Category Archives: lower limb


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.





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.

Tai Chi (Tai Qi)

The roots of tai chi go back thousands of years and it comes in different forms. Like yoga it is just as much a spiritual practice as it is an exercise for many. You don’t need to “believe in it ” for tai chi to work, it’s spiritual benefit comes from the calm enegised feeling it leaves you with when you start to get the hang of it. Tai chi is  an active meditation as well as neuro motor exercise with real physical benefits.

I have been asked by many clients over the years what tai chi actually does when I have recommended it to them. This is a fair question because it doesn’t look like cardio where people are puffing and panting. Tai chi doesn’t look like strength exercise either, where someone is clearly exerting him or herself. Tai chi  stretches limbs but not nearly with as much emphasis as you find in yoga. Tai chi is actually a mixture of all these things, this is what neuro motor exercise is.

I believe that tai chi is not nearly practised as much by non- Asians as it is by Asians because unless it is explained to you that it helps your balance, agility, posture and proprioception you may not realize what the potential benefits actually are. If you practice tai chi regularly it can improve all these things.

Tai chi is harder than it looks, I was surprised how much it made my thighs work (and strengthen) when I first started because you never stand with your legs locked straight in tai chi. All of that slow controlled movement can really improve your balance and coordination by changing the way you move. The wide stances used in tai chi can help elderly people in particular a great deal because it makes you much more sure footed.

Tai chi is closely related to chi gong (qi gong), tai chi’s lesser known cousin. They both encourage strong and stable posture and movement through slowing down the simplest actions. It looks graceful because tai chi and chi gong combines balance with flowing movements.

The older you get the more your slowing reflexes, stiffening muscles and weakening legs need tai chi and chi gong. When you start to find jogging, pumping iron and ball sports too hard to keep doing it is time for you to try something like tai chi, chi gong or yoga.

If you can only make it to class once a week practice at home, there is no reason why you cant, two square metres is all you need and you will find good instruction online to help you. Finding the right teacher is more important than finding the right style, if you do not feel comfortable with your teacher find another one.

If you feel like doing it more than once a day do so, the more often you do it the better you get and the quicker you will benefit from it. Running around the block can help you play sport better but neuro motor exercise (also called functional fitness) is what will help you stay safely living independently as you age.



Your bones perform the obvious task of holding your body up by forming a rigid and strong light weight frame- your skeleton. It is held in place and propelled by your muscles. Bone also provides protection for your brain encased inside your skull and your ribcage protects your heart and lungs. Bone might look dead from the outside but there is plenty of cellular activity going on within that is constantly forming new bone and blood cells via it’s marrow.

The adult body contains 206 bones, the two major categories of bone are tubular bone that are present in your arms and legs and flat bone as found in your shoulder blades, pelvis, ribs and skull. Bones can fracture, form tumours, can be deformed through diseases like polio and pagets disease, lose their density through osteoporosis, acquire hard to cure infections and can be misshaped through chronic postural stresses.

Posture has a big effect on how bones grow, a forensic scientist for instance can look at the remains of a soldier dead for 300 years and tell he was an archer because of uneven bone shapes in his rib cage (playing regular golf over many years can do this too). The skeleton of a hunch back looks just as crooked on the inside as it does on the outside. When your bones are deformed congenitally there is not alot you can easily do about it but if you are a chronic sloucher you are making the rest of your life needlessly difficult for yourself.

The continuous pressure of bad posture eventually bends a bone like a wire does on a bonsai plant. What starts out as a minor postural fault if not corrected turns into a much more obvious postural problem. Uneven leg lengths can cause the lower rib cage to distend on the opposite side of the body from the short leg tipping the body diagonally backwards as you stand and step forward. If you have a leg that is longer than the other corrective footwear can not only help you walk better it can make you look better too.

One of the better known causes of weak bones (osteoporosis) is by insufficient dietary calcium and bones losing density hormonally in post- menopause in women. Other factors such as the consumption of sugar and carbonated drinks, smoking and lack of exercise can also contribute to a loss of bone density. So can medications like corticosteroids.

The bones along with your muscles, tendons, fascia, ligaments and cartilage form your muscular skeletal system, none of these tissues really mean anything without each other, together they are considered to be a functioning unit.

Standing and sitting straight and doing suitable regular exercise helps keep your bones strong and in the right shape. If keeping a straight spine is uncomfortable a good place to start getting better posture is massage and Self Massage.