Spring is the time of renewal, growth and new beginnings. According to the philosophy of Five Elements of Chinese Medicine, spring corresponds to the “Wood” element, which correlates to the Liver and Gallbladder energies. The Liver is responsible for the smooth flowing of Qi (energy) throughout the body. When the liver functions smoothly, physical and emotional activity throughout the body also runs smoothly. If the Liver energy is out of balance it can manifest as anger and frustration. This can worsen stress-related issues like PMS, trouble falling asleep, muscle tension, IBS and even allergies.
Here are some specific practices to seasonally optimize your routine according to Traditional Chinese Medicine:
According to Chinese medicine, the tendons are ruled by the liver and gallbladder energies of the body. The liver stores blood during periods of rest and then releases it to the tendons in times of activity. To help maintain tendon health and flexibility, try experimenting with different types of stretching to see what fits into your routine.
We’re likely all familiar with the classic stretches that you hold, static stretching, a great option might be trying a yoga pose or picking chronic areas of tension. Other types of stretch you may not know about include dynamic stretching which is best used to limber up before going for a walk or exercising. TaiChi is an excellent option for smooth flowing movements that can act as a form of dynamic stretch. There is also facilitated stretching or Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) if you enjoy long words, this is best done with a partner following a protocol.
The liver opens into the eyes and is connected to proper eye function. Remember to take breaks when looking at screens for extended periods of time. Practicing gentle movement of the eyes in between bouts of screen time can go a long way to preventing eye strain and headaches as well.
Eat Green & Taste Sour
Green is the colour of the liver and of springtime. During this time, incorporate young plants into your diet, eat fresh, leafy greens, sprouts and dark leafy greens like kale. These plants improve the liver’s overall functions and aid in the movement of qi. With the return of the sun you might even try regrowing some veggies on your windowsill or sprouting your own alfalfa or sunflower sprouts.
The taste of food is an important aspect of eating. Liver imbalances suggest eating foods and drinks with sour flavours to help balance the body and soothe the liver qi. Try incorporating lemon, vinegar and pickled veg into your diet.
Cut down on alcohol, starchy foods and sugars as much as you can and try not to eat late at night. Chinese Medicine believes that the nighttime is for cleansing and healing the body from the day before. By eating late at night you risk disturbing the liver and gallbladder Qi as the body will use the energy to digest rather than cleanse. Remember to drink plenty of water as well.
Move your body outdoors
Outside air helps liver qi flow. If you have been feeling irritable or having trouble falling asleep, find an outdoor activity to smooth out that liver qi stagnation. Try hiking or taking a stroll near the ocean. Remember to take deep, cleansing breaths to help further move Qi.
Acupuncture can help improve the overall health of your liver as well as treat stress, anger, frustration, insomnia and allergies/immunity. These are often associated with liver qi disharmony.
Combine the above
Most of these practices are quite synergistic as well. Fresh greens go well with a sour vinaigrette. Stretching and acupuncture can both support outdoor movements and so on. If you find good ways to combine this advice please share it with us on social media ;)
And as always, don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns regarding this info and how it can help you to feel your best this spring. And of course for anything else that ails ya, seasonal or otherwise, come and get poked .