Headaches from Hell
I had a client who was told she had to visit me. She had been suffering from regular and debilitating headaches. She has had 6 sessions with a Chiropractor and 6 sessions with a physiotherapist, scans, x-rays, doctors visits and was currently on the waiting list for steroid injections to see if that would help. A friend mentioned our center and that she HAD to have a treatment.
After looking at her whilst she was talking I simply asked her “Has anyone ever worked your chest?” (People watching with a massage therapist is an entirely different sport).
From her chest I could see that her chest was tight, rolling her shoulders forward. As a result of this it would pull your head forward putting pressure on her shoulders, neck and head muscles. Our skull is designed to be stacked on top of our necks. This allows the spine to support the weight of our skull/brain.
After a hot stone massage and some stretching work she left feeling much better. She phoned 2 weeks later to rebook saying she hadn’t had a headache in a week and a half, and it was only slightly starting to come back in. Woohoo!
A chance conversation leading to an amazing result
Just before Christmas I was leaving when I noticed I forgot my laptop. Went back into Willow to grab it. As I did a gentleman popped in wondering about our treatments as he had a sore back.
After discussing with him some of the clinical work we do we started talking about his wife. She had suffered an aneurysm 8 years ago and was struggling to walk. He booked her in for a treatment and when I met her I could see the difficulty she was having. Rather than lifting her leg she was lifting her hip to drag her leg.
After a lengthy consultation about pain, movement ability etc we set up a treatment to best suit her.
One thing I noticed was she would refer to her leg as “it” rather than “my leg” so there was obvious deep set frustration with that part of the body.
So I opted to use a combination of hot stone massage, the Emmett technique, finishing off with a guided meditation. The guided meditation was used to help her reconnect with her foot and leg in a positive way. If you don’t think something will work, then it won’t.
After the treatment her husband helped her off the table and the results were incredible! She walked up and down the shop lifting her leg more effectively. She also said she felt a lot more sturdy than before.
Days like this are why I do this job.
Thankfully she has come back for several treatments over the years with more and more results.
It is true that occasionally we get men phoning thinking Willow is not the type or massage centre that it is. Unfortunately, it is the nature of the business. Thankfully we have not had too many incidents. (They don’t ask twice, my dad taught me where to kick…) But it is something that occasionally we need to be aware of.
Any who, I had a man book online. He seemed like a nice fella when he came in, nothing suspicious. He wanted a full body massage treatment, had nothing specific he wanted working on. But when he was on the table, face down, he would not stop squirming. Lifting his groin off the table. I asked was he ok? He said he was although he continued lifting his pelvis up.
I was terrified that when I turned him over, I was going to see things I DID NOT want to see. Asked him again if he was alright, he said he was. So, for the bulk of the massage I kept him face down. Trying to spend as much time on his back as possible. But the squirming continued, mostly from the pelvis.
At this point I had spent as much time on his back and the back of his legs as I could so I had to ask him to turn over.
So I turned the client over and I saw….
Nothing out of the ordinary, or anything to cause alarm. Relieved I uncovered his leg, and it was so warm it was unreal!
Turns out the electric blanket underneath was overheating this poor man and he was trying to protect himself from the heat. If he had said I could have switched it off!?
Moral of the story guys, if you are too hot or too cold please tell us as it makes everyone uncomfortable.
Sometimes you are exactly where you need to be
Massage therapy is a tough job. It is very physical, and the longer the treatment the harder it is on you. 2 hour massages can be awful if it’s the last one in the day. This was one of those….
Last thing in the day a 2 hour massage on a fella. I pleaded with another therapist to take it, but she as busy. I pleaded with the universe that he would forget the treatment, but he didn’t...
I feel like I have a deal with the universe. There are days (not many thankfully) that you just don’t want people to turn up. But the deal is that if the persons need for a treatment outweighs my need not to do the treatment then send them in. This was one of those days.
Suffering from random panic attacks he was getting discomfort in his shoulders and neck. His girlfriends mother thought this would be an excellent treat for him.
He hadn’t had a massage before he and was anxious, unsure of what to expect.
When someone is in this state it is important for massage therapists respond effectively. How I spoke to him, how I explained things to him, using some humor to help him feel more comfortable. This reminded me of the value of tone and communication in this line of work. Asking someone with anxiety to remove clothing will add to their vulnerability. Requiring more trust than many people recognise. We don’t just work with physical health, mental health is just as complicated as to which muscle group will unlock a frozen shoulder.
