Monday, 30 March 2020

Exercising at home

I am sure you are aware of this already: do get outside for your daily exercise (if able and not self isolating) as it is so beneficial for your health and well being, especially as our skin can begin to make Vitamin D once more as winter light turns to summer. If you are self isolating but able to use your garden, maybe as well as gardening and relaxing with a book when warm enough, you could do some exercise there.

The internet is full of exercise ideas, including Joe Wick's daily video. Tom Goom on the Running Physio website found some research indicating that training for fifteen minutes, three times a week is enough to build on your strength and endurance and he has a video with some circuit training ideas:
I would recommend daily yoga for its calming influence, plus some cardio exercises to get your heart rate up. Skipping is excellent for this as are star jumps, lunges and squats (check your knee doesn't go too far forward), marching on the spot or even practicing sitting down and standing up again without using your arms (keep them folded across your chest to make sure your legs are doing the work and that your neck and back keep relaxed; as you get stronger you can do this one legged). Calf raises can be easily fitted in throughout the day, for instance when brushing your teeth. I have been practicing my hopping technique, doing a few repetitions on each leg and aiming to develop a springy 'up' impulse. You can use your bottom stair or doorstep for step ups and you may also want to investigate using household items for a bit of upper body work out. Do exercise safely, though! If something doesn't feel right, stop and do something easier. If you are trying something new, just do a few to begin with and see how you feel a day or two later before increasing the exercise. Start easy and build up.

Yoga with Adriene is an excellent free source for yoga on Youtube  and many yoga practitioners are now streaming their classes, for instance my friend and yoga practitioner Claire Latimir of Holistic Heaven is streaming classes on her Facebook page. The Reach in Sheffield is also doing online classes via Zoom so the teacher can keep an eye on the class:
The yoga sequence Sun Salutation is wonderful for extending, flexing, connecting with how your body is feeling and relaxing; you can find videos demonstrating it on many yoga websites and Youtube. 
You can also find T'ai Chi classes online, from schools that are streaming classes to Lockdown Tai Chi on Facebook who are offering free Zoom classes.
I have been recommended Evolve Life Somatics who are running free classes from their Facebook group. I have not tried their classes yet but I am very impressed with Somatic movement and it is something I am considering training in as it ties in very well with my JEMS training that incorporates elements of somatic movement.

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Checking in...

Hello. hope you are well and coping with the day on day changes and challenges that the need to check the transmission of the Covid-19 coronavirus are bringing us. 

It is so important to protect the vulnerable and reduce pressure on the NHS and of course we all want to help with this. However, the measures will also bring with them challenges, whether it is worry over finances and work; worry over the health of ourselves or others who are vulnerable; adjusting to new routines and limitations, and of course some people will be sharing a small living space with very limited opportunities to go out. Those of you on Facebook may have come across two posts that went viral by Imogen Wall, who is very used to living with restrictions during her role as an aid worker and who also has a qualification in mental health first aid; she has excellent advice on what to expect and how to cope together with a clear explanation of how we may find ourselves and others reacting to the new and ever changing normal.

One of her posts addressed the fact that many of us will feel threatened, confused,  frightened, and our ancient amygdala (part of the brain) response is to assume that there is a physical threat that we need to fight or run away from, or freeze to avoid notice. Of course none of those three responses are what we need in the current situation so it is good be be self aware; the amygdala responds very well to conscious thought and quickly calms down which is why counting to ten actually does work! Likewise, challenging a sense of panic or anxiety by coming up with positive action thoughts or alternatives can be effective as it involves engaging a different part of the brain that overrides the amygdala (for instance, 'I have to get out of here!' can become 'I can challenge myself to plan a route for my daily exercise that avoids as many people as possible'). If we cannot take the actions our ancient safety response would like us to (fight, fly, freeze), and if we do not find a way to calm it we may find we end up taking other avenues and behaving in ways that we would raise our eyebrows at normally, and it's helpful to have this in mind when observing how others are behaving.

My first response when this all really hit home was to pour a strong drink. That's fine if you do it once, but as we all know it's not helpful to use alcohol as a solution. Likewise I felt a need for caffeine but really that's just my body craving stimulus to deal with the challenge when stimulus is in reality, for this situation, not at all helpful. Instead I am now turning to herbal teas; supportive, calming ones. I have made up a relaxing blend of linden blossom, lavender and passion flower and a soothing, supportive one of red clover, heartsease, elderflower and borage. I also like some shop bought teas such as Pukka and am drinking Turmeric Active, Peace and Nighttime. As our world becomes physically smaller with restrictions on leaving the house I find it calming to focus on something around me that brings positive feelings or that I can lose myself in, such as a cup of tea; bird song; watching a bee in the garden; really looking at the texture, colour and subtle movements of the garden plants in the changing breeze and light; the changing light in a favourite room; the design and feel of a favourite mug. Whatever makes your heart sing quietly for a few moments. 

