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by Guest Blogger Rose Caillier, DPM

Occasional swollen feet and ankles are quite common and often do not pose much concern.   Whether it is due to a strenuous exercise or a long day of shopping, increased daily activities on the feet can lead to accumulation of fluid called edema.   Normally, blood flow along with muscle contraction pushes blood in one direction from our feet back to the heart.  But when valves in the veins do not work properly, fluid can back up and pool around the feet and ankles.

Swelling in the feet and ankles is also a common finding in pregnancy.  Increase in blood volume along with a growing fetus puts pressure on the veins causing fluid to be pushed out into the surrounding tissues.

Here are some things a person can do to help reduce swelling in the feet and ankles. 

Move the Feet.  Standing and sitting for long periods of time (like during airplane flights and car rides) does not allow the muscles to actively pump blood in the veins.  Stretch the legs, take walks down the aisle, or flex the feet up and down several times to keep moving.  A simple exercise is to trace the alphabet in the air with the feet.

Elevate the Legs.  When sitting, the feet should be propped up on a chair or stool.  Allowing the legs to hang down allows gravity to further collect fluid around the feet and ankles.  While lying down, a pillow placed under the heels or legs can keep the feet elevated.

Apply Compression.  Support stockings found at most drug stores help control swelling.  If they are not worn to sleep with, they should be applied first thing in the morning even before getting out of bed.

Get a Massage.  A Foot massage can be soothing and helpful.   Just a 5-10 minute foot massage per day can help stimulate circulation.

Consult a Doctor.  Feet that stay swollen can be a sign of serious medical conditions like heart, kidney, or liver failure.  Other causes of swollen feet and ankles include: being overweight, increased age, infection, sprain/strain or fracture, a blood clot in the leg, and side-effects of certain medications.  The doctor may even prescribe medications to help the body eliminate excess fluid and recommend a diet low in sodium.

Since a swollen foot can be a symptom of an underlying problem, it is wise to determine its cause particularly if there is pain or other areas of the body swells.  People who have loss of feeling in the feet, like a person with diabetic neuropathy, should seek medical attention right away if swelling occurs.   Otherwise, keeping an active lifestyle with regular exercise and proper nutrition will help maintain good circulation.

 

Rose Caillier, DPM, is a board certified podiatrist who has written for Podiatry Management magazine, is a contributing writer for The National Podiatric Medical Association’s newsletter Footnotes, and maintains her own blog at www.FootScribe.com. You can connect with Rose on Twitter; her handle is @FootScribe.

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If you’re like me, you wait until the last minute to finish, or even start, your Christmas shopping. It’s easy to become flustered and panic. Or you can ask for a little help from your friends, which is what I did. I reached out to one of my favorite communities, our Twitter friends. I received advice from some of our favorite health and wellness experts like @ArthritistAshley who tweets about chronic pain, RA, and OA. I chatted with Dr. Mo aka @FitInMyHeart and @GirlGoneHealthy, excited by their unique suggestions. @RunnerLuis, our favorite Before & After Icon, shared several of his best workout/running gift ideas. A few tweets later, I created a last minute Christmas list full of fun and practical ideas for everyone on your list—from teachers to mom to colleagues at work. And in true holiday spirit, I’m paying it forward and sharing with you. I hope you’ll find inspiration, motivation, and maybe even a little something for yourself. Thanks to all of our Twitter friends for their excellent suggestions and helpful holiday tips. 

Cleaning Service Gift Card. “Cleaning your home can be a chore for anyone, but is especially difficult if you live with pain or illness. Consider giving a gift card for a cleaning service or offer services to help a person who may need it this holiday season. A clean home for the holidays is a happy home!” ~Ashley Boynes-Shuck.  Connect with Ashley  on Twitter @ArthritisAshley and Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Arthritis-Ashley/140748292608472.

Indoor Cycling Bike. @IronMikeStone didn’t hesitate when asked what his ideal Christmas gift would be. “It’s the Must-Have new training bike.” If you’ve followed the Le Tour De France, you’ll remember seeing commercials with Lance Armstrong working out on a bike like this—it’s the official training bike of the Tour, made by Pro-Form. Be sure to check out Mike’s Triathlon, Fitness, & Motivational Blog.

