Friday, 27 January 2012

Combating Winter Skin Woes with Dermalogica!

At this time of year I see a clear trend in the skin care concerns that my clients present with: dehydrated, itchy, patchy and dry skin!

Although the U.K has had quite a mild winter we have still been putting the central heating on, air conditioning has been turned up in the car and the stores have been pumping out the heat. Days like today have also been a challenge to delicate cheeks; cold frosty mornings maybe sunny but the wind is still there to whip across the skin.

As moisture is vital to skin health, it is no wonder that we all see a dip in it's ability to cope in during the winter as water is pulled away from it in every direction! Our natural barrier function is impaired through this lack of moisture and so we find that as a result we are prone to more sensitivity, redness, itching and we have a tendency towards a blotchy appearance.

So what can we do about it? We can show our love for our skin by adding 3 great products into our winter skin care: Dermalogica's Multi-Active Toner, Skin Hydrating Masque and Hydrating Booster.

Multi Active Toner: Spritz aloe-vera and cucumber extract onto the skin after you have cleansed to soothe and hydrate your skin.

Skin Hydrating Booster: Follow your spritz with 10 drops of Hydrating Booster. High in Hylaronic Acid, which holds 1000 times it's own weight in water, this will pump hydration deep into the skin. Simply apply it before you moisturiser to the face, neck and chest area, or you can mix it with your moisturiser for ease of use.
Skin Hydrating Masque: Protect your natural skin barrier with Skin Hydrating Masque. A quick and easy gel based masque that will help restore your skin's health, relieve itchy dry skin and soothe any irritation. A must during winter! Apply it after exfoliation twice a week for 10 minutes.

For more info and a great video to show you how to use the products, just click on to this link: Dermalogica for great winter skin tips! 

What I'm loving in the Treatment Room today: A deep sense of calm.

Music of the day: Paul O'Dette's Lute Music. 

Wednesday, 18 January 2012


Jenny On Top Of St Mark's, Venice
Hello! I hope that this finds you all well and enjoying the wonderful clear blue skies and the cold frosty mornings.

I am just writing to say that Cornerstone Therapies is open once again now I have arrived back from a wonderful trip to Venice.

If you would like to book your Advanced Clinical Massage and Dermalogica Skin Care treatments for 2012, please feel free to get in touch and I'll be happy to arrange that for you.

I look forward to seeing you soon .


PS: Be enchanted with the wonderful sound of Renascence Lute Music  by Bence Boka . He is an amazing Lute plater based in Venice and his self composed music is captivating!

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Tennis Elbow

Hello. I hope that this finds you well on what is, (for me at least), a beautiful sunny Saturday morning.

I was thinking of what to write about this weekend as over the past couple of weeks I have been on serious holiday mode over Christmas. As I was drinking my morning cup of coffee the idea struck me that I should maybe write about something that I have been doing a lot lately, which is knitting!

My Christmas holiday has been spent doing four things; drinking too much alcohol, reading a fantastic new book by Anthony Horowitz (The House Of Silk), climbing at Craggy Island three times a week and knitting. For me this is about as good as it could get!

Knitting is quite an intense process at times and two weeks ago I started knitting a new jumper in a lace knit, which basically means that I have to become proficient in making a lot of holes. It's proved to be too much of a brain work out for me as I am not good at counting at the best of times. So, this week I thought I would have a quick fix of satisfaction and knit David a pair of socks; easy, straight forward and warm.

I can hear you asking; 'What has this got to do with body-work?'.

Tennis Elbow is my answer.

I treat a lot of people who work in offices and who come to me with very tight shoulder blades that lack ease in their movement as well as aching forearms and elbows and it's the same for all people who sit down a lot and use their hands. Whether you are sitting at your desk during the day or have some new cashmere yarn flowing through your fingers, you are liable to get painful shoulders and arms.

Tennis elbow is not very nice and it causes too many people to give up what they love. If you catch it quickly enough it is easy to look after on a day to day basis at home and so I hope the following pieces of advice help you to get on top of it.

What is Tennis Elbow? If you take a look at your arm you will see that your forearm, (below the elbow), has a smooth side and a hairy side. It's the hairy side that is home to your Extensor group of muscles that causes Tennis Elbow. The simple way to remember it is that “Hairy ExTensors = Tennis Elbow”.

To feel them work, hold your arm out in front of you with the palm down. Now put your other hand on the hairy part of the forearm and notice how the muscles under your hand tighten with their contraction as you point your fingers to the ceiling.

These muscles that you feel tighten link in to the elbow; it's where they originate from. Every time you use your fingers to type, knit, sew, garden, massage, climb etc, you are asking your hands to work from your elbow. It's no wonder then that when you have used your hands and arms a lot that your elbow starts complaining. Many people with tennis elbow will tell me that it hurts on the outside of the arm and that it feels hot and grumpy. Some say that the pain radiates down the arms and it's not uncommon for people to have shoulder and neck issues at the same time.

How can you help it at home? The best thing to do is to look after your forearms every day if you feel that the outside of your elbow is hurting constantly and here are three things to do every evening and it only takes 10 minutes.

Ice Get a bag of peas and a tea-towel. Place the tea towel on the forearm and the peas on top of it and let them rest there for three minutes. Why? The ice helps to take any inflammation that is around the area away and in turn takes the hot and achy feeling away.

