Although believed to have originated in ancient Egypt, Remedial Massage didn't become a recognised technique until the late 1940s. Since then it has become widely recognised as an effective way to help alleviate soft tissue injuries and chronic pain.
What to expect
Instead of the kind of gentle, sweeping strokes you get with - for example - Relaxation Massage Therapy - a Remedial Massage concentrates on specific problem areas and uses considerable pressure to stimulate blood circulation and release chronic tension that may be held in specific muscles. This kind of massage works along the lines of the actual muscle tissues, tendons and fascia to break up the adhesions that can occur as a result of strain or injury.
How does it help?
Remedial Massage is extremely effective in reducing pain and helping to increase the function of affected areas of the body - and is particularly good at helping with lower back pain. Remedial Massage can also lower your blood pressure and heart rate.
If you'd like to book a Remedial Massage with me, please get in touch with me for an appointment.
I offer a number of different kinds of therapeutic massage from my home in Hove - including Relaxation Massage Therapy, Deep Tissue Massage, Aromatherapy Massage, Manual Lymphatic Drainage, Myofascial Release Therapy and Trigger Point Therapy - so I thought it might be helpful if over the coming weeks if I explained a little about each technique, starting with Relaxation Massage Therapy.
Based on Western notions of anatomy and physiology, the Relaxation Massage technique was pioneered by a physiologist, Per Henrik Ling (1776-1839) who worked at the University of Stockholm. It is the oldest, most established technique in the West and is the foundation for many other massage styles.
What to expect
Fluid, sweeping strokes that encompass the entire body; gentle kneading and circular motions, together with light tapping. It's an altogether gentler massage technique than, say, Deep Tissue Massage, and works on the whole body, rather than concentrating on specific areas where you may be experiencing pain or tightness.
How does it help?
Relaxation Massage is fantastic for dealing with stress, which is known to contribute to all sorts of health problems, including asthma, anxiety, hypertension, headaches, depression and heart disease. It relaxes the tissues, improves your circulation, which in turn benefits the nervous system.
If you'd like to book an appointment for a Relaxation Massage Treatment, please get in touch with me.
I sometimes see clients who think of massage as an occasional treat when they feel they deserve to be pampered or to reward themselves for completing a difficult task or getting through a tricky time in their lives. While that's fine, I firmly believe that almost everyone can benefit from regular massage. Over the years I've realised that there are many reasons why regular massage can be so beneficial and I'd like to share them with you today.
Massage reduces stress and tension by lowering cortisol levels and stimulating the production of dopamine and serotonin produced by the body. The result? You feel less anxious and can see everything much more clearly.
Massage helps to reduce the impact of long hours spent at a desk. When we sit at a computer - especially a laptop - for hours at a time our shoulders pull forward and become rounded and our back muscles (upper and lower) become overstretched which weakens them. In conjunction with regular exercise, massage can alleviate back pain and actually hlep to improve your posture.
Massage improves circulation which is especially beneficial if you're inactive due to injury or chronic pain. The action of massage flushes lactic acid from the muscles and improves the way lymph fluid circulates, carrying waste products away from internal organs. As a result, some clients discover that it lowers their blood pressure as well.
Massage can help you get a good night's sleep. Remember I said that regular massage produces serotonin? This is essential for the production of melatonin, the so-called 'sleep hormone' which is produced naturally by your brain when the sun goes down and your body begins preparations for sleep.
Regular massage can reduce the need for prescription painkillers and offers a natural, healthy alternative to a quick chemical fix.
There are many more reasons why I believe regular massage can play an important part in living a balanced, healthy life but these are some of the most important. Everyone's different however, so if you're having a problem or experiencing discomfort, get in touch for a quick, honest appraisal - I'd love to help you if I can.
January is the time of year when we are most susceptible to illness - not surprising really, given that December's the season for socialising and partying, hugging and kissing everyone (even people you wouldn't normally be that close to) work colleagues, distant relatives ..... all in warm stuffy places.
Then consider how compromised your immune system is, thanks to all the late nights, the sky-high sugar and alcohol intake over the festive period, and it's really not surprising that there are so many cold and flu viruses doing the rounds.
