Take control of your health and well-being with massage

Five benefits of massage that help you take control of your health and well-being

1. Relieve Stress, improve mood, reduce headaches, ease chronic pain
Run from the tiger! Ok, so there’s good and bad stress and a certain amount helps us to get things done. We need to be able to react to situations and our sympathetic system kicks in when we have to act fast, and need energy to get a job done, or run away from a threat … like a tiger. The adrenaline and cortisol released during moments of stress boosts your heart rate and blood sugar, while diverting energy away from your digestion and immune responses. These reactions have helped humans to evolve and survive and in themselves are all good, if we only go hunting once a day!
The tiger is waiting! Trouble in the modern world, we subject ourselves to a constant barrage of perceived threats, with workloads that never get easier, deadlines to meet, bosses to please, no clear boundaries between work and home, bills to pay, and then nothing but bad news in the media. It feels like the tiger is always waiting outside, and this means our body stay ready in sustained ‘fight or flight’ stress and over time affects our mental and physical health with a range of problems. This includes changes in behaviour, negative mood, anxiety, lack of sleep, and results in physical symptoms such as headaches, back aches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, and all sorts of chronic pain issues. Constantly elevated levels of cortisol that occur when you are continually stressed, raise blood sugars and can contribute to the development of diabetes and heart disease. Constant stress ages you!
But, how about we get rid of the tiger, at least for a while! Massage triggers a range of responses that help manage stress, resulting in feelings of relaxation, reduced stress, mental alertness and improved mood. During a massage, your body increases its production of ‘feel-good’ endorphins, and chemicals, serotonin and dopamine. Massage also decreases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline, allowing your body to relax and allow the parasympathetic ‘rest and digest’ system to help you recover. Regular massage improves your overall health by keeping these stress hormones at bay, reducing anxiety, encouraging a good night’s sleep and helping address issues such as high blood pressure, which in turn can lower risks of heart attack and stroke.

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2. Improved posture
‘Sitting is the new smoking’ – I expect you’ve heard this. Most of us spend too much time sitting these days. Add up how many hours a day you spend walking, running, doing yoga or whatever keeps you moving. Now how many hours you spend sitting. It’s also the way we sit – our posture. Hunching over lap-tops, especially now more people work from home. Driving a car, looking at your phone. The thing is our bodies are clever, too clever. If you want to sit in these positions, your body, more-so your fascia, helps you out. It tries to make your life easier. The fascial tissue thickens and adapts and becomes dehydrated and immobile. You try and correct your posture – and it feels wrong.
Massage helps by hydrating the tissues and allow them to glide and move how they are supposed to. It also relieves contracted areas in the muscles and tissues. By improving your range of movement, you can move into more natural posture. Regular massage, along with looking for ways to improve your sitting position and encouraging movement can help to decrease back and shoulder pain significantly

3. Improve breathing
When we are stressed and anxious our breathing reacts by becoming shallow and constricted. Because massage helps trigger your parasympathetic system this helps slow and deepen your breathing. Along with working on breathing exercises (something I often do) this helps to regulate our response to stress. Being able to find way to relax our breathing also helps with other responses to stress, such as feelings of chest tightness, shoulder pain, digestion issues and headaches.

4. Enhanced exercise performance and recovery
Muscle pain and stiffness is common when you start a new exercise or do a lot more than you’re used to. Exercise causes micro-tears in muscle fibres, leading to inflammation, which the body repairs and over time the body gets stronger. Massage reduces the production of cytokines which are pro-inflammatory – thereby reducing the duration and intensity of delayed onset muscle soreness. It also stimulates the mitochondria which convert glucose to energy- essential in the repair process
Massage also helps treat sports injuries and post-surgery, increasing fluid flow and hydrating tissues and decreasing adhesions and fibrotic tissue build up – so maintaining range of movement. Specifically, massage can be used to help scar tissue from surgery as well. Regular massage can be used by anybody who exercises regularly to improve performance, speed-up post-exercise recovery, improve soft tissue function, improve flexibility and range of movement and help prevent injury.

5. Boost immunity
If sustained for too long, stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline, suppress our immune system, leaving our bodies more vulnerable to infection and making it more difficult for the body to recover. Massage offers relaxation and stress relief and research suggests that regular massage naturally increases the healthy immune system’s ability to kill certain cells, while decreasing the number of T-cells, which improves the body’s immune function overall.
Massage also relieves pain, which has been shown to suppress the immune system and increases susceptibility to infection.

