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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