Massage: Get some massage oil which you like the smell of as you are more likely to use it! Apply a small amount to the arm that you are working on and gently rub it in. With your thumb, gently press around the whole of the forearm and when you feel some tight painful bits just wait there with gentle pressure until it feels easier. Don't beat yourself up at this point, I don't want anyone bruising themselves! After you have done that, simple massage the area and work right the way up to the shoulder, working both sides of the arm.

Stretch It Out! Now comes the stretch part. Hold your arm out in front of you with the palm facing downwards. Drop the hand so that the fingers are facing down. Now get the other hand and place it on top of the hand that you are working and gently press it towards the body. You should feel a nice stretch in your forearms. Hold it for 30 seconds, let it go and repeat twice more.

I hope that this has helped a little and that if you are suffering from Tennis Elbow it has given you a few ideas as to how to help it on a regular basis. It shouldn't take too long to get on top of it and you can always stretch your arms during the day. Take regular breaks at work if you type a lot to make sure that you are not over using the Extensor muscles for too long with out a break. They are only little and need to be taken care of.

Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Traveling Web (Part Four) Stretch Into The New Year!

I hope that this finds you all well and that you have enjoyed the festive season! It has been a very relaxed Christmas for me as I took 10 days to kick back and relax, so am fresh and raring to go this new year!

This is the final part of the mini series on fascia. Today I want to take a look at how we can all start to help our fascia unwind at home. I have spoken in the past about how I would approach fascia release in the treatment room, so I think it is time to look at how you can work on it in-between treatments.

Before we start through, I think I need to do some mopping up around the edges of the blog which will help with today's subject. Over the Christmas break David, (my husband), pointed out that I need to start linking my spurious thoughts together for my clients. I know what is in my head and how it links together, but it could be a little annoying if I don't make it clear to all of you!

There has been a link in all the blogs over the past six months and it would be a good time to highlight my train of thought and the main gist of it all is Stretching!

My work at Craggy Island for my dissertation is looking into how climbers can stretch their muscles and fascia to improve their climbs on the bouldering wall. My reading into Dr I. Rolfe on the subject looked into how yoga stretching can help with fascia unwinding. I stretch every client that I see in the treatment room to help the releases within the treatment... It has been commented on that you can walk around London and spot my clients very easily: They are the commuters doing neck and leg stretches on the tube and the streets!

To help your fascia become healthy, flexible and able to stand up to the riggers of life you must stretch!

In the last blog we looked at how fascia can become stuck when joints don't work correctly (when a leg is in a cast or when a client is suffering from arthritis in the hip for example). If you imagine the connective tissue around the joints bunching up and becoming contracted, dense and brittle you very easily begin to see how stretching that area would ease everything up. Stretching allows fibres to stretch, encourages movement and flow around the area with an increase of blood and nutrients and allows the central nervous system to tell the brian that the body can move out of it's current position.

Even a little stretch can make a huge difference. When I was listening to Leon Chaitow this year he was talking about the theory that even if the mind simply thinks about stretching a muscle and it's associated fascia the fibres engage in the process and start to change; therefore if movement is really painful and yet we still want to encourage change, we can start with the simple and basic principle of just thinking about stretching and then move on from there.

With a lot of clients I often stretch them as they resist my pressure; Resisted Stretching. For an effective stretch we only need a maximum of 20% resistance from the client and as it is their personal value of 20% it doesn't matter how classically strong or weak they are, they are still working with their body at the point where it matters.

You can do resisted stretching at home really easily, but I think it is yoga and tai-chi that I would direct most clients to enable them to stretch passively over a longer time to allow the space to encourage pliability within the body connective tissue.

Try this experiment as you read this to see what I mean:

As you sit down, straighten your leg and then point your foot to the ceiling so there is a nice angle at your ankle. You should feel the muscles at the back of your leg stretch. Hold that stretch until you feel it lessen (30 – 40 seconds or longer) and then point your toes further to the ceiling without going back to the start point. You'll feel your leg stretch in a new and maybe deeper way and this is because you have allowed the time for the fibres to elongate out of their contracted position. A three minute stretch is not unusual!

Yoga helps this process and is a brilliant way to stretch the whole body in a class. Once you have been to a few classes you can start doing it at home on your own and hold the poses for the time that you feel is necessary to help stretch and release the body.

Tai-Chi is great as it adds movement to the stretch, so if you are looking for something with a bit of flow, you may find that this is more suitable for you.

Just remember to be slow and steady; it's a process and not a race. It can take years for the body to 'get stuck', so don't expect to 'unstick' all of a sudden! Listen to what your body is saying, so if it feels that you are taking a stretch too far too soon, back off and start in a gentle place and move forward with your body instead of trying to jam it into a pose that looks great but may be causing you more pain.

If it helps, my problem is incredibly tight hamstrings. On a bad day I find it hard to bend over and touch my knees! However, if I spend about 10 minutes stretching them out and easing into a new place I can bend over and get my hands on my shins. It's a problem that I will always have to work at, but that is just what I have to do to avoid lower back and knee pain. We all have our homework to do!

So happy stretching! If you want more advice on what to stretch and where, then I am more than happy to show you at the end of each of your massage sessions with me.

What I'm loving in the Treatment Room today:

Barrier Repair: In this howling wind and rain it is the product to help your skin survive the elements.

Music of the day:
Sting: Live in Berlin with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. 

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