Thursday, 6 August 2020

Breathing during the time of Covid-19

Two interviews on the radio caught my attention this week. One was about a trial into providing singing classes with the ENO voice coaches for those experiencing chronic breathing problems after being seriously ill with C-19. Another was looking at the effect of stress on where we hold the tension in our body. In both cases the body tends to shift to overusing the accessory muscles for breathing, for instance the scalenes, sternocleidomastoid, pectorals and the abdominal muscles. This can cause a tense, braced posture with the shoulders coming in, and excessive neck tension. 

So, why singing lessons? A voice coach will help people to use the diaphragm; this is the muscle we use during passive breathing. The coach will also encourage people to move from just breathing into the upper part of the chest wall - a frequent stress response - to using the whole of the rib cage. I often notice with my clients who have very tight upper body muscles that they tend to gasp when asked to breath in, using great effort in the upper body muscles. Instead of this, the coaching encourages relaxed, deep, effective breathing. This relaxed style of breathing has another positive effect as it encourages letting go of the fight/flight/freeze stress response and moving into rest, digest and repair mode.

My blog post on 08/05/2020 includes two videos demonstrating breathing exercises.
There are also many online videos and articles by yoga, singing and breathing instructors. Let's all relax and breath easily.

Interesting massage article.

A colleague pointed me in the direction of this article and it is an interesting read. In particular, it addresses the now outdated concept that harder and deeper (painful!) is better. My own massage practice has shifted to concentrating more on the neural aspect of the treatment; the feedback to the nervous system from the massage treatment. This compliments the JEMS approach which is also very much about interacting with the nervous system. These days I think of massage as a conversation with the body; rather than charging in heavy handed, you ask nicely to be let in. The more relaxed the client is, the more effective the touch communication and hence the overall treatment.

Tuesday, 4 August 2020

Vertical hip release (video)

This video explores how to relax the hips to allow a bit of bounce, to facilitate movement and absorb forces. As well as being important for sport this is also a great help in everyday life, from helping us to sit down through to walking down stairs and hills. 

This is a movement that I have to practice frequently as I lost it after I injured my knee; you may notice that at the beginning of the video I have a tendency to slide my hips forward rather than dropping downwards, and as the video progresses I am able to correct this.

Monday, 20 July 2020

Covid-19 secure: your treatment

So, this is my new work look!
This is what I will be wearing when I greet you on your arrival: clean clothes, a face visor that I clean between each client, a face covering, and a disposable apron that will go in the bin at the end of the session. I will be holding a non-contact thermometer to check your temperature, and will also have a health check sheet to go through with you. If you haven't brought your own clean face covering I will have a disposable one for you, and some hand sanitiser. 

The need for increased hygiene does unfortunately mean an increase in disposable items (I am also using disposable face rest covers) but I am trying to minimise this and will be using a washable face covering. I have replaced the bolsters and face rest with ones that I can wipe down with a suitable cleaning product after each treatment, and will also be cleaning the couch and changing the couch cover and towels after each treatment. I have removed all unnecessary items from the room and those that I still need are stored in the cupboards or containers so that I can clean all surfaces, including chairs, work tops, switches and handles, at the start of the day and after each treatment. The floor gets a good clean, too! 

The room is aired for at least fifteen minutes in between appointments; at present I am allowing thirty minutes to make sure I have enough time to do everything required by the new guidelines.

Please have a look at the Covid-19 page on my website for more information
To book an appointment or to ask a question contact me directly (details on my website,

Friday, 10 July 2020

Return to work!

Yesterday the massage industry was given the green light to resume work, as long as we follow strict guidelines to maintain as safe an environment as possible within the ongoing pandemic. This is great news, but caught me a little on the back foot as we were not expecting the next update until the 23rd July and my Professional Association had only just emailed out the latest update to the Guidance on Wednesday!

With all that in mind, I am hoping to be back at the 919 Clinic from the 21st July. Things will be different, including how to book in. I will give out more information on this once I have processed everything. You will need to book with me directly, by email, text or phone, and I will need to go through Covid-19 screening questions when you book and again when you come in for your appointment. Please do be patient with us whilst John and I get used to the new system! We may have to ask you to wait before moving between different areas of the Clinic to ensure only one client is in an area at a time.

