The earliest that acupuncture can be traced back in human history was approximately 5,000 years ago. In the Ne Jing Su Wen, otherwise known as the Yellow Emperor Classic, it is clearly stated in this ancient text that acupuncture was at that time already considered very old, surely making it one of the great mysteries of the ancient world.

So what do we know about it? Firstly the places on the body that acupuncture needles are traditionally applied have a slightly hollow feeling due to the reduced skin surface tension directly on top of these acupuncture points (tsub’s). These same points also exhibit greater electrical conductivity than the surrounding skin- this is scientifically verifiable and detectable with instruments such as Kirlian cameras and skin galvanometers.

The Yellow Emperor’s  physician Chi Po when asked, explained that acupuncture came from a time when people lived more than a hundred years, lived in accordance with nature and could see acupuncture points with the naked eye. So how did these electrically anomalous skin spots become a therapy? just why would a bunch of early humans go jabbing themselves with sharp things to see what would happen and eventually discover it was good for them?

It is a question we may never know the answer to but  develop it did, into the most frequently used therapy in the world today. It is even recommended by the WHO (World Health Organisation) for dozens of applications and not just as pain relief; bronchitis, constipation, indigestion and nausea are other WHO endorsed uses of acupuncture. Even IVF clinics are now recommending acupuncture as an adjunct therapy for female infertility.

All this from an industry without lots of money to research and advertise, even in it’s native country China, acupuncture was almost completely eradicated in the mid 1950’s by chairman Mao. Mao was then forced to bring it back because nothing worked as well and as cheaply, perhaps the only thing he ever backed down from. I discovered it like a lot of Westerners do- when other things didn’t work.

Most acupuncture points are said to be joined by 14 invisible lines (meridians) that are not so easy to scientifically validate as tsubo’s are. It has been speculated that the meridians are really major veins and arteries which is interesting because students are taught NOT to needle over large blood vessels.

Whatever the case acupuncture has survived and is still quite effectively used today and not just for the physical, acupuncture can help relax people too and calm them down. Doctor Leon Hammer a psychiatrist, uses it with his psychiatric patients and wrote a fascinating book about it called “Dragon Rises Red Bird Flies” Hammer even states in his book that he finds acupuncture quite compatible with psycho therapy.

Many chiropractors and osteopaths use acupuncture too and kinesiology is based on it also and many doctors of medicine use it too. Acupuncture was in a large part first taken to the rest of the world by Jesuit missionaries in China who were so impressed with what they saw they wanted to tell everyone else about it.

If you are a bit scared of needles you can always try shiatsu or acupressure which work the same way but without the needles.


Cellulite is a cosmetic problem not one that affects your physical health. Cellulite affects women much more than men, is more obvious on fair skinned than dark skinned people, mainly is seen in the thighs and buttocks (but also occurs on upper arms and the abdomen) and becomes more obvious with weight gain.

Cellulite is caused by fat cells pressing against the connective tissue between your skin and most superficial layer of fat. It is often hereditary and affects up to 90% of women at some stage in their life. Dehydration can worsen cellulite, as can poor diet, hormonal imbalances and failure to exercise enough but unfortunately for some no matter what they do, they cannot completely get rid of it. Women who are not overweight can get cellulite too.

Doctors do not usually endorse over-the-counter creams to treat cellulite and unfortunately liposuction doesn’t reduce it either because lipo only works on deeper layers of fat that do not cause cellulite.

Cellulite motivates many women to get fitter and healthier but if it doesn’t work as hoped your health in general will benefit so it please don’t give up on exercise and sensible dieting.

Poor circulation is suspected in contributing to cellulite, sedentary jobs do not help. Dermal brushing is recommended by some. Massage is probably worth a try if administered by a qualified therapist, if it doesn’t reduce your cellulite at least your legs will feel better. Unfortunately women who suffer from cellulite may be a bit reticent to try massage because they are self conscious about having their cellulite affected areas looked at, touched and talked about.

Stress has been implicated with cellulite, stress hormones such adrenaline and noradrenaline have been found to have worsening effects on cellulite. Meditation, like massage will be of general benefit to your health and sense of well being, so even if it fails to work on your cellulite it will not be a waste of time.

Men rarely suffer from cellulite, those who do will almost always have a male hormone imbalance.


Morton’s neuroma

A neuroma is a thickened, benign segment of nerve and can be found in numerous places in the body. The most common neuroma that effects the feet is a Morton’s neuroma. Sometimes called an “intermetarsel neuroma”, because they are found in between the 3rd and 4th metatarsel bones (connecting the ankle bones to your toes). This condition was actually first discovered and described by a chiropodist called Durlacher.

Morton’s neuromas are caused by wearing shoes with tapered (pointy) toes, high heels, high impact exercises and sports like road running, tennis, squash, cricket, fencing and even walking a lot on hard surfaces. These neuromas may also be accompanied by other foot problems like bunions, plantar fasceitis, hammer toes and foot deformities because these things alter the way  we walk.

The symptoms of Morton’s neuroma include pain, numbness, tingling, burning sensations and a feeling that you have something pressing against the sole of your foot like a pebble or a bunched up sock  inside your shoe. You may feel like there is something uncomfortably pinching inside your foot as you walk and feel like your foot is swelling up when it actually isn’t.

If a Morton’s neuroma gets serious enough it can be immobilising and may even require surgery. The good news is that there are many other, less invasive therapies that can bring relief to this condition.

