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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Apr 18 2018 08:00AM

Sports massage therapist Tessa Glover discusses the importance of balance and shares some super simple every day adaptations we can all take to improve our balance.


How Important is it?

Balance keeps us upright, allows us to walk without assistance and helps prevent injury.

Balance is something we learn when we first stand on our two feet as toddlers. We don’t tend to think about it anymore, not until we join the gym only to find that we can’t actually balance on one leg, or perhaps, quite out of the blue, we have a fall and can’t understand why.

Thanks to the wonders of modern science we are all living longer and in order to remain independent, mobile and injury free well into old age we need to work on our balance.

No time?

As a sports massage therapist I know from experience that asking people to work an exercise regime into every day life can be a challenge for them. Below are a number of balance exercises that you can do easily at home that you can slot into your day-to-day routine.

1. On the way back from the bathroom - Walking the Line

We’ve all heard about ‘walking the line’ for an officer of the law but have you tried it at home as sober as a judge? It’s a great way to see just how good your balance is and to work on improving it.

• Line yourself up to the edge of a floorboard or rug or just parallel to the wall.

• Make sure you are standing upright and place your right heel on the floor directly in front of your left toe.

• Then do the same with your left heel. Make sure you keep looking forward at all times. You may hold your arms out to the side for balance. Take 5 steps or more.

2. While Cleaning your teeth - Balancing on one leg.

If you are doing this for the first time, you may like to have a chair or a wall within an arm's reach.

• Stand with your feet together then lift one foot with the knee facing forward or to the side. Hold the position for 5 seconds with your eyes open, then 5 seconds with your eyes closed.

• Change feet and repeat for four repetitions on each foot.

3. Waiting for the kettle to boil - Leg Swings

Stand on your right leg and raise the left leg three to six inches off the floor. With arms at your sides, swing your left leg forward and backward, touching the floor for balance, while keeping your torso erect. Now, repeat the moves, but don't allow your foot to touch the ground. And finally, swing the left foot to the left side, holding the right arm out. Switch legs and repeat.

4. Standing on the bus or train.

Don’t sit down! Start off holding onto a pole then if you can let go and try to keep your balance. Grab the pole if you feel you’re about to fall.

5. Dancing to your favourite music - One-Legged Clock With Arms

• Stand up straight, balance on one leg with your hands on your hips.

• Look straight ahead at the wall and visualize a clock face. Point your arm straight overhead to 12 o clock, then to the side at three, and then circle low and around to nine without losing your balance.

• Switch to the opposite arm and leg and repeat.

6. Watching Television – stand with a book on your head.

Stand with feet facing straight ahead, place a hard backed book (not too heavy) on your head, relax your shoulders and enjoy your favourite programme. Keep going for as long as you can.


If you have a medical condition always check with your GP before embarking upon these exercises or any fitness program.

All the exercises here should be carried out in a slow and controlled manner. The aim is not to finish the exercises as soon as possible to get them over and done with but to improve your balance.

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Apr 11 2018 08:00AM

Skincare specialist and aromatherapist Veronica Massa shares the benefits of her Bellabaci Cupping treatment and suggests it is a good time of year to try it out

Are you feeling sluggish, bloated and tired? It may be a sign that your body needs a good detox. When our bodies are not doing so well, it gives us signals we sometimes misread or ignore. These may include poor sleeping, lethargy, thirst, cravings, frequent colds and flues, cold sores etc. Now is the time to take matters into your own hands and give your body a good clean!

Spring is the ideal time to give your body a good clean! A detox programme for Spring is very recommended and Cupping Therapy Massage is a great method to use alongside a Detox Programme as it deeply stimulates the circulation renewing the blood and tissues with fresh nutrients and oxygen and eliminating toxins by draining the lymphatic system.

Cupping Therapy Massage treats your lymphatic system to boost the toxin’s

elimination speed, helping to improve the function of your liver, which is our body’s

main detoxifying organ.

Detox through the skin

The skin is our biggest organ of elimination. Our skin breath through the pores and eliminates unwanted toxins though sweet. Sweat glands in the skin play active roles in the excretory system: the organs and glands that flush out toxins and excess minerals from the body.

Dead skin cells are a form of bodily waste that facilitates the growth of new epidermal cells. Every minute, you lose 30,000 to 40,000 dead skin cells, all of which are replaced immediately by fresh skin tissue. The body does an excellent job of sloughing off skin cells through normal activity, but cupping offer a very deep pore cleansing and aids the elimination of dead cells and stimulates the fibroblast cells to produce elastine and collagen necessary for a healthy connective tissue.


Veronica is a specialised Bellabaci Cupping Practitioner and a Clinical/Subtle Aromatherapist, she offers full body Cupping Massage (including the face) or the session can focus only on the parts of the body that require treatment.

