Did you know that your brain controls all the muscular tension in your body? And that when you are having a massage, its not just your muscles and tissues that are receiving feedback, but the brain too!Read More
I see a lot of clients suffering with neck and shoulder pain, and when I ask them about the height of their pillows and their set up for sleeping, I often find that they are sleeping with to many pillows. Here is a handy guide as to how to find the right height for your pillow.
Sleeping on your front
I know that a lot of people like to lie on the front of their bodies, but anatomically, this is a position which causes considerable strain on the whole of the neck, because unless you happen to be lying on a massage table, you are likely to have your head turned to the side. Even if you regularly turn your head to the other side during the night, your neck will still be placed into deep rotation which can strain all the muscles that surround it.
Did you know that you can easily use a towel to help you find the right height for your pillow? Not only can you use towels to help you find the correct pillow height, but you can even use them as a pillow if you want too. Here’s why I recommend using towels:
- You have them at home already
- They do not compress like pillows do
- You can precisely change the height to get it just right for your body
Pillows, no matter how expensive, tend to squash throughout the night and rarely provide a consistent height. They also become less supportive over time, and depending on the filling used, can end up clumpy! Towels, on the other hand, can provide firm support, similar to that of a firm mattress. The right pillow height will depend on your body shape and your sleeping position. Sleeping on your back is good, but sleeping on your side can also be healthy as long as your head is supported at the right angle.
To get a rough idea of how much towel you will need you can follow this guideline, and then adjust it to get it just right for you.
Take your index finger and thumb and spread them apart - this distance will be somewhere around the correct height for you. Pillows that are too high will make you roll backwards, and pillows that are too low will make you roll forwards. Bearing this in mind, remove a few layers and check how you feel. Not comfortable? Still rolling backwards? Take a few layers away and keep going until you feel comfortable and well supported.
Once you feel you are in the right position, take away ONE layer (not one towel, but one layer) and see if it’s better or worse. Believe it or not, you will be able notice the difference between single layers, especially when on a firm bed or using the floor. If better, take another layer away and if worse, replace that layer. Do this until you have it exactly right so that one additional layer or one layer less doesn’t feel as good.
Lie on Your Back
Sleeping on your back is another great way to lie but you will need fewer towels. The thing to bear in mind is not to let the pillow push your head too far forward, as this can create issues for your neck and upper back.
Towels feel too hard?
If you find the towels too hard, a compromise is to use towels underneath a decent pillow to get the correct height.
Now that you’ve found your perfect pillow height, it won't matter where you are sleeping (e.g. a hotel room), you will always be able to adjust the height of your pillow to get a great nights sleep!
Bodywork is powerful because something very profound happens when we allow another person to touch us in a safe, supportive and nurturing way. Through being touched we ‘embody’ ourselves, coming to a place where we are present in the here and now. Stripped of some of our incessant 'doing' and allowed just to 'be' for an hour we fall into a space where we are able to access deep relaxation. Those 60 mins on the table become a space in which we can participate in a dialogue with our bodies.Read More
I spent four days in October immersed in anatomy, breath work and yoga with my teacher Leslie Kaminoff, who came to teach at The Yoga Bank in Widnes. It was transformational and deeply fascinating experience for me and one which has left me contemplating what yoga is and how we teach it, along with the ways in which the stories we tell ourselves about our bodies shape our experiences of living in them.Read More
I've been thinking a lot about change the last few weeks as I am recovering from hip arthroscopy. Other than getting over the operation itself and the challenges of being on crutches, plus not being able to 'do' activities I normally don't give a thought too, I've been doing lots of exercise as part of my rehabilitation. Much has been written about the challenges of rehabilitative exercise. When I talk about this I am not just speaking about exercise given post-operation (which is generally termed 'rehabilitative'), but also exercises that are given in order to aid recovery from an injury, or movement which aids in reducing muscular tension, correcting postural imbalances, managing chronic pain etc., Movement is so fundamental to life, and we know that we feel better physically and physiologically when we do move, yet many of us struggle when we are given a set of exercises to do. Why is this?