It is good to avoid things that feed that amygdala fear response. Maybe restrict how often you check the news or social media, for instance. Are there activities you can pick up instead that are calming and/or feel positive, whether it be knitting or sorting through those boxes full of stuff that you have been meaning to deal with for ages.

I am also making sure that I use the time to work, be creative, develop ideas and do things I normally put off. I have been making JEMS videos that I intend to make available, and learning how to use Zoom to keep in touch with people remotely.

I am still here as a therapist albeit remotely, so do contact me if you need to talk or require something that I can help with.

Wednesday, 18 March 2020

Important update regarding treatments

I have just received an email from my professional body advising us to discontinue all treatments until further notice.

I am sure you appreciate that this is advice with the interests of yourself and others at its heart.

I will continue meanwhile to post on ways in which you can look after your musculo-skeletal health.

I am using my time to develop my understanding and practice of JEMS; this is proving extremely beneficial to my own movement and ease and I look forward to introducing more of this practice into my treatments once I am able to see clients again. You can find a link explaining more about JEMS on my website.

Wishing you all the best in these challenging times.

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Coronavirus: update on appointments

This is an uncertain and worrying time for many of us. Just when you might most want a massage to help you cope with it all, the contagious nature of coronavirus means that we have to follow careful protocol in order to keep ourselves and others safe. As a therapist your welfare is extremely important to me and I wish to take the best care that I can.

I am still available for appointments with those of you who are not having to self isolate and are not in a vulnerable group (I am following advice from my professional body), but I will be allowing a larger gap between clients to allow for extra cleaning time, and to reduce the number of people that are in reception at any time.

Please can we ask you to pay by card rather than cash to reduce handling.

The guidance from the Government is as follows:
Social distancing measures should be taken to reduce social interaction between individuals in order to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID 19).

Those who are at particular risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID 19) are to be particularly stringent in following social distancing measures.

This group includes those who are:

  • aged 70 or older (regardless of medical conditions)
  • under 70 with an underlying health condition as listed below, including those instructed to receive a 'flu jab as an adult on medical grounds.:
  • chronic (long term) respiratory diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), emphysema or bronchitis.
  • chronic heart disease 
  • chronic kidney disease
  • chronic liver disease such as hepatitis
  •  chronic neurological problems such as Parkinson's disease, Motor Neurone Disease, Multiple Sclerosis or cerebral palsy.
  • diabetes
  • problems with your spleen such as sickle cell disease
  • a weakened immune system including from medicines such as steroids or chemotherapy
  • being seriously overweight (BMI of 40 and above)
  • those who are pregnant
I am so sorry but if any of the above applies to you or to someone you are in regular close contact with then you are asked not to book appointments to see me at the 919 Clinic until further notice. I  know this will be disappointing to many, especially those who are 70 or over and feel in excellent health. For insurance reasons as well as for the benefit of all I have to follow the guidelines given to me.

In addition, please do not book or attend an appointment if you have:

  • a cold, or 'flu like symptoms
  • a continuous cough
  • a fever
If you have the last two symptoms the present Government advice is to self isolate yourself and your family for 14 days.

To reassure those who are still able to come in for treatment (as they are not in any of the above categories) that the Clinic is as safe an environment as we can make it, we are regularly cleaning all hard surfaces and disinfecting - something that Wendy and Anthea have always been stringent about, but they have raised their game even more! I will also be giving each client clean towels, and wiping down door handles. We have hand sanitiser available. I always wash my hands thoroughly before and after each treatment. We are now asking you to also wash your hands before and after treatment if you don't already do this.

If you are not able to come into the Clinic I can still offer advice by telephone (07957 162347) or email  ( I recommend email if that is suitable for you.

Hope you and your family stay safe and well.

Thursday, 12 March 2020


A massage treatment involves being in close contact with another person in a small, enclosed space for a significant length of time; with this in mind I am giving serious thought as to whether I should continue to offer treatments whilst we are seeing a rapid spread of the virus. At present I am still treating people.

If you are coming for a treatment please could I ask you to consider:how likely it is that you have been exposed to the virus; if it seems likely, please wait two weeks before booking your appointment. 

If you are pregnant, or elderly, or have a compromised immune system, or are in regular contact with someone who is: please consider waiting for the outbreak to be contained as I will not be able to guarantee whether or not I have been exposed to the virus.

Please do not come in for a treatment if you are feeling unwell; this is standard advice regarding massage treatment. If you are feeling feverish, coughing and aching, please look after yourself by staying at home, and if your symptoms become worrying ring the NHS helpline.