Massage is a simple premise – the benefits and therapy of touch date back thousands of years while there’s a reason why ‘rubbing it better’ is an instinctive first step to comfort and healing. In essence, it’s the manipulation of the body’s soft tissues and muscles to promote a calming and relaxing feeling.. and so much more.
The Holistic Approach
Holistic doesn’t mean ‘fluffy’ or ineffectual; it simply means treating the ‘whole’ person – taking into account not just your physical issues but also, if appropriate, your mental health, physiological factors, stressors and lifestyle. It’s reinforcing the body/mind connection. It’s linking everything together to build a picture of how you feel, what you need and how you’ll benefit. It’s restoring balance within the body by ensuring the massage is specific to you. Working with you lets me find out, for example, how you use your body on a day to day basis, whether there’s physical or emotional stress, or a history of illness or injury.
My treatment is based on Swedish massage and includes flowing strokes, vibration and percussion and more specific methods to relieve pain, tension and ‘knots’, stimulate circulation and improve muscle function. However, this is just the foundation of how I work; sometimes a gentler touch is needed, often more pressure is appropriate. Other techniques include subtle energy work and accessing fascia (connective tissue); deep tissue massage, mobilisation, stretching and traction; soothing holds, breath work and more.
Massage is also more than a skillset of strokes and processes; it’s a connection to the body and mind with awareness and intuition that works on the physical and mental state. It’s not just a treat, it’s a treatment. It’s active and preventative healthcare, an investment in our wellbeing. It can ‘future-proof’ us against chronic tension, injury, debillating pain, negative postural habits and adverse mental health. Regular massage helps increase the body's capacity to heal itself.
We tend to think of relaxation as something active – something we have to do, when actually it should be unconscious, inate, natural. We shouldn’t have to remind ourselves to bring our shoulders down or breathe more deeply but we do! Negative postural habits and ongoing physical tenson become almost comfortable – what we’re used to – but a relaxing massage can remind your body and mind how to let go. It can help re-set your posture and calm and balance the mind.
Relaxation as part of therapy should never be underestimated and is the foundation of all good massage; it allows the body to let go of tension to enable deeper access to tissues and muscles (without the ‘ouch’ factor). By being relaxed we activate the part of the nervous system that lets us rest and repair which, in turn, counteracts stress. It’s often hard to tell if stress is the result of problems, or the cause of them (it’s estimated that around 75% of illness is related to/exacerbated by stress and tension) so massage is an excellent and essential step in helping to combat this. Clients often book in for something to be ‘fixed’ but soon realise how much they needed to relax – and how the tension they were unconsciously holding in their body was the cause of those tight shoulders, stiff neck or aching back. Sometimes, being able to let go is the most important thing you need.
The mind and body are absolutely and inextricably linked; as one affects the other, so massage works on both.
I often work with clients with depression, anxiety or other mental health issues; if this is you - or if you feel a little off kilter, out of sorts or unsettled – holistic massage can be a wonderfully person-centred treatment guided by principles of sensitivity, awareness and quality of touch; it extends beyond what your body requires physically, and each massage is adapted to you and to how you feel at that time. It can induce deep relaxation, helping to quieten the ‘chatter’ and negative thoughts as it slows the breath and releases physical tension. Deeper pressure can be incredibly calming and over time, massage really can be transformative in helping to heal the mind. I will remind your mind and body how to let go in a safe and non-judgmental space.
If you’re nervous or unsure about coming for a treatment for whatever reason and would like a chat, please contact me.
Deeper massage can relieve stubborn or chronic tension stored in the muscles and is particularly suitable if it’s causing pain or has become debillitating. You may be active (sports, exercise) or have a physical job. You may have ‘bad’ posture that’s built up over the years, is exacerbated by desk work, gaming, driving or over-exertion. You may need remedial treatment post-injury or operation. Stress, anxiety or just never having time to relax is often the cause of tension (deeper pressure can be incredibly calming). For any areas where you feel tense, tight or discomfort, working with more pressure to access deeper layers of muscles and tissue can bring relief and long-term benefits. It can facilitate healing by releasing contracted areas of muscle, increasing blood flow to the soft tissues and reducing inflammation.
The key to deep massage is to first warm up and relax the body - essential to allow muscles and tissues to start letting go, facilitating deeper access without feeling like you’ve been beaten up. Pushing or digging into a tense area that’s not ‘ready’ is counter-productive: the muscle will tighten further, potentially causing trauma and alerting the nervous system to pain signals. It’s all about allowing rather than forcing; working this way is more beneficial to you and the results last longer.
