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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Apr 6 2020 11:05AM

Sports massage therapist Lauren O'Sullivan shares a blog with information and tips on self massage to go with her free online videos and one to one video sessions.


For many of us we are maybe not moving or playing sports as much as we used to in this new ‘stay at home age’. While you may be mourning the loss of your gym sessions or time on the field with the team, this could actually be a beneficial step back for your body. An enforced rest and re-set period if you will. Take this time to connect and strengthen the deeper muscles, perhaps through yoga or pilates, and work to create a healthy, functioning body. Trust me, it will thank you.


It is unlikely that you would need a vigorous sports massage at this time so instead I have been focusing on gentle self-massage techniques to release tension and stress that may have built up from the current situation. Whether you are one of our amazing key workers and feel a bit tired and worn-out when you come home, or whether you are working from home in a not-so-ergonomic-set-up, I hope this blog post will help you in some way.


I’ll start with ways to release tension that is probably caused by stress. Make sure the room you are in is warm and that you are comfortable. The best time for a self-massage is after a bath or maybe even in the bath depending on which area of the body you are massaging. I tend not to use any oil when massaging myself, but if you want to use oil then you probably have olive oil in the house; that works just fine.


Most stress-induced tension tends to centre around the head, neck and shoulders. Let’s start by lightly massaging our temples. Using your thumbs apply very light pressure in circular motions at your temples and then slowly move these circles up along your hairline so that your thumbs meet in the middle. Swap your thumbs to your index fingers, one on top of the other, at the top centre of your forehead. Moving down the middle of your forehead press lightly at intermittent points and then separate your fingers to move fluidly up over your eyebrows and circle your temples again. You are back where you started! You can repeat this as many times as you like and it could help with relieving mild headaches and tension.


Quite a few people hold tension in their jaw and a good way to release this is to use your knuckles to apply pressure to the area just below your cheekbones and just in from where your jaw hinges. You should feel it when you get the right spot – your whole jaw should ache. Apply pressure for 10-20 seconds and it will feel great when you release.


Get into those upper traps, the thick band of muscle that sits on top of your shoulders and goes up into your neck, by simply squeezing the muscle between your fingers and thumb. You can be pretty vigorous with this one, don’t be afraid to really ‘pick up’ the muscle and give it a good squeeze and wiggle around.


Lastly, make sure that you are not neglecting the front of the body. If most of your working day is spent sat at a computer, sat at a cashier desk, or bent over caring for patients, then it is great to stretch and open out across the front of the shoulders and chest with a shoulder mobility exercise. All you need is a belt or scarf, anything that is long, thin and straight. Start by holding the object at either end so that you are holding it taut and out in front of you at shoulder height. Keeping your arms straight take the object up and over your head and all the way down so that your arms are now almost back by your sides. Then simply reverse the movement to bring the object back in front of you. You should have felt a lovely opening across the chest and a stretch for the front of your shoulders.


For a bonus massage where you don’t have to do the work(!), try using a tennis ball or something similar to get into trigger points in your back or shoulders. Simply lie down on the floor and place the tennis ball under your back, finding the points that are most uncomfortable – these are the areas that need it! Keep the ball in place until the sensation decreases and you feel that point has been released. Just be careful not to place the ball directly on your spine. If you have a smaller, harder ball this can be used to roll under your feet to give you a nice foot massage.


All of these exercises are just suggestions. Please use your own discretion when self-massaging or stretching, and never continue through pain.


I hope some of these techniques and exercises will help you whilst stuck at home and if you’d like to delve into more, I am releasing tutorial videos. Titled ‘Head to Toe: Self – massage techniques’, the series is split up into different episodes that each focus on a different part of the body. I have already released 3 episodes that have focused on Head and neck, Shoulders, and Back. I will continue to make them until I get down to the feet! You can find the videos on my Facebook page, just search Sportsmassagesos. Or alternatively each episode is attached to its own blog post on my website: www.sportsmassagesos.com. If you have specific goals in mind and want to work through something 1-1, I am also offering 1-1 online sessions through zoom. These can include anything from postural exercises to improving your flexibility. For more information and to book just drop me an email at: sportsmassagesos@gmail.com. Stay safe and healthy.
I hope some of these techniques and exercises will help you whilst stuck at home and if you’d like to delve into more, I am releasing tutorial videos. Titled ‘Head to Toe: Self – massage techniques’, the series is split up into different episodes that each focus on a different part of the body. I have already released 3 episodes that have focused on Head and neck, Shoulders, and Back. I will continue to make them until I get down to the feet! You can find the videos on my Facebook page, just search Sportsmassagesos. Or alternatively each episode is attached to its own blog post on my website: www.sportsmassagesos.com. If you have specific goals in mind and want to work through something 1-1, I am also offering 1-1 online sessions through zoom. These can include anything from postural exercises to improving your flexibility. For more information and to book just drop me an email at: sportsmassagesos@gmail.com. Stay safe and healthy.






