Reflexology & Due Dates

‘Reflexology and going over your due date’ – It can make you go from happy endorphin flowing birthing mother, to ‘panicky cortisol filled tighten uterus mum’. ‘Baby is not going to come on time’ and a date for the sweep is booked in as if it were a regular coffee morning with friends.

The thought of not going into labour naturally, may fill you with disappointment,  but the very pressure of negative or anxious feelings, are the very thing that may prevent labour from starting spontaneously. If we are stressed our basic survival instinct is to not allow our baby to be born until we feel secure and safe.

As a Maternity Reflexologist I’m often asked what are the most effective ways to trigger labour and avoid going overdue.   As the due date approaches many couples are eager for labour to begin so they can finally meet their little one.

My personal thoughts are that a baby will come when it’s ready, when the mother and baby are in balance and feeling relaxed. When I give a reflexology treatment it is foremost to give mum to-be relaxation, calm and balance.

Certain acupressure points can be pressed, stimulated or held, to encourage the downward flow of energy and prepare the body for labour. Deep relaxation techniques are included which massage the reflex areas of the hips and pelvis, encouraging mum to relax and allow nature to take over.

Oxytocin and endorphins go hand in hand. It’s relaxing and has a soothing effect on both mind and body.  Not only does it help prepare for a timely and straightforward birth, it is also a relaxing way to help manage both the physical and emotional pressures many experience during pregnancy.

I feel like reflexology is another way to prepare for a relaxed and comfortable birth, hand in hand with yoga, meditation and healthy eating.  Nine months of preparation to meet your baby is a wonderful journey but also may help you approach labour feeling ready physically, mentally and emotionally.

Here’s a little research: In a study of 100 overdue women in the maternity unit at Walsall Manor Hospital in Walsall, England, researchers found that “more women went into labour sooner and needing less pain relief than those without reflexology”. The study was carried out by a team of midwives qualified in reflexology.

Reflexology study, Walsall Manor Hospital Maternity ward-

“The results of their study show that, overall, the length of the first stage of labour was four hours shorter than of those in the control group of women who had not had reflexology and that the second stage of labour, when the woman starts to push, was 21 minutes shorter. They also found that fewer women in the reflexology group needed strong pain relief during labour.”

The research was nominated for a Royal College of Midwives Award for Innovation in Midwifery.

Though the researchers acknowledge they had a limited sample, the women in the study expressed having less pain and greater relaxation, making for more ease in their deliveries.

https://www.expressandstar.com/news/2010/12/15/hands-on-method-to-give-baby-a-head-start/

Hot Stone Reflexology

Nafisa Therapy is excited to be offering a similar treatment “hot & cold reflex to the feet” to her practice in the winter months. It will be a course offered by the Seed Institute.  Here’s a little preview of one style of hot stone reflexology.  Courtesy of the Association of Reflexologists (AOR).

 

Benefits of Pre & Post Natal Massage

As a massage therapist I work with pregnant mums from early pregnancy to postnatal. Whether pregnant for the very first time or having children already, all mums could benefits from some form of therapeutic massage.

It’s an amazing journey having a baby. A new mum has to undergo many postural changes, but particularly in the later stages of pregnancy there is a pelvic shift and increased lumbar curve which can result in muscle tension and joint pain. Sleeping positions change at night, the distribution of weight changes when walking and baby changes position in the womb. These can all have an effect possibly resulting in backache, shoulder tension, neck pain, sciatica, or fluid retention. These discomforts can have a knock on effect resulting in tiredness, lack of sleep and sometimes the inability to concentrate.

How massage can help you

The main things during these sessions for me is to help women to feel more at ease in their bodies, and to alleviate their symptoms with the additional benefits endorphin release, the feel good hormone during massage. So giving the mum a sense of all round well-being.

Regular massage visits help facilitate essential relaxation and body release, giving mothers a much better chance of getting a restorative sleep, and feel more hormonally balanced.

Post natal healing

After the baby arrives massage can accelerate recovery in so many ways. With soft tissue manipulation of the body, blood circulation can be stimulated which can help the body to heal and repair, induce relaxation.

Manipulating the soft tissues of the body helps stimulate blood circulation and lymphatic drainage. Which can encourage a faster rate of healing. It could also be deeply relaxing and aid a better sleep. Mothers who struggling with hormone imbalance may also find relief with massage, which has been shown to help restore hormonal equilibrium by reducing the biochemicals associated with depression, and cortisol, which is linked to stress and anxiety.