A frozen drink bottle (with ice in it) can be rolled under your sore feet, Self Massage, stretching, analgesia, anti inflammatories and simple elevation of your feet after a hard day can all be effective in bringing relief to Morton’s neuroma symptoms.

Doctor’s usually prefer to avoid cutting out the offending neuroma out because it can leave you with a numb foot and the resultant scar tissue may create new foot and walking problems. So it is important to get something done about before it gets serious.

I have found toe and foot stretching exercises to be helpful with Morton’s neuromas (see Self Massage book in the ‘Feet and legs’ chapter), if you can keep your foot muscles flexible and supple it can lessen the physical pressure on your neuroma. When your neuroma is feeling sensitive you will need to tie your shoe laces a bit less tightly.

Walking downhill and descending stairs can irritate Morton’s neuroma symptoms too.

Rather than slapping your feet down hard as you walk, roll through your stride from your heel to the ball of your foot, this will stretch your foot fascia as you walk and reduce the impact felt. Walking on grass rather than on pavement can help you too.

Whatever treament you opt for wearing practical rather than impractical footwear is quite important in managing this problem, for women inparticular.




The importance of good circulation

Imagine what happens to a city when it’s transport corridors are blocked, everything soon grinds to a dirty, frustrating stand still. Poor traffic circulation has similarities to poor blood circulation. Reliable physical transportation of people, goods and waste are essential to the health of cities. Good blood circulation is essential to the health of your body for similar reasons. (Closed plumbing and drainage systems are a good example of circulation at work too).

Arterial  roads act like major arteries and veins in your body and secondary roads are like the arterioles and venules in your circulatory system where the flow is divided to direct blood and hormones to specific parts of your anatomy. Driveways, loading docks and internal access lanes function like the finest of blood vessels, your capillaries. It is through the capillaries that the cells, the basic building blocks of the body, get nourished and have their waste carted away through the venous system.

When we are young we usually don’t have to worry too much about blood circulation but as we age it becomes increasingly important to help our circulation remain efficient. There are many things that can undermine blood circulation, in fact pretty well any disease, significant injury, addiction or nutritional deficiency has circulatory consequences to our health. Diabetes damages capillaries in our eyes and extremities, cancerous growths deprive healthy blood flow to normal tissues, iv drug use collapses veins, smoking slows healing, soft tissue trauma creates scar tissue that impedes blood flow, high levels of stress create high blood pressure that causes strokes and heart failure and malnutrition impairs circulation through weakening the whole system.  

Adequate water intake, a balanced diet, regular age appropriate exercise, massage and good posture can all be used by almost everybody to help maintain healthy circulation. Good blood circulation gives you strength and energy, it gives your complexion a healthy colour and it is essential to the healing process when your body sustains damage. Water when it flows remains fresh, when it doesn’t flow it stagnates, so too with blood and other body fluids.

Sedentary desk-bound jobs can cause or worsen circulatory problems, given the fact that major growth areas of the job market are desk bound jobs there is a potential for circulatory diseases to increase. Already 2 of the 3 biggest killers of people in developed countries are circulatory events, stroke and heart failure.

The rate of smoking is thankfully coming down in western countries which is a big contributor to circulatory disease, unfortunately we are getting fatter which can cause circulatory problems of it’s own. Circulatory health is always a work in progress and something we forget or ignore at our own peril.

All of the Self Massage techniques and exercises in Self Massage & + 40 fitness help with the circulation of blood and body fluids



It is hard to find a more common place and popular physical activity as walking. Walking is an aerobic (cardio) exercise, the faster you walk the more rapidly your heart rate increases and the rhythm of walking sustains it.The steeper the walk the more strengthening the effect on your legs, walking is then a cardio and strength exercise (but not stretching this must be done separately).

If you cannot go outside to walk you can do it indoors on a treadmill or step machine. Walking is easier with a straight upright posture, focussing on your breathing as you walk can help  you stand straighter and walk faster.Walking up hills can give you a good cardio and strength workout but walking down hills is much harder on your feet, knees and even your back because of the gravity factor.

An effective walking exercise strategy is to walk faster and harder up hills but take it slow and easy walking down hill to get your breath back. Please try to avoid walking fast or running down hill not only because of how landing jolts your joints and your spine but also because you are less likely to twist an ankle on uneven ground.

When you walk your digestive organs gently rub up against one another, walking can actually assist your digestion because your internal organs massage each other while you are in motion. Walking for many is an active meditation, away from your worries, in the fresh air, looking at and smelling lovely gardens along the way listening to the birds. Experiment a bit with your walking speed to find the best rhythm for yourself.

Walking is often good thinking time and will help you think more positively and creatively because of the endorphins and serotinen released during a good walk.

If you have a dog take him with you, if you feel safer walking with a dog but don’t own one borrow your neighbour’s dog. Community notices in local newspaper classifieds often advertise walking groups if you don’t want to go alone.

Bushwalking has even greater benefits because it helps your balance and sure footedness as well as your cardio fitness. You can distribute leaflets to earn some money as you go or just to inform your neighbours about community events.

Some of the best memories I have of my father was all the bush walks he used to take me and my brothers on, it is a great thing to share with your kids and grand kids. We used to go catching frogs and lizards and when we told our friends they wanted to come too. Bushwalking is like a nature excursion for kids and is a great way to keep them active and away from video screens, it has been statistically proven that kids who are not overweight as teenagers are less likely to become obese as adults.