Where in the body do you start working with whiplash?” Asked Ida Rolf of some of her students. They answered: the sacrum, the jaw, the arms, the lower back. “Wrong,” she said, “you start working whiplash at the big toe"Read More
You have 43 muscles in your face and I expect you have never really given them much thought or attention. It is a wonderful feeling to have all those muscles touched because we use them all the time, and there is often tension stored in our faces. Facial massage is performed using repetitive flowing movements over the face using the fingertips, fingers and insides of the wrists. My facial massage blends together techniques from Ayurvedic massage, along with acupressure and hot and cold stones. The massage starts with the cleansing of the face with organic Rose Water, after which organic Sesame oil is used during the massage. Towards the end of the session, an organic clay face mask is applied and you are left to relax. Once this is removed, a little organic Rose Oil is massaged in, nourishing the skin, before the massage is finished with hot and cold stones, which leave you (and your face) feeling wonderfully refreshed.
Facial massage is a wonderful treatment and it is certainly not just for the ladies! It's great for people who don't feel comfortable with other forms of bodywork, and when combined with acupressure and myofascial release techniques, can help with headaches, sinus pain and temporomandibular disorder. Not only is it deeply relaxing but it also can help to reduce lines, tighten the skin, increase skin elasticity, and promote blood flow to the face. It makes a wonderful gift for anyone!
One of my clients said after her session: 'it was sublime and my skin looks amazing'
Each session lasts 60 min and costs £45.
During May if you book a facial massage for
yourself or as a gift for someone else,
the massage will cost only £40!*
*Bookings or gift vouchers must be purchased by the 31st May 2017 and will be valid until the 18th July 2017. Bookings and gift vouchers are not transferable.
Over the next few months, I will be researching and writing an in-depth article on #fibromyalgia. This article will consider what fibromyalgia is, what current research is telling us, and how massage and myofascial techniques can offer relief from the condition. I would love to hear from people who have fibromyalgia:
How does fibromyalgia affect you?
How long have you had it?
Have you had massage or myofascial release?
If so did it help and how?
Please do contact me directly by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, all replies will be treated in the strictest confidence.
It's National Massage Day on the 16th May. Massage and myofascial release are real tools for reducing the effects of stress, insomnia, muscular aches and pains, chronic pain and restricted movement. How about some time just for 'you'? A space to relax in and time where you don't need to 'be' or 'do' anything.
For one day only on May 16th I am offering new clients a really special offer, a 60 min session for only £35! That's a £10 discount on my usual price. Be quick though, as I don't have many sessions. Give me a call on 07719 261956 to book your slot!
The effects of stress in the modern world are well documented. But what is 'stress'? How does it affect the body? And what can massage and bodywork do to help put us back into balance?Read More
On day three of training at Jing we worked with two techniques which were very new to me: Craniosacral Therapy and Visceral Manipulation.
Craniosacral therapy is a very subtle form of bodywork where the therapist uses the gentlest of touches to rebalance the flow of cerebrospinal fluid, this work can actually be done on several parts of the body including the back of the head, feet, sacrum and pelvis. It was developed by John Upledger in the 1970's and is an offshoot of cranial osteopathy which was developed by William Garner Sutherland in the 1930's. It is quite difficult to describe what if feels like and how it works, but this quote from the CTA sums it up very well:
'Think about the therapist as a facilitator who, by placing his/her hands on the head or sacrum or feet is listening to the rhythm within the body and through this contact enables the body to release tensions, calm its chaos and finally to reach a point of absolute silence where both client and therapist are in unison. It is in this silence that the body “does its work”. In this gentle space where mind and body are “held” safely by the therapist who is also focusing on the movement apparent inside the body, a deep sense of relief is often experienced.'
I'm going to be very honest now and tell you that this work was by far the most challenging work I have done for a long time. Being so still and having to listen so intently to another persons body are skills that can only be developed from practice - it was not easy to find that 'rhythm' of the body and work with it. I also found that I was expecting to feel things, both as a giver and as a receiver, which them did not materialise, leaving me with a void of expectation and a lot of questions. This is often how learning a new skill is, even when we try to come to it with the beginner's mind we can find ourselves waiting for 'something' to happen. Yet I can clearly see how the treatment could be hugely beneficial for people, especially those who cannot tolerate or do not want deeper forms of touch. The evidence base for CST is sparse and there have been many claims that it is a bogus type of therapy which does 'little or not good'. Yet lots of people (including many other therapists I know) report huge shifts in their bodies when they undergo the treatment. So we maybe have to ask ourselves the question, do we need science to validate it or are we happy to explore the unknown elements of what make us human?
