Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Base Knowledge - The Second

Snow is fluttering down this morning and here in the South of England we are enjoying a morning where the trees look as if they have had a heavenly dusting of icing sugar. With three weeks to go until Christmas we are starting to look seasonably festive!

My study is a great place to hunker down and enjoy a cozy cup of tea, read my books, listen to BBC Radio 6 and write to all of you. What a wonderful way to start my day.

Today I am going to take you through three base, (a.k.a carrier), oils that we derive from nuts and seeds; Rosehip, Apricot Kernel and Hazelnut.

Apricot Kernel oil is very light weight and I chose this oil to introduce to you as it can be used instead of Almond Oil in massage, meaning that you don't have to have a nut oil if you are after a good base. It's important to know that if you do have an allergy to nuts, you can still enjoy Aromatherapy Massage! I know a few people who have been put off from booking in simply due to the fact that they thought that almond oil was the only base oil used.

As it is light in weight and high in Vitamin A, I think this is a great carrier oil for facial massage and especially if you are combining it with a skin care treatment focusing on premature aging. Vitamin A is Retinol; the ingredient you often see advertised for moisturizers as it helps to rejuvenate skin and has been said to help reverse the signs of photo-aging/sun damage.

Vitamin E is also found in Apricot kernel oil and as this has a softening effect on the skin, the two properties combine to really help nourish lack-luster skin. It is a beautiful oil and when blended with the essences can really help to restore the body.

Rosehip Seed Oil is a lusciously rich oil and one that can be used on its own or in a blend. According to the book 'Essential oils' by Susan Curtis, the oil has been used to help heal scar tissue in hospitals in Italy and the rejuvenating properties can be harnessed to help in the treatment of wrinkles. This, to my mind, makes it another fantastic base oil for skin care treatments.

This deep oil can also help with dehydrated and dry skin, so works well with the winter skin that many of us are suffering from at the moment. I have a few clients who are braving the golf courses this month and with the frost, snow and ice, I would certainly be looking for a base oil combination with Rosehip Seed Oil to help them.

Hazelnut Oil is obviously not one to use for those with nut allergies!

I personally thought that this would be another thick, rich oil, mainly due to the fact that when I eat Hazelnuts I like the creamy texture. But actually the oil has a slight astringent action on the skin, so for those who may have an oilier complexion, or suffer from blocked pores, this would be a nice oil to reach for in the treatment room.

Saying that, it does nourish the skin as well, so it is not to be thought of as an oil that would not help people with a normal skin type.

Dermalogica uses Hazel Oil in all their Professional Massage Additives so that every time they are used in the Skin Care Treatments the massage can condition the skin without leaving it feeling blocked and greasy. It's an ideal oil to prep the skin before the professional masques are applied and I am always happy to use it on clients who have a history of blocked pores and minor breakouts.

So, all three base oils can be used on the body during Aromatherapy Massages, but they can also be safely blended to be used on the facial skin, an area that can often be overlooked when it comes to a full body massage. Writing this has been a fantastic reminder to me that full body massages should come with the offer of a facial and head massage!

I have spent the best part of five years learning how to release fascia and for that we don't use any oil, but I think that the rich oils such as Rosehip can be over looked in treatment oils as we search for new ways to unwind the body. I am quite a fan of starting a treatment with fascial release and then carrying on with pre-blended oils at the moment with the view of introducing Aromatherapy again in the spring/summer once I finish the Aromatherapy course at Stonebridge College. Oils really help to restore my clients and I love the effects that they can give to them. I am desperate to see a blended harmony with massage where we can embrace the benefits of many different forms of touch.


These blogs are not aimed at telling you how to blend oils, use them on yourself, family or friends, or give you the techniques to practice. It is just aimed at giving you background knowledge so that you can identify with your therapist in a deeper manner. If you are interested in the subject, please look to your local education providers so that you can learn how to use these tools safely, as they can be dangerous if used incorrectly.

Of course, I have used some great books to help with this series of blogs and they are:
The Book by Dermalogica

Aromatherapy Diploma Course Notes (Stonebridge College)
Essential Oils by Susan Curtis (Neal's Yard Remedies Publishing)
Aromatherapy An A-Z by Patricia Davis (Daniel Publishing)
The Art Of Aromatherapy by Robert Tisserand (Daniel Publishing).

Thursday, 29 November 2012

Base Knowledge - The First

As a few of you know, I have been going over older ground over the past 18 months and looking at Aromatherapy; an art form of massage that I have not looked at since I left college about 10 years ago. I have been reading around it, taking a distance learning course covering the basics of blending with Stonebridge College, and looking at some workshops in order to get my brain back in tune with this fantastic form of therapy.

I wanted to start writing some blogs about Aromatherapy that you and I can drip in to every so often in order for a mini-series to develop over the next few months, allowing you to learn a little more about this ancient art.

These blogs are not aimed at telling you how to blend oils, use them on yourself, family or friends, or give you the techniques to practice. It is just aimed at giving you background knowledge so that you can identify with your therapist in a deeper manner. If you are interested in the subject, please look to your local education providers so that you can learn how to use these tools safely, as they can be dangerous if used incorrectly.

So where do we start? Do we start with the story of ancient Egyptian wall art depicting the use of oils? Do we look to the Bible and where each book therein tells us how oils, herbs and blends are used? Shall we cover the history of the East and how their techniques of distilling essences travelled West so that we, too, could benefit from what they had to offer? Well, I would love to look at that aspect, but I actually want to look at the oils with you and work out some basic principles for Aromatherapy so that we can plainly see why it is so beneficial to the body.

Base Knowledge is going to be three blogs looking at some of the base oils that we use in Aromatherapy. These are oils derived from vegetables, nuts, seeds or maceration and all contain unique qualities to help aid the body. In this blog we will be looking at two vegetable oils which are commonly found in many Massage Therapist's treatment rooms; Avocado and Olive Oil. I have chosen these two oils to write about as they are both very good for the treatment of what I personally call 'Winter Skin'. Skin that has become brittle, dry and dehydrated.