Aromatherapy Hot/Cold Packs. Podiatrist Rose Caillier, @FootScribe, offered this great suggestion for a favorite gift. She suggests using these for neck, shoulders, feet, and ankles. We took her advice and found this great deal at Brookstone: n•a•p® 2-Piece Lavender Aromatherapy Set.  You can learn more from Rose at www.footscribe.com.

i-Tunes Gift Cards. “I love i-Tunes gift card so I can build up my running playlists.” ~ @RunnerLuis

GU Pure Performance Energy Products. Luis is a marathon runner and hates running out of GU. He suggests buying a box for that special running someone.

Running Undies. Athletic underwear are made of wicking fabric to prevent chafing. “My best gift one year was running undies. They were awesome, and I use them multiple times a week.” Our favorite spot for finding great running undies for men and women is Lululemon. Luis offers health and weight loss advice on Fat Free Life, and he writes a blog at Muddy Runner.

Blender, Food Processor & Juicer Machine. @GirlGoneHealthy recommends this as the perfect gift. “It’s perfect for health nuts or those just starting!” ~ Tera Norberg. And after talking with Tera, we searched and found a great all-in-one product by renowned chef Wolfgang Puck.  Tera features articles about healthy food on her blog Girl Gone Healthy.

Fitbit. “Oh yes, you know what I recommend? A Fitbit. It’s a $99 investment in #LifeLoveANDHealth. It is like having a personal trainer with you at all times. There is also a wonderful community to cheer you on!”  ~ @FitInMyHeart, aka, Dr. Mo, a Florida Podiatrist. For fun, motivation and education check out Dr. Mo’s website at www.FitInMyHeart.com.

Sleep-N-Heel Night Conditioning Heel Sleeves. Foot and Ankle Surgeon, Dr. Jeffrey N. Bowman, recommends the Heel Sleeves for conditioning dry, cracked skin. Visit www.HoustonFootSpecialists.com for more on ordering this product.

Gift Grab Bag. Our friends at AARP Magazine went out of their way this season to create an amazing Holiday Gift Guide specifically tailored for, well, everyone—the fitness enthusiast, the Gardner, the great outdoors enthusiast, pet lovers, and the list goes on. Not only are the gift ideas fun and creative, did we mention they’re all under $50? Now that’s a reason to celebrate! Rather than pick one, we recommend grabbing a warm latte, a fluffy croissant, and curling up with the mag as if it were a good book.  

Body Media Fit Core Armband: http://www.bodymedia.com/Shop/Armband-Packages  @BrooklynFitChik is always up on the latest & greatest in health & wellness and she’s giving us some of her top picks she hopes will find their way under her own Christmas tree this year.” I have the slightly bigger version but would love this sleeker version. Easily one of my favorite workout products that keeps me on track. LOVE!”

Nordic Track 3-in-1 Foal Roller: http://www.shape.com/lifestyle/gifts-under-75?page=5 “My IT Band has it on her wish list.” ~ @BrooklynFitChik

Sorel Tofino Boots: What more can we say about footwear that’s comfy and fashion forward? Maybe we should leave that to someone else who says it best . . . “Because I am worth it!” ~ @BrooklynFitChik. Be sure to visit Margo’s website at www.BrooklynFitChick.com.

Holstee Manifesto Poster. Embrace motivation & inspiration each and every day with words to live by. Did we mention that it’s eco-friendly too? Yep, that’s why Holstee is one of our favorite companies—inspiring a little Happy in our day—as they use sustainable materials and processes. And they have some of the coolest products around.

Happy Feet Insoles. What Gift List would be complete without a quick nod to our fabulous massaging insoles? Trust us, Ole’ Saint Nick himself couldn’t get through Christmas Eve deliveries if he didn’t wear his Happy Feet Insoles all year long.  Or at least that’s what we believe . . . and isn’t that what Christmas is all about? www.happyfeet.net.

 Happy Holidays from the Happy Feet Team!