Face cupping is also part of Veronica’s signature facial Traditional Oriental Facial Therapy http://www.veronicamassa.co.uk/treatments/therapies-traditional-oriental-facial-therapy-veronicas-signature/.

Treatments are between one hour and 90 minutes.



• FACIAL RELEASE THERAPY (Sinusitis, TMJ syndrome, facial pain and tension including head and neck): 1hr £65, 90 minutes £95

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Apr 4 2018 09:00AM

West Norwood Therapies founder Jennie Duck shares a phrase that is in the forefront of her mind this springtime.

Lately this quote has been buzzing round my head. It seems to originate from Plato, though google has a few sources claiming it!

It feels important to me to keep this in mind at the moment. I know so many people who have been having a rough time of it, with all sorts of challenges to face and crosses to bear. And that’s just in my little orbit, there is a whole world with people living with pain, in poverty, in conflict zones and the list goes on.

All of our little interactions with people matter – in fact I’ve been listening to some interesting research lately that shows that the quality of our relationships and interactions can literally have an impact on our physicality and longevity, of course more so in our intimate relationships, but also those day to day snippets of conversation, eye contact, smiles and acknowledgements. (Elissa Epel and The Telomere Effect)

And how do we know what is going on in the world of each person we pass in the street, each shopkeeper we buy from, each car that pulls out in front of us and makes us want to honk and yell? Perhaps when someone is grumpy or careless they are simply rude or annoying, but perhaps they are sad and in pain, perhaps there is something they are struggling with that is making them distracted or out of sorts and they are not coping. Perhaps they don’t have a suitable outlet for their feelings and so it slips out in other ways.

Kindness can essentially show compassion, even if we have no idea what is going on for someone or have any real understanding of what their life is like. I think it also makes the giver feel better, a positive way of engaging with the world and often a smile will trigger a responding smile so we might spark off some joy.

My colleagues Audra and Philippa wrote their last blogs respectively on Spring detoxing and Spring into Life – both of the saying that Spring is more of a ‘new year’ to them than 1st January. So perhaps we can make a ‘new year’s resolution’ to step out with a little more kindness and see how it makes us feel.

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Mar 28 2018 09:00AM

Acupuncturist Philippa Summers considers spring as the real start of the year and shares some thoughts about how we can engage with this time of the year to embrace freshnesss in our lives

I’m thinking back to the 1st of March. In India it was Holi, the Hindu festival of colour and a celebration of spring, with everyone taking to the streets and throwing coloured powder in wild abandon. Here in the UK we were in the grip of sub-zero temperatures, ice and snow and, ironically, it was the first day of spring according to the meteorological calendar. If you use the ‘does-it-feel-warm-enough-to-take-your-coat-off’ calendar then spring may still be some way off. Somewhere between the two, and for most of us I imagine a more meaningful indicator of spring, is nature herself. Waiting to burst into life, false starts, a warmer day, yet another cold blast…the anticipation… and then finally eruption everywhere - birdsong, green shoots, warmth, sun and a freshening up of life. So, here are my personal ponderings on this favourite time of year and its influence on our wellbeing.

Spring feels, to me, like the true beginning of the year. Forget January with its resolutions and plans for the New Year, it’s an uphill struggle against my natural inclination to semi hibernate and takes things gently. Spring’s different, buoyed along by the eruption of life in nature with everything growing anew and the ideal time to tap into that surge of energy unfolding around us. It is a time to take a leaf out of nature’s book and embrace life with renewed vigour and creativity.

It is a time of excitement and anticipation. I have snowdrops in the garden, a reminder in the very depths of winter of life and that spring will be on its way. Through the winter I put out feed and love seeing which birds frequent the garden, reminded of the struggle of their tiny bodies against the cold. There is a nest box on the wall, frequented for the past few years by a pair of blue tits. They survived the cold! It’s a small but important connection to nature for me, amongst many other things. I take great pleasure in watching the pair take up residence, busy themselves with preparations and then watching them toing and froing with bugs and caterpillars for their young. Then, a highlight, watching eagerly for the fledglings to emerge and take their first tentative flights out, flapping frantically as they aim for a safe place to land. By observing the rhythms of the natural world we can remind ourselves that we too are a part of that natural world and feel a connection to it.

Daoism and the seasons

The earliest forms of acupuncture emerged from a Daoist tradition where people lived in close harmony with nature, and the seasons held particular significance. Their philosophy and language still enrich and influence the practice of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Although we now have scientific explanations for some of the mechanisms of acupuncture, which I find fascinating, they touch the surface and do not convey the holistic nature of traditional interpretations accumulated over several millennia of close observation. It is the interconnection between different parts that is emphasized and understood in traditional acupuncture – connection between different bodily systems and also between the mental, physical and emotional or mind, body, spirit. Treatment based on a holistic diagnosis taps in to the body’s own complex systems of maintaining balance to bring the body back towards better health.