Improving Breast-feeding

Breast-feeding moms often experience neck and shoulder pain from holding baby in a certain position, which can interfere with feedings and rest. will Massage again can help alleviate that tension, they may also help to boost milk production by improving circulation. Massage increases prolactin levels (a lactation hormone) while stimulating relaxation in the chest muscles, opening the shoulders, and potentially improving the production of milk. Research into the benefits of pre and post natal massage are still Although clinical research about the benefits of pre and post-natal massage are still in its early stages, I have seen massage therapy support women during the challenging transitions of early motherhood.

Massage for Gardeners

The sun is finally here, spring has arrived; time to spend ‘hours’ in the garden. It’s a race against the clock, the rain may arrive again tomorrow and the grass needs mowing, the trees and plants need cutting back. Your back is protesting but your green fingers say GO! Its possible that you may use muscles those haven’t been worked in a while and now have to overwork to dig out the weeds and turn the soil.

Those muscles are now ‘sore muscles’, your back is stiff and your lower back pains, but your garden looks great!

How a massage can help you

Massage can be beneficial before or after a gardening session. If you should find yourself with painful muscles/joints because of gardening, massage therapy can provide a reduction in back pain, (including lower back pain), neck aches, shoulder pain, joint pain, overused or sore muscles.

As a preventative measure a massage before can reduce the chance of injury. If you can have a massage before a strenuous day of gardening, you can minimize the soreness by increasing the circulation to the muscles and loosen the joints.

If the massage takes place after the gardening extravaganza, then treating specific trouble spots may include releasing trigger points to relieve soreness and return the muscle to full function.   The deeper pressure of deep tissue massage coupled with acupressure can be a welcome relief to iron out the knots and help release lower back pain.

How to help yourself

  1. Warm up with light movement or a brisk walk to loosen your muscles and increase your flexibility. The smooth coordination of your muscles and ligaments is an important part of safe exertion in gardening and avoiding aches and pains.
  2. Know your strengths and limitations. Do not overexert, vary your activities, and take regular rest breaks.
  3. Avoid bending over repeatedly while standing upright when performing ground-level work like weeding. Get closer to the task by kneeling or sitting on the ground or a gardening bench, rather than bending and twisting from the waist.
  4. Keep your back protected when you stand up from a sitting or crouching position. Rise up by straightening your legs at the knees, not by lifting your torso at the waist.
  5. Lift dirt and plants by letting your arms, legs and thighs carry the load: bend and straighten at the knees instead of the hack and hips. Lift the load close to the body’s torso and handle smaller, more manageable loads at a time.
  6. Use long-handled tools to give you leverage and help avoid having to stoop down while raking or digging

Reference: http://www.diversifiedhealth.ca/health-information/dos-donts-of-gardening/

So if you feel like you would like to ease the tension of your post-gardening muscle soreness, book in a massage session. The feel good ‘pain’ is a light relief and a release for your body. Relax with a deep tissue, swedish and acupressure blend, with relaxing lavender and lemongrass to send you to a sublime state of relaxation.

Pain In The Neck

When something is a “Pain in the neck” you’re usually describing a bad situation. For some the phrase can be taken literally.  With only seven vertebrate and 26 muscles supporting the weight of a human head, the neck is vulnerable, yet tolerates huge movements.

The pain can come from so many daily tasks, like carrying heavy shopping bags, walking with a laptop in a rucksack, picking up baby each day to cradle and comfort, driving long hours, shoulders hunched from the cold. Sometimes the jaw feels tension and headaches can occur.

How a massage can help

Having a regular massage helps keep your joints supple, this reduces your chances of pulling a muscle. It’s good for improving your posture and flexibility, increases range of motion, lowers blood pressure and heart rate. You will then find your body more at ease and stress is released.

How I would massage you

When you’re suffering from neck pain in particular, the massage will focus first on your shoulders and upper back, using a blend of acupressure (trigger points) and deeper tissue massage. Then applying acupressure again working the arms, chest, legs and back will help to reduce pain in the neck.

You may feel the benefits of a facial massage around the jaw in particular as this could contribute to release neck tension or visa versa. Remember each body part is connected so I don’t work in isolation.

How to help yourself

Grasp the back of your neck with one hand placing the heel of your hand into the space just behind your ear at the base of your skull and your fingers wrapped around the opposite side of your neck. Squeeze, applying pressure with the heel of your hand only (using fingers just for leverage). Work your way down your neck to where it meets your shoulder. Repeat several times. End with some gentle neck stretches, tilting and rotating your head from side to side.

