Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Carrots In The Sun

I love it when my life collides! It's very refreshing and it makes me sit up and take notice.

Over the past year I have been looking a lot at the idea that we do need sunshine. I wrote a blog in July last year about sunscreen and there is a YouTube video I made to explain the difference between chemical and physical sunscreens to go along side it. Both blog posts were written after we had had a load of rain and cloud cover in the UK and people were not getting enough vitamin D into their bodies through the sun.

Today I saw a couple of very red people walk past my treatment room window - pink with dehydration, exhaustion and an over indulgence of harmful sun rays; they did not look happy at all.  I saw them panting past, all hot and bothered, after a conversation that I had had with a client who was asking my views on the effect of chemical sunscreens in the water that we drink. I have also been looking at Carrot Oil and Coconut Oil as natural alternatives to sunscreens after a friend nudged me with a couple of questions.

So all in all, I thought today may be a good day to revisit the topic - age old as it is - of sun protection,
with a new twist on the environment.

I have done a very unscientific enquiry based on Google, a cup of tea and sandwich this lunch time and looked at these three articles and one paper.
Bees Wax Pellets are great to work with as they melt easily.

Swimmers Sunscreen Killing Off Coral - National Geographic

Sunscreen Wipes Out Coral - Nature

Sunscreen, whilst protecting skin, pollutes water - My Science Work

Sunscreen Products As Emerging Pollutants To Costal Waters - PLOS

What I liked about the four articles was that although a lot of work had been done on chemical damage on the corals, the last link looks at costal waters off Spain, which for a lot of European readers makes the issues seem quite close, rather than something on the Australians have to worry about.

Basically, it seems that around 5,000 metric tons of chemical rich sunscreen washes off swimmers each year and that goes into the sea and the chemicals react with the coral, bleaching and then killing it. It's not great and I certainly don't want to think about how that is effecting our drinking water as I am sure that it won't be great to ingest. But there is a lot to be said that we do need some form of protecting whilst we are in the sun and we need to start asking the question of balance:

How do we protect ourselves and our rich planet?

I started looking at natural sunscreens about a month ago, just after I came back from the States, as a friend of mine asked me if I had tried making my own. She followed this up with the question about my views on Carrot Seed Oil. After making a fool of myself by saying I had never heard of it, I did some research and found that Carrot Seed Oil is pretty cool stuff, especially for sunscreens. I was quite keen to try making one with Zinc Oxide, as I had always thought it was safe and it wouldn't irritate my skin, but an article from Missouri State University said that they felt that there was a chance that the sun would react to zinc oxide and cause free radicles, which are known to increase the incidents of cancer.

So, where do we start to look for a planet/skin friendly option? We look to the planet and our skin. 

The creatures and plants of the earth offer us these beauties:

Carrot Seed Oil - SPF around 38 - 40 and rich in free radicle killers - antioxidants, and helps rejuvenate the skin

Coconut Oil - SPF around 4 - 8 and brilliant skin hydrator

Beeswax - Great waterproofer

We are also given essential oils, which are lovely to mix in with these three sun protecting ingredients. However, please do your background reading before adding any in to your sunscreen as some actually make your skin photosensitive, which means that you are more likely to become sensitive in the sun. For example, avoid Bergamot, Lemon, Orange and Lime are not great to mix into a sun protecting balm.

There are many recipes out there if you want to do a Google search, but the one that I like the best is this:

DIY Homemade Natural and Safe Sunscreen.

It's really easy to make and one that can be applied to children as well as adults and the beeswax offers a slight waterproofing effect (hardly a swim in the tropics, but a sprinkler fight in the back garden may be ok!).

It's also a good question to ask yourself, when is enough enough? Enjoying the sun, getting a protected
bit of colour onto the skin and staying safe is wonderful and I really enjoy it myself, but I don't personally think we need the very high amounts of sunscreen all the time. A factor 50 worn all day and reapplied three times a day, may be too much and instead of staying out in the sun all day, maybe there is a time to go the shade instead so the balance stays at a safe level?  If it's time to get out of the sun, then it's enough. Find your own perfect balance without harming yourself or others.

Enjoy the summer with a big wide smile, celebrate the life giving force that the sun gives us and revel in it's warmth!

I would love to hear your views, recipes and ideas on this subject, so do check in to the Facebook Page and get in touch with us! Let us know what works, or doesn't, for you and share your experience with us!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Why Bother?

The 18th at St Andrews Golf Course

"Why Bother?"

This was the question that was laid before me, stark and cold, in my treatment room last week. A
couple of clients, (who have given me permission to write about this), simply didn't understand why I needed to learn any more anatomy. After a month away in America studying with Lise Waugh in Washington and Gil Hedley and the team in New Jersey, I can understand where their question was coming from, as in many people's eyes it seems that my going away so often to learn about the body is a bit odd.

"If you've seen so many bodies, haven't you seen everything you need to see yet?" is another question that I get asked on an almost daily basis at the moment.