Base oils are also known as Carrier Oils. The reason is that they carry the essential oils and allow the essences that the therapist chooses for you to enter the skin in a safe, dispersed and easy way. The skin is semipermeable, meaning that the body allows things in as well as gets things out through the skin. When the base oil is massaged into the skin the it allows the Essential Oils to enter the body through the blood stream within 20 - 70 minutes after application, and their effect can last up to 48 hours.

Always ask for Virgin Cold Pressed Oils where at all possible.

  • Virgin means that the oils have been collected after it's first initial press, rather than being overly processed (maybe up to three times or more). 
  • Cold Pressed means that the oil has not been heated over 60 degrees centigrade. Any higher and some of the nutrients may be stripped out of the oil, leaving the oil less potent and acceptable for therapeutic purposes. Machine Pressed also offers these benefits as well. 
It is never acceptable for your Massage Therapist to use any oil that they have picked up from the super market. (I have had a Therapist blend an oil for me who happily used an economy brand sunflower oil from her local superstore, I was horrified.) You are paying them for a professional service and that includes the best oils that they can source, not a cheap oil that may have been dyed, stripped and heat blasted.

Olive Oil

This thick, green, rich oil is taken rather for granted in our kitchens I think. It is a fantastic nourisher, feeding our skin with numerous vitamins including A, C and E. Vitamin E is the one that we are most interested in at this time of year when we think about helping the skin as it helps chronic dehydration in the skin. Used on its own, I personally find it rather thick and heavy during a massage and I can't think of when I would use it without blending it with another oil, normally Sweet Almond Oil. You will still get all the benefits from the Olive Oil from the this blending process, added with those of the Sweet Almond (which are mainly that it is light, fairly easy to work with and provide a high amount of vitamin A).

The smell that some people find Olive Oil has can be strong, but never so much that it takes away from the blend of the essences during a massage. It's defiantly an oil to have on hand to help anyone with a dryer, thinner skin, so it can also help those with less collagen and elastin in the skin. This type of skin can be super sensitive to touch and will need a rich oil to allow the therapist's hands to glide over the skin to help calm agitated nerve endings. I find that even when I need to use a lot of oil for a client, I can still effectively treat Trigger Points and muscular based tension; it just takes a bit more focus and that can never be a bad thing!

Avocado Oil

Now this really is a thick, gloopy, fun oil and I love it as it is so rich in Vitamin E! Not only does it help 'Winter Skin' but it is perfect for eczema sufferers as it deeply nourishes the skin, (although beware, never use it on broken skin). When it is cold pressed and at its premium it shimmers a deep green. When heat has been passed through it the colour is more a pale yellow and not something to bother with as far as a therapeutic product is concerned. Again, for an aging skin it is a dream to work with, giving bounce to the skin and in winter it is a must due to it's trace element; Vitamin D. We don't get much sun in the winter here in the U.K, so make sure you get enough in your diet to balance the lack of it in nature.

This is another oil that I would blend with Sweet Almond Oil as it needs to be loosened as it can be too thick to glide on the skin for a massage treatment. It is under-rated by therapists I feel as it can stain sheets. However when used it gives the client a very comfortable skin and is a fantastic carrier for any essence blend during the treatments.

I hope this has given you a clear view of two of my top Base Oils for the winter and that we can carry on from here. Next time in the series I will take you through some Base Oils that are derived from nuts and seeds and then we can look into some quite chunky macerated oils.

Of course, I have used some great books to help with this series of blogs and they are:
Essential Oils by Susan Curtis (Neal's Yard Remedies Publishing)
Aromatherapy An A-Z by Patricia Davis (Daniel Publishing)
The Art Of Aromatherapy by Robert Tisserand (Daniel Publishing).

Happy reading!

Thursday, 22 November 2012

Tai Chi And My Misconceptions.

Coffee at Cafe Mila
I think I have mentioned before that I really enjoy going to Cafe Mila in Godalming and how it is linked with the Yoga Vita Studio. To be honest, I am much better at drinking James' coffee than I am attending any of the classes, but when I saw that they were starting a new class on a Thursday morning, I felt that I really needed to give it a try.

Tai Chi is often used at Jing to start the day before the learning begins, so my past experience of 'flapping my arms around' has just been to wake my body up a bit before we used to hit the anatomy books. I was also taught how to use a couple of standing stances and ways of moving around the massage couch that were loosely based on Tai Chi. Loosely is the word.

So a couple of days ago I asked David, (my husband and long standing sufferer of my many fads,) what he thought of me doing a Tai Chi class. His response was that if I wanted to do some mystic dancing and channel some spiritual stuff around my body, go ahead and see how it goes.

Between my arm flapping and his mystic dance we couldn't have been more wrong about Tai Chi.

All 4 look as if they are different, but all are moving perfectly
for their own bodies. Not jarring any joints; just flowing. 
My lesson was led by Debbie Heaney and there was 3 of us in her class at Yoga Vita this morning. The first thing that struck me was how she emphasized the idea that we are simply there to move our energy in sequence; there is no perfect way and the only thing we should think about is the quality of our movement, not that we are doing it perfectly. We should not think about doing it 'right', we should just move in a way that is comfortable to our own body; so if we need to sit on a chair to do it, then we sit. If we can walk, we walk. If we can't lift our arms up, we just do what we can.

Tai Chi is a martial art! It was very surprising to me that such a fluid looking form of movement is a combative art that can be traced back more than 4,000 years. As we move, we encourage the Chi energy to flow around the meridians of our body. Debbie used Chi Gung with the Tai Chi so that the harmony between our health and well-being was balanced.

I really enjoyed my hour learning how to move with more thought and tuning in to my body a bit more. I like the way that there are no positions that we have to 'hit' perfectly, there isn't any pressure on the joints and that there is power behind the moves. It was paced to a very steady tempo and it helped calm my mind whilst leaving me with a sense of achievement and energy to get on with the rest of my day.

No arm flapping, mystic spiritual dancing or chanting ... In one hour all misconceptions fell apart. I love that the most!

Thursday, 15 November 2012

Skin Care Routines ...

Good morning!