 Shoulder Shrug

Lift the top of your shoulders as close to your ears as you can get. You should feel tension in your shoulders and neck. Hold the lift for three to five seconds, and then drop your shoulders back down.  Using this exercise when you first notice neck muscle tension developing can help prevent it from worsening

Coming to have a session with me doesn’t end after the treatment. I will always try to offer safe aftercare advice and some self help tips to keep that neck tension at bay.

Chakra Energy, Aura, Colour & Reflexology

I have always found chakra balancing, colour healing, energy fields and auras amazing subjects.   In 2000 on a cold winters morning I sat waiting for my bus on my way to work at the Reflexology shop in Bayswater and a women looked at me and said’ “I can see you have a silver aura”.   Well that made me feel full of energy, full of positive vibes. I trotted off to work not 100% sure what a silver aura meant, but happy with knowledge that life was not boring, it was magical, mystical and had elements of the unknown waiting to be discovered. Turns out it meant, “An awakening of the cosmic mind”.

Colours, auras, energy centers……Then I made my connection with reflexology. Let the journey begin. The Aura can be considered as a ‘mirror’ that reveals our present mental, physical and spiritual state. Like Auras, Chakras also come with specific spiritual colours. Whereas Chakra is derived from the Sanskrit language meaning spinning vortexes of energy.

The Chakras interact with the body’s endocrine and lymphatic systems, feeding in good energy and removing unwanted energy. It is very important that our Chakras are nourished and balanced in the correct way in order to maintain good health and prevent dis-ease.” For me the balancing of the chakras via the feet can relaxing the entire body and mind on so many levels.

Chakras are energy centers inside your body that are anchored in place.  Each chakra relates to a different aspect of your life and each chakra is a certain color.  Your root chakra, for example, relates to security, stability, and abundance, and is red.  Your heart chakra is green and relates to compassion, connection with others, and love.  Your throat chakra, which is blue, relates to your ability to communicate and express yourself.
2000 when I first started out as a reflexologist I wanted to learn more and more about the science around the subject as it was still a little hazy. But I also found the more cosmic, spiritual and emotional aspects fascinating, and naturally leaned towards them more.

When working my clients feet they would tell me how they were feeling. One lady mentioned she had a lump in her throat, felt highly stressed with work, as she was not being listened to. This could have meant she had a cold coming or did it mean something deeper. The Throat chakra resonates a blue colour.  When stress occurs it can inhibits speaking or swallowing, which is the outer manifestation of the throat chakra.  So we used the reflexology session to visualise blue during the treatment. I would work on the throat chakra, hormonal balancing and nervous system techniques. Also asking her to breathe in relaxation, breathe out and let go of tension in her body.

For the next few sessions we carried on this pattern and the outcome was a relaxed unstressed lady able to address her issues at work.  We worked on visualisation using colour, breathing, reflex balancing during each session.  The Chakra balancing especially brought about a quiet peacefulness space to my client.

I always noticed a sense of calm and tranquillity, and also notice how you I felt great for having been part of this energy healing. I find it fascinating that we without knowing it, feed and protect our energy system. The clothes and ornaments we wear sometimes can draw attention to a chakra, or hide it. Think of the caps worn by young men, or teenagers with their hoodies even indoors, to protect the crown chakra. There are belts that draw attention to the solar plexus, and necklaces to enhance the power of the throat or heart chakra.

When I incorporate chakra energy points to my treatments, they are highly charged, loaded with vibrant energy, but gentle as light as a snowflake falling.  Revive and feel energised, why not start by wearing your favorite colour today.  See how it makes you feel.

Acupressure Massage and RSI

Since I became a massage therapist and undertook special training in Acupressure Massage. I went off to work in many big corporate buildings all around London. I offered 15-minute express (clothed) massages using a specially designed chair.   Wow! I was astonished the difference such a short pressure point treatment could make to the body tension that some people were holding.   One by one the workers would come in for their session complaining of tingling up their arms, wrist painful, neck sore and lower back aches…does this sound familiar?

nafisa-massage-pose

As time went on I specialised in Maternity massage and found that pregnant and postnatal mums were getting similar symptoms as office workers.   I developed my own skillset over time and used acupressure and deeper tissue massage together, using oil for a more therapeutic touch and on a couch. Golfers and tennis players also suffer from the same symptoms and acupressure has worked wonders with lasting results.

