Tuesday, 20 December 2011

The Travelling Web (Part Three) Getting Stuck

After a long pause in the proceedings I am happy to be sitting in my living room, with my feet up, the Christmas tree twinkling, a cup of tea by my side and mince pies warming in the oven. Yes, it's true, I am now on the wind down to Christmas, which means that I have time to gather some great information for you about Fascia; how it gets stuck and what we can do about it!

Last time we took a look into the history of Structural Integration with Dr I. Rolfe; the woman who in my mind set the gold standard of fascia movement. One of the clear outcomes that she noted, (and that therapists see today) is that people who suffer from musculo-skeletal limitations often suffer within the restriction due to a trauma that has happened in the past. Whether the trauma was psychological, physical, emotional or spiritual will be personal to each person's own past; for one it may be a car collision, another may have lost a parent in a mall when they where five, a long term chronic illness, or maybe a problem with a belief system or structure in the past … the history is important to the individual and the residual manifestations may be physically painful.

Why, though, do these shocks to the body have such a lasting effect? One theory, (and it is a theory but one that makes a lot of sense to me personally), is that the body goes into a state of 'Fight and Flight'; the connective tissue holds you in a position that enables you to cope with the situation at the time and then it simply becomes an habitual learned pattern.

A nice easy analogy of this is if you think of a broken leg. A right leg is broken and has to be put in a cast. For six weeks the person has to realign the whole body to be able to limp with a cast on and learn how to use a set of crutches. A cast on one lower leg requires the whole body to act in a new manner to enable the person to function. After six weeks the body has learned enough to think that this state could be normal, so it fixes the connective tissue down to enable this state. The fact that the cast comes off simply means that the body has to learn how to walk again in a correct fashion as it wont easily learn on it's own.

The above analogy shows how important it is to find good physiotherapy, fascia release and massage early on in any trauma situation as it can help keep the whole body free in it's movements and not get stuck in dynamic ways that impair the body at a later date. All Sports Therapists and Physiotherapists should be able to help at the point where the cast is on. For example; the shoulders and neck can be treated so they don't become stuck through the slump into the crutches. The opposite leg, which will be weight baring a huge amount, will also benefit from therapy as well as the hips and the lower back.

The web of connective tissue travels through us endlessly, so why are we still stuck in the thinking that if one part of the body is causing a problem then we should only treat that? Surely it is time to see they whole body as a whole and treat it with due respect!

If you would like to read more about how fascia sticks, then I would really recommend looking at Anne Cheshire's website: Trauma Recovery Clinic. It's got loads of great advice and is a lovely read if you want more in-depth reading into how the nervous system plays a part in the 'Fight and Flight' cycle as well as how to distinguish a normal amount of stress to an amount that may cause the body to get stuck.

One last example is for all who may have restrictions but have never had much trauma to deal with. The example is of a taxi driver: The taxi driver has been doing his job well for the past six years and he likes to talk to his customers when he drives. He ends up driving with his right hand on the steering-wheel whilst the left hand helps gesticulate his points to the customer. The right hand, arm, shoulder, chest and back have to do a lot of work to pull the steering-wheel around as well as cope with a seatbelt crossing over the chest. Over time layers of connective tissue are put down to help allow the right side of the body to do it's job, as well as cope with the seatbelt. The taxi driver one day notices that his right shoulder hurts a bit when he pulls down on the steering wheel and that his shoulder looks as if it is coming forward. It could just be that the thick band of fascia that is now there is pulling the shoulder out and making the chest compress a little. Fascia release and massage into the trigger points may help loosen it off and ease referred pain around the arm, hands, neck and head.

I am sure I have loads of stuck fascia knocking around in my right leg due to a very tight hamstring and a knee injury. The key is to get it flexible and healthy and that is what we will be looking at in the last blog of this mini series; How we can help release fascia!

What I'm loving in the Treatment Room today:

I have been really enjoying doing a lot of Dermalogica Skin Care Therapy lately! It's great to get the steamer on and the products out, ready to calm the ailments that people suffer from in the winter on their skins.

I have particularly fallen in love with mixing Tri-Active Cleanse with Daily Microfoliant for a super way of brightening the skin for a night out! 