The reason why I am off to St Andrew's on Sunday for a week in the lab is because I don't see why I should stop exploring, and every time I see something new in the lab, or in my treatment room, I am astounded at how amazing our bodies are and how little I know about them. After 15 years of study I can feel like a trainee on their first ever day at school most days. This isn't because I don't know what I'm doing, it's just that the more I see, the more questions I have about body-work and the way our bodies react to the environment around us.

I find that the work that my clients and I do together ends up being a huge journey about their past and present, looking at how stress factors effect them, finding their own way of calming down and the growing forward. It's a total immersion into body change every time I go to work, so I feel that the more questions I have the better. The reason I go off to hang out with people who are as eager to learn about life as I am is that the questions don't simply become more, they get better!

Gil Hedley said this in May when he was asked what he wanted to achieve out of the work we were doing in New Jersey, he wanted to be able to ask better questions.

Science isn't fact. This is something I learned from my husband, David, as over the years he has shown me that science isn't there to create fact, it's to go further in our understanding of a subject and to ask ever bigger and better questions. It's a changing force, science, with ideas and concepts becoming moveable feasts. Papers are written not to prove a hard and fast theory, they are produced to show a way of thinking and to aid debate, further ideas and progress from the point when they are published.

This is true of Anatomy. The books are great guidelines to base a hypothesis upon and I can refer to them as a bench mark of what an average take is of an average body that has been simplified into pictures. I can know from these books what I can reasonably expect from healthy muscles.

But my anatomy books are not you!

The reason why I bother is that you are personal, unique and perfect in your own anatomy and the more I can see, the more I can fill my mind with questions that may be able to help you find a more comfortable place within your form.

The lab work is fantastic for not only remembering that no body is the same, but it nudges me in the direction of new thinking. For example, I may have seen a client for a year and based my treatment work on the information that my 15 years of experience and the books have been given me. The moment I step back and see something fresh I can see a way that may unlock the problems that we have been having simply by not relying only on my past experiences or looking at the books, but seeing it for real.

My study into the anatomy, skin health, the science of oils and herbs, and the passion I have to read about the environment and it's relationship on the body is a journey that I am in love with. It's the way my mind is able to change daily and I don't want to stop that feeling I have of finding something new everyday!

I bother because I love to see us move with more freedom around our planet.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Homemade Shea Body Butter

My Homemade Shea Body Butter
Today I thought that I would share with you a recipe that I tried out at the beginning of the week. A friend encouraged me to try making my own body care products and this one comes straight from Healthy Living How To with a couple of tweeks. Let's get the recipe started and I'll write about it at the end.

Shea Body Butter

You need

  • 1/2 Cup of Shea Butter
  • 1/4 Cup of Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 Cup of Jojoba Oil
  • Essential oils of your choice
You also need
  1. Pyrex Jug
  2. Wooden Spoon
  3. Electric Hand Whisk
  4. Big bowl
  5. Piping bag and nozzle
  6. Jar to put your body butter in 
Oils melting on the stove top.
  • Sterilise EVERYTHING! I cannot express how much you need to do this. I made sure that everything I was about to use went through a very hot dishwasher cycle on their own as I didn't want bugs in my body butter to start with. (See this process as one of the most important aspects.)
  • Place the Shea Butter, coconut oil and jojoba oil in the pyrex jug and put it in a big pan of warm water on the stove top. (The water doesn't have to be deep). 
  • Stir the oils (not the essential oils) together until they all melt - the Shea butter will be the last to dissipate. 
  • Take the jug out and place in the fridge for 20 mins to cool
  • Place the jug in the freezer for about an hour and every ten minutes stir it round so it gets an even consistency. You want to take it out when it is just about to set solid. 
  • Place the mixture in the big bowl and use the whisk to really whisk it up for about five minutes.
  • Take your essential oils and add 10 drops to the mixture.
  • Continue to whisk until it has the consistency of whipped cream. 
  • Place the mix into a piping bag and pipe it into the jar/container. 
  • Enjoy!

A T-Towel over the jug in the fridge
helps to stop food smells.
There are a few reasons why I wanted to share this with you on the blog. Over the years I have talked a lot about slowing down, getting to know what is going into and onto your body and have encouraged readers to source their food from responsible sources. As I have been travelling and talking with people, I have wanted to see if there is a way to coming back to a basic principe that I picked up through Michael Pollan's book 'In Defence Of Food', which is basically if you can't pronounce the ingredients in your food, should you be eating it?! Also, he challenged me to really start looking at how many ingredients there are in food - 6 should be enough. So if I am doing that for my body intake, could I do that for my skin intake, seeing as that skin is the doorway into the body?

Whipped just before I added
essential oils
Now don't get me wrong, it's going to take more than a mashed organic avocado to make me stop using Dermalogica! As far as toxic ingredients, they are quite low as you search through the majority of  their products. I love their skin care and I can't beat them as far as results in the treatment room and at home. Plus, I simply can't imagine life without PreCleanse and Daily Microfoliant. 

But, I still want to cut down my ingredient and toxin overload, so making some of my own skin care can't be a bad thing, especially when I can invest in raw organic ingredients that are sourced fairly. 

Making this Shea Body Butter started with the question "If I blog about this, could my friend with her two kids (both under 4), do this with out too much bother?".