So now that you know more about the benefits of massage and you can see how it can help you take control of your health and wellbeing, isn’t it time you booked your appointment?

Keeping strong in mind and body

So here we are. Our lives have been completed disrupted by Coronavirus.  We are experiencing unprecedented times and having to adjust to a new way of living where we work from home (if we can), we can’t physically see or hug our family when we want to and, if we can go outside,  we must try to avoid people, and if we encounter them we swiftly move into an appropriate ‘social distance’.  On top of this, we have no way of knowing how long this will continue.

Our need for information can overwhelm our minds in a constant and ever-changing dialogue about pandemic, disaster, isolation and risk.  We respond in various ways, from denial, to panic, anxiety and helplessness with these feelings changing throughout the day.

I’ll be honest, this isn’t easy for me.  I lost my mum, sister, dad, aunt and granddad to pneumonia. My mum was 50 and healthy, my sister was 49 and had MS.  My husband has a pre-existing health condition – so to put it frankly Covid-19 scares the …. out of me and I recognise the feelings of anxiety and panic.

However, I wind back. This time 2 years ago, I was just about to find out that the symptoms I had been experiencing for months were due to spinal cord damage –  basically I had a huge calcified prolapse disc sticking in my spinal cord, which would eventually, if not treated, leave me paralysed from the waist down.  However, the surgery I had to urgently undergo was risky, carried a 2% chance of paralysis and only a 30% chance of improvement. It also carried a risk of pneumonia as they had to deflate one lung.  The bottom dropped out of my world.  All my plans and dreams were put on hold.  I was so scared!

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Camino de Santiago – yes!

Camino de Santiago – we did it!

On Sunday 29th September myself and Den reached the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela – having set out 6 days earlier and walked the final 72 miles /117km of the Camino de Santiago to get there.  To get there was not just the culmination of 6 days walking, but also a year of slowly building up strength and endurance, after my spinal operation.

Over the course of 6 days we walked 78 miles (which included some detours to visit monuments), with a cumulative ascent of 7,871 ft (2399 m) and 8,201 ft (2499m) descent.  We clocked up 193,099 steps!

So we got there but how did it go?

Day 1: We set out from Sarria on 24th September with an early start in the dark and wet, which made it a bit slippery in places. Slowly it dried up and the sun came out. There was an ‘evil’ staircase at the end to take us up to the ‘Chapel in the Clouds’ at Portomarin.  We walked 14.6 miles / 23.5km and it was hard going in places and our feet were sighing with relief by the end.Read More »

The sun has got its hat on! Taking care in the hot weather

With the particularly hot weather we’ve had this week it’s a good idea to be cautious about what activity we do and take care.

The heat can affect anyone but certain people are more vulnerable and you may not know until its too late.

Groups that are vulnerable include:

Older people, especially over 75, babies and young children, people with serious long-term conditions, particularly dementia, heart, breathing or mobility problems,  people on certain medicines, including those that affect sweating and temperature control, people with serious mental health problems, people who misuse alcohol or drugs  AND people who are physically active – for example, labourers or those doing sports, including hiking.

Advice for coping in the heat.

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Thoracic disc surgery – my journey.


2017 Romsey Relay – no idea what was to come

Many of my clients know I’ve been through a difficult time over the last few months, I thought it was time to share my story, for others out there that are going the same or a similar experience; its a long read so make yourself a cuppa!

I’ve been a runner for a lot of years and also like to swim a couple of times a week and cycle (indoors and out). During 2017 my running fitness seemed to have dropped off though, with a number of things going wrong. I’d sprained my ankle in March and then fell over in 10-mile race in April- flat on my face and had to have my head wound glued. It was an unusually hot April day and a lot of runners were suffering in the heat, I was tired at eight and half miles so just put it down to lazy feet. After, I felt a bit unsure of my footing when running trail but just put it down to mentally getting over the fall. I also noticed I was getting slower in my parkruns, nothing significant and I just put it down to age (I was 56 at the time). In June I took part in a team relay event running from London to Cardiff and all seemed OK, even though I only had 20 minutes sleep in 24 hours, so I wasn’t overly bothered at this stage. Then in July, I got a niggly ‘injury’ which persisted and meant several weeks off running and I struggled to get back. But I did a lot of swimming, completing a 22-mile pool swim challenge over 5 weeks, and I started going to the gym to work out a couple of times a week. Towards the end of the year I’d done a few races, including some cross country and a 5-mile race which I enjoyed, and was only 3 minutes off my best. So, there was nothing significant and I thought things were picking up. I was certain that if I could just get back to some longer runs and get some more mileage under my belt I’d be back to my usual race fitness and distance in no time. I just needed to train harder!

