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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.

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.

Can Massage lift Depression?

I have met many clients over the years, that have sat down before a treatment, filled out a consultation form, and have told me they suffer from depression, but its ok they have been taking anti depressants for X amount of years, and it’s fine. “It’s my neck, shoulders that I have come to have a treatment for”. I would be astonished.

As a therapist, knowing the benefits of massage, I.e releasing muscle tension, inducing relaxation etc, I researched more into massage giving you “the feel good feeling”. Could massage help those feeling low and down?

Taking time for massage is as important for people dealing with depression as it is for people with arthritis, sports injuries and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Cortisol is the body’s response to stress, and massage therapy lowers it by as much as 50%. At the same time, massage has other benefits and can also increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine, which are both neurotransmitters that help stabilize your mood.

I found the following article very interesting in terms of body structure of the client in depression and how massage therapy can help them in the path to recovery.

Treatment with Massage

Now let’s identify some of the physiological and energetic challenges for those who are depressed. This is where massage therapy can accomplish physical changes that normal psychotherapy or medication cannot. With different forms of depression there is a structural collapse in the client. This involves a shortening of the abdominal muscles and a tightening of the diaphragmatic arch which pulls the chest down and forward, limiting its ability to expand during breathing. There is an additional medial rotation of the shoulders and internal rotation of the arms resulting in a kyphosis that further restricts breathing. Without the support of the thoracic region, the head and neck will move forward and down and further into collapse. All this distortion of the upper body will lead to further distortion in the lower body and give the structure an image of being fully collapsed. The degree of structural collapse will depend upon the severity of depression and its duration.

The benefits of massage: Applying massage with the goal of releasing the structural collapse associated with depression will bring the client from a hopeless, helpless collapsed structure to one that is supported and erect. This sense of support will give the client feelings of being stronger and more capable of dealing with the issues of their depression. Key areas to release for structural support are: 1) the abdomen and diaphragmatic arch; 2) the musculature and connective tissue of the front of the chest that cause a sunken chest and medial rotation of the shoulders; 3) the musculature and connective tissue of the anterior shoulder and upper arms that cause an internal rotation of the arms; and 4) the musculature and connective tissue of the anterior neck followed by the posterior neck and top of the shoulders. Follow this by bringing the legs out of hyperextension and more under the body. All of this will result in a significant structural change in a depressed client.

While releasing the structural collapse associated with depression you will also be releasing the breath process which will allow depressed clients to energize their system and have more energy. This additional energy will allow them to take part in their lives and move out of depression.

Source: http://www.massagetoday.com/mpacms/mt/article.php?id=13933

If you suffer from depression, and feel like you need extra support and would like to try massage. Don’t hesitate to call.

 

 

 

 

 

Stress Free

As a holistic therapist I help to get my clients in the “zone”, helping them to destress and unwind with massage and reflexology.  Once they have left me how do they continue to maintain the relaxation.

Knowing how to relax is vital for ensuring your health and well-being, as well as restoring the passion and joy in your life. Allowing stress to affect you can lead to depression, illness, weight gain and a general sense of malcontent.

Try some of these ways to zone out for 5 minutes:

Give Yourself a DIY Hand Massage for an instant relaxation that calms a pounding heart.

Try a little Acupressure by rubbing your feet over a golf ball.

Deep Breathing take 5 minutes and focus on your breathing. Sit up straight, eyes closed, with a hand on your belly. Slowly inhale through your nose, feeling the breath start in your abdomen and work its way to the top of your head. Reverse the process as you exhale through your mouth.

Eat Real Foods

Poor diets full of processed foods, grains, sugars and chemicals put a tremendous stress on the body. For many people (some experts estimate close to 85%), grains can put a huge stress on the body. for a stress-reducing, adrenal nourishing diet, focus on getting your nutrients from fresh, real foods in as close to their natural source as possible. Drink a lot of water and avoid the caffeine.

FINALLY…….

Natural spa

DIY Reflexology TIPS

 

Your feet take us everywhere; they carry our bodies all day long.  Have a little look at your feet after they’ve spent a day in those lovely leather shoes, or peering out of your open toe sandals.

What do they look like? Feel like? Are your feet pink and healthy and ready to go? Maybe, maybe not…  Possibly your ten toes are pressed against each other like sardines in a can. The skin of your feet looks lifeless, perhaps grey in colour and slightly clammy to the touch. Let’s liven them up with a foot massage!