The answer is that she probably could in the evening. The recipe just requires you to be around for the stirring whilst the mixture is cooling (and I set a timer to make sure I remembered to do it). Then it needs 20mins for the whisking, essential oil dropping and piping. It's not difficult, it's just an hour and a half of being around it. Also, it took me a couple of days to get the required ingredients posted to me, so that also needs to be taken into account. 

However, I was thinking of another friend who has two girls under 12 and thought that it would be a lovely thing for them to make together during the summer holidays and maybe do enough for three small jars that can all be personalised with the oils that they each like. 

A zip-lock with the corner cut
and the pipe nozzle in place
made the jar filling a breeze.
It also makes a wonderful small gift! I am spending time this weekend making some body scrub and shampoo to trial and the three in a gift bag would be a very different thing to make and give to friends and family. 

I have been using it for a couple of days and really enjoy it. I have been taking a clean teaspoon to get it out of the jar as I hate fingers in products - it's just a germ haven and fingers don't help keep things clean! The first time I used it I forgot that it was an oil, not a cream, and used too much. It melts on the skin so it goes a long way and you don't need much. As it's a natural product it takes a few minutes to sink into the skin, but I quite like that as I allow it to absorb as I'm doing my skin care and hair. 

I will certainly be making it again and would love to hear what you think about it through Twitter of Facebook. What would you change? What oil combinations did you use? How would you make this personal to you? Let me know as I would love to hear from you. 

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Half Way Around The World And Back Again.

View from the porch of Mt Baker, Washington State.
Hello and welcome back to the blog! It feels so good to be back again; sitting in my garden with cheesy pop music playing as the sun shines. Finchley, my cat, is stalking around the lettuces and the laundry is flapping in the breeze. I am back in the UK after a month in America in May and a month of landing in June. It's a great feeling today to be getting my feet back under the table and wiggling my toes.

I ostensibly went over to America to have a month of anatomy training in the lab as I helped Gil Hedley and the team start his project for The Integrated Atlas Of The Body, which is going to take people through the layers of the body as an anatomical study aid. But of course, it was so much more than that.

I flew into Sea-Tac Airport to meet up with Lise, a great friend whom I met in the lab at St Andrews last year and spent an amazing week hanging out with her simply incredible family near Mt Baker in Washington State. Lise is a Thai Yoga Therapist and over the week showed me how gently powerful movement can become when incorporated into Body-Work. It was a delightful lesson on calming stillness flowing through to dynamic results and she helped shape my thinking about massage profoundly.
Me at the flower market, Pike's Place, Seattle. 

As we walked around tress in the foot hills that are 1200 years old we found ourselves connecting to the natural surroundings, and as we laughed outrageously with a few bottles of wine we discovered that laughter is truly a wonderful remedy for the worlds ills! Love is such a small word that describes so very much and can sound trite and hippy in the 'wrong' way sometimes, but it is the only word that surrounds that week with Lise and it was awesome.

Flying to New York was fun and it was a delight to see David, my husband, for dinner and brunch over the weekend before I headed for the lab for three weeks on the Sunday. (Yes, David was in Manhattan for less than 24 hours so that we could have dinner together, which to me was ultimate gesture of love.)

We were based in the State of New Jersey for three weeks of study and exploration into Inner Space. With 40 of us in the lab we were very pleased to have a wonderfully large space to work and rest in during the day. The lawn space of the University was taken up at lunch by us, an unusual crowd for the location, as we ate lunch, drank coffee and did a huge amount of yoga! A personal set of bonuses of these lunchtime retreats onto grass was that I was able to take my shoes off and let my toes wiggle in the grass, as well as find a new passion for daily yoga and as a result came home with a bit of a tan, (a miracle for all who know me). I also got to talk and hangout with the most amazing people who changed my mind towards life, my work and anatomy. Their generosity inside and outside the lab was overwhelming at times and it took my breath away. Spending time living with new friends, hanging out with chickens and cows in the evenings and playing cards with the most beautiful family, who will stay with me forever, made the work seem like such a joy.

Many people have asked me what I learned in the lab over the three weeks in connection to the anatomy and the bare truth is that I can't write about it. I have tried to sit down and summarise it all into a tidy package, but it was too big, too awe inspiring and brain expanding to put it into a paragraph. I have a feeling that it will roll through in the future into comments on this blog, Twitter and Facebook. The experience has already changed my way of treating clients in the treatment room and I am so happy to say that I have come back reenergised to work with my clients and readers to help people re-form through gentle release and powerful intention.

The New Jersey Somanauts 2014 'Dedicated to exploring inner space' ... and laughter!
Coming home at the beginning of June was a little tough, but showed me that the 'Laughing With Love Principle' that I flew home with stood me in good stead. As a family we have been through a lot in four weeks with my Mum fracturing her leg, which has led to a very successful knee replacement, and my middle brother falling 20m (35foot) during a climbing trip and having Mountain Rescue get him to a trauma hospital in Bristol. My brother is mending well but is in for a long journey of recovery. Every time I go to the hospitals I am so pleased that I can now picture the anatomy in my mind, know what the doctors are talking about and see how the after care can be put in place to make sure that these two precious people can come over the hills that they have to walk over to get to an even better place than when they started.

