• Barry Cooper

Fact: It is estimated that between 35-43% of the UK population is estimated to suffer from chronic pain, that’s 28 million people. It accounts for 40% of time off work and costs the NHS over £10 billion pounds a year.

It is one of the most common reasons why people visit Soft Tissue Therapists accounting for up to 40% of visits.


Other common reasons include rehabbing sports injuries, relief of pain from accidents or muscle strains, relief of stress and as a form of preventative health care.

And also, just that good old relaxation that can only come from human touch.


What is massage therapy, exactly?


People with specific massage therapy training will have gone to school for a minimum of [insert the number of hours and practical work you’ve done during your training] and received skilled instruction in the manual manipulation of the body’s soft tissues, including muscles, connective tissues, tendons, and ligaments.

They are highly knowledgeable about anatomy and physiology and are skilled diagnosticians with regards to chronic pain and how to treat it.

Here are some common massage therapy modalities that you may encounter, ranging from simple relaxation to treatment of complex pain issues and connective tissue realignment.


Swedish Massage


This is your standard relaxation massage. Swedish massage is very popular in spa settings.

As one of the most popular types of bodywork performed today, the overarching goal of Swedish massage is the ultimate relaxation of the entire body. It is exceptional at achieving this, easing tension while promoting the release of environmental toxins stored in the body’s fat and epidermis layers while simultaneously increasing the oxygen levels in the blood. Swedish massage has also been shown to produce significant reductions in the stress hormone, cortisol.


Trigger Point Therapy and Myofascial Release


A trigger point is a small area of tightly bound and ‘knotted’ muscle that will produce referred pain into another part of the body when pressed upon. For example, a trigger point in the rhomboid muscle in the upper back can produce headache-like pain at the base of the skull.

Trigger points such as these are often misdiagnosed as migraines.

Trigger points range in severity from mildly annoying to completely debilitative. The affected muscle fibres are in a permanently shortened and tense state, and can even pinch nearby nerves, producing even more related symptoms, sometimes spiraling into full-blown fibromyalgia, a disorder of the connective tissues.

This is one area where massage therapy has a distinct advantage over every other form of treatment. Conventional medicine’s answer to trigger points is usually an injection of a local anesthetic or a corticosteroid injection. Both of which are temporary, unnatural treatments and in the case of the corticosteroid, actually damaging to the tissues.

Massage therapy treats these by the application of pressure directly to the trigger point, going over time from light to very deep, (usually within the same session) whereupon the trigger point will begin to release and relax.

Follow-up treatment is nearly always needed to retrain the muscle fibers to lengthen and “smooth” back out. A good massage therapist can often boast a near 100% success rate with trigger point therapy, even when other treatments have failed.

Myofascial release is a broader application of this type of therapy that seeks to restore mobility and function to the body’s underlying network of connective tissue that is present in every muscle in the body. It improves lymph circulation (keeping the blood clean) and enhances the muscle’s natural stretch reflex, keeping the body supple and strong.

It should be noted that these types of massage therapy are not the same as a relaxing Swedish massage and can sometimes be quite painful as the body relaxes, releases, and returns to normal homeostasis. It’s important to communicate to us during your treatment if you are uncomfortable at any time.


Sports Massage


As the name implies, sports massage is focused on the athlete. From the highest level of competition, to the casual weekend warrior, sports massage therapists can be found everywhere from weekend 5ks to professional locker rooms and Olympic fields.

Sports massage focuses on both pre- and post- event training and recovery.

Pre- event for example, may involve stimulating a stretch reflex in the quadriceps muscle of a runner to help lengthen her stride, with repeated treatments resulting in a faster runner who is less prone to injury.

Post-event can take the form of a light, relaxing massage to stimulate healing blood flow to an overused muscle group, enabling the athlete to recover safer and faster, and enable them to perform at the top of their game sooner than otherwise would be the case.

Rather than a specific technique as in trigger point or myofascial therapies, sport massage focuses on the dual goals of athletic performance and recovery and may borrow heavily on other modalities to achieve these ends.


The tip of the proverbial iceberg…


The above is by no means a comprehensive list of massage therapy modalities. There are literally dozens of different types of massage, used in everything from lymphatic drainage, body realignment, even neuromuscular therapy that seeks to balance the nervous system.


