Music as part of massage therapy

May 1st, 2009

“Music washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.
Berthold Auerbach


Two clients have recently commented on the beneficial effect of the music during their treatment which they felt amplified the therapeutic effects, both physically and mentally.

As well as affecting our heartbeat, breathing and blood pressure, music is proven to affect the amplitude and frequency of brainwaves and change the dominant frequency from one stage to another.

Brainwave patterns are

  • beta and gamma when we are active, busy, concentrating or anxious
  • alpha when we close our eyes, are peaceful, reflect and relax
  • theta when we are highly creative, insightful and intuitive
  • delta when we are asleep and unconsciously process information


Ideally during a relaxing massage, we are aiming for alpha and theta states, which certainly tallies with the actual experience for most clients. Alternatively, if the work is more remedial which requires the client’s active participation, the beta or gamma states may be more appropriate.


Apparently when a brainwave pattern is practised over a period of time, the brain ‘learns’ that state – this is called ‘entrainment’ and it becomes easier to produce the desired brainwave state at will, as practitioners of meditation will confirm. Clients who are stressed may book for a series of massage treatments to regularly experience the alpha/theta states which they then, through ‘entrainment’ may be able to reproduce, perhaps by playing suitable music, when they need ‘down’ time.


I have a wide range of music which is covered by PRS licence so I, or the client, can choose an appropriate selection to instantly create a suitable ambience and enhance the therapy session.


Talking of music…. I and other therapists will once again be at The Gate to Southwell Folk Festival running the ‘Chill Out Zone’ from 5th to 7th June – do come and have a treatment from the wide range on offer. – see

A taste of my own ‘medicine’!

April 1st, 2009


I recently sprinted out to the garden, encouraged by the warmer weather, to move a mountain of earth to create my ‘dig for England’ vegetable patch.


I was far too enthusiastic in my task, so what does a remedial bodywork therapist do when she has mild muscle strain and aching shoulders?


Firstly I should have known better and taken it more steadily – resting every 10 to 15 minutes, interspersing the digging with an activity which uses different muscles and perhaps even done some limbering warming up exercises before lifting the spade and getting ‘stuck in’.


The effect of exercising hard or doing demanding physical work depletes muscles’ energy reserves and produces lactic acid which results in stiff aching muscles. Warming up beforehand increases the essential flow of oxygen to the muscles, increases metabolism to cope with the ‘waste products’ of muscle activity and allows the muscles to reach a steady state of functioning which maximises aerobic energy production.


But it was too late for recriminations, I was faced with needing to get myself limbered up and ready for my clients. I rested a while, did some gentle yoga stretches so that I didn’t ‘seize up’, had a warm bath, placed a heated wheat bag on the most aching muscles and finally did some self-massage techniques. But what I really would have recommended to myself as client was a deep massage using an appropriate aromatherapy blend and Hot Stones, concentrating on any trigger points of pain, all of which would relieve tension, help soothe the inflamed muscles and encourage a healthy blood flow.


I write this at the end of a day’s professional development workshop where we have been working on trigger points on back, shoulders and neck. It’s revision of a previous course and I can only say, it couldn’t have come at a more auspicious time – I now feel completely fit for work and out of pain.

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Review of Hot Stonefusion

March 1st, 2009

  Penny Clemmow

Jacky Huson has created a wonderful new therapy room, very calming and comfortable, at Touch Therapy in Southwell. I am reviewing her Hot Stonefusion, a holistic massage using hot smooth basalt stones and the room is warm and peaceful with relaxing music playing. Jacky is, as always, very welcoming and the days stresses begin to melt away before the massage has even begun!


Before the massage there is a short confidential medical and lifestyle questionnaire for all new clients or the opportunity to update any conditions for regular clients. I have chosen a  back, neck and shoulders massage so I undress down to the waist and lie firstly face down on the special couch, beneath the warm cover provided. Half way through I am asked to turn onto my front as the treatment progresses. The atmosphere in the room is very calm, providing fast and complete relaxation of mind and body!