As I sit in the garden looking at back over the past 8 weeks it feels like at least 4 lifetimes ago since I boarded a plane to Sea-Tac. I have travelled a lot, both mentally and physically, and these hands and feet are destined to take me even further in my very blessed life.

My hands and feet at the end of my time in America. 

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Epicondylitis - Breaking It Down!

The best part of my job is when I see the theory of bodywork being applied into every day living. There is no point reading all the books, learning all the techniques, getting to the lectures and hanging out with the cool kids in the industry unless it changes the way people look after their bodies.

Yesterday I was reading Lilith's blog on her website Old Maiden Aunt and seeing that her Doctor had diagnosed Epicondylitis in her arm and so she was having to cut back her work by half. Not good at all as Lilith is a wonderfully talented dyer of luxury yarn and I love her work - she needs to keep going, so this blog is dedicated to her!

If you have Epicondylitis, all of this is relevant to you as well; go make a mug of something you like and sit down for a good read!

Today we are applying some nerdy anatomy and home-care treatments to a common problem that keen knitters, spinners and dyers experience - epicondylitis. 

As many of you know, I love to knit! A couple of years back I wrote a blog all about Tennis Elbow based around my knitting a sock. Well, Lateral Epicondylitis is treated just like Tennis Elbow. So why am I writing on the subject again? Well, it's a big long techie word that would be nice it if was broken down a bit.

You have two Epicondyles in your arm; a lateral (outside) and medial (inside). They are just above your elbow in your humorous, or upper arm bone. These tiny bits of protruding bone form the attachment sights for you forearm muscles that link into your hand and finger tendons.

The Lateral Epicondyle gives a home to your Common Extensor Tendon, which is the thick band of tissue that runs into the muscle fiber of your Extensor group. You can see them move on the hairy part of your arm and these are the beasts that cause Tennis Elbow. They allow you to bring your hand upwards in a 'Halt' sign and stretch your fingers out.

The Medial Epicondyle is where you find the Common Flexor Tendon. This tendon flows into your flexor group on the inside of the arm allowing you to clench your fist and bring your hand bring your hand inwards. When the Common Flexor Tendon gets grumpy with life you find you get Golfers Elbow.

So, we now know what an Epicondyle is and that when it hurts we are feeling the tendons fire off and give pain around that area.

The last part of the word is Itis. There are loads of Itis's out there - tendonitis being one of them, but all it means it inflammation.

Putting it all together Epicondylitis simply means inflammation of the epicondyle.

Home care is really important to us knitters, spinners and dyers (of which I am simply the former). There is simply nothing better than massaging it out each day; not just around the elbow, but also the forearm, wrist and hand, as well as the upper arm and shoulders. I personally like using Arnica Oil as it is a very nurturing, herbal based oil that can help with chronic pain (pain that is present for anything over a few weeks).

Chronic Pain takes a bit of time to get on top of. Rest surly helps, but the massage and the added benefit of heat also helps to improve things and take the pain down, relaxing the muscles and aiding the flow of blood and lymph to the area to help remove all the rubbish.

For other tips I put together the blog Happy, Healthy Crafting last year. It's aimed for us hobby crafters, but after re-reading it if you are in the creative/textile industry at all there are habits mentioned that can easily be built in to improve your over all wellness on a daily working basis. The only habit I would add is the massage daily if you are using your hands this much, as 10 minutes at the end of each day is a small amount of time to dedicate to keeping your income flowing!

I hope that this has helped break down the mystery of the long words, given you some food for thought and helped you on your way to helping yourself!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Spring Skin For Bodies!

Last week we took a look at how you can slough off the shadows of winter and brighten your skin so that you can smile with confidence as Springtime roles round. Today are back in the bathroom and carrying on the theme by having a good look at how Dermalogica can help you combat dry skin on the body so that you can prep yourself at home before showing off arms and legs this year as we shed some of the clothing layers!

Body therapy products are a small line within Dermalogica, but I really like the way that you can mix and match them to make a fully prescribed routine at home. With just a few products you can have glowing, hydrated skin that you will love showing off in the sun.

The best body rituals that you can do at home follow closely the routines that we encourage for your facial system; cleanse, exfoliate regularly, and daily hydrate. Boosters in the shape of mineral salts and oils can be added when need them to carry away the aches and pains as well.

Wash It Away

Conditioning Body Wash is a rich botanical based, soap free, cleanser for the body. I personally use it Ultimate Buffing Cloth as not only do I end up using less as the cloth foams it up and allows it to go a long, long way, but the cloth also gives my skin a gentle topical exfoliation, helping to keep on top of ingrown hairs after waxing and getting me ready for my moisturisers. The Conditioning Body Wash is also a great smell to wake up to! Tea Tree, Lemon, Rosemary and eucalyptus gets me ready for my day without being too much.

