Whilst scrolling through Instagram this morning I came across this video of a man moving his scapulas (shoulder blades), His comment under the video is true it does feel 'awesome' to really move our scapulas. Most of us only move them a fraction of their full movement range each day and overtime, with limited movement, the fascia and muscles fibres surrounding the scapula can become stiff and stuck.
What is the Scapula?
The scapula is a relatively flat bone which joins to the humerus, the bone in our upper arm and it connects to the clavicle, the shoulder blade. These three bones create the shoulder. We have two scapulae, one for each shoulder. These images taken from Essential Anatomy 5 show how the scapula and humerus rest together at the ball and socket shoulder joint, the glenohumeral joint. The clavicle rests just above this joint. The medial edge of the scapula, which is the edge closest to the spine, moves freely. This movement creates the shoulders movement.
Which muscles move the scapula?
Amazingly, there are eighteen muscles which join to the scapula and which are responsible for its imovement which creates the movement of your shoulder and upper arm.
The images below show the layering of the muscles, and how they attach to the bones, scapula (shown in green), the humerus and the clavicle.
Posterior view of the shoulder
Telling children a calming story whilst giving them a massage at the same time is a lovely way to strengthen the bond between you and your child. The one to one aspect of the interaction can also boost their self esteem by increasing their feeling of being loved and therefore improve their feeling of self worth. It teaches them about positive touch and is also just fun, nurturing and relaxing. Always ask their permission first and keep checking that it feels nice and the touch isn't to firm.
Here are four examples of story massage you could try.
Touch - The mother of all senses
Our skin is our largest sense organ which makes us incredibly responsive to the world around us in both positive and negatives ways. The very first sense we experience is touch, we are bathed in our mother's warm amniotic fluid and we feel our mother's womb lining and insides before we experience any other sense.
In recent years research has also been carried out exploring benefits of touch and massage therapy
The effects of massage on preterm babies
Further research for preterm infants has been collated by the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA) who conclude that "Over the 6-week period, the massage therapy infants gained more weight, showed greater improvement on emotionality, sociability, and soothability temperament dimensions and ... Infants receiving massage showed fewer sleep delay behaviours and had a shorter latency to sleep."
The benefits of massage for pregnant women
Regular massage has also been shown to be beneficial in pregnant women. Studies have shown regular massage is reported to decrease depression, anxiety, leg and back pain, and reduce cortisol levels in pregnant women. One study into the effect of massage on depressed women concluded that by the end of the study the women 'had higher dopamine and serotonin levels and lower levels of cortisol and norepinephrine' and noted the benefits to the developing child.
The benefits of massage for adults
Their research has reported massage therapy can reduce levels of anxiety, reduce depression, improve sleep, increase serotonin and dopamine levels. They have also found massage can help improve sleep for people with lower back pain. In suffers from Chronic Fatigue Immune Deficiency syndrome massage was shown to reduce pain, depression and levels of cortisol. Migraine sufferers reported fewer distress symptoms.
Research into the effects of massage throughout life
Have you felt the benefits of massage? Please let me know what they are in the comments below.
If you're feeling that you have a lot to do but little time to do it here a list of things you should try to help stay calm and stop the stress from kicking in. I have chosen things which only take a few mins (15 max), don't require you to go and buy lots of things in the shops and might make you feel a bit silly. They are a bit silly because you need to smile while you do them and preferably do them with a friend but on your own is great too, as smiling to yourself works wonders, They may seem silly activities but they have a serious aim which is to promote calm and reduce or prevent anxiety. As you read the list try to imagine where and when you could do each one and who you could rope in to doing it with you.
Please don't use your screens when you are doing these activities unless they are specifically required for guidance.
Legs up again the wall
What to do
- Choose a wall, invite someone to join you, lie down and put your feet up against the wall. Get your bottom reasonably close to the wall so wriggle it in. Don't judge yourself if you find it hard because you're a bit stiff just applaud yourself for trying. What ever wonky angle you end up that's fine. Pop a pillow under your lower back if it needs support.
- Open your arms out wide.
- Smile at how silly you look, point your toes, then try to get your toes to touch your knee caps, slowly rotate your ankles and then just be still for at least 5 minutes. (It's OK to have a chat with your legs up partner but only if it's not about serious stuff).
- Smile again at yourself as you get up or stretch out to sleep.
Please note: Beds and pyjamas are great for this due to cosiness, but office walls are good too!
- you are focusing on you, your body and the present which is great for stilling the mind
- you are taking the pressure off your hips and your overworked postural muscles.
- it gently stretches the muscles in your neck which can help relieve tension.
- you are helping your blood return to your heart helping circulation
- it soothes swollen ankles - lymph can flow back towards your trunk which also benefits your immune system.
- it opens the chest which encourages deeper breathing.
- you are hopefully smiling and maybe even laughing which is obviously great for your happiness and inner calm.
- flexing you feet, stretches your hamstrings which can get tight from sitting a long time.
Important - do not look at screens while you are in this position so you can fully switch off.
