Are good intentions enough to embody change?

Are you feeling bombarded with good advice and suffer from information overload about what to do, eat and how to move, how to stick with resolutions? It is often very difficult to decide which way to turn, where to start. Unfortunately, there is no magic bullet and no quick fix to be had and good intentions are not enough. Unless we learn how to embody the change we desire nothing is going to stick. Here are some useful pointers.
Start by listening to what your body is telling you. Connect to your internal guidance by giving the body a voice. Develop the sensitivity that could be supporting you in finding what is best.
Begin by imaging what it must be like to feel great and amazing. So amazing that stress is peeling away, bouncing off you, with clarity and peace returning to your mind. Imagine feeling energised by breathing well, eating nourishing food, sleeping and resting well, moving with more purpose and awareness, feeling less discomfort and pain. Your creative and playful self starts to reawaken, with your body no longer dragging you down and restricting you. Imagine allowing yourself to relax and soften, releasing and replenishing energy that is no longer locked up in your body.
It is possible to begin by moving in the right direction even if the steps we take are small. We can re-learn how good our bodies feel, re-train our bodies to move more efficiently and free up our breathing. We can let go of reacting in a way that used to protect us from pain and injury in the past but no longer serves us. Remedial and therapeutic massage serves as an excellent catalyst for deep healing and re-energising the whole body.
If we map out the road ahead and commit to the little steps necessary for change, we will see surprising progress. For my availabilty please check here.

What is Lomi Lomi?

In summer I attended a six-day professional training course in Lomi Lomi massage which I am now offering to all my clients. Some of you might be familiar with that type of massage and some of you might not.
Lomi-Lomi can be translated as rub-rub and is a massage practice or style that has developed out of the Hawaiian traditions and is also known as Loving Hands Massage. The deep connection and reverence for nature of the Hawaiian healing arts have created an approach that is suited to restoring the body’s natural resonance and rhythm. It works gently and yet deeply into the muscles with continuous and flowing strokes, allowing the recipient to enter a state of deep relaxation and surrender to nurturing touch. Lomi-Lomi works from the belief that memories are not just stored in the brain and mind, but also in every cell of our body. The long and continuous strokes are designed to help the body let go of its old patterns and behaviours.

Full-body and under-body strokes, as well as light stretches and joint mobilisations, are used to free up your energy flow with the intention of staying within your comfort zone. Added to that are stillness and holds which support the body with integrating the effect.
Please get in touch if you would like to know more. Check my availability here.

Connecting with yourself

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Have you ever wondered why it is so difficult to create and stick with good habits? Sleeping, eating and moving well are key factors to leading a healthy and more fulfilled lifestyle. Knowing this, however, is not enough to motivate change.

We are becoming increasingly disconnected from our bodies when using modern technology and negotiating our man-made environment. The ability to feel into our bodily sensations is no longer required to live our lives. By becoming disconnected we literally lose sense of how we are treating our bodies.
We also lose the connection to our internal guidance that supports our decision-making, we no longer trust what we instinctively feel, we no longer trust our bodies and we have to become reliant on what others tell us. It’s easy to follow our own misguided thoughts and fears that are a product of our perceptions and past experiences, but not rooted in reality. It’s equally easy to follow all the distractions on offer and avoid our true feelings or what our bodies are trying to tell us.
We all are seeking connection but neglect to keep that important connection to our selves. How do we then re-connect with our bodies?
Re-connection can be created if we start by making a commitment to our selves, taking little steps daily, finding practices that help us to live more in our bodies rather than in the world of thought and distraction. Keeping up with a daily practice ensures a re-connection to our selves, revitalizing our bodies, our overall wellbeing and quality of life.

Check my availability here.

Lower Back Pain and Muscle Imbalance

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We acquire basic as well as new movement skills by stimulating and creating new neural pathways so that we don’t have to consciously think about how to move when a new skill is established. Once we have learned how to stand upright and walk, we know what to do without needing to think about it. Motor skills can also be lost over time when neural pathways are no longer sufficiently stimulated or required. Our tissues also adapt and create the strength and structural support necessary for movement, sometimes through shortening. Therefore we are always in the shape we are meant to be, in line with what we are asking our body to do.

It is very common for clients with lower back or hamstring issues to show inactive gluteus (buttock) muscles due to either prolonged sitting or other movement habits where those muscles are inhibited for some other reason. That is what a simple test I perform often demonstrates.
The body loses the use of this area if it hasn’t been activated well for some time. This will lead to overworking either the lower back or the thigh muscles as they have to compensate and work harder to make up for the insufficient or late activation of the glutes. In order to remedy that I will release any painful or tense areas in conjunction with prescribing exercises designed to re-activate the glutes so that balance is restored and the extra strain on the lower back and thigh is taken away.

If you want to check my availability please check here.

No pain, no gain. Does massage have to hurt in order to get results?

