Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Welcome To Massage Workshops

I thought it was about time for a small round-up of  all that is going on with Cornerstone Therapies at the moment as there have been quite a few changes behind, and in-front of the screen lately.

The biggest news is that Cathi Wye has joined our tiny team. Now being heralded as the new Creative Director for Cornerstone Therapies, Cathi is helping to develop the ideas that my clients bring to the couch as well as the ones I dream up in the shower!

Cathi is helping to create a whole new part of Cornerstone Therapies. I have been asked by many people over the years if I would show them how to 'do massage' for family and friends. There is a huge need to start a non-accredited workshop that can show how massage at home can help those who need basic massage on a regular basis. The aim is to show you how to offer a safe and effective massage for those with aches and pains in-between their sessions with their Professional Massage Therapist (MT).

Welcome To Massage Workshops

The great news is that we are well on the way to creating a five session workshop series for you! Over the five weeks, or during our weekend retreats,  you will be shown everything from setting up your massage couch and working out how to manage your sheets, to completing a full body massage.

I am really excited with the prospect of handing you the all information I wish I had had before I went to massage school! I am writing the workshops with the specific question: 'What do I wish I was shown before I got started?'.

Cathi has been sourcing some wonderful venues for you to come to and experience the Welcome To Massage Workshops, along with Earth sensitive massage couches, sheets, oils and baskets so that we can be as kind to the environment as we are to our bodies.

We will be hopefully getting to the photographers before Christmas so that the manuals can be
illustrated and then sent to the printers for January.

Cathi and I are working hard so that we can offer places on the first Welcome To Massage Workshops during February 2014 here in Godalming.

Do keep in touch via Twitter, Facebook, as well as the Website for all updates.

I look forward to meeting you on our new Welcome To Massage Workshops in the new year!!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Depth Charge

It has been a busy time at Cornerstone Therapies over the past few weeks, which I love! I have noticed over the years that clients come and see me with questions that appear to come up in waves in the treatment room, with topics being talked about by a few people rather than just one or two. I have a feeling that this often happens when areas around treatment approaches need to be addressed; and the answers and ideas that flow from that point dear readers, I bring to you on this blog. 

Over the past two weeks I have been asked by many clients; 'How do you know how deep you need to work?', which is closely followed by, 'Why don't you press harder?'.

My views on these subjects are personal to my practice and my journey, but here they are! 

How do you know how deep you need to work? 
For me, my sense of touch has been built up over 14 years of work. My hands are quite sensitive to touch and I 'practice' touch each day. If I am out for a walk I will run my hands lightly over a stone wall and ask myself what I am feeling. Is the stone brittle, soft, pointy, wet, dry, is there moss on it and are there cracks running past my hands? The same goes for iron railings, hedges, you name it! I like this exercise as I have to make quick interpretations and then move forward. I will also use different parts of my hand; finger tips, the sides, palm and 'top' of the hand and see if they pick up different aspects of the same substance. 

Bread making is also great as I can play with the weight I can work with that is directed through the body and I work out which part of my feet, legs, hips, back, neck, head shoulders, arms and hands need to relax and engage for different results in pressure all whilst I knead dough. This is a big reason why I bake so much bread! 

With around 20 clients a week, I also touch a lot of skin! Each person is different every time I see them and for this reason they will need to receive a different type of touch during each session. Indeed, different parts of the body need to be worked with varying touch. What is common to see in the U.K is thin dry skin - This skin may need more oil around the forearms and shins as touch can be quite painful there and the oil allows the nerve endings to dissipate and not jangle and the touch may need to be lighter. However, I maybe able to work with no oil, deep intention and quite a bit of pressure on their back. It's all a matter of moderating. 

The other aspect is when clients come to me after living life! I may have a client see me one week who is relaxed after a good lunch with friends who needs work done on her shoulder. She is open to deep work at this time and works with me through dynamic stretching and allows her body to go heavy and relax as her pain areas are treated on a deep level. The next week she sees me and she is fraught after a fight with her husband during the school run, has been late for an appointment and her kids got a bad school report the night before! During her session with me that day a more sensitive touch, with aromatic oils, and a sense of nurturing all need to be combined to allow her adrenalin to calm and her body to receive a treatment. I can't use pure deep intended strength during her treatment after she's been through a morning like that.

So many things come in to play with knowing how deep I can work on with my clients. Touch is important, but it's also vital to listen to how they are feeling emotionally before I design the treatment on the day. 

Why don't you press harder?

I was asked this yesterday afternoon and it was a very difficult question to answer on the spot. I was thinking about it even today as I was eating breakfast and I realized I had to go back to the question that started my deep burrowing into the field of massage seven years ago.