Viseral Maniputaion is another form of facial work developed by Jean-Pierre Barral who descirbes it as:
"The central premise of Visceral Manipulation is that the interrelationship of structure and function among the internal organs is at least as strong as that among the constituents of the musculoskeletal system; and that, like the musculoskeletal system, manipulation of the viscera can be beneficially used in the treatment of a wide variety of problems affecting any of the body’s systems"
So you can perform this type of work on the fascia which lies between and around organs such as the liver, sleep, lungs, colon, kidneys etc., Our work involved testing the springiness of the thoracic cavity (the chest area) and working gentle with the fascia that surrounds the lungs. I'd like to report that I found this easier but I didn't, although I can see the potential of this type of work in freeing up the fascia around the lungs and chest cavity, which is often tight in people who suffer from stress, anxiety & breathing issues.
As I write this post today, having seen two clients this morning, I am reminded of just how much stepping outside of your comfort zone and learning new things does in terms of providing fuel for the never-ending process of learning. Today I used many new techniques, some felt good and others need practice, but what I did mostly was to ask questions of myself while I was working - what can I do better, how can I work more slowly, when can I do more by doing less? Those are the gems from my experience at Jing last week (along with heaps of new stuff for my massage toolbox!). Can't wait till the next three days in June!
Ida Rolf was originally a biochemist, and during 40 years of research she discovered that the bodies internal network of connective tissue (what we call fascia) actively adapts to patterns of use and misuse. She discovered that the steady application of moderate manual pressure (myofascial manipulation or Rolfing as it is now called) could cause dense layers of tissue to melt, transform and stretch. Systematically applied pressure created flexibility, released people from old, rigid postures and improved their body's segmental alignment with gravity.Read More
It's great to be back at Jing in Brighton for the next three days with my Jing family. It is such a great place to train because there is total freedom to explore, ask questions and learn in a safe, nurturing and fun environment. Today was day one of the Fascial Foundation course - part one of a three part course which leads to the Certificate in Advanced Myofascial Release which I am focusing on this year.
Yesterday as I travelled down to Brighton I thought about my first experience of mysofascial release and how this started my interest in everything fascial. In 2012 I spent three months in Chicago taking an intensive yoga teacher training at Yogaview. One of the people I trained with was Liana who just happened to be a mysofasical release therapist. I had several sessions with Liana while I was in the US and quite frankly it blew my mind. I had literally never experiencing anything like myofascial release!
Since then through the mediums of my own yoga practice, workshops and as a receiver of massage, I have come to slowly understand what tight fascia feels like - there is nothing like the experience of your own body to show you such things. I've also begun to understand how it feels to touch fascia and to work with it, but have long known that I have only scratched the surface of a huge subject, hence my desire to come and immerse myself in the study and practice of myofascial release this year at Jing.
I always get a little bit nervous before a workshop. Stepping into a new space and outside of your comfort zone isn't always easy to do, yet it is precisely in this space that we grow and learn. Attending any kind of bodywork training is not just about learning techniques, although that is often a major part of it, but being willing to explore new ideas with other people. A big part of every training is 'giving and receiving' the bodywork and it requires trust and a willingness to fully immerse yourself in the cyclical process of learning. I have always found training to be an intensive experience not just because my body is receptive to touch, but also because many of my perceptions as to who I am, how I work and what I think I 'know' are often challenged! Out of these experiences come great insights and changes which I believe only serve to make me a better skilled therapist.
One of the topics we spoke of today was the importance of developing 'a listening touch'. Myofasial work is far less about technique and more about the ability to listen to the tissues of the body with your hands, allowing you to follow where the fascia wants to move, rather than dictating where it should go. It sounds very simple written here but is quite challenging the first few times you start to work with fascia because it requires faith in your own ability as a therapist. If we listen to the inner critic we often end up constantly fretting 'is anything happening?!'. I certainly had a few moments of that today, but I also had moments where I felt that movement, felt the space open up and allowed the intuitive part of me to guide where my hands moved.
