•April 7, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Why are we aware of being in pain, but cannot remember when it first started and what may have caused it.

Whilst no one wants to be thought of as a hypochondriac, it is useful to make a note in a diary of:

Keeping a pain diary

Keeping a pain diary

  • when you feel a pain which is not normal.  Where in your body it started and where it may radiate to.
  • what you think may have started it, for example, did you carry something heavy, do some gardening, sleep badly or even do something mundane such as walk with a slow dog which meant you had to keep looking behind you…. Mentioning no names – Treacle!
  • how you treated it.  Stretching, pain-killers, rest for example.
  • how long the pain lasted.

So what is the benefit of this?  When I ask my clients how long they have had the pain, they say “only a couple of days”.  When we actually work things out, we find that it usually started some time earlier than that, and it is only recently that the problem has become more noticeable or acute.  Having an idea of what you were possibly doing when it first started, not only helps with the treatment, but also the homecare offered.

Another reason is that whilst, for example, your lower back hurts, unbeknown to you, that tightness you had in the front of your legs you noticed after gardening a week before, may have actually been the cause and we also need to work on this too.

After treatment – don’t forget to add it to your pain diary.



•April 4, 2011 • Leave a Comment


As part of my massage treatment, I often suggest stretches to assist recovery.

Not everyone is aware when the best time to stretch is.  For example when you get out of bed is not the time for an extreme stretch session.  When you’re lying in bed at night and sleeping, you don’t use your muscles the same way you do during the day. Because of that, your muscles often stay contracted and might become stiff and your tendons are not so compliant. Additionally, the blood flow to your muscles changes while they stay so relaxed and still. So keep “wake up” stretches gentle.

When to Stretch

When to Stretch

Stretching should be a key part of your exercise program & should be undertaken after the body has been warmed up by light exercise, for example 10 minutes walking. Stretching after your workout promotes better range of movement of your joints. Stretching also improves your flexibility, balance and coordination.

But here is some good news for those who don’t or can’t exercise. A recent study from the Mayo Clinic found soaking in a hot bath provides similar benefits to exercising without all the extra strain on the heart.  It also increases your heart rate while it lowers your blood pressure. How does this work?  When you first get into a hot bath it speeds up your heart to send blood to the surface and disperse extra body heat into the air.  After a couple of minutes the warm blood causes your blood vessels to dilate, which decreases the resistance to blood flow and lowers your blood pressure.

How to use a wheatbag for aching muscles

•November 12, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Lots of my clients use a wheatbag, hotwater bottle or some form of heatbag to reducing the pain of aching muscles.

I don’t want to say too much about the safety of using these things as there are a lot of stories about fires and this is outside the remit of my expertise.  But the main point being – dont use them as a hotwater bottle in bed.

  1. The way I recommend their usage for aching muscles, is to put them in the microwave from COLD – NEVER reheat, warm them for the time given on the instructions, as this relates to the size of the wheatbag.
  2. Wrap the bag in something like a towel.  (Nice as it may be next to the skin, the wheatbag is in effect still cooking and giving off steam which scalds).
  3. Leave it there for no more than 5 minutes,
  4. As you start to feel the muscles warm and relax a bit , MOVE the joint or the area gently.  For example the neck:  Rub it then stretch gently.  Don’t overdo it. Looking from side to side, tilting the head.  If it is the back, rub it, then maybe twist from side to side, maybe bend over.   I will always advise my clients of the best ways to stretch.
  5. Maybe repeat points 3 and 4 if the pain is very deep.
  6. Remove wheat bag from towel and keep the warm towel on effected part to cool down slowly.
  7. Try and maintain this movement at intervals throughout the day without the use of the wheatbag.

Other uses for wheatbags include: doorstops, book ends, picnic tablecloth weights…..

What is a Winter Neck

•November 11, 2010 • 1 Comment

I have noticed that at this time of year and later during the winter, I get a lot of people – mainly men (sorry, but it is true) that have problems with their necks…. and it is not due to the previous blog

So, why is this?

Stiff neck caused by Dozing

Stiff neck caused by Dozing

Picture the scene. It is a cold winter’s evening, and inside the fire is glowing, the central heating is on.  You are cosy and warm.  It is late evening, and you have had a little snifter – a little drop of warming alcohol maybe (well it is cold outside), the telly is droning on. You open your eyes and it is the News!  You must have missed the end of ….Strictly ..X Factor – you nodded off.