Back then I was a youngster! I had been working for seven years and I had been taught 'Sports' massage at my local college. I hated doing it to the point where I didn't even put my certificate up as I didn't want my clients knowing I had qualified, sticking instead to the classical Swedish form with a lot of oils and a lot of light strokes. The reason I hated Sports Massage was that it hurt me, (mainly my thumbs and back), and it hurt my clients. I remember the lecturer I had at college telling me that I should aim to cause a bruise during a Sports Massage as it meant that I had caused trauma around the area and the body would then rush to that place and heal it. 

I'm sorry - but really?!

When reading through history, looking at Jesus' miracle, signs and wonders, reading about amazing healing in the past and people walking out of temples with new bodies free from pain I didn't find any recorded evidence that Jesus, or any other Healer, invoked pain on the people who needed freedom in movement. It was a gentle touch that helped them. Oh, and often the power of God Almighty! 

Gentle Touch with measurable results as what I began to crave in my practice, with the firm belief that  what I had been taught at college was wrong. That is when I started slowing down my massage, finding techniques to sink down the layers of the body, create space within the tissue so that the body has room to heal itself and then soften the areas that are in pain. Which is the approach I basically apply to every person I treat and I now call it the Triple 'S' Rule: Slowly Sink and Soften.

Many clients do report personal measured results after they have seen me and I am very pleased that I can drop the 'Sports Therapist' title. If I want to pigeon hole my work Advanced Clinical Massage fits the bill much better! 

I personally feel that this is the right approach to Massage Therapy for me and the clients who meet me each day in the treatment room. We work together, often quite slowly, building up the foundation blocks that we can build on over time. The quip 'Fix In Six', which many Sports Therapists bandy around, is not something I personally agree with or understnad how it can work. I may be able to help ease a client's pain pattern in that time, but the core problem will not be sorted out that quickly in my experience. 

So; I hope you enjoyed this ramble through the depths of massage pressure, and I hope it answers two of the big questions that you may have thought about during your treatments. 

Thursday, 10 October 2013

The Anatomy Of Movement

Today we are looking into the Anatomy Of Movement; an over reaching title, but one that sums up
what we have been doing over the past few weeks. This takes us back to where we started last month with Rotating Shoulders when I got stuck writing a blog series about shoulder pain and movement as I couldn't find the words to describe the anatomy in an integrated way. Our forms are too complex to isolate them into singular muscles, and so the past few posts have been exploring a little bit of the history of anatomy and how we see it today. No longer do we have to box the systems up and put them in pigeon holes; now we can see how we move in fluid flow.

The whole reason why I wanted to look at the movement of anatomy was to get away from the rigid terminology that Anatomy has been shrouded in over the past few centuries. I don't believe that we were created to be stuck in a mould that could be described with generalized, isolated movement testing. The clients that I see move! I move!

With 3D scanning and printing giving us such unique ways of looking at (and hopefully treating) the body, it is no longer appropriate to look at ourselves in such caged viewpoints of nerves, blood, lymph, muscle etc. We now see muscles contract and relax, massaging the lymph around the body and giving stimulus for the blood to keep going round. The joint capsules have direct relationships to all aspects of tendon, bone, ligaments, nerves and blood. Viscera, which is ignored by so many massage therapists, cannot be cut out of any equation. The body really does interplay between the sum of all parts.

The best part about the viewing technology is that we can see it all in real time as the clients/patients move and we can view them in all planes of movement. Feet can now be scanned in a 3D scanner whilst wearing heel and then the layers are taken away on the screen revealing the bones and the job they have to do to keep us balanced.

The Greeks, Romans, painters in the Renaissance, nor the Doctors 50 years ago could have dreamt that we could see the body in movement through cameras that can take away layers to see the reality under the skin. This means that we have to start playing catch up in the way we view the relationship between anatomy, language, movement and the treatment room. We simply can't afford to stick with a language that was developed to describe theories that are becoming outdated.

So, we need a way of describing anatomy in movement during massage and body-work and that is where I see Integrated Anatomy really helping us move (!) our work closer to a more realistic conversation between the clients and the therapists.

I also hope that integrated anatomy becomes a bridge builder between the differing types of Holistic Therapy, but also within the Medical world. I long for the day my clients can go to the 'Knee Surgeon', and they will take the whole body posture into account, video the gait movement, talk to the Lymphatic and Vascular specialists and take an over all picture of the background of the patient before simply going and 'tidying up' a bit of ligament or cartilage here and there.

I hope that the YouTube video helps explain this a little better and that you find it helpful. Excuse the scary face - I'm still working out how to use Google Capture! I'm sure there will be a re-take soon.

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