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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Feb 20 2019 10:00AM

Sports massage therapist and budding swim-star Tessa Glover shares the next stage in her journey towards the Windrush Aquathon in June.

Last week I was fortunate enough continue my swimming training for the Windrush Aquathlon at Club La Santa in Lanzarote. Wow, what a place! Of course my (now fellow) Windrushers have been training there for a number of years and know what a wonderful experience it is but I had never been on an activity holiday before let alone to an entire sports complex like this. There were so many sports and classes to choose from and I went with tennis, boxing, golf, squash, TRX, various body workouts and swimming.

As swimming is my main focus, I took a 1-2-1 lesson and participated in the beginners front crawl session. Both were incredibly helpful and covered breathing, kicking, body position, arm position (all in 25 minutes). Phew… but it was made much easier by carrying out the drills in 25 metres instead of the full 50 metres as it wasn’t so daunting. There was also the major plus of being gloriously HEATED in all three Olympic sized pools!

So every day I headed to the pool and carried out the DRILLS that I have been working on.

1. Sink downs to help fully empty the lungs before taking a new breath.


2. Popeye breathing (with half of the face still in the water, suck in air from the side of the mouth). So that you don’t turn your head and neck too far out of the water.

3. Catch-up arms to help you work on “long and straight” body alignment, from the tip of the outstretched, extended arm down through your shoulder and side all the way to your feet. This drill can also help with breath timing and assisting in learning how to delay starting the pulling until the body is in a good position.

4. Using a float held with both hands, face in the water to concentrate on leg kicks. Relaxed feet with big toes brushing each other, knees soft and working from the glutes to kick. Making sure your feet break the surface of the water and you feel the water on the dorsal and plantar sides of your feet.

5. Arm position. With a pull buoy, concentrating on keeping your arms wide as you take your strokes so that your hands don’t cross in front of your head. Tips of the fingers enter the water first, elbow slightly raised and bent. Imaging you are zipping up the side of your body with your thumb as you return your arm under and out of the water for the next stroke.

6. Body rotation. As you reach for each stroke, rotate the body as if head, neck and back are all on a pole and turn as one. Windrush coach Audrey Livingstone suggests imagining you are rotating in time to a waltz. It really does work!

Asking a friend to film you swimming is so helpful as you can analyse your stroke and then work on the areas you need to improve on. Here’s my latest attempt. I’m aware there’s a lot more to work to do as I’m still finding the breathing difficult and am out of breath after 16 strokes. BUT that’s double what I could do before so I’m staying positive. Any hints and tips are always appreciated.

Watch Tessa's video on her front crawl progress

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

Sports massage specialist - and dance - Lauren O' Sullivan considers how injuries can become more entrenched without listening to them at first, sharing a personal experience for you to avoid!

Injuries. Nobody wants them but almost everybody gets one. At some point in our lives we will injure ourselves. No matter how small that injury may be it can affect our everyday lives and prevent us from being the active and busy people we are. Things we take for granted, like running for the bus or walking uphill, can suddenly prove impossible and our injury becomes annoyingly inconvenient. Put on top of that a love for the gym, sport, or any highly physical career and it can put a big part of our life on hold.

So what do we do about it? Well, I can certainly give you a personal account of what not to do! I have been suffering with high hamstring tendinopathy since November last year. This means that I have damaged the hamstring tendon that originates from the ischial tuberosity (the ‘sit bones’); basically it’s a pain in the butt. I was working as a dancer in rehearsals for a very demanding show and the pain came on gradually. At first I just thought that my hamstring was tight from previous days’ rehearsals, but it soon became clear that the pain was concentrated at the top of my hamstring at the attachment point. The pain became more concentrated and my range of movement started to decline. I knew something was up.

Off I went to the physio and he told me it was most likely hamstring tendinopathy. The best treatment? REST. The one thing I couldn’t do as we were about to open the show. From then on it would be performing every day, most of the time twice a day, meaning repetitive movements and the worst of all: high kicks. I wanted to keep performing, or to put it another way, I needed to keep my job! The physio gave me some shock wave therapy, taped me up and said to sit on an ice pack whenever I had a break in the dressing room. Does that sound like the way to a speedy recovery? I can tell you that it wasn’t. Here we are in July and although my range of motion is slowly creeping back (thanks to my wonderful Osteopath), I am still suffering with the injury and its associated pain. As I sit here now writing this I can already feel pain around my right sit bone.

I hope that most of you reading this don’t have a dance career or other elite sport that restricts you in your recovery from any injuries. If that is the case then you have no excuse but to REST any acute injuries. I truly believe that rest is the most important thing at the very start of recovery. Most likely the injured area will become inflamed and red and you must let your body do this. It is its way of protecting the area and ensuring that blood flow is maximal to kick start the healing process. Let it happen. Anti-inflammatory drugs will inhibit this and while on the outside it may look better, the pain lessens, and you are able to go on with your day, it is not actually helping the problem. After about 3 days of TOTAL REST you may venture outside of your hermit-like existence and seek professional advice from either a doctor, physiotherapist, osteopath or someone similar. I know I may seem like a bit of a hypocrite, but I am so aware of proper healing because of the fact that I am dealing with a chronic injury. All injuries are different and need different things, but the one thing they have in common is benefitting from rest. It certainly doesn’t do any harm.

