What are you shouldering?

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the Large Intestine channel starts at the tip of the radial side (thumb side) of the second finger and runs up along the arm to the elbow crease then up to the anterior (front) shoulder,a cross to the neck and ending at the nose. It is a primary channel to be affected when it comes to shoulder and elbow problems.

I have recently treated many clients with acupoints on the shoulder, elbow and arm. One client in particular presented with debilitating hip and sciatic pain on the left. After assessing her feet for foot-reading and reflexology based markers it was plain to see that the right shoulder was not happy. This reflex point was screaming red and presenting with a lot of heat; it was particularly eye-catching. After discussing my findings we agreed to use acupuncture moving forward. Palpating particular points around the shoulder and into the arm indicated tenderness and a desire to be “worked” and released. After two sessions the client is enjoying significant pain reduction and improved sleep patterns.

Mentally and emotionally we can “shoulder” a lot of emotion, burden and responsibility. If we don’t address this then physical pain can manifest. What I find interesting is that the Large Intestine channel runs along here, and if we consider what it does as a physical functioning organ; to process and eliminate waste, then mentally and emotionally we have to work on “letting go” of the burdens and responsibilities that we unnecessarily place on our (metaphorical) shoulders.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine the Large Intestine is paired with the Lung. We breathe in new life force (Qi) with the Lungs and eliminate the old (waste) through the Large Intestine. In many clients I have seen with issues affecting the shoulder and/or elbow is that there is often an imbalance in the chest too (smokers, COPD, grief). If we continue to hold on to things that do not serve us, it will start backing up and impacting on how much new energy we can let in.

As a therapist I have experienced my own health issues (and continue to) as well as observed health issues in others. I can help my clients feel better but ultimately it is down to them to go away and do the work. We cannot treat the physical without looking at the mental/emotional aspect too. I share what I learn with them in clinic and through this blog in the hope that I live a life from which others can benefit by realising or recognising aspects in themselves.

[Perspectives in Foot Reading #1] looking at the groin

Here we have a Fire marker – the popped anterior tibial tendon. This dorsal area of the foot is the general reflex for the pelvic region, including reproductive system, inguinal region and lymphatics, and the muscles and bones of the lower core.

The popped tendon indicates potential pain, inflammation, overuse and increase in muscular tension somewhere in this area.

The excess tension here has created a little cave just below the popped tendon, indicating strain, fatigue and weakness. The little cave would be regarded as an Air marker, and this would make sense that the Fire from the inflammation is leaving deficiency (burnt out).

In addition we can also see an inflamed and over-protruding lateral malleolus (ankle bone) showing that the hip is also affected.

This male client suffers with groin pain on the left side, stemming from a childhood injury (a tear), and continues to have problems while playing sports.

To balance Fire we want to reduce the forest fire to a gentle hearth-side glow, so activities like restorative yoga and gentle swimming would be recommended. Other activities such as Tai Chi might also benefit. In addition, ensuring hydration and diet are optimal.

From a mental/emotional perspective, this would indicate fiery and inflamed relationships with family and those whom we are close; sparks could well be flying and as a practitioner I tread very carefully. Venting and letting off steam about these issues would help, either with a neutral party or by journaling. Routine and boundary setting within the relationship is also needed, as a raging fire can easily get out of control.

Once the Fire has gotten under control, it is then time to gently nourish and strengthen the remaining deficient terrain.

Jackie Marsden MAR is a qualified reflexologist, clinical acupuncturist, and foot reading practitioner, working from Elder Cottage Clinic, Warton, nr. Preston.

Foot readings are offered in clinic and remotely.