Many people turn to a drastic detox as the answer, and although there's nothing wrong with that in principle, aggressive detoxing can lead to all sorts of problems as your body tries to deal with a sudden overwhelming build-up of the bad stuff in order to help you expel it.
Instead of putting themselves and their bodies through all that, more and more people are having massage as a preventative treatment because of its profound effect on the immune system. Massage has been shown to increase the number of lymphocytes (white blood cells) which play a crucial role in helping your body to resist disease and infection, and it also reduces the levels of cytokines, molecules which cause inflammation and which in turn can lead to cardiovascular disease and depression.
The other important thing to note here is that massage is recommended not as an occasional treat (though that's always welcome) but as something you have regularly, before you feel unwell. In other words, it's preventative, rather than curative.
Finally, it's important to use massage as part of a wider wellness regime, so also consider the following:
* Wash your hands regularly and use an antibacterial gel or hand wash; lavender or tea tree oil used on the hands can also help. Paper money can hold the 'flu virus for an astonishing 17 days
* Take vitamin C every day - at least 1000 mg with zinc to support the immune system
* Several drops of Echinacea in a glass of water sipped regularly when you've been in contact with anybody displaying symptoms can really help protect you, if you are beginning to come come down with something it can reverse or lessen your symptoms
* Try burning essential oil of lemongrass to purify the air
* Avoid sugary food and alcohol as much as possible.
* Try and eat as healthily as you can. Include smoothies made from berries, wheatgrass and coconut milk and home-made soups from fresh vegetables like beetroot and ginger and chilli.
* Open windows daily, even just for a few minutes to clear the air
* Wrap up warm and take a walk
In conjunction with regular massage, these simple steps can really make a difference to your well-being, especially at this time of the year.
One way or another, we’re all under stress. We’re stressed at work, stressed at home, stressed that we’re not getting enough sleep, enough exercise, enough relaxation - one way or another, all that stress is making us feel well, stressed.
Acute stress isn’t necessarily a bad thing - the hormones released by our bodies when we’re racing to meet a deadline are actually helpful, giving us a kick to get us over the finish line. But chronic stress is different and has been linked with a number of serious health problems, including arthritis and heart disease.
Massage therapy is a proven way to relieve stress, partly because that feeling of being touched reminds us of comforting childhood hugs from mum or dad but also because it releases a hormone - oxytocin - which is believed to reduce blood pressure, cortisol as well as general levels of stress. The release of oxytocin into the blood is stimulated by touch, with relaxation massage or myofascial release techniques thought to be particularly effective. In fact, some people believe Oxytocin has even more qualities than that...
In fact, people who go for regular massage often report marked, measurable improvements in their levels of anxiety, depression, vitality and general health. Massage is safe, non-addictive, non-invasive and completely natural and has an important part to play in relieving the stresses and strains of everyday life.
Stronger bones - the natural way
According to Age UK almost three million people in the UK have osteoporosis - a condition that makes bones fragile and liable to break more easily. Many of them don't even know it until they actually have a fracture.
Your bones are alive and in early life - up to say, your mid-20s - they're beavering away, replacing old bone with new bone, to the extent that you get a new skeleton every seven years or so. But by 35ish, this stops happening because the cells that make new bone aren't as vigorous as they used to be and can't keep up with your body's ongoing bone loss.
The standard way to treat osteoporosis is through vitamin supplements and prescription drugs but there are other - more natural ways - you can increase the strength of your bones. (Many doctors and healthcare professionals also recommend load bearing exercises such as walking, running skipping and so on, as the best way to encourage new bone growth; this can also be stimulated exercises such as yoga - which can be surprisingly effective when done correctly.)
- Yoga may look gentle and relaxing (and it is) but inside, it's giving your muscles a really good workout, lengthening them and pulling on the attached bones which in turn is said to stimulate bone growth. Try the Reclining Hand To Big Toe pose or the Downward Facing Dog both of which are excellent posture-opening and gentle weight-bearing exercises. (If you've never done yoga before, I suggest you find a nearby class to get you started rather than trying to teach yourself).
