications and are available in creams and oils that can be rubbed directly on the sore or cramping muscle. Great for carrying in your sports or travel bag and cant get to a bath.

Topical spray, supplements, bath salts

Supplements

Magnesium itself cannot be absorbed and needs to be bonded to another molecule to be absorbed. The most common bonding agents are oxide, citrate, glycinate, sulphate or amino acid chelate.

This is the least absorbed form, but also has one of the highest percentages of elemental magnesium per dose so it still may be the  highest absorbed dose per mg. This is a great general purpose magnesium if really Mg is all you need.  It makes a simple muscle relaxer, nerve tonic and laxative if you take a high dose.

This is one of the most common forms of Mg on the commercial market. This is Mg bonded to citric acid, which increases the rate of absorption. Citrate is a larger molecule than the simple oxygen of oxide, so there is less magnesium by weight than in the oxide form. This is the most commonly used form in laxative preparations.

In this form, Mg is bonded to the amino acid glycine. Glycine itself is a relaxing neurotransmitter and so enhances magnesium’s natural relaxation properties. This could be the best form if you’re using it for mental calm and relaxation.

Magnesium amino acid chelate is usually bonded to a variety of amino acids. In this form there is less magnesium by weight but the individual amino acids could all be beneficial for different things. Every formula is different so if you need both Mg and a particular amino acid, then this could be the way to go. [5]

Recommended daily intake of magnesium is;

  • 400 mg/day for men aged 19-30 years, increasing to 420 mg/day for those aged 31 and above,
  • For women aged 19-30 years, the RDI is 310 mg/day, increasing to 320 mg over the age of 30,
  • Depending on their age, the RDI for adult women who are pregnant is 350-360 mg/day.
  • The RDI for breastfeeding for those who are breastfeeding is 310-320 mg of magnesium each day. [6]

What happens if I don’t have enough magnesium?

The Symptoms

If you’re not getting enough magnesium in your diet then you may be experiencing symptoms such as;

  • Muscular cramp

    Muscular problems such as cramps, twitches, slow to recover from injury, aches and pains,

  • Fibromyalgia is sometimes linked to magnesium deficiency,
  • Migraines and headaches, including tension headaches,
  • Period pain and symptoms of premenstrual syndrome, including mood swings , fluid retention, premenstrual migraines,
  • Stress, irritability, insomnia and anxiety,
  • Fatigue, which may be a symptom of magnesium deficiency.

It may also play a role in helping to maintain cardiovascular health and healthy bone density.

What could be causing my magnesium deficiency?

The Seed

  • Stress (especially when prolonged or severe),
  • Inadequate sleep,
  • Profuse perspiration,
  • Excessive consumption of caffeine, salt, sugar and alcohol,
  • Heavy menstrual periods,
  • Eating large quantities of processed and refined foods,
  • The use of some multiple pharmaceutical medications,
  • Gastrointestinal disorders such as short-term diarrhoea or vomiting and conditions that affect your absorption of nutrients,
  • Getting older. [7]

Can I have too much magnesium?

Doses less than 350 mg daily are safe for most adults. When taken in very large amounts, magnesium is possibly unsafe.

Symptoms of magnesium overdose include;

  • diarrhea
  • nausea and vomiting
  • lethargy
  • muscle weakness
  • irregular heartbeat
  • low blood pressure
  • urine retention
  • respiratory distress
  • cardiac arrest. [8]

 

The best way to ensure you’re getting enough magnesium is to maintain a healthy diet of whole foods and steer clear of processed and refined foods. If you are getting regular cramps or muscular pain it might be a good idea to get some advice from your physical therapist.

Maintaining muscular health can be as easy as regular gentle exercise and stretching, fresh air and water each day, a 20 minute magnesium bath a week, some leafy greens and nuts in your diet and regular massage.

If you think you have a serious magnesium deficiency you should consult your doctor.

 

Have you ever used magnesium? How did it work for you?

Yoga or Pilates? What’s the difference? Which one is best for me?

Many of my clients, looking for a way to stretch and keep their muscles pain free ask me whether yoga or Pilates is a good option for them and which is best. The reality is that both are great ways to keep moving but are good for our bodies in different ways.

Pilates was developed in the early 20th Century by Joseph Pilates, a German physical trainer. He developed his concept of an integrated, comprehensive system of physical exercise, which he himself called “Contrology” through the study of yoga and the movements of animals combined with his knowledge as a gymnast, bodybuilder and boxer.

Reformer Pilates

Pilates is great for movement of joints and focused strengthening of the muscles. It can help strengthen areas that may be weakened by a sedentary lifestyle, injury or misuse of the area. It can help correct posture and motor skills through use of body weight exercises performed on the floor or with equipment such as the reformer or therabands, foam rollers and exercise balls.