Still some how managing hilly cross country in November 17

Enjoying Christmas parkrun with Santa!

New Years Day 2018 in neon – Friends help me celebrate my 100th parkrun

So, at New Year I was looking forward to 2018. No reason not to, things could only get better…


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Do you take it in your stride?

Recently some runners have told me that they are trying to increase their stride length while they run.  Some even saying they’ve been advised to do this.

This always concerns me as I can see the injury potential so I thought it might be helpful to have some understanding about what governs your stride length and what happens when you try to increase your  stride length in the wrong way.

The length of your stride is influenced by a combination of your skeletal structure, your muscular strength, and your flexibility.  As muscular strength and flexibility decrease as people get older (if they don’t focus on strength training)  their stride length often gets shorter. New runners may not yet have developed the necessary muscular strength for a long stride. Also often overlooked is the influence of your daily activities and posture!   Trying to increase your stride length without taking into account flexibility and strength will only encourage you to over stride and strike with your heel first ahead of your hips with your knee locked out – and this is a shortcut to injury. Over striding leads to greater braking forces (so will slow you down) and excessive impact. You will tire earlier and move your legs at a slower rate. Read More »

Knees, ankles, feet and toes

Bridge to fitness word cloudI’ve just returned from a thoroughly enjoyable and interesting and weekend seminar learning about treatment of knee and foot dysfunction and the connection between the foot, knee, ankle and the hip.   

The course was delivered by Dr Evan Osar who is a chiropractor (all the way from Chicago) and expert in assessment and corrective exercise to stabilise how individuals move to solve chronic postural and movement dysfunction.

Over the weekend the seminar covered the functional anatomy of the knee and ankle-foot complex, how poor stabilisation and biomechanics can lead to degeneration in joints such as the knees and hips and other conditions such as plantar fasciitis. Also, how exercises commonly given to ‘improve’ stability are more likely to reinforce bad habits, thereby leading to further injury; if these are carried out incorrectly without making sure correct alignment, foot function and breathing are addressed first. Read More »

F is for Fascia

Since becoming a soft tissue therapist I’ve become more and more interested in fascia, its role in the body and what a therapist, can do to effect it.

Fascial release is a powerful treatment in restoring range of movement and you may like to know more about how  it can help you.

What is fascia and where is it?

Your superficial fascia lies just under your skin and contains dense connective tissue as well as fat. It provides shock absorption, space for accumulation of fluids and metabolites, stores fat and provides insulation.Read More »

More that just sports massage

What I love most about my job is how rewarding it is when I can share in the happiness of someone able to return to pain free running or other sport after treatment has helped them recovery from injury.  As a runner myself, when someone gets a PB or achieves their challenge because treatment and exercises have helped improve their strength, range of movement and allowed them to stay injury handsfree, I understand how much this means to them.

I am a BTEC Level 5 Soft Tissue Therapist*, trained at one of the UK’s most prestigious schools (LSSM) and also a UKA Running Coach. This combination helps me to understand how technique, training, stability and movement pattern impacts on the body. So as well as good hands-on treatment which works well, feels good and can produce instantly noticeable improvements, I can offer rehab, exercises and even training advice that really will help you get better. Like trying Read More »

Don’t let injury foil your fitness plans

New year, and many of us are planning some races, signing up for challenges, making promises to get fitter, keep fitter, do the strength Bridge to fitness word cloudwork and remember to stretch.  All of that is great! New year is a brilliant time to take stock of what your priorities are.  Life is often so busy, and distractions are many, that we often get fixated on the activity itself and end up  side lining important supplementary work and treatment, that we know will help us to achieve these goals.

As  a Soft Tissue Therapist, Running Coach and also a keen runner,  I know that making time for strength and stability work is a key ingredient in becoming a stronger, less injury prone runner, but I manage to find umpteen ‘distractions’ to put it off and not get round to it.  Equally I know the benefits of regular massage and soft tissue techniques, not just when injury strikes, but as a preventative treatment and to help recovery from training, but often struggle to ‘make time’ to go for treatment myself.

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