Like many people with anxiety he would try and help me during the treatment, e.g. lifting his arms, shoulders to let me work easier. So I explained that his only job for the next two hours was to just exist.
This time when I was working his arm he held my hand. I could tell he was trying not to panic. So I stood beside him, just holding his hand and talked him through relaxing his breathing. Slowly talking him through a grounding technique he can use at home when he feels this way. Once he had visibly relaxed I continued the treatment.
He floated out of that room a different person. Even when he spoke, it was slower, less anxious. And now he has a tool he has seen work with him to use at home. I really feel like I made a difference that day.
Like I said, I really really didn’t want to do that treatment. But I am really really glad I did.
During my years at Willow Massage Centre I have kept a reflective diary. This has helped me to learn more about the way I work, what type of work people prefer the best and also to give me the occasional giggle. No two treatments are the same, and by reflecting on this it will allow us to grow with the work that we do. In this diary I have written stories of treatments that remind me why I do this work, stories of why it is a difficult job to do and some stories of days I clearly should have stayed in bed. As Willow has been open for five years now I feel like this would be a good time to share some of them. All stories will be written anonymously.
Severed Hand Syndrome
A friend of the family referred a client to Willow, her main complaint being severed hand syndrome. After suffering for years with Carpel Tunnel she bit the bullet and went for the corrective surgery. Unfortunately this was a total failure and she ended up with severed hand syndrome. This means that the brain thinks that her hand has been amputated. The result is a numb, painful forearm and hand all day, everyday. There is little movement, strength or flexibility in the wrist or hand. It requires a full wrist brace.
However, as she had been holding her arm to protect it a frozen shoulder had set in.
Doctors, physios and surgeons had been unable to solve either problem. During the treatment I was working round her shoulder and came to a point for the arm release with the Emmett technique, the client gave a little jump and said she could feel that all the way down her arm. So I asked if we could swap to this technique instead? She agreed.
As I was working with this the client said she was aware of a tingling sensation all the way to her finger tips. Amazing! (I say that as she had little to no sensation in the arm, so any sensation is fantastic!)
Before the treatment the client was unable to do anything with her hand. So I brought a glass of water to her and asked her to use the hand we had been working on. She took the glass of water, and drank using that hand, and burst into tears. So happy!
To add a bit of personal achievement to this my mum had popped in to help me sort some stuff whilst I was doing this treatment. It was great for her to see and hear the reactions from this client. I loved her seeing the work that I do and the impact it can have on people.
Why we love Christmas gift vouchers!
Massage has so many benefits! But there are still so many people who haven’t tried it. I feel that it is a Northern Irish thing. We have a very large personal bubble, so the idea of trying massage therapy can be a bit surreal. But once people have tried it they are converted for life.
After a massage people realise that they don’t need to just “get on” with their aches and pains. Getting older doesn’t always mean “getting stiffer” and less comfortable in their bodies. With the right body maintenance, we can help you achieve what you still want to do.
Massage therapy has so many benefits, relaxation, pain/body management, anxiety management etc. Why suffer with these things when there are tools available to help?
When you buy a massage therapy gift voucher you are not buying a product. You are buying an experience, you are buying them time. Time to relax, time to unwind and time to themselves. Something we could all do with.
Reflexology and Endometriosis
So what is Endometriosis and why is it painful?
Endometriosis occurs when the cells of the uterus lining, the endometrium, grow elsewhere outside the uterus. Commonly this will be in the fallopian tubes or around the ovaries, sometimes in other areas of the pelvis such as around the digestive system and bladder or into the vagina; in very rare cases endometriotic tissues have been found in the lungs, eyes and even the brain! These cells react in the same way as they do in the uterus; during monthly hormonal changes the cells grow, as they would in the womb, to support the release of an ovum and, like in your period, if the ovum isn’t fertilised, the cells break down and bleed, although unlike the cells in your uterus, in cases of endometriosis where the cells are situated outside the womb, the blood can not simply leave the body.
This internal bleeding, as I’m sure you can imagine, can be incredibly painful! The angry site becomes inflamed and forms scar tissue which can cause even more pain and discomfort as it tugs on other organs and tissues. When these cells are present in the ovaries cysts form which fill with blood and can make ovulation excruciating. As well as the intense pain and heavy periods, sufferers often experience chronic fatigue and feelings of isolation and depression; it’s sometimes hard to enjoy a normal love life and to find a supportive network of professionals or friends who fully understand how you are feeling.
