Monday, 13 March 2023

Updates and some interesting listening.


Well, I'd been meaning to write a blog post for a while but I've just realised that my last one was in 2022! Time really does fly by.

Since then, we've had a deluge of snow in Sheffield. Snow and ice affect how we walk and I often notice an increase in back and leg issues as my clients cope with the conditions (including shoveling snow off paths and roads). My tips are to relax whilst walking so your body is able to adjust better to the ground (or ice) underfoot and to absorb any small slips, and to take smaller steps keeping your weight over your feet. Notice how you are walking - are you moving your torso and hips from side to side rather than lifting at the hip? If so that may be contributing to a sore back. In deep snow we have to lift our legs up more so you may find practicing my knee lift exercises useful.

Come April I will be making a small increase to the price of my 45 and 60 minute sessions. This is the first increase since the beginning of 2020 and it will be another few years before I put them up again, all being well. I like to keep treatments as affordable as I can manage.

Radio 4 is my go to for home listening and they have had some great, and very interesting, programmes on recently that I thought I would mention here.

I also came across this site via a recommendation from the JEMS group I am part of (see my website for more information about JEMS). It has some really interesting reading and podcasts on what influences how we move and how we perceive our bodies and pain. Some of it is free and some behind a paywall:

Michael Moseley is a scientist who writes and talks about pain, and he does so brilliantly. I highly recommend his website which includes resources:

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Looking after your hard working feet....

Photo by MichaƂ Parzuchowski on Unsplash

Many years ago I was watching a film during which an exhausted woman comes inside after being on her feet all day; takes off her shoes and massages her feet. Her face expressed her deep pleasure and relief at this self care and it really struck me - how many of us take such care of our feet.

I can really recommend that at least once a week you take the time to have a good look at your feet. The nails, the skin - but also how they are moving, how they feel. Try spreading out your toes; raising them; pressing them into the ground. What happens when you focus on the big toe, the little toe, the middle toes? What do you notice about their mobility and strength? 

Massage the soles of your feet, with either your hands (knuckles work well) or using a ball that you can roll your foot over. Again, what do you notice? Stroke along the top of your foot, exploring between the tendons as you move towards the toes. Hold each toe in turn and move it slowly in a circle, one way then the reverse. Use your fingers to flex each joint (gently), and give the toe a gentle pull to finish.

Practice the ankle mobility exercise on my exercises page (listening foot). How easily can you transfer weight through your foot? Take your time, slow down, be curious. 

I can also recommend having a go with the strengthening, engaging and stretching exercises in the link below, especially if you spend a lot of time sitting.

Our feet are our interface with the ground we stand on and they work hard for us; let's give them something back! 

Photo by How-Soon Ngu on Unsplash

Tuesday, 1 November 2022

Are you using a hot water bottle?

I love a hot water bottle; so comforting when you have aches and pains, and so wonderful for taken the chill off the bed before you get in. However, over the years I have seen clients come in with distinctive changes to their skin pigmentation where they have been using a hot water bottle for prolonged periods of time to relieve chronic pain; the changes are due to the prolonged exposure to thermal radiation. This looks like a darker area with maybe a bit of a pattern to it and has an impressive Latin name, erythema ab igne, and is also known by the more obvious 'toasted skin syndrome'. You can find out more about it online, including here:,the%20use%20of%20heating%20pads.

and here:

Don't let this put you off using a hot water bottle - just be aware to treat it with respect, as you would an ice pack (wrap in a towel or similar before applying to skin, and limit to twenty minutes at a time). Short term use is fine, although do make sure you aren't scalding yourself (I an a fan of hot water bottle covers and have a nice woollen one that I made). If using long term, just make sure you aren't applying it too hot or for too long. 

Thursday, 6 October 2022

ooops, it's been a while!

Maybe the lovely distraction that is spending time with Daisy
(and weaving leads for her) is why I have taken so long to post...

I've been meaning to post for a few months now - and just realised that my last one was back in July! Now we are well into autumn, the leaves are changing colour and falling - and I should post. So this is just a quick update whilst I get round to making a video to demonstrate some more useful exercises - and some photos from my first holiday since 2019, a wonderfully relaxing week with my family in south west Pembrokeshire, where my mother's family come from and we spent many childhood holidays.

First off, a link to a useful site that I came across through a nutritional company that I order from. As ever, the information on how to use food and exercise to improve your health will seem obvious if you already know it but extremely useful if you don't: 

I also came across this useful free resource via my professional group, on understanding and managing your pain:

We are open as usual at the 919 Clinic; as we go into autumn and winter I am requesting that people wear a face mask during their treatment (if able) and that you reschedule your appointment if you have any cough or cold symptoms - it really does help to limit the spread of bugs and viruses when we are spending up to an hour together in a very small, windowless room. I appreciate your consideration. I am now into my longest cough/cold free period of health in many years, most likely due to people following this request, and as well as keeping me well and at work it means I am less likely to spread illness to others.

I hope you are getting opportunities to enjoy the wonderful colours and textures of autumn; I love crunching leaves and acorns underfoot whilst hunting for sweet chestnuts to take home and roast. 

Another advantage of morning dog walks: empty beaches!

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.