Tuesday 27 February 2024

'When should I book in again?'

Photo by Pablo Heimplatz on Unsplash

 'When should I book in again?' is a question I am often asked at the end of an appointment, especially by new clients who are unfamiliar with massage.

My usual response is that there is no set answer, it depends on you as an individual:

- on how you respond to massage. Some people need to allow more time for the body to process a massage treatment, especially if they haven't had a massage for a while.

- on your background health and the issue you have presented with. Sometimes having shorter appointments more frequently is appropriate to address an acute problem or to provide maintenance. In certain instances a shorter follow up quite soon after a long appointment is helpful to consolidate the treatment. Other times I may suggest you come back in two weeks (or longer) to assess progress and then plan from there. 

- on whether you have a training schedule or other goals/deadlines.

- it also depends on your finances. I completely understand that massage can be a big chunk of your budget and I will always be open to coming up with a treatment plan that you feel you can manage but will still offer enough benefit. 

People who are used to massage and how their body responds to challenges such as training or a stressful time at work often gain a feel for how often they need to come and I find that a short discussion comes up with a treatment plan that we both feel is most beneficial to them

Something else I am often asked is, 'should everyone have a regular massage?' Well, I think that would be wonderful and beneficial and I would certainly like one, but it really depends on you whether it is needed. If you are sleeping well, exercising well and relaxing well then you may find that you can maintain your physical and mental well being without needing a regular massage. Sometimes you may be doing all three of those well but also be facing extra challenges that mean you benefit from regular massage. Many people find that a regular massage - however spaced apart - means that they keep on top of their aches, pains and tension and they feel that they move better. Other people target their treatments for times when they need that extra support, for however long that is - sometimes a few months, other times just one or two treatments. There is also the question of how frequent should regular appointments be, and again the answer is that it is personal to you - maybe that is fortnightly, monthly, every three months or longer. One of my clients comes regularly for two appointments at exactly the same time of year, every year - that is when they need the extra support. 

Ultimately, it is up to you, how you feel and what you want. I will offer honest advice and guidance and where appropriate suggest a treatment plan, but the final decision is always yours and I will always respect that.

Wednesday 10 January 2024

January catch up

Daisy copes fine with mud....

We've made it into 2024! I hope January is being kind to you. I seem to be spending a lot of time washing mud off Daisy....

Speaking of mud, I will just mention my usual tips to take smaller steps, keep your weight over your feet and stay relaxed to allow your body to make the quick micro adjustments that will help you balance. I have noticed quite a few clients coming in with lower back ache and tight hamstrings and adductors that are possibly linked to slippery mud! Tensing up will also compound neck and shoulder issues. Mud is hard work, as I was reminded whilst making my way over a muddy field where I had to pull my feet up out of the mud that wanted to hold on to my boots; this after balancing my way up a steep path that was an ankle deep, slippery challenge. It sounds like we may have ice arriving soon and these tips work well for those conditions too, as does wearing the most appropriate footwear you can find for mud or ice. 

Some radio recommendations:

Michael Mosley has been back with some special longer programmes that are both interesting and have excellent tips on how to stay fit and healthy including as we age. Topics include interviews with experts on inflammation, sleep, exercise, happiness and weight. His fifteen minute series has also returned, with a reminder that we should all be taking a vitamin D supplement at this time of year until April when we can make our own again from sunlight:


One of the Michael Mosley programmes is on cold therapy, and this also cropped up on 'Sliced Bread' with a look at ice baths and cold showers:


You can also find the episode where they looked at sports bras, which I highly recommend listening to if you wear one:


You will notice that my recommendations tend to be R4; this is purely because that is what I listen to most. However there are some excellent podcasts out there, including those from the Sports Therapy Association https://www.thesta.co.uk/site/index.php/podcast-options/podcast. Most of these are aimed at therapists but there are many episodes of interest to the general public.

Some of you may have noticed Daisy's lead, handwoven by me. I sell these in various colours of natural yarn (and will also be making other items such as belts, book marks, lanyards) with 10% of the price going to the animal rescue charity that Daisy came from. I sold seven leads in the run up to Christmas and made the donation to La Cruz Protectora - if that was one of you reading this, thank you for buying a lead and I hope you are pleased with it!

Wednesday 13 December 2023

December update

It's halfway to Christmas already! I am working up to and including Friday 22nd December at the 919 Clinic, finishing at 4pm. My last December dates at the Nether Edge Herbarium are Saturday 16th and Tuesday 19th. Gift certificates are still available!

I will be back at the Nether Edge Herbarium from the 2nd January, and the 919 Clinic from the 3rd January.

Daisy loving the frosty conditions!