This month I have had a couple of really good chats in the treatment room about skin care routines. Let's face it; they are boring. Every day we have to fix our face in the morning and evening and then a Therapist turns round and says, 'Oh Honey, you are missing a vital step! You also need to make time for exfoliation and a face pack twice a week!'.

Oh boy. The amount of times I have heard my own advice given back to me by my Skin Care Therapist and my heart has sunk. Doesn't she know how stressed I am? Doesn't she realize that I have dead lines, a house to organize, people to see, a life to live and a business to run?! Well, it's time we stop procrastinating and face the fact that if we want great skin, we have to make routines that work for us.

A routine is only as good as the person doing it.


Sun Rise From Our Balcony Jan 2012.
The morning is a great time to face the day and if you are Fly Baby like I am, you'll know that FlyLady gets us to dress to shoes before the day starts so that we are ready for anything! Well, if your skin is not clean, fresh and moisturized you are not going to be ready and you'll have sleepy-dust crusted around your eyes ... It's not a good look.

So in the morning we need to do a few simple things in that can be done in the shower and then when we have brushed our teeth.

  1. Cleanse your face properly! Use a Pre-Cleanse that will help you to remove all the excess oil based debris, including night creams, on the skin. Rinse it off and follow with your cleanser which will remove all the water based debris the clings to the skin. 
  2. This is optional, but I use my Daily Microfoliant at this point instead of at night as I find that it buffs my skin wonderfully and preps it for moisturizers and make-up. 
  3. Hop out of the shoer and quickly spritz 3 pumps of your chosen hydrator on you your skin. 
  4. Pop a Spf 15 Eye Cream around those peepers to help protect them from the aging UVA, UVB, and Infra-Red rays. 
  5. Moisturize! Make sure you are using at least a Spf 30 during the day and that the cream is hydrating for you. 
Then your make-up is optional, but you know you have the best start to the day and you have prepped your skin and done the best you can for it. Honestly those five steps done each morning, including washing my hair and body (including moisturizing it), doing my bathroom Swish and Swipe and doing teeth and eyebrows takes 15mins. Any more and I would be bored ... life is too short to spend any longer in a bathroom each morning! 


The 'Night-Time Routine' needs to be re-branded as an evening routine. There is no law that says that you have to do your skin care routine just before you go to bed. If you have little ones, why not do your skin care whilst you are in the bathroom with them as they splash and play with their rubber ducks? If you are like me and don't have kids, why don't you do it when you get in from work at 7? The point is that if you want to take care of your skin on a daily basis the timing has to work for you and you only, so look at your evening routines and see where this will EASILY fit in to your life. 

  1. Cleanse your skin with Pre-Cleanse and follow with your skin cleanser. (You need to do this for precisely the same reasons as in the morning and this time your Pre-Cleanse will also get rid of the makeup for you). 
  2. Spritz your skin with three pumps of your skin hydrator. 
  3. Pop a nourishing eye cream that will help target your own personal eye care issues. (Mine is always dryness!)
  4. Use a great quality overnight serum or cream that will help your skin to radiate. Why bother with a different cream at night? Simple; your skin repairs itself at night and so whilst your skin cells are working overtime, nourish them with targeted treatments that matter to you. Use the time that you are asleep to get these great creams working ... Why waste the time just sleeping?! 
Now, for my personal battle. Finding time to exfoliate and masque. 

For years I procrastinated over this as I didn't see how I was going to get all my other stuff done around the house if I did a exfoliation and face pack twice a week as it would take half an hour (my exfoliator sets and needs 10mins before my masque!!). I realized that I could do 10mins of ironing whilst the first part was on, go wash it off and slap a face pack on with very little effort, go back for 15mins of ironing and then pack the ironing up, take the face pack off and then nourish my skin with my night time serum. There ... 2 jobs in one ... Fantastic skin and no ironing pile building up. 

So, what if you have kids. Simple. If you are doing your evening routine when they are playing in the bath, just carry on your routine of reading them a bed time story and tucking them up with your face pack on! They will think it is a hoot and you'll have great skin. What more can we ask for? Laughter and skin health. It's all good. 

So, I hope that this has helped you see that skin care doesn't have to be so precious and you have the power to buck the advertising trends and make it your own. 

As a final note, I know all the links here are to Dermalogica, but I hope that you will understand that Cornerstone Therapies has had a fantastic relationship with them for 9 years . There is nothing else that I would want on my skin and I passionately believe that it's the best professional product range for you too! 

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Happy, Healthy Crafting.

Good morning!

As many of you know I am a bit of a crafter; nothing special, I just enjoy faffing! I am currently knitting, printing, sewing and binding  up a few Christmas gifts and one of them is rather a large project. On Sunday I knitted for about three hours and yesterday I cracked on with some rather repetitive ribbing and accomplished five hours.

So, I hear you ask, apart from telling us all you have far too much time on your hands, why are you telling us?

Well, I know a few crafty people and all of them suffer from static induced aches and pains and so I thought I would put a 'First Aid Box' together for all of you who are wanting to stay fit and healthy for the up coming Holiday Season!

Start as you mean to go on!

The first thing to do is to make sure you have all the bits and pieces that you need for your crafting session together in one place. Write a list of what you need to accomplish the task, get the bits onto the table and arrange them so that they are near at hand. Also, on this list write one thing that you would like to see finished today and one bonus item. That way you are less likely to get sidetracked and stick to the point, which will leave you feeling more in control and mentally happier when you can come to the end and see that you have finished what you set out to do.

Get the blood flowing. 

Once everything is together, make sure that you spend 15 minutes moving; I like Darcey Bussell's 'Pilates For Life', as it has a 15 minute routine for me to do and it gets me motivated, blood circulating and I know I am starting with a healthy body. Or you can go for a walk up and down the road and allow yourself to get your thoughts in order before you start your play-time!

Hydrate your creativity.

Pour yourself a glass of water, or make a cup of herbal tea. You need to keep hydrated whilst you play, so make sure there is always some at hand. I know if there is a tricky cable pattern I need to do I am more likely to miss this step as I am deep in thought, but knowing it is just by me makes me able to take small sips as I go.

Take a break and stretch out.

