Friday, 1 July 2022

Covid precautions update at the Clinic

Photo by Anshu A on Unsplash


One of the things I notice when I look back over the years is the number of colds I had - usually several a year, of which at least one would be serious enough to take quite a while to recover from. As a massage therapist it's not good practice to work when ill so any infectious illness meant time off work, inconvenienced clients and a drop in income. Since March 2020 I have had - not a single cough or cold! I suspect this is partly because of increased hygiene and wearing a face mask, but also because we now tell people not to come in when they have cough or cold symptoms or are otherwise feeling unwell.

Prior to the pandemic I would often have people come in for a treatment who would then reveal that they had a cough or cold; sometimes I would turn them away, especially if they seemed to have a temperature (massage is contraindicated where the person has a temperature) but sometimes I would just accept it and continue. My room is small and poorly ventilated so of course I would often end up being infected and having to take time off. I have a pretty honed immune system after fifteen years of working in various primary schools - plus I eat healthily and exercise - but it can't fight off everything successfully. 

I am no longer insisting that people wear a face mask during appointments but I appreciate it when people do and I am continuing to wear one myself. I do ask that if you have a cough, cold or sore throat that you delay your appointment until you are well again. That way I have a better chance of staying well and able to work (always important when self employed!) and we reduce the likelihood of more people becoming infected - not just with regard to Covid-19, but other infectious illnesses too. If you are in close contact (share a household) with someone who has Covid-19, please wait ten days from when they tested positive before booking your appointment - this is because sometimes symptoms take a while to develop and as you will be in close contact with me for up to an hour we need to take precautions. So often in the UK we have just tried to carry on as normal when ill; I know there are still financial and other pressures to do this but where possible let's protect others by minimising their exposure to our illness. 

I hope you that stay well and enjoy the summer!

Tuesday, 31 May 2022

...and May flies by...


It's the last day of May and the next lot of woodland flowers are already springing up to replace the bluebells as they fade away. It's been a glorious spring, I feel the bluebell woods were exceptionally fragrant and beautiful this year, maybe due to the dry, warm weather. I am still not running due a foot issue, but I have been very much enjoying getting out in the woods every day with Daisy. The positive impact of natural light on our mood, health and sleep is huge, even more so if you can get out into a natural environment where the low level stimulation of natural sounds, aromas, colours and movements helps the mind to relax and be in the moment.

In Clinic news, I have increased the price of a 30 minute massage to £25; the 45 and 60 minute treatments remain the same price. It is not often that I increase my prices but this one feels needed.

Just a reminder as the days get longer to try to ensure that you still get enough sleep as it's so important for recovery; if you find it difficult to have long enough in bed at night, maybe try a daytime nap. Michael Moseley's series 'Just One Thing' on R4 had an episode on the health benefits of a nap - it's still on BBC Sounds and well worth a listen if you have a spare fifteen minutes, as are the other episodes.  

Wednesday, 6 April 2022

April already!

 Just checked, and this is my first post in 2022! How did three months fly by so quickly?

Well, the first reason is this distraction arrived in our household! She is called Daisy and is about two years old; full of beans and keeping us busy as we learn each others ways. I have really missed having a dog; they are a huge commitment but an equally huge source of joy.

A big part of having a dog in the house is the training, of course. With a dog like Daisy positive reinforcement is the way, and this got me thinking about how we train ourselves. So often I hear clients being down on themselves which can lead to a cycle of negative thinking - which for many of us actually means we feel even less like achieving our goals. Much better to focus on what you are achieving - note what you did do and how you felt - and then set realistic and achievable short and long term goals for where you want go next. Be kind to yourself; if you're having a stressful time or sleeping badly, recognise that you will have less left over for your exercise goals and tweak accordingly. Small, achievable steps can get us a long way.

Thursday, 23 December 2021

Goodbye 2021, here's looking at 2022!

The 919 Clinic is now shut for the holiday, we'll reopen on Tuesday 4th January.