After using Pre-Cleanse, simply mix the Daily Microfoliant up to a thick bubble mixture and pop a pump of the Tri-Active Cleanse to it and massage onto damp skin! It's a heady mix so don't over do it, but once a week will whisk those dead skin cells away and allow your make-up to sit flawlessly on the skin.

Follow with your prescribed toner and moisturiser to enjoy radiant skin. Allow a couple of days to go by until you use your normal exfoliant again and then use Multi-Vitamin Power Recovery Masque. Power Recovery Masque helps you to regain a happy lipid barrier so that the skin doesn't suffer the winter sting.

Music of the day:

Paul Simon's Grace Lands … classic! 

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

A Pause in the proceedings.

Firstly, I would like to thank those of you who have been in touch over the past couple of weeks asking me to hustle! It's great to know that you guys are reading and wanting more information.

I can only apologise for not being around lately. I have had a mammoth time with my Level 6 Diploma studies. As I want to eat all my cake over Christmas, I have had to get 3 assignments and a dissertation plan submitted before December 19th. Along with doing end of year tax submissions and doing my day to day job, (you know the bit of life I love, which is treating you guys!) over the past 6 weeks writing the blog has had to take a back seat. The assignment  deadlines are for mid January, but Christmas with family and friends is more appealing than studying over the festive season. As of now I think I can safely say I am back on track with a couple of hours a week to give to writing to you again. :) 

I'll get down to it this evening and put a blog together for you so you won't be hanging around in Big Sur with Dr Rolfe for too much longer.... There are worst places to hang out though!

I'll be back. 

Friday, 18 November 2011

The Traveling Web (Part Two) - A bit of History.

Dr Ida Rolf (1896 - 1979) is the woman whom we can doubtlessly thank for how we look at Structural Integration today. Having been been born in New York and brought up in the Bronx, she studied for her Ph.D in Biological Chemistry from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Columbia University (Johnson. D & Feitis. R (1995). Bone, Breath and Gesture, Practices of Embodiment. North Atlantic Books). After working to become a registered Osteopath and looking in depth into the practices of Tantra Yoga and Homeopathy, as well as a plethora of other disciplines she realised her talent for unwinding the body for it's Fascial restrictions in 1940.

In 1940 she treated Ethel, a friend of a friend who had sustained a horrific fall in New York and had to stop teaching music. Although she had tried a huge range of treatments to relieve the injury, she hadn't found anything until Dr Rolf treated her. After two years she was able to work and through her successful outcome Dr Rolf's practice grew. However it was a client, Grace, that her work really started breaking fundamental barriers in body work based therapies. In her own words “The day I started working with Grace was the day I really got Rolfing going”.

Grace was crippled; she couldn't bend down to pick her tights off the floor and Dr Rolf started to 're-organize' the fascia within the body through different stretches, manipulations and continually checking in with Grace to see that the way she was working felt correct and was moving Grace's body into a place of more ease. As Dr Rolf said in an interview “That was when the first principles of Rolfing was really born – moving the soft tissue toward the place where it really belongs”.

And so she worked it out from there with the goal always to lengthen the myofascial/soft tissue so that the pressure was released off the joints to allow full movement and allow the person to have freedom in their movements. She also discovered that when the body is allowed to release from the trauma that creates the inner tension a lot of psychological relief is felt. Old baggage is allowed to fall away from the body and the person is allowed to walk forward from that point into a better place.

Rolfing is an approach to the personality through the myofascial collagen componants of the physical body. It integrates and balances the so-called “other bodies” of man, metaphysically described as astral and etheric, now more modernly designated as the psychological, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects.” Dr I. Rolf, Psychotherapy Handbook

It was in the mid-sixties at Esalen, Big Sur, that she really got the message of her work out to the world. By this time she had developed Structural Integration into a series of 10 treatments. Working up the front of the body, down the back and around the sides, she was seeing great results with the clients that she treated. Esalen was, (and still is to a lesser extent), a place that accepted people who were searching for a way out of the main-stream think-tank. People went to 'Get Rolfed', and so the phrase 'Rolfing' was a term of endearment towards her, rather than her preferred term of 'Structural Integration'. At Esalen many people learned from her and there she was able to work on her book; Rolfing and Physical Reality and finally people where able to re-balance bodies through her amazing gifts.

