Monday, 30 November 2020

Letting that back relax... (video)

We often hold tension in our backs without being aware of it; this exercise explores tuning in to relax the back whilst engaging the arms and legs in gentle movement. It is a simple exercise that transfers to how we walk, stand, run....

As you explore the exercise, notice how your body feels against the ground and how your body is absorbing and reacting to the movement. Begin with gentle pressure as you press your legs and arms down into the ground or your feet against the wall and observe what happens with your back. Allow yourself to become as relaxed as possible and notice how the sensation of pressing down travels through your body.

Click on the link below to watch the video:

Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Back again - hopefully!

As I understand it, even if Sheffield is in Tier 3 I can resume treating all clients (within the guidelines outlined on my website) once we come out of lockdown next week!

I am taking bookings for clients at the 919 Clinic from Thursday 3rd December; I am still handling all the bookings myself to please contact me by email or phone rather than the Clinic (contact details on my website). Thursday is filling up fast but there are plenty of appointments available for the following week! 

I am still following the guidance set for close contact work during this pandemic; please do look at the information on my website:

If the situation changes I will post on here to update you.

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

Women's health: pelvic floor

 I listened this morning to a fascinating interview with the physiotherapist Grainne Donnelly. Her practice specialises in male and female pelvic health and a strong message from her was that there is a lot of help out there. She also spoke about her frustration around women having their concerns about their pelvic floor issues being dismissed (including by some medical professionals) due to a common assumption that they are just to be expected and accepted rather than treated, and the need to normalise talking about pelvic health. She stresses how important it is to help women get back to their normal levels of activity including sport.

Her website has resources including free guides for patients on how to improve pelvic health:

The interview I watched is on Facebook; skip the first 17 minutes as that is about working during the lockdown, and when Grainne comes on she initially loses her connection but after she comes back (26 minutes in) it is all really interesting, useful and accessible information. She finishes with some great examples of how to engage with pelvic floor exercises as so many people are not doing them correctly.

As she says at the start of the interview, over a third of women experience post natal pelvic floor issues some of which are life changing and yet aren't talking about them; let's change that!

If you are wondering about male pelvic health there is indeed a second interview scheduled on just this topic, on the same Facebook page.

Friday, 6 November 2020

Lockdown 2 update

First of all, I hope you are well both physically and emotionally; a second lockdown is tough on so many of us, maybe the more so for being the second time around. I am here if you want someone to listen - just email me and I can arrange a Zoom meeting or telephone call.

If you are in pain and struggling, I am still here to help at the 919 Clinic, within the given guidelines.

Here is the latest statement from my professional organisation:

'Business is not ‘as usual’ and this should be absolutely clear. Numbers of infections are increasing exponentially and this lockdown has been introduced to control that. The Law states clearly that a person must not leave their house unless for specific exemptions. Access to Health Services is one of those exemptions.

We, as Level 4/5 when working to treat injury and pain to prevent escalation which may lead to dramatic disruption of daily life activities or lead to access to NHS services, are providing a health service and therefore we can remain open. Again as Level 4/5 we are considered autonomous practitioners as the level of your qualification implies a Clinical Reasoning skill set therefore you do not need to work underneath or having clients referred to by an AHP.

However, Massage as we know it, needs to be dramatically reduced. This is because spending a long time in a room at such close contact is increasing the risk of transmission especially while the numbers of infections are growing exponentially. When we reopened in July the numbers were down so much that the risk of having an asymptomatic individual into your clinic was very low. Now it is different, that risk has increased hence these new guidelines reflect the stricter controls put in place to mitigate such risk.'

To sum up: if you are in pain and it is getting worse or seriously affecting your daily life then I can treat you after we have conducted a remote consultation and established that treatment is justified at this time. You can contact me by telephone or email (see my website for details:

Hope you stay both well and safe.

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Lockdown information for November

I have just received guidance from my professional association regarding the lockdown; I am allowed to work within the remit of reducing pressure on the NHS - so where someone is in a condition such that their everyday living is severely affected. An example of this may be waking up to find that you have back or neck pain that is preventing your normal function.

Before booking you in for an appointment I am required to do a remote consultation so that I can justify a face to face treatment. I am expected to keep massage to a minimum so the main appointment focus will be exercises, JEMS etc. Maintenance and relaxation massage treatments are not permitted.

I will put up a post on here with more details on Friday after I have received more detailed guidance tomorrow. Do feel welcome to contact me if you have any questions.

I am going to offer free 30 minute Zoom consultations during Lockdown; this is where we can go through some JEMS exercises to help you, but also where you can talk to me in confidence about any anxieties, worries or stress that you have just as if we were in my treatment room. Please email me (details on my website, if this is of interest to you. This is a challenging time on so many different levels and I would like to offer what help I can.