There are many barriers to committing to a programme of exercise including pain, fear, a perceived lack of time, depression, anxiety, helplessness, low self-efficacy and poor social support. Socioeconomic factors also play a role as does personal outlook and our relationship to our body. Some people are able to engage much better than others when it comes to taking on the responsibility for self-care, while others find that the mental and physical challenges of a programme exercise can be hard to overcome.
Clearly though, for anything to change, we need to be the facilitator of the change. It is generally well reported in professional journals that people who are able to engage with their exercises and do them regularly, will usually recover more quickly and fully than those who do not. In cases where we are dealing with chronic pain, injuries or musculoskeletal tension, engaging with a programme of exercise regularly is fundamental to reducing pain, muscular tension, restoring lost movement and healing ourselves. In all situations it is important that you take on board responsibility for your own well being. This requires a making a commitment to care for yourself.
For many of us, making that commitment can be quite hard to do. Deep down we all have a powerful ego which resists change at all costs, because it sees change as something dangerous. That ego is at work even when some deeper, more intuitive part of us knows that the things we are trying to engage with will be good for us!
Something which yoga and meditation have taught me is that we are constantly viewing the world through the mirror of emotions. When I first started my yoga practice over 10 years ago it never occurred to me that it might bring up fear, anger, resentment, frustration even boredom. Much the same thing happened in my meditation practice. I remember quite clearly when I was training at Yogaview and found out that I was going to be learning to meditate. When I first started sitting 20 mins a day felt unbelievably hard, and I frequently thought that I could not do it. I used to sit with (what felt like) overwhelming waves of emotions inside me, numb feet and somedays constant fidgeting. But slowly and surely I trained myself to sit, and I started to see those emotions for what they really were, just reflections of my ego and its view of the world around me. After a while meditation became something very profound. I started to enjoy it and see how it was changing my life. I spoke to my teacher Tom one day towards the end of my training, and he told me that a time would come where I would drift out of my meditation practice........I almost feel over with disbelief! It could not be possible, I reasoned, that this wonderful, life-changing thing that I had discovered would leave me. But you know, it did, and when that day came I realised that everything changes.
The reason I am sharing this story is because I want to say that it is always possible to change, but that change takes time, and it almost never happens as quickly as we think that it should. Part of the reason why we are sometimes are resistant to doing things that would be good for us, such as rehabilitative exercise, is because the ego fears that the change might involve us having to let go of something, or that the status quo of our lives will be disrupted. It may also try to tell us that it will be to frightening to do this new thing, that we don't have time, or that what we have been given to do won't work. The ego is great at this kind of talk!
What my yoga and meditation practice have taught me is that we must try to become unattached to outcomes in order that we can allow change to happen at its own pace. They have also taught me that change is always happening but often so slowly that we find it hard to see it. Which brings me back to where I started. If you are recovering from an operation, or suffering from some form of pain in your body, then making a commitment to yourself to engage with the process of self-care through exercise is really important. Exercise may be quite specific, such as the targeted exercises I have been given to do post-op, but it might also be things like doing restorative yoga, walking, tai chi or somatic movement. Whatever it is that you are doing you need to do it often and with an open mind. There will be days when it seems like a chore, or when it feels dull, and almost certainly some when it feels like nothing is changing. On those days remind yourself that change is a slow process, enjoy moving your body and don't worry about what your mind wants. The words of Yodi are very apt here, "Do or do not. There is no try".
Last week I was fortunate enough to spend three days training down at Jing in Brighton participating in part two of the Advanced Myofascial Certificate. One of the places I consider 'home', at least in terms of bodywork training, being at Jing is always intense, challenging, tiring, wonderful and through-provoking. As such, I always come home and have to spend time processing what it is that I have learnt in my time there.
John F. Barnes was one of the first people to develop indirect myofascial techniques, and many people who now teach these techniques in the UK have trained with him. Indirect myofascial release is widely accepted as a powerful set of techniques which allow therapists to work more effectively with common pain conditions, emotional trauma and systemic conditions that do not respond to traditional massage approaches. Conditions such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, sciatica and whiplash are just some things that respond well to indirect techniques. These are all things in which I am interested, both as a practitioner who sees many clients with chronic pain conditions and as someone who has suffered from chronic pain in the past. Describing the techniques used in indirect work is difficult however, because so much of it happens only when the therapist is able to 'let go' and develop a listening touch. Developing this kind of touch takes time and practice.
