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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Aug 9 2017 08:00AM

Facial therapy expert Veronica Massa shares some thoughts around anxiety and jaw tension and gives some helpful tips to help with this - attend her workshop on 26th August for more info!

Can Anxiety Cause Jaw Tension?

Do you relate to that?

Becoming aware of your body and how it feels, helps connecting with the feelings/emotions that are causing that tension. Acknowledge your feelings and allow yourself to let them go replacing them with new, positive and expansive one.

Where does it starts with you?

We tighten our jaws when we feel stress or anxiety. It becomes a habit to tighten our jaws, each time we feel emotions or an urge to share something. The jaws can be a major place for physical stress to accumulate. Just as the neck, shoulders and back, the jaws are a hotspot for mental unease to build up.

Why at the jaws?

Because we were told to do so!

“Shut your mouth!”

“Don’t cry, stiff upper lip”

“Don’t answer back, bite your tongue.”

Have you ever been told any of these sentences when you were a child and the years that followed? Probably as we grew up we were told many times to shut our mouth, to swallow our emotions and to tighten our jaws. So, we did and became very good at it…. just hold it in, don’t show your anger, don’t express your feelings. And we bravely keep them inside, attach to them and can’t let them go. We can hide them, but they are still present and active, manifesting through tension, tightness and pain, ultimately holding us back. And every time a situation triggers that feeling, here it comes again, we clench our jaw!

What if, instead of repressing it, denying it and hold it back, we connect deeply to that feeling and accept it as a part of us, we become comfortable with it, we feel it, experience it, see how our body responds to it, and then we come back to our centre, ground with a deep breath and let it go. Doing so we learn to detach and look at things objectively and ultimately let go of those feelings causing the tensions and be pain free.

So when you feel that tension building up and the pain raising, ask yourself:

How am I feeling? What am I feeling?

Which emotion am I hanging on to?

What is it that upset me? And why does it make me feel that way?

Am I feeling upset? Guilty? Fearful? Angry? Anxious? And why?

Which vibration is making me contract those muscles?

Which thought?

Anxiety, what is it?

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Mar 8 2017 09:00AM

Our sports massage therapist, Jenny Greig, looks at sprains and explores the healing process and how you can help yourself recover

It is common for people to suffer from minor injuries during sports, exercise and daily life, such as a twisted ankle. Sprains are a common injury that most people will have experienced. While these injuries are usually not serious, it is useful to understand the healing process in order to be able to optimise your recovery and prevent the injury from becoming worse. There are plenty of easy things that you can do to recover from a small injury such as a sprain.

A sprain is when a ligament is damaged by stretching, twisting or tearing. Ligaments are bundles of connective tissue that contain collagen fibres and cells known as fibroblasts, and they connect bone to bone to make a joint. For example the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) in the knee which is commonly injured by twisting during sports such as football, or a twisted ankle can be a common injury when walking or running.



You will know when you have a sprain as it is often very painful! The symptoms are swelling around the joint, pain, being unable to put much weight on the joint and unable to move it very well. You may also have a lot of bruising but this can take a day or two to show.

Clearly, it is important to get an x-ray if you suspect it might be broken! If the pain is severe, you can’t put any weight on it, or there are any unusual lumps, it is important to go to a minor injuries unit to get it checked. Also, if you don’t see any improvement over a few days (if the swelling does not reduce) it is important to see a doctor to rule out a fracture.

The biological processes of healing

The acute phase of injury is approximately the first 1-3 days following the injury. This is when you have a lot of pain and inflammation.

The sub-acute phase follows this, from around day 3-21. The debris from damaged cells are removed from the injury site and new collagen fibres are laid down to rebuild the damage to the ligament. These collagen fibres are soft when they are new and are vulnerable to further damage, so it is important to avoid further injury during this time.

The next phase is the remodelling phase, from day 21 up to a year, although often the injury can be healed after approximately 6 weeks. During this phase, the new collagen hardens to become stronger, and the fibres become aligned so that the ligament can regain its optimal function. When the new collagen is first laid down on the injury site, it can be disordered like scar tissue, and in the remodelling phase this is improved so the ligament is once again smooth and the fibres are in alignment.

Understanding how the ligament heals after an injury is useful in choosing the best way to treat this type of injury yourself and getting back to sport and daily life as quickly as possible, without any long-term damage or further injury. For example, gentle stretching can help to improve the range of movement of the damaged joint, and can encourage the alignment of the new collagen fibres. However it is important not to stretch these fibres too much in order not to risk increased inflammation and further injury,

Part 2 (next month’s newsletter) will discuss what you can do to help a sprain to heal, how to treat it yourself.

