How Important Is Your Posture?

The only answer to this question is VERY!

Posture ranks one of the most important issues when it comes to staying physically fit healthy. It is just as important as eating your 5 a day or exercising regular. You may stay very active & fit but if your posture is bad and affecting your back you may not be functioning at your full potential.

 

Bad posture can stem from many things, but the majority of the time it is from  repetitive movements without frequent breaks.
If sitting for long periods of time, whether it be traveling in the car or sitting at your desk typing up reports it is vitally important that you take a break every hour or so and move.
This movement can prevent any permanent damage that may be caused by long periods of inactivity. If you work at a desk a lot of the time, it’s very easy to get lazy with your posture and slouch, but in doing so you end up with rounded shoulders and a neck that juts forward.
This can over stretches your back and neck muscles and shorten your chest muscles. Now, looking at the image to the left,  can we see how such a simple slouch can cause a lot more damage than you would think? Posture is very very important in any profession so always keep this in mind when yo uare going through your daily routine, and consider how an action, or position may be affecting your structure.

 

When reviewing the number of clients we see who report experiencing a sore neck, chest & back (not relating to specific illness or injury) we have assessed that it is mostly attributed to poor posture. If you are holding yourself incorrectly for hours at a time on a daily basis your body, like most things, will adapt to this new position.

Through our bodies attempt to always maintain Homeostasis, or balance, our eyes always adapt to be Horizontal, so if your shoulders are rounded,  then your spine becomes rounded too, which then curves your neck. And if you try to look directly in front of yourself in that position it is putting serious pressure on your neck as the weight of your head is no longer evenly balanced upon your spine. 

Bad posture is usually just a bad habit and, like most bad habits, once recognized as having a negative impact on your life, can be addressed. Massage along with stretches & exercises to do at home will improve your posture, relax those overstretched muscles and get you back in-line. But if it is not treated and left to worsen over many years thats when spinal conditions and chronic pain start kicking in, and they are not so easy to treat.

 

Conditions That May Occur Due To Bad Posture:

  • Kyphosis (over-curvature of the Thoracic Vertebrae)
  • Chronic Back Pain
  • Sciatica/Piriformis Syndrome
  • Shoulder/Neck Pain
  • Patellofemoral Knee Pain (runner’s knee)
  • Low Back Pain
  • Shoulder Impingement
  • Trigger Points
  • Nerve Impingement

 

By dealing with postural issues early on we can assist in correcting them, leave it too long and it could escalate and become something you will have to live with for a long time. Regular massage, chiropractors, physiotherapist etc can all help you if you suffer from posture related issues so don’t hesitate when it comes to pain. Pain is a warning that something isn’t working the way it should. Listen to your body and help yourself when you need it.

Psoriasis Awareness Week! 1st - 7th November 2012

What is Psoriasis?

Psoriasis occurs when the skin cells replace themselves too quickly. It usually takes up to 28 days for newly formed skin cells to rise to the surface of the skin and separate from healthy tissue, but in psoriasis it takes just two to six days.
As underlying cells reach the skin's surface and die, their sheer volume causes raised, red plaques covered with silver-white scales. Frequently appearing in cycles of flare and remission, psoriatic flare-ups often cause considerable itching. There are many different types, but the most common is chronic plaque psoriasis.

Psoriasis usually appears as red, scaly, crusty patches that reveal fine silvery scales when scratched. These patches may itch and feel uncomfortable. Psoriasis is most common on the knees, elbows, scalp and around the joints where the skin creases, but can appear anywhere on the body. In some forms the nails or joints are affected.

The condition is chronic, lasting for many years. Most people have periods when symptoms are minimal or the skin is normal but then it flares up again. The impact on a person varies – for some it is no more than a mild irritation while others with psoriasis become withdrawn and don't socialize or form relationships because of the way people react to the appearance of their skin.

 

 

What causes it?

Although the exact cause is not known, Many things are thought to trigger the condition, including a skin injury, sore throat or chest infections, certain drug treatments, sunburn and stress. Psoriasis often runs in families (but can skip a generation) and several genes have been linked to the condition. It’s important to point out that it isn't contagious or caused by poor hygiene. Aside from the possibility of a genetic susceptibility, most doctors believe that psoriasis involves the immune system. In addition, the following factors may contribute to psoriasis development, worsening or flare-ups:

· Cold, dry weather
· Skin injury
· Stress and anxiety
· Infection
· Certain medications

 

Who can it affect?

About two per cent of the UK population have psoriasis, and men and women are equally affected.

The condition can occur at any age, but it mostly occurs between the ages of ten and 40, often during puberty. It affects up to one in 50 children, but it's rarely seen in children under two years old. Every year roughly 20,000 children under the age of 10 are diagnosed with psoriasis, but is often misdiagnosed. This is due to being confused with other skin diseases with similarities to psoriasis.

A type called ‘Guttate Psoriasis’ is common in children and often follows an upper respiratory infection. It produces small, raindrop-like patches across the upper body and limbs that last a few months.

 

 

Massage Therapy
Massage is fine for people with psoriasis, except in the acute stages (first 2-3 months of the condition developing). During this time, massage is not recommended directly on the lesions or patches of red skin. As a Local contra-indication, this means that we can provide a massage treatment, as long as we avoid the areas of irritation. Massage is known to reduce stress, which can cause outbreaks of psoriasis. Massage may reduce the incidences of psoriasis by reducing the internal and external factors which contribute to outbreaks.

Psoriasis is unpleasant and looks painful. Fortunately, while it looks bad it is not always as painful as it looks. Psoriasis comes and goes, and often stress can cause an outbreak. Fortunately, massage can not only help prevent an outbreak, but can also help make life with psoriasis more comfortable.

