What is oncology massage?

Over the Christmas break I completed my Oncology Massage course with Susan Findlay. The course was so much more than I imagined it would be – more wholesome, more holistic, more client-centred and it reminded me (again) of the importance of touch.

One in two of us will have cancer at some point in our lives, and it felt important for me to learn more about how best to help those affected by it.

A few people have asked me what oncology massage is so I thought I’d write down my thoughts as I begin my journey into this field of work.

What is oncology massage?

“Oncology massage is simply the adaptation of massage techniques with the consideration of the effects of cancer treatment.” ( ‘Oncology Massage – and integrative approach to cancer care’ by Janet Penny & Rebecca L Sturgeon)

Obviously the specifics are all about exactly which considerations need to be made and how best to work as part of a client’s primary care and oncology team.

Oncology massage won’t look the same for everyone.

How does it differ from sports massage?

With sports massage, most clients will come with a specific issue in their body. It might be restricting their movement, preventing them from playing a sport they love, causing pain in everyday life or might be related to an injury. Although I always take a whole-body approach, because everything is connected (obvs!!), the primary goal is to identify and ‘fix’ the area(s) of concern. [In truth, the massage therapist doesn’t ‘fix’ their client, but the work we do helps the client to move more comfortably and with greater awareness, and these improvements resolve the problem over time].

Clients may need 4-6 treatments initially to get them back to a level playing field, and from there they might have maintenance treatments as required. Over time, we might keep coming back to the same areas or change our approach as things within the body evolve. Either way, the goal for most sports massage clients is reduced pain & improved movement.

With oncology massage the focus is much more holistic because there is often nothing to ‘fix’. But that doesn’t mean that it can’t be hugely beneficial!

Oncology massage is about the whole person (rather than their illness) and it is a non-medical interaction which can be hugely important given everything else they may be going through/have been through.

It offers a sense of connection, can improve relaxation & create a feeling of being seen/heard. It can be offered pre-, during and post-cancer treatments. It might be as simple as a hand massage for someone while they are having a chemotherapy treatment, or focus on specific areas of the body following surgery.

What are the potential benefits of oncology massage?

Each oncology massage will be truly unique to the client, taking into account the specifics of their diagnosis, the treatment being undertaken, the stage of their disease, their prognosis, etc. so it is hard to generalise about the benefits.

However, here is a list of potential benefits, that have been observed in research, into the effects of different massage modalities on cancer patients:

  • relieves muscle soreness related to inactivity or cancer treatments
  • stimulates lymphatic flow, reduces swelling and lymphedema
  • increases range of movement and functional movement patterns
  • promotes relaxation
  • stimulates the digestive system (improves bowel and kidney function)
  • improves sleep quality
  • promotes alertness and mental clarity
  • reduces pain
  • reduces symptoms from chemotherapy and radiotherapy
  • improves rate of recovery from anaesthesia
  • stimulates wound healing
  • improves scar tissue elasticity
  • reduces time in hospital
  • promotes a greater patient awareness about their body, which may also promote positive body image for the patient and an improved sense of connection with themself
  • provides reassuring touch
  • reduces anxiety and depression
  • offers hope
  • reduces feelings of isolation
  • provides a distraction/time-out
  • improves sense of control about making decisions for their body

Obviously, not everyone having an oncology massage will experience all of these benefits but can you imagine how good even one or two of these would feel when you’re going through possibly the darkest of days?

It’s worth saying that sports massage clients may also experience many of these benefits!

How can I help?

This course reminded me how important a role touch therapy can play for all of us so I will continue to offer sports and clinical massage as I already do. But as a result of my certification, I’m looking forward to being able to broaden my work to include oncology clients.

I think it is so important for us to feel whole, regardless of what we have been through. Inevitably it is the job of our medical team to remove or manage the disease and that is obviously the primary focus, but we are so much more than a damaged part. With oncology massage, perhaps I can be a small part of someone’s healing journey or offer support when healing is not an option.  

Where appropriate, I will treat oncology clients from my home treatment room, but I also hope to get involved offering massage in a clinical oncology setting, where I can use my skills to help people when they are facing something that none of us ever want to face.

Please get in contact if you would like to discuss sports or oncology massage with me.

Plans for 2023

New year, new whatever?!