Slough It Off

I need ease of use in the bathroom, and although if I am dedicating a rare couple of hours to a 'spa session' at home I mix things up and create a real sense of escapism, I need things in sqweezy bottles that I can use without thinking. For me, Exfoliating Body Scrub is the best of both worlds. Not only does the smell emanating from the Lavender, Orange, Sandalwood and Rosemary oils relax my senses but the as the scrub part is made up from oilve, date and fig that has been pulverized into powders, it doesn't scratch my skin. My skin is delicate and needs a lot of TLC, but I find that if I use this twice a week the dull skin cells are sloughed off and I don't get itchy dry patches on the front of my legs and the backs of my arms.

Skin Food

Many of my clients like a bright smell in the mornings, but don't want to have a heavy scent at night when applying their body creams. I shower twice a day; after work in the treatment room it's great to refresh before the evening sets in. So I use, and suggest people also try, two different body creams. Body Hydrating Cream is a great morning light weight lotion that harnesses the scents of Lavender, Patchouli and Orange, which works really with the Conditioning Body Wash. It also has a slight exfoliating property with Lactic Acid, and Hydroxy Acids that are naturally derived from Sugar Cane and Apple. (Since using this in the mornings I've found that the bumps on the back of my arms and the back of my legs where my clothing rubs the skin have decreased ten fold.)
In the evenings I go for a richer cream that really feeds the skin in the form of Ultra Rich Body Cream with long lasting properties that help heal the skin after a long day at work. Evening Primrose and Hyaluronic Acid delivers maximum hydration to my skin and the fact that there isn't any essential oils means that I can either enjoy no scent or I can mix in my own oils, such as Stress Relief Oil, depending on my mood. It also means that super sensitive skins can enjoy maximum hydration without being worried that essential oils will kick off allergies or itching.

Treat Your Skin

With the season being in such flux it is very important to take time out to look after your body. I do find it odd that people spend so much time on their facial routines, but when it comes to their body they seem to not want to look after it. Massaging creams and oils into the skin not only connects us with our inner selves but also reminds us about how beautiful our shapes and curves are - there is not a single straight line in the human body! If we want to feel confident about how we look, our skin is what we should be looking at, just as much as out diets and exercise. If we have dull skin around knees, elbows and feet as well as dry patches on the front of our legs of course we won't feel confident when we bare all on holiday.

Enjoy time in the bathroom, start playing, mixing and making your body ritual your own.

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Spring Skin

Spring is very much upon us. It's been so nice to spend the weekends in the garden and finally start clearing up after the floods and rain. The grey clouds have parted to allow us to see the sky above them, allowing the sun to smile down and warm us a little. It's been a very pleasant week to shake off the shackles of a long cold water.

Spring is a great time to not just clear the window boxes and greenhouses, but also to refresh your skin care rituals. So, whilst you are planning your window cill jungle of fresh salad, take time to consider how your skin has changed since last September and how you can care for it.

In this blog I have a few tips and tricks for you from my skin care product line of choice; Dermalogica. As healthy, hydrated radiant skin is the look that my clients and I strive for, I hope that we can unfurl some ideas for you to create a skin care ritual that helps achieve your skin care goals.

Wash It Away

Every canvas needs to be cleaned and prepped before it can receive treatment (or paint)! That's why I think that 'Spring Skin' needs a special spring clean with a great cleansing routine. It's time to shed those dead, dull skin cells that clog the skin and make it look sallow and reveal the beautiful radiance underneath!

Pre-Cleanse, for me, is the most under-rated product in the Dermalogica brand. If people skip one element of their skin care at home, for some reason they opt to cut out this part - the most important. I have long believed in the double cleanse for the skin, both day and night. Pre-Cleanse is an oil based product that loves water! The Olive and Apricot oils with Kukui Nut binds to oil debris on your skin - like makeup and sweat - and then when you massage it with wet finger tips it lifts all of it off your skin to be washed away when you rinse. Why put up with lingering foundation and lip gloss when you can have breathing, happy skin?!
The second part of the double cleanse is your cleanser. As you have washed away the oil based debris, you can then use your water based cleanser to clean your skin! For fresh skin that glows with health, this offers a great way to get the last bits of sleep off in the morning, garden soil from the day or pollution from the office. Always check with your Dermalogica Skin Care Therapist that you are using the correct cleanser for your skin, as you can always ask for a Speed Face Map when you are with them in the treatment centre.

Slough It Off

Exfoliation is so much more than horrid, gritty, thick, goopy creams that you have to paste on and then feel half your skin scratch off when you get an old face rag to wipe it off! Technology has come a long way and I am so pleased that there are now efoliants that you can use every day, twice a week, that you can gently massage in, leave on or rinse off. Your Face Map will show you which one is best for you, but I think exfoliation should be seriously seen as something that you do twice a week to help your skin regulate and hydrate, allowing your skin to always look glowing with health.
There are two types of exfoliation; mechanical and chemical. Both offer great skin health and shouldn't be shied away from.

Mechanical - This simply means that you are exfoliating your skin with your hands! Skin Prep Scrub for example has corn cob in that expands with water, so when you massage it over damp skin, the corn expands and plumps up; lifting the dead skin away from the face and revealing the skin under the dead cells. It's fantastic if it is recommended for your skin and you can use it up to three times a week.

