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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, Jun 7 2016 08:00AM

Our sports and remedial massage specialist suggests how you can set up your desk for optimum benefit to your posture

A large percentage of clients who come to see me have neck,shoulder and arm pain and almost all of them work at a desk for up to eight hours per day (sometimes not even taking an hour out for lunch) and then often on their laptops at home for a further hour or two in the evening.

I am often asked about the correct way to set up the computer to minimise poor posture habits so I thought it would be useful to give some tips on how you and your computer should be positioned.


This should support your lower back so find one with good lumbar support. When sitting in your chair, there should be a space of at least 8cm between the edge of the chair and the back of your knees. You should be able to have both feet flat on the floor, thighs slightly below your hips. If you are on the short side, you could think about using a foot rest while taller people could adjust desk height.


If possible, this should be positioned so that your elbows are by your sides, and your arms at a 90◦ angle. Idealy it should be angled down and away from you and approximately 3-5cm above your thighs. So a pull out tray below the desk is ideal.


To find the correct distance, sit back in your seat and extend your arm. For perfect positioning, your middle finger should be able to touch the screen. For height, close your eyes and when you open them again your line of vision should be on the URL or address bar. Raise the stand or add a book or two here.

Laptops and Tablets.

What can I say? They are ideal for working from anywhere but terrible for your posture. Try to raise the screen and if possible use a separate keyboard. If you can't do this then try to limit your time using them.


Please take time to get up and move about at least once an hour. I suggest to my clients that they set a reminder on their phones and do a few neck stretches before sitting back down again.

Tessa is at West Norwood Therapies on Thursday mornings, Friday evenings and the second Saturday of each month. www.westnorwoodtherapies.com/tessa-glover

By West Norwood Therapies Team, May 10 2016 09:00AM

Our sports massage therapist, Jenny Greig, looks at a question massage therapists are often asked - what are 'knots'?

Often people come for a massage because they have knotted muscles in their back and shoulders. But what is a knot?

The feeling of a knotted muscle involves a sore and painful area, often accompanied by restricted movement and sometimes with referred pain. I’m sure we are all familiar with this feeling! To the massage therapist, these areas feel less soft than the rest of the muscle and they can be easily identified by touch – a discrete band of tight fibres. Knots are also known as ‘myofascial trigger points’ and are caused by over-use such as through exercise or poor posture.

Research has shown that a knot consists of a segment of muscle fibre that has become extremely contracted and has increased diameter.

For those people who are interested in the science; muscle is made up of repeating units called sarcomeres, which consist of alternating and overlapping bands of thick filaments (myosin) and thin filaments (actin). Upon normal contraction, a chemical called acetylcholine is released by the nerve cells to activate the muscles. The thin filaments shorten, bringing the bands together and the muscle contracts to perform its function. Overuse of the muscle results in excessive release of acetylcholine and the sarcomeres become extremely contracted, resulting in the familiar feeling of a knot in the muscle.

Fortunately, there are many effective ways of treating knots. Stretching or using a foam roller can be very effective, especially after exercise. For neck and shoulders, a microwavable wheat pack or hot water bottle to gently warm the sore area can work wonders to encourage the muscle to relax and to ease the pain. A tennis ball placed against the wall can be used to give those tired shoulders a rub, and a golf ball rolled around on the floor is great for relaxing the soles of the feet. Or, you can come and see me for a massage, of course!

Jenny is at West Norwood Therapies on Thursday evenings www.westnorwoodtherapies.com/jenny-greig


1. Simons, D., Review of enigmatic MTrPs as a common cause of enigmatic musculoskeletal pain and dysfunction. J Electromyogr Kinesiol, 2004. 14: p.95–107.

2. Bron, C. and J.D. Dommerholt, Etiology of myofascial trigger points. Curr Pain Headache Rep, 2012. 16(5): p. 439-44.

By West Norwood Therapies Team, May 4 2016 01:00PM

Our aroma-sports fusion massage therapist Jennie Duck is off on maternity leave so here is her recommendation of who to see in her absence depending on what you usually see her for

My massage treatments work along a sliding scale of 1-5, from a purely relaxing focus to a more vigourous sports and remedial focus. The majority of my treatments fall somewhere in the middle and I know that a lot of my clients enjoy having elements of different styles in their massages.

And now I am off on maternity leave for the remainder of the year I want my clients to feel comfortable seeing someone else for massage. I have a fantastic team of trusted colleagues and to a degree it comes down to who you 'click' with best, so you may want to try more than one to find the right fit - we all understand this and work collaboratively. so don't worry about offending anyone!

Here is a rough guide to help you choose, based on the fusion scale pictured above:

No.1 or No.2 Relaxing massage with soothing to medium pressure and/or aromatherapy - see Veronica or Melinda

No.2 or No.3 If you like a pretty relaxing massage but would like a bit of firmness then Erika is a good option, she does more deep tissue work, and Melinda does too. You could also see Veronica if more on the no.2 side

No.4 If you're more at the firm end of the spectrum then see Erika, Tessa or Jenny. Erika works deeply and will be more focussed on relaxation too, while Tessa and Jenny have a sportier, more clinical approach (but can still throw in some more relaxing work if you ask them :-)

No.5 If you want the full sporty experience then go with Tessa or Jenny (and if you have an injury or need some diagnosis then see our osteopath Yinka - she does a lot of soft tissue work and is a safe pair of hands for assessment and diagnosis)

Pregnancy massage Everyone can treat pregnant women (indeed I've had treatments from them all - lucky ducky that I am ;-) so you can still be guided by the above. Veronica and Melinda have a special interest in pregnancy and use lovely aromatherapy oils as well

Other pregnancy treatments

Acupuncuture with Philippa can help with all aspects from fertility and conception through to natural induction

Osteopathy with Yinka can help if you experience any pelvic pain or back pain (good to get to this early and try to avert longer term issues)

Nutritional therapy with Rebecca can help with a lot of hormonal and digestive aspects

And he's a good friend of the WNT team rather than a member, but Matthew Atwell is a great resource for pre and post-natal pilates www.thepilateseducation.com

So I hope this helps and you enjoy the treatments you receive in my absence. It's good to see different therapists, and can be helpful to get a fresh take on things. I'll be back in the new year so see you then :-)

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