Take care, and I hope you stay safe.

Monday, 2 November 2020

Swing those shoulders! (video)

 This exercise looks to integrate balance, global body motion and foot awareness as we move forwards. 

As we rotate our torso during walking our shoulders will swing freely and that elastic energy will help with our forward propulsion - as long as our hips are soft and our feet connected :-) This exercise builds on 'Hunting in the Forest' with listening foot, thigh slides, body rotation and vertical hip release as foundations. 

Remember to relax, and to allow your helium balloon or other preferred visualisation to switch on your deep postural support so that you have a central longitudinal axis to rotate round. Breathe easily.... 

Click on the link below to watch the video:

As you do the exercise notice:

- where you are feeling your weight through your foot as it rolls through the step. Note whether your weight is moving to the sides of the foot or staying along a fairly central line. Take your time, check your helium balloon is supporting you and relax. 

- is your hip taking your weight or is it sliding out or in?

- are you leaning forwards or backwards? Is your sternum sinking forward or jutting out?

As you practice the exercise your timing will improve; initially you may feel a little off balance or out of synch. Don't worry about this - it's great that you notice as then your neuromuscular system can begin to fine tune the movement. Shorter (smaller) steps are often easier to coordinate - this is also true when you are outside running or walking.

Sunday, 1 November 2020

Mental health during Covid-19

The charity Mind has a lot of useful information if you or someone you know is struggling with how they are feeling right now. Don't feel you have to wait until you really can't cope; look for help as early as possible.

The news of another lockdown will have triggered anxiety and stress in many of us. It may well trigger our amygdala to 'hijack' us into a flight/freeze/fight response; common signs of this include:

- finding it difficult to concentrate on tasks or remember information.

- shallow breathing, maybe faster than normal.

- sweaty palms.

- sleep disturbance.

- feeling short tempered or jumpy.

We may notice that we are feeling very strong emotions such as fear or anger.

This response, part of the limbic system, is an ancient survival one designed to help us cope with physical threats. If we sense something that the limbic system interprets as a potential major threat it will assume we need to act faster than we can think and initiate an instinctive response, over-riding the more rational part of the brain that normally analyses sensory information and decides on an appropriate response. This system works well for transitory threats such as a vague shape that may be a bear, getting us to a safe place from where we can then analyse the sensory input more rationally, but is not so great for the chronic stress events that are common in post industrial life.

How to switch from the amygdala response to a calmer one:

- over ride the amygdala by encouraging the rational part of the brain to kick in. This is why people tell children to count to 10! Other ways of doing this include writing down any thoughts that are going round and round in your head. Taking them out of your head and onto a piece of paper creates a context: you can analyse them and decide how much of a problem they really are. Write down any possible action you can take. If the thoughts come back, remind yourself that you have already written them down. You can annotate and illustrate as you like.

- breathe. Take notice of how you are breathing and ask if you can relax, slow down. Check how evenly your torso is moving with your breath; relax any tension and ask your breath to travel to all areas of your rib cage. As you breathe in feel the breath travelling over the back of your teeth even as you breathe in through your nose - notice how your face and neck relax.

 - shift your focus to potential positive outcomes, actions and visualisations. We often focus on the worst case scenarios and catastrophise; this reinforces anxiety. They don't have to be big positives: small ones are cumulative. Identify things that you have some control over. Set yourself a daily achievable goal and when you complete it make sure you acknowledge this - maybe tick it off a list - to stimulate a feel good factor and a sense of control. Make sure you recognise the positive things that happen each day - maybe write them down or draw a picture or symbol. 

- if you are finding it difficult to sleep explore a positive memory, for instance mentally walk through a woodland, recreate a favourite climb or visualise sunbathing on a beach. This is a relaxing distraction for the brain.

- ground yourself. Take a moment to notice what you see, feel, smell, listen, taste (if appropriate). You can focus on the world around you, for instance what the wind is doing,  or just something close by such as a pebble, leaf, textile or paintwork. If able to, go outside; the low level but varied stimulation and natural light an outside environment provides is very soothing for us, especially if you can find some green space.

- learn to recognise the warning signs of a potential amygdala hijack; as you become better at interpreting your physical and emotional signals you can initiate coping strategies earlier and avoid a hijack. Do not judge yourself for these feelings; they are a natural survival response, just one that you wish to moderate in this context. The act of recognising signs such as tetchiness and body tension and acknowledging the trigger is calming in itself; it engages the rational thought process and gives a sense of control. You can also learn to identify potential triggers and use your strategies to diminish the response. 

- Minimise your exposure to anxiety feeders such as social media and the news, and do something absorbing instead such as gardening, housework or making something. If you have to stop work, ensure you still keep to a routine and remember to include self care and fun activities. 

- Talk to others; this will help put your own thoughts and feelings within a context.