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Guest Blogger, Iron Mike Stone
 
As Bruce Springsteen once said… glory days, they’ll pass you by… did you ever feel that way?  Kevin played baseball in high school and was always a top athlete… that was 20 years, three kids, and several jobs ago. Sandy, was always active as a kid, but the demands of college changed her priorities fast. Kim, used to love to run and often entered 5k races, but motherhood took her energy in another direction. Weather your glory days were many years ago or just months ago, you can get them back. Whatever your story, and whatever your previous fitness level, you can make a comeback. Here are seven steps that you can use now to get back to those better fitness days. Try them in your own personal sports and training routine to stay motivated and to train well.  
1. Start at your own pace – but START
Don’t be afraid to start slow. Getting out and starting is what counts. Don’t become distracted by what other people are doing or what level they are at. If you’re a runner, start off with a short comfortable distance and pace and increase your mileage each week. If you weight train, begin with light weights and add weight and reps slowly. Make your training your own.
 
2. Set goals and keep a log
If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up someplace else! Pick a small goal to start, and after you hit that goal move to a bigger goal.  Next, track your training- it will help encourage you when you see that you’ve been making progress. Be patient with yourself. Some days you may feel happy with your improvements, and other days you may feel slow. Focus on the big picture and always keep up with your workouts. Hint: Check out http://www.dailymile.com for a great way to keep track of your training.
 
3. Join a training group and find a friend
 
Having company and accountability is important. It’s easy to become unmotivated when you know what your body used to be capable of. Some peer pressure can help keep you on track and make great friends. Join a gym, find a training partner, and join a local club. When they run local events, join in. A good group will support you every step of your comeback.
 
4. Make training a priority
It’s easy to become distracted with the various demands of life. When we fall out of the habit of training, other things start becoming more important and it’s hard to get back into the routine of training. Schedule your trainings and make appointments with yourself or with your group. Resist the temptation to skip anything pre-scheduled.  Creating a regular routine for yourself can change your life.

5. Change your diet

Now that you are back to training you need to think about how you fuel your body.  Remember garbage in equal’s garbage out.  Start with slow changes and focus on adding protein and complex carbohydrates to fuel your body. Don’t focus on cutting things out at first as that can sabotage your enthusiasm and your attitude. Put good fuel in your body. Check out “Fast Nutritional Tips” on my blog: 
http://mikes-tri-moto- blog.blogspot.com/p/nutrition.html 
 
6. Setbacks beware-treat them as guideposts not road blocks
Defeat may test you, it need not stop you.  Before you begin your new training plan, be prepared for the day when you will lose focus, miss training, and get discouraged.  By understanding that these obstacles are inevitable on the path to success you can change your reaction to them when they arrive.  Consider them a guidepost to success, check them off as old friends you expected to see along the way. Just be sure to keep moving down the path.
 
7. Believe in yourself–you can do it 

This is the most important step. You were once there and you can get there again. Often we crave instant results, even though we know better. Staying focused will pay off in the long run. Believe in yourself—have faith. Motivation can be a funny thing and it does come and go. Write down some inspirational quotes. Listen to music. As Zig Ziglar once said, “People say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.”  

Implement these seven steps right now and you’ll be on your way to your own personal comeback or even more. Who knows, maybe your best glory days are yet to come!
 
Iron Mike Stone is an Ironman Triathlete–  High Performance/Personal Development Trainer/Coach/Motivator — as well as an Independent Financial & Tax Advisor  (MBA & RFC with 22yrs experience) — Check him out at: Mikes Triathlon, Fitness, and Motivational Blog    & http://www.freedomtandf.com/— email him for a complimentary newsletter at mjjstone@yahoo.com

 

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Guest Blogger: Dr. Jeffrey N. Bowman

I frequently get asked by my patients, “Why did I develop this rash on my foot?”  More often than not, they have Contact Dermatitis.  Contact Dermatitis is inflammation caused by direct skin contact with an irritating substance or allergen (allergic reaction).  This is different from an allergic reaction to medications.

Irritant Contact Dermatitis, the most common type, results from direct skin contact with acids, soaps, detergents, leather dye, or other chemicals and does not require a prior sensitization.  The reaction often resembles a rash or burn. Allergic Contact Dermatitis is a delayed hypersensitivity reaction that appears 24-48 hours after the exposure.