Safety

Be careful to avoid any cracks in the skin, as these could lead to infections. If the skin is dry, moisturizing lubricant or lotion is recommended to help nourish the skin. Do not attempt to scrape the dead skin off; let it shed naturally. Also, as psoriasis is not contagious, you do not need to wear protective latex gloves when massaging someone with psoriasis.

 

Quote from a psoriasis sufferer. . . taken from a general discussion at www.dailystrength.org 

“I noticed no one responded about massage so I thought I would be the first to bring this topic back to light. I think massage does a tremendous deal of help for psoriasis sufferer's. It relaxes us and is truly the only time we feel somewhat comfortable with our skin in the presence of another person. Granted..the first couple of times to a therapist are awkward and have a lot of explaining to do, but once you get past this it does help. Make sure the therapists are using a massage oil to hydrate the dry skin. Some that have worked well for my husband and myself are almond oil and grape seed oil by Aura Cacia. These do not have any alcohol in them and you can add a couple of drops of lavender or other natural aura cacia scents to it. Also, if you are hesitant to see a therapist, you can buy the oil and essences... Have a close friend or significant other perform the massage.”

 

This is a short video about  young boy and his family. The young boy sufferers from psoriasis and this video shows how difficult it can be for both the sufferers and the family.

 

 

 

A Bit of Fun: Japanese Massage Tools



The warm weather and busy activity of Taster Week has us feeling effervescent at Wee Sally's. Imagine our surprise when, surfing for massage therapy news, we discovered this article on the Daily Mail's website. The article spotlights assorted scary-looking massage tools to make the mind boggle: from neo-bright afro-contraptions to leg braces, to objects that resemble instruments of torture (with a hefty price tag), and a bright pink pillow that has been created from a therapist's hands, it seems like there's a lot of wackiness out there.

Sorry guys, but a real human massage is always going to be better! Check out the oddness here. 

Getting fit this Spring? You need to read this.

Spring is the season of new growth, new beginnings, lighter clothing and lighter hearts. It's also the season of the 'spring clean', a time to break bad habits and take up healthier ones. Let's face it: after struggling under layers of woollen knits and heavy winter coats, not to mention indulging in rich comfort foods (granted, possibly the only reason winter is bearable, apart from Christmas presents and New Year's celebrations) maybe you feel that one of those new habits should be a good programme of exercise and an improved diet.

Why not consider a regular massage as part of your fitness regime? Here's a few reasons why a good massage treatment plan can help you on your quest to get fit this season.

  • Massage helps improve your circulation, facilitating oxygen and nutrient delivery to all of your systems, particularly the muscular and integumentary (skin) systems;

  • Regular treatments help you de-stress, essential for maintaining the healthy heart needed for effective cardio workouts (a cornerstone of good physical fitness);

  • Flexibility and range of motion can be improved with the help of regular massages. Ask your therapist for some stretches to do at home to improve the effectiveness of your massage in this area.

  • Sports or deep tissue treatment can help you recover from injuries sustained during workouts, particularly injury induced by stepping up your exercise regime too quickly;

  • Often used by atheletes to speed healing and reduce downtime, sports massage can help you get fit quicker by ensuring any injuries are dealt with speedily;

  • If you've had a body part immobilised, massage can help the area return to its full range of motion;

  • Helping to improve the mind-muscle link (called proprioception), massage will assist in improving your fine and gross motor control, resulting in an improvement in performance, particularly where competitive sport is concerned;

  • Regular massage helps prevent injury by re-aligning and balancing body structures;

  • Pain reduction. Massage helps to relieve painful muscle spasms and cramps. It also helps increase blood flow to peripheral nerves that may be damaged from injury.

  • Massage can help reduce tissue scarring resulting from injury.


In the end, massages are only going to go so far in improving your physical fitness without the support of a good exercise regime. So if you've been slacking off this winter, now's a great time to hit the gym, find a personal trainer, join a new and exciting class, or just fit some more walking into your day.

To book your massage session and arrange a program plan with Wee Sally's Therapeutic Massage, call us on 01506-238366 or book online at /book_now/  today.

Essential Oil Files: Frankincense

Known to most of us as one of the gifts the wise men presented to Jesus on the occasion of his birth, Frankincense has long been associated with mysticism and spirituality. Often referred to as 'the odour of sanctity' by the Catholics Church, this oil has been used in many religions, from ancient Egyptian polytheistic practise to Wicca, Judiasm, and Catholicism. The resin is often burnt during religious ceremonies to induce feelings of spiritual connection and enhance meditative states: an ancient practice.

Appearing in recorded historical documents since the time of the ancient Egyptians, frankincense is thought to have originated on The Arabian Penninsula and Northern/North-Eastern Africa (especially Somalia). The oil is obtained from trees of the genus Boswellia, including carteri, thurferi, frereana, and others. Boswellia carteri is the plant most often used in aromatherapy practise, long prized for its camphorous, spicy scent. Anyone who has attended Catholic mass will know the pungent, mysterious aroma of frankincense resin, used by priests in a censer (brass incense container).

Harvesting: Cuts are made in the bark of the tree, causing the resinous 'tears' to seep through the surface and harden. Oil is extracted via steam distillation with 3 - 7 % yield.

Uses: The National Cancer Institute reports that Indian Frankincense from Boswellia Serrata possess anti-inflammatory properties, which have contributed to treatments for ulcerative colitisarthritis and asthma. The National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine have suggested frankincense may offer immune system support, though more research is needed. Chemicals in the resin may have cancer-fighting capabilities that kill cancer cells while sparing healthy ones.