Now, for this part I use my phone, but if you have an oven timer or a buzzer you can use that too. Set your timer for an hour and when it goes, put down what you are doing and walk around a bit. I try to make sure I go to the kitchen and fill up my water glass, play with the cat, look out the window and do some gentle arm and neck stretches for then minutes before I get back to the task.

This time is important as it helps with hydration, allows your muscles to move around in a non-static manner, gives your brain time to reassess where the project is going and for your eyes to stretch and the muscles around them to re-engage with the full distant stare. Close work can bring on headaches simply due to this part not being done.

Multi-task and indulge. 

Use this time to read! I indulge myself with reading as I knit and cannot advocate the special world of Audiobooks enough. I am enjoying 'Brideshead Revisited' at the moment and it's always a personal joy to me to see things I have made and remember which actor/reader read to me as I created something special. (Last year I quilted a set of hot pink cushions with Liberty print for my living room and Philip Frank read me Margery Allingham's Albert Campion Mysteries!)

Take it easy.

Never do more than a five hour crafting day if your craft is a hobby. You need to keep it special and any more than five hours I feel is too much on the body and mind. Don't forget to eat! Lunch is vital as you don't want to get a sugar dip and feel drowsy just as you are getting to the home straight in the afternoon!

Finish up and celebrate YOU!

Make sure you pack up really well. Put everything back in it's right home, clear the area (which for me includes a quick vacuum if I have been dress making as the threads get everywhere!), and fix yourself a good healthy snack. Enjoy what you have accomplished today! Have a 'GO ME' moment for all you have achieved.

Ease it all out. 

Now take time to move again. If you went for a walk before you began, go for another and see how the light is different now the day is closing. Enjoy the colors on the tress and the cool air on your skin. If you are a stretching kind of person, maybe do another Pilates session for 15 minuets. If you want to pump some blood, bounce on a mini-tramp/re-bounder for 10mins. Movement will nourish your brain, soul and body so you are ready for next time you craft.


Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Daily Microfoliant

Hello All,

Today is just a quick blog as I have had a few people ask how and why they should be using Dermalogica's Daily Microfoliant and if it is safe to use every day. Well, instead of me telling you why I think it is one of my top 3 products, I thought I would let Dr. Diana Howard (who heads up product formulation at Dermalogica), and Jane Wurwand , (who set the company), tell you what it's all about!

Click this video to see Dr Diana Howard explain the ingredients and technology behind Daily Microfoilant:

Click this video to see how and why you should start incorporating it into your daily skin care regime:

I hope it all helps and that you find the joy of radiant, hydrated, glowing skin!

Monday, 5 November 2012

It's Not Stopping!

Hello, I hope that you all had a good weekend. If you are here in the U.K I hope that you enjoyed Bonfire Night with a bang! We had a good time at Godalming Town Bonfire with my brother, David's cousin and some great friends. We were all wrapped up with our welly-boots on and up to our ankles in mud, but a great evening was had.

Todays posting is all about Skin Care Therapy and its role within Cornerstone Therapies.

Many of you know that I have been involved with Skin Care Therapy for around 13 years now and I have been a keen supported, advocate and user of Dermalogica for around a decade. There have been a lot of questions asked within the treatment room over the past two weeks about whether I am about to stop offering Skin Care as part of the core approach within Cornerstone Therapies now that I have finished my Advanced Clinical and Sports Massage Therapy course. I can understand why people are asking, but there is a simple answer:


I would never stop offering great Skin Care Therapy to my clients as I firmly believe that looking after your largest organ is paramount to a healthy mind, body and soul. I wrote a blog earlier in the year called 'Holistic Anger', which really states my argument for great skin and massage as a combined approach to Bodywork, so you can click on the link to read more.

Dermalogica has changed their education system in the U.K this year and are now offering a 'Skin Expert' course at the International Dermal Institute and I am pleased to let you know that I will be popping up to head-office as soon as the new year roles around so I can learn more about every aspect of the skin's wonderful process of living! I'm looking forward to learning new tricks of the trade, new approaches to dealing with dysfunctional skin barriers, helping to ease the aging process and combating dull, lackluster skin. All the knowledge is there to be grasped and I look forward to grabbing it with both hands!

There are also some wonderful new products to look forward to in the 2013; new foundations, primers and tinted moisturizers ... I have had a sneek peek and I have fallen in love with the Skin Primer!

So fret not; Skin Care Therapy is still at the heart of Cornerstone Therapies and it won't be going anywhere!

Thursday, 1 November 2012

It's All Over

Hello Readers,

It's all over. After meeting Rachel Fairweather and the Jing Institute of Advanced Massage in May 2008, and starting along a very long road of study, I have finally finished my B-Tech Level 6!

I actually finished a month ago tomorrow and then I took two weeks of holiday. During that time my brother, Robin, helped me work through my study, my treatment room and our living room. We sorted out all the old lecture notes, anatomy books, physiology concepts and sorted them out into two piles of 'Bin' and 'Keep'. We took the old, huge, pine desk that had seen me through all the studies over the past 13 years and swapped it for a lovely little one from The Futon Company, which has made my study seem very fresh and new. We swapped bookcases from my parent's home and put them in my living room and added some new ones to the study and took about 20 bags of books to the charity shop. The computer was cleared of all the old notes, ideas and 'stuff' that had accumulated and was just taking up hard-drive space and files where stripped out with only the best knowledge kept. Space was cleared, washed, refreshed and now I am surrounded by things that I love, want to keep and fill my life with at the moment.

It was a deep cleansing process over days and I can safely say that although there was a lot of tears with letting go of what was once so dear, I am now grasping hold of a fresh part of a new life!

Little things are making me so happy. David and I no longer have a homework schedule pinned to the fridge, but I have a great note book filled with the research that I want to do on my own for the next three months with no pressure or deadlines ... I can take a year over it if I want to ... or I can do it in a week ... it doesn't matter as I can just enjoy the trip.

I have been thinking a lot about the blog and wondering whether I should take it down and start a new one, but for now I am happy to be blogging away and having you guys get in touch as and when. It may change in a few months, but I'm not sure yet, so we shall enjoy this for now.