I think most of us would agree that many of today’s illnesses could be attributed to stress and tension, manifesting in conditions such as backache, headaches, insomnia, constipation, and IBS. What I have found helps hugely though is reflexology.

Here are five ways to reap the benefits of reflexology at home. DIY reflexology can easily be slotted into even the most hectic of schedules.

reflexology foot chart

  1. Quick mood lifter

To give yourself a quick mood boost simply bring your endocrine system back into balance by working the reflex for the pituitary gland and hypothalamus. To do this simply massage your thumbs on both hands and/or both big toes, paying particular attention to the center of the widest part of the toe or thumb. This area could be a little sensitive to begin with but will improve with continued massage.

  1. Beat stress and lethargy

To give yourself an energy lift, banish lethargy and beat stress focus on the areas on the feet or hands which relate to the adrenal glands. By stimulating this area you will regulate your metabolism, lower blood pressure, reduce inflammation and motivate sluggish intestines. To do so simply massage the middle inner sides of your feet or hands.

  1. Stay mentally alert

To give yourself a mental boost you need to focus on the reflex which relates to the thyroid gland. You do this by using your thumb to walk around the base of your big toe or thumb. This is also the area to focus on to aid weight loss, nervousness, rapid heart beat, dry skin and to control the levels of cholesterol in the blood. This gland has also been called the third ovary and has been known to have to have a big impact on women’s health.

  1. Banish tension

Deal with stress induced tension, either physical or emotional, by massaging the reflex point with correlates with your nervous system. The spinal cord transmits millions of messages back and forth between the brain and the body while spinal nerves connect to the body’s organs, glands ands structures. It is no wonder then that any abnormal tension on the muscles or ligaments will cause pressure on the spinal nerve. To work your brain roll your finger over the tips of your big toes and to release tension on the spine massage the inside of your foot. Massaging these areas can also help with headache, PMS and constipation.

  1. Overall boost

Even if you don’t have a particular problem reflexology can help improve your overall wellbeing and make you feel more energized.

You can do this by massaging your solar plexus and diaphragm. Do so by drawing an imaginary line down from the second toe to just below the ball of the foot until you find a hollow. If under stress use your thumb to hold this point, while pressing slightly upwards, for 20 seconds. Don’t lose contact as you release pressure, just relax it gently. Try this three times, breathing in as you press in and exhaling as you breath out.

Alternatively you can receive the benefits of reflexology in these and other areas by running a golf ball around in your hands, focusing on the areas where you feel you need the most help. This can even be done while waiting at traffic lights.

It might also to help to walk on smooth pebbles in a driveway. This can’t pinpoint specific reflexes but can help boost a sense of well-being.  Nafisa is also available for reflexology sessions to restore and revive. Click here to contact Nafisa and discuss a treatment plan that is right for you.

 

 

 

Mindfulness

Woman playing with a butterfly on green grass

Mindfulness is not just for the trendies, or the hippies, it’s for all of us. Mindfulness is becoming the antidote to the busyness in our lives.  I was recently asked, “do I do mindful?” I don’t practice it as a therapy to clients, but it raised the question to myself, do I do it? Yes I do !:)

Mindfulness isn’t just the thing you practice during a 10-minute morning meditation. It can be something mixed in throughout your daily life by simply paying a little more attention to your activities as you are in that moment.

You could start by engaging in your creative play, that could be putting out the washing, gardening or even playing your favourite sport. See what happens to your thoughts, sometimes they flow. You become in the moment with your surrounding and let life just be. Even if it’s just for a short time.

How to be mindful.
Start by the focus on your breathe. Meditation master Thich Nhat Hahn describes the most foundational and most effective mindfulness practice, mindful breathing, in Shambhala Sun:
“So the object of your mindfulness is your breath, and you just focus your attention on it. Breathing in, this is my in-breath. Breathing out, this is my out-breath. When you do that, the mental discourse will stop. You don’t think anymore. You don’t have to make an effort to stop your thinking; you bring your attention to your in-breath and the mental discourse just stops. That is the miracle of the practice. You don’t think of the past anymore. You don’t think of the future. You don’t think of your projects, because you are focusing your attention, your mindfulness, on your breath.”