It's been a slippy few weeks, either on the mud and wet leaves or on the ice. Do remember if you feel insecure walking in these conditions to take smaller steps, keeping your weight over your feet, and to relax so that your body is free to absorb any slips and make the micro adjustments to keep you balanced. I also notice that people sometimes begin to adopt a penguin walk, leaning side to side as they lift their legs from the back and pelvis rather than flexing at the ankle, knee and hip joints. This can lead to a stiff, aching back as it's hard work to keep up. If you find yourself doing this, instead visualise your torso remaining relaxed and your spine extending upwards as it's supported by your pelvis, then take a moment to notice if you are flexing your leg at the hip to lift your knee up in front of you as it also flexes, ready to then extend your lower leg and move you forward as your foot comes back down. Place your hand at the hip crease to feel what is happening. You can also check your gait by placing your hand over your sternum; is your hand being moved side to side as you walk penguin style, or is it rotating as your back responds to an easier walking movement. Do take a look at my exercises, Hunting in the Forest and Knee Lift, if you would like to practice this movement (scroll down the page on my website to find the video links):


Not long now until the days begin to lengthen again. Meanwhile I am taking in as much pleasure as I can during my winter walks, from the low sun highlighting the texture of tree bark and the colours of the mosses and lichens, to the intricate patterns of frost on leaves and the sensation of space, light and increased views in the woods now that the leaves are mainly fallen.


Tuesday 14 November 2023

November news


I love autumn - the colours, the crunch of leaves (when dry!) underfoot, finding sweet chestnuts to roast and of course, as an avid knitter, the return of the sweater, hat, gloves and shawl temperatures! However, the rain deluges are making those leaves slippery underfoot, likewise the muddy paths. If you find yourself thinking that you are about to slip the instinct for most of us is to tense up but as with icy conditions this actually makes it harder for your body to absorb the forces and make the micro adjustments that help us to adapt to what is happening underfoot. Instead, take a moment to breathe and allow yourself to soften and relax. Ok, it doesn't always work and sometimes that slip is inevitable but more often than not you find yourself more sure footed - which is a good feeling!

We are also past Halloween and bonfire night, so it's time to mention Christmas! Gift vouchers are a very popular present and I can arrange them for appointments with me at either the 919 Clinic or the Nether Edge Herbarium. Just drop me an email or text and I will get back to you.

November exercise exploration: stand by something - could be a wall or a tree - and reach up with your arm; how far does your hand reach? Now start again but this time feel the connection between your foot and the ground on the same side as the arm that is moving, and as you raise your arm imagine that the movement begins with the foot pressing into the ground so that as you reach up you are also pressing down. What do you notice? 

I find that this is a lovely way to explore how movement connects through the body. When the shoulder is supported by the involvement of more of the body for me it feels freer, and I can then reach further as that whole side of the body expands and extends upwards.

In other news, I have begun selling the dog leads and some of the other items that I make, with 10% of the price going back to the animal rescue charity that Daisy came from (La Cruz Protectora). Sam Mayfield is amazing, she dedicates herself to helping the dogs, cats and other animals that are so much in need of an opportunity to find a happier life. You can find images of some of the things that I make on my instagram page if you search for practicalcatcrafts; please contact me if you would like to make a purchase. I weave the bands on my inkle loom in natural materials (mainly linen and organic cotton) and I will do my best to  accommodate personal preferences around colours etc. The dog leads start at £25 each for a standard length. Feedback so far is that they feel lovely and take up very little room in your pocket. I have been using one for a year with Daisy and it is holding up well.
Inkle loom in action

Some of the dog leads

 Not long now until the shortest day and then the rapid return of the light. Something to look forward to on the dark evenings of November and December. Keep well!

Wednesday 18 October 2023

October catch up - including some listening recommendations.

The leaves are turning colour and falling, the acorns are like ball bearings underfoot in the woods and I'm wearing my (handknit by me) Icelandic jumper; how did it get to be nearly November so fast! As usual, several months have gone by since my last blog....

First up: my Saturday hours at the Nether Edge Herbarium are changing to begin at 10.15am - so you can have your massage treatment and then continue with the rest of your weekend. I am also there every Tuesday afternoon. There is no change to my 919 Clinic hours (details are all on my website https://katesheridan.org/booking-and-prices).

When I first began working as a massage therapist, way back in the 1990s, I always took details of the typical food my patients would eat across a week. This continued when I trained as a medical herbalist but over the last few years of working as a soft tissue therapist, whilst I still talk to my clients about food and appropriate healthy eating, I have stopped making a note of what they are eating. Listening to an excellent podcast on the Sport Therapy Association website has made me reconsider. The interview in episode 166 with Dr Lucy Williamson on the gut microbiome and personalised nutrition for the future is a fascinating listen, and she is also fully in favour of a morning coffee and full fat dairy so definitely my kind of nutritionist! She very much wants people to feel they can have fun with bringing more variety of food into their cooking, and also to connect with the natural environment that food comes from - it is worth having a look at her website (you can find the link on the STA website, link below) where she lists events and courses. She talks a lot about not only the role food and our microbiome have in our health including managing inflammatory conditions and healing, but how our mental and emotional well-being can affect our gut health - as so many of us have grown up with an awareness of but haven't always found a way to act on. What we eat can have such an effect on our fitness and ability to recover, well worth a listen.