Contra-indications: Those suffering from heartburn, upset stomach, stomach aches and pains should avoid this oil. People taking anti-coagulant medicine should not use frankincense owing to its blood-thinning properties. Also not recommended if patient has recently taken blood-thinning pain-killing medicines such as ibuprofen, aspirin, etc. Do not take if pregnant, as can cause birth defects and increase chance of miscarriage and premature labour.

Blends well with: spicy scents such as ginger and cinnamon, darker florals such as rose and lavender, and herbaceous scents such as basil and bay.

How to use: As an excellent anti-inflammatory, Frankincense can be diluted 5 drops to 20mL of oil, and applied directly onto the skin. A couple of drops can be added to warts every day until gone. Vaporise Frankincense oil (5 drops to a dish) in an oil burner for sinus and general respiratory congestion, or apply a couple of drops neat onto a handkerchief and inhale throughout the day. Apply a drop of the oil diluted in a few mL of carrier oil (sweet almond is good) as an effective meditation aid: apply between brows, temples, and wrists.

Random Fact: Frankincense trees are extremely hardy: to the point where they have been known to grow out of solid rock. Such plants are valued for providing oil of superior quality.

For more information on this oil, try AromaWeb's profile on Frankincense.

What's in Our Goodie Bags?

We are proud to release the contents of our Goodie Bags for our very first Taster Week beginning next Tuesday!

In no particular order:

  • Lush Massage Bars: these are amazing! Designed to melt into your skin, these bars are made of shea butter, cocoa, and moisturising essential oils for a relaxing experience at home.



  • Handmade essential oils by Susan: choose from relaxing or rejuvinating blends custom-made by our talented aromatherapist. Also included is a card with info on ways to use your oil at home. You can also choose to have your oil applied during your complimentary (or paid) treatment session.



  • Stretch sheets show you how to relax and improve your range of motion through some common problem areas. e.g. neck and shoulders, lower back, IT band, etc.



  •  5 pound off vouchers entitle you to a discount off your next treatment, or a complimentary aromatherapy blend with your next booking.



  • Scented candles to make your home smell amazing.


Bags will also include a brochure complete with a run-down of our massage options and prices. All this and a free 15 minute taster session means next week's appointments are flying off the shelves! To secure your free session (or add one onto a longer appointment) call Wee Sally's on 01506-238366 today.

Essential Oil Files: Orange



The orange tree is something of a superstar in the essential oil world. Producing not one but three types of oil, each from two different tree types (sweet and bitter orange), these oils are not only effective, but generally cheap (with the noteable exception of Neroli) and possessed of an intoxicating aroma. Here I am focusing on both the sweet and bitter orange plants, known to botanists as citrus sinensis and citrus aurantium, respectively.

Many variteties of orange originated in China (or in the case of Bitter Orange, Vietnam), where there are records of them being cultivated as far back as 2500 BC. The plant is  thought to have been introduced to Europe by Portuguese traders around 1500, and is now cultivated in warm countries the world over.  The orange has long been venerated for its 'sunny' disposition, its bright, uplifting smell and delectable flavour reminding one of  warm sunshine. For the Chinese, the orange symbolises good luck and prosperity around New Year celebrations, and even the mandarin word for 'wealth' has an aural resonance with the word for 'orange', drawing a favourable connection between the two.

There is plenty of scientific and anecdotal proof for the anti-depressant qualities of citruses, especially bergamot and sweet orange. It is also useful as a calming, yet uplifting oil: one 1998 study of British children showed that when sweet orange oil was used during and immediately following a dental procedure (quite a stressful situation, even for many adults) the children were generally calmer and more co-operative. Two further studies conducted in South Korea, one in 1996 and the other in 2001, focusing on one component of bitter orange, p-synephrine, found it had antidepressent-like effects. Bitter orange oil is also useful as a weight loss aid, helping to reduce bloating and decrease appetite.

Orange essential oil can be used in a number of ways. Burn the oil when you want to lighten the atmosphere: for example on a grey winter's day or for a party. The antiseptic properties of orange mean it's also excellent for cleaning your home: use 3 drops diluted with 10 mL of carrier oil (like olive or sunflower) to clean cooking oil off your cutting board, or to remove grease from your cooktop or oven. Click here for more uses for orange oil.

Please note: This oil can have phototoxic effects: do not apply to the skin if going out in the sun for an extended time.  Never apply neat orange oil to the skin: dilute with carrier oil first (about 1 drop to 5 mL of oil).

Taster Week @ Wee Sally Therapeutic Massage



Here at Wee Sally we offer a myriad of treatments. Ever wanted to try reflexology foot massage? How about a relaxing reiki session? Or maybe you want to sample some deep tissue massage? It seems that many of our clients are curious about the wide range of modalities that we offer, so we've decided to run a complimentary 'taster' week, running from the 27th - 31st of March.

The details:

* Book in a free 10 minute mini-treatment to sample what we have available (limit of two per person over the course of the week, one per day).

* You may add on a free mini-treat onto any pre-booked appointment: just let us know at the time of booking to avoid disappointment on the day.

* Modalities on offer include: deep tissue, swedish massage, lymphatic drainage, relaxation massage, reiki, reflexology (hand and foot), head and/or facial massage. Call us on 01506-238366 to have a chat about which treatment is right for you.

* As a special gift to you, every full-length massage booked with Susan,our resident aromatherapist, will include a complimentary aromatherapy blend for use during the treatment or for you to take home. Susan will be happy to make up a blend especially tailored to your needs.