The hot stones enable Jacky to deliver therapeutic heat deep into the muscles. The heat relaxes the muscles, relieving muscular pain, speeding up recovery from injury and reducing stress. Jacky alternates between using the flat edges of the heated stones and her own hands, forearms and knuckles. The various sized stones are placed on strategic points on my body at intervals to prolong the effects of the therapeutic heat. The stones definitely enable a deeper massage that really reaches the areas of tension and strain in my back and neck.


The stones used for this treatment are very smooth and soft and are heated to the temperature of a warm bath, although this can be reduced for more heat sensitive skins. The hardness of the stones is never apparent during the massage as they remain either cupped in the Jacky’s hand or stationary on my back or shoulders. The heat they give out feels very comforting and I do not want the massage to end!


After the treatment I am given a drink of water – essential after any massage – and allowed to drift slowly back to reality before I dress and have to re-enter the real world! I feel revitalised and relaxed from the Hot Stonefusion massage and am determined to spoil myself more often!


Hot Stonefusion at Touch Therapy starts from just £25 and treatment can be tailored to your exact requirements. Jacky has extensive experience as a holistic therapist. She completed a rigorous training in Holistic Massage with anatomy and physiology at Central College Nottingham and she is also a trained counsellor She attends regular workshops and seminars on more advanced techniques and has studied Ear Candling, Indian Head Massage, Reflexology, Aromatherapy, Seated Chair massage, Holistic Medical Massage and, of course, the very popular Hot Stonefusion, so that she can offer an integrated treatment package to suit the needs of every client.


With Mother’s Day just around the corner, a gift voucher for a Hot Stonefusion treatment at Touch Therapy could be the perfect antidote to a busy life for your mum! Or treat yourself; you’ll be amazed how much better you will feel! To find out more or to book an appointment with Jacky telephone 01636 815739 or mobile 07837 800029 or visit the Touch Therapy website for further details.

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Emotional Intelligence

March 1st, 2009


In last month’s article on kindness, one of the keystones underpinning this generosity of spirit is the ability to identify with others’ pleasures and sufferings.


This requires a degree of ‘Emotional Intelligence’, a relatively recent behavioural model, rising to prominence with Daniel Goleman’s 1995 synonymous book. It means that we are aware of the emotions of other people and can manage our relationships with them. But the prerequisite is that we are able to understand ourselves, our goals, intentions, responses, behaviour and can control and manage our own emotions.

Sounds a tall order? Probably the majority of us do this without thinking or realising that’s what we’re doing.


If you look at the potential outcomes of healthy emotional intelligence below, it’s worthwhile doing a ‘mind and body check’ using the above criteria, to see where we are in our development.


“We may become more productive and successful at what we do, and help others to be more productive and successful too. The process and outcomes of emotional intelligence development also contain many elements known to reduce stress for individuals and organisations, by decreasing conflict, improving relationships and understanding, and increasing stability, continuity and harmony.”


So where does this fit in terms of bodywork therapies?


Imbalance in our emotional life leads to tension and stress which is evident in our bodily health. Which is one of the reasons that a consultation before any bodywork includes an assessment of your lifestyle. Close friends and other professionals, such as counsellors, life coaches etc. can support us in our search for a balance in our emotional health. This, in conjunction with bodywork, which can help release long-held physical tensions, may help us achieve emotional intelligence and a balance of mind/body energy which results in a feeling of well-being and allows our personal growth.

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February 1st, 2009


Kindness in words creates confidence,
Kindness in thinking creates profoundness,
Kindness in giving creates love. – Lao Tse


In the month of Valentines’ Day, when romantic love is feted, I look at another type of love – caritas – altruistic neighbourly or brotherly love and kindness. Caring about others, according to Jean-Jacques Rousseau is what makes us fully human and is a pleasure that is fundamental to our sense of well-being and the strongest indicator of people’s pleasure in existence.


Adam Phillips and Barbara Taylor in their newly published book ‘On Kindness’ purports that in a world of individualism and self-interest, kindness appears to have become a sign of weakness and such behaviour looked on with suspicion that its motives are self-seeking.


The meaning of kindness stretches from empathy, sympathy, generosity, altruism, benevolence, humanity, compassion to philanthropy. We may need to become more aware of our susceptibility to others in order to identify with their pleasures and sufferings –and do that possibly uncomfortable thing of walking in ‘another man’s shoes’. Kindness means we can bear the vulnerability of others and ourselves – we have to admit that we depend on each other in a world which values independence.

