by Carl Johns, LMT, Mountain Medicine Integrative Wellness Center
What is good blood?
It is the blood you build throughout your life with good nutrition, which is the subject of another article. Here we are thinking about the concept of helping the heart to keep the blood moving well.
An old friend and teacher used to say when I had pain and stiffness in my body: “Stagnant blood, stagnant qi.”
The most important and immediate need for nourishment is the oxygenation of all of our cells through the smooth movement of blood. Where the blood does not move well we begin to get stagnation.
Stagnation changes the quality of the tissues and will eventually cause pain, stiffness, dysfunction and disease.
The concept of stagnation is familiar to all of us. If we were walking in the woods and came to a place in a stream that had been blocked and had become stagnant, we would see a change in the ecosystem around it — algae growth, mosquitos, odor, a sense that this would not be the healthiest place to dip our canteen for a drink of water.
We know instinctively that it would be better to go where the stream is flowing and the water is fresh to take that drink.
The same kind of ecosystem changes happen with stagnation in the body. We may not be able to see them, but we can feel them as the connective tissues start to glue together and the area becomes stiff and painful.
So we want to free the stagnation and get the qi and blood moving. How do we do this?
Movement — when we move, the blood moves. Get outside; sunlight causes the blood to move through the capillaries and vessels (see The Fourth Phase of Water by Gerald Pollack).
Massage — manual therapies are excellent for identifying and opening areas of stagnation through compression, movement and stretching.
So go outside, move your body, seek out good massage and bodywork regularly for the sake of life-long vitality — and keep that good blood moving well.