Today I feel that we as body-workers have lost the fundamental principles of re-balancing through Structural Integration in it's purest form. Much like the works of Joseph Pilates, Dr Rolf's idea of working in a set 10 session approach to rebalance has now been broken down to different methods, ideas and principles to an extent that we now even use aspects of Fascia Release combined with Swedish Massage. It's a long way from where Dr Rolf felt the work should be done. She intended her work to be seen as a stand alone treatment that should be approached as a whole and not something that needed to be tinkered with. But today we tinker! 

Is this wrong? I don't think it is either right or wrong. Personally I thank Dr Rolf for her dedication, work and focus to get bodies to a better place. As a therapist that has to be my own and singular reason to go to work each morning. Without her work it is very unlikely that we would even consider using yoga based stretches to allow the body to unwind, I wouldn't have been taught how to listen to the body, to see it in a correct manner to enable me to get to a place where I can create a pathway to allow my clients to get to a better place. And I thank her for fascia release in today's practices. I see aspects of her work bless people in my treatment room every day. BUT, I would still love to train in the purist form to see where we really have come from and where we can go ... We never stop learning and new research allows us to mentally move forward as well.

All the information on Dr Rolf that I have found for today's blog, as well as interviews with her, can be found in Don Johnson's book: Bones, Breath and Gesture. It's a great read if you would like to look into the resent history of today's therapeutic practices.

What I'm loving in the Treatment Room today:

Nothing; I am hold up in bed with a streaming head cold :( . I am getting through Lemsip, Vitamin C drinks and facial steam at a rate of knots.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

The Traveling Web (Part 1) - Fascia Grabbed Me.

Fascia: The stuff we are made of. Beautiful strands of elastin and collagen combining with ground substance allowing us to move through our lives. Covering all cells in the body, entwining through us at levels we never though possible, fascia travels through us like a web. It makes our form continuous to the point where there is no full stop within our make-up, there isn't even room for a comma. It binds us together.

As an integral part of the body it has not been talked of much here in the U.K but I think that over the next few years it will be the one aspect of Body-Work that will be talked of more than any other. Why? Because without understanding it, without considering it within the treatment plan and without giving home care advice that incorporates fascia I don't personally believe you will see the results that you are after within your massage sessions.

Fascia has often been called 'The Endless Web' (Schultz and Feitis) and and Tom Myers calls his way of looking at it as 'Anatomy Trains', so calling this mini blog series 'The Travelling Web' seemed to be quite fitting.

I started hearing about fascia at Westminster Uni when a fellow student said that the only reason he was doing the degree there was because he wanted to study fascia. I hadn't heard of it and he said it was a new theory on connective tissue. To be honest, the way people talked about it was like a deep secret that was only shared with a few chosen ones. Hallowed halls with hushed voices came to mind and I'm not one to go with that kind of thing. If it's worth talking about, then lets learn it and do it, but don't form a kleek out of it! Well, that was six years ago and as I didn't last more than ten weeks there I never found out if he ever did do the two classes that promised to cover it.

I did hear of it two years after that when I was taking twelve weeks off work and went to a massage workshop and met Rachel Fairweather, (Director for the Jing Institute of Massage). Rachel took the mysticism out of the fascia in about two minutes and within five we where moving it with indirect stretches. No more hushed walls and rhythmic chants from dedicated followers.

I realised that I had been very slow on the uptake of the knowledge that was swimming in my brain; nothing linked up at that time and what I had missed was that 'Rolfing' (also known as 'Structural Integration') was fascia release. Rolfing is a direct form of treatment and I'm going to go into the history of Dr. I. Rolf in the next blog. However, what Dr. I. Rolf found was that by stretching and elongating the body out of it's fixed and habitual restrictions the body released and functioned at a higher level.

Over the next few blogs we will look into:

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Back Again!

Hello again! Gosh, it's been three weeks since my last blog; you must all feel as if I have deserted you. I haven't, I was just sick and couldn't get my self together to put two words together in a coherent manner.