If you’d like to go into greater detail on these and other modalities, and to get the latest, most cutting-edge information on the art and science of massage therapy, pain relief and injury prevention, then please click this link to sign up for our clinic newsletter (we’ll also include details of any offers or special massage packages where relevant).


It is delivered in a tasteful format every day right to your inbox – no ads, no fluff, and absolutely no spam.


As usual, if you have any concerns or questions on this topic, please feel free to get in contact with us either directly or through our website or social media channels.

We’re here to help.


All the newsletters I've mentioned above, can be downloaded at the following link.

CLINIC NEWSLETTER


And please feel free to share the link to this blog post with anyone you think can benefit from these resources.


Very best wishes


Barry at Myotherapy Clinic

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Updated: Mar 21



As Soft Tissue therapists, the majority of our work is helping patients fix very specific issues – reducing the pain of a knee injury, for example, or building up muscle again after a broken bone.


One thing we learn very early on in our training is that the site of the injury might not always be the cause. Lower back pain could be the result of tight hamstrings; restricted movement in the knee can sometimes be alleviated by a deep tissue massage of the calves.


For us it’s one of the most fascinating things about the human body: just how connected everything is. (If you’ve ever done a deep hip stretch in a yoga class and felt your jaw relax you’ll know what we mean!). Seeing the body in this way – as an intricate web of interrelated elements – rather than as lots of separate parts, is essential to providing effective treatment. ‘Zooming out’ allows us to identify issues we may not have considered if we’d only focused on the site of the injury.#Mentalfitness


But what if we zoomed out a little further? Beyond the realm of physical fitness in which we specialise, there are a host of other factors that contribute to our health. Just as the various parts of the body are deeply interconnected, so the areas of physical, mental and even spiritual health all have an effect on each other. Viewing the different areas of our lives as interrelated is sometimes referred to as a ‘holistic’ approach to health – considering the whole person rather than just the symptoms they present with in order to treat an issue. #Wellness #Sleepbetter





While this may sound a little ‘new-age, there’s sound scientific evidence to back it up. Stress, for example, is believed to play a part in around 70% of diseases, including cancers, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. It can lower the immune system and increase recovery time from injury.


So as we move forward coming out of lockdown perhaps leaving many of us feeling a little more anxious than usual, we thought we’d cover a few ways to take care of your health in a more holistic way. (P.S – for more on this you can download our free resource pack, here).


Get Active!


Well, we would start here! But with good reason. There’s almost a no better way to combat stress than with physical exercise. The endorphin boost that follows a good workout is one of the most powerful relaxants known to science. Running, swimming or other repetitive tasks are also great for helping the mind drift into a more relaxed state, akin to meditation, where conscious and subconscious minds connect to work out problems. Ball sports, extreme sports, and martial arts all require a high level of focus that takes your mind off any worries you may have. And more gentle activities such as yoga, tai chi, or Pilates often have this holistic philosophy of linking body and mind at their core. In short – whatever your sport, get out and do it! #Holistictips


Give Yourself a Break


We don’t mean booking that cottage in Cornwall (though that would be nice too!). But simply trying to achieve less can have a significant impact on your stress levels. If you’re the type of person who says yes to everything, start saying no and taking on less. A never-ending to-do list is one of the most commonly cited causes of stress. Far better to do a few things well and have some time to yourself at the end of the day.


And remember – you’re almost certainly your own worst critic. It’s great to have high standards, but perfectionism can be a curse as well. Let yourself aim for ‘good enough’ every now and then.



You Are What You Eat


It’s all too easy to reach for the usual suspects of chocolate, caffeine or alcohol when we are feeling tired or stressed out, but while these may provide a short-term boost to our mood, there is usually a subsequent crash. If we’re not careful, a vicious cycle can ensue. So as much as possible, try and remain disciplined with what you consume: we know how important it is to eat well for our health and the effect our diet has on our immunity, but mounting scientific evidence shows that our diet has a direct impact on our mood as well. Studies have shown that a Mediterranean diet – high in fruit, veg and nuts, moderate in dairy and white meat, and low in red meat – is associated with a reduced risk of depression and anxiety. So next time you prepare food, think of a beachside taverna on a sunny Greek island. There – you feel better already! #reduceanxiety

Sleep


Few things have a more instant impact on our wellbeing than a good night’s sleep. This is when our minds solve problems and process what might be going on in our lives. It’s also the time when our bodies do the most physical healing. But when we are feeling stressed or anxious, sleep can feel elusive. If this is the case for you, try building a bedtime routine that starts at least half an hour before you want to sleep. Avoid stimulation such as television or the internet, and definitely don’t spend time scrolling down your phone. A warm bath, gentle stretching, or even a guided relaxation exercise such as a yoga nidra can help you relax. (A quick Google search will bring up plenty of guided pre-recorded pre-sleep meditations).