Chemical - I see many people look white with shock when the word 'Chemical' comes up in conversation, but Alpha and Beta Hydroxies like Papain and Bromalaine simply come from Papaya and Pineapple. You can pop Gentle Cream Exfoliant on cleansed skin and you enjoy 10 minutes of peace as it does it's thing, rinse it off and reveal beautifully textured skin.

Combine the two ways of exfoliating and you have Daily Microfoliant. If I was on a desert island and had to choose one product, this would be mine - I am a true fan! Each morning I use this in the shower to prep my skin so that my moisturisers can sink into my skin with out any barriers and my makeup goes on smoothly. It's great!

Skin Food

Multivitamin Power Recovery Masque is fantastic after the winter blues. I love it for it's rich consistency and the fact that it doesn't dry on the skin, also it is packed full of vitamin goodies. After a few months of wood burners, open fires, central heating, cold mornings, wet weather and basic environmental assault on the skin, this offers super charged relief and repair for the skin.
But if you are feeling a little parched and want something a little more hydrating, Skin Hydrating Masque could be your preference. With bitter orange and cucumber it helps to soothe, hydrate and calm the skin, which is perfect after dog walking in all the environmental elements.

Finishing Touches

Don't forget to finish off your Spring Skin with hydrating protection. Make sure that you are using a moisturiser that suits your skin's needs. If you want Super Rich Repair, you'll be using a wonderful rich cream that helps with parched skin after the winter assaults. But if you want a medium weight cream, Skin Smoothing Cream is always a wonderful, easy choice that can be used day and night with great hydrating properties from Aloe and Silk Amino Acids help improve the skin's texture.

Treat Your Skin 

The world outside our windows is changing, so why would we expect out skin to stay the same as the seasons role by? We plant different seeds and nurture our plants at different times of the year, so we should do the same for our body. We react just as much to the climate as any other living thing on the planet, so make looking after your body and your skin a priority.

Dermalogica Skin Care Treatments are second to non. We have access to use the Professional Range, which can boost your skin's health and we can keep track of how you're doing with your home care routines as the seasons change. I think it is vital to keep your skin healthy and happy during the seasonal changes as it can put a real stress on your largest organ.

I look forward to seeing you in the treatment room for your next skin care treatment and catching up with all your skin concerns and offering you some easy ways to take care of your skin at home between treatments.

Enjoy the seasonal shifts and embrace the changes!

Monday, 3 March 2014

Top It Up

I am constantly being asked by my clients how much therapy I receive and I always feel very blessed when I can honestly say that I have hands on treatment each week from another therapist. So today's post is a very personal response to the 15 people who asked me this one question last week, and I hope it helps you see therapy in a new light as well!

I love treatment; I think that it enables me to function fully and happily in my body. Everything from one-to-one pilates, yoga, massage, shiatsu, skin care treatments, osteopathy and haircuts. They all work wonderfully to help me help you. After 14 years of working I can honestly say that I haven't had a work related injury and I personally think it's because I take care of my body well - it's my working tool! My husband pays a lot for his work gear in the IT world, so I do the equivalent for my work.

Therapy is a bit like a gas station. You happily drive yourself around in your body, doing this and that, going from one place to the next, but you run out of gas, so you have to go to the nearest gas station to fill up otherwise you'll stop in the middle of the interstate. The best way to keep a car going is if you never go lower than a quarter tank full. So treat your body the same way as your car; keep it constantly topped up and fill it with the best gas you can afford.

I see different types of therapy simply as different types of gas station. Sometimes I go to see my Osteopath each week for a month to iron out my ongoing neck issue, but then I won't see him for a while after he has worked his magic as Pilates and yoga may be releasing it for me on a more active level.

I need haircuts and skin treatments to keep me looking at my best, and that helps with my own confidence and so I can take on the world and do amazing things! Also, if my skin is red, itchy, angry and painful I will be uncomfortable and in a constant state of inflammation, which is no good for anyone.

I realize that this constant topping up for me is quite high, but as all therapists will tell you, the gas runs out quickly when you're doing 20 treatments a week, (which is my own personal limit).

My pit stops are personal to my energy flow, but I would encourage you to work out your output and match it with the input.

The one thing that I get irritated with is when therapists don't make time to get treatments themselves. Not only does it seem a bit odd to me that they will encourage their clients to make regular visits for time on their couch, but won't do the same for themselves, but I also think that they loose the sense of experience.

I have had the dubious pleasure of lying through two really quite awful facials this month. I wanted to see what was out there, who was doing what and the level of experience that was in my town. Not only did it reassure me that the treatment I offer my clients are top notch, they also gave me new ideas on how I could improve, what I could change and thoughts started to role. Everything from clean sheets, (my pet hate is when I am offered to climb onto a couch with sheets that have been there for goodness knows how long), treatment procedure and product sales came into view and if I hadn't made the financial and time commitment to go out there and just experience it I would never have changed and moved forward.

The fantastic treatments I do get from my regular therapists keep me on my toes! They always set the bar so high that I have to totally engage with my work on a daily basis to keep mine going skyward. Without their pace setting I couldn't do what I do, which is offer amazing treatments with measurable results.