I have had a couple of weeks to think about the blog though and hopefully over the next few months you will see a theme beginning to take shape. I am quite keen that between the general updates of how life is going in the treatment room I start to write short 'mini series' on themes that I see crop up in the treatment room. For example, over the summer I took 6 blogs to go through head and neck pain that is brought on through muscular tension. A lot of people have commented on the fact that they found it helpful, so leading on from that I am hoping to get topics written up over 3 blogs each.

What is the reason for this? Well, I feel that it is really important that you all have the best information about your over all well being that I can find. Often going for treatments means that you are faced with lots of words, information and therapeutic jargon which can seem over whelming at best. I want to start breaking that down so that you can remain informed about your treatments and know what you are being told.

For starters I am going to look into what Fascia is. Fascia is very close to my heart as I feel that without looking into the connective tissue that binds us together treatments are ineffective and any progress in beating muscular based pain patterns are slow and frustrating.

After that we will see what crops up. I am keen to keep it relevant for you all, so if you have topics you want me to write about, do let me know when you next see me for your treatments. I want to involve skin care as well, so if you are interested in learning more about acne, eczema, rosacea, sensitivity etc. then do flag that up.

In the between then mini-series you will get blogs about events, news and general thoughts and ideas from Cornerstone Therapies. I'm doing a lot of Christmas events over November with Neal's Yard Remedies and will have photos and write ups about them as well as great gift ideas for the Christmas season.

So; I'll pop the kettle on and get my fascia books out and start writing!

Keep well and warm on this grim November morning and I look forward to seeing you soon.

What I'm loving in the Treatment Room today:

It's warmth; it's like working in a very safe cocoon!

Music of the day:

Hariprasad Chaurasia: Maestro Of The Indian Flute

It is beautiful flute music from India; Ragas that will allow you to relax and drift into delightful spaces. 

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Craggy Island 2 !

Last night saw the 'Better Bouldering' team on the Craggy Island crash mats for our final data collection session. We had a fantastic time and I was especially pleased as we now have 19 full sets of climbs, stretches and results!

I would like to thank everyone involved; it was great to work with you all and I look forward to reporting back in the near future with how it's all going. The dissertaion will be handed in on July 15th 2012 and I have a final presentation on October 5th 2012, but I am hoping to publish a paper on the findings through Craggy Island and Cornerstone Therapies in the summer. I'll keep you posted with news on the blog though, so do check up here as well through out the next 9 months.

Last night was centred around stretch. The week before we asked our climbers to climb a route twice so that they could learn the route, which meant that last night we could go back and see how they performed before and after the stretching sessions without having to factor in the route learning to such a high degree.

Lesley Don and I were stretching the Latisimus Dorsi, Trapezius and Pectoral muscles by use of either Assisted Active Isolated Stretches (AIS) or Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) stretches. The stretches were carried out in a very methodical approach so that I know each person was stretched in the same way. If we had given everyone differing treatments the results would not have shown anything comparable.

I have had a look at the videos that Robin took last night and we have 8 fantastic before and after clips. They are not available to anyone, but for me they are a clear way of viewing the effects of the stretching. The data that was recorded, both objectively and subjectively, are great as well which means that I can now enjoy the winter months going through some solid figures!

What I'm loving in the Treatment Room today:

I'm looking forward to getting back to work tomorrow :) . It's been great to have 7 days to study and get my head in some books, but I am realizing more and more that the place I love to be most is working in the treatment room looking after you all! Never fear; I am not going to run to a life of academia as I think I would go nuts. You guys are far more interesting!!

Music of the day:

I'm listening to our hens, Masie and Savvy, clucking away downstairs. I'm just off to give them so attention and some corn. 

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Confessions Of A Student

This is time for me to come clean; Thursdays are my day off for study. That basically means that instead finding me in my treatment room at 8:30am putting the hot stones on, making sure the linen has been freshly laid and getting the treatment notebooks in order for the day, I am in bed! I have a fresh cup of coffee next to me, my knees propped up on a pillow and the choice of either the 'Waitrose Weekend' Mag or an essay by a fellow student to read through on groin strains …..

