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Cold hands, cold feet? Shiatsu!

That used to be me, cold feet, all the time and my hands weren't much better. I'm a cold person, but some can be hot and still have cold limbs, what ever you are the issue is your circulation isn't running as well as it should be. The aim of this month is to help you start warming up those cold extremities as your body works far better when it's nicely warm. Cold causes contraction in muscles, and this in turn can trap joints and stagnate essential fluids. You'll be feeling this as clicky joints and painful fingers and toes! So this month my shiatsu blog is Cold hands, cold feet? Shiatsu!

When learning Shiatsu we also learn a lot of chinese medicine that gives us simple and effective tricks in life, and they're not necessarily anything you'd think about, but boy can they make a difference in your life!

There are health conditions as to why your hands and feet can be so cold, for example Raynaud's where the capillaries have shrunken and so don't allow enough blood to extremities. The key to alleviating this is planning ahead, knowing what your triggers are and what to do to help keep an attack at bay. In a word - prevention and so for working on improving your circulation I really would recommend shiastu. Also some other conditions that affect your feet more specifically Hypothyroidism, Type 2 Diabetes and one you may not know about is a deficiency in Iron, and if this is the case, take a supplement.

For a lot of people though, cold hands and feet are to do with circulation not being as good as it could, and some of the reasons for this are:

  • Sitting for way too long and not acknowledging that your limbs are cold

  • Tension and tightness building through your shoulder system

  • Allowing cold to access your wrists and ankles

  • Allowing your kidneys to get cold

  • Feet on a cold floor

  • Locked joints/ inflexibilty

  • Not wearing enough clothes

  • Sitting with cold spots (i.e aircon)

  • Botox (freezes muscles)

What you can see from this list is that it's a combination of your environment and your own self awareness that is causing your discomfort, and so you can work on improving this straightaway.


Sitting for too long without regular breaks every 60 to 90 minutes can allow your circulation to get really sluggish and impaired. The 'I'll just finish this' or the 'I'm not moving until I've done that' all get in the way and whilst you're intensely concentrating, feet are going numb and shoulders are getting increasinly tense.

It's a no brainer to get up and jog up the stairs to the loo, but there are many other things you can do physically to help:

Shaking - this opens up tight joints and allows the blood back in, you can shake your arms whilst running up the stairs, or hold onto the door jamb to shake an ankle at a time, shaking can warm up the whole body quickly. Shaking is also incredibly good for opening joints, specifically your wrists. Carpal tunnel syndrome is the shortening of a ligament between the thumb and little finger metacarpal bones. Shaking loosens the tightness that is building up , and along with massage can prevent this from happening. Cold hands can lead to carpal tunnel; it's all linked.

Stress position - the 'mountain pose' in yoga, breathing in and raising your arms above your head and holding them there. This stretches the liver channel in the arms in chinese medicine and can quickly raise your temperature (and your volatility!) Think how quickly you can lose it if you're changing a light bulb and it's going wrong, it's because you're doing an action above your head :)

QiGong - this is a fantastic eastern energy exercise (see Holden Qigong on You tube to get started). Just 3 or so minutes of this standing therapy is benefiial for you, from warming you up to calming you down and for many other reasons and health issues. A few minutes of qigong can relax your shoulders and the movement will push blood to your finger tips.

Watch and try this short shaking video and see how quickly you warm up, and destress!

Exposed wrists and ankles - I see this one a lot! From shiatsu to tennis, people express they have cold feet but they have leggins or cut off jeans, and bare ankles. It's the same if you have shorter sleeves and wrist bones are exposed. These narrow boney joints have no flesh on them and so are sensitive to cold. It's muscles and fat that insulate us. Keep your wrists and ankles covered, massage them and then keep them warm and this warmth will transmit to your hands and feet. Cool the blood with exposed joints and the blood flowing into your hands and feet is nicely chilled :)

Warm the floor - last year on the Jeremy Vine show people phoned in with ways to keep warm working from home without turning the heating on, and this one works a treat! Get an electric heat pad, they're about 2 foot long and pop your feet (in warm socks) on them. This one is particularly great if you're spending hours on zoom and have to look the part on your upper half, but get chilly below the waist. When I started doing this I didn't feel so cold physically all over! A cold flood, or laminate floor, especially on the ground floor will transmit the cold from underneath and you have one of the most powerful points in your body under the soles of your feet Kidney 1 and it would appreciate the warmth! This is vital for keeping your kidneys warm and this will then have a positive knock on effect to your distal extremities.

Even just resting your feet on a cushion can warm too, plus there is a reason for slippers!!

Warm your kidneys - keeping your lower back warm is like stoking the fire, it's good for maintaing all over body heat, . If your body is cold then the first thing it does is to cut off supply to the extremities and conserve heat for your vital organs. To aid this keep your kidneys warm this can be an extra layer, or a Haramaki! This is known as a belly or kidney warmer, it wraps around your waist keep vital organs warn, including your kidneys. Funnily enough if you suffer from cold ears this could be an indication your kidneys need warming. Have a look at some Haramaki's here.

