Courses for Autumn 2017

Our next massage courses for beginners, improvers and those considering a career in massage will start in the autumn. If you would like to be kept informed please contact nigel@naturaltouchbath.co.uk with a short description of what you are looking for.

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Preparing for a performance event

So you are in training, building up for the big day. Can massage help?

Having worked with a couple of endurance cyclists in the last few months I thought I’d share some ideas about massage and performance.

People often think a massage will be useful after a big event, but that isn’t going to improve your performance. Building a few massage treatments into your training plan might just help you keep on form.

So how can massage help?

1. During a performance event you are probably going to push your body beyond what you’ve done in training. Something is going to limit your performance. Massage can help you deal with problems as they arise in training so they don’t come up and bite you when it really matters.

2. To work efficiently muscles need to engage and release. You may be putting a lot of effort into engaging muscles, but not thinking about them releasing. In its optimum condition muscle become soft when it relaxes – feel the difference in you biceps as you tense and release. A massage which pinpoints tight muscles can help release them and, importantly, give you the know-how to work with them yourself.

3. Your massage therapist can help you tune in to and understand the feelings you get in your body and advise on the right course of training. If you get a pain, for example, should you ease up your training, stop all together or carry on with your plan? What stretches or specific exercises might help?

4. Most events require strength and suppleness. Rigidity anywhere in your body will hold you back. The same applies to poor posture.

5. and last, but not least, you will feel better, happier and more relaxed.

After your event when you want to celebrate and reward yourself massage can also help you get in the right shape for your next challenge.

Prices and booking

Visiting Bath

No trip to Bath is complete without a massage, but not all massages are the same. Natural Touch is a local, independent business that provides top quality massage – because we give you the massage you need.

Whether you choose Holistic, Deep Tissue, Swedish or Remedial massage your therapist will create the perfect massage for you. We have no standard “one size fits all” routines.

Book in advance or call for last-minute availability. We will do our best to fit you in even at the weekend or in the evening.

Remember the experience you had in Bath.

Book now ☏ 07941 094318

The Art of Bodywork

Six Thursday evenings starting 13th October at 7pm in Bath

This autumn we launch a new course “The Art of Bodywork” for individuals, couples or friends who want to explore self-expression through bodywork.

This course invites you to connect with your own body and connect with others to learn and have fun.

Bodywork includes massage and other types of touch. Movement, holding, shaking, gentle touch and stretching are there to be explored. There are no limits other than what you want to try and what your partner wants to experience.

Working on the floor we find different ways to engage with another body and play with contact, pressure and movement. We practice listening to our body and communicating what it needs. We learn to understand others’ needs through listening and through touch.

This course is suitable for people with some or no previous experience of massage or bodywork and runs in Bath this autumn over six two-hour sessions. The cost is £120 per person.

For more information contact Nigel on 07941 094318.

What simple change can improve your posture?

Our posture – the way we hold and move our bodies – depends on our activity, our habits and our emotional state – and it can change.

Posture is a recurring topic in massage sessions. People wonder if poor posture is exacerbating a problem. Sometimes I notice a pattern suggesting posture is a factor. Poor posture can cause problems, but it’s also a symptom. If we want to improve posture it helps to remember that is the result of circumstances – physical and psychological.

Unhelpful inherited values

We’ve all tried “standing up straight” only to flop back down a few moments later and give up. It’s easy to conclude there is no point trying.

There are so many things wrong with “stand (or sit) up straight” it’s hard to know where to begin. Firstly it assumes there is good and bad posture – not very helpful. Secondly the negative tone has echoes of a parent or militaristic school teacher. It makes us think that it’s our fault we have “bad” posture.

When we do try to adjust our posture we’re probably not sure what we’re doing. We have no route to progress and nothing to guide us. We didn’t decide how we would like our posture to be and how to achieve it. It’s also really hard work. We’re trying to force ourself into a shape we’ve labelled “good” posture and soon stop because it’s so much effort. When we do stop our body reverts back to the position it was in before. We call it failure and don’t want to try again.

So, let’s take a more sensible look at what forms our posture and how we can work with it.

Our posture isn’t set. Our bones are dynamic – moved by our muscles. Our spine is a series of joints, each with a range of movement. Habit and how we feel are also very important. We are generally not aware of our posture. Our unconscious mind takes care of it. Luckily for us though we can take control and with practice change the pattern.

You can change the position of your body more easily than you think. The trick is to find a position which is comfortable and looks good then you will want to adopt it. It’s then a matter of forming new habits.