If you do find yourself tossing and turning, get up after 20 minutes and do something to calm yourself down again. Staying in bed will only result in rising adrenaline, and further lack of sleep.


Practice Mindfulness


Worrying about the future, going over events in the past or focusing on negative thoughts can all be causes of stress. One antidote is to choose to ignore these thoughts, and focus simply on the present. This is the idea behind mindfulness, and while it might be easier said than done to ‘be in the moment’, with a little practice most people will be able to do it for at least a minute or so. Mindful practice, sometimes referred to as focussed attention, can involve anything from a deep yogic meditation, to simply taking a moment to appreciate the taste of the food in your mouth or the feeling of the air on your face. How you do it doesn’t matter, but do try and take time in every day to practice. As we slow our minds down, the frequency of our brain waves decreases, the result of which is everything from better problem solving to increased feelings of wellbeing.


Be Grateful!


An increasing amount of evidence suggests that the simple act of taking a moment each day to give thanks can have a positive impact on our wellbeing. Participants in studies around the benefits of keeping a gratitude diary noted better sleep, reduced illness, and increased mood. The practice is simple. At the end of each day, write down a small number of things for which you feel grateful. They can be big things, like your health or a promotion at work, or little things, like the great cup of coffee you had in the morning, or a sunny day. Taking this time to focus our thoughts on the positives in our life can alter our brain chemistry over time, making us more predisposed to happiness and wellbeing.

Want to find out more about nurturing your wellbeing?


Based on the latest research into holistic health, these guides contain simple, practical steps to help boost your mood and feel great.


And please feel free to share the link to this blog post with anyone you think can benefit from these resources.

Download my free welbeing resource pack here


I hope you find them useful.

Very best wishes

Barry at Myotherapy Clinic

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How to build an injury-resistant body and prevent running injuries #runners


Runners are often very good at running, but when the topic of strength training comes up, many runners, well, run away from it, mostly because they believe it will make them heavier and therefore more prone to injury.

This is however, is thankfully a complete myth, in fact quite the opposite is true. Supplementing running with strength training exercises will not only help you prevent injury, but it will also make you a stronger, faster, and a more efficient runner.

One of the major reasons that runners get injured is because their bodies are unprepared to handle the physical demands of the activity. Tissue overload then occurs, either because of a sudden introduction to the sport, or a relatively sudden change or increase in training mileage or intensity (like hill repeats). #runninginjuries

When it comes to building an injury-resistant body, this analogy is useful, “Don’t let your engine outpace your chassis”, meaning don’t let your aerobic fitness (endurance built up by running) outpace your structural fitness (bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles).


If you do, you’re setting yourself up for injury. #strengthentraining


In fact, runners need weight training even more than you may realise. Strength work accomplishes three big goals for runners:

1 Prevent injuries by strengthening muscles and connective tissues, to better handle the loads while running.


2 Run faster by improving neuromuscular (nerve-muscle) coordination and power.


3 Improve running economy by encouraging coordination and stride efficiency. Improving your upper-body strength can also boost your running efficiency. With a stronger core, you’ll be able to maintain a stable upper body, minimising side-to-side movement – and better hold your form at the end of a run when you begin to tire. And by developing strength in your arms, you’ll improve your arm drive so you can inject more power into your stride, especially uphill.


That’s why I've put together a set of resources to help you introduce some strength training into your running programme, as well as explain why and how it can help.


You can download the full set of resources, including an exercise programme, top tips for running-specific strength training, a myth-buster sheet and an infographic giving strength-training guidance. just click on the following link.


As usual, if you have any concerns or questions on this topic, please feel free to get in contact with me either directly or through my website or social media channels.


We’re here to help.

And please feel free to share the link to this blog post with anyone you think can benefit from these resources.


I hope you find them useful.

Very best wishes

Barry at Myotherapy Clinic


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