The Waitrose Weekend mag is a personal favourite to flit through. It covers all you really need to know for a long weekend; which hotel to jet off to in Spain for a couple of nights, which wine to put with your Homely Pie and how to up-date your makeup in 10 easy steps (!) whilst reading the must have book of the week. I love it!

You will normally find me pouring over the “Living” section as it has about as much celebrity gossip as I can handle, (which is two paragraphs), and that sets me up for the next seven days. This week I definitely recommend it to you as on page 10 there is the best news ever …. the Plastic Pact!

The Plastic Pact has been taken by Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet and Rachel Weisz and they have said that they will not have plastic surgery as it sets a bad example. Emma Thompson has been reported to say: “We're in this awful youth driven thing where everybody needs to look 30 at 60”.

There could have been no better news at 8:30 this morning than reading that; in an age where you are considered past it if you are over the age of 25, it's about time someone stood up and said 'No!'.

So I shall sit here and now get my head around groin strains as my mood has certainly been up lifted for the day.

Waitrose Weekend is available for free at the check-out points at your local Waitrose store. 

What I'm loving in the Treatment Room today:

I'm meeting Lesley, my study partner and great friend today to go through the stretch routines for Craggy Island on Tuesday so we know how to look after all the climbers who have helped us out so much. So today the treatment room is resting so that it can embrace tomorrow with a fresh face.

Music of the day: Jakob Dylan, the son of Bob, is singing about 'Women and Counrty' as I type this out in bed :) . 

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Craggy Island 1 !

Last night, Cornerstone Therapies hit the mats at Craggy Island in Guildford, Surrey! Along with my brave band of helpers; David (my one and only), Fenwick and Robin (2 of my bros), Anna (my climbing partner), and Edd (great friend and all round good egg), I asked 24 climbers who are interested in bouldering to help collect data for my dissertation.

It was great fun to be part of such a fantastic team, and that includes all of the people who climbed; you all did great and I thank you all! Also, thank you also to the Craggy team, including Rob and Ben; it was very kind of you all to let us in. 

Over 3 hours we managed to record 24 climbers climbing at the top of their ability twice, and this is why....

Over the next 9 months I will be looking at the data we collected last night and next Tuesday to see if resisted stretching (known as MET or PNF stretching) or Active Isolated Stretching (AIS) helps the performance of amateur Boulderers. My dissertation has a fancy long winded title, but that is the essence of it.

For those of you who are new to climbing, the art of 'Sport Bouldering' is to sit on the edge of a crash mat and then, by using handholds that have been drilled into a wall, climb a selected route to the top of the wall and then come back down. The climber has to start from a seated position and both hands have to touch the top hand hold before the climb is considered complete.

Bouldering is very different to Sport Climbing, not just because there are no ropes involved, but the climber has to use very explosive short twitch fibres within the muscles to perform the moves to get to the top.

For Bouldering the climbs are about 15 to 30 seconds long and so the muscles use an anaerobic method of contracting; meaning that within the 'Krebs Cycle' they don't use oxygen. Short twitch fibres in the muscles allow this method of movement and they are perfect for short explosive moves. Because of this my hypothesis is that short forms of stretching will help the performance of the climb.

Sport Climbers use ropes and as the routes are longer, (anything from a couple of minutes on a sport wall to a whole day on a mountain),they use long twitch fibres to allow them to climb over a longer period of time. This requires the muscles to use oxygen, and so the chemical balance in their body is a lot different to those bouldering.

Personally I would love to compare the two disciplines and see the way they can use stretching effectively to achieve different goals, i.e. Long yogic stretching for the sport climbers and the shorter stretching for the boulderers. But I think that may be a PhD … maybe in a few years time!

Anyway, last night we got the base data completed, which means that I got a lot of information about the route learning all the climbers went through, so next week we can see them climb once more, then stretch all the climbers, and ask them to climb again. Hopefully we will see differences that I can ponder over!

If you fancy popping down to see us in action at Craggy Island, it would be great to meet you! We'll be there next Tuesday between 6:30 and 9:30pm and we'll be in the fetching t-shirts you can see in the photos.

What I'm loving in the Treatment Room today:

Dreamy Lavender Foaming Bath; it was great last night to sink into after the climbing event.

Music of the day:

I haven't got round to that today; I'm still waking up! 