The reaction varies from a mild irritation and redness to open sores or very small blisters and may vary in the same person over time.  A history of any type of allergy increases the risk for this condition.
The diagnosis is usually based on the skin appearance and a history of exposure to a new product, such as soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, or other irritant.  Treatments include removal and avoidance of the offending agent, topical corticosteroids or in severe cases oral steroids.  If you see this or something unusual, you will want to contact your physician right away for treatment.  Contact Dermatitis is quite common but if left untreated can lead to infections or other problems.  Quick treatment is a key to getting rid of the problem. 

To learn more about foot health, you can visit Houston Foot Specialists. You can also connect with Dr. Bowman on Facebook and Twitter.

 

Jeffrey N. Bowman, DPM, MS
Houston Foot Specialists
Past President, Texas Podiatric Medical Association
Board Member, Texas Podiatric Medical Association
Houston, Tx. 77043

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by Guest Blogger, Iron Mike Stone

Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently”.
Henry Ford
We rarely get things right the first time.  Many accomplishments often start with the decision to try again after something failed – to get up after a failed attempt and give it another shot. The only difference between an opportunity and an obstacle is attitude.  Getting up and trying again after a failure is about giving yourself the opportunity to grow beyond your past mistakes, taking the lessons you learned and applying them in another try.  
 
1.  Calmly let go
What’s done is done.  When life throws us nasty curve-balls it typically doesn’t make any sense to us, and our natural emotional reaction might be to get extremely upset and scream obscenities at the top of our lungs.  But how does this help?  Obviously, it doesn’t.
The smartest, and oftentimes hardest, thing we can do in these kinds of situations is to be more tempered in our reactions.  When we want to scream obscenities, we must be wiser and more disciplined than that.  We must remember that emotional rage only makes matters worse.  And often tragedies are rarely as bad as they seem, and even when they are, they give us an opportunity to grow stronger.
Every difficult moment in our lives is accompanied by an opportunity for personal growth and creativity.  But in order to attain this growth and creativity, we must first learn to let go of the past.  We must recognize that difficulties pass like everything else in life.  And once they pass, all we’re left with are our unique experiences and the lessons required two make a better attempt next time.
2.  Identify the lesson
Everything is a life lesson.  Everyone you meet, everything you encounter, etc.  They’re all part of the learning experience we call ‘life.’
Never forget to identify and acknowledge the lesson, especially when things don’t go your way.  If you don’t get a job you wanted or a relationship doesn’t work, it only means something better is out there waiting.  And the lesson you just learned is the first step towards it.
3.  Lose the negative attitude
“Positive thinking will let you do everything better than negative thinking will.”-Zig Ziglar
Negative thinking creates negative results.  Positive thinking creates positive results.  Period. Positive thinking is at the forefront of every great success story.  The mind must believe it can do something before it is capable of actually doing it. 
4.  Accept accountability
Either you take accountability for your life or someone else will.  And when they do, you’ll become a slave to their ideas and dreams instead of a pioneer of your own.
You are the only one who can directly control the outcome of your life.  And no, it won’t always be easy.  Every person has a stack of obstacles in front of them.  You must take accountability for your situation and overcome these obstacles.  Choosing not to is giving up.
5.  Focus on the things you can change
Don’t worry about things you can’t control.—Ancient Proverb
Some forces are out of your control.  The best thing you can do is do the best with what’s in front of you with the resources you do have access to.
Wasting your time, talent and emotional energy on things that are beyond your control is a recipe for frustration, misery and stagnation.  Invest your energy in the things you can change.
6.  Figure out what you really want
You’ll be running on a hamster wheel forever if you never decide where you want to go.  Figure out what’s meaningful to you so you can be who you were born to be.
Some of us were born to be musicians – to communicate intricate thoughts and rousing feelings with the strings of a guitar.  Some of us were born to be entrepreneurs – to create growth and opportunity where others saw rubbish.  And still, some of us were born to be or do whatever it is, specifically, that moves you.
Don’t quit just because you didn’t get it right on your first shot.  And don’t waste your life fulfilling someone else’s dreams and desires.  You must follow your intuition and make a decision to never give up on who you are capable of becoming.
7.  Focus & be specific
When you set new goals for yourself, try to be as specific as possible.  “I want to lose twenty pounds” is a goal you can aim to achieve.  “I want to lose weight” is not.  Knowing the specific measurements of what you want to achieve is the only way you will ever get to the end result you desire.
Also, be specific with your actions too.  “I will exercise” is not actionable.  It’s far too vague.  “I will take a 30 minute jog every weekday at 6PM” is something you can actually do – something you can build a routine around – something you can measure.
Finally, eliminate the fluff. This drastically simplifies things and leaves you to focus on only what is important, without interferences.  This process works with any aspect of your life – work projects, relationships, general to-do lists, etc. You can’t accomplish anything if you’re trying to accomplish everything.  Concentrate on the essential.  Get rid of the rest. 
8.  Concentrate on DOING
“Don’t think about eating that chocolate donut!”  What are you thinking about now?  Eating that chocolate donut, right?  When you concentrate on not thinking about something, you end up thinking about it.
The same philosophy holds true when it comes to breaking our bad habits.  By relentlessly trying not to do something, we end up thinking about it so much that we subconsciously provoke ourselves to cheat – to do the exact thing we are trying not to do.
Instead of concentrating on eliminating bad habits, concentrate on creating good habits (that just happen to replace the bad ones).  For instance, if you’re trying to eliminate snacking on junk food, you might create a new mental habit like this:  “At 3PM each day, about the time I’m usually ready for a snack, I will eat five whole wheat crackers.”  After a few weeks or months of concentrating on this good habit it will become part of your routine.  You’ll start doing the right thing without even thinking about it.
9.  Create a daily routine
It’s so simple, but creating a daily routine for yourself can change your life.  The most productive routines, I’ve found, come at the start and end of the day – both your workday and your day in general.  That means, develop a routine for when you wake up, for when you first start working, for when you finish your work, and for the hour or two before you go to sleep.
Doing so will help you start each day on point, and end each day in a way that prepares you for tomorrow.  It will help you focus on the important stuff, instead of the distractions that keep popping up.  And most importantly, it will help you make steady progress to get where you’re going.
10.  Work on it for real
“Nobody who ever gave his best regretted it.”-George Halas
The harder you work the luckier you will become.  Stop waiting around for things to work out.  If you keep doing what you’re doing, you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.   When we decide what it is we want to do or accomplish, only a few of us will actually work on it.  By “working on it,” I mean truly committing and devoting oneself to the end result.  Most of us never really act on our decision.  Or, at best, we pretend to act on it by putting forth an uninspired effort. 
So, check your attitude, pick yourself up, and take the lessons you learned to give yourself the opportunity to grow!
“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”
Winston Churchill
 