I’m not a huge fan of planning ahead – I quite like to bimble along and see where the road takes me – but I also like to give myself some stepping stones for the way ahead.

By chance I was awake in the middle of the night just as we entered the new year – fireworks woke me up and then my brain switched on! I used the bonus middle-of-the-night time to jot down some thoughts about the brand new year.

I wrote that 2023 is my year for ‘re-braving’.  

The idea came from Jeff Brown who wrote:

“I am re-braving, after a difficult stage that un-braved me. It is my hope that 2023 is an opportunity for all of us to restore ourselves, and to re-brave ourselves. A re-braved humanity will not tolerate anything that obstructs our possibilities. A re-braved humanity will craft the world of profound possibility that is our individual and collective birth-right.”

Whether we read that on a global level (as intended) or an individual level, I think it is a really positive idea to carry forward with us. And even if we only focus on the individual aspects of re-braving, we will surely create a force for good along the way.

Living a half-life:

I also wrote that I didn’t get through breast cancer to only live a half-life. I don’t have a strong picture of what a fuller life would look like but I know that for a few years I’ve been hiding & holding back & stopping myself from feeling, so I’m going to work on that this year.

So in the early hours, with these thoughts as my guiding light, I jotted down some things that I can/will try to include in the coming 12 months.

In no particular order (apart from the first one which is top priority right now!)

Here’s to 2023:

  • rehab my feet – I hate having sore feet because it impacts so many things that I like to do but I’m also not very patient so this might be an interesting battle!
  • walk 1000 miles in 2023, and hopefully also walk 100 miles every month (feet allowing!)
  • take better care of my teeth
  • reconnect with my body – forgive it for having cancer; pay attention to how it feels and what it needs from me; support it with breathwork, sleep, nutrition, kindness; apply moisturizer occasionally!
  • keep taking a photo every day – now on year 8 of doing this! (you can find them here if you’re interested)
  • get a passport because there’s a whole world out there and I’d like to explore more of it
  • cover some more miles on the Pennine Way – maybe another week-long section or perhaps the rest of it (feet allowing!!)
  • journal one line per day (some of them have been quite deep thoughts but one day I simply wrote ‘tired today – that’s all’ – either way I like having a record of my day)
  • take my Mum back to Yorkshire – I don’t know where she wanted her ashes to go but I reckon the highest point in her home county is a pretty good spot, so she’ll be hiking up Whernside with me at some point this year
  • feed myself – books, food, education, music, cinema, art…
  • move house and find a new view

I like to think of all these things as gentle ways to make good use of the year, rather than things which I achieve or fail to achieve. Just a few stepping stones across the river of life. A chance to celebrate being here. An opportunity to be more present.

In the past five years I have lost both my parents, which is obviously significant, but I think the recent death of my Dad has somehow set me free to be who I always meant to be. Not that him being alive stopped me being me, but I no longer see myself reflected in his eyes and I feel lighter as a result.

Perhaps 2023 will be the year that I finally get brave, and step into my body and take up the space that I’m meant to take up…#watchthisspace

How about you? What does 2023 mean for you?

Anatomy corner – QL

Quadratus lumborum (QL)

Spanning the gap between our 12th rib and the top of our pelvis, QL effectively joins the upper and lower body together. It is a deep back muscle but can also be thought of as a posterior abdominal muscle!

Where is it?

If you stand like Peter Pan with your hands on your hips, your thumbs will be sitting over the lateral portion of QL.

(source: The Concise Book Of Muscles by Chris Jarmey)

QL attaches to the bottom rib, the transverse processes (sticky-out bits) of the first four lumbar vertebrae (L1-L4) and the posterior iliac crest.

In the back of the body it is overlaid by the erector spinae muscles and the thoracolumbar fascia.

In the front of the body it is overlaid by psoas major and minor.

What does it do?

QL can work unilaterally (one side at a time) or bilaterally (both sides together) and the movements vary accordingly:

Unilaterally – lifting the pelvis towards the rib (hip hitch) and bringing the ribs towards the pelvis (side bend) will use the QL muscle on that side of the body. Back extension/standing upright will also involve QL on one or both sides of the body

Bilaterally – QL stabilizes/anchors the bottom ribs during deep inhalation/exhalation (eg for singers using diaphragmatic breathing techniques)

Movements that rely on QL:

Certain sports or exercises rely heavily on QL strength and may therefore create overuse issues. Examples will usually include one-sided flexion with rotation – think of a tennis serve, a golf swing or any throwing sport (eg. cricket or javelin)

Similarly, repetitive working patterns can create over-use issues – plastering, construction work, gardening, etc.