2/ Blow the cobwebs away - Go for a mindful walk
So walk fast outside today and as you walk notice things. Really look at the colours around you, listen to the sounds. You may be walking through nature or just through the streets on your way home from work but look for things that make you smile. It may be a building, a bit of graffiti, a tree, a flower, something someone is wearing, the colour of the sky, the coldness of the air or a cat which comes out to say hello as you walk past. If you are walking with someone, point out the silly little things that bring your joy. If you are on your own acknowledge it quietly with a smile.
- see infographic
- walking mindfully settles the mind and calms the body
- smiling releases endorphins which reduce stress and make us happier (fake smiles do this too)
3/ Increase your energy with 3 breathing exercises
What to do
- sit on the floor cross legged (with a friend), prop your screen up so you can see it, press play, join in with Gigi Yogini and smile.
4/ Tennis Ball Shoulder Self Massage
Shoulder tension does not help your levels of calm or your posture. This activity can look a bit silly but it can help get that tension between the shoulder blades and takes less than 10 minutes.
What to do
- Put a tennis ball (or any small ball) in the toe of a sock with an ankle.
- Put your back to the wall and dangle the ball over your shoulder in the sock.
- Learn on the ball, roll it around over the tense areas. Stop on the areas where you feel a satisfying pain (good pain). If the pain makes you wince learn with less pressure.
- Hold on the pressure on that one spot until the pain becomes less (about 80% less), relax and breathe deeply while you wait. It can take a couple minutes or a few seconds.
- Move the affected muscles after applying pressure.
- Only work on a few knots in one session.
- reduction of pain can reduce stress
- bringing movement to an area can improve posture
- smiling releases happy endorphins
5/ Tea Bag Meditations
Teabags on eyes? Please remember most of the challenges I have chosen are slightly silly but they have a serious purpose. Please go with this one, it may surprise you!
What to do?
You need 2 cold steeped caffinated teabags (so not the ones in my picture!), a comfy place to lie down and 5-10 minutes of quiet.
Lie down and get comfortable and then place the teabags on your eyes. notice how they feel. Notice where they sit on your eyes and their temperature. Say to yourself 'Thank you eyes for what your do'. Smile at yourself lying there with teabags on your eyes and for the calming feeling it brings.
Scan the areas of the face, feeling how they feel and say thank you to each part. Remember to smile.
Don't judge yourself if your mind wanders, or something feels achy, just bring your mind back and continue scanning the rest of your body and saying thank you to it, finishing at your feet. Take your time and don't miss anything out.
Once you have reached you feet, notice the feeling of your body on the floor/bed and then bring your mind gradually back to the teabags.
Gently remove the teabags, open your refreshed eyes slowly and enjoy the feeling of calm in your body. Smile.
- Supposedly the tannins in the tea are meant to reduce eye puffiness by stimulating the blood circulation and tightening the skin. I am not sure about this but the weight of the teabag, the cold of the teabag and the moisture of the teabag feels incredibly relaxing and refreshing. It's pressure on the eyes seems to help me drop in to relaxation for the body scan more quickly.
- Increases body awareness.
- Encourages positive thinking and calmness
It's probably best not to do this at bed time as you may fall asleep and wake up lying on a broken wet tea bag!
After you have done your teabag relaxation. Prepare two teabags for a friend/family member. Explain to them what to do. They will probably laugh at you to begin, laugh too as teabags on eyes is silly. But then tell them how it felt and how beneficial it was. Get them to lie down, place the bags on their eyes and leave them to it with a lovely feeling of knowing you have helped someone else be calm.
6/ Give your hands a massage
Hands love to be massaged and cared for, it is also very restful for your mind. If you are massaging your hands you can't do anything else and you have to be mindful of their different elements which is very relaxing in itself.
What to do
- Watch the video below first
- Then sit down somewhere comfortable and warm with some hand cream (any moisturiser will do, even olive oil)
- Spend at least 5 minutes massaging and exploring your hands. Do a little on one hand and then on the other. Remember to explore each element of your hands, experiment with different pressure and take your time. Don't ask yourself 'Am I doing it right?' There is no right and wrong way.
- Remember to appreciate your hands as you massage them and don't forget to smile at them and breathe deeply.
- mindful self care encourages calm and relaxation which reduces stress and which can support your immune system.
- massage stimulates circulation which helps keeps muscles and body tissues healthy.
- massage can help improve range of movement.
7/ Do something relaxing for someone else - give someone a hand massage
What to do
- You will hopefully have watched the self hand massage video from the previous day (Day 6) and practised on yourself.
- Now watch this video. It's about 15 minutes but you can skip through it to get the basics (please do smile to yourself about the whispering!)
- Choose a willing victim and make sure you are both sitting comfortably. Resting the hand on a table may help. Be positive and encourage them to be positive about your efforts. As before, you can use any hand cream, moisturiser or oil.
- Try to remember the things that were in the video but really just explore their hands and all their amazing lumps and bumps. Be gentle, take your time, keep checking that the pressure you are using is not to firm for them and smile.
- Please make sure all screens are turned off.
- At the end ask them how their hand feels and enjoy their response.
- Giving something to someone else can boost your happiness levels.
- Massage done slowly and carefully can be relaxing for the receiver and the giver.
- Togetherness and time without screens can boost happiness levels, calm and conversation.
- Massage can help circulation and reduce stress.
Please note the hand massage should take at least about 5 minutes per