 
Iron Mike Stone is an Ironman Triathlete- Motivational/High Performance Coach- as well as an Independent Financial & Tax Advisor  (MBA & RFC with 22yrs experience)— http://mikes-tri-moto-blog.blogspot.com  and www.FreedomTandF.com — email me for complimentary newsletter. mjjstone@yahoo.com

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Guest Blogger of the Month: Olya Turcihin

I have suffered from sciatica for about three years now. At one point, I had to go to the emergency room because the pain was so awful. Finally, a dose of morphine was able to alleviate the pain, but only for twenty minutes!

On and off, the pain ebbs and flows depending on the day, the weather, my activity and my mood. Yoga has definitely helped me to make my body stronger and more flexible to withstand and sometimes erase the pain. My chiropractor also is a life saver and pain reliever.

And then, this past weekend, I learned about reiki acupressure points. Helping my friend after surgery, a mutual friend came over to offer his reiki services. Before he began, he explained that reiki pressure points can release toxins and help in the healing process by sending life energy (also known as reiki) through the acupressure points.

My research of reiki revealed that “energy blockages” whether from stress, trauma, or an injury, can be traced to the root of all health problems. Your energy flow affects how you feel, how you think, and how you breathe. Just as negative thoughts can block your energy flow, positive thoughts can increase your healing energy. When the body’s life-force energy becomes blocked, various emotional imbalances and physical symptoms also result. These energy blockages occur at the acupressure points. Through a variety of acupressure methods ranging from light touch, tapping, to simply holding the points, the body’s life energy is able to flow and rebalance.