Some of the students on the Holistic Massage course at the Bristol College of Massage Bodywork, where I work, asked me the following question: Does massage have to hurt in order to get results? They had experienced the benefits of relaxation in massage but weren’t sure how to approach remedial work as they had received treatments in the past that were sometimes so unpleasant they felt unwell the next day and needed to recover from it. They thought that they had to create similar experiences for their clients, appeared very reluctant to work in that way but assumed it was necessary. No pain, no gain, right? Sounds like old school thinking, and it probably is, although many people have been on holiday abroad and experienced something similar or been to a Spa where there was a heavy-handed routine.
I shared my views with the students, in my opinion it is not desirable to endure high levels of discomfort when receiving massage. This is not how I work and not the kind of massage I would choose for myself. My preferred course of action is to reduce a heightened nervous system response before moving on to more focused work where it is needed. When body tissues are in a temporal or chronic state of excitement or stress, it is because they are receiving an increased energetic input from the body. Initially this level of energy needs to be reduced and toned down before working on specific areas. Inviting your clients to let go via surrendering to pain is forcing relaxation in an extreme manner. It’s not a pleasant method for relaxation of the body and possibly shows a disregard to the needs of clients. There are a few people who enjoy a great deal of pressure and discomfort, which does produce results, but it isn’t really necessary. The nervous system responds more directly and with greater benefits with a subtle approach to massage. Why shout at the body when it responds to much quieter stimuli and with fewer side effects?
As a therapist I intentionally want to stimulate a new healing response in my clients and creating a level of inflammation in tissues that have become stuck is part of that. The level of inflammation, however, does not have to be very high to be effective and experiencing soreness is not required. I work by fine-tuning the level of discomfort with my clients when focusing on responsive areas.
I work with an approach that allows my clients to feel their tissues without pain or suffering, experiencing the point of release, slowly and gently without force and which is often accompanied by a feeling of lightness and ease as well as an increased range of movement in the body.
If you want to check out my availability, please do so here.

Why is it that my clients report a sense of lightness and free-ness in their tissues after remedial work?

When meeting new people, after a few laughs and shared stories the conversation will often end up with the question of what I do for a living.
One line that I’ve used in the past is that I fix people. If that arouses interest, I build on that momentum.

For a start, I don’t actually fix anyone. Remedial massage facilitates a process by which my clients have a good chance of tuning in and experiencing a change in their bodies. Even if those changes are temporary at the beginning, they can become the motivation for more changes later down the line, particularly if the issues are of a more chronic nature.

My remedial work is based on the anatomical understanding that the body is one interconnected unit and that when one part moves the whole body is responding. One of the main structures of the body to allow for this interconnectedness is the fascia, a type of connective tissue. It’s this tissue that holds absolutely everything in place as it wraps around individual muscle fibres, muscles, organs and bones. Any movement restrictions, aches and pains can often be traced back to changes in the fascia, which over time can become immobile.
Where fascia is not able to slide and glide freely, increased tension can be felt in that region and the normal flow of energy is interrupted. This can lead to pain and dysfunction over time and my remedial work focuses on those areas.
The Fascia and the nervous system are responding to mechanical forces when we move and they work to integrate the loads placed on our body. This responsiveness can be used intentionally in massage therapy by locking into the identified areas of tissue and waiting for a gradual release, which is triggered by the brain when discomfort or pain is felt.
When the body is stimulated through remedial massage it begins a healing process in areas of soft tissue inflammation, creating another response when the body might be stuck in an inflammatory feedback loop.
The re-introduction of movement and the separation of tissue layers that have become stuck allows for more blood and nutrients to feed the tissues, increasing the flow in the body leading to more movement and less discomfort.
A sense of release and lightness can be felt immediately after a remedial session.
Further changes can be experienced up to 3 days after treatment.
These are the first steps in the process of recovery and healing and to sustain any gains, changes in movement and postural habits need to be considered too.

What are ideal clients?

“Whether we open fully to the world or shrink back from it will be dictated by the kind of world we have met, and the support, or lack of it, we feel we have had.”

I was talking with a friend about advertising and they asked about my ‘Ideal Client’ in order to target my advertising effectively. I didn’t know the answer, as I am happy for anyone to receive and enjoy massage or bodywork with me. Anyone, who is brave enough to step into the ring with me.

Since then I’ve carried that question around with me and sat on it. I continued working with different types of people with different problems and over the following weeks the answer came to me.

My ideal client comes in all shapes and sizes, as all bodies are inherently beautiful. Whether strong or unfit, healthy or not, there is always beauty.
My clients are either small or large, skinny or big boned, young or old, stressed or relaxed, nervous or chilled, smiling or sad, limping or skipping, and sometimes not sure if they have come to the right person.

The most success I have is with people who are taking steps towards feeling better in their bodies, those who are on the way to accepting themselves for who they are or those who are curious to discover what they can change about themselves. The most beneficial treatments are with people who allow their attention to focus on what feels good, what doesn’t and communicate that to me as the treatment progresses, hungry to learn more about themselves and what they can do to improve. Experiencing good feeling in the body, even temporarily, is motivation enough to invest in change and to seek continued progress.

My ideal clients are those who are committed to themselves and embrace their own responsibility in the healing process that massage facilitates.

If a situation arises where I feel I cannot help a client or if I am unable to answer a question, I will recommend another practitioner or seek the advice they require.

What if we made massage as essential as coffee?

Coffee and massage. What a brilliant combination. I love the taste of coffee in the morning. And nothing beats a good massage to make me feel absolutely brilliant. I still remember how difficult it was to find a decent coffee on Britain’s high streets 20 years ago. Instant coffee was the order of the day.  A lot has changed since and good quality coffee has found its place in our culture.  In the same way, massage therapy is no longer regarded as unusual, mainly for athletes or only found in Spas.  More and more people are seeking help when their well-being and movement quality are compromised, or when they simply want to feel good. And as we learn more about how our bodies work, how dysfunction comes about and how to remedy it, we find better ways of caring for and looking after ourselves.  We no longer ascribe to the notion that ageing is responsible for all ailments and that we have to put up with discomfort and pain, no matter what. It’s important to pay attention to how we feel before little imbalances become big problems and before tissue changes become chronic. Therefore it seems essential to cultivate that inner perception which feeds our body awareness and body image. Massage counts definitely among the few capable modalities of bodywork, to do just that.

So then, what if we made massage as essential as coffee?