References (image) (image)

By West Norwood Therapies Team, Oct 19 2016 09:00AM

Sports massage therapist, Jenny Greig, looks at the muscles in our calves and advises some stretches that can be very helpful in keeping this area supple and problem free

The lower leg is often a source of soreness and knotted muscles for many sports people, in particular runners and cyclists. It can be helpful to be aware of your body and the muscles that you are using in order to take good care of yourself when exercising, in particular when stretching afterwards.

The bulky section of the calf, the obviously muscular section, is called the gastrocnemius. The name comes from the Greek ‘gaster’ meaning belly, and ‘kneme’ meaning leg. So it is the belly of the lower leg! It runs from the knee to the heel, though the bulk of the muscle is higher up on the calf. Its actions are plantar flexion - pointing the foot towards the ground (think of a ballerina pointing their toes) and bending the knee.

However, there is another muscle called the soleus, which can be a little neglected compared to its bigger neighbour. The name comes from the latin for sole, such as a flat sandal, reflecting the flatness of the muscle. You can feel it on the lower section of the calf - it runs from just below the knee (running underneath the gastrocnemius) to the ankle. Its action is also plantar flexion –and acts to stop us falling forward when we are standing normally. I find often people can be unaware if they have a very tight soleus, whereas pain in the gastrocnemius is more obvious.

So what does this all mean for the athlete who has sore lower legs? Stretching after exercise helps to loosen up the muscles and aid recovery.

Gastrocnemius stretches are very commonly known:

Soleus stretches are less well known and include the normal calf stretch but then dropping the knee to move the stretch down the leg towards the ankle:

Why is this so important? Apart from avoiding sore legs and aiding recovery, tight calf muscles can contribute to Achilles tendon pain. When the muscles of the calf are tight, they shorten and pull up on the Achilles tendon. The Achilles is attached to the plantar fascia – the connective tissue on the sole of the foot (which may be familiar to anyone who has suffered from plantar fasciitis!). The plantar fascia pulls down on the Achilles tendon and the calf muscles pull up, resulting in strain on the Achilles leading to injury. Anyone who has suffered from this condition will tell you how long it takes to recover, and how frustrating it is to have to rest and rehabilitate. So take good care of your calves by stretching your leg bellies and sandal soles to avoid injury!

Jenny is at West Norwood Therapies on Thursday evenings

By West Norwood Therapies Team, May 24 2016 08:00AM

Our acupuncturist Philippa Summers looks at how breathing, visulisation, yoga and relaxation can support labour.

With Jennie now settled on maternity leave I am staying with the subject of labour for this month’s newsletter and would like to share with you some of the things that I found most useful when I had my two children. Combined breathing techniques and visualisations are very powerful in coping with the contractions and keeping you engaged with the labour, helping you to stay calm and in control. Here are a couple of practices that I was taught by Uma Dinsmore-Tuli, a wonderfully knowledgeable yoga teacher. It complements a newsletter item from last month on acupressure for pain relief in labour.


In her antenatal classes Uma taught a simple breathing technique for helping with contractions. Breathe in through your nose and breathe out through your mouth in a long extended exhalation, imagining a golden thread or ribbon drawing out the breath. The visual element really helped to keep the exhalation long and slow with an overall effect of staying relaxed and moderating any pain. Between contractions it can be helpful to release any tension in your jaw with a little waggle. It helps to release tension elsewhere and the more relaxed you feel, the more comfortable and in control you will feel.


Uma suggested that each contraction was like a wave to be surfed, and with each passing contraction you were one wave closer to the beach, one less wave to be surfed, one contraction closer to the birth. Play around with ideas and come up with a visual image that you can focus on, that works for you. If your mind is distracted with an image it has less space to process any discomfort and staying focussed, by going with the contractions, will help you to stay in control.


I was checking Uma’s Yoga Nidra website for other tips and found this link to a relaxation audio recording specifically to help ease you through the contractions.


Finally, here is a link that Yinka, our osteopath and yoga teacher at West Norwood Therapies, introduced me to. It is a lovely 7 minute clip with Uma teaching yoga Earth Salutations, a variation on Sun Salutations. Earth salutations are beneficial throughout pregnancy.

These are simple yet powerful techniques. I hope you find them helpful and wish you a positive, empowered labour.

Philippa is at West Norwood Therapies on Tuesday and Friday mornings

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