One thing is for sure; I am taking a lead out of my best friend's book. Laura is a stunning embroiderer and her work is amazing! But Laura is also very good at blogging, posting one on a weekend and then another on a Wednesday. Her blog, Mason Bee, is really worth a good look and her shop is just sublime! For all those who have admired the Peacock near my front door, she is the creative star behind it. I am going to try my best and post on a Monday and a Thursday, keeping it short and sweet and maybe picking themes of the month.

So; now I can enjoy the amazing job that I have which is looking after you guys! I can't think of a better reason to get out of bed in the morning!

I look forward to blogging more and chatting with you in the future.

Happy days!

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Busy Times

Hello All!

I am sitting at my study desk looking out at the big oak tree that spreads over our garden and our neighbors' bee hives. The sun is poking through but there are some very beautiful black clouds bubbling up over the valley. It's quite dramatic!

It's been a busy time over the past couple of weeks; we have enjoyed the delights of Goodwood Revival, I have successfully handed in the last bits of work to Jing for my Advanced Clinical Massage and Sports Therapy course, we danced the night away at our great friends wedding, and this week sees me planing my final presentation for next week. Phew. Oh ... and I've been working as well!

Flying High At Goodwood Revival

David and I enjoying the wedding of the year! 

The other thing is that I started Pilates with Jill Heaton yesterday. She specializes in Body Control Pilates and is one of the most patient teachers I have come across. I did a huge amount of Pilates about 5 years ago (and have now forgotten it all) before I started training in Brighton, juggling work and learning, moving house twice and finding the joy of climbing and starting to see how Yoga and different CV workouts worked out! Needless to say Pilates fell by the wayside as I explored new things, enjoyed moving in different ways and learned  how the body works.

In coming back to Pilates I really hope to learn how I can embrace the precision and control that it can offer to the body and also how I can harness that to enable my body to move ballistically through times when I am climbing, dancing and just going through my daily routines.

I love Tracey Anderson and her workouts to get me out of breath, toned and feeling great, but Pilates is the control that will hopefully allow me to do all that wonderful stuff without injury. In the past I have been a bit of a perfectionist and wanted to do only one form of exercise correctly, which didn't offer me the time or head space to enjoy a whole lot of other great things. I am coming to a place now where I would be much happier to see myself, and my clients, embracing three or four different ways of working their bodies each week. I don't mean this in a serious 'cross-training-must-work-harder-must-loose-weight-must-be-best' way. All I want is for people to move more easily in the bodies that they have and learn how to love who they are in the 'casing' that the inhabit.

Not all of us are blessed with great flexibility (I can't touch my toes), and a lot of us can't move much at all, but that doesn't mean we can't move anything; we just have to be honest with ourselves in what we can do and enjoy that amount and not compare ourselves with people like Tracey Anderson. We can see them as role models, but lets be realistic, we are who we are!

So, as we Rumble, plod, run, dance, swim, stretch, strengthen, walk and embrace life, let us laugh often, smile more and enjoy the fact that we are where we are and all we need to do is embrace today.

Thursday, 6 September 2012


As you can imagine, I see a lot of people and hear a lot of things, but yesterday I heard a thought from a client and I asked him if I could share it with you all on the blog and he said; 'Yes!'. I never share things from the treatment room, but I loved his take on exercise so much as it made such sense; it take the perfectionism, the grunt work and the sheer 'I-don't-want-to-work-out-ness' out of moving daily. You guys just had to hear about it.

Exercise is often the dreaded 'E' word, as FLY Lady so often points out in her book Body Clutter. But my client decided that he needed to get up, be with nature, explore his own thoughts before we went off for his busy day in the corporate world, so he goes for a 'Rumble'.

Rumbling is not running, but it's not an ambling walk, it's a cross between the two and it's in the country away from tarmac. So, if you are in the city, maybe you can go for a Rumble in your local park. If you are blessed with a hill in your vicinity, maybe you can Rumble up it and see the sun rise. The point is that you are moving and getting in touch with your surroundings in the morning before the adrenaline has to hit.

I love the idea of the word; 'I go for a Rumble'. I would much rather Rumble than exercise.

Maybe this is part of my departure away from the perfectionism that I was trying to seek in my daily hits of high impact workouts. Sure, they work and you loose a ton of weight in a short space of time, but it can leave you feeling guilty, not 'perfect', drained and if you miss a couple of sessions you feel you can never get back into it. With a good old Rumble you can just pull on a pair of sneakers and cross a run with an amble and know that you are looking after the best thing that was ever created; you!

Friday, 24 August 2012

I'm Back!


It has been a very long time since I sat down to write to you all.

In truth is was a very stressful and intense start to the summer as the long fight with the dissertation was in its last throws. After a few 18 hour working days, much editing, trips back and forth to the printers and a couple of sessions of crying on David's shoulder and going through Kleenex at a rate of knots, is was handed it on July 15th! David took me down to Brighton to hand it in and we sat on the beach drinking bubbly and eating cupcakes, from Angle Food Bakery, whilst the wind and grey clouds battered us. After 15 minutes we went in search of my favorite restaurant, Food For Friends,  in Brighton and finished the celebrations there!

By the time it had all been printed and posted through the letterbox at Jing, I was at the point that not matter what mark I received for it I knew I couldn't have done any more and I was pleased with it. Personally I think after 18 months that if I had had any more time to play with it it would have been ruined, so the hand in date was a welcome relief.

After it all finished it surprised me how elated I felt, but also how I was mentally finished with studying! I now know why at Uni you hand in your dissertation last as its a bit like giving your soul over and you and empty afterwards. Going back home knowing that I still had until October to go was mentally really tough. It is a hand in date I really hope that Jing changes for the next year of students. After four and a half years I think I can safely say that I need to move on to find my own feet. However, it is not the end for my time in Brighton as I now have 4 assignments to wrap up, some clinical mastery days to do in September and then my final presentation in October. I get my grades at Christmas and graduate in February. I have found it very tough to find my spark to finish these last bits after the big hand in, so I need to crack on with it all.