We know instinctively what the kind thing to do is and we know when a kindness is done to us. Whether the giver or the receiver, it gives us a sense of worth and. It creates the kind of intimacy and involvement with other people that we both fear and crave.


Being kind to ourselves is possibly the first biggest ‘hurdle’ to achieve kindness to others. This Valentine’s Day you could show kindness to your loved one with a voucher for a holistic therapy, or you could book some ‘time-out’, such as a massage, for yourself and either act will achieve not only emotional but also physical well-being.


“Kindness makes a fellow feel good whether it’s being done to him or by him”– Frank Clark

Natural ‘highs’

January 1st, 2009


This time of year often heralds the season of viruses which diminish our energy and mood. The stress of the current economic situation combined with the busy-ness of the run-up to Christmas can deplete our resources.


Can we avoid those bugs or at least reduce the impact they have?


We can help boost our immune system and look at what we do to ‘give ourselves a lift’ which might, conversely, be compromising our healthy body balance – some chocolate, alcohol, cigarette, or perhaps something stronger?


How can we find healthy, safe, legal antidotes to the poisoning of our body and spirit?


Eating and drinking sensibly is an obvious first so that we don’t overload our body systems.


Exercise improves our mood by stimulating the release of endorphins which create euphoria and pain relief. Doing both appropriate aerobic and resistance exercise provides not only obvious physical benefits but while you’re concentrating on those activities, particularly if you do it with a friend, your mind is diverted from what may be worrying you. Focussing on your breathing during exercise will increase your lung capacity and help oxygenate the tissues and improve your energy and alertness.


Perhaps we can copy the unselfconsciousness of children enjoying themselves – be open, present and curious: we could try new things – keep our mental flexibility; we can stay aware of the natural world – keep our senses alert; appreciate our friends and partners – keep our heart open.


For fast-acting relief try slowing down. By allowing ourselves some quiet ‘down’ time each day and focussing on stilling our thoughts, the brain activity vibrations slow down towards the relaxing ‘alpha’ or possibly meditative ‘theta’ state.


Touching, for example sharing a hug or having a massage, nurtures our body and soul and, like exercise, raises our endorphin levels. It may also increase levels of other hormones such as DHEA – an anti-ageing, energising, anti-stress hormone.

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Remedial, therapeutic, relaxing – the different faces of massage.

December 1st, 2008


It can be quite daunting to decide what kind of bodywork treatment you might want or need and where to find the appropriate professional therapist.


Internet research will highlight the essentials of each discipline and then it’s down to you, perhaps in discussion with your GP, to choose the most effective therapy for you. Many of the professional websites have a search facility on which can find the nearest therapist; you may be recommended a therapist by your GP or a friend.


It’s important to be able to trust that the therapist is well-trained, continues with their professional development and adheres to their professional body’s ethics. In addition you need to feel comfortable with that therapist, so take time to talk to them about what you can expect during a treatment, before you book an appointment. The range of therapists’ skills and treatments offered varies widely, so check what kind of techniques the therapist uses, to be assured that they will provide the kind of treatment you need.


You may want to enjoy a relaxing ambiance, some aromatic oils, with no demands on you to talk (once the initial consultation is done) and a treatment which encourages you to unwind and let go of body and mind tensions.


However, you may have body stresses and strains which have become habitual and ingrained. These conditions need more focussed, deeper bodywork on muscle, fascia, tendons and ligaments. This requires communication between the client and therapist during treatment, to pinpoint areas of tension and referred pain, so the remedial techniques will work at a deeper, stronger level, and may be ‘sandwiched’ between initial palpation assessment and a closing relaxation massage to soothe muscles and nerves.


Once you are clearer what you need, the choice will become easier.


Warm wishes for Christmas and the New Year.

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Do something about it

November 1st, 2008

The mind/body connection is well documented; if we are feeling low emotionally, not only do we have less incentive to look after ourselves, those emotions can affect our hormones, which govern our body systems – stress-related symptoms being those that we are most familiar with.