Perhaps the most irritating thing when you are an active person with an injury is the feeling that all your hard fitness work is just going to reverse itself. It doesn’t have to. Depending on what the injury is you can still train other parts of your body in isolation or take up a less impactful method of exercise. My favourites when injured are swimming, Pilates and yoga. Swimming is so great for injuries involving the foot, ankle or lower leg because there is no weight bearing involved. Pilates is always good to incorporate in your training regime no matter what, because a deep core strength will support your body in everything you do and help with proper alignment. I would say that Pilates is actually great for injury prevention! The last one, yoga, I still couldn’t do for a while into my recovery. With tendon injuries it can be difficult because they shouldn’t be stretched or strained, and yoga is all about flexibility. However, for injuries in the belly of a muscle, most physiotherapists will advise a stretching programme and yoga will do wonders to complement this.

Ultimately it is about listening to your body. If something hurts, don’t do it! Some people talk about good pain and bad pain…for example if you are stretching a muscle it can be painful but not in a harmful way. Most people can recognise when the pain becomes too much or ‘bad’, indicating that they have gone too far. On the flip side of that, we often cannot stretch certain muscles enough by ourselves. I would suggest seeing a sports massage therapist (such as myself!) or a physio to help you out with passive stretching. Particularly post massage, when all of your muscles are warm and adaptable, an assisted passive stretch can hit the spot.

Take care out there and rest up! (Just think of it as an excuse to have a 3-day long Netflix marathon #injuredandwinning).

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

Sports massage expert, Tessa Glover, shares some info about the all-important powerhouse that is the glutes and suggests how you can stregnthen them and use them more effectively to improve your running and reduce the chance of injury. Helpful stuff!

‘The glutes’ are three muscles of the hip called the gluteus maximus, medius and minimus. The minimus is located beneath the medius and the medius partially beneath the max and their actions are the following:

The glute max has an upper and a lower part. The upper abducts (lifts the leg away from the side of the body) and laterally rotates the thigh. The lower extends (takes the leg behind the

body) and laterally rotates the thigh and extends the trunk of the body.

The glute medius and the glute minimus both abduct the femur at the hip joint and rotates the thigh medially (inwards and towards the other leg)

So now you know where they are and what they do why is it so important to know how to engage them and to feel them being used when running?

A simple explanation is to think of your glutes as the powerhouse of the lower body. If you can run with your glutes activated then you are not relying on your hamstrings as much, therefore reducing the risk of injury in these three overused muscles of the posterior thigh. You will run faster and more efficiently.

Two ways to activate your glutes

1. Hold on to something for balance then stand on your left leg. Stand up straight and lift your right leg behind you without bending your knee. Now, lower your leg and squeeze your right glutes. Then do the same movement again and see if you notice a difference. You should feel a warm ‘burn’ feeling in the glutes as you lift the right leg for the second time. Try this experiment on the other leg now.

2. Hold on to something for balance with your right hand, raise your left leg with your knee bent and lift it as high as you can until you feel that warm burn sensation in your right glutes, hold that pose for up to a minute, then externally rotate your left hip and hold that for a further minute. Repeat on the other leg.

Now that you know the feeling that you are looking for, try to keep that burn feeling as you walk, very slowly and pronounced with the thigh raised and knee bent (a little like a dressage horse would do) for about 10 paces. Now try it with a slow run. Do these as part of your warm up before running and see what a difference it makes.

Strengthening the glutes

Because many of us work in sedentary jobs, the glutes become lazy so you may find that even though you now know how to activate them, they may start to fatigue quickly.

Here are some simple exercises to begin to strengthen the different glute muscles.

Glute maximus

Lie on your front with your head resting on your hands. Keeping your front hip bones flat against the floor, lift your left leg,keeping it straight, approximately 6 inches (15cm) off the floor, then abduct the same leg (taking it slightly sideways away from your body) approximately 4-6 inches (12-15cm), then return it to the raised but straight position and then lower it to the floor. Repeat until tired and then do the same on the right leg.

Glute medius and minimus

Lie on your left hand side, with your left arm extended above your head and your head rested on your arm. Bring both knees up to a 90 degree angle to your body and with your ankles staying together, externally rotate your right hip (open up towards the celing) and then return to the first position. Continue until your hip is a little fatigued. Then change sides.

To feel the muscles being used, rest the palm of your right hand on the side of your hip as your externally rotate it.

Images from “Atlas of the Skeletal Muscles” by Robert J Stone and Judith A Stone

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.

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