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Hitting the Mattresses

It's now only 5 days until Cornerstone Therapies hits the Bouldering area at Craggy Island in Guildford!

Over the evenings of Tuesday 11th and 18th of October, I am taking 6 brave helpers to Craggy Island so that we can look into how stretching helps Bouldering performance. It is going to be great fun over the 2 weeks and I am hoping to seeing as many of you who can make it down there.

On Tuesday 11th we need to recruit 25 Boulderers who will commit to climb 2 bouldering routes that evening and then come back the following week to climb their chosen route twice more, but in between the last climbs they receive a stretching treatment with myself of Lesley Don.

We are asking these intrepid climbers to fill in a very simple questionnaire and my helpers are making sure all the climbs are recorded fully with video as well as writing down timings and completion levels.

Ben, the centre manager at Craggy has been amazingly helpful and very generous with by allowing us to invade the mats for two week day evenings; a big thank you goes to him and his team!

So, you may be asking “What is Jenny up to this time?”.

The answer is simple; I am looking at how two different styles of stretching help (or not) the performance of amateur bouldering for my dissertation. The climbing events are giving me the data I need to analyse over the next 6 months as I can then write up my conclusions.

The hand in date for the dissertation is July 15th with my final presentation on October 4th, so I have less than a year to go before I finish … wow …

I hope a load of you can get down to Craggy on Tuesday 11th and 18th and help me with getting some very nerdy, exciting and fun data!

I look forward to seeing you there. 

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Turning Leaves

I went for a beautiful walk yesterday to clear my head after sitting at the computer for five hours, (which is my personal form of torment). As I walked past the river that cuts across the woodland that backs onto our garden I got the feeling that the autumn season is definitely in full swing. Seeing the leaves change from green to yellow reminded me of a great question a client asked last week; “How do you see the seasons change in the people you treat?”.

I hate grouping people into boxes, but there are some general observations that I see during the autumn. I thought I would write about them today as it's a good time to start getting ready for the winter so that you can embrace it in the healthiest way possible.

Coughs, colds and sneezes. It's true for most people; autumn brings with it more colds. As soon as the kids go back to school they seem to bring home a rash of new germs for our bodies to react to. Snotty noses are the sign that it is a good time to take a 2 week cause of Echinacea. However before the noses start dripping around you, start taking Neal's Yard Elderberry Syrup. Elderberry has twice the amount of anti-oxidants as Cranberry and if taken on a regular daily basis it can help to build up your immune system through out the year; it's strong enough to be '68.37% against swine flu'. So, definitely something to pop into the daily routine to help fight those nasty bugs!

Leaf-Like Skin. It's not only the tress that start to shed their leaves, during the autumn I notice that my clients need a lot more massage oil during their treatments as their skin starts flaking due to dryness. Dryness is caused by a lack of oil in the skin, it's not pure dehydration. Although we could all do with drinking more water and herbal tea, dry body brushing and applying a rich cream to the body everyday helps to nurture our body's wrapper through the harshest time of year. Dry body brushing helps to knock off dead skin cells and improves your lymphatic system, which is your main defence against the dreaded bugs! Try Orange and Geranium Body Butter for a truly intense and uplifting experience in the morning, or relax in a bed of roses with the Rose Body Cream for a calming time-out in the evening.

Achy, sore joints. Many clients tell me that they can feel the seasons turn in their bodies as their joints start hurting in autumn. It's true; bones like the summer warmth (when it's around), not the cold damp that can cause grown men to shudder. I'm personally a fan of arnica for aches and pains. It's the one I turn to in the treatment room at Cornerstone Therapies as well as at home. After a session at the climbing wall I will make sure I sit in a bath of Arnica and Seaweed Bath Foam and then rub Arnica Salve into the joints. My right knee is the joint that feels the wear and tear, cold and damp. I don't want it flaring up this winter and I believe arnica is the thing that helps it the most.