An unscheduled visit to the Tate gallery on Saturday morning got me thinking about the processes involved in learning and developing skills, and about the dichotomy that exists between what we learn and what we do, and indeed, what we think we know and what we think we do. As someone who has recently taken up drawing and painting I see many parallels between how artists work and how massage therapists work. One thing I did not understand about art until I started to do it is the amount of practice that it takes to master the techniques needed to create a piece of art. I think we are often blinkered in this respect because we generally see the finished masterpiece and not the many hours of work and practice that preceded it. We sometimes assume that artists are born with their skills and don't have to practice - the truth is that we can all be artists if we engage with the process of learning the techniques!
For an artist, exploring different techniques is what enables them to handle different mediums, see perspective, understand colour and composition etc., Practice is the key to learning, and it is an exploration that never really ends, with each phase of learning influencing our growth and development. I would argue, however, that techniques alone do not make art, because there is always something more profound in action when an artist creates a piece of art, that piece of art being reflection of their ability to draw on their own perceptions, ideas, and experience of the world around them.
Massage therapists work in much the same way, needing to learn and explore techniques, along with anatomy and physiology, in order to be able to practice what it is that we do. Our learning never really ends because humans are such mysterious and fascinating creatures - we know so little about how our bodies and minds work. When we first learn a new technique we often struggle to feel comfortable with it, we may meet tension in our own bodies (often caused by the effort involved in just doing said new technique) and our minds work overtime in an effort to understand what it is we are doing and how it might bring about a positive change for our client. We can get very wrapped up in this 'doing' and so attached to an outcome where positive change to takes place that we forget that what we are really doing: listening intently to our client and helping them to heal themselves through the medium of bodywork.
The paradox of bodywork, at least from the therapists perspective, is that we need to learn new techniques in order to be able to use them, but if we become attached to the techniques and forget about listening and responding to what we feel, we may find ourselves unable to give our client what it is they need. We end up 'doing' to the client rather than working with them. This is what I have taken away most from my three days training last week: that a 'listening touch' only comes with practice. It comes when we are able to hold a safe space for our clients, and when we are able to let go of technique to the point where we are simply responding to what we feel and experience. I remember one of my teachers at Yogaview telling us that we would one day 'throw away all the techniques we had learnt and end up teaching from a place much deeper within ourselves, where the techniques were the foundation but not the place from which we did our work'. This is the place where magic happens!
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 email@example.com, 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!
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.
Winter is here, it may not feel like it with the fluctuations in temperature and the dampness in the air, but everywhere around you the world is withdrawing and embracing slumber. There is a stillness which comes with an invitation to redirect our own energies. This is a time to reflect, rest, hold space, hibernate and move some of your energy inwards. Winter is characterised by cold weather, winds, a sense of heaviness, dampness, and somedays an almost total lack of sunshine. These are all qualities shared by the kapha dosha, which is why winter is generally thought of as a kapha season. The qualities of Kapha are heaviness, slowness, steadiness, solidness, coldness, softness and oiliness.
In Ayurveda balance is the key to feeling healthy. Each season ushers in a unique set of qualities which can make you feel pacified or aggravated, depending on the balance of doshas in your body. This is why some people love the heat of summer and some love the cold of winter. The routines that you adopt on a daily basis can have a massive effect on how you feel in your body and mind, and by adapting your lifestyle to better accomodate the changing seasons, you can coax your body back to a natural state of balance.
The body requires more fuel to stay warm at this time of year, and we often crave a more substantial, nutrient rich diet. We may want to eat a little more than we do in the summer, which is totally fine. Warmth is important too, as is making sure that you move your body everyday, maybe doing things like walking, yoga or tai chi. Massage is also great at this time of the year for combating feelings of sluggishness and stiffness.
You have no need to detox at this time of year and I firmly believe that all of those faddy diets doing the rounds are just that. In fact, in Ayurvedic terms it's a poor thing to do at a time when the body needs to be fed well, cared for and rested. So, instead of detoxing why not just make a commitment to yourself to focus some of your energy inwards, to listen to your body and rest a little more, to eat well (yes that includes vegetables!), to exercise everyday and to use this time to reflect on where you want to put your energies in the coming year.
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.Read More
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.