By West Norwood Therapies Team, Mar 2 2020 05:17PM

Yoga teacher Emma Klein introduces her series of yoga workshops focusing on the core - a good comprehensive journey to help you support yourself in yoga which will run in April and May over 4 Sunday morning 2 hour wokshops.



Yoga Core

A 4-week course of 2-hour workshops

Open to all levels – appropriate for beginners

Course Overview

A stronger core may reduce back problems, improve posture, balance and strength throughout the whole body. Stronger pelvic floor will help with incontinence, especially postnatally and a well-maintained diaphragm can help reduce stress and anxiety.

During these four weeks we will

• Focus on strengthening all parts of the core, including the diaphragm and pelvic floor;

• Take a progression through arm balancing and work specifically on Crow and Forearm Balancing

• Dip our toes into breathwork and how to use the diaphragm properly

Workshop 1: What is the Core?

• Starting to strengthen and bring awareness to all aspects of the core

• Encounter arm balancing and start to build your foundation

• Take a first look at breathwork

Workshop 2: Focus: Abs and Back

• Taking a deeper focus onto the front and back of the body

• Abdominal and back flexibility through back bends

• Abdominal and back strength with postures targeted to these areas

• Building onto arm balances from previous class

Workshop 3: Focus: Sides, Pelvic Floor and Diaphragm

• Taking a deeper focus on rotational core as well as building the pelvic floor

• Building onto arm balances from previous class and a look at variations

• A deeper look at breathwork

Workshop 4: Putting it all Together

• Using everything learnt from the previous weeks together

• Taking your arm balancing to its maximum

• Wind down with a final look at breathwork and how to incorporate it into your life


Dates (Sundays): Workshop 1 - 26th April; Workshop 2 - 3rd May; Workshop 3 - 17th May; Workshop 4 - 24th May

Time: 10:00 - 12:00

Cost: £30 per workshop or £100 for all four booked together

NB: You must be able to attend 3 out of the 4 workshops to book in.

Book by contacting Emma directly: info@yogafloga.com






By West Norwood Therapies Team, Feb 20 2020 12:11PM

Tai chi and qigong teacher Hannah Horsfall shares an interesting blog looking at the differences between tai chi and qigong. Hannah's next block of 6 beginner classes combining tai chi and qigong starts on Monday 24th February and there are 2 spaces left.



The term Tai Chi has become more familiar than Qigong in the west, with both being seen to comprise of slow flowing movements however though there are many overlaps and connections there are also differences. They are both sequences of movements combined with breath work and the sequences are called ‘forms’.


The Chi/ Qi both sounding like chee or jii mean different things. In Qigong the Qi is “energy” from “life energy work (or skill)” and in Tai Chi Chuan the Chi means “ultimate” from Grand ultimate fist.


Qigong

Qi is the animating power that permeates the universe and all living things. It is the basis for Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) -- Qi flows throughout the body’s energy pathways, or meridians, to help maintain essential health by gently unblocking, where there may be blockages and facilitating free flowing and balanced qi to energise the organs systems and cells.


There are three main paths of Qigong, which of course can run parallel or overlap. These are:

• Use for healing in TCM or health and well-being through balancing the flow and reducing stagnation of energy in the body.

• The cultivation of qi for increasing power for use martially

• Qigong Meditation for integration of mind and body, emotional and spiritual fulfilment, qi cultivation and healing.


Qigong has many forms that can be performed whilst lying down, sitting or standing through breath work, slow gentle movements and an internal focus.


In Qigong forms the movements tend to be short in sequence and repeated several or more times before moving on to the next.


The Qigong breath work and forms in the classes are not merely a warm up for the Tai Chi but support health/healing and the development of deep relaxation of the mind and body in working with the life energy which can then be carried forward through to enrich the experience of the tai chi forms.