Take a moment to think about things we may say when we’re feeing overloaded and what the physical effect might be, for example – “This (problem) is a weight on my shoulders”, “He/She’s doing my head in”.

I recently had cause to feel annoyed at the unfairness of being let down by a hotel booking firm. The energy of my annoyance drove me to take action – phone, email and write, not to seek compensation, but to express my feelings and disperse that emotional energy

There would have been a time in the past when I’d have grumbled to myself but not done anything about it, thinking it was tough luck and I couldn’t fight the system. But this annoyance wouldn’t have magically gone away – it would have been stored somewhere – emotionally and physically. I used to suffer regularly with sore throats and I now wonder if this was the dis-ease of not having the courage to speak out when upset.

It is said that ‘Feelings buried alive never die’1 and that their repressed energy can result in actual physical pathology.

I see many clients who are aware that their tense, aching muscles are not necessarily induced by some physical activity or postural habits, but because they are having difficulty coping with a particular situation and perhaps feeling ‘stuck’ because they can’t work out a way to resolve it.

Massage can help with working out the muscle tenseness and may also give quiet, creative time to reflect, get things in perspective and look for creative solutions.


1 Karol Truman


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Plan to do nothing!

October 1st, 2008

I’ve no intention of hijacking Jonathan’s gardening column, but I can see an analogy between tending a garden and looking after ourselves.

Given good soil, feeding, some rain (no problem!), some sun (rather more elusive!) and some maintenance, plants will generally flourish, although outside influences such as pests can intervene to sabotage our efforts.

Nature has programmed plants to have dormant periods and although as humans ‘quiet’ periods can’t be for a whole season, some degree of non-activity can encourage our bodies to re-balance.

A chill in the air is heralding autumn, shorter days, less sunshine (if that’s possible!), and possibly less activity, so including some holistic treatments in our winter plans could help keep us uplifted and see us through the winter.

In the same way we clear the garden and prepare for its dormant period, I would propose that you prepare yourself for a massage appointment – eat only a light meal up to a couple of hours previously, plan only to eat lightly later and set time aside afterwards to savour the benefits and allow your body to respond to the continuing effects of the treatment. Most importantly, you may well feel energised, but resist the temptation to rush home and launch into strenuous activity. During this period your body will be getting rid of waste (this doesn’t even involve a trip to the tip! – nature will take its course, eliminating toxins which have been squeezed from body tissues.)

In my turn, I as therapist, will create a warm, welcoming environment, encourage you sink into the couch and give yourself up to the experience of therapeutic relaxation.

Afterwards, just as we like to admire our toils in the garden, you can then sit back, take a different view of the world – being aware of your sense of well-being in mind and body.


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Less is more

September 1st, 2008

The poet Robert Browning used this motto in his poem about painter Andrea del Sarto and later Mies van der Rohe applied it to his minimalist architecture, but it can be applied in all kinds of spheres in our everyday lives. For example, if we drive more slowly we use less petrol, are less stressed and less likely to have or cause an accident.


German military chief General von Manstein said intelligent and lazy officers are destined for high office. I struggle with the word ‘lazy’, having a strong work ethic, but I can appreciate that through planning activities intelligently, more effective results are available for less effort.


People often ask if I get exhausted doing bodywork treatments as it is such physical work, but I find I am energised by my work and only feel tired if I’ve not planned my time sensibly.


Through experience and training, I have learnt to work ‘smarter not harder’ – with more intelligence and less effort. By using my body weight, I use less effort but have more strength and energy to give a beneficial massage treatment when a firm, remedial type of bodywork is needed.


By contrast, using slow, focussed pressure at particular points can also be tremendously powerful as it works on the fascia. This seamless web of connective tissue in our body covers and connects muscles, organs and skeletal structure but can become knotted and tight. Manipulating this fascia will allow the connective tissue fibers to reorganise themselves in a more flexible, functional fashion encouraging the body’s inherent ability for self correction to rebalance the body. Clients report they experience an ‘unwinding’ or opening up at a subtle level which continues to work after the treatment.


Depending on a client’s needs and preference, a combination of the more traditional massage techniques and this less energetic myofascial work results in a very beneficial and remedial treatment.


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