***IMPORTANT***
I will now be on maternity leave, starting October 2016, until at least February 2017, but I will update when I know when I’m able to return to work. I will therefore not be taking bookings during this time. Should you wish to stay updated, please check out my Facebook page (RJS Massage) or contact me to be added to the mailing list.
Thank you for your patience during this time and have a wonderful Autumn / Winter period.
Becky 

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Stiff neck quick fixes

So you wake up one morning and can’t look left. Or right. Pulling out on T-junctions becomes a nightmare and people start looking at you like you’re mad when you turn your entire body to look at something slightly outside your immediate field of vision. 

Or you sit at a desk all day, you run around after children or you spend a weekend painting your ceilings, and voila, you can no longer move. 

However is happens, it’s no fun. 

When a muscle is overworked, or held in a position in which it is shortened or lengthened for a prolonged period of time, it will become fatigued, and unable to function properly. This will cause stiffness and pain.

Don’t panic, we are here to help! The majority of these soft tissue problems resolved themselves after 1-3 days (if not subjected to the same pressures that caused the problem in the first place). But you can hurry the process along and ease the symptoms by following these simple steps. 

(The following advice is based on my professional opinion as a soft tissue specialist, other advice may differ).

Step One: Anti-inflammatories

These come in a variety of different forms. Ibuprofen (and similar) tablets can effectively ease pain and help treat the inflammation in a seized muscle. Ice is particularly effective too, although is only recommended when you have pain as a result of a sudden injury like whiplash. Heat is not recommended in the first 48 hours, unless the condition has developed slowly, over time. Ibuprofen gels can be purchased very inexpensive my from your local supermarket or chemist and can help too. The advantage with these is you can apply as often as you want (always check the label) and get on with your day-to-day.

When muscles are sore and stiff there will be a certain amount of inflammation, it is essential to treat this to aid and speed up recovery.
Step Two: Gentle Stretches

“Stretch!? I can’t even move!”  When a muscle is very painful we naturally immobilise it because it hurts to move. However, when a muscle isn’t moving, it won’t be getting supplied with enough blood, proteins and other things essential to aid in it’s repair.

This needs to be done with extreme care, and a general rule of thumb is it is allowed to be a bit uncomfortable, but not painful. Here are some stretches to try, at least a few times a day until the discomfort goes away:

1. 

Start looking forwards, and slowly rotate your head about halfway towards one shoulder, or as far as you can go. Then slowly drop your chin to your chest, looking down. If you want, you can then apply light pressure to the back of your head with your hand (the hand on the same side you are rotating towards is best). You should feel a gentle pull down the back of your neck, which can extend down between your shoulder blades. 

 
2. 

Drop one shoulder and gently pull your head away from that shoulder. You should feel the stretch along the top of your shoulder.

  

3. 

Follow instructions for stretch number 1, but this time gently rotate your face towards the other shoulder, as shown below. Your should feel a stretch along the top of your shoulder, side of your neck and into the base of your skull. 

 

Step Three: Gentle movement

As discussed earlier, it is important to keep your muscles moving gently (unless of course you suspect your injury might be more serious such as a sprain, strain, tear or fracture, in which case please see your doctor!). 

To do this, you need to gently go through your necks range of motion. The best way to do this is by doing individual movements, always returning to centre in between. These movements are:

-Rotate head towards one shoulder, the the other.

-Look up.

-Look down.

-Pull your ear down towards one shoulder, then the other. 

In my experience, circling your head will not help if your neck is particularly stiff.

Step Four: If all else fails

If you are not seeing an improvement after 3 days, you would be well advised to see a soft tissue specialist, such as a sports massage therapist, or a physiotherapist. Muscular pains that don’t improve quickly by themselves are unlikely to then go away by themselves. Self massage is not recommended (even when you are a massage therapist!) for your neck.

If you suspect you may have a more serious injury causing your pain it is always advisable to see your doctor!

Thanks for reading. 

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Preventing and Treating Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Welcome to 2015! If you, like many others are planning on taking your exercise regime up a gear for the new year, you are likely to encounter that old friend; delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS).

This is the name given to the soreness experienced in our muscles in the 72 hours following exercise. It is caused by microtrauma to the muscle fibres. DOMS is actually a mechanism used by your muscles to stop you from carrying out more intense exercise, so that they have time to recover. It is a perfectly natural part of muscle development and whilst the muscle fibres are healing, they strengthen to prevent future soreness from similar levels of exercise.

So, we are reassured that DOMS is not causing us any damage, and is in fact a good indicator that we are building up our muscles. However, nobody likes losing the ability to climb the stairs the day after a work out. There is little consensus about prevention and treatment of DOMS, but here are some tips that I personally believe can help:

1. Warm up. Let your muscles know your intentions before starting out. Warming up allows for increased blood flow to your muscles, and increases body temperature, reducing the risk of injury and lessening the effects of DOMS.

2. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Remember this from your first aid course? The same applies to treating DOMS. This brilliant little combination can reduce inflammation and aid muscle recovery after exercise. Do not over ice a muscle after a work out. A few minutes should be enough to do the trick. If you’re feeling brave, turn the temperature of your shower right down and use the cold water to do job instead of ice (and if you’re feeling really brave – or you live in the tropics – try a couple of minutes in an ice bath).

3. Protein. Our bodies use protein to make amino acids, and muscles are repaired using amino acids. The rate of repair depends on the availability of amino acids, so protein is essential.