Get outside.  Go out and spend time in nature, get drunk on fresh air and light. Smell the green grass and the flowers. It’s a powerful recharge and gives the body the rush of endorphins again. Take off your shoes, feel the grass under your feet, laugh with the birds, feel the sun or rain on your cheeks. Lie back and be in your moment.
Feel your thoughts.  Mindfulness isn’t about being happy all the time. It’s about acceptance in the moment. Allowing yourself to feel whatever you feel without trying to resist or control it.  Excessively trying to be happy all the time can be counterproductive. It can lead to an unhealthy attitude towards negative emotions and experiences. Mindful people don’t try to avoid negative emotions or always look on the bright side — rather, accepting both positive and negative emotions and letting different feelings run along side each other.
Mindful eating.  We are hungry, so we eat. Can you always remember the lemon zest or the hint of coriander, running through your healthy salad lunch. Not always, as this time you had to rush to get to meeting. Mindful people make a practice of listening to their bodies — and they consciously nourish themselves with healthy foods, prepared and eaten with care. Sit down to eat, take time to acknowledge the tastes and sensations.

As a holistc therapist, I get my clients in the “zone”. Help to distress and unwind, offer self help tips to get less stressed. But it is easier said than done. It’s also frustrating when you don’t know how. Knowing how to relax is vital for ensuring your health and well-being, as well as restoring the passion and joy in your life.

I hope this mindful chat has brought you closer to being in your moment.

Menopause – Embrace It!

Our lives can get so busy, and life doesn’t stand still or slow down for the menopausal women. It carries on as normal, whilst we are left to carry a new bag of emotions, sweats, and sometimes tears. We should be allowed to let go and understand the need to let go and allow the change to happen. It’s not an overnight thing, it can happen gradually and because people cannot see the symptoms from the outside, some don’t have empathy towards it.

It typically happens between the age of 45 and 55 years and is an absolutely natural process. Having treated many women whom it affects emotionally, physically and mentally, it is clear that it’s a phase that some women fear and cannot embrace. It can make a women feel insecure effecting life’s balance on so many levels.

There are so many ways to look after ourselves and nurture our body as nature intended. Walk in nature, eat fresh, be mindful of exercising, laugh and cry if you want to.

Acupressure massage and reflexology treatments are also one of the ways  to support a menopausal woman, helping them to tune into their body’s needs, highlighting imbalances and areas, which need attention. It can relieve the symptoms of menopause by balancing the qi flow through the endocrine system. Having a treatment with an empathic therapist and a tranquil environment can provide a safe space in which to relax, be self-focused, and allow you to let go.

Stimulating some acupressure points through massage and reflexology can help balance the fluctuating hormone levels, aiding a woman to have a smoother transition to menopause.

Some of Points that can be worked:

Gall Bladder 20 –  used to relieve the most common symptoms like hot flashes, dizziness, stress and irritability. It is also called the ‘Wind Pool’ point, and it is located on the ridge of the occipital bone, midway between the ear and the spine, between the two joining muscles.

Reflexology regulates hormones and glandular functions of the body, also helping to alleviate and balance both the physical and emotional systems. By working with the hypothalamus and pituitary, reflexology can help to restore balance to the endocrine system. This in turn can alleviate menopausal symptoms such as hot flushes and anxiety. By calming the central nervous system, sleep disturbances can also be alleviated and anxiety and stress levels reduced. By regulating calcium and phosphorous levels in the thyroid gland, bone loss can prevented. Reflexology also helps the ovaries to regulate their oestrogen secretions and the uterus to maintain its natural health and flexibility.

Liver 3 – one of the most functional acupressure points for menopause that helps in relieving all varieties of menopause symptoms like mood swings, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, headaches and dizziness. This can be found on the foot and reflexologist can manipulate this point each session.

Spleen 6 – an extremely important acupressure point that is called the Three Yin Crossing. This point is positioned three finger widths above the inner ankle bone, along the back of the tibia. It is the crossing point of the kidney, liver and spleen meridians. This point is useful in acupuncture and menopause for promoting the general balance of all issues of female regulation.

 

Research carried out at the UK School of Complementary Health in Exeter indicates a marked decrease in anxiety, depression, insomnia, hot flushes and night sweats among menopausal women who received regular reflexology over a 4-month period. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12269681

The effects of reflexology are cumulative and depending on specific needs and symptoms, a course of treatments is usually recommended. Many people find it beneficial to have 4-6 weekly or fortnightly sessions initially, followed by a more general ‘maintenance’ session every 4-6 weeks.

So if this is your stage of life, call Nafisa for a chat and book in your session today.

 

 

 

 

Gift vouchers for a loved one?

gift-voucher001

So say ” I appreciate you”, “Your Loved”, “Your Cherished”, “You Are An Amazing Mum”. Here is your ‘YOU TIME!’.

