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Tap Your Body’s Hidden Talents

Posted Feb 24 2010 12:00am

By Madonna Behen, Women’s Health

Women have the ability to grow an entire person (or eight!) inside their bodies–which, frankly, makes Criss Angel look like a bar magician. But that’s not all–the human body can perform plenty of other amazing (and useful) acts.

STOP NEEDLE PAIN!

Make your next flu shot feel less piercing by putting pressure around the area that’s about to be stuck, says Ross I. Donaldson, M.D., M.P.H., assistant clinical professor of medicine at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine. “Make a circle with your thumb and forefinger and push down for a few seconds as you’re receiving the shot,” he says. By stimulating receptors for pressure or touch, you can override nearby pain receptors in your skin. “It confuses your nerves, so a shot feels more like a gentle poke than a sharp jab,” Donaldson says.

SILENCE HICCUPS!

Take the deepest breath you can, hold it for 10 seconds, then, without exhaling, suck in more air and hold it for five more seconds. Finally–still without exhaling!–breathe in as much more air as you can squeeze in, hold for another five seconds, and exhale. Then breathe normally. This technique immobilizes the diaphragm (the muscle at the base of your lungs), preventing the spasms. Luc Morris, M. D., and his colleagues at the New York University School of Medicine tested the method on 30 patients who were prone to frequent hiccups. “It worked immediately on everyone who could do it,” he says.

BREAK A FAINTING SPELL!

Cross your legs, squeeze your thighs, and contract your abs. You can feel faint when your blood pressure drops and blood pools in your extremities. By tensing muscles, you keep your BP up and divert blood back to your heart and brain. University of Amsterdam researchers who tested muscle-tightening exercises found that they reduced the risk of passing out by 30 percent.

HEAL NIGHTTIME HEARTBURN!

Feeling the fire? Sleep on your left side. This preserves the natural curve of the esophagus, which helps keep stomach acid from creeping up. (When you sleep on your back or on your right side, gravity straightens out the curve.) A study by Graduate Hospital in Philadelphia found that frequent heartburn sufferers had fewer episodes when they slept on their left sides than when they slept on their backs or right sides.

HOLD BACK TEARS!

If you’re tearing up at an inappropriate moment, just clear your throat. “It interrupts the mechanism in the nasal passage and larynx that controls crying,” says Rebecca Nagy, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based meditation expert. Plus, after you clear your throat, you tend to swallow. This lifts your tongue to the roof of your mouth, which blocks the soft palate, making you unable to cry. “I’ve suggested this technique many times to brides and grooms who had trouble getting through their vows,” Nagy says.

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