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

Spring Has (almost) Sprung – Don’t Let Your Pain Stop Your Fun

Jennifer SymeBlog

From about April a flow of sore, frustrated people tend to appear in my clinic, mainly with injuries to the back, neck and knees due to gardening, spring cleaning or DIY. So this weeks blog post is all about avoiding problems, and yes, you guessed right, it does involve my favourite topic – stretching! As we anticipate the arrival of Spring, a rush of enthusiasm often overtakes us as we wander the aisles of the garden centres, surrounded by pictures of colourful flowers and succulent crops which allows us to dream of the possibilities in our own plots.  For others it’s the sun streaming in the window warming us up and making us feel happier but unfortunately highlighting the dust along the shelves, the cobwebs in those hard to spot corners or some tired paintwork. All of which inspires a big clean and freshen up around the house. So, this week I thought we might look at some top tips for avoiding or at least reducing, the aches and pains we may suffer after the hard work has been done.   Think of the activity as you would a work out – even dusting counts as physical effort :-). So prepare your body for it with a gentle warm up routine – Walk round the garden or on the spot, circle your hips, shake your arms out, twist from side to side letting your arms swing, roll your shoulders, stretch your arms, do a few knee bends.   If you do … Read More

Repetitive Strain Injury – Part Three

Jennifer SymeBlog

Over the past couple of issues I have been looking at RSI, what it is and what can be done about it in terms of treatments. In this final part, I am looking at how to prevent it in the first place, or if its too late, how to avoid it getting worse or reoccurring. The main thing is to be aware of your body, and any little niggly pains that you get regularly. This can be the sign of a problem building up, and as with most things, prevention is key. My job is to help people feel like the lady in the picture, happy and pain free, able to throw their arms back with joy! The main points to think about are  – Look at your desk set up. Employers should offer workstation assessments, but it helps if the individual knows what they should be doing too. See http://www.nhs.uk/Livewell/workplacehealth/Pages/howtositcorrectly.aspx for some good tips and videos. Mouse and keyboards – its not just in how you sit, the mouse position and keyboard are also important. The way the standard set up forces us to hold our arms out to use the mouse is one of the key causes of RSI. These days there are various options for mice. Personally I use a ‘RollerMouse’ (http://www.contour-design.co.uk) which I have recommended to several clients. It takes a bit of getting used to and is not the cheapest option, but I tried roller balls and other variations, and they didn’t help the RSI … Read More

Repetitive Strain Injury – Part Two

Jennifer SymeBlog

RSI  – What Can Be Done – Treatment As I talked about last time, the term RSI covers a range of problems, including Carpal Tunnel, Tendinitis, Rotator Cuff Syndrome, Tennis/Golfers elbow, etc. These problems develop from overuse and are exacerbated by poor posture and stress. So, once you have either recognised for yourself that you have symptoms relating to RSI, or have been diagnosed by your GP, what do you do? Unfortunately many GPs will still direct you to the painkillers and anti-inflammatory tablets, which may well be necessary at some stages, but are not a cure in themselves. Where I used to work, in IT, several people developed Carpal Tunnel, and ended up having an operation to clean out their wrists – ouch! Sounds deeply unpleasant, and of course, with absolutely no change in their behaviour, or follow up bodywork, they were soon back to square one. So, while the medical approach does have its place, we really need to look at a the following steps- Assess the person’s restriction and pain. Identify the situation that has caused the problem, and trying to avoid it if possible Identify area of body causing the problem (which may not be where they feel the pain) Formulate a treatment plan using soft tissue techniques – MFR, massage and Trigger Point release. Suggest use of hot or cold packs and possibly drugs to reduce inflammation/pain if necessary. Advice on specific stretches and exercises Discuss ways that they can treat themselves and reduce the … Read More