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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Sep 8 2019 07:30PM

Sports Massage therapist Lauren O'Sullivan shares some insight into various types of stretching and suggests some things for you to try to improve flexibility.


Summer holidays are fabulous: sun, fresh air, and a well-earned rest. However, when you return to reality it can often be hard to get back into your exercise routine in a controlled and gradual way. Although it’s tempting, especially if you are working towards a goal, don’t feel like you’ve got to make up for any workout time missed while away. Bombarding your body with vigorous workouts after a more sedentary period is not ideal. Instead, keep the first few sessions back to steady cardio, bodyweight and resistance exercises.

The other important thing to consider when looking after your body is recovery from exercise. When increasing your exercise load you must consider how you are going to help your body recover and refrain from sustaining an injury. One of the best ways to help your body maintain good form is stretching.


Stretching comes in many different forms. The one you are probably most familiar with is static stretching, done passively: This requires an external force to hold the stretch and stretches are most commonly held from 15 – 60 seconds. Contrary to what most of us learnt in Physical Education at school, I would advise against this form of stretching pre-exercise. It has been shown in most studies to make little or no effect on performance and even decrease performance in exercise. Static stretching is best used post-exercise or gently in the evening before bed, preferably after a warm bath.


The current preferred pre-exercise form of stretching is dynamic stretching. This involves repetitive slow movements that progressively increase in range, for example joint rotations like ankle rolls or arm circles. Dynamic stretching improves flexibility in motion and can resemble movements you may make in a specific sport.


Can you touch your toes? For an increase in long-term flexibility, it is important to develop a continued stretching regime. Even if you just add on 5-10 minutes at the end of your usual workout you can improve your flexibility. As flexibility increases, the resistance against a joint rotation decreases and therefore the range of movement at that joint increases. It makes sense that with a larger range of movement, injury is less likely as a result of any unexpected sudden forces on the joint.


Your stretching regime should be carried out after exercise or completely separately. I would advise a mix of static stretching and something called PNF (Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation) stretching. PNF is often recognised as the contract-relax method: a partner takes you to the end-range stretch of a muscle, you then contract the muscle against your partner’s resistance for a period of time, after which you relax and your partner stretches the muscle further. PNF stretching is something that I like to help my massage clients out with at the end of a session if increasing flexibility is a goal of theirs. If you are interested in PNF stretching why not book a session with me and we can work on it together post-massage!


When trying to increase flexibility it is likely that you will experience a level of discomfort when stretching to your end range. This is normal but the sensation should not be pushed into real pain as this can cause injury in itself. You know your body and its limits so stretch with consciousness!


With thanks to Jules Mitchell MS, CMT, Yoga teacher and massage therapist writing in Co-Kinetic Journal, July 2019.
With thanks to Jules Mitchell MS, CMT, Yoga teacher and massage therapist writing in Co-Kinetic Journal, July 2019.

Pictures are of me!







By West Norwood Therapies Team, May 28 2019 09:44AM

Yoga teacher Emma Klein sharese her top tips for keeping yourmat in tip top condition


Having a beautiful mat is great but taking care of it is extremely important to ensure it lasts.


Here are some simple tips to help your mat last:

1. Keep it Clean

Spraying your mat down after each use and giving it a good wash once a week or after approximately 10 uses is extremely important. Keeping your mat clean will prolong its life and keep it smelling great when you use it. Most mats can be put into the washing machine on a cool cycle and then left to dry for a few days. Below is a simple, easy and natural antibacterial spray you can use after class.


Antibacterial Spray

Having an easy way to regularly spray down your mat isn't difficult. Here is a recipe that I use all the time.


Spray Bottle

1 Part Water to 2 Parts Witch Hazel eg 120ml Water, 60ml Witch Hazel

5 Drops Tea Tree Oil

5 Drops Essential Oil


You can use any scent that takes your fancy. I usually use Lavender or Ylang Ylang but you can use anything that you don't mind smelling when you sweat on your mat. Be sure to avoid citrus based scents though as they will erode your mat.


Put all the above into the bottle and happy spraying :)


2. Keep it Dry

Ensuring that your mat is properly dry before packing it away is vital. Rolling up and storing a damp mat will allow germs to breed and your mat will start to smell. Your mat will also deteriorate faster than if you store it away completely dry.


This is sometimes harder if you sweat a lot on your mat. If you can, unroll your mat and leave it to air dry over night after your practice before packing it away


3. Roll it Don't Fold it

By folding your mat, you create weak lines and these areas are more prone to wear and tear. By rolling your mat it evenly distributes the wear ensuring it lasts longer


4. Flip it

Rotate your mat with every practice. This allows for an even distribution of use front and back and side to side so that the mat doesn't wear in one specific area e.g. where you always put your hands.

The more love you give your mat the longer it will last.





By West Norwood Therapies Team, Apr 1 2019 03:36PM

Tai chi and qigong teacher Hannah Horsfall shares the gentle yet powerful effect of tai chi - perhaps suggestive of a good way to approach life


Many of my students find themselves surprised at the end of a gentle calming session they also feel as if they have “done a good workout”!


It is often thought that Tai Chi is so slow and so gentle that it could not possibly offer anything like the cardiovascular benefits of other more vigorous exercise. However in the programme “Trust Me I’m a Dr” a beautifully clear experiment was conducted between a group of adults doing 12 weeks of Tai Chi and a group doing 12 weeks of Zumba!


Watch this 2 minute film to see the results!











By West Norwood Therapies Team, Feb 27 2019 08:51AM

Tai chi and qigong teacher Hanna Horsfall shares some information on what qigong is and how we can understand it in the context of current research on fascia, health and healing ahead of her qigong workshop on 16th March.


Qigong (pronounced chigung) directly translated means energy skill/ training.


Qigong can be practised as a series of flowing movements or practised without movement other than breathwork and mind focus.


There are obvious musculoskeletal benefits alongside developing internal awareness, sensitivity and a calming of the mind.


Practising Qigong can lead to deep relaxation that brings benefits in itself. This also allows for the freeing up the of flow of bodily fluids through the systems we are aware of in the West, circulatory, lymph and digestive but also the flow of Qi through the chinese meridian system as used in acupunture.


Ba duan Jin (eight silk brocades) and Wu Xin Xi ( Five Animals) are both ancient qigong forms that work with all the meridians facilitating balance and promoting health and self healing.



In China qigong is part of the national health plan with it being practised in Hospitals, schools and workplaces. Currently tai chi, better known in the West, is popular in China but many more have Qigong as part of their daily practise.


Interestingly, the relatively new research in western medicine into fascia and myofascial trains run very closely along the same routes as the ancient chinese meridians.


The following documentory explores the fascia with regard to the musculoskeletal system, the impact of stress, and the experience of pain.This opens up a whole new world of understanding of the body and , I hope, help to promote how the body can heal itself.


There is a long way,however, to catch up with the knowledge of the fascial realtionship to the internal organs, its potential as a trainable sense organ and its interralationship with both the internal and external stimuli.


The video I am sharing mentions, physiotherapy, yoga and acupunture but not Qigong.

In time…..


So I let you draw your own conculsions from the programme and invite you to to experience qigong for yourself!


Watch The Mysterious World Under The Skin documentary


Hannah‘s next Qigong workshop on Saturday 16th March 9.30 – 11.30am More info and booking





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