General Lethargy. For those of us blessed with bodies that work and have a good amount of general health, autumn can conjure up images of weekends indoors eating slow roasts, going for walks and then coming home for a glass of wine by the fire with the papers. Autumn doesn't paint a very pretty picture of going to the gym and working out! One of the biggest problems I see in the treatment room over this time of year is the fact that people don't move as much as they do in the spring and summer. It's natural to want to veg out as the nights draw in, but I would really advise you to make time in the week to at least go for a long-ish walk, a swim and take a Pilates lesson. Just doing those 3 things will keep your base line health ticking over so you can shed the dark and hopefully walk into the sun without pain next year. I'm not a gym fan and I think a lot of people how run on tarmac shouldn't, so I'm not asking you to give yourself a hard time over this! All you need to do is raise your heart rate a little and keep your body moving.

For those who find it hard to move around through illness or disability, keep up with the amount that you can do. Simply gentle walking in a warm swimming pool is a fantastic way to move your body. It stimulates the lymphatic system, gentle raises the heart rate, supports all your joints and keeps your safe. If you can, make a habit of doing this 3 times a week and you'll notice a difference in a very short space of time. Many physiotherapists will be more than happy to help make a plan for you to add in different ways of moving against the waters natural resistance to help build up muscle strength and stability; so book in a session with them if you find that you enjoy it.

Well, that's all from me today. I am going to do some Aromatherapy study this morning before a lovely afternoon of facials and massage. Then tonight I am off to Craggy Island for a climb with my friend who is helping me with my dissertation topic in a couple of weeks. More on that next time!

I am back at school in Brighton for three days this week, but you can always keep in touch via email. I'm also up to Harley Street on Tuesday next week for my last nerdy session with Leon Chaitow, so I shall be back next Wednesday raring to go!

What I'm loving in the Treatment Room today: I have been burning Vitality Aromatherapy Blend over the past 2 days to keep me energized and focused on learning stretch reflexes … it's a lovely warm aroma in my study.

Music of the day: Duotone – My ears are now addicted. Thanks Chloe!

Monday, 19 September 2011

It's All Go!

First of all I would like to say 'Hello' to all of you who are clicking on this blog from around the world. Welcome to Cornerstone Therapies! I have just looked at the stats for the first time in a couple of weeks and the blog has now been viewed 1,100 times since it's conception in May. It's great to know that you guys are reading and keeping up to date with what is going on with Cornerstone Therapies. It would be very nice to hear what you have to say though, so if there are items you would like me to look at then just send me a line. You could request me to look into something like muscle strains, acne, frozen shoulder, how to look after aching muscles at home, winter skin care …. any ideas on this line are most welcome as otherwise I will just keep going on random themes that I see cropping up each week.

It feels as if I have been in a bit of a whirl-wind over the past week. There has been loads going on with Neal's Yard and Dermalogica, the treatment room, and my on going study with the Jing Institute.

Neal's Yard had a great event for all their consultants in Surrey on Thursday and it was great to meet all of those who are working around this area. We had 4 hours of people sharing their most loved products, ideas on how to make the most of the pre-Christmas rush and a look at some ingredient information. It was an inspiring evening and I came back with my head dancing with ideas on how to best help you all in the treatment room with some amazing products.

Neal's Yard have also just launched their new gift sets for Christmas with the new candles, Reed Room Diffusers and Room Sprays coming out in mid-October. I had a sneak preview of the candles and they smell divine and are a great size. I can see how they will aid in relaxing people over the winter with their comforting, warm and clear scents. The box sets are great and there are a few news ones including a Melissa Hand Care box, which is my personal favourite! There are also wonderful new hand creams; Wild Rose, Orange and Geranium as well as Garden Mint and Bergamot. I am really enjoying the Wild Rose this week as it has Rosehip Oil in to help nourish and heal the skin; great for Autumn chapped hands.

I was impressed with their hostess offer for October as well. If you want to hold a NYR Organic coffee morning with myself over October you will receive a large pot of the most beautiful Lavender Bath Salts as well as all your hostess free shopping! So just get in touch if you want to book one and I'll get it organized for you.

Dermalogica has also launched their new product to complete the Ultra Calming Series; Redness Relief spf 20. So now you can shed the red with this gentle anti-oxidant and super soothing daily moisturiser. I'm going to write about this product in the next blog, so keep your eyes open for that one tomorrow.