When you wake up, maybe your neck is a bit stiff.  But hey ho.  The next night, what do you know…. it has happened again and the discomfort is a little worse.  You think to yourself “the pain will go away”.  However by the end of the week you are in trouble.

T0 sort this out, this cycle has to be broken.  If you feel tired, go to bed, or at least get a cushion ready and try to support your neck.

I have a 3 day rule.  Probably said it before, but if you have an aching muscle and it hasn’t gone in 3 days,  other areas of your body are going to start to come out in support and it gets harder to “fix”.  This is the time that you need to have a massage.  It may seem like an expense, but the longer you leave it, the harder it is to fix and the more miserable you feel, especially in the winter.

So to avoid a “Winter Neck” get a cushion ready, or go to bed.

Which looks silliest?

•October 28, 2010 • 2 Comments

This is the time of the year when I have some strange looking people come to me for treatment.

They may have a shoulder raised, they may hold their heads slightly askew.  They nearly all rotate their heads using their whole bodies.  They are all in pain.

I am sure lots of you know exactly the postures that I am talking about.  So how does this affect what we do? Well,  It is difficult to look over our shoulders when driving.  It is difficult to put shoes and sock on.  It is hard to look down at the floor.  I could go on and on (I usually do).

This is the time of year when people get a chill in their necks.  When you get cold we tend to hold our bodies stiffly, bringing our shoulders up around our ears in order to subconsciously keep our necks warm, or we may find that we have got stiff in the position which we were doing something outside.

The preventative solution is simple.  As soon as it looks cold outside, dress up warmly.

Wear that hat and scarf.  Don’t tell me you look silly, you could look even sillier.

What has butter got to do with Massage?

•October 21, 2010 • Leave a Comment

I love analogies.  I am not trying to dumb things down, I just enjoy the challenge of relating massage, anatomy and physiology to everyday things and situations.

So to “Butter”.

When you get a new pat of butter straight from the fridge, it is hard.  Take a knife and try and scrape it across the surface and you will be lucky to just get below the top surface.  To get more butter you gently scrape again, and so on  However that yummy warm toast is waiting and it has your name on it.  The only way you can get any butter on it is to cut a chunk from the edge.  Even this takes a lot of effort and you need to hurt that butter with the blade.   Now to spread it on the toast. It is so hard to spread on the delicate toast that it rips or at least does not remain undamaged.

However.  If that butter is warm, you get get deeper quicker, your knife quickly sinks into the butter and the toast is not damaged as you spread it on the toast.

So – here we go.  Bodies are a little like butter.  If you have come in to the therapy room without any warming muscle exercises first – Sitting in a warm car does not count!!  your muscles will be as tight as a cold pat of butter.  Maybe you are aching and we can identify the area where treatment is required, but we cannot get at it without warming the superficial layers of muscles  gently with massage first.  As we continue with the massage, the deeper muscles are warmed and relaxed, allowing me to work deeper and deeper.  If, however, the process is hurried and we press too hard to get to that deeper tense muscle, other areas of your body will lock up to protect it and other injuries may occur.

So next time you butter your toast, give the toast a chance, warm the butter first.

How many of you thought I was going to suggest a massage with butter….

What have goldfish got to do with Sub-Fertility

•October 1, 2010 • 1 Comment

The worst thing about trying unsuccessfully for a baby is all the well meaning comments from friends and relations. 

“When are you going to start a family?”,  or “I would love a Grandchild”.   Then when you suddenly don’t produce that precious baby to order… you get the advice “Have you tried….”, “Have you read…”

And what about the media who treat the ability to conceive as normal?

There is also a blame culture. Leaving it too late, or who is the party at fault. For many couples, the stress and anxiety associated with failing to conceive can be overwhelming.

People seem to get stuck in a rut.  Tied to a calendar.

So, have fun as a couple, enjoy yourselves together, after all “two” is a family.  If and when you are successful you will kick yourselves for not spending this precious time together instead of worrying.  For those who are not fortunate to produce a child it really isn’t the end of the world, life does go on.  Trust me I know.

In fact the number of couples who are actually infertile is relatively low. And in cases where the diagnosis is of ‘unexplained sub-fertility’ 60-70% of this group will go on to conceive within 3 years without any treatment.

So, back to the goldfish.  How many times I have heard of couples who have tried for years to get pregnant? They then get a dog, and guess what happens…..

My mum heard about these stories, and bought me a goldfish!