In the afternoon we worked on the arms and legs. Pulling them may not sound very nice but it is an amazing way of releasing tension in the body. It looks and to all extents feels like a gentle dance through which you start to feel where the fascia is tight, and because everything is connected through the fascia, you can be working with a leg and undoing something in the upper back! During my session as receiver I clearly recall feeling tension moving out of the back of my body - an area I have always been tight and hold many injuries - and the relief, well, it was palpable and very real.
If you are one of my clients you will almost certainly had heard me mention the word fascia. But what is fascia and how can work on fascia help to relieve chronic pain, tension, stiffness and imbalances in our bodies?
Fascia is one of the most important and interconnected systems within the body. Until quite recently is was very much ignored within mainstream anatomical and medical thinking. Interest and research into fascia has increased a huge amount in the last 5 years, to the extent that many new ideas are changing the way we think about the body. Just asking what fascia is, or typing it into Google will bring up over 52,000, 000 results! And it can provoke much heated debate. A good nerdy definition can be taken from the International Fascial Research Congress (which is a wonderful organisation set up by pioneers in the field of fascial research):
If you read that and found it difficult to really understand you are not alone! The key phrase is that fascia is "the soft tissue component of the connective tissue system". It forms ligaments, tendons and wraps around the brain, nerves, bones muscle fibres and bundles of muscle fibres. All of these fasciae were previously labelled as different structures (e.g. epimysium, perimysium, endomysium), yet the mind-boggling truth is that all of these things are really one fascia and are all interconnected through a silk-like spiders web. Imagine for one moment if your entire body was to be dissolved leaving only the fascia behind......you would in fact still have a complete 3D representation of you.
Our new understanding of fascia is challenging many long held beliefs about how the body works. For example, Tom Myer's has developed the idea of 'myofasical trains, chains and slings' in his work. He suggests that our previously held belief that 'muscles just operate over a single joint' are too simplistic - instead because muscles are connected in various ways to fascia that cross several joints and can span from head to toe, we are therefore in effect dealing with a series of much larger 'cardinal slings' that cover the entire body. This means that pain or dysfunction experienced in one part of the body, may have its origins in a totally different, apparently unrelated part of the body.
Fascial restrictions do not show up on CAT scans, MRI's or x-rays, and many people suffer with unresolved physical or emotional pain due to blockages or trauma in their fascia. Fascial tension is common and most of us will have restricted fascial tissue somewhere in our bodies. In order to function properly fascia likes to move, something which is an issue in a society of desk-based jobs, excessive driving and sitting, and it also likes to be hydrated, so that means drinking plenty of water! When fascia is not hydrated it loses its ability to glide freely and becomes stuck.
In fascial work a fluid touch is required, coupled with the ability to remain quietly still while the fascial tissue 'releases'. Areas of fascial tension may need to be held for 5-8 mins, with a sustained but gentle pressure, so that the fascia has time to elongate naturally and return to its normal resting length. Sometimes the 'release' is felt by both the client and the therapist, and has been described as anything from 'melting, like a wave' through to 'a sense of teasing matted, almost felted wool to loosen and create space within (my) tissues'.
There are a number of different forms of fascial release:
- Myofascial Release which focuses on the fascia around and within muscles, and also the superficial fascia just below the skin
- Rolfing or Structural Integration developed by the great Ida Rolf in the late 1960's when she was seeking to establish proper vertical alignment of the body. SI work seeks to change the alignment of the whole of the body, easing pain and dysfunction caused by fascial restrictions. Practitioners will work with clients over 10 sessions through the whole of the body from feet to head. Other similar approaches include Kinesis myofascial integration as developed by Tom Myers and Hellerwork. although all are based heavily on Rolf's work and retain many of her original ideas and concepts.
- Craniosacrial Therapy which focus on gentle movement to the sacral bones in the skull
- Viseral Manipulation which focuses on the fascia around organs such as the lungs
It is worth remembering that it is impossible to touch the body without touching the fascia, and therefore, it makes sense to integrate a variety of fascial techniques into any bodywork session. Doing fascial work requires a sensitive touch, a willingness to follow intuition, a deep sense of connection to the body and the development of a 'listening touch'. Whether direct techniques or indirect techniques or a combination of the two are used, the results can be very powerful, and conditions such as sciatica, carpal tunnel syndrome, RSI, sporting injuries, rotator cuff issues, fibromyalgia, pelvic and menstrual problems, IBS and headaches can all be treated successfully.
