How Mindfulness Can Help Both Mind And Body

Jennifer Symemindfulness, stress

What is Mindfulness? I first published this post a few years ago, but as I’ve recently been talking to clients about mindfulness and relaxation, I thought I would revisit it. People seem very stressed right now, and in need of help to deal with it. In general, people seem to spend the majority of their time brooding about the past or worrying about the future. Neither of which are very healthy or particularly useful. Mindfulness has been described as – ‘paying attention to the present moment with intention, while letting go of judgment, as if our life depends on it. The present is the only real moment we have.’ (Jon Kabat-Zinn, Mindfulness expert, more of him later)   From a personal point of view, I have always been drawn to the idea of meditation, and tried it when I was younger, for about 5 minutes before I got bored. That was after seeing Billy Connolly talking about it tv. Billy made it sound fun, but I soon discovered it was hard, and being a lazy 20 something, I gave up. Later, I did dabble occasionally and as I passed a mediation centre on my way to University lectures, wondered what went on inside. I imagined lots of cross legged people, chanting quietly to themselves, or perhaps a room of utter silence. It all seemed mysterious and odd. Fast forward a few years, and I found myself discovering exactly what went on in such a class as I took a Mindfulness … Read More

Best Time To Exercise Part Two – Do Our Bodies Care?

Jennifer SymeBlog

mice on bike

Last time I looked at tips to find time for exercise and stretching and fitting it in to a busy day. This week I am looking at whether there is a better time for our bodies to exercise. I have seen articles stating that you lose more weight if you exercise in the morning, no, another says in the afternoon, oh but yet another says….hmm, seems that there are as many opinions as there are hours in the day. There have been various research projects into exercise and its impacts upon fat, muscle, brain power/learning, avoiding dementia, etc, usually using mice. The research has also looked at whether the time of day has any impact upon the benefits seen. As with so many things, there is not necessarily a distinct conclusion, other than exercise is good for all of the things mentioned, and in general we should all be doing a bit more. Apart from the research mice, who probably need a wee lie down by now.   Mornings – Full of Glory? In the past, it was thought that early morning exercise burned more calories, because the person hadn’t eaten yet, but other studies suggest that we probably push ourselves harder later in the day, so while there may be an element of truth in higher calorie burning first thing, it evens out by the harder work we do later on. Other studies suggest that its not ideal to leap out of bed and launch into activity as your … Read More

Night Owl or Early Bird – Whats The Best Time to Exercise Part 1 – Working with your body clock

Jennifer SymeBlog

I have been chatting with people lately about exercising and stretching and how to fit such things in to an already busy day. I give people stretches and suggestions for exercise as part of my treatment plan, and they often look worried and ask when they are meant to do it. Truth is, many of us won’t be able to  ‘find’ time for this sort of thing, we have to ‘make’ it. Generally we probably fill our days quite happily, and everyone needs some time to relax, watch tv, read a book etc. However, it is often the other time suckers that we can make some space in – the lure of the Google search, the Facebook void…we’ve all been there. These days we can idly look at YouTube videos (yet another comedy cat must see), and not notice the minutes or even hours disappear. Its all about Rhythm… So, yes, you will need to make the time to do those stretches or go to the gym or whatever it is you choose to do, and once you do, and keep at it for a few weeks it will become less of a chore. If you can manage to fit it in with your natural ‘body clock’ ie your circadian rhythm then you will find it easier to establish a good habit, and after a while exercising regularly and stretching will become as natural as brushing your teeth or other habits you do without thinking – honest! This circadian rhythm … Read More

Balls – Not Just For Dogs or Games

Jennifer SymeBlog

As my regular clients know, I am always keen to give folk homework, its not because I like telling you what to do, I see it as part of my service. You will get more benefit from your treatments, and quicker recovery from any problems if you have some things to do for yourself. After all it is your body, so why not take charge of its well being? One of the things I often talk to clients about is how they can stretch or strengthen muscles, but there is another aspect of self care which people forget, actually massaging your own body.   Now, you can of course buy various powered massage tools, unfortunately many of these are fairly useless, and may actually cause injury if people press too hard or don’t use them correctly. Some of you may have met my ‘Thumper’, which is a professional massage tool. It has a very specific movement, different to the cheaper ones in the Chemists, and it does actually get into the muscles. I use it purely to allow me access to very deep muscles, on heavily muscled men for example, where I could easily spend the entire session working on the surface areas when I really need to get into the very deep layers.   There are also various non-powered implements on the market, such as the Backnobber and Theracane, and some of you may have come across foam rollers before. These are all very useful, but can be expensive, … Read More