In everyday life we might also rely on QL, perhaps more than it likes?! Think about repetitive ball tossing for the dog, carrying a child on one hip, teaching a movement class and only demonstrating on one side of the body, etc.

QL can also be involved in static situations! For example, sitting unevenly will effectively create a hip hitch on one side (eg. feet tucked up to one side of the body, a car seat of office chair where the hips are not supported in a level position, or even just that we lean more weight onto one sit bone than the other…)

How do you know if QL is unhappy?

Usually you will notice some low back pain or tightness, which might refer up to the ribs or down over the hips.

It might feel tighter on one side when you do a side bend or a hip rolling movement.

You might find it hard to soften and lengthen your low back (eg. when trying to tilt the pelvis forward and back)

What can you do about it?

Book a massage would be an obvious answer, because it can specifically get skilled hands onto the affected area. Massage can be used to release any potential trigger points, which will in turn improve your movement function and reduce on-going issues. Let me know if I can help!

In terms of self-care, try to identify the movements or positions which are keeping your QL ‘stuck’ because changing those factors will likely get to the source of the problem. You might also like to join a Pilates or Yoga class which addresses general movement patterns through the torso and gives you a chance to notice how your body is moving, or not!

I am a big fan of trigger point release work (you probably already knew that!).

You can find some TP release ideas here from Jill Miller and a great blog post on the topic here from Neil Asher Education (this is aimed at therapists but you’ll find some useful stuff here to use at home too).

I hope this all gives you a better understanding about what’s happening in the back of your waist, what might be aggravating it and what you might do to help it.

Next time we’re working here on the massage table or in class you’ll know why we’re there!

22 for 2022 – a festive workout

I’ve made you a movement plan for December and beyond – not so that you feel you need to do more & chastise yourself if you don’t,  but hopefully to inspire you to carve out a little time each day for movement that makes you feel good and helps you carry all of the others things you have to carry at this time of the year.

You can use it like an advent calendar by doing one move each day, or you can build it into a whole workout to do once or twice a week when you feel like having 40 minutes to yourself.

You can find out more here: your 22 for 2022 workout

You can also find two related videos below:

  • the short version (demos of all the moves for reference if you need it)
  • the long version (so you can join me for the whole workout!)

Happy Christmas!!

2022 – a year in review!

Recently I’ve been feeling that 2022 hasn’t been a good year, but a look through my photos has shown me that there have been so many highs, so here is a little review to remind me that not everything is always how it feels in one given moment…!

On top of the world – Old Man of Coniston – May 2022

There have definitely been some heavy loads in the last few months – my Dad died unexpectedly on 2nd November, my house sale fell through around the same time and I’ve been struggling to mend two sore feet since I damaged them at the end of August! [Probably the feet don’t seem very important when compared to the death of a parent and the sadness of not moving house, but I feel them every day and they are getting in the way of me enjoying the one thing I really love to do #walking ]

So anyway, that’s the bad stuff…but here’s what I remembered when I looked through the photos on my phone:

  • I have two beautiful grand-daughters who fill my whole heart with joy and love and allow me to make up for all the moments I missed when I was parenting; grand-parenting is definitely an easier job and a huge privilege
  • this year I have completed #walk1000miles for the fourth year in a row (aiming to end 2022 on 1400 miles); I also walked around Bewl Water once per month and completed at least 100 miles each month for 8 months of the year (I missed that target in February, April, October & November but I’m learning to be ok with that). Walking, especially in huge, wide open spaces brings so much joy and energy to my life (see below)
  • 2022 saw me set foot on the Pennine Way for the first time, and I went back and walked the first 100 miles in August – teenage dream realised!
  • I learned to grow and nurture a whole house full of house plants!!
  • I re-found my confidence and got back to working at my massage table; it still brings me unexpected delight when clients have a positive reaction to their treatment (I don’t know why it surprises me but it still does, every time!); I completed an Oncology Massage course in November so it’s full steam ahead for 2023
  • I’ve dared to dream of a new future for the first time in a very long time; although I’m very sad that my planned move to the seaside has not happened yet, I’m so happy that I was brave enough to imagine it and start the process of achieving it too. And I can wait a little longer to see it realised…
  • I’ve taken a photo every day for the 7th year in a row!! In all that time I’ve never missed a day or posted a photo taken on another day. I did cheat a little bit on the night that I was sat in a hospital relatives room, waiting to see my Dad for the last time – I asked my daughter to take the photo for me but I still edited and posted it so it almost counts as mine!
  • I’ve climbed the Yorkshire three peaks twice! The first time I did one each day over a three-day camping trip; the second time I did them all in one go straight after my hundred miles on the PW (hence the damaged feet!) – it was wayyyyyy harder than I expected and I couldn’t have done it without an incredibly supportive buddy #forevergrateful #youknowwhoyouare
  • I joined The Queue – such an honour and privilege #thankyoumaam
  • And last but not least, the snow last week brought much happiness to my child-like heart

Thank you 2022 – I haven’t always loved you but I’m glad we made it through together!

And 2023 I’m hoping for good things from you… #nopressure

Self-care strategies for easeful movement

Here’s a round-up of short videos I have created during 2022 to give you some easy self-care ‘homework’ to use between massage treatments.

I hope you find something useful for your body!

As always, please ask if you are unsure whether a particular move is right for you; go gently and pay close attention to any feedback from your body (ie. nothing needs to feel painful to be doing you some good!)

Neck & shoulders:

Hips & Legs:

hamstring stretch with a band

Feet & ankles:

Whole body:

Wishing you an easeful start to 2023:

Remember, ‘little + often’ is most likely going to be a more effective formula than ‘lots x once + never again’!

half-term homework…

Just in case you’d like some ‘homework’ to keep you moving while there are no classes over the half term break, I’ve pulled together some previously recorded sessions & some other ideas that I think you’ll enjoy. Of course, it is totally fine to give your body a rest or do some other activities instead – that’s what I’ll be doing!

relaxation pose

Classes and short sessions:

Other ideas to try:

  • Lying with your legs up the wall is a great way to gently stretch your hamstrings, manage stress, improve digestion, promote sleep, boost circulation and a whole lot more! Super-simple to do – find out more here
  • Add some breathing practice into your day – it offers so many benefits – find out more here
  • Do a bit of decluttering! This is one of my favourite things to do – I’m quite ruthless and having a physical clear-out always crosses-over into feeling mentally clearer. Just don’t do what I recently did and drive around for weeks with bags full of charity shop things-to-be-donated things in the back of your car – that’s just moving your clutter into another space!! There are some great tips here
  • Find a local ‘slow ways’ walk and check it out. There are currently over 8,000 Slow Ways routes. This unique network of routes was drafted online by volunteers during the Spring 2020 lockdown. The next challenge is to walk, review and verify them all – checking over 100,000km of Slow Ways routes. It’s a big ambition for 2022. Thousands of people are getting involved. Up for helping? Simply choose, walk and review a Slow Ways route here.
walking

Have a great half term break Jx

Would your body benefit from seeing a Women’s Health Physio?

Spoiler alert: the answer is probably ‘yes’!

I wrote about this in my newsletter last week and decided to share it here too, just to help spread the message as far as I can.

I hadn’t originally planned to share this because it feels a bit personal, but I am so astounded at the changes that I couldn’t not share my recent experience seeing a fabulous Women’s Health Physiotherapist. In two sessions I feel like a different person – or more like me – and so much better connected in my body.

I knew I was holding on to tension/trauma in my body (nothing overly dramatic but childbirth x 3, surgery x 2, bereavement, giving CPR to someone in the street, general life-stuff) but I didn’t realise the impact it was having. I honestly thought I could get away with it, so long as I just kept on holding all that shit together! Turns out that I’m human after all and now that I can physically feel how much better it is to let it out, I’m on a mission to do more of that and to spread the word!!

breathe

A bit of background:

In the summer of 2020 I had two surgeries for breast cancer. The first one was a lumpectomy and removal of two lymph nodes in my armpit. I was cautiously back at work a week later, waiting to get the ‘all-clear’ and start the next stage of my treatment. I then found out that the first procedure had not been a complete success so I underwent a mastectomy with implant reconstruction four weeks later. This surgery was successful but of course it had a massive impact on my body, not least in terms of how I felt about myself.