It helps to look at the whole body. The angle of our pelvis, for example, is going to affect our lower spine, which in turn affects the upper body shape.

A positive attitude is important. We are moving to something better for ourselves that we have chosen.

Because it’s hard to do this on your own I have designed a practical workshop to look at your posture, see how you feel about it and how you would like it to be, make some suggestions and together come up with one or two easy things you can repeat frequently throughout the day – positive steps towards the posture you want.

Posture workshop

My posture workshop is to help you
– know where you are starting and what you are trying to achieve
– feel confident about what you are doing
– find something sustainable you can integrate into your everyday life
– find something realistically achievable that will give you results
– feel supported in the process and have something to guide you

What happens in the workshop?

We look together at your posture and talk about how you see yourself and how you would like to be. Using photography helps.

Then I help you find a new posture – something you feel good about. Again we can use photos and see how you feel when you see yourself.

You’ll get chance to try your new posture – take it for a test drive. We want to make sure it’s going to work from day 1.

Once you have found and practised your new posture, you can leave with a sense of purpose, direction, realistic expectation and the photos to remind you, inspire you and guide you. I can also check up to see how you are getting on.

Prices and booking

I didn’t expect it to hurt there

Tension-pain-graphicFollowing lines of tension finds the areas that really need massage.

It’s quite common for people to feel pain at a specific point, but following investigation we often find that the painful spot is part of a wider band of tension. A typical example is lower back pain which can result in sharp, painful twinges often triggered by a particular movement. There’s probably tension down into the hips and up into the back.

In this case I explain that I’ll work at the point where the pain occurs, but also explore a wider area. What I want to do is uncover the whole chain of tension and work along that chain so that the whole problem is reduced. I’m using my sense of touch to check the condition of the tissues – muscles and tendons – and locate the tension. Healthy muscle is soft and flexible. Muscles which feel tough aren’t able to release properly. The associated tendons, which connect the muscle to bone, feel like taught ropes.

Once I massage into these areas clients can be surprised that they are tender, but welcome the relief. It’s taking the pressure off the painful area.

The pain is often due to muscle damage so I will work carefully in that area. Pain causes more tension and that’s counter productive. People know what feels right for them so I just ask.

Once the treatment is over the pain should be eased and the client feels more relaxed. We also have a better understanding of how their body is behaving. We might talk about possible causes and explore possible solutions such as stretches or movements they can do themselves or changes they can make to their environment or activity patterns to help.

One massage can often be a turning point and indicate the next step towards recovery.

Working with pain

How massage therapy can help when you are in pain.

Pain is relevant to massage therapy in a number of ways. In this article I look at the treatment of painful conditions such as lower back pain.

I have seen how pain can impact people’s lives. Pain effects everyday activities and can be upsetting and worrying. Pain makes it hard to concentrate on other things. People suffering from pain adapt their movements and activities in an attempt to avoid it. Clients say things like, “The only position I’m comfortable in is x, y or z and that’s getting worse.” The body also adapts unconsciously by changing posture and calling on other parts of the body to take the strain.

Of course pain can be a symptom of many things and if you’re not sure, do see your doctor. If however your pain is muscular then you might find that your GP doesn’t offer much help to address its cause.
Massage works to relieve pain in a number of ways. 1. by finding and relaxing muscle tension that is causing or contributing to your pain. 2. by relaxing the whole person 3. by changing the way you perceive pain 4. by helping you understand the mechanics of the problem you are experiencing. 5. by helping you make beneficial changes in your life 6. by changing the way your body feels and the way you feel about your body.

As I therapist I need to be sensitive. I don’t want to trigger the pain – which would exacerbate the problem. I have a range of techniques so I can adapt around the sensitivity yet still be effective.

A client I saw recently had stiffness in his neck which caused pain up into his jaw and temple and behind his eye. During his massage sessions I’m working to help release his neck which is the immediate cause I’m also working around his hips and back to help his posture – and we’re discussing the influences which affect his everyday posture. It’s also a supportive environment where he can talk about his health and take time to relax.

As I work into painful areas I’m using my sense of touch and my clients reaction to judge what’s needed. As well as providing physical relaxation, I want my client to experience that part of their body in a new way; a way that can respond positively without pain. I think this is an important part of my treatment as it breaks the cycle of pain and tension.

After treatments clients report feeling looser, have increased movement and simply feeling better. Sometimes there are great steps forward in a single session, but I can’t promise.
Once a particular issue is resolved, people often opt for a regular treatment to keep them supple and head off any future problems.

If there’s anything you would like to discuss, please call me on 07941 094318.