At present, I will not be able to treat you until fourteen days have passed if:

- you have any symptoms of C-19: high temperature, new and continuous cough, loss or change to your sense of taste or smell.

- you have been in contact with someone experiencing these symptoms.

- you have been abroad within the last fourteen days, in particular to countries in lockdown or experiencing high numbers of Covid-19 cases.

If you have been treated for Covid-19, in particular if you were hospitalised, or if you are in a high risk group and was shielding you will need to check with your GP for approval for the treatment before booking an appointment.

Once I have been through all the paperwork I will create a Coronavirus page on my website with all the necessary information.

Check my website for my contact details:

Looking forward to seeing you all again!

Wednesday, 8 July 2020

Heaven and Earth stretch and balance (video)

This is a lovely stretch and balance to do to wake up your proprioception and feel a connection along your whole central longitudinal axis, from your foot all the way up to the hand stretched above your head. The aim is to centre yourself over your foot - so maybe do listening foot to prepare - and then lengthen and open up whilst remaining relaxed. The knee lift exercise from my earlier blog post may be helpful if you find floating your knee up challenging. 

I find it really helps to let your foot relax into the ground, and then really press your hands away from each other, so you feel connected and grounded from the foot even as you stretch up. It's lovely to feel your hip joint opening up and that connection through the whole body.

If you find the above video does not fit your screen, you can click on it or on this link Heaven and Earth stretch to see it on Vimeo.

Thursday, 25 June 2020

Covid-19 update

There was a possibility that I would be returning to my massage practice at the 919 Clinic in July, but the latest government update on businesses allowed to reopen does not include massage therapists. This is understandable as it is a close contact treatment. My professional association is asking for more clarity on when we are likely to be able to return to practice. If you were hoping for a treatment, I am so sorry that you will have to wait longer but it is with the aim of keeping you safe. John is available for physiotherapy treatment if you are in pain.

Meanwhile I am making plans for when I do return to practice. I will be putting away everything that is not required for the treatment, so the room will seem much barer - indeed, more clinical! I am replacing my usual bolsters and headrest with vinyl covered ones that I can clean thoroughly between appointments, and I have bought disposable face coverings so I can supply one to clients who do not bring their own (although I would encourage clients to do this). The photo above shows two of the new bolsters, a pack of disposable face masks, some hand sanitiser I am trying out (I already use hand sanitiser in between clients in addition to hand washing but as I will now be applying it far more frequently I want to make sure I get on with a brand before buying in bulk) - and a wobble cushion! This last item is an excellent way to engage the nervous system and wake up the muscles to improve adaptability and balance, and I can clean it in between clients.

I will post again with all the provisions I will be making for client safety once I have a date to return to practice. At present, guidance includes alongside other recommendations: 

  • required questions asked to check the client's health and risk of exposure to Covid-19 on making the appointment and again on day of appointment; this will determine if the treatment can go ahead. 
  •  asking the client to wait outside the Clinic, for instance in their car, until it is the correct time for their appointment.
  • meeting the client outside the Clinic to sanitise their hands and ensure they are wearing a face covering (which will be kept on the whole time they are in the Clinic).
  • providing a plastic box for the client's possessions including clothes; the box will be sanitised after they have collected them.
  •  cleaning all surfaces in communal areas and the treatment room before and after the treatment.
  • stripping and sanitising the couch after each treatment and placing couch cover and towels in a bag that will then be kept closed until they are washed.
  • airing the room for fifteen minutes after each treatment.
  • ensuring that there is only one client at a time in shared Clinic spaces such as reception.
  • payment should be contactless.
  • cleaning my own hands before and after treatments and after cleaning the room.
  • I am to wear a face covering at all times. (Update 03/06/2020: latest guidance suggests that a visor will be required).
Some of these precautions you will be pleased to read that I was doing already, for instance the hand washing. Some are very new and will take getting used to, for instance the face covering, but I am sure this will seem routine very quickly.