Some people will be surprised to learn that protein comes in other forms than just shakes. It is always best to get our dietary requirements from our food, rather than supplements, so here is a nice list of some protein-rich foods to add to your shopping lists! http://www.healthaliciousness.com/articles/foods-highest-in-protein.php

4. Walk it off. You would be surprised by how effective this is, if you haven’t tried it before. Some light exercise (a walk for example) can help to reduce the effects of DOMS by increasing circulation to the affected areas and subsequently promoting muscle repair.

5. Sports Massage. It doesn’t work for everyone, it has to be said, but sports massage has been proven to promote muscle healing. The effects of Sports Massage are to increase circulation, which carries essential amino acids to the muscles for repair, and helps the muscles to rid themselves of waste products such as lactic acid.

I wish you all the best of luck with all your endeavours in 2015, it is time to get fitter, faster and stronger!

*I am a mobile sports massage therapist doing sports massage in Fleet, Alton, Farnham and the surrounding areas (Hampshire/Surrey).

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Why Get Regular Sports Massage

If you’ve arrived at this site, the chances are that you know a little bit about sports massage already. Everyone knows that you come out of a massage feeling great, but the majority of people don’t know just how good regular sports massage is for their overall health.

Sports massage is a scientific practice designed with a knowledge and understanding of how muscles work, and what muscles need to be able to heal and perform to their highest standard: Our bodies are a collection of different systems working together to carry out our every day tasks. The skeleton acts as a frame. The muscles act as levers to control the frame. The respiratory system provides the muscles with oxygen. The digestive system provides our muscles with energy through the circulatory system; and the lymphatic system (part of the circulatory system) helps to get rid of all the waste products from our muscles, provides them with essential nutrients and hydration, and lymphocytes which support our immune system.

This is where massage comes in. It is clear to see why good circulation is important. The lymphatic system does not have a “pump” like our heart pumps blood. It relies on muscles contracting and relaxing to pump the lymph through our bodies. Massage helps to manually drain muscles of built up lymph and restore their full functionality so that lymph can flow freely and easily to all parts of our bodies.
So, massage is important for maintaining a healthy circulatory system, which provides a variety of very important functions.

Sports massage also has a number of other benefits:

  • Restores and maintains muscle balance to improve posture and efficiency of movement;
  • Increases our blood’s oxygen capacity by up to 15%;
  • Reduces the affects of delayed onset muscle soreness and exercise induced fatigue or pain;
  • Improved blood supply to muscles and internal organs by stimulating nerves;
  • Helps to expel waste products such as nitrogen, sodium chloride and inorganic phosphorous, which may promote metabolic rates;
  • Can sooth or invigorate the nervous system and muscles, depending on the desired results to promote muscle healing and calmness or prepare for an event;
  • Stimulates weak muscles lacking in tone, or relaxes over tight or shortened muscles improving muscle performance;
  • Reduce tension and tension related illnesses;
  • Improves the appearance of skin, making it more soft and supple.

Stress

Stress is a part of our every day lives nowadays, to some degree or another. Sports Massage also acts to decrease stress. Stress can be held accountable for a large number of disorders including hypertension, migraines, peptic ulcers, depression and anxiety. Stress can also directly affect circulation by contracting vessels, it makes our breathing more shallow and rapid, which affects oxygen and nutrient supplies to our bodies. It was also slow our digestion, by taking blood away from our digestive system. These stress-related conditions can easily reduce the benefits of a good, healthy diet too. Stress also does not refer simply to phycological stress. Stress can also be physical, caused by a strenuous job, participating in sports, or simply a hectic lifestyle.

Regular Sports Massage

So, whilst the effects of Sports Massage differ from person to person, the effects of regular Sports Massage are not only to promote healthy, balanced muscles and improve circulation. Regular Sports Massage also decreases stress. With more regular treatments, more benefits are felt. Sports Massage should be considered less a pampering experience and more an essential part of improving and maintaining your wellbeing and health. Those who experience regular Sports Massage will already know the benefits, and many people rely on it to reduce stress related symptoms. With regular Sports Massage, aches and pains that we grow accustomed to can be banished for good. One session will ease your symptoms, but in order to recover fully regular treatments may be required (your therapist can advise you on this).

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About me

My name is Rebecca Searle. I am a Sports Massage therapist working in and around Alton,  Hampshire. I have been practicing Sports Massage for several years now and also specialise in pregnancy massage.  I worked for Norwich Rugby club, shadowing the head physio, giving massage for injury management and prevention and also teaching an exercise class for injured players. I have worked with a wide range of clients including a paralympic athlete, martial arts masters, competitive cyclists and runners, office workers and pensioners.

I love meeting new people, and helping them to overcome their aches, pains and injuries. I believe in treatments that are tailored to the client’s unique needs; every person is different, so every massage treatment should be different too. I always carry out a consultation before getting started, so that we can agree on the best way to achieve your goals.

I am always happy to answer your questions, so please feel free to get in touch with me via email on rjsmassage@outlook.com or through my facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/RJSSportsMassage. I carry out home appointments, so I can fit around your family and work commitments, and I have weekend and evening appointments available too. I work around Alton, Basingstoke, Fleet, Farnborough and Aldershot (and the surrounding areas, if you’re not sure if I would cover your area, send me a message and I will let you know!).

Me

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