How can we prevent or ‘help ourselves’ to avoid it?

‘Repetitive strain injury (RSI) is a general term used to describe the pain felt in muscles, nerves and tendons caused by repetitive movement and overuse. It’s also known as work-related upper limb disorder, or non-specific upper limb pain.’

If you find you are one of these, here are some small tips that may help.

  1. Typing a lot without breaks.

Try and take short breaks ever 30min even if it’s to stand up away from your desk and stretch your arms.

  1. Holding your baby in the same position for long periods

Take time to flex fingers, do small rotations with your wrists, and massage the inner wrist and padded area of the hand.

  1. Comforting baby with long periods of patting with your hand.

Wow tension will go up the arm probably ending up around the neck. If you find the tension going further up the arm, massage the outside of the elbow, and with the index and middle finger massage the top of the shoulder for as long as feels comfortable.

  1. Sports players using lots of arm action.

The most important preventive measure is a thorough warm up prior to physical activity; it is also important to remember to cool down after exercise; these processes allow the muscles time to adjust.

So don’t leave it!

Sometimes RSI symptoms may go away if you do nothing.

But they can also get considerably worse. Don’t take that risk.

Dont wait until:

  1. The pain becomes so bad that you need to take time off work.
  2. You develop carpal tunnel syndrome and need surgery to relieve the pain.
  3. Your condition is so bad that you will never fully recover.

Change your work environment. Change your work habits. Start taking regular rest breaks.

If you would like to book in for an acupressure massage call me on 07773 844 273, or at least for some friendly, honest and free advice.

Massage and the Immune System

Christmas is coming, a joy for some and stress for another, I prefer to keep my Zen and shelter myself away from the commercial rush. Keeping up my exercise routine, eating well, venturing outdoors (ha ha I am hoping).

If you experience high levels of stress you may tend to get sick more than others. A combination of stress with lack of sleep, poor nutrition, and our immune system’s ability to naturally protect itself against bacteria and infection reduces significantly.

A Massage can help your immune system?

Massage therapy promotes increased lymphatic circulation, a process whereby lymph moves throughout the body, eliminates pathogens and other waste, and increases the spread of white blood cells. Such a process serves to boost your infection-fighting capabilities.

It can also can reduce your levels of cortisol which is a hormone associated with pressure and stress. High levels can boost blood pressure and decrease natural killer cells. Low levels, on the other hand, can allow immune cells to do their job without interference.

When you come for a massage you can choose from a blend of oils.

Lavender to help reduces anxiety and emotional stress.  Lemongrass that can also help relax and tone your muscles, as well as relieve muscle pain, mix that with bergamot and geranium and be in apothecia heaven.

A great one for the winter blues, I use my blend of thieves’ oil, which consists of clove bud, cinnamon bark, eucalyptus and rosemary. These oils are very well known for their protective properties and the story of the “four thieves” goes back to the days of the bubonic plague. The story goes that during that time, there were four thieves robbing graves of the infected who had died from the plague. The four thieves seemed to be immune, as they did not become infected. After being arrested, in exchange for their freedom, they agreed reveal the secret of why they were immune. Apparently they doused themselves with this blend of essential oils before robbing the graves and claimed this is what kept them from being infected.

Below is a study conducted by Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in LA 2010) looked at how various biomarkers responded to Swedish Massage Therapy.

https://www.cedars-sinai.edu/About-Us/News/News-Releases-2010/Adults-Demonstrate-Modified-Immune-Response-After-Receiving-Massage-Cedars-Sinai-Researchers-Show.aspx

Among the study’s results:

  1. People in the Swedish massage group experienced significant changes in lymphocytes ,(lymphocyte numbers and percentages white blood cells that play a large role in defending the body from disease.
  2. Swedish massage caused a large decrease (effect size -.74) in Arginine Vasopressin (AVP) a hormone believed to play a role in aggressive behavior and linked to helping cause increases in the stress hormone cortisol.
  3. Swedish massage caused a decrease in levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
  4. Swedish massage caused a notable decrease in most cytokines produced by stimulated white blood cells.

So don’t delay, listen to your body, have a massage as a general MOT, just as you would your car.  Look after yourself as a preventative measure.

Acupressure & Reflexology Points to Help fight Cold and Flu’s

 

Having a few clients now coming in with headaches, stuffy noses, but leaving somewhat happier and feeling soothed from their ailments.