- Pilates is a way of exercising which concentrates on aligning the body correctly and improving the muscles in the trunk and pelvis - often called the 'core muscles' or 'core strength'. because these muscles support your skeletal structure, they can be very helpful for alleviating the effects of osteoporosis. Here's a useful Guide to Pilates
- Massage helps in more roundabout ways by stimulating the blood and lymphatic circulation to remove toxins and waste products from the body more effectively, leaving you with a feeling of well-being; it also releases endorphins which play a crucial role in the body's pain management system. Massage also eases anxiety and helps you to get a better night's sleep.
Of course the best time to do these things is before you have osteoporosis, especially if you are at risk - you have a family history, are under weight, are (or have been) a smoker or have gone through the menopause early. If you have any or all of the above it's best to have a bone density scan. Ask your GP to refer you.
Note: If you have osteoporosis, with any form of exercise or massage, care needs to be taken depending on the severity of the the osteoporosis, please consult your health care provider for advice on whether this is appropriate for you. The more severe the condition, the gentler this needs to be.
And you don't have to be in the gym all day to see the benefits. Just 30 mins of brisk walking or similar exercise five times a week can help reduce the risk of breast cancer by as much as 25%, and bowel cancer by as much as 45%; it can slash the risk of ever developing dementia or having a stroke by as much as 30%. The chances of developing heart disease also fall by over 40%.
These extraordinary statistics come from a report launched mid February by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges. The full report can be downloaded from the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges website.
Here's a few simple exercise routines that I recommend to clients. They're all easy and some of them are even fun!
- Walking is still one of the best exercises there is. You don't need any special equipment, it's practical (it gets you where you're going) and you'll feel the benefits on just 20 minutes a day
- Ever thought about getting a dog? According to the report, people who regularly walk a dog are 34% more likely to attain sufficient weekly physical activity than those who do not.
- Stairs are your friend - avoid taking the lift whenever possible; rest between floors if you need to
- You're never too old to exercise - if you don't fancy something too strenuous, consider something gentle like a Tai Chi class which will help your breathing, posture and balance
- Think exercise is boring? Join a jazz or salsa dance class - it's a great way to make new friends as well
- If you're concerned about aching joints or a troublesome back, consider swimming - it's inexpensive and the water will support you
These remedies were discovered and developed by Dr Bach (1886 -1936) a physician and homeopath who believed that physical health and ill health was greatly affected by our emotional and spiritual health. He developed these remedies to support emotional factors like depression, anxiety, stress, trauma etc, which he believed could go on and cause physical illness or if already present, stop healing of a condition from taking place.
These 38 remedies are widely used today, the most common one being Rescue Remedy. There are remedies to help with various emotional states from shock, both present and past, lack of confidence, fear both known and unknown, indecision, impatience to name but a few. They work not by suppressing these emotions but by transforming them into a positive state, so the fearful person may become courageous, the person lacking confidence becomes more confident, and so on.
They are perfectly safe and can be used with any medication. They can safely be used on everyone, children, babies, animals and even plants.
These days, many of us use a keyboard. It might be a comfortable, full-sized one connected to a desktop computer, one on a small laptop, or one on a tiny tablet or smartphone. And unless we’re careful - or fortunate - it’s likely that the place where we use our keyboard isn’t ideal; using a device at the kitchen table, propped on the arm of a sofa, or your lap encourages bad habits and poor posture. The result? Pain in the hand, wrist and forearm.
Sometimes it’s temporary and you can just shake it off but if the discomfort goes on over time, it may be the beginning of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
The NHS usually recommends two non-surgical treatments - wrist splints, which may be worn at night, or a Corticosteroid injection, directly into the wrist; the only other option on offer is surgery.
Alternatively, massage offers an effective, non-invasive treatment for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome by:
- Stroking with moderate pressure from the tips of your fingers to the elbow
- softening and stretching the forearm muscles and fascia
- reducing inflammation
- using skin rolling and cross hand stretching to relieve pressure
Over time, the results can be significant and long-lasting. There’s an interesting survey here from the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies which summarises the positive effects of massage therapy on 16 people with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.