The clinic will also be well-stocked with gift bags filled with goodies for one and all (no need to book a full treatment). So try something new this Spring and hop into Wee Sally for a little on-the-spot pampering! (Or call us on 01506-238366 to book your free taster today!)

 

Essential Oil Files: Chamomile

It's the go-to remedy if you're looking to relax, unwind, and enjoy peaceful sleep. With a soothing, herby scent, Chamomile is a precious part of every aromatherapist's toolbox. This small, daisy-like flower has a long history of use in Europe and Asia, and its applications go far beyond mere stress relief.

Chamomile has been in use since at least the time of the Ancient Egyptians, who believed the flower was sacred to the Gods as a cure for 'Ague' ( Acute Fever), and is a translation of the ancient Greek word for 'little apple.' Pliny described the plant as having the aroma of  'apples or quinces.' Recognised for its relaxing properties, chamomile was often used as a 'strewing herb' at mediaeval gatherings for promoting 'good atmosphere.' The plant was also once used as a bittering agent for beer, before the introduction of hops!

Chamomile is divided into two distinct varieties, German (or Blue) and Roman (also known as English, Garden or Sweet). These varieties, while related, have distinct properties useful to the aromatherapist. German Chamomile (Matricaria Recutitia) has a deep blue colour: even one drop of this potent oil will stain a blend. This oil is useful for healing and calming the skin: use it on rashes and insect bites to soothe and encourage healing. While both varieties are known for their stress-relieving properties, Roman Chamomile (Anthemis Nobilis) is particularly well-known for calming the mind, useful for anxiety, irritation and symptoms of PMS. Preliminary studies conducted by the University of Pennsylvania haave shown that chamomile may have  applications for those suffering from anxiety-based illnesses.

With stress at the root of many maladies, consider the benefits of adding a little of this calming, yet powerful herb into your life. If you suffer from disturbed rest or difficulty in getting to sleep, you can do this by drinking chamomile tea with honey before bed, or adding a sachet to your bath water. You can also tuck one into your pillow, or burn a blend of chamomile and lavender for an extra-relaxing prelude to bedtime. If you're interested in finding out more about this intruiging herb, go here. 

Important Note:  Chamomile can induce uterine contractions and therefore should not be used by pregnant or nursing mothers.

How to Use Your Aromatherapy Blend

As Wee Sally's resident aromatherapist, I can create a vast arrangement of blends to suit your needs. Aromatherapy has been used for thousands of years, and has a vast variety of applications. I can make your very own blend for use in a treatment for £5, or 5mL vial of essential and carrier oils to take home for the same price.

* Use in an essential oil burner. 1/3 of your blended oil bottle to 30mL of water should do the trick.

* Rub on a lightbulb! For a quick burst of scent, rub a few drops of oil directly into a low-wattage bulb.

* To cure dry feet and cracked heels, apply your oil to the soles of your feet before bedtime. Pop on a pair of cotton socks, and you'll wake up with super-soft tootsies! This also works with hands and cotton gloves: a lifesaver in winter.

* Use your oil blend on dry cuticles or elbows. Apply using small, light,  circular motions. I use sweet almond oil as a carrier base, an oil known for its deep moisturising capabilities.

*The essential oils we have in the clinic can be specially blended for your skin type. Use as part of a home facial treatment. (FYI: Rose water is also an excellent toner. Health food stores and some pharmacies usually stock it.)

*Pop a little oil on your temples or between the brows and press for 20 seconds. Breathe in and out deeply as you do so. This is a great de-stressor, and is particularly effective if you are using oils that are known for their headache-banishing properties, such as peppermint, eucalyptus, tea-tree or orange.

* Give your loved one a foot massage in front of the telly. This never fails to impress!

So there you have it, a small selection of uses for your blended oil. Pop in today and I can make you up your own 10mL blend to take home, or add an aromatherapy blend onto your treatment.

Boosting Your Energy Levels the Natural Way

When feeling tired and stressed many people reach for a coffee or a sugary snack to keep them going through the day. The downside of this strategy is it can keep you on a rollercoaster of energy highs and lows throughout the dayas the caffeine or sugar buzz wears off, and we reach for another cup or chocolate bar to keep ourselves going. Here's some healthier alternatives to help you access your own natural energy reserves.

1. Meditation. Learning to meditate can be as simple as closing your eyes and focusing on your breath. Meditation has been shown to improve mental clarity, reduce stress and alleviate anxiety. Pick the Brain has a useful overview of meditation techniques, or consider attending a short course.

2. Try and replace coffee and energy drinks with tea. If you drink a lot of coffee, this may be a challenge, but after a few days you will start to feel more alive. The benefits of tea on the body are many, as there are naturally occuring chemicals in tea leaves that counteract the harmful effects of caffeine on the body, such as L-theanine, shown to boost the body's immune function. The result is a calming, uplifting feeling far removed from coffee's 'buzz'.

4. Find your sleep level. Here's a great article from Lifehacker about how to find your perfect sleep duration. There are also a range of smartphone applications you can use that can help you track your sleeping patterns, allowing you to know when the best time to go to sleep and wake up are.

5. No laptops before bed. The light from computers and televisions is beamed directly into the eye, triggering hormones that will keep you awake. Read, meditate or write in the last hour or so before you sleep, instead.

6. Get a great massage once a month. This will improve circulation, delivering more nutrients to your tissues and improving your posture and range of motion, resulting in freer movement of energy throughout the body. We practice what we preach!

7. Make sure you get enough exercise. Even if it's just a 20 minute walk every day, try and get moving. Exercise has been linked to lower rates of dementia, longer life and lower levels of mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.