One big distraction is our new edition to the household; Finchley! He is a very beautiful Russian Blue kitten and we love him lots! He has kept me entertained and laughing as I run the final home-straight. He hangs out in my study during the day and his laid back look as I pull my files open to read about workouts for athletes reminds me to take it easy and not to sweat the small stuff, as it is just that, small stuff.

But, it is all a bit easier now I am not writing the tome, so it is with great pleasure that I can find time to write the blog again. I have missed writing many of my ideas and thoughts on 'Advanced Clinical Massage and Skin Care Therapy'. For a while I felt that I was so behind with it I would never start it again. But in the words of FLY Lady, I am deciding I am not behind and I am going to jump in just where I'm at and get going!

I'm really looking forward to getting typing and I hope that you can join me over the next few weeks and months as I get going on the important things in life again!

Monday, 14 May 2012

Catch Up Time

Hello all.

Today I thought I would just do a little catch up blog for you all as lately a few clients have come in asking where I am at with my studies, interests, workouts and life!

My studies for the BTech level 6 diploma in Advanced Clinical and Sports Massage are coming to an exciting close. With only five months left to go on the 4 1/2 year course it feels as if we are finishing all the last little bits of assignments, case studies, logged hours and reflective practices. I drew up my revision plan that is now stuck on the fridge, (which I have done a lot over the past few years), and creating the last block of timetables was a poignant moment.

Instead of having a clear nine months to write up my dissertation, I find that I am now down to 10 weeks to finish it all! It is in fine fettle with work needed only to make it read in a clear manner and to make sure the findings are easy to view; after a good edit it will be ready to hand in.
My assignments are heading in a good direction and I have blocked out July and August for making sure the last bits of case work and logged hours are done. The only thing that is bugging me is how to make sure all the reflective practices are put onto a disc or something as I have recorded them all on imovie and now don't quite know what to do with them all!
I am down in Brighton next week for Sports Event Massage as well as Taping and Strapping, so I'm sure I'll get myself in a few knots and then work it all out ... I have had so many friends come up with bad jokes about next week!

My interest in movement is really coming to the fore and I am looking forward to getting clients moving in a more dynamic way as part of their homework in-between sessions with me. I think it is vital to move and to make sure the body stays as fit as it can, so there are a few things I am investigating to make sure that the advice I give is relevant, safe and will give great results! I'm not talking workouts here; that is for people such as Heather Gillam and her team at FitBiz to work out and do with you, but I am after my clients to stretch and strengthen after they have had their problem areas treated with me in quite specific ways. So, you will find yourself going away with lots of pictures of stick people and written actions after your sessions with me from now on!

My personal workouts are a source of much interest and often hilarity for my regular clients. I'm always flirting with new ways to keep fit and healthy. I don't often rave about what I see as after a short time I find  a lot of the mass market dross out there is just that; dross. I will often stick to advising the classic Pilates and Yoga practices for my clients, knowing that their muscles will stretch and strengthen over time. I will always vote for climbing and ballet as great cardiovascular workouts as they interest me and I think they are pretty safe for most people to try once a week. But what happens when you really need to burn some fat, loose weight and stay trim and don't want to hit the gym?

Well, it has to be said that for years I have stayed clear of advising any at home DVDs as I have not found any that work through basic anatomy ... until now.

Tracy Anderson first came on to my radar in February (2011) last year and I have been researching and following her ideas since then. Her name is always mentioned when Gwyneth Paltorw is seen on screen as she is her personal trainer. Now Tracy Anderson has come up with Metamorphosis; a 90 day work out for your own body shape. Basically everyone has to do half an hour of cardio (whether it is the re-bounder or dance for is up to you), and then half an hour of body sculpt 6 days a week. Then you go on to the Continuation program to keep going. The workouts are new every 10 days, so she always keeps you guessing and you never bulk your muscles.

I have done it for a month now and love it. I do 5 workouts a week and I have chosen the re-bounder cardio as it is kinder to my joints. I have noticed a load of difference already in the way I feel and the best bit about it is that the anatomy is bang on! Tracy makes you use the accessory muscles, the teeny tiny ones that will pull the larger ones in naturally so you don't look like Arnie by the end of it; just a very balanced, healthy figure. It requires dedication and a passion for sweating into a new body, but I believe it will work. Just make sure you order the right on for you by using the body calculator so you actually exhaust the part of the body that you want to change rather than something generic.

SO ... my life is pretty full, but I am very happy to let you all know that David and I saw our new kitten yesterday! We are picking him up on July 8th, so I have to get my dissertation done by then otherwise it will never happen as 'kitten looking after time' will be my top priority! He's a Russian Blue and I think we will either call him Finchly or Thomas ... suggestions are always welcome and I'll post you some photos when we see him again in July.

For now I'm off to make risotto.

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Never, Ever Give Up

To carry on with the video share this week, this is to encourage all of my clients to keep going and keep moving.

I feel it is so important to remember that even if you are unable to move in a dynamic way and are chair bound through differing pathology it is vital to stay positive about the movements that you can do. If you can do foot circles, then perfect them, make them wonderful and keep going with them as they will really help your lymph circulation and combat swollen ankles. If you can move your arms up and down, start doing that in all different angles whilst holding half filled bottle of water to keep your strength up. All movement is great and I encourage it highly.

Of course, check in with you medical advisors before you start any new diet or exercise plan, but don't be discouraged and keep seeking help if you come up against the brick wall.

Walls just need to be broken down so that you can move through them.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Tracy does it best!

Hello All,

I have not been sitting on my butt too much over the holiday weekend! I have been trying to work out a great routine for all you people who are fit and able to move to help your butt lift to new heights and to be honest, I can't do it better than Tracy Anderson, so I'm going to refer you to her!

Tracy Anderson has been studying movement for years and has developed a fantastic method for helping people who are happy to work out get the small accessory muscles in the body to tighten and tone the whole body.

Personally I love the work outs, however I have been blessed with the a body that does what I tell it to. If you feel that you are limited through injury or a pathology fret not as I have started to look at how you can work your butt with a little more ease.

So plug this into your screen and get sweating! I'll be working right along side you so keep going :) .

Monday, 16 April 2012

Butt Pain: The Anatomy Blog!

