Lockdown Lessons

During these strange times what have you learned from our enforced lockdown? I've learned that I need regular massages to keep aches and pains at bay!

As a massage therapist I've always practiced what I've preached and met up regularly with my therapist friends to swap treatments. This had to stop with lockdown and after about three weeks I felt the first niggles. I've been self treating and stretching but its not the same as getting a good deep workover.

The bones in our joints show wear and tear as we get older and the muscles that cross the joint have to work harder to keep the joint functioning properly. Hard worked muscles get stressed developing knots which cause us pain. A deep massage does a grand job of breaking up knots and adhesions keeping the muscle fibres free moving. Stretching helps but it can't remove knots like massage can.

So why not include a regular massage as part of your maintenance routine. You'll feel so much better for it. I can't wait for my next one.

Mary Gunn, 6th May 2020

Lindisfarne Festival

I and two therapist friends from Wooler were the local therapists working in the healing area at the Lindisfarne Festival at the beginning of September. Numbers were up this year and so was demand for our services. We were covering a lot of therapies, all the usual ones and some less known ones.

The healing area was busy with workshops all day and relaxing music (with seating!) at night. This meant that we had a constant stream of people looking for treatments. We felt that we did not meet demand on Saturday night so are thinking of working later into the evening next year. On Saturday afternoon and evening there was a particularly nice atmosphere and we had time to enjoy the street food (I loved the bruschetta crepe) and some excellent music.

Mary Gunn 27/9/18

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

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