Since 2020 I have also experienced a couple of bouts of severe back pain and associated muscle spasm, the most recent one about six or seven weeks ago.

In an attempt to cover all bases with regards my on-going low back & coccyx pain, I decided to see a Women’s Health Physiotherapist in case there was tightness/restriction in my pelvic floor which was contributing to the problem. And also to check that I am using my 56-yr-old pelvic floor muscles effectively (happily I am – gold star for me!)

What is a Women’s Health Physiotherapist?

I saw Jenny Gillespie (based near Tunbridge Wells) for a women’s health assessment. She is a chartered physiotherapist, specialising originally in musculoskeletal work and now in women’s health physiotherapy, offering holistic assessment and management to women of all ages with symptoms of pelvic floor dysfunction and musculoskeletal pain.

I was pretty nervous before my first appointment, not really knowing what to expect. I actually almost didn’t go, but I’m so glad I did. 

Jenny started by taking some details of why I was there – my back pain issues, breast cancer treatment and childbirth history, most of which was quite emotional for me to share, but she put me at ease very quickly and suggested a treatment plan.

hydrate

What does a treatment involve?

I can only tell you about my experience and what my sessions have involved. We are all different and treatments will be bespoke, but hopefully this will help to give you an insight & dispel any concerns you might have.

Jenny started off by working over my breast cancer scars and surrounding areas which felt very restricted and were causing me considerable discomfort. She is literally the first person to see my scars so that was pretty emotional, but having some release work done was fantastic. Even after one session, the difference was astonishing; and after the second session today I have much more symmetry and much more comfortable movement in the shoulder and across my ribs.

She then worked over my abdomen for some visceral release. She found & released loads of areas where I didn’t even know I was holding tension. After the first session my abdomen was a totally different shape (much flatter – nice!) and much more responsive to exercise, whereas it had been ‘gripping’ ever since my surgeries. In the second session Jenny did even more work over this area of the body and it feels so much more comfortable.

The final part of the treatment was the part I had been not looking forward to – the internal assessment and scar/trigger point release work. Trust me when I say it was WAY less invasive than having a cervical smear test. My upper body was clothed and my lower body was covered with couch roll (paper tissue). There was no speculum, no bright lights & no peering inside my body!!

Every woman’s experience will be different but for me there was some internal scar release work required, which was weirdly incredible! As Jenny worked over internal trigger points I could feel areas of my hips, legs and back letting go of familiar uncomfortable holding patterns. It’s very hard to describe the sensation but nothing in either session has felt painful, intrusive, embarrassing or even unpleasant.

While Jenny was working on my body I felt very safe, respected and nurtured. I felt ‘seen’ as a whole person, like she had understood fully why I was there and what my body needed.

How does it feel afterwards?

Obviously this is going to vary from one woman to the next.

Jenny warned me that I would probably feel exhausted after the first session, and she was not wrong!! I cried a lot on the way home and afterwards (and the next day) but I know that I hold lots of emotion about my childbirth experiences (never mind all the other stuff I’ve been lugging around for years!!) so it actually felt good that some of that had been disturbed. The next morning my body felt different – almost disconnected while things settle into new movement patterns – but also much more ‘easeful’, a bit calmer, less tense.

In the week since, I have noticed

  • less hip/buttock pain when sitting & walking,
  • less gripping in my abdomen when exercising,
  • an easier/deeper/fuller/more effortless breathing pattern
  • a much better connection to and awareness of my pelvic floor – like it was asleep and it’s not any more
  • a change in how my reconstructed boob sits over my ribs, now much better aligned to the natural side

Also I’ve been making much better food choices over the past week because I feel so much better about myself.

nutrition

And I feel really proud of myself for doing something that I had previously not felt brave enough to do.

Is it for you?

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that every woman needs this!

If you have a vagina, regardless of whether or not you have had children (or how you birthed your children), and you have any low back/hip pain, any pelvic floor issues or any prolapse concerns, do yourself a favour and book an appointment. If you’re not sure if you need to book an appointment, I would say, do it anyway! You won’t regret it.

