Hello! Welcome to the online home of holy island holistics.

We are a Complementary Therapy Service based in North NorthumberlandThere is a clinic at Holy Island and we offer a mobile service on Holy Island and surrounding country and towns including Berwick, Wooler and Belford.  We will consider travelling further afield e.g. to Bamburgh, Seahouses or Beadnell for a small travel charge and a minimum treatment time of 2 hours.  We treat many holidaymakers in our local area and this allows people holidaying in the popular coastal resorts to use us too.  

We also offer corporate services including treatments, seminars and workshops. We have a network of therapists to call on for corporate work. 

Our therapist, Mary Gunn, specialises in massage therapy and is trained to an advanced level in Remedial and Sports Massage.  She also offers Reiki healing and relaxation massage for those seeking a gentler experience.  

We hope you enjoy our website, why not look at the services we offer or get in touch.

The Professional Standards Authority  (PSA)

The PSA sets standards for health and social care occupations including complementary healthcare.  This scheme was set up by the  Department of Health and is accountable to Parliament.  As a member of the FHT we are proud to be on its accredited register.

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News from Holy Island Holistics


Neurological Testing Course

I'm going round practising with my new reflex hammer after recently completing a course on neurological testing led by one of the country's top trainers, John Gibbons.

    "Where the pain is, the problem aint"

This comment was made by Ida Rolfe, one of the leading developers of bodywork in the western world.  People will often say they have pain in their legs but its coming from their back.  We recognise nerve pain as something different to localised muscle or joint pain.  And nerve pain is notoriously difficult to treat.

Remedial and Sports Massage therapists have always used muscle testing to identify nerve problems but with more testing techniques under my belt now I'm better able to trace the source of the pain and treat accordingly.

Mary Gunn 18/5/18


Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is once again in the news with an article published in The Lancet this month "Prevention and treatment of low back pain: evidence, challenges, and promising directions" .  This paper was written by a multinational team and looks at back pain in developed countries and others in various stages of development.  It compares guidelines, treatments and effectiveness and I quote

"Guidelines recommend self-management, physical and psychological therapies, and some forms of complementary medicine, and place less emphasis on pharmacological and surgical treatments; routine use of imaging and investigations is not recommended"

I would include Remedial and Sports Massage under physical therapies as it includes mobilisations as well as advanced massage techniques. A standard Relaxation Massage would come under complementary medicine but it also has a therapeutic benefit as it relaxes muscles.  Both types give a well being effect which has a psychological uplift.

I see a lot of lower back pain in my clinic and I use a variety of techniques depending on my assessment.  They usually have a lot less pain and a lot more movement afterwards and I can see this as they walk away.  With a sub acute or chronic problem (and back pain can easily move in this direction) it is important to be proactive and get treatment at the first niggle.  Or regular treatments can prevent the problem from rearing its ugly head.

With all problems it is as well to check with your doctor that there is no serious underlying cause.  A pathologically damaged spine may well require surgery and high grade painkillers. 

Mary Gunn 30/3/18


Post Event Sports Massage

Holy Island Holistics provided a post event massage service at Bamburgh Castle for this years Endurancelife trail running event on Saturday, February 24th.

There were nearly a thousand runners tackling distances of 10K, half marathon, marathon or ultra.  My massage station was in the stables of the castle in a stall!  It was a beautiful situation and I was kept very busy as the runners started piling in.  There were lots of tight hamstrings and calves. Getting them massaged so soon after the run will prevent the runners feeling so sore in the following days.

After a long run the hard working muscles of the legs are full of toxins which need to be moved fast before they start to cause pain. Massage concentrates on increasing the blood flow so toxins are moved into the general circulation where the kidneys can do their job of getting rid of them. And a few stretches tease out the tight spots in the muscles.

It was a cold but bright day and a good time was had by all especially me!

Mary Gunn, 27/2/2018


Soft Tissue Course

I travelled to Newcastle last week for a two day course on advanced soft tissue techniques for massage therapists.  I did not expect anything startlingly new to me but was looking for a different slant.  The trainer was an osteopath and I am now looking at osteopathic techniques to further the depth and effectiveness of my treatments.

The course was very interesting with the trainer including patient movement (either active or passive) while he was massaging a muscle.  I already do this to a certain extent and it is very much part of myofascial therapy in which I am trained and use a lot in my remedial and sports massage.  I picked up a lot of new moves in assessment and treatment which I am now busy practising.

The trainer, John Gibbons, is one of the top trainers in the country and has published a number of books.  He is based in Oxford so when I heard he was coming to Newcastle that clinched it!  Its not often we get quality training relatively close to home.  He is coming back to Newcastle so I may get the opportunity to do another of his courses.

Mary Gunn, 3/2/2018


Kinesio Taping for housemaids knee

I've had success in treating a swollen knee recently.  

The housemaid in question was a tradesman who often and repeatedly knocked his knee at

work.  The knee swelled up considerably at work until he could not bend his knee - an essential part of his work.  He came straight to me after work knowing he had to work the next day.  On examination it was a fluid filled bursa that was causing the problem.  Kinesio tape is very versatile and can do different jobs depending on how it is applied.  I used a fan shape to drain fluid towards the lymph nodes in the groin.  The tape will work 24/7 for up to 5 days so healing is continuous.