I also listened to the Food Programme on R4, which has a two parter on - you guessed it - the gut microbiome. Definitely the hot topic of the last year or so!


One of the points made in this episode that I really appreciated was that there is no right diet (where diet refers to what you eat on a regular basis) that will fit everyone; there is the right diet for you in your environment, leading your life. In this episode they monitored the health of someone from the UK kayaking up the Greenland coast whilst eating a traditional Greenland diet (spoiler: he thrived on it!) One of the researchers observed that if you want to know what you should be eating, look at the kind of foods found naturally where you are (or what they would be if there was still a natural environment!) and what the traditional diet would have included. Once again the message was to eat a variety of fresh and fermented foods, and to avoid ultra processed food.

Lastly, as the days become shorter and the weather colder, remember to take a moment to breathe, relax those tightly braced muscles and allow your spine to lengthen and expand so you can move with more ease and lightness through your day - even as wind howls and the cold numbs your nose. Look for where you are holding tension and ask if you can let it ease away; notice how that feels. Enjoy!  

Monday 24 July 2023

I'm back to working in two locations!

 Very exciting news for me - I am now working on Tuesday and Saturday afternoons at the Nether Edge Herbarium on Abbeydale Road. 

Nether Edge Herbarium

I have known the Sheffield herbalists for many years, they welcomed me when I first arrived here, and I am delighted to be a part of this team. I will be practicing there the same as I do at the Clinic: soft tissue therapy with maybe more of an emphasis on the movement work (JEMS) but as ever the treatment will be guided by the history and requirements of the client. 

If you have struggled to make it to my 919 Clinic appointments due to the times then maybe this Saturday slot will work for you? 

Tuesday 18 July 2023



Great book - must finish it!

I bought 'More fuel you' after reading an interview with the author; I really like her approach to diet and nutrition - she works with you and your needs, values and requirements rather than dictating what you should do, and is an advocate of eating as a pleasurable and social activity. Things she considers in this book after an introduction on nutrition include the effects of ageing and the menopause, and the pros and cons of various eating choices including low carb, plant based and intermittent fasting. Whilst this book is geared towards those wanting to improve sporting performance the information in it is relevant to everybody who wants to find out more about nutrition and eating healthily and optimally. It is very accessible and well written, with plenty of case studies.

There have been some interesting radio programmes on food recently too. When I was training to be a medical herbalist I was fortunate to have Christopher Hedley as one of my teachers, a wonderful herbalist and teacher with a knack of summarising key points in a memorable way; 'get them eating right, get them sleeping right and see what you're left with'. Now we are finding out more about the gut microbiome we understand that what we eat really does affect both our mood and our immune system - so much more than just fuel, as herbalists have known all along. Pretty much every nutritionist will tell you to eat lots of plants and to eat fresh food and this thirty minute, very engaging radio programme https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001ngjx agreed, advocating eating at least thirty different types of plant each week. This is easier than it sounds as it includes herbs and spices and doesn't have to be large quantities. I counted up how many plants I had in one day last week and it was twenty - my muesli alone included eight types plus the fresh fruit I add to it. One of the traditional ways of preparing foods in many cultures is to ferment them and again this is really beneficial for the gut microbiome. In contrast so much of the modern industrial way of eating although convenient is damaging to our health; it's scary how much of the food we buy is actually ultra-processed (over 60% of the average person's diet in the UK, apparently!) The programme is a Michael Mosely one and he has a 'Stay Young' series on BBC Sounds in which the first episode covers the benefits of fermented foods. Ultra processed foods are discussed amongst other food matters in this episode of 'The Infinite Monkey Cage', https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m001n8b6, and if you find the subject interesting then you may like to follow up Dr Chris van Tulleken's podcast.

Another thing that came up in one of the programmes I was listening to was, don't write a food off because you didn't like it the first time. Our tastes change over time and we have to learn to like foods that aren't sweet (this is a survival mechanism as many poisonous foods are bitter. Of course, many beneficial foods also have a bitter taste so we have to be taught which are safe and then to develop a taste for them). When I was growing up my mum (a great cook with a wide repertoire) would always put a teaspoon of something we weren't sure of on our plate just to try, with no pressure or judgement. This taught me useful strategies on how to eat foods I didn't particularly like, but also over time I would often develop a taste for them (exceptions include kidney and liver - just no!) Another thing to consider is that as your gut health improves you may be able to tolerate more foods that you previously found upset your digestive system. Keep curious, keep trying different foods!

Most importantly of all, enjoy your food!