Thank you to all my clients for your support over the last year; I really appreciate people following our guidelines so willingly. I have not had a single cold or other illness since February 2020 - very unusual for me - and this is largely due to my clients being so responsible and thoughtful, not only wearing masks and washing hands (as I do) but also contacting me to reschedule if feeling unwell. 

A reminder that the Exercises page on my website contains links to various videos I've made, demonstrating simple exercises to help keep you moving well exercises.

Wishing everybody health and happiness for 2022!

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Some simple neck stretches

 I am often asked for these so have at last got round to making a video - at home on my day off, so please forgive the lack of clinical presentation!

As ever, keep to a comfortable stretch that you can relax into. You can do all or some of the stretches shown as often as you find comfortable and useful.

neck exercises video

Saturday, 11 September 2021

Where is that tension locked up....

 Whilst indulging in my new pastime of spinning wool, I have been monitoring myself for habits that may end up limiting how long I can spin at a time - because of course I want to spin for hours, effortlessly! One habit I noticed is that I tend sub-consciously to create tension in my lower back; this gives me a nice, solid feeling of support - but is it actually going to help? 

- sustaining tension there is tiring and will probably give me back ache, limiting how long I can spin (and I don't want to associate my lovely new hobby with pain!)

- creating tension in my back affects other parts of me, for instance how easily my arms and shoulders move as I handle the wool.  

This is not a habit limited to new spinners; as I sit here typing this I notice I am beginning to do the same tensing up. So, how to support myself effortlessly as I sit at desk or wheel?

- visualise deep inner support to encourage using your postural muscles that are designed to do this kind of work all day without growing fatigued. Imagine a helium balloon is attached to the crown of your head and gently drawing you up so that your front and back lengthen equally (you may feel a slight tightening around your stomach). I also like to imagine an inner tube running up the centre of my body and being pumped full of air, or that my vertebrae are gently expanding up. Check your chin - is it remaining level? As your neck lengthens the vertebrae will move into a more neutral position, still keeping the curves of the spine but less exaggerated than when your chin pokes forward.

- take some time through out the day to allow your attention to travel through your body, identifying areas of tension. Allow that tension to ease away - easy breathing helps this - and explore how you can carry yourself with minimal effort instead.

- have a look at these videos by the physiotherapist and movement coach Joanne Elphinston (much shorter than the ones I make!) for tips on freeing up the back: 

Thigh slides to free up the upper body, great to build into your day for instance if you are sitting down at a computer:

This one really gets the upper body moving - Joanne made this video at home during the first lockdown:

This one explores easy posture with that inner support:

Sunday, 8 August 2021

A new obsession....

 As many of my clients know, I have a slight (ahem!) obsession with wool and knitting. I have loved everything about wool from a very young age, and have always sought out quality woolen textiles. I did learn to knit aged eight, but then forgot about it until my 30s when I was inspired to take up the needles again by younger friends who took their knitting to the climbing crag and on camping trips. One thing led to another, I became obsessed with learning about sheep breeds and sourcing wool from small, sustainable non-intensive UK farms and began to fill every moment of spare time with knitting or reading about knitting and all things wool related. From there it was a small step to spinning on a spindle, and then this happened:

Wheel on the day of arrival (excuse the mess!)

My lovely sister-in-law and her mother loaned me a spinning wheel! I am now practicing on it every day.....

My first spinning effort

.....and of course this has opened up another delicious world of spinning techniques, raw wool, combing and carding.....

On a professional note, I am going to have to watch out for my back and hamstrings. As a beginner I tend to tense up with concentration which tightens up my muscles; experienced spinners recommend learning to relax as you want to be able to sustain the momentum for hours(!) Also, as with driving, there is a tendency for the leg that is doing the work to tighten up through the hamstring, just as drivers often notice happens when they are having to change gear and speed frequently. I am working out how to become more relaxed and will report back once I have found a solution...