I aim to provide the perfect balance between muscle tension/knot release and relaxation and I get great results from active and sporty clients as well as those who just want to relax and switch off, or be calmed and soothed.
By the way.. if you want me to ‘get stuck in’ with my elbows or if you want to be ‘hurt’ (yes, that’s been a request), that’s not what I do. I don’t mean the ‘good’ soreness that can sometimes be felt with a much-needed release, but the idea (and expectation) that ‘the more pain, the more effective the treatment’; this is an outdated notion. Massage should never feel so uncomfortable or painful that it becomes an unpleasant experience. I will always manage your expectations at the outset and work with you to give you a great treatment and an outcome you’re happy with.
Massage is amazing. The list of would-be benefits keeps growing and it’s no wonder that in many countries, it’s used as preventative healthcare, keeping people healthier by inhibiting illnesses as well as helping them to heal. Massage as part of regular self-care just makes sense. Yes, it can be a treat – but it’s so much more. As a massage and soft tissue therapist, I know what these treatments can do but the health benefits are still very much underrated.
Massage can comfort and nurture in times of stress, depression and anxiety. If you’re emotionally drained, a more overall treatment can be soothing yet energising. Specific, focused bodywork can alleviate aches, pains and tension and redress the balance of a busy and hectic lifestyle, negative postural habits, muscular stress or over-exertion through sports and exercise. Tired, neglected bodies can be relaxed, refreshed and restored; skin can be nourished and rejuvenated. Psychological processes are also affected - lowered blood pressure and reduced brain cell deterioration are just some examples, while muscles may be healed at a deeper level. Through the restorative connection of all these processes, massage can speed up the natural healing process and the general benefits on different areas of the body are well understood.
Massage is one of the most effective forms of injury rehabilitation for speeding up the healing process and preventing re-injury. Regular massage therapy reduces the risk of soft-tissue injury and recovery time, helping you maintain flexibility and optimal range of motion. It can also be a powerful technique to help recovery from DOMS and fatigue, post-activity.
If it’s your first massage appointment, I’ll ask you to complete a consultation form a day or two beforehand; this allows me to build a picture of you so I know how to tailor your treatment (I also need to be aware of any health issues). The basis of a good massage starts with intention – what do you need, what are your issues?
Avoid drinking alcohol before your appointment (and afterwards, if possible) and try not to eat a heavy meal just beforehand. Bring a bottle of water (you may feel thirsty during or after the massage). We’ll have a chat about how you’re feeling and if this is your first massage, I may ask questions based on your consultation form. We’ll agree a treatment strategy (including areas of the body you’d like me to focus on or avoid).
I’ll ask you to undress just as far as you feel comfortable (you’ll be given privacy to undress, and to re-dress afterwards). During the treatment, you’ll be covered with a sheet and I’ll only uncover the area that I’m working on. I’ll make sure you’re comfortable throughout, I’ll check in with you regarding the pressure and adjust my techniques accordingly.
I use a non-scented hypoallergenic gel that’s not greasy or oily (if you’d prefer to bring your own product, e.g. for a facial massage, that’s fine). If it’s your first massage, you may feel anxious about how to be and what to do; you may feel unable to relax in the way you want to (or feel you should); it’s normal, especially if it’s a new experience. Even if you’re used to massage, you may not be used to switching off your busy mind (maybe you never have time to yourself or find it hard to ‘allow’ yourself that time). I will reassure you, help to slow your breathing, provide calm and hopefully, as the massage progresses, your body will relax and your mind will quieten.
Please be assured that anything discussed at your appointment – applicable to the treatment or otherwise – will remain completely confidential (see the Privacy and Data Policy for further information).
We can discuss how it was and how you feel, and consider any aftercare that may be appropriate. Drinking plenty of water afterwards will help to relieve any post-massage soreness. Your body also needs time to rest and repair so, ideally, try to make the most of not doing very much for the rest of the day!
Most people are great candidates for massage. However, there are certain contra-indications, whether ‘local’ (avoiding a particular body area) or ‘total’ (no massage at all).
You can’t have massage if you have:
Contagious skin disorders may rule out massage, or it may just mean avoiding the affected area. Please also advise if you have an injury, cellulitis, varicose veins, scar tissue, oedema (swelling), abrasions, bruising or inflammation – or have had surgery within the last 18 months. Cuts that aren’t healed should be covered beforehand. Massage isn’t advised until a few days after a vaccination.
There are some health conditions that may require consent from a doctor or health practictioner before massage can go ahead, e.g. cancer, high blood pressure (not managed by medication), stroke and cardiovascular issues, epilepsy, diabetes.