Also if you’re a man reading this and you know someone that fits into the criteria above, get them to book an appointment –  they will be very grateful. I should also mention that men’s health physiotherapy is also available if you need it for yourself.

I have known for a long time through my professional networks that seeing a WHP is a good idea for all women, but I didn’t know it through my own experience until now. My oldest child is 33 this year which means that I have been carrying some of my internal scars for that long.

Oh how I wish I had done this sooner, which is why I’m telling you in the hope that you will do it soon too…

Where to get help

If you would like further information or would like to find a women’s health physio in your area you can find out more here:

I booked my WHP privately but there is support via the NHS for certain conditions.

Help your feet to feel more fabulous

I’m going to start by saying that I’m not a Podiatrist, so this is written from the perspective of my own personal experience and the things I see in my clients.

Our feet are truly fabulous things. The ankle and foot complex contains 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. Considering both feet, that makes a total of 52 bones, making up about a quarter of all bones found in the mature adult body.

Maybe it’s time we took better care of these precious feet of ours??

Things I believe to be true:

  • how our feet move affects how everything else moves further up the chain – ankles, calves, knees, thighs, hips, pelvic floor, core, low back, mid-back, upper back, shoulders and neck – ie. literally every part of your body!
  • how our feet move also affect our sense of balance and proprioception (connection to where we are in space)
  • what we wear on our feet can inhibit and alter the movement patterns in our feet – it’s not rocket science, but here are a few examples:
    • if shoes/socks are too tight our feet can’t spread out to offer a good base of support when we’re standing or moving;
    • if shoes have no backs (eg. flip flops) the toes will work extra hard to grip the shoe as we walk;
    • if we wear heels the foot tends to slide forward adding pressure around the toes (this also happens in trainers with a thicker sole under the heel than the ball of the foot)
  • wearing shoes which are too small (even if they feel comfortable) is never going to make your feet happy
  • showing our feet some love will always be a good investment of time
feet in trainers

Are your shoes too small?

For some reason people seem to take offence when I suggest to them that their shoes are too small. I have no idea why it would be an offensive thing to hear?? It is just a fact that our feet get wider and longer as we get older, so if you’re still wearing the same shoe size you wore five/ten/twenty years ago they are probably too small.

Also, you probably don’t wear the same size clothes you wore five/ten/twenty years ago so why would your feet be any different to your body?

If you don’t believe me you could always go and have them measured!

Or, if you are experiencing issues with your feet/ankles/knees/hips and your toes tend to looked scrunched-up (eg. crooked toes, pointing-at-the-ceiling toes or unable-to-spread-them-out toes) why not buy one pair of shoes the next size up, wear only those shoes for a few weeks and see what happens. At the very least your toes will gradually start to stretch out and spread out and breathe a little. But more likely, loads of other things will change too…

I’ve bought bigger shoes, what else can I do for my feet?

Once you’ve stopped squishing your feet into the wrong sized shoes, you can help your feet even more by giving them some release-work, stretches, exercises and a bit of self-massage. It doesn’t need to take long each day – just pick one or two things that feel useful and start there. Do those things 2-3 times a day (or more!) and notice the changes. You can add in other things later on once your feet start to change.

Here are couple of short videos from me:

Also, walk around in bare feet whenever you can – it’s a great way to strengthen your feet and that helps them to function better.

What other help is there?

If you have any concerns, I would recommend you find a Podiatrist or Physiotherapist and let them assess what is going on with your feet. They will be qualified to offer specific advice in terms of exercise and support for your feet to get you moving more comfortably.

Be mindful of the fact that a Podiatrist will almost always recommend orthotics (support for your foot inside your shoe) which might not be your preferred/best option, although perhaps useful in the short-term.

Also, check-out some of my favourite foot-people online:

  • Gait Happens – she shares some fabulous stuff on social media so find here there too
  • EBFA Global – click to access Dr Emily Splichal’s free guide to Toe Spacers & also find her on Instagram for some great information
  • Katy Bowman is Nutritious Movement on IG – another source of fabulous resources for your feet
bare feet

Barefooting:

Having taken a keen interest in feet for many years, I now only wear ‘barefoot’ shoes which have no support or cushioning in the soles and they work really well for my feet. Barefoot shoes have a wide toe-box and a less rounded inside edge around the big toe to allow optimal foot function. I’m not suggesting that you go down this route without doing your own research, but am very happy that I made the switch.