Hello! I have to confess that I have been reading over the areas that I wanted to look at in this series of Butt Pain and I have hit upon the fact that there is a lot of anatomy to go through with a myriad of paths that we could trail down. So, instead of writing lists of muscle attachments and bony landmarks, what I will do is write about the common Butt Pains that are presented in the treatment room on a regular basis. Then we can look at the pain patterning that is common, the linked muscles and the stretches and exercises that may help and talk around the subject that way. It then becomes a lot more relevant to you guys and it won't bore you stupid!

As always, if you are new to the blog I want you to read “Pain Patterns Explained” that was written last year. The blog describe how I look at muscular based pain patterning and how it can manifest in the body. This is not a diagnostic tool and if you are in anyway concerned about the pain you are in please consult your medical practitioner for further advice and diagnosis.

Disclaimer over … phew!

Generalized Butt Pain is quite easy for most people to describe. A lot of my clients tell me: “It hurts at the top of my hip bone and right in the centre of the bum and then I sometimes feel it on the out side of the hip”. There is a lot of variation, but the pain is pin pointed and normally feels quite achy and it can feel like a deep bruise.

In my experience, apart from headaches, other pain is rarely described with such acute accuracy when present.

Gilbert showing off a roughly portrayed
pain pattern.  
Today we'll look at the pain that I have just described; around one side of the butt from the top of the hip, circling down the inside near the sacrum and coccyx, then presenting at the side of the hip.

The 4 muscles that are known to radiate this pain are:
  • Gluteus Maximus : Your big butt muscle at the top of the pile near your skin.
  • Gluteus Medius: a very funky muscle that allows you to move your leg in all directions. You will find this under the Gluteus Maximus.
  • Quadratus Lumborum: One of my top 3 favourite muscles! It hooks into the lowest rib, the outer edge of your spine and the top of your hip.
  • Erector Spinae: These muscles run the whole length of your spine and can produce pain all the way down the back, but the lower part of your peachy butt cheek and the top of your hip can also be effected by them.

Gluteus Maximus: It gives your behind great shape and as the name suggests it's the largest of you bum muscles. It allows you to take your leg behind you which you do every time you walk, so it is used a lot.
If you are a keen walker, you may find that it gets very tight and the contracted state can lead to trigger point pain patterns, so make sure you stretch it out as much as possible.
If you lean forward a lot at a desk, or if you teach in a classroom with young kids and lean over their desks at a low height, you may find you over stretch this muscle, so you may find it helpful to tone it up by exercising it.

Gluteus Medius: This is very similar to your deltoid muscle in your shoulder as it allows you to flex, medially rotate, internally rotate, extend and externally rotate your thigh. (Your deltoid does the same for your humerus.) Your Gluteus Medius also allows you to stabilize your pelvis, so when you are moving your leg around, your pelvis is supported by it at the same time. Pretty cool really!

When it's in pain, it causes a lot of problems over the sacrum, around the S.I joint, the gluteal cleft and just behind the hip socket. You'll probably feel it when you slump in front of the sofa or if you lay on it.
The main problems seem to arise when you sit down a lot as it brings your thigh bone into flexion. For most of the day you are asking Glut Medius to lengthen and although it can do it, when asked to do it a lot it just gets long and weak, so you are more likely to get trigger points there. Also, if you have had any form of S.I joint dysfunction you'll probably have some issues with this muscle.
Walking is the A* treatment for this muscle, it can't get enough of it!

Quadratus Lumborum: Totally one of the coolest little muscles going! It's so deep and vitally important. I never really understood how much it worked until I went on a dissection course last year and learned how to appreciate it. Professor Kerry was getting us to tell him what it did and we all cried out “It hitches the hip up!”. Well, yes it does, but not in the over exaggerated way that we were taught about in our anatomy class. If you stand up, put your fingers between the lowest rib and the crest of your hip and hitch your hip up, you'll feel this beast contract. But it does that with every step you take! Basically, to allow your foot to swing through as you step forward, Q.L has to get your hip up to allow for the swing.
It also contracts to bend your body to the same side in lateral flexion and if both sides work together they allow you to extend so your spine arches backwards.
Often people come to me if they have been raking in the garden when they have been repeatedly swung from side to side, or moving heavy pots and boxes as they have bent down, picked up the item and then swung round to the other side.
There is a lot you can do for the Q.L and side stretches are one of easiest things to get going on releasing it.

Erector Spinae: These are long and as they are postural muscles they have to fight against gravity and with our propensity to slouch they get long and weak over time. Simply extending the spine will make them contract and get stronger, but we'll look at how to do that in more depth later.

The next four blogs will be looking at how we can exercise and stretch these muscles so that we can get them going for summer!

Wednesday, 11 April 2012


Procrastination is no a quality that I like in myself, but it has come to the fore with this series in the blog. I have painted my study, started 2 knitting patterns and a sewing project, gone away for 4 days and played in the garden. I keep looking at my laptop and then walking away to think ....  Butt Pain has not beaten me, but I am finding it tough to write about it in a manner that would be:

A) Relevant to you at home or at work. 
B) Something that you would like to follow 
C) Fun to read! 

I think I have come up with an answer: How To Get Cute Gluts! With summer coming soon it would be great to get in shape and a lot can be done to ease pain whilst working out, so this combination, along with some muscle knowledge and pain issues is the direction I am taking. So don't worry, I haven't forgotten, I'm just trying to get the best blog for you to read! 

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Butt Pain.

I was all set to write about Orthopedic Testing this morning, however after the past week in the treatment room I thought that I would start typing about the one part of the body that is under treated and not talked about: your bum/gluts/bottom/butt/behind.

Over the past 12 years I have heard so many people tell me that they have hip pain or lower back ache and even 'the beginning pains of sciatica'. When asked to point to part that hurts, nine times out of ten they will point straight to the middle of their butt.

Your butt is a great part of the body and I think it is gorgeous! Not only does it look aesthetically peachy but it does such an amazing job; it allows us to travel through life. There are some great big muscles, tiny weeny little muscles, tight bands of thick fascia and ligaments and tendons all interweaving around and in-between the pelvis and hips. Anatomically it is a beautiful and intricate part of your body and one that I think would be great to explore over the next few weeks.