The next day the patient did his job with some discomfort when

bending the knee.  The following day was a weekend day off and after that there was no problem with work so he pulled off the tape.

All in all a successful conclusion with no loss of work.

Mary Gunn, 4/1/2018


The Lindisfarne Festival 2017

I and three therapist friends returned to the Lindisfarne Festival this year for the third year running.  Once again we had a really good time meeting some lovely people who really appreciated what we could do for them.  We had a number of "returners" seeking us out because they benefited so much from their treatment last year and this was very gratifying for us.

We were offering a larger variety of therapies this year.  Jean was offering acupuncture and cupping as well as reflexology and kore therapy.  Sue was joining us to offer tarot readings, runes and bach flower remedies.  Angela and I were offering the ever popular massage, either deep tissue or lighter for relaxation.  I was also offering reiki healing.

The festival was buzzing with a great atmosphere and we cant wait for next year! 

Mary Gunn, 14/9/2017


Sound Therapy Workshop

Our local reiki group had a meeting last weekend.  These days are great for networking, catching up on new developments and learning new techniques.  This time our guest speaker was Clare Quinney of Sound Sensations who led a workshop on sound therapy.  We have looked at sound therapy before particularly using tuning forks but this time Clare gave us a very thorough and comprehensive experience which we all enjoyed.

Reiki works on the energy centres of the body trying to balance them because an energy imbalance causes a lack of well being and even illness.  Sound therapy also works on the energy centres (or chakras) to promote balance but uses sound produced by different instruments for this.

Each chakra has a unique pitch associated with it.  Different instruments produce different pitched sound so the correct pitched instrument is chosen for a particular chakra.  I was

surprised to learn that tibetan bowls were tuned to different pitches and as Clare had a vast selection of them decided to put them to the test.  I chose a bowl of the right pitch for my broken (but healing) elbow.  Striking the bowl near my injury calmed it taking away the dull ache.  The effect was temporary but if I could have taken the bowl home I would have used it every day.

At the end of the workshop Clare gave us a sound bath.  We lay on the floor while various sounds were played.  This was extremely calming and relaxing.  Well worth a try if you get a chance! 

Mary Gunn, 9/3/2017


Kinesio Taping for Post Operative Swelling

I've recently had great success in taping a patient whose leg was swollen following a hip replacement operation. 

The degree of swelling varies tremendously with different people but typically is at a peak from day 5 to day 10 after the operation.  During this time the leg is very uncomfortable and feels heavy.  The swelling inhibits movement which hinders rehabiitation.  Swelling also reduces blood flow which is essential for healing  All in all its a good thing to get to grips with the swelling!

In this case the swelling started on day 4 and increased tremendously on day 5.  He sought my help on day 6 when the whole leg was considerably swollen compared to the unaffected leg.  He was wearing compression stockings to the knee so I decided to tape the thigh which would also help lower leg drainage as the whole leg drains to the groin. I used 2 fan shaped pieces of tape which would aid drainage 24/7 for up to 5 days after application.  I measured the circumference of the thigh after application.

The heavy uncomfortable feeling went almost immediately and swelling reduced to a tolerable level.  On day 8 the circumference of the thigh was down 2 cm which was only 1 cm more than the good leg.  The swelling of the ankle and knee was visibly reduced.  On day 9 the patient wore jeans rather than the loose legged trackies he had had to wear before.  On day 10 there was still a small increase in thigh circumference and some visible swelling but this was not a hindrance.  I concluded that the tape had done its job with a small amount of post operative swelling inevitable.  The patient removed the tape the next day.

This treatment was very successful in treating post operative swelling which can be very disabling.  Only one treatment was required.  Timeliness is important and the taping should be done as soon as the swelling becomes a problem.  

Mary Gunn, 12/12/2016


The Feldenkrais Method

I recently attended a one day workshop on the Feldenkrais method.  This is an awareness through movement method that is delivered in class or one to one.  The instructor talks you through various slow movements drawing your attention to their effect on other parts of your body.  It is not intended as an exercise modality but you do feel you've had a work out afterwards and the slow repetitive movements are hypnotic and calming.  If there's a class near you it's worth giving it a go.

Mary Gunn, 7/5/2016


Training in the Emmett Technique

Last weekend I travelled to Edinburgh with a therapist friend for a one day course learning about the Emmett Technique.  This is a hands on, light touch method of releasing tight muscles which originated in Australia and has only been practised in this country for a few years so is not very well known.

We found the course interesting.  It works mainly on an energy balancing and neurological level with some moves very similar to what we already do.

I will add these methods to my toolbox for Remedial and Sports Massage.  Did you know that when I first see you for Remedial and Sports Massage I don't have a set routine of what I'm going to do.  I decide after talking to you and observing your posture and movement.  Even then when I'm "hands on" I'm still assessing and may bring in new moves.

Mary Gunn, 2/12/2015


  Products for sale

We use carefully selected, quality products in our treatments.  If we feel our clients                     would benefit from using these between treatments we can sell them one.  As we                     cannily use trade offers we can sell them at a lower price than Amazon or Ebay!         

Kinesio tape

We are using the original and one of the best tapes in our treatments.  The success of kinesio taping depends on correct assessment and application of the tape by the therapist.  If an application proves helpful we can teach the client how to apply it (if it is for a knee or ankle) or a family member (if it is for a back, neck or shoulder).  A 5m roll costs £12.