The Treatment Room is going to have a mini face lift in October. We are moving the product shelves to the other side of the room. There are two main reasons for this; The first is that they limit my space to do arm stretches at the moment whilst I am carrying out your massages, which is not helpful for either you or me. The other reason is that when you are lying on your side I would much rather you relax by looking at David Paynter's beautiful sketch rather than the shelves.

Other jobs scheduled for the autumn and winter so you may notice a few changes. The entrance hall is in need of decorating, a new pain of glass in the window is on order and some new carpets are being fitted and are being scheduled for completion by the end of January. The front garden hasn't been cared for for a few years and we would like to tidy that up and make that environment a lot calmer and so a few things need to be cleared and changed over the autumn.

My study with the Jing Institute is coming along a pace as my data collection events at Craggy Island in Guildford are going ahead on October 11th and 18th this year. I am so excited and if you enjoy bouldering, can come for both Tuesdays and don't mind receiving a stretch treatment and filling in a questionnaire, then pop along and meet us!

The title of the dissertation is: 'A preliminary look at the hypothesis that PNF [resisted stretching] techniques can aid in the performance of armature bouldering.'

I'm down at Jing in Brighton next week for a couple of days looking at pathologies such as cancer so my mind will be stretched further and further!

I look forward to writing to you again soon and hope you find this all of some interest!

What I'm loving in the Treatment Room today: It's my day of, so I am sitting in my sun filled study enjoying tea and toast!

Music of the day: Robert Plant; 'Band Of Joy'

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Head and Neck Pain (Part Six)

So the rain keeps coming down in torrents. I half expect to see our two chickens, (Masie and Savvy) jumping into a passing ark! However, this is a great time to sit down and write the final blog based on muscle based head and neck pain.

I was thinking about this blog a lot over the weekend as I wasn't too sure how to approach it. I would like to talk about clients who suffer from head and neck problems and really want massage to help them, but they are unsure of what massage involves.

Well, massage is a holistic based therapy based on the art of easing muscle and connective tissue. Using differing techniques your massage therapist can gently encourage your muscles to lengthen through stretching, they can treat your trigger points with compression and they can help your range of motion through passive joint movements. Massage encourages lymph flow to be improved and can be used to aid detoxification.

The above is so general it's almost useless general knowledge as each treatment I do contains bits and bobs from about 10 different 'styles' of massage. I do Myofascial Release to stretch connective tissue, Thi arm stretches can help release shoulders, compression into trigger points helps to reduce pain patterns, Swedish effluage helps circulation and I tend to use arnica oil as it has very good healing properties.

The reason why it is hard to write about how massage is great for head and neck pain is that each treatment should be based around you! I have some clients that love Myofascial Release, others can't abide it. Arm stretches are amazing if you have a good range of motion, but for people who are stuck in their joints if would be too painful. Arnica is lovely, but some people prefer it if I use no oil at all or one that simply smells different. Again, hot stones are great for a range of people, but for those with thin skin and sensitivity it will just feel like a big burn!

I have steered away from this last blog as it is such a personal one to be honest. The truth is that massage may well 'work for you' and to that extent I always think it is worth investing in three 1 hour sessions. This amount may seem like a lot to start with, however if you just have one session it is really hard to tell what the results will be like for you with your therapist. I always see the first session as an exploration into the problems; an assessment if you like, to find out where we can go from the point I first meet you and where we want to go. The second and third session are very different and that is when the real work can begin after I have had time to think, access and get a treatment plan together.

After three sessions you can safely say that you have given it your best shot and if it gives you fantastic relief then great; you have found your answer! Personally I hope that it is the best answer for you as I believe it can help so, so many people. However if you have given it a good chance to work and it doesn't fit your needs you can move on and try something else. Aromatherapy, Acupuncture, Osteopathy and Reflexology may be best for you and we would discuss that at the point when you felt you needed to move on to something other than Advanced Clinical Massage.

You are on a journey and I feel privileged that you ask me to join you on this part of it! I hope that I can help you for now and that we can work out a way forward together.

What I'm loving in the Treatment Room today:

The warmth! It's so miserable outside it's a real treat to be in the treatment room giving warmth to those who are cold.

Music of the day: 

Old school Robert Plant and Alison Krouss.

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