Chaitow, L. (2014) Somatic dysfunction and fascia's gliding potential. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies 18 (1), 1-3
Fairweather, R. and Mari, M. S. (2016) 'Dedicated followers of facia', pp 85-113. Handspring Publishing, Edinburgh.
Myers, T. (2001) Anatomy Trains, 1st edn. Churchill Livingstone: Edinburgh
Anyone who plays golf will know what a demanding sport it is. The golf swing is a complex, whole body movement which generates power to propel a golf ball long distances with great accuracy. Golfers work at their swing consistently in order to co-ordinate their patterns of movement so that the swing becomes fluid and reproducible (think Tiger Woods!).Read More
The use of heat as a therapeutic modality has been around for centuries. You will have certainly used a hot water bottle to sooth your belly when you had stomach ache. We often naturally turn to heat when we are in pain: e.g. hot baths, hot water bottles, wheat cushions, compresses and jacuzzis.
This much can be said for certain about hot stones: they are deeply relaxing, and they enable the massage therapist to work much deeper, improving the outcome for the client. Heat can be used as inexpensive self-care at home (no stones required!). When applied before trigger point work, acupressure and stretching the results can be truly amazing.
Heat can be used very effectively in all cases of chronic pain. If you want to know more about chronic pain please read my previous blog post on the topic. The positive effects of using heat are:
- Heat makes us feel nurtured, relaxed, cared for and positive
- Heat helps the body to relax, enabling the therapist to work more deeply
- Heat has a direct effect on tight tissues, reducing muscle tightness and pain
- Heat increases circulation, thus improving the healing time of soft tissues
- Heat helps to increase the pliability of fascia
Research has shown that heat can be an overwhelmingly positive modality for people who suffer from lower back pain, arthritis, neck pain, wrist pain, Temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain, Fibromyalgia, digestive problems, menstrual pain and insomnia. Further more, heat can help to free up the fascia and improve 'range of motion' of joints, for example, when suffering from frozen shoulder. I use hot stones everyday in my massage work and have found them to be a tremendously powerful modality bringing clients relief from pain, better range of motion, relaxation and a sense of wellbeing. If you have never tried them, why not give them a go and experience for yourself the power of hot stones!
Fairweather, R. and Mari, M. S. (2016) 'The warm up act: the power of hot and cold in advanced clinical massage', in Massage Fusion. The Jing method for the treatment of chronic pain, pp 73-84. Handspring Publishing, Edinburgh.
You have massage booked and yo are so looking forwards to it, but the day before your massage you wake up, your eyes are puffy, your nose is runny, and then the cough starts! You are sick! What do you do now?
The simple answer is that you call your massage therapist, tell them you are feeling ill and reschedule your massage. Massage with the flu or a cold is a big NO. Let me explain why.
Stimulating the bodies systems
Massage stimulates the body, particularly the circulatory and lymphatic systems - have you ever noticed how when you lie down on the couch after a while you start to feel a little congested even if you didn't have a cold to start with? This is a very common experience and it's the result of your body responding to the massage by moving waste products about in order to dispose of them. If you already have a cold, lying facedown on the couch and receiving a massage will make the symptoms of your cold worse, not better, essentially flooding your body with the virus at a time when it is putting all its resources into fighting it. It can also be very uncomfortable, especially with sinus or head pain, to lie facedown with your head in the cradle, for any length of time, and it can be very hard to breathe freely in this position if your sinuses are blocked. And let's face it, a constantly dripping nose is also rather unpleasant!
Spreading the infection to others
When you receive a massage while in a decreased state of immunity, you not only take the risk of feeling worse yourself, but you also risk passing your infection on to your massage therapist. Some people can work while under the weather but massage therapists cannot and should not. So by rescheduling your session. your therapist will thank you, and be waiting for your speedy recovery!
If you are suffering from: flu, have a fever or feel nauseous, have a bad cold, sinus infection, a runny nose or just feel horribly bunged up, my advice is simple - reschedule your massage, stay home, rest, stay warm, watch Star Wars*, drink plenty of fluids, eat trifle* and sleep lots so your body can heal itself! You will get over your virus much quicker this way.
The good news
Once you are over the worst of your virus, usually about a week after it has started, massage can be a wonderful way to improve the function of your immune system, restore lost energy and give something back to your body. Hot stones are wonderful in this respect, because of the nurturing quality of their heat.