We often don’t stop for a moment to think what we or our loved ones need.  An impulse buy of a bunch of flowers or chocolates to say “thank you” or “I love you”, doesn’t give the same nurturing feeling as a massage or reflexology treatment.

If you are hunting for a Valentine’s Gift or a Mother’s Day Gift, then a massage would be both a thoughtful and beneficial gift – some ‘me’ time & relaxation.

Gift vouchers are available for any of our treatments, so please contact us to buy one – we can deliver by post or email so even very last minute purchases can be made!

Wakey Wakey – Stretch and Shine!

Stretches to energise your morning

Here are 6 stretches you could do as a morning routine to feel strong, flexible and grounded.

Ground your thoughts, take a moment focus on your breath.

Keep warm when you do your stretches, so great after a morning workout or after a hot shower. But if your just getting out of bed, start the stretches gently. These exercises cover major muscle groups and can be followed any time of day. A great way to start your day.

                                                                                                                     

Upper Back Release

Upper Back Release Targets the upper back and back of shoulders

Standing with feet hip-distance apart, clasp hands and round upper back keeping arms straight and active. Think about the shoulder blades spreading wide across your back. Hold stretch for 2-3 deep breaths.

 Chest stretch

Chest Release  Targets the chest, front of shoulders and biceps. 

Holding a wall or window ledge with left arm, step forward with left leg and turn entire body to the right especially at the hips. Hold stretch for 4-6 deep breaths increasing stretch with the pivot at the hips.  Repeat on the other side.

Side Stretch

Side Stretch  Targets the IT band (outer thigh), obliques and shoulders. 

Standing with right hand on bed or wall, cross left leg in front of right leg, feet pointing forward.  Shift into the left hip and reach left arm up and over head, creating a long line from the left ankle to the left fingertips.  Hold and take 2-3 deep inhales and exhales.  Repeat on right.

Sitting Spine Twist

Seated Spinal Twist  Targets the spine, neck and shoulders.

Sitting on a chair or edge of bed with legs together, lengthen spine rotate from the waist, placing one hand behind you and the other hand on your outer thigh for support. For a deeper stretch for the neck, turn your gaze to look over your shoulder as well.  Hold 2-3 deep breaths.  Repeat other side.

Standing Hamstring Hinge

Standing Hamstring Stretch  Targets hamstrings.

Supporting yourself for balance as needed, bring right leg up onto a step or bench, increasing height as flexibility increases.  Keep legs hips distance and parallel and keep back leg straight (if possible) and front foot flexed.  If you need to increase stretch, hinge at the hips (not the waist or back), keeping the spine completely straight.  Don’t round the spine.  Take 4-6 deep breaths. Repeat other side.

Standing Quad Release

Standing Quad Stretch  Targets quadriceps.

Holding a chair, wall or bed for support, stand with feet hip-distance apart. Soften left knee and reach for your right foot or ankle, bending the right knee to point straight down to the floor.
Keep pelvis neutral and spine tall with the crown of your  head reaching to the ceiling.

Doing these everyday will help to keep you supple and flexible. TRY IT!

Self Massage Acupressure Tip

Do you get headaches?

New Year has began we have started rushing around again, clients have been coming to me with headaches and need of a destress.  This is a great way to help yourself!

The theory is that the body has special “acupoints”, or acupressure points, that can be found along invisible “energy channels” of the human body. These are the same points that are targeted for acupuncture and part of the same overall system or theory. These channels are believed to be the passage of the body’s vital energy or the life force called Qi.

12 channels connect the different organs of the body. These points start at the fingertips, travel to the brain, and then disseminate to various channels that reach a specific body organ.  Stimulating the body and relax the muscles. When acupressure is regularly practiced, this self-massage technique is believed to improve health and minimize recurrence of illnesses.

The most common, and probably the easiest point to target for acupressure, is point between the thumb and index finger, Known as the ‘Hook Spot’. This is called the hook spot in Chinese medicine. It is widely reported to be the most effective target point for relieving headache and numerous people agree that self-massage of this pressure point brings relief.

Generally, what you do is press the points firmly, while doing a rotary movement or an up-and-down movement for 30 seconds up to several minutes at a time. There is no limit to how many times you want to do it in a day. Just be sure that while doing it, you are in a comfortable position – relaxed and eyes closed while breathing deeply.

This is a self-massage technique, but other people can still provide the massage for you, too.