Why You Need Massage In Your Training Schedule

Jennifer SymeBlog

This is the time of year when various sporting events take place. I’ve recently had clients take part in the London Marathon, and others are gearing up for upcoming events such as the Edinburgh marathon, the Moonwalk, various 5k and 10K races, not to mention cycling and endurance events such as Dirty Mudder and Spartan race. NB In this post, I am talking about ‘pre/post event’ as being the weeks before or after the event, not a treatment on the day of the race, which involves specific approaches, (especially ‘pre’ to avoid reducing muscle performance). There is some debate about massage right before the event, which I am not going to go into here as it’s not something I currently offer. Although the majority of people I see in the clinic are not serious athletes, sports training is something that people often associate with massage, and for good reason. Professional sportspeople have long known the benefits of massage as part of both their training and recovery schedule. Last years Olympians had teams of nutritionists, physios, coaches, and yes, massage therapists all keeping them prepared and fit for their events. The average person may not need the same kind of back up as Jess Ennis or Mo Farrah, but massage treatments are certainly something I encourage people to think about, whether they are a seasoned marathon runner or a first time 5k runner. After all, you may not be participating at the professional’s level, but you are using the same muscles as … Read More

Some Running Tips To Avoid Injury

Jennifer SymeBlog

When I started my therapies career I was friends with a few runners, in fact in my old IT job there were days when I ate lunch alone, like a true Jenny no mates, as the rest all went running. They tried to persuade me to go, but I was adamant, that running was not for me. I preferred being on my bike and getting muddy tearing through the woods at the weekends. Then I started my massage work and felt vindicated in my stance, as I saw so many runners, with various injuries. Shin splints, calf strain, plantar fasciatis, IT band problems, hamstrings problems, lower back issues, groin strains, these people were wrecks…and the weird thing was that they were so desperate to get back out to running they risked their health by doing so on injured legs. It was like an addiction. More recently I started seeing a personal trainer,  (www.tracygriffen.com) and was surprised that she expected me to do some running…’Oh No,’ I said, ‘ ‘ I don’t run.’ Ah, but she had a trick up her sleeve, and that was Chi Running. ‘Whaaaat?’ You may well say. So, what on earth is is Chi Running? This is a style of running that has been around since 1999, and it aims to mix the principles of Tai Chi (focus and flow) with the external power of running. This allows a runner to remove the potential for pain and injury from their running as well as bringing in … Read More

Massage Myths

Jennifer SymeBlog

Is it true that….. Its interesting how your job title affects people’s reactions to you. When I worked in IT and met new people, this information usually surprised them, as I apparently didn’t ‘look like a geek’.  Generally, once they heard that I worked in pensions rather than some ‘cool’ area of IT like websites or games, any glimmer of interest they had in my work soon died. Now, when I say I am a massage therapist, I get a very different reaction, lots of questions and usually, at least one person offers to remove an article of clothing to show me their sore back or leg.  (For info – My stock response to this is, no thanks, make an appointment, as its not professional of me to start examining people in a social situation). What I have noticed is that there are several common questions which crop up so I decided to address some of these, and dispel a few myths along the way.   1)   Isn’t massage –  expensive/pampering/self indulgent luxury OR just for athletes? Some massages, at spas where it is as much about the atmosphere, the products they use and the facilities the offer, may well feel like an indulgence, and you will certainly pay a lot more for one of these than in my clinics. However, its worth remembering that rarely does the massage therapist see very much of the money you spend, they are most likely on very low wages. It is also less likely … Read More

Why Do I Have Sciatica When I’m Pregnant?

Jennifer SymeBlog

 A Pain in the Backside! Most women accept that they will get some form of backache whilst pregnant but for those that suffer from sciatica symptoms it can start to affect their day-to-day lives and be very debilitating. For some women it can be painful enough to restrict movement such as getting in or out a chair, or going upstairs. Others can be so badly affected that they can barely walk without the aid of crutches. It is more common in the 2nd and 3rd trimester but can occur earlier, especially if you have previously suffered from low back problems What is Sciatica Anyway? Sciatica refers to a group of symptoms that occur due to inflammation of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back through the buttock and down the leg. While anyone can suffer from it due to lower back issues or injury, during pregnancy the nerve can be inflamed due to posture, muscular restriction, hormones, stretching of uterine ligaments and the position of the baby. Generally if you have a shooting pain in your buttock and down into your legs, then you may have sciatica. So, how to deal with it? ·      The best way of dealing with it is to seek pregnancy massage or osteopathy where the muscles can be relieved and advice can be given on specific situations. Your GP may also refer you to a pregnancy physio. Get in touch today if you want an appointment or advice on who to see in … Read More