Tai Chi


Tai chi also has many forms in various styles (theme for another blog!) all stem from a martial art thought to be developed by the founder of Chen Style tai chi, Chen Wangting (1580–1660) from which all the other styles developed.


Tai chi consists of continuous, usually slow, circular, relaxed and smooth flowing movements that has numerous health benefits for people of all ages and health conditions.


All of the movements in tai chi without exception relate to, potentially, a martial application and the forms tend to be made of several to many movements that follow on from each other, rather than repetition of short sequence of movements as in Qigong.


Practising Tai Chi one works with the fundamental principles in the forms involving grounding (rooting), alignment, integration, coordination, connection, precision and unity which in time and practise will in itself bring about a healthy flow of qi.


In Chen style tai chi, along with the longer forms which can take some time to learn, but are indeed very rewarding, there are also shorter ‘exercises’ called “Silk Reeling” and help to stimulate and circulate Qi through the body whilst developing a felt understanding of the fundamental principles of movement in Tai Chi.


Chen Style is also one of the only styles to include fast movements woven into the forms and where any number of movements can be practised at high speed, though in our classes the main, but not all, focus is on taking time to develop the form and awareness through slow movement.


Although here at WNT the focus is on the health benefits of Chen style tai chi and, though not teaching martial tai chi, we refer to some of the martial applications at times to give a deeper understanding of the origin and 'intention' of the movement so as to be able to exercise the movement with greater focus and deliberation.


The classes at West Norwood Therapy work with both Tai Chi and Qigong.

We work primarily with the shorter Tai Chi forms with a focus on the deepening of the quality rather than the quantity of movements from the outset of one’s journey with Tai Chi and Qigong.

If you want to read more about the specific forms practised at West Norwood Therapies and their benefits please see www.fullcircleQi.co.uk







By West Norwood Therapies Team, Feb 13 2020 11:31AM

Feldenkrais teacher Jenny shares the first in her exploration of the Feldenkrais method using three case studies to illustrate how the method works and what you might experience in a session.




To explain a bit more about what the Feldenkrais Method is, I’m going to talk about 3 clients that I currently see, Steve, Hannah and Sara. (not their real names)

STEVE

I’m not doing it, he is discovering himself


Steve is 46 and works in the city. He’s married with a child. He came to see me because of what he called general stiffness, with niggling pains now and then in his back, neck and left knee. He’s fairly fit, running regularly and goes to the gym. These kinds of concerns are common with people I see. Only the details and size of the problem vary. First of all: my job isn’t to wave a therapist’s magic wand and make Steve feel better!


My job is to help him see what he’s doing - that he doesn’t know that he’s doing that is causing him to feel stiff and in pain. It goes without saying he’s stressed and anxious a lot of the time.


So I observe how is he holding himself, how he sits and walks. How does he respond when I gently do certain movements? Are his joints having a conversation with each other, or are there habitual unnecessary muscular tensions stopping the flow of this conversation ?


This might sound a bit strange, but let’s look at it this way; there are several hundred joints in the body, and they’re all connected both anatomically and bio mechanically. In Steve’s case, the pain in his neck is related to how he holds his shoulders, how he has discomfort turning and looking to one side and over one shoulder, how he uses his eyes, what’s happening below in the rest of his spine, rib cage, pelvis and 2 feet!


Yes! our skeleton is like a dynamically connected pearl necklace or a wonderful machine, each part having a knock on effect with every other part.


So I bring attention to different parts in Steve, getting him to sense how the parts do or don’t connect, where he is preventing movement, where he’s restricted and how we might lessen the load. This is done through gentle touch and often with talking also. This sounds like a lot of work, but it is in fact very relaxing! And it’s like waking something up in him.


So each week Steve comes to my practice and sits for 5 or 10 minutes and then lies down on a table for 40 minutes or so, and we explore all of these possibilities within him. I’m not doing it, he is discovering himself.


Gradually his stiffness is going, his gym workouts are improving, he has more time for his son, he feels less anxious with his work load, he feels taller walking down the corridor. These are things he has reported to me over the last 10 weeks.


And this is the beauty of the Feldenkrais method. Steve’s nervous system which is built for learning - is learning through gentle exploration, and through developing his attention to his own internal sensations, in the same way that a new born baby learns to roll, crawl, stand up, walk and run, all without a teacher!


I’m not imposing anything on him in the lessons. I’m helping him find an inner quality, which becomes a resource for the rest of who he is, and his life. And, helps his neck pain!



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