Tell us a little bit about your practice …
I’m a Massage Therapist, so my practice involves understanding the needs of the person sitting in front of me during consultation. That’s the most important thing. Some people come to unwind after or during stressful periods of their life, some to deal with chronic aches and pains that have built up over time as a result of how they use their body, others need help recovering from an injury, and of course mums-to-be need support through their pregnancy.
I use a range of deep tissue, soft tissue and fascia release techniques to then deal with issues explained to me by the client. I’ve also recently started incorporating cupping, (only if a client is comfortable with it!), an ancient technique that is most commonly associated with Traditional Chinese Medicine. It’s a great way to work with muscle tissue as it creates negative pressure to release muscle tightness, but it’s also a multifaceted technique as we can start understanding areas of stagnation in the body, even imbalances in the organs, just by using the simple cup!
I also like to experiment with essential oils, although not a trained aromatherapist, I think essential oils are one of the great tools that can be incorporated! Our olfactory senses are powerful and with a little help from certain oils we can stimulate circulation, relax the nervous system or clear sinus pain..just a few examples!
What first drew you to working with complementary therapies?
I was actually working part-time managing a Pilates Studio and Therapeutic Clinic that specialised in one-to-one work, simply to earn some cash, but I was seeing regular clients come and go weekly and witnessing and hearing their personal stories of the positive changes in their body, their mood and their overall well-being. It really lit my spark of interest and I decided to train as a massage therapist.
Has this always been your work? What did you do before?
Well, when I was managing the studio part-time I was also working in the creative industries. I was a painter and sculptor exhibiting fairly regularly, I also freelanced as a set design assistant and actually I do still occasionally design artworks, for EP covers or event poster artworks, mainly in the music industry, as well as logo designs for friends. But really my heart lies with body work now, I prefer the balance I’m achieving between life and work and the joy that comes with helping people towards better health. There’s nothing like that really! The creative work I was doing often involved sleepless nights, tight deadlines and the inner turmoil lots of artists go through! It also felt deeply self-involved looking back, in comparison to what I’m doing now!
Why is it important to have regular treatments?
With chronic aches and pains – the most common I see are from sedentary lifestyles, sitting at desks for long periods etc – it takes a while to undo those patterns of tightness in the body. If it’s taken a while to develop it will take a while to reverse. In general terms I think it’s a great way to create space and time for taking care of yourself, with the added bonus of keeping those problem areas in check so they don’t creep back to old achey habits! As we have an MOT with our cars, we need the same with our bodies!
Are they a luxury or is it something we should do to maintain our health?
I feel that more and more, people are adjusting their mindsets and understanding that having good health and being pain free is not a luxury, it’s a standard of living we can all aim for. Having good health makes us happy. Simple. It’s the foundation for everything else. I’m sure we’ve all been in a position where we’ve been struck down by illness and unable to leave our beds for a few days, or fractured a bone and felt incapacitated, or even worse been in hospital and felt frustrated, to say the least! Without health we have nothing, as far as my experience goes.
What do you do for ‘me time’?
I love a good rave! Dancing for hours to great music, with a bunch of lovely people, it’s the best way to shake off the week! Getting out into nature is also super important for me, I grew up playing in rivers, valleys and fields so it’s nice to dip out of London for some un-polluted air, green space and down time.
Do you find much time to have treatments yourself?
I have to practice what I preach, don’t I?! Debs, who we all know and love for keeping The Refinery ticking over day-to-day, gives a great Indian Head Massage. It’s a wonderful treatment for me as it takes the edge off shoulder tension and tight arms and wrists from the hands-on work I do. I also do Pilates twice a week, it’s ideal for realigning structural imbalances in the body, connecting with the breath and building strength. Obviously we have great yoga classes at The Refinery too and you’ll often see me popping in for a lovely Yin class!
Tell us an interesting fact about the body … about your practice … or about the holistic lifestyle
Ooh, there are so many interesting facts about the body!
I’m really interested in somatic health, how our emotional state impacts our physical state. Fascia has been one of the physical therapist’s hot topics in recent years and it’s super cool! Fascia forms a whole, three-dimensional structural support and matrix that runs through all muscles, joints, organs and bones. It helps us move in multiple directions. What I find most interesting is our physical response to emotion, which occurs through soft tissue. Emotions travel through the fascial web and it seems these emotions can be stored in this fascia web too. Therefore old traumas can stay within the physical body. I think the most obvious way to explain it is when we’re feeling shy or depressed, for example, our body shape closes in. Alternatively, when we feel strong and confident our body shape opens up. Over time negative emotions can shape our bodies more permanently to be closed in.
Our relatively new understanding of fascia is one of the reasons I believe in a holistic approach to treating postural and movement issues. It’s important to see each person as physical AND emotional and psychological beings, because fascia can become less amenable when a person is anxious, for example. Mood has a massive influence on posture and movement, so if having a massage simply to relax and improve mood is all you’re after, it will undoubtedly enhance your physical state too. Bonus!
If you could send out just one message to your clients, what would that be?
Avoid waiting until you’re in pain to book in a massage! First of all it means you have to endure pain – which has daily knock-on effects such as not being able to work and feeling down – and it also means you will likely need a few consecutive treatments, which isn’t economical. Keeping up regular treatments will help keep injury at bay and you’ll be more likely to avoid developing chronic aches and pains, such as tight shoulders and neck from sitting in front of a computer all day.
Having a massage is not self indulgent, it’s part of your survival strategy to make sure you stay well!
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