It's great to ask your therapist when the last time they were on the couch was. See what they say! It's quite telling and will show you how important they see therapy in their own lives. It's a big challenge, but one they may need.

This week's challenge for you then is to work out what you need. Do you need to join a meditation group at your local church, synagogue, temple or yoga studio to refill your spiritual depletion? Do you need cranial sacral treatment to help rebalance your spinal fluid? Is massage the gas station you need to visit or will you fill up on an awesome skin car treatment?

It takes time and money, and this may mean that you need to take a look at your diary and budget, but it's worth the investment of both. If you need to change going out three times a week to once or twice, then maybe that's not such a bad thing? Work this out for you, but I hope my personal journey can help you along your way.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Winter Training.

This blog post is a personal thought process, rather than a Body-Worker's professional conclusion, so I ask you to read it with an open and questioning mind as it sure as heck isn't a definitive conclusion to heavily researched Sports Science!

January is a dark month, heavy with Yin energy and a time when sensible bears are in their cave asleep and ignoring the grey clouds and dark mornings. So why is it that we feel pressured into going to a heavily air-conditioned, artificially lit environment during one of the darkest months of the year? When we ask the body to be pushed beyond it's limits during a season when naturally all around us is resting, why are we so shocked that we get injured?

However, lets take a look at three things that people have asked me about in the past week in the treatment room: Running, swimming and walking.


As I sit at the table to write this I look out the window, the Thursday Running Group has just gone
past; A great group of woman who run each week around our road at a good pace. However they make me think - with over three miles of woodland surrounding our road, why do they run on the asphalt? They have all this wonderful nature to run through, with a river running down behind the gardens with a great trail path and yet they stick to tarmac. I often wonder how their experience could be maximized if they simply went down the foot paths and saw Nature go through her seasons one by one, month by month, week by week.
It would be better for their joints too as to be honest, running over a rugged trail is much better than pounding over tarmac. Undulating ground, to me, seems a better work out for the feet, legs and the rest of the body as it forces all of the frame to balance, strengthen in dynamic ways and create a more rounded experience. The ground is also a lot more forgiving when it isn't covered in tarmac and the flow you can get over can be wonderful.
I'm currently hearing great things about Chi Running and Barefoot Running. As a non runner myself, I leave you to look into it for yourself but as a therapist I can really get behind the concept and theory of both and would be very happy for my running clients to look into getting some proper tuition and training in either style. I like the flow, the inherent nature of getting back to a good stride and being totally involved with the body's movement.


To me, I personally think that swimming is the most beautiful cardiovascular sport that you can do! Apart from Breast Stroke, which I would happily ban, I don't think you can get better. The water supports you, it helps your lymph to clear, you can go at your own pace and it's safe to do with so many different injuries and illnesses that I think everyone should be doing it. It's great for your heart, lungs and well-being. Try and find a pool near that you that isn't full of chemicals and over lit and you could be on to a real winner. If you are lucky enough to live near open water see if there is a open water swimming group near you to join.
With all this praise there is a cautionary word of warning - please get some lessons before your start!
So many people come to me with bad necks, shoulders, hips, lower back and knees after they have just got in a pool after years of not swimming to only get injured within a few weeks.
Technique is so important and if the last time you were in a pool was when you were 10, you should get someone to show you how to improve your strokes. I like the Total Immersion training for everyone, but especially if you are keen on doing triathlons, joining a club or want to make sure you are swimming effectively for your fitness goals. However, there are wonderful swimming teachers in the local pools that you can book in with for a few sessions to get you going and they will teach you the breathing techniques, co-ordination as well as posture in the water. So make some room in the diary and arrange time with them!


There are two types of walking; the one that you do every day and the one that you make a day out of, and you don't need a dog to enjoy the benefits of either! I love both and I think that both offer you a very well rounded way of getting fit, enjoying the environment around you and keeping you grounded.
There is no right or wrong way of walking, it's just a matter of making time to do it. I have been walking instead of driving since last May and I have to say that although I've found it refreshing and a very easy way of maintaing my base fitness I couldn't have done it without the right foot wear. Flip-flops and ballet pumps will break you! If you are going to walk, make sure you invest in two pairs of shoes; light wear for the summer and waterproof for the winter. I walk into town (about a mile each way) three times a week and I can't do it with the wrong shoes, so even for this short distance I have invested and am very pleased that I did.
For longer walks there are loads of groups to join if you want to meet new people, or you can go with a friend or partner and make a day of it. The National Trust have amazing set walks around the country if you want to visit their properties or land and they are clearly marked and maintained. There are lots of other societies and groups that support walking and it is well worth taking time and doing some Google homework to get the right walks for you.
I think if you are going to invest in this as your way of getting fit, I think you are on to the best winner. It's maintainable, the risk of injury is low and you can go as far as you like. I love it and after all, we are born to walk, where swimming and running are both slightly going against the human spirit.
Just don't start climbing mountains before you can walk to the town centre!

What ever you choose to do, and no matter how you choose to do it, don't push it! Your body will tell you where to go, what is comfortable and when to stop. Tune into the body that is below your neck line and check out what it's telling you to do.


Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Pain In The Neck

I have often said that these blogs are written when themes evolve within the treatment space at Cornerstone Therapies , and this blog is no exception.

A few of years ago I wrote some blogs on neck pain, but today I thought we could take a look at the subject again as over the past week I have treated pain patterns for some pretty gnarly neck based trigger points, and I want to open up some understanding on a couple of muscles, massage tips and home care.

I often find that people come to me and talk about headaches and neck pain but never talk about the shoulders and how they are feeling in relation to the issues that they are experiencing. I find this interesting as the shoulders are so completely linked to the relationship we have in movement of the head and neck. The shoulders need as much time in a treatment as the spine and cranium when headaches are present in my personal experience.

Indeed there is a particular headache that can't really be helped without a good look at the shoulder. Levator Scapula is my favorite muscle in the body. I know I shouldn't really have one, but this baby is it! It's like a beautiful ribbon that unwinds itself to allow rotation of the head. It's movement is fascinating as it lifts the shoulder blades up as you shurg you shoulders and turn your head.

I was working on it yesterday for a few people and it was clear that if the shoulders were released first, they would drop down naturally, releasing the neck and allowing the head to come back and the ears come in line with the shoulders when looking from the side. There is no chance of releasing the neck and head if the shoulders were still looking like earrings!

Pain patterns are attributed to fascia and muscle tissue that have got grumpy. Trigger points send pain all over the body in specific directions and Levator Scapula's map is right into the curve of the neck at the back, and around the shoulder blade.

So, if it's not specific to the head, why spend time on it?

Levator Scapula is fascially linked up to the Spinalis Capitus and Semispanalis Capitis, and I have never been able to treat the three separately; they are married together and will always be treated as a  group in my eyes. The Capitis muscles are at the back of the head and connect it to the neck and they produce amazing pain through the head and into the back of the eye. Tender points are also found at the back of the head and travel downwards making the neck very stiff and tense. Also they produce pain in the same place as Levator Scapula in the curve of the neck. Not nice at all!

(As a side thought, there are many layers to the neck, as with any other part of the body, which means
that when I talk about treating these three tiny muscle bands their surrounding neighbors also play a part in the treatment and healing process. Muscles such as subscapularis, trapezuis, scalenes, sternocleidomastoid and the like cannot be separated in thought, work or actions.)

Posture is a big problem with these muscles as we spend so much of our time with our necks flexed - that is to say with our chins going towards out chests and eyes looking downwards. The obvious culprits to this posture are laptops and mobile phones. However, people who read a lot, knit, sew or do any gardening can spend extended hours with their heads bent over as well.

The reason why I wanted to flag the shoulders and neck up today in relation to headaches is that there is so much you can do at home in-between your treatments with me to help your headaches.

Stretch it away! The best thing you can do is stretch the muscles out on a regular basis. Maybe when you make your morning tea or coffee, when you are having lunch and again when you are going to bed. The video below will really help you stretch effectively.

Sit and Stand Tall. So much of this is based on posture and to ease yours out, try dropping the shoulders down towards the ground, don't jam them, just allow them to drift down. Allow
the head to lift up so your chin is a little higher and then bring the head back so that your spine lengthens. Often this is helped by coming more into the heels when you are standing, rather than falling forwards onto the toes.

Breathe Deep. Fill all your lungs with air and enjoy them expanding. There is no need to panic breathe throughout your whole life.

Be Practical Your mobile devises should be in your control, not the other way around! Bring them up to your eye level, don't bend your head to look at them. If you are texting, Facebooking, Tweeting, Emailing, it all adds up to quite a bit of time with your face planted in a screen. So lift it up and release the neck. Also check how much time you are typing in tablets and laptops with screens that are too low.

Get A Massage With neck pain it is really hard to treat at home as when ever you lift your arm up to massage the neck, the shoulder gets involved and you can't get a good release. Book in for a session with your Professional Massage Therapist who should know how to passively stretch your neck safely, treat your trigger points and advise you on your posture.

I hope all of this helps and that you enjoyed the blog. I look forward to typing up the next one real soon!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year! 

2014 is set to be a great year with lots of fresh starts. Cornerstone Therapies will be 10 years old and we are choosing this time to set up our new, dynamic section of the business - Welcome To Massage!

Offering a wide range of retreats, workshops, study groups and mentoring schemes, Welcome To Massage is offering you the chance to experience the wonderfilled world of massage before you embark on your full accredited training. If you are already a student, our half term retreats, study sessions on all topics massage and continuing mentoring could be for you. So do get in touch through Cornerstone Therapies, or, we are also on Twitter and Facebook if you are that way inclined.

This blog, which seems to be ever popular and growing in readership, is still going strong and I am looking forward to embracing a much more relaxed approuch to publishing it this year. So although the blogs may be shorter, they will be more frequant and still packed full of day-to-day info on massage and professional skin care therapy with Dermalogica. 

I hope you have all had a wonderful holiday and celebrated Christmas and New Year with a bang. I look forward to writing soon and catching up with you in the treatment room! 

Shop Dermalogica