8. Go somewhere green: lack of green spaces in and around the home have been linked with mental illness. Most people live near a park, and even a short stroll through a pretty garden on the way to work can be an excellent pick-me-up.

9. Be creative: I firmly believe that everyone is creative in some capacity. Expressing the self has been shown to be great for the mind. This doesn't necasserily mean taking up the paintbrush or the guitar: even flexing your creative muscles in the kitchen, in conversation or business is beneficial. If you're feeling creatively challenged, writing a journal (a la The Artist's Way) is a fantastic way to clear out mental clutter and allow for the free flow of ideas.

10. Laugh! It's a proven fact that finding humour and laughter keeps you happy. Go and see a comedy show, or read a funny book, or even join a laughter class. It looks ridiculous, but trust me, it works!

11. Stimulate your mind. Try something new. Nothing will make you feel more alive than fun and novelty. Seek challenges. Getting out of your comfort zone promotes growth; stagnation comes easily when we settle into a familiar groove. Here's a great blog about this on Psychology Today.

12. Look at your diet. Are you eating too much sugar? Processed foods? Heavy carbohydrates? All will make you feel tired. The NHS has an excellent site here on healthy eating.

Essential Oil Files: Patchouli

Not just a herb for hippies, this small, bushy plant has hidden talents. A relative of the mint family, Patchouli leaf is harvested for its heavy, soothing, pungent oil. This plant has long been one of the most admired as a fragrance for perfume, incense, deoderant and oil.

Originating in South-East Asia, this plant grows wild in the mountains of Java and Sumatra above 3000 ft. However, the herb is extensively cultivated in the surrounding low-lying farmlands. Harvested two or three times a year, the best-quality oil is extracted in the rainy season, undergoing a hand-picking, drying and steam-distillation process to extract the pure essence of the plant.

In many Asian countries, such as China and Japan, Patchouli oil has been used as an antidote for snakebites. It also has an anti-bacterial action that helps to heal wounds and deodorise. Used widely as a repellent, it helps to keep bugs and other insects away from material: in the 19th centuary, the Patchouli packed in fabrics shipped from the East was thought to help denote 'true' Oriental fabric. One study suggests that the oil can be used as an all-purpose insect repellent. In another study, Patchouli was found to be inhibatory to bacteria growth. 

The oil is also an excellent tonic for the skin, particularly when suffering from dryness. It helps to prevent wrinkles, chapping and sagging skin, and speeds the healing of wounds or scars. It has often been used to boost mood, relieve anxiety and promote a balanced state of mind, relieving lethargy and encouraging positive thought.

Red Cross Therapeutic Care

A therapeutic care volunteer massages a woman's shoulders

*Do you like to take a hands-on approach to helping people?

* Would you like to help carers, the bereaved or those facing illness to reduce their stress and pain?

*Are you interested in learning gentle massage techniques?

*Are you willing to spend a few hours a month helping those in need?

*Are you interested in volunteering but don't want to work in a shop, man a desk, or pick up litter?

If so, the Red Cross' Therapeutic Care programme is the perfect volunterring  opportunity for you. You don't need to be a trained massage therapist: all you need is good inter-personal skills and a willingness to learn. The Red Cross will provide all the training you need: this includes a two-day course in massage techniques and one day in assessment. They are also willing to re-imburse all reasonable out-of-pocket expenses you may incur as a result of your participation in the programme, for example travel costs. Sounds like a fantastic opportunity to us! If you're interested, you can read more about this opportunity here or apply here.  Vacancies are available in many places around the United Kingdom. I'm sure you'll agree the Red Cross do absolutely essential work: here is your chance to help!

Essential Oil Files: Tea Tree



This is the first of our resident aromatherapist, Susan Munro's series on Essential Oil treatments. Here she focuses on one of the most useful essential oils, Tea Tree.

I have always said every bathroom cabinet should contain two essential oils: lavender and tea tree. More about the former next week, this week we're talking about the latter. This powerhouse oil, obtained from the leaves of the Australian Melaleuca Alternifolia tree, has a strong, pungent odor, champhorous, refreshing and cleansing. Tea Tree is an extremely useful oil when it comes to cleaning away dirt, removing bacteria and fungus, and has even been shown to have possible anti-viral applications. As an aromatherapist, it is one of the most powerful tools in my kit, and used with care can yield wonderful results.

While Tea Tree is one of the newest oils to be discovered by the West, this plant has been used for thousands of years by the indiginous Bunjalung people of North-Eastern New South Wales, on Australia's Eastern Seaboard. They inhaled the crushed leaves for relief from coughs and colds, and applied the leaves to their wounds followed by a poltice to protect the wound from infection and hasten healing. When the uses of the oils were discovered and published by Arthur Penfold in the 1920s and 30s, the Australian tea tree oil industry was born. Originally created by hand from bush stills, the production of tea tree oil is big business: over 3000 hectares of the plant is growing in Australia today, with the highest-quality oil still being produced in North-Eastern New South Wales.

This pale golden oil is a quality addition to your personal natural medicine kit, as it is useful in a variety of medical conditions, particularly concerning the skin and respiratory systems. For example, a drop or two added to a cotton tip can be used directly on a pimple (please note, if you have sensitive skin, use lavender instead). Also excellent for treating skin fungus, a few drops of tea tree oil can be applied to areas of athlete's foot (soak feet in warm water beforehand, and gently pumice the area first), then air-dry for 5 – 10 minutes every day until the condition is eradicated. Tea Tree extract is also often found as a 5% dilution in anti-dandruff shampoos.