Although there has been no previous study published involving the effects of reflexology on endometriosis, documented research does exist involving the effects of reflexology on other gynecological disorders, including PMS, amenorrhea, dysmenorrhea, hypermenorrhea, polycystic ovary syndrome and infertility. All of these studies have shown that reflexology has a significant effect on decreasing symptoms, though most of them are case studies, with two exceptions: Oleson and Flocco (1993) conducted a randomized, controlled, single-blind study of the effects of foot, hand and ear reflexology on women with PMS and found a significantly greater decrease in symptoms in the treatment group than in the placebo group.
Whilst we cannot definitively say that reflexology can help with this condition, our clients suffering from this condition have noted a significant improvement in their condition with regular reflexology treatments in the week before their period is due. With some reporting reduced pain and less intense symptoms.
One treatment available for endometriosis is an operation to remove endometriol cells. We have been able to support those who have undertaken this treatment with a combination of reflexology and the Emmett technique.
Meet the Team
Meet Aiza, our new sports and clinical massage therapist.
Why got into massage?
I didn’t get into massage, but from a very young age I feel like massage came to me. My sister is a hairdresser and from the age of 10 years old she was asking for a back or foot massage, as she has a difference in the length of her legs, so she often suffered from bad aches and pains. I gave massages to numerous team mates when I was playing badminton for years based on my intuition and I knew one day, I would do this professionally.
Why you enjoy complementary Therapies?
It’s amazing to have someone walking in distress, agitation (because of pain, discomfort or stress) and leaving with calm and a smile.
What is your favourite treatment?
My 90min Deep Tissue Neck and Shoulders, has it makes a major difference in terms of mobility.
People can look back when driving, turn their head without discomfort, can reach above their head and can carry on their activities and stay independent. This length of time really allows me to be specific in my work around the neck, and assess mobility in the shoulders effectively.
What do you like about working at Willow Massage Centre?
I enjoy that whilst we are a team of therapists we each bring something different to our treatment. It has allowed me to see how having a different focus to our clients can products different but effective results. We are very complementary and that is how a team should be.
Meet the tea - Janine
I got into massage therapy at the age of 18. After leaving school I had planned to go to University to be a social worker. But during a year out I decided this wasn't the career for me, I took a course in massage therapy to occupy my time and fell in love with it.
Massage therapy is a beautiful treatment to give to anyone, and I enjoy having such a beneficial impact on someone's life.
I chose to further my study in this field by attending the University of Cumbria to gain a BSc Complementary Therapies. With this I was able to create and run a complementary therapy clinic in a day care centre for people with severe mental health problems. I loved it! Every treatment was a challenge.
I later added to my education through the study of the Emmett Technique. Learning this work changed me as a therapist. Taught me to think more specifically about each person and the challenges they face through their tensions/pain.
When I came back to Belfast I worked in a spa setting. Whilst I enjoyed the work, and I learned a lot, it lacked the challenge I enjoyed. So I worked to open Willow Massage Centre.
At Willow we have a range of clients, from stressed/tired to in pain/unable to move. Any of my regular clients will tell you that when faced with a complicated set or circumstances (disability, complicated injuries or the need for intricate/delicate work) I can get quite spirited about the treatment.
One of the reasons I love complementary therapies, and my job, is the versatility of it. Working out what is the most effective treatment to achieve the results requested by the client.
I am very grateful to have the opportunity to work with people in this way.
I am also extremely blessed to have a career/job that I love.
My two favourite treatments to do are the hot stone back, neck and head massage treatment and the Emmett Technique. Mostly because or the reactions I receive after I have done them. With the hot stone back, neck and head massage people feel they have to pull themselves off the table. I have had more people fall asleep during that treatment than any other treatment.
With the Emmett technique it is the most astounding reactions. People who have been in pain for such a long time feel a huge difference. Others who haven't been able to lift their arms/ move their legs properly in years can do so. Love it!
Happy 4th Birthday Willow!
It's our birthday! On the 3rd of May Willow Massage Centre has officially been open for 4 years. We are so glad and grateful to have made it 4 years. Particularly in this economic climate.
One of the reasons we feel that we have made it this far is due to the passion we have for the work that we do. Massage therapy is a beautiful and rewarding job. To see people in pain, unable to move, or stressed up to their eyeballs, float our of the centre makes it all worth while.
This month we would like for you to get to know the staff at Willow Massage Centre, why we do what we do, and our favourite massage treatments.
Each week for this month we will be introducing them to you, to let you know which therapist is the best choice for your body management.
Your friendly Aromatherapist and holistic therapy enthusiast