What can I expect from my First treatment?

During your first session, you will fill out a brief form about your health, and then we will have a chat about any particular issues or areas you would like me to focus on.  I will leave you to undress down to your underwear (bra off is easiest for ladies) and lie on the couch covered in a towel, when I'll come back in and start your treatment.

I will start off with long, general massage strokes to warm up the tissues.  Unlike holistic or Swedish massage, a remedial massage treatment will not always follow a symmetrical pattern, as most of the treatment is guided by what I can feel in the muscles and surrounding tissues, as well as the feedback you give me about what you can feel.

Treatment room in Highbury

Treatment room in Highbury


Afterwards, you will need to drink plenty of water.  This is because massage squeezes some of the deoxygenated (used) blood out of your muscles so that new blood flows in.  The deoxygenated blood that is then circulating carries various toxins from your muscles that can give you a headache, so the extra water intake helps to flush these out.  You may also feel sore the day after your treatment, especially on areas that haven't been treated before.  This is completely normal and will usually wear off quickly.  Each individual body responds differently to massage (and sometimes the same body responds differently to different sessions), so you may find you are bouncing around with no soreness at all!


Will it be painful?

There can be some pain with the deeper, specific techniques used on problematic muscles.  However, I do not subscribe to the 'no pain, no gain' theory!  Most people are able to associate some pain with being a 'good pain', something that is a relief and feels beneficial.  I can usually feel if something is too uncomfortable, because your muscle will resist.  This is why I use specific techniques slowly, and stop at a point where you remain relaxed and breathing slowly and evenly.  If it is too painful, it becomes counterproductive to use any more pressure, because your body simply wants to block it out.  If you feel uncomfortable, it is important that you tell me so that we can find the most beneficial method to treat you: everybody is different in this respect and this treatment is about you.  Overall, the massage will be a relaxing experience.


What Is The Difference Between Remedial Massage And Physiotherapy?

Both treatments vary according to the individual practitioner, but as a general rule physiotherapy is more rehabilitation and exercise-based, while massage is more hands-on.  Sometimes a physio session will involve hands-on therapy as well as exercises, and some of the techniques used will be similar to the massage techniques I use.  The two treatments are complementary to each other, and if you are seeing a physio for injury rehab, your rehab programme will be aided by the remedial massage sessions.  One reason for this is that the massage will not only treat the area of injury, but also the surrounding areas as well as parts of the body that have been compensating for the weaker areas of injury or pain.  The body is clever and often compensates in this way - an example would be your left leg and lower back working harder to reduce the pain caused by a sore right hip.


How Does Remedial Massage Work?

Massage helps the flow of blood through your muscles by compressing them like a sponge to squeeze out the used, deoxygenated blood through and then let the fresh, oxygenated blood to rush in.  This helps muscles function properly and heal faster.

Massage also breaks down areas of adhesion between the muscle fibres.  Most muscle fibres are arranged parallel to each other and when they contract and relax they slide smoothly alongside each other.  When there is a problematic area {that is not functioning properly}, small cross-fibres form between the long fibres, which leads to areas of adhesions or ‘knots’.  Massage helps to break down these cross-fibres, allowing your muscles to function properly, at their full length again.

The act of touch itself is also an important stage in the healing process; reminding the body of an area that has been seized up or neglected, allowing it to start to release and relax.

See also the section on more specific techniques.


Can I come for a treatment purely for relaxation?

Yes!  Absolutely.  Several of my clients book in without a specific 'problem' or issue they want addressed.  Others initially come for treatment because they are in pain and subsequently chose to continue treatment for its relaxation benefits.


I don't know which type of massage I need - which should I choose?

You don't need to decide in advance.  Most of my treatments combine elements of different massage techniques according to what you need - so we can chat about it at the beginning of your session and go from there.


I Feel Great!  Why Do I Need To Come Back Again?

When your muscles are painful or not functioning optimally, they develop bad habits.  Often, they stay at a shortened length for a long time.  When you have your first treatment, this will help remind those muscles how they are ‘supposed’ to feel, i.e. longer, more flexible and moving freely.  How long this lasts varies according to many things, including your general health, your day-to-day activities and how long you have had the problem for.  After a period time, they will try to go back to their bad habits because this is how they have grown used to functioning.  Therefore, it is initially beneficial to have a follow-up treatment in the next week or so, to consolidate what had been done in the first treatment.  This also allows some of the key areas to be revealed; if an initial ‘layer’ of problems has been removed, you can see more of the picture!  After these first two treatments we can discuss a treatment plan that you are happy with and that is realistic for you.  Each time you come for a treatment, the positive changes will be reinforced, and the benefits are likely to last longer each time.


What Are These Specific Techniques You Speak Of?

NMT: Neuromuscular Technique

NMT is a great technique I incorporate into many treatments.  It involves finding the most sensitive spot in a muscle and focusing gradual pressure on this area, while you breathe slowly and give me feedback about how it is feeling.  The pain that you initially feel will usually subside quite quickly and reduce until it has almost gone.  There are several theories about how this works.  The main one is that you are ‘retraining’ the muscle by breaking the feedback loop that has been firing back and forth between your brain and your muscle. Key to this is your breathing, which changes the message that your brain is sending to your muscle.

STR: Soft Tissue Release

Soft tissue release is a method of facilitated stretching - i.e. I help you to stretch!  It is very helpful for treating muscles that are difficult to stretch as a whole.  It allows you to focus on particular areas of a muscle that need to be stretched, and is very effective.

MET: Muscle Energy Technique

Muscle energy techniques are also methods of facilitated stretching.  They are more efficient and often more gentle than stretching yourself:

PIR: Post-Isometric Relaxation

Based on the principle that immediately after a muscle contracts, there will be a brief period in which it is more relaxed than in its usual resting state.  PIR takes advantage of this.  You will gently contract the muscle for a few seconds, then, as soon as you relax it, I will guide the stretch of that muscle and hold it in its new position.  We will repeat this two or three times to increase the stretch slightly each time.  It is a very comfortable and relaxing technique to receive.

RI: Reciprocal Inhibition

Based on the principle that when you are making one muscle (the agonist) work, its opposite muscle (the antagonist) must switch off.  With RI, you contract the muscle opposite the one we want to stretch.  E.g. to stretch the hamstrings you will contract the quads (front of thigh) while I guide the stretch.


What Is The Difference Between Sports Massage And Remedial Massage?

Very little!  Sports massage is essentially remedial massage applied according to the active client’s needs.  At times it may be tailored to a particular injury and form part of the rehabilitation of the body.  Certain techniques may be used before an event to stimulate and loosen the muscles, others are applied post-event to relax the muscles, flush out toxins and reduce your recovery time.  However, as with remedial massage, its most valuable role is in prevention rather than ‘cure’.


Why Do I Need To Give 48 Hours’ Notice To Change My Appointment?

It is industry standard to require notice for cancellations.  This is because we are independent therapists and reliant on our income from individual bookings.  I rent a space from which to practise, and within 48 hours am much less likely to get a new booking to replace a cancelled one.  When you book for a treatment you create a mutual commitment on both of our parts; thus your payment is not only for the physical treatment but also for my time commitment.


Will there be whale sounds?

Nope!  I will usually play some classical music or have a quiet treatment room with no music, whichever you prefer.  Not a panpipe in sight.  Or earshot...  If you would like to bring some music of your choice I am very happy to play it from your phone/MP3 player.