If you suffer from sinus congestion/infection, try steaming once in the morning and once at night for 20 minutes or so with 4 or 5 drops of oil in a bowl of hot water (around 1 litre or 4 cups), sink or specialised face steamer. Pop a small towel over your head for extra effect: this is also great for the pores, giving them an excellent, natural clean. You can also add a few drops to a vaporiser to loosen up a chest infection.

Tea Tree is often used in cleaning products as a natural solution to harsh, poisonous chemical compounds. The Daily Green has this great recipe for an excellent porcelin or tile cleaner: add 2 cups of water, 3 tablespoons of liquid soap and 20 to 30 drops of tea tree oil to a spray bottle and shake. Simple, clean and green! Burning Tea Tree Oil (perhaps coupled with lemon) also helps dissipate mustiness in the home, bringing a fresh, 'clean' feeling to the room. 

As always, please consult a qualified aromatherapist or consult a guide written by one before attempting to mix your own essential oil blends. Books I recommend include The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy and The Encyclopedia of Essential Oils. Please note this article does not replace medical advice. Never ingest essential oils of any kind.

How to Improve Your Computing Posture



Here at Wee Sally Therapeutic Massage we have noticed that sitting for long expanses of time at the computer can wreak havoc with your posture, creating pain, muscle strains and other injury. Unfortunately, there's little getting out of the fact that many of us are required to sit at computers for a large part of our work day. You see, our bodies haven't evolved to deal with long periods of sitting down: our neolithic ancestors spent most of their time standing and walking. Sitting down all day with our hands in front of our bodies is a fairly unnatural posture, so we need to be extra mindful of ergonomics when we do so.

The rise of laptops (there are now more sold than desktops) has added to this: the decreased distance between the screen and keyboard, coupled with the propensity to actually use them on our laps (often while crossing our legs) can constrict blood flow and unbalance the posture. While there is no perfect way to use a laptop by itself, if you must do so, I urge you to buy a laptop stand like one of these. This will raise the angle of your computer so the monitor is at a more comfortable height for viewing. This takes your wrists out of a neutral position however, so I would not recommend this for extended typing practice. You will also need a separate mouse. If you're doing a lot of typing/at the computer for extended times, I'd recommend you buy a separate keyboard, and possibly a separate monitor (or just use a stand) to 'dock' your laptop whenever you are at your workspace.

Here's a few more tips for improving your posture at a desktop (or docked laptop) station:

1. Recognise the symptoms of poor posture: the pain may be caused by computers if it is worse after a long session working in front of a screen, and diminishes when away from the machine. Pain is likely to start in the neck and proceed down the upper back, into the lower back and sometimes into the extremities.

2. 'Sitting up straight' can be worse for your body than slumping: and plenty harder to maintain. Ensure that your eyes are level with the screen and your knees are slightly lower than your hip joints. Your wrists should be flush with the keyboard. Your feet should be flat on the floor, and your shoulders and back relaxed. The Fitness for Life website has an interesting article (with pictures) on how you can obtain the correct computer posture. 

3.Do small stretches when you are using your computer. Also, try standing up while using your computer. Find a useful list here.  Stretches to do when you are away from the computer are here. We recommend three sets of each stretch, moving slowly into the stretch and holding for 15 - 30 seconds each time. Do twice a day for maximum benefit.

4. Make sure you take a short 3 - 5 minute break from the computer every hour or so. Try and incorporate physical exercise into this: take a walk around the block, to the coffee shop, or even around the office. The key thing here is to get the blood flowing so your muscles don't stiffen. A short, brisk walk will do wonders for your mental acuity too!

5. Finally, don't forget to book in a session of massage to help relax those tight muscles! Correcting poor posture often requires the help of a trained professional in order to re-align the muscle fibers, improve blood flow and assist in the healing of muscle strains. Call Wee Sally at 01 506 238 366 for an appointment today.

Muscle Mondays: Serratus Anterior

One of the most interesting muscles I have encountered on my Massage journey is the Serratus Anterior.
I had always wondered why my ribs would ache, or why people would talk about Bruised Ribs, but after reading about this interesting muscle which lies between the ribs, everything became clear.

Origin

Serratus anterior normally originates by nine or ten attachments at either the first to ninth ribs or the first to eight ribs. Because two attachments usually arise from the second rib, the number of attachments is greater than the number of ribs from which they originate.

Insertion

The muscle is inserted along the medial border of the scapula between the superior and inferior angles. The muscle is divided into three named parts depending on their points of insertions: the superior part is inserted near the superior angle; the intermediate part is inserted along the medial border; and the inferior part is inserted near the inferior angle.

Action

The main action of the Serratus Anterior is to move the scapula forward and up, which is one of the principal components in raising the arm. As this moves the scapula in the opposite direction to the rhomboids, these two muscles work together to control it's position. It is not often injured, but since it is attached to the ribs, tension can build up in association with other chest muscles. In activities such as swimming or climbing, this muscle can become damaged through over use, and it is important to treat it as part of any general massage for people involved in these types of activities.

All three parts described above pull the scapula forward around the thorax, which is essential for medial rotation of the arm. As such, the muscle is an antagonist to the rhomboids. However, when the inferior and superior parts act together, they keep the scapula pressed against the thorax together with the rhomboids and therefore these parts also act as synergists to the rhomboids. The inferior part can pull the lower end of the scapula laterally and forward and thus rotates the scapula to make elevation of the arm possible. Additionally, all three parts can lift the ribs when the shoulder girdle is fixed, and thus assist in respiration.

The serratus anterior is occasionally called the "big swing muscle" or "boxer's muscle" because it is largely responsible for the protraction of the scapula — that is, the pulling of the scapula forward and around the rib cage that occurs when someone throws a punch.The serratus anterior also plays an important role in the upward rotation of the scapula, such as when lifting a weight overhead. It performs this in sync with the upper and lower fibers of the trapezius.