We can also look into how we can test for weaknesses and restrictions within this area and the trigger points and referred pain patterns that are associated with the hips and pelvis, so orthopedic testing will get in there some how as well!

So, here is my sketchy plan. I would like to spend some time with you looking through the following things that I see in the treatment room:

  • Generalized Butt Pain
  • Pain radiating through the lower lumbar.
  • Sacrum pain
  • Sciatica
  • Pelvic Girdle Disorders
  • Hip Pain

There is a lot there to go through, but I think as we start getting our bodies fit for the summer; dusting off the bikes to start cycling, getting pedicures so that we can walk more in flip flops and generally being out in the garden more, I think it is a good subject to get in to for this summer.

I will hopefully be peppering the blogs with stretches, exercises and ideas of how to help at home, so don't worry about it being purely treatment room based. Gilbert, my silent skeletal friend, will also be putting a few appearances in to make the anatomy nice and clear for you to follow.

Hopefully we can find a nice flow to the blogs so you can pick them up, read them and maybe take on a few hints and tips to get the pain in your butt kicked out for good!

What I'm loving in the Treatment Room today:

I'm not in the treatment room today. Thursday is my writing day so I can get my teeth stuck into the two chapters of my dissertation that I am having some problems with. The theory is all there by but the structure is lacking. I have a writing week all set out for next week, so with a bit of luck I can break the back of the mid section of work and get it to the point where I can see the finish line. I hope to have the thing done by mid-May so we (Jon and I) can start some heavy editing and referencing. Hand in date is July 15th, so not too long to go now. It's all fun and games … or so I've been told!

Music of the day:

Steve's Ipod in Cafe Milla, Godalming, is allowing me to tap this out with a great selection of easy chill out jazz. 

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Just A Pic

I just thought I would share this photo with you. I hope you like it!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Summer Prep Work

There is a certain new warmth in the air and the birds are going crazy... yep, I think spring may finally be upon us.

I saw a very brave woman walking in to town last weekend. It was not so warm in the early evening and yet she was wearing a pair of tiny hot pants, flip flops and a lumberjack shirt. Cold, but brave! She got me thinking that we have all been covering up with thick wooly jumpers since last year and it's coming to the time were we shed off our clothes and reveal the skin underneath.

I don't know about you, but I don't feel that mine is in any state to show off just yet!

So I have got to work as I want my skin to look radiant, healthy and glowing for this summer. SO, I thought I would share with you my plan of attack with Dermalogica and hopefully help you to also achieve wonderful skin before the clothes are packed into storage for the autumn.



Conditioning Body Wash: This is a soap free foaming body wash. Richly packed with essential oils of Rosemary, Tea Tree, Lemon and Eucalyptus it is a real treat in the morning as the scents are uplifting and refreshing. As it is acid balanced to the skin you won't strip the skins precious barrier, an important first step in keeping your skin healthy and hydrated.

I can hear you asking me: 'If it is soap free, how does it foam up?' Quillaja Saponaria is the answer! Commonly known as Soap Wart, this pink flower comes from Europe and the Middle East. It has a natural foaming effect and is a natural cleanser for the skin.

The Buffing Cloth is put into action every morning. Just one squirt of the Conditioning Body Wash on the Japanese inspired exfoliating cloth and you will be able to clean your whole body! I love the cloth as you can hold both ends and clean your back with ease and then hook it around your foot and exfoliate it with out having to worry about pumice stones. It dries within a couple of minutes when put over the radiator, so no water or product stays on it which would cause a build up of mouldy bacteria. Yuck! Simply bung it in a 40c wash once a week to clean it.


Twice a week I hit the bottle. Exfoliating Body Scrub polishes my skin and makes it glow! Olive, Fig and Date seeds have been pulverized into fine powders that don't scratch the skin, but instead gently lift the dead flaky skin cells off the surface of the skin. Rice Bran helps with this process and Papain (Papaya) has a natural protein that helps skin cell turn over. It is a great prep if you like self tanning and helps to prep the skin for any products that you put on afterwards.

The only thing that I will say is that Dermalogica says that it slightly foams up. In my hard water area I have never witnessed a bubble in my life! However, if you are in the soft water bliss that is Devon for example, your experience may be closer to their advertising!

Hydrate and Protect

I was a very keen fan of Ultra Rich Body cream for a very long time, but I have had a fling into the other body care range, and I have to say that I am smitten!

In the morning I now use Multi-Vitamin Body Block Spf 20 as after I have exfoliated I want to protect the new skin cells that have been nudged to the surface. With nourishing properties of Shea Butter, Evening Primrose and Hyaluronic Acid (holding 1000 times it's own weight in water), if stops my body from drying out as well as offering me a full protect against UVA and UVB photo-damage.

In the evening I flit from Ultra Rich Body Cream at Skin Hydrating Cream. After climbing I go for Skin Hydrating Cream as I like the scents of of Lavender, Orange and Lemongrass. It's uplifting and takes away the smell of smelly gym kits, which is what the climbing walls always smell like! I also like the hydroxy acids as they gently slough off skin cells that cling on and stop the skin looking fresh and smooth.

Ultra Rich Cream is a long lasting cream that helps my cracked winter skin. It isn't heavy and so I can still use it on my excema patches with out feeling sticky as the Panthonol Pro-Vitamin B6 helps to repair my skin and also helps in hydration. It is free from any essential oils, so for all of you who prefer a scent free experience or have skin that is too sensitive to have oils, this is the one for you as it will give you baby soft skin without leaving your skin irritated!


So, there you have it. This is what I do to prep my skin for the summer fun. I am looking forward to leaving the wooly jumpers in the store closet and getting out my linen and cotton.

Today I am going to enjoy my study as the sun shines through the office window as I crack on with my dissertation. It's going really well and I am looking forward to finishing it off by the middle of May. I have a wonderful bunch of flowers on my desk this week: roses and tulips, and I have to say they are inspiring me to create beautiful work and to stay with it!

I was thinking of writing a couple of blogs on Orthopedic Assessment as I am covering it I my revision at the moment. What do you think?

Shop Dermalogica