Metaphors, such as those expressed in relation to the seasons, contribute towards that holistic

interpretation according to the laws of nature, where the external are mirrored within the body.

The wood element

Chinese Medicine has a philosophical framework that encourages balance between activity and rest,

doing and being. The five phase theory of which wood is one of the five phases offers a useful model for

further refining these ideas into a cyclical rhythm of birth, growth, harvest, decline and rebirth. Spring is

associated with the wood element. We all need balance of work, rest and play, community, family and

time to ourselves, moments of excitement, celebration and joy and also quiet times of contemplation and renewal. Inevitably there will be times of sadness, frustration, worry, regret and grief, too. Being able to move with a degree of fluidity between these differing and contrasting aspects of life are important foundations of health and well-being. In terms of our outlook the wood element is associated with vision, fresh ideas, planning, determination and the movement of these ideas forward. It has tremendous energy, epitomised by the strength of a small shoot bursting through hard ground, even tarmac.

In a dysfunctional state the wood element tends towards stagnation, not having the vision or energy to

move forward smoothly and can be characterised by a stop start approach or feeling totally stuck. That

energy is trapped within and can build like a pressure cooker of pent up frustration that can then

manifest in any number of ways within ourselves wreaking havoc on maybe our digestion, our mental

wellbeing, possibly breaking out in the form of a headache or some other unwanted symptom. Of course, this can happen at any time of year but the energy of spring acts as a manifestation of the wood element in its healthy state and by reflecting on what happens in nature we can maybe feel a resonance within ourselves. Finding ways of moving, physically and mentally, through exercise and by giving freedom to our ideas are often key to unlocking the stagnation and feeling better.

Embrace Spring

Spring is the time of new beginnings, movement and birth and a time when we may feel that extra


• If you have been relatively inactive over the long winter months you can awaken the spring

within by beginning each day with some stretches, like yoga, tai chi, qi gong or pilates. Get

outside, a brisk walk in the park or a glorious garden and feel the warmth of the sun.

• It is a time to eat lightly, with less of the rich fattier foods of winter and more raw sprouted

grains and seeds, young sweet root vegetables and spring greens. Balance the raw and the

cooked according to your constitution as raw foods can be too much for people with weaker

digestion, consider lightly steaming instead.

• It can be a great time to move ideas along, especially if you have been procrastinating. Focus on

the things you really want to do that will inspire you, enrich your life and be easier to sustain.

Grab the moment and get things moving, put shape to some revitalising creative ideas – a spring

clean of life with new possibilities.

• That may be easier said than done for many people and if you are not feeling too motivated, in a

rut or just feeling a bit stuck then acupuncture may help. Having the space to talk, be heard and

understood often helps us to see things in a new light. Acupuncture can give you a boost and

help you to feel calm, relaxed, uplifted and revitalised. It can help to put that spring back in your

step and get you going again.

• Every journey really does start with one step.


Here are some quotes that inspire a sense of spring – hope, creativity, new beginnings, plans, vision,

motivation, movement and the anticipation and excitement that spring brings:

“Spring drew on...and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily,

suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces

of her steps.” Charlotte Brontë

“The beautiful spring came: and when Nature resumes her loveliness the human soul is apt to

revive also.” Hariet Ann Jacobs

“I am a spring leaf trembling in anticipation.” Maya Angelou

“April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.” William Shakespeare

“Plan your year in spring, your day at dawn.” A Chinese Proverb

“Some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle and end: Life is about not knowing, having to

change and taking the moment, making the best of it, without knowing what is going to happen

next. Delicious ambiguity.” Gilda Radner

“You don’t need endless time and perfect conditions. Do it now. Do it today. Do it for twenty

minutes. And watch your heart start beating.” Barbara Sher

“Keep on beginning and failing. Each time you fail, start all over again and you will grow stronger

until you have accomplished a purpose – not the one you began with, perhaps, but one you’ll be

glad to remember. “ Anne Sullivan

“It was such a spring day as breathes into a man an ineffable yearning, a painful sweetness, a

longing that makes him stand motionless, looking at the leaves or grass, and fling out his arms to

embrace he knows not what.” John Galsworthy, The Forsyte Saga

“Despite the forecast, live like it's spring.” Lilly Pulitzer

Here’s to Springtime and the year ahead!

Welcome to our blog where we share tips, advice and thoughts from our fantastic team of experienced practitioners