*The watching of Star Wars and the eating of trifle are optional, but I feel that when you are ill you need to be kind to yourself and part of the kindness may well involve some TV watching and indulging in a good pudding.
Chronic pain is pain that persists long beyond the usual healing time for an injury. Chronic pain can manifest in a multitude of ways including sciatica, pain from herniated discs, whiplash disorder, RSI, carpal tunnel syndrome, tennis and golfer's elbow, frozen shoulder, restricted range of motion in the shoulder joint, sporting overuse injuries such as Achilles tendinitis, rhuematoid and osteoarthritis, TMJ pain, heads/migraines, fibromyalgia, IBS and chronic fatigue syndrome. Chronic pain can also manifest as mysterious pain which is persistent and debilitating but has no diagnosis, despite extensive medical tests.Read More
Have you felt a change in the air today? Did you notice, almost suddenly, that it was darker this morning when you got up? In the northern hemisphere today is the Autumn Equinox, a day when the duration of the day and night are equal and balanced.
At this time of year we see and feel that change around us, leaves turning golden brown, plants starting to hibernate, days getting shorter and mornings darker. It can be harder to get up in the mornings and our energy levels might be lower than normal as we adjust to less daylight and cooler temperatures. In a world so dominated by set working hours and artificial light it can be hard to adapt to these changes.
Today is the perfect day to consider the balance in your life, and ask yourself 'how am I caring for myself?'.
Why not consider taking just 60mins of your day for yourself and booking a massage session? At this time of year hot stones feel wonderful and are especially good for balancing the body and mind, giving the most amazing feeling of deep relaxation! They can also help with insomnia, digestive issues and chronic pain.
Shoshin (初心) is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning "beginner's mind". It refers to having an attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would.
Recently I started going to Tai Chi classes with Red Spiral Tai Chi in Macclesfield. My first introduction to Tai Chi was with the people at Jing Massage Training, the fundamentals of Tai Chi being integral to their massage work. Since then I have wanted to do more of it but somehow I never seemed to be in the right place or at the right time. As is usual with the universe, tai chi came to me via a friend and then the space also came to be able to do it!
Three weeks ago driving to the first class I actually felt a bit nervous! A reminder of how it feels to be 'new' at something. I remember getting home from class an hour later having been blown away by the power of the breath and movement, it was also unbelievably hard. It left me with huge amounts of energy moving through my body and feeling very connected to my body.
Since that first class I have been doing a little each day, not just because it is good to get up in the morning and ease into the day with some simple movement, but because I can feel the positive effect that it is having on my body and mind. It is also the challenge of learning something new and being able to take a series of movements and flow them together with the power of the breath. Practicing Tai Chi reminds me of when I first tried to do Vinyasa Flow - at the start it was certainly not flowing!
Yesterday, having learnt maybe less than a quarter of the 15 step 'form' we are working on we proceeded to learn three new steps. All of a sudden I appeared to have lost the ability to move my legs, arms and hands - they were not going were I wanted them to.......wait Richard had his hand facing that way and my hand wanted to go the other way, and...........oh, why won't my left foot step where it needs too, and........ah, my thighs are burning, and suddenly looking up at myself in the mirror I don't appear to have ended up the right place!! What a shocker to suddenly be plunged into a space where I did not have control of my body as I wanted to, where I was truly the beginner again.
I came out of class feeling like it wasn't just my body that had had a workout, my mind to had been asked to stretch itself. I am a 'beginner' with a beginner's mind. I wasn't able to follow the movements, I wasn't able to flow and I had to honor the fact that it may will take me many hours of practice to understand those new movements and integrate them into my body.
Exciting news, in just over two weeks I move into my new studio space at Adelphi Mill in Bollington.
These are exciting times as the studio will allow me to offer not just my bodywork and massage to everyone, but also small group and private yoga classes, along with supervisions and training for massage therapists!
I am really looking forward to moving into the mill and its community and to welcoming everyone to my new studio. Stay tuned for updates as there will almost certainly be an open day, some free massage and some chocolate brownie!
Really excited to announce in partnership with the wonderful Francesca Giusti a new support, guidance and community group for yoga teachers in the Cheshire region.
The first gathering is on the 16th September from 7-9pm at Pure Yoga Cheshire. The cost is a donation of £3 per person.
Please spread the word and do come and join us, we would love to see you! Questions? Email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.