Supplements - there are herbal supplements for helping veins and circulation, Veintain (ginger, cinnamon, gingko bilabo) is one that I've seen. Also vitamin B3 (dilates blood vessels) /B12 ( is good for circulation (take a good vitamin B complex, like this one). Iron is an important component of haemoglobin that is responsible for carrying oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. If we don’t have a sufficient iron content then our body is unable to produce enough healthy oxygen-carrying blood cells, which means that the extremities of the body (hands and feet) often get neglected.

vitamin B12 in foods part of chinese medicine for keeping you warm and healthy

Flexibility - this is a sign that your muscles are in great shape! If your muscles are in great shape, (soft and bouncy at rest) then blood can flow, not only in the muscles themselves but the arteries and capillaries that are within the muscle flesh. If your muscles are tight, they become cold and they trap and stagnate fluids/blood and this leads to you being more susceptible to injury and feeling the cold in your limbs and ears.

More niggling issues are cold related than heat related - this is the chinese medicine bit again! Heat issues are red, inflamed, ouchy, and you want to put ice on, They're also acute, come on quickly, aggressive but can also be resolved quickly.

Cold issues are insidious, they slip in below the radar, until you realise that you have something going on, you don't know when it started, it's not going away, and you don't really know what to do about it - that's when you need shiatsu and the wisdom of chinese medicine. I offer free health and vitality calls, and I did one during lockdown for a lady with a really painful toe, so painful it was making her life a misery and it had been going on for years. She was sceptical when I told her she needed heat, she's been putting white Tiger balm on (this is the cooling one!), when she took my advice her 3 year toe pain went away. It was trapped cold....

Just how many aches and pains are you putting up with that could be exactly this?

Do you need to get your Ki and body moving again?

You may have spent years with bad circulation and cold tootsies and need the help to get you back in shape and this is where Shiatsu comes in. Muscles that are tight don't have good blood flow, they become flat and cold, and 'frozen'; this is exactly what a frozen shoulder is, and if the shoulder joint isn't open and working well then there will be a marked difference in hand temperature between the good and bad side. Or maybe your muscles are so rock hard that both hands are suffering. I love working shoulders and bringing the movement back into them, erasing the clicks, feel the warmth come back in to arms and hands. So many finger, wrist and elbow issues start with your shoulders!

In sitting down for many hours a day and not doing the compensatory stretches cause our Psoas muscles , known as hip flexors/mstanding muscles (ie getting up from a chair) to shorten and tighten. This can be the root cause of knee problems and ankle problems and especially Plantar Fasciitis. Again problems that manifest in your extreme digits invariably start back at your core or the joint action to the limbs, so shoulders and hips.

And this is where Shiatsu is invaluable, as it's easy enough to shake your own hands and ankles but not so easy to manipulate and release your hips and shoulders. That 'ahhhhh' feeling you get when there's a great stretch through your thigh, one of my favs, actually allows the femoral artery the space to work freely again. The largest artery in your limbs it should be carrying blood to your feet and back up again but so many people I see have cold legs compared to their body. Also for women with hot flushes, these tend to ease when we've got full body circulation working again!

All the tips I've given you today are great and they DO work, but your body may not be in the right place now to be maintained. If you need help getting your body back into a state where you have great circulation which is beneficial for blood pressure, gut health, immunity, joint health, you name it, then Shiatsu will help you more than any other type of therapy get into great shape to stay warm this winter. And if the gas price hikes are anything to go by then you're going to need your own maintenance programme.

Book a shiatsu with Shiatsu Bodyworks Cheltenahm

Your first session is called Shiatsu for health (with me) as we take a look at your health patterns to help you improve all aspects. Following on from this regular shiatsu gives your body (and mind!) the best chance of remaining balanced and this prevents a lot of health issues from ever arising. Keeping your system working well is like having a regular service on your car, if you didn't want would happen? The same is going on within you, you may be getting by but do you actually feel as healthy as you would like to be? If you've identified with the issues in this blog book a free health and vitality call with Andrea.

You can then have an in-person session, or if you're outside of the area Andrea will do a video one to one session helping you improve your circulation, flexibility and warmth!

About Andrea at Shiatsu Bodyworks Cheltenham

Andrea is a qualified zen shiatsu and chinese medicine practitioner with over 20 years immersed in holistic therapies and the energetics of mind and body. Based in Cheltenham, UK she offers in house clinic and online shiatsu sessions to help people with midlife health issues and also offers online consultations as she is a menopause specialist too.

If you're ready to get started you can book in here!

Shiatsu Bodyworks: Gentle bodywork to make your body work better!

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