Acupressure and reflexology is proving to be effective in keeping the symptoms of cold and flu at bay.

Its that time of year! Once a cold sets in it slowly weakening the body’s defence power and immune system, making it weak and lowering the energy level of the body.

I can offer facial massage, acupressure massage techniques and foot reflexology. I work on a combination of some of the methods below. Starting from a 30min relief up to 1.5 hour stress buster treatment.

One of my favourite points to start is the ‘Hoku’ (LI4). Stimulating this point on both hands alternately helps in clearing congestion and helps relieve headaches.

hoku

Spread your left thumb and index finger apart. Place your right thumb in the webbing on the back of your left hand and your fingertips on the palm directly behind your thumb. Firmly squeeze your thumb and index finger of your right hand together to press into the webbing. Angle the pressure toward the bone that connects with your left index finger, and hold for one minute. Then switch hands.

For facial relief of blocked noses, these will work a treat! They may feel sensitive at the time but you will feel great after.

reflex-points

B2 Relieves colds, sinus congestion, frontal headaches, and tired eyes.

(LI 20) Relieves nasal congestion, sinus pain, facial paralysis, and facial swelling.

(ST3) Relieves stuffy nose, head congestion, burning eyes, eye fatigue, and eye pressure.

Here’s a diagram of the reflexology area for the lungs. It’s located on the ball of your foot, between the big toe and little toe. The location of the sore points on your feet will correlate to the soreness in your chest.

lung-points

So if you feel a bit grotty and need a pick me up give me a call.   These techniques and more are combined to make a lovely relaxing, de-stressing treatment for you!  Massage or reflexology combined or a facial massage. You choose!

Labour Pregnancy Acupressure Points

Is this you?

Swollen ankles puffed up like oranges, feeling like there are shooting pains running up your back, you cant bend down to put your socks on anymore.   40 weeks and your baby is so comfy and wont budge. (Due dates are, of course, just estimates and it’s common for most mums to go into labour one to two weeks before or after their projected due date).

Using acupressure techniques has been a part of traditional Chinese medicine for centuries. The West is slowly accepting this technique and now some hospitals also have as part of its plan of integrative medicine. One of the best parts of acupressure technique is that it can be self-administered. Here are some of the acupressure points to induce labour techniques and maternity acupressure.

* HOKU  or L14*

 

If you are planning to use acupressure to induce labour then stimulating the Hoku point will help. It is located in the membrane between the index finger and thumb. This point is just above the region where the bone of the index finger is attached to the bone of the thumb. Massage this point with the thumb and index finger of your other hand to stimulate contractions.

Please read this study on its effectiveness.  The Effect of LI4 Acupressure on Labor Pain Intensity and Duration of Labor: A Randomized Controlled Trial.

* BL32 *

This point is just above the crease of the buttocks and can use the thumb to press and massage in circular motions. The way to locate this point is swipe your finger along the spine and stop as soon as they hit the depression in the lower back region just above the buttocks. Stimulation of this point by applying pressure and massaging it will help induce labour.

* SPLEEN 6 *

spleen-6

Place four fingers on the inside of the ankle just above the ankle bone to locate the spleen 6 point. This is where the finger is farther from land ankle. To induce labour, massage this point for a couple of minutes, keeping the pressure. By massaging this point in a circular motion and repeat the movement with the other leg.

* K1 * k1-solar-plexus

The K1 point is used during labour to help relieve some of the anxiety and nausea associated with pregnancy. This acupressure point is located at the base of the foot, just behind the ball of the foot. To be more specific, it’s right in the middle of the sole and you need to put pressure on this point, pushing the big toe. You can massage this point at any stage of pregnancy, helping to alleviate some of the work stress and nausea.

* P6*

p6Pressure point massage will help reduce nausea and vomiting associated with motherhood. To find this point, place three fingers on the wrist crease and feel the area between the tendons with the finger that is furthest from the wrist crease. Massage this point with the tip of the index finger for 1-2 minutes and repeat the action on the other hand.

* BL60 bladder-60

This acupressure point is used to help the baby descend into the pelvis and induce labour naturally during childbirth. The BL60 is located between the Achilles tendon and the lateral malleolus, in simple terms found in depression near the ankle. Grasp the area and apply pressure with your thumb, do this for 1-2 minutes at regular intervals to induce labour.

These are some of the points I press during Reflexology and Massage treatment to support my mums. I will always offer support and guidance after your session so that you can show a willing partner to do these for you at home.