Injuries of Serratus anterior

If you are suffering from serratus anterior injury, you will start to experience pain below your armpit area. Your side and mid back at the lower end of your shoulder blade may become painful as well. Since this muscle also serves as an auxiliary breathing muscle, most clients experience pain when they try to take normal and deep breaths. Known as serratus anterior dysfunction, this condition may affect the muscles in the neck and cause other symptoms such as jaw pain, headaches, and dizziness. It is possible to treat this condition through trigger point therapy, a highly effective form of self-treatment.

A winged scapula refers to a condition wherein the scapula no longer lies flat against the back. Its medial side will start sticking out of the body, thus resembling a chicken wing. Although the winged scapula isn’t the injury of serratus anterior in itself, its symptoms can cause you a lot of discomfort. The usual cause of winged scapula can be the damage along the thoracic nerve which innervates serratus anterior. Doctors usually use the wall to test and diagnose injuries in the thoracic nerve. They will let patients face the wall and push against it with their palms at waist level. In the case that one of the scapulas starts to pop out, it can imply that serratus anterior is no longer capable of holding the scapula flat.

If your winged scapula is caused by damage in your serratus anterior, you may need to undergo a surgical procedure. The repair of an acutely damaged thoracic nerve may lead to significant improvements in those who are suffering from a winged scapula. However, a tendon transfer from the pectoral muscle may be required to address scapular winging in cases that are more chronic. When employing the therapy with trigger point to cure the dysfunction of serratus anterior, you will need to press the trigger point located in your most prominent rib. You can perform self massage to your serratus anterior muscles which can relieve the pain caused by this condition.

Serratus anterior workouts

The best way to prevent the injury of serratus anterior is to strengthen the muscle before it can acquire damage. Various dumbbell exercises such as incline shoulder raise & incline shoulder press are both ideal for strengthening the muscle and improving its range of motion. On the other hand, yoga poses and handstands are great for conditioning the muscle along with the other muscles which are responsible for stabilizing the scapula. You can also try the hand walkout, which engages your anterior muscle. You can do this by standing on your hands and feet while holding your buttocks up in the air, walking your hands away from your feet, and assuming the push-up position.

A plank exercise is also great for strengthening serratus anterior muscle. You can do it by using your forearms, elbows, and the balls of your feet to assume the push-up position. Keep your body off the floor and keep your body rigid by squeezing the muscles in your stomach and buttocks. Scoop up your ribcage and stomach, tuck your pelvis downward, and hold the position while breathing deeply at least three times. You can also try a plow, which is also an exercise that is performed in push-up position. Place dry washcloths under the balls of your
feet, assume the push-up position, and slide one foot in while bending the knee toward your ribs.

The inclined shoulder raise is also a great serratus anterior exercise that you can try at home. Assume the usual incline bench press position and hold the barbell around shoulder width while bringing it over your upper chest. Instead of letting your shoulder blades to pinch back as you would in a regular bench press, you will have to keep your hands straight. Instead of lowering the barbell, lift the weight by allowing your scapula to travel forward. Go as far forward as you could, then as far back as you could for improved range of motion. You can also do this exercise with dumbbells because it puts direct work on your anterior muscle.

These are only some of the things you need to consider when strengthening and caring for your scapula, anterior muscles, and long thoracic nerve. With the best serratus anterior workouts, you can finally get the chance to strengthen and protect it from unnecessary damage.

Symptoms of Serratus Anterior Injury

Symptoms of Serratus anterior injury can manifest itself in many ways; prime among them is pain on the side of the ribs located on the upper side of your torso. Serratus Anterior Injury is one of the most uncomfortable experiences you can ever have because this kind of injury can pose difficulty in breathing, ranging from slight pain to extreme pain while breathing, or coughing.. Many people experience serratus anterior injury because of the wrong way they perform the serratus anterior workouts. Other causes of serratus anterior injury are strained muscles due to overworking exercises, or external causes like being hit in the area, falling, or hard contact with sharp objects. It can also limit the range of your movement, including decreased motion in your arms due to the pain. You will also have trouble in lifting weights, even with light loads. Serratus anterior injury can also manifest itself with pain when you touch the area.

Treating Serratus Anterior Injury

If you want to treat serratus anterior injury on your own,  trigger-point therapy is the best method you can apply. The trigger point is a location found approximately 1.5 inches on the lower end of your shoulder blade. What you can do is to press the trigger point gently, not roughly. The pressure must be somewhat bearable to the person. Release the pressure, and you will notice a slight improvement in your breathing and your pain in the serratus anterior.

You can try pressing different points on your lower shoulder blades where your serratus anterior is located. Do this if your first press does not relieve you of the pain.

You can also treat your serratus anterior injury by leaning against a ball like a tennis ball or baseball. The tennis ball is more preferred because it is softer. Lean against your side on the wall with the tennis ball in between, and allow the pressure of your body weight fall on the tennis ball. Position the ball on your serratus anterior injury.

Allow the tennis ball to roll over the injured area of your body, but be careful about applying too much weight on your ball to avoid further injury. Just gently apply weight on the area depending on what makes you feel relieved or comfortable.