As Jay, our reiki practitioner moved us through the points located on our hands and arms; we slowly moved down the body until we got to our feet. We held the points down with thumbs and/or fingers and applied firm, steady, stationary pressure. To stimulate the area we applied pressure for only four or five seconds at a time.  I was able to tell when I hit the point, as the area was tender, and a weird kind of energy flowed through the point.              

Jay asked us to find the point on our ankles right underneath the ankle bone located midway between the inside of the ankle bone and the Achilles tendon. The sensation was unbelievable! He described this point, K3, as the only spot in the body that connects bone and muscle. An amazing sensation ensued throughout my entire body, an energy that coursed its way right to my pained lower back!  I have been applying pressure to this point regularly and I actually find that my pain has subsided in the last week.                                                          

Acupressure points, just one more tool in my arsenal. The foot, an incredible tool to the health and well-being of your body! Give it a try…

Bio Olya Turcihin was born in Switzerland, lived in Turkey as a baby and then moved to NYC at the age of three, a true New Yorker. Olya Turcihin earned her BA in English Literature from Binghamton University, SUNY. She currently lives and works in NYC, where photography is her passion. Her photographs have recently been included at the Crest Fest 2011 in Williamsburg, Brooklyn and a group show at The End’s Northside Open Studios Launch Party Show in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. Her interests range from yoga, film, gallery hopping to volunteering her time to photographing art within the five boroughs of NYC for Artseeka, a new social platform for sharing and discovering art. You can follow Olya’s photographic journal at olya turcihin photography and Olya’s Urban Journal.

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New York City is the land of walking. It is pretty impossible to get around the city without walking daily. If you’re a New Yorker, you probably don’t even think about it until you have visitors come to town and they’re complaining after walking only a fraction of the distance that you don’t even think twice about.

I have been a New Yorker for almost 25 years now, and I am still amazed at how many people I see walking the city streets in high heels! It is because we’re talking about NYC that I say people” instead of “women” :-).

As a fitness trainer and body worker, I cringe when I see these high-heeled lovelies walking block after block in their stilettos.  I get sympathy pains all the way up to my neck. People do not realize just how connected their feet are to the rest of their bodies.

Of course, nothing makes your legs look more gorgeous than a pair of fabulous heels, so it’s not surprising that people make the sacrifice. Fortunately, there is a way to counteract the stiletto damage.  Stimulating specific points on the feet with direct pressure, you can mobilize the joints and rejuvenate them with essential fluid. And not only can you increase the ease of mobility in your feet, you can improve the neural connection between your feet and the other systems of your body.

Ok, you’re thinking . . . can you please give me some more details about how to make this happen. What I’m describing is the MELT foot treatment, specifically, position point pressing with the MELT balls on your feet. I have been a MELT instructor for quite a while now, and I continue to experience amazing changes with my clients after only 20 minutes of MELTing their feet.

Everyone needs to stimulate the tissue in their feet, not just stiletto wearing New Yorkers! Some of the specific changes that MELTing your feet can solicit are:

– reduced foot pain

 -balanced arches

 -reduced low back pain

 -reduced leg tension

 -reduced pressure in the head

 -over time, breathing capacity, jaw pain, migraines, gut issues and common foot dysfunctions improve

Go to meltmethod.com to learn more about the method, and where to find an instructor near you. You will be so happy when you learn how to MELT your feet! And then you will learn to MELT the rest of your body, and hydrate your connective tissue! But be warned – you will very likely become addicted to feeling fabulous and pain-free – with or without your stilettos :-).

Denise Raimi has been working in the health and wellness industry as a fitness trainer and body worker for over twenty-five years. She is a Pilates teacher, a Body Rolling and Body Logic practitioner, and a MELT instructor. As a nutritional cleansing coach, Denise has been able to help her clients reach their optimal performance levels by working on their health from the inside out. She has helped many people make dramatic, positive changes in their lives.

You can follow Denise on Facebook and Twitter. Visit her website at DR-Cleanse.com for invaluable resources and information on cleansing and optimal health and wellness.

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