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By West Norwood Therapies Team, Jan 19 2020 04:59PM


Sports massage therapist Lauren O'Sullivan considers a new year goal to get fit and what your body might go through if you choose to start this. Wise words!



Many people embark on a fitness journey of some kind in January. It’s the start of a new year, and in this case a new decade, so people feel inspired by an opportunity to start fresh. Wonderful! People feeling inspired to create a healthy and strong body is something I wholeheartedly endorse. The problems arise when people try to copy or conform to others’ plans or ideas to get fit.


The most important element you can put into your fitness journey is uniqueness. How is this journey going to benefit YOU and help YOU stick with it in the long term? Firstly, know what you enjoy that gets you moving. If you have no idea, sign up for a few different classes or activities (the great thing with it being January is that a lot of these have starter/trial offers!). Once you have found something you enjoy, you’ll WANT to get up and do it; you’ll look forward to it.


So, you’ve been ploughing full steam ahead on your new fitness regime and the first few days were great. Now you suddenly start feeling tired and achy and WORSE than you did before you started – what is going on?! I have 4 letters for you: DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness). When changing your fitness routine in any way, be it increased weights, more repetitions of something, or especially introducing new movements entirely, your muscles need some time to adjust. In the beginning they are being worked harder or differently to usual and so will need to adapt and grow. This leads to soreness within the worked muscles that passes over time as you get used to the movement. DOMS can be reduced with some easy habits: stretching after exercise/cooling down, foam rolling, hot Epsom salt baths, and massage. However notice my use of words, reduced not prevented!


Another very important thing to include in your fitness journey is rest days. The temptation to go hell for leather and exercise daily is high when you’ve got all of this inspiration and enthusiasm. Trust me though, if you want longevity you need to let your body rest. Rest is essential for recovery and helps to prevent injury. Alongside this, good nutrition will help to fuel your body to continue the journey. Not to mention if you’re working out more regularly, you’ll probably be hungrier! Listen to your body and fuel it with the energy that it needs.


One final thing - don’t be disheartened if things are hard at the beginning; you’re a beginner! Don’t compare yourself to others that are already well into their fitness journey or on a completely different one to you. It doesn’t matter what others think, this is your journey and it only matters what you think and how you feel day to day. Maybe some days are really tough and you feel really sore, other days you’ll feel amazing and on top of the world. Take each day as it comes and if you need more rest days some weeks, take them. If you need a massage, book one. After all it’s a journey; there isn’t really an end destination.




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, Jun 24 2019 08:09AM

Sports massage therapist Tessa Glover interviews one of her traithlete client from WNT's partner Windrush triathlon club, Alicja Furmanczyk, about her training and motivaion



Why did you choose triathlon? Why not just swimming, cycling or running?


Triathlon was just something different to what I had done before, and an opportunity to do all three sports at once. I still do ‘one sport only’ events but with triathlon I find I’m under less pressure to match the pace of competitors around me - apart from the swim everyone starts at different times and goes about at a different pace.


Which sport do you find the most challenging and why?


It’s by far swimming. I’m a runner first and foremost, I love cycling but as much as I love swimming I’m just not a good swimmer, no matter how hard I try to improve my technique. I’m probably not patient enough. With swimming you always need to plan what time to go to the pool to get the most of your swim - it’s not as flexible as running or cycling which I can do anytime.


I know you work full time so how many hours training do you do a week for each sport?


It varies. Currently I’m training more than I have ever done. It’s typically up to 15 hours a week, occasionally a bit more if I do a very long cycle, a bit less when I’m having an easy tapering week. I also count my Pilates or strength & conditioning exercise into my training schedule. It all takes time after all.


How do you find the motivation to get up and go for a 7am swim in cold water instead of staying in bed with a cup of tea?


It’s definitely easier to train in the summer when it’s bright in the morning, and I wake up naturally at about 6am anyway... but I don’t always train in the morning and have days off when I have a ‘lie in’ - get up at 7.30am! With my job I often finish late, so mornings are more practical: it’s done and I’m set for the day. Motivation wise, I thrive on accomplishing goals so I think that’s part of it too - mentally I just tick off something on my to do list. And there are the endorphins afterwards. No matter how hard it is to start, when I finish I’m just full of positive energy!


Does belonging to a triathlon club push you to enter more challenging competitions than you would probably do left to your own devices?


Definitely. I don’t think I would have signed up for a full Ironman race if I hadn’t done the middle distance (equivalent to half Ironman) with Windrush last year. I wouldn’t have signed up for the middle distance if I hadn’t been encouraged by the club. So it’s all a chain reaction!


Are you competitive?


I’d love to say no but I know I am... but not in a bad way! It’s mostly about being competitive with myself and accomplishing my own goals rather than goals set up by someone else. I don’t think I would ever take up triathlon or any other sport competitively though (assuming I was very good at it!) - I would immediately lose interest and the joy of running, cycling and swimming, and that’s very important to me.


You mentioned that you are entering your first Iron Man triathlon this summer, how did you come to make that decision?


I did my first ever half middle distance last summer and when I finished I felt I still had some energy left... so I thought I should sign up for an even longer race... I also wanted to do something that will push me out of my comfort zone and be the ultimate event I would ever aspire to, which I believe Ironman to be!


What impact does this amount of training have on your mental state and social life?


A tricky one. Training overall makes me happy but with all honestly, at times, the amount of training and the fact I have to stick to a plan can be taxing. I do make sure I have proper rest. I do struggle sometimes with maneuvering my need to train (and rest & recovery time) with ‘normal life’ but also with some deeply ingrained societal expectations of what I should be really doing and focusing on (whether it’s my parents asking about grandchildren that they do not have or my friends questioning why I don’t want to go out as much). But I also keep trying to find ways of incorporating my friends into my training life, e.g. when going for a long run or cycle and visiting them afterwards, eating their food!


How do you look after your body to make sure you are in peak condition and injury free?


I never sacrifice a good night’s sleep. I also try to listen to my body, even if that means missing out on a training session... if my body tells me I need rest, then that’s what I do. I would definitely prioritise being injury free over my race performance. I am terrified of getting injured so I do a lot of ‘pre-hab’: strength and conditioning exercises, stretching, Pilates and I use foam roller and a massage ball on a regular basis. In fact, I go as far as to bring the ball to work sometimes (time is precious!). I also try to have a sport massage once a month and time it well before or after my races. Fingers crossed I’m doing the right things!


How much has sports massage helped you during your training as a triathlete?


A lot. A couple of years ago I had an injury whilst training for a marathon, and I strongly believe that part of the problem was that I didn’t have a sports massage on a regular basis, no trusted professional to tell me about my muscle imbalances and weaknesses, and how to work on those. I now treat sport massage as part of my routine and a treat too!


Bonus question:

What is the most common question that you are asked about triathlon? Have I asked it?


Yes! Why do I do it to myself






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.


https://www.triathlete.com/2014/12/training/try-it-sink-downs_67701


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





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