Exercises to Strengthen Serratus Anterior

There are exercises you can do to avoid the risk of serratus anterior injury. This includes dumbbell pullovers. Lie on your bench and do the pullovers with the appropriate weight you can lift. Other forms of exercises are sports. Swimming is a perfect way to strengthen your serratus anterior, because the pressure of the water as you make your freestyle strokes work on your serratus interior for support and strength.Other sports that are good for your serratus anterior are tennis and golf. Strengthen serratus anterior with exercise and sports to avoid serratus anterior injury

Treatment

As most of the muscle lies between the shoulder blade and ribs, it is difficult to reach without specially positioning the client. side-lying the client with the upper arm abducted over the side of the head, the therapist can apply stroking techniques to the lateral fibres, below the armpit. in the supine position the arm can be fully abducted to draw the scapula out from the ribs. the therapists fingers can then stroke and friction between the ribs

Limited Time Only

3 Therapists
2 Days
1 Amazing offer!


We have been so overwhelmed by the support for our Service Industry Discount days, that we have decided to extend the days for a Limited time only.
From February 17th until June 30th, Service Industry Discount day will now take place on WEDNESDAY as well as THURSDAY.
You will now have the opportunity to book in with each of our Therapists across both days for this fantastic saving.
On Wednesday Sally and Susan will be offering this service, and on Thursday Sally and Lynn will be offering this service.

All modalities are available.

To qualify you must book either a 60 or 90 minute massage, to receive your £10 discount, and you must specifically ask for this discount.
You must also be employed in one of the following Service Industry positions.

Bank teller,
Librarian,
Nurse,
Care worker,
Doctor,
Hairdresser,
Beautician,
Massage Therapist,
Physical Therapist,
Tattoo Artist,
Bar Staff,
Restaurant Server,
Cook,
Nursery & Teaching Assistants,
Shop Assistants,
Emergency Service Workers,
Active Military

Call 01506 238366 for further details or to request an appointment.

The Importance of Stretching

Stretching is an important tool to help improve muscle balance and flexibility. We often use active (client-driven) and passive (therapist-driven) stretching when administering massage treatment. However, it's important to continue your good work at home with self-stretching techniques. Stretching improves blood supply to the muscles, thereby facilitating nutrient delivery to the active tissues, and reducing soreness after a workout. Self-stretching isn't just for gym bunnies though: a regular stretching routine will help you avoid injury in your daily life, too.

Here's a few tips to achieve greater flexibility through stretching:

*Move slowly into the stretch until you feel mild tension, hold for 5 - 10 seconds, and build up to 30 seconds. Perform 1 to 3 sets. Don't rush the stretch. These can be administered after exercise, or twice a day (morning and night) to set up a regular routine.

* If you are stretching correctly, the feeling of tension should slightly diminish during the stretch. If you feel pain, stop! Never feel like you need to stretch to the point of pain: you will be damaging your muscles, therefore doing yourself a disservice. If pain persists for more than 7 days, see a doctor.

*Stretches can be incorporated into exercise warm-ups or warm-downs, or performed spontaneously. There has been some discussion on the subject in recent years, but scientific research has proven that stretching does not require a muscle to be 'warm' to be effective.

*Don't stretch when you're tense: it's important for your muscles to be relaxed to avoid injury.

Don't perform self-stretching when:

*you have strained or sprained a muscle/ligament;

*when joints/muscles are infected, inflamed or hurt;

*after a recent fracture;

*when sharp pains are felt in the joint or muscle.

Following injury, always pay heed to the advice of your doctor. You may be advised to start with gentle stretches slowly increasing in intensity to gradually build up range of motion in the muscle group concerned. Go easy: remember, you should not feel pain during the stretch!

Next time you come in for a treatment, ask us for some stretches to do at home. Alternatively, here is a fantastic list of moves you can do at home, courtesy of The Massage Nerd.

New Study Reveals Lavender Oil Improves Sleep Quality

Chronic sleeplessness is rife in today's society: 1 in 5 people living in the U.K. today suffers from sleeping difficulties, whether it be disrupted sleep, insomnia, or poor sleep quality. Usually, this is treated with sleeping pills, which can be harmful to your health, particularly if used frequently. It's no wonder, then, that a veritable torrent of research has been conduct in recent years into achieving good quality sleep through natural means, from meditation and exercise to herbal remedies and aromtherapy. Results have demonstrated that aromatherapy, in particular, can be useful in achieving restful sleep that leaves you feeling rejuvenated and alive.

One oil that researchers have been particularly interested in is Lavender. This powerful, yet soothing oil has long been known to producing calming, relaxing  affects, and has been shown in previous studies to help alleviate the symptoms of insomnia, anxiety, depression, and other sleep disruption. One study, completed in 2005, demonstarted the effectiveness of lavender on patients with mild insomnia, while another, published in 2006, showed the effects of lavender on stressed college students.

New research conducted by the  Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran, has revealed the effectiveness of the essential oil on patients in Coronary Care Units. As could be expected, patients in these units report poor sleep quality as a matter of course, so the oil's effectiveness was impressive indeed. The trial included 64 male and female patients suffering from unstable angina and myocardial infarction, revealing large differences in the average sleep quality scores between the group who received aromatherapy and those who opted for sleeping pills. On average, the group who received lavender oil therapy reported a postitive change in quality of sleep.

You can use lavender yourself: our resident aromatherapist, Susan Munro, recommends adding a couple of drops to a cotton ball and tucking into into your pillowcase before bed. Another option is having a lavender bath: add 5 - 10 drops of pure essential oil (diluted with 10 - 20 mL of carrier oil, such as sweet almond) to warm bath water for a wonderfully relaxing prelude to bedtime. Even a sprig of fresh or dried lavender tucked into the pillow can help you get a restful night's sleep. Susan is also able to make you up your very own sleepytime blend that can be applied to the wrists and temples before bed. Harness the power of aromatherapy for a wonderful night's sleep today.