I hope this has given you some food for thought and a few ideas to try if you think that your feet might be the cause of issues in your body. As always, let me know if you have any questions – I’ll do my best to answer them or direct you to someone who knows more than me

wrist and forearm pain solutions

It’s relatively common to experience some wrist pain or forearm pain from time-to-time, usually caused by a repetitive movement pattern. Examples might include playing racquet sports, gardening, using a mouse/keyboard, or my particular favourite, DIY!

As with anything in the body (& actually life in general!!) when the aggravating activity is short-term or less prolonged (eg. one game of tennis or a weekend of gardening) the pain issues will often be short-term too, and will go away of their own accord, with rest once the activity has stopped. The issues might flare up again but will not normally become a chronic issue unless the activity continues.

When the aggravating activity is more of a regular occurrence or more prolonged (eg. playing tennis three times a week or gardening several days a week) the pain issues can become more embedded and be more challenging to resolve.

forearm massage

Sometimes it is not going to be possible to stop doing the things which are causing us pain, but we can try to stay ahead of the curve with a combination of the following:

  1. Become aware of your posture whenever can, so that you can regularly remind yourself to make small adjustments if needed –
  • notice any imbalance between left and right (eg. head tilted to one side or one shoulder sitting higher than the other)
  • notice if there is any any ‘holding’ or ‘gripping’ in one area of the body (eg. tension in the low back)
  • notice how your body feels – ideally you will feel grounded (through your feet if you’re standing and through your hips if you’re seated) and able to move without losing that sense of being earthed
  • notice your breathing and how your body moves as you breathe (ie. do the ribs move up and down or do they open wide as you inhale?)

2. Vary your movement patterns where possible to reduce the impact of the aggravating activity –

  • change your desk set up if you suspect that the issue is keyboard or mouse related (try a wrist rest, consider a different keyboard or mouse, vary your desk layout, review your seating options, be aware of your posture)
  • review your movement patterns if you think the issues are sports-related (get some professional help if necessary)
  • takes breaks if you’re doing a longer task (chop & change between activities to break up the movements patterns, pause to stretch out your fingers/wrists/forearms from time-to-time or have regular tea-breaks)
  • make use of labour-saving equipment if you are doing a prolonged task (eg. an electric screwdriver will massively reduce the amount of forearm rotation, not worth it for a quick job perhaps but definitely worth it for a larger project)
  • change between your right and left hand where you can to reduce the impact of single-sided movements

3. Resolve any soft tissue tension/pain before it becomes a chronic pain issue –

  • stretching & self-massage are both easy (& free) ways to keep things moving – see below for some ideas to try
  • use of heat or cold may help to reduce any inflammation
  • sports massage can get right to the root of the problem by working on and around the affected areas (which may or may not be where you are feeling the pain!)
wrist pain

Don’t forget that pain in one place can often come from a related area of the body!

Wrist, hand and forearm pain are very often associated with neck, chest or shoulder issues, in which case treating the point of pain without resolving the contributing factors will only give short-term pain relief.

With that in mind, here are some of my favourite stretching ideas that you might find helpful. I’ve included some for the wrist and forearms specifically, but also some for the neck & shoulders because you probably need those too!

upper back massage

How can sports massage help?

Sports massage therapy can be a great way to resolve wrist and forearm pain and teach you how to manage the issue yourself. And the sooner you address the problem, the sooner it can be resolved AND the less likely it is to develop into a more chronic pain issue.

When you come for your first appointment, I’ll ask you about likely triggers for the pain you’re experiencing, ask you which movements help/don’t help, find out what you’ve been doing so far to try to resolve the issues and make a few postural observations. All of these things will guide my approach and then I will systematically work around the associated areas, as well as treating directly on the area that feels problematic, working within your comfort levels.

After your massage I will offer suggested homework that you can do to help yourself between treatments.

You will usually notice some improvement from just one treatment but in the case of chronic pain you will likely need several follow-up sessions to resolve the issues to the point where you can manage them yourself.

Please let me know if you would like to discuss a sports massage appointment with me before booking, or click here to visit my booking page.