Pilates equipment

Originating in India, yoga has been practised for centuries as a physical, mental and spiritual discipline. Various styles of yoga are popular today for developing greater strength, flexibility, relaxation and meditation. Popular styles throughout the world include hatha, iyengar and ashtunga yoga. Yoga can be used for improving the flexibility of the muscles and it will also increase the flexibility of the joints. Specific poses are said to massage organs, lengthen and strengthen muscles and tendons and promote inner wellbeing.

Yoga

While it’s impossible to tell how many people regularly practise both disciplines, it’s often said that yoga, with its countless offshoots and different styles is the most widely practised exercise system in the world. While Pilates estimate more than 25 million people worldwide as devotees, largely in western countries such as Australia, Canada and the UK.

Some experts say practising Pilates can help build strength to improve yoga performance. While stretching of yoga, will help relieve muscles sore from Pilates strengthening. As yoga and Pilates have different aims, it’s unlikely that combining the two would cause overuse. However, if muscles and joints are sore, give them time to rest and recover.

So which is best to incorporate into your routine?

Stretching

There is little scientific evidence to say which is best for what. Although I would say that if you are currently injured or not exercising that some stretching and prescribed or clinical Pilates instruction from a qualified physiotherapist or remedial massage therapist might be best. Starting yoga with an existing injury or little fitness could lead to further injury.

That said, gentle styles of yoga such as hatha and iyengar with a good instructor can be beneficial to all, especially for those looking for relaxation and guided meditation techniques.

Devotees to both disciplines will say that theirs is the better option. However, the thing to remember is that all movement is good movement, and the best exercise is always the one that you prefer – as this helps motivation and consistency, with improved and long-term results.

The best strategy? Try them for yourself and see what you like best.

Cold and flu season: Hit it before it hits you!

Winter Special

From now until the 31st of August, 2017 I am offering a winter special
of 45 minute manual lymphatic drainage treatments
to help you kick those winter sniffles.

 

Last flu season, for the first time in my adult life, I was hit by the dreaded flu lurgy. We all get a sniffle from time to time and have a whinge about it but this was the real deal. Fever sweats, congestion, pounding head, the works. Then once I’d just about kicked it and headed back to work, it knocked me off my feet again and sent me straight back to bed. When I was able to get back to work, I had a cough and a sniffle that just lingered for weeks.

Supporting the immune system with adequate sleep, healthy eating and regular exercise sometimes just isn’t enough. Sometimes our bodies need a little extra helping hand.

My solution to kick this bug in the butt was to have some manual lymphatic drainage.

Manual lymphatic drainage is a physical therapy that aids the flow of lymph throughout the body. The lymphatic system is a system, much like the circulatory system that circulates our blood but it in-fact has more vessels and transports more fluid than the circulatory system. Lymph fluid carries white blood cells throughout the body to help you fight infection, be it cancer or the common cold, and then carries away waste from the tissues to be flushed out of our system.

Lymphatic drainage techniques aid the body to carry out this process by stimulating the lymph nodes and with a slow and gentle technique, acts as a pump to move the fluid through the nodes, to then be naturally flushed out of the body.

In a 45 minute treatment we would focus on Shoulders, head, neck, face and scalp. The treatment is gentle and relaxing, and a great way to support your immune system in a natural way.

$65 for 45 minutes

Go to the Book Online page and chose “Winter Special” from the booking menu.

Why Am I Sore After a Deep Tissue Massage?

Deep tissue massage is a style of massage that is usually practised with oil on skin, with a firmer pressure than relaxation massage. It’s aim is to reach the deeper layers of muscle and connective tissue than those underlying the skin.

How does it work?

iStock_000010728710XSmallOur muscles are made of tiny fibres call myofibrils. When our muscles are overused or misused the fibres can adhere together or tear. It’s not really known why this happens but we know that heat and compression helps to break down the adhesions, attracting blow-flow to the area and help heal the tears. This is where deep tissue massage can help.

Deep tissue massage promotes blood flow to the injured area and creates micro-tears in the muscle tissue, to speed up the healing process. Because of this, the area becomes bruised, and this is what causes the pain after the massage. Usually this is only felt when you touch the area that was treated, and normally wont be visible on the skin.

The pain you experience after a massage should only be likened to how you feel after a heavy exercise session, and not a worsening of the pain of your injury that was treated. If your injury feels worse then the massage may have been too firm, or that your condition cannot be remedied with massage.

Who can benefit from deep tissue massage?

Hip painAnyone suffering from chronic or acute muscle tension. This can be caused by overuse or misuse, a pre-existing condition or recent injury.

Deep tissue massage can break down old scar tissue left from injury or surgery. It can help alleviate tension built up from conditions like arthritis or inflammation in the joints. It can help manage pain from poor posture or repetitive motion like sitting at a desk all day, using tools or long hours exercising.

What to expect in a massage?

Your massage therapist will start with a kneading style of massage, generating some heat in the tissue to start to warm up the muscle and help you relax. They then might perform firm stripping motions in the direction of the muscle they are treating. A good massage therapist will normally (but not always) be able to feel the change in tissue tension and know where you are tight, where you have trigger points and taught bands.

shutterstock_412363579Unfortunately this can often be uncomfortable. Your massage therapist should always work within your pain threshold and ask you if the pressure is okay. They may even ask you to grade the pain out of ten. Don’t be afraid to speak up if the pressure is too much for you. In this case, pain is not gain. Too much pressure may be doing further damage to the muscle and cause your injury to flare up further.

The massage therapist will just their palms, knuckles, fist, forearm and even their elbow. The speed of the strokes will most likely be slow and even stop and hold at points with more tension until it eases.

Don’t forget to breathe

Be sure to breathe throughout the treatment, this may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people hold their breathe to cope with the pain. If you need to hold your breath, then the pressure is too much. Deep breathing can help you tolerate more pressure and the oxygen will help the muscles release. Your massage therapist may even ask you to take a deep breath ‘into the muscle’ that they are treating.

What to do after a massage?

shutterstock_252553801Your massage therapist should give you after care advise. It is recommended you rest after your massage, drink plenty of water to replenish fluids that have been flushed out during the massage and apply heat to the area you had treated. This will help your muscles recover from the massage and recover from your injury. Another great way to ease muscle soreness after a massage is to have an Epsom salt bath.

Bursitis: what is it and how can massage help?

What is bursitis?
Bursitis is the inflammation of the bursae. Bursae are small sacs of synovial fluid throughout the body. The bursae primarily rest where muscles and tendons slide across bones, to allow smooth movement of the joint.
When inflammation in the bursae occurs the tracking of joints, muscles and tendons becomes difficult and painful. This can result in stiffened muscle.

Hips, shoulders, elbows and knees are the most commonly affected.

What causes bursitis?
A number of things can cause bursitis. Most commonly repetitive movement and excessive pressure on the joint. Other causes include trauma to the joint like a knock or fall, autoimmune disorders, infection and medication.

Who gets bursitis?
Anyone that has had a joint trauma is at risk of developing bursitis. Also those in professions that require repetitive motions or pressure on the joint, such as cleaners, students, trade 2102_LayCarpet_25workers, and athletes particularly in impact sports such as football, rugby and roller derby are all at risk.
Those with other inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, diabetes and systemic lupus can also be at risk.

How is bursitis treated?
Your GP may refer you for an ultrasound scan to diagnose the inflammation. They are also likely to prescribe a course of NSAIDs. Once the inflammation has subsided physiotherapy and soft tissue therapy is recommended.

Your GP may recommend a cortisone injection into the sight of the bursae for persistent inflammation.

Qualified therapist doing pressure point massage on a womans hip

Qualified therapist doing pressure point massage on a womans hip

How can massage help?
Although massage cannot cure bursitis, it can help alleviate the muscle pain and tension that is either a result of the inflammation or the cause. A massage therapist will work to release taught bands and trigger points in the agonist and antagonist muscles; above, below and opposite the site of the bursitis.

What can I do to help alleviate bursitis?
In the 72 hours following the trauma or onset of pain use the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) first aid for the injury. The less you can use the joint, the better. This will help stop inflammation from getting worse. Ice will also help reduce the inflammation and pain.

Once inflammation has eased, massage, gentle stretching and heat to the surrounding muscles will help ease soft tissue pain.

The once soft tissue pain has eased strengthening exercises can be used to help rehabilitate the joint and the muscles around it.

Lymphedema: What is it, and How Can Manual Lymphatic Drainage Help?

imageWhat is lymphedema?

Lymphedema is the pooling of lymph fluid, due to an obstruction or blockage of the lymphatic system. The lymph vessels drain the fluid from tissues throughout the body and allow immune cells to travel where they are needed. A blockage may occur due to illness, damage or removal of the vessels or nodes of the system.*

What are the symptoms?

The main symptom is chronic swelling, usually of the extremities, limb or area where the obstruction has occurred. Other symptoms include a feeling of heaviness or tightness in the area, restricted range of motion, increased occurrence of infection and hardening or thickening of the skin. Some may also see a change in texture in the tissues of the affected area, such as an ‘orange-peel’ like effect where the fluid pools.

What treatment can help lymphedema?

Manual lymphatic drainage (MLD) is a physical therapy technique that is aids the natural drainage of the lymph fluid. The technique includes gentle massage in the area of the healthy lymph nodes, followed by a technique that is a gentle, circular, stretching of the skin motion that aims to push fluid out of the area of swelling, across to the healthy lymph nodes. It is quite different to normal muscular massage and is a slow and gentle technique. Other treatments include compression, range of motion exercises and in some extreme cases, surgery.

What can I do to help reduce lymphedema?

Lymphedema is a chronic disease that usually requires lifelong management. In some cases, lymphedema improves with time however, some swelling is often permanent. Drinking lots of water can aid flushing of the fluids, wearing compression socks or sleeves and elevating the affected area above heart height will all help reduce swelling. Gentle exercise such as walking, breathing exercises, self-drainage techniques and specific corrective exercises to the affected area may be prescribed by your physical therapist.

*If vessels or nodes have been removed due to surgery it is recommended you consult a MLD Vodder Technique specialist.

We service Massage clients from Malvern East and the surrounding areas, including: Chadstone, Malvern, Ashwood, Glen Iris, Caulfield North

Vertebrobasilar insufficiency: Causes, Symptoms & Diagnosis

VERTEBROBASILAR INSUFFICIENCY (VBI)

What is vertebrobasilar insufficiency?
Vertebrobasilar insufficiency (VBI) refers to a condition in which blood flow to the vertebral and basilar arteries is restricted, thereby providing transient insufficient blood flow to the posterior portions of the brain. It is sometimes known as beauty salon or Golden Gate Bridge syndrome, due to the effect of tilting the head back, causing vertigo or drop attacks.

What are the signs and symptoms?
Vertigo, the loss of full control of bodily movements, dizziness, temporary loss of consciousness, ‘drop’ attacks, visual disturbances and motor and sensory changes.

Who gets vertebrobasilar insufficiency?
Risk factors for the development of VBI include:

  • smoking,
  • high blood pressure (hypertension),
  • diabetes,
  • obesity,
  • being over the age of 50,
  • family history of the disease,
  • elevated lipids, or fats, in the blood (known as hyperlipidemia).

People who have atherosclerosis or peripheral artery disease also have an increased risk for developing VBI.

How vertebrobasilar insufficiency diagnosed?
Your doctor will perform a physical exam and run a series of tests if you have symptoms of VBI.
Your doctor will ask you about your current health conditions and may order the tests such as CT or MRI scans, magnetic resonance angiography (MRA), blood tests to evaluate clotting ability, an echocardiogram, an X-ray of your arteries, which is called an angiogram.
In rare cases, your doctor may also order a spinal tap, or lumbar puncture.

How vertebrobasilar insufficiency treated?
• Medication and lifestyle changes
Patients should quit smoking immediately, attempt to lower cholesterol levels through diet, and exercise regularly. Physicians may also prescribe medication to control high blood pressure, lower blood cholesterol levels and reduce blood coagulation.
• Open Surgical Repair
Three basic surgical procedures can be used to restore flow to the brain through the vertebral and basilar arteries. Bypass grafting, direct arterial or endarterectomy.
• Endovascular repair
A newer technique called endovascular repair is used to treat vertebrobasilar insufficiency by expanding the artery wall.

Can massage help?
Manual therapies such as chiropractic or physiotherapy treatments can create a change in blood flow, but little research has been done to show its effectiveness.
Manual therapists such as massage, physio or chiropractors need to be made aware of the condition in order to take precautions in positioning and treating the client to avoid any ‘drop attack’. If there has been a diagnosis of blood clots massage is contraindicated.

Are there any complications?
The outlook for VBI depends on your current symptoms, health conditions, and age. Younger patients who experience mild symptoms and control them through lifestyle changes and medication tend to have good outcomes. Advanced age, frailty, and strokes can negatively affect your outlook.

How can I avoid getting vertebrobasilar insufficiency?
Sometimes VBI can’t necessarily be prevented. This can be the case for those who are aging or those who’ve had a stroke. However, there are steps that reduce the development of atherosclerosis and VBI. These include:

  • quitting smoking,
  • controlling blood pressure,
  • controlling blood sugar,
  • eating a healthy diet that’s rich in fruits, vegetables and whole foods,
  • and being physically active.

Further reading
http://www.nebraskamed.com/neuro/surgery/vertebral-basilar-insufficiency
http://www.healthline.com/health/vertebrobasilar-insuficiency#Symptoms4
https://www.ucdmc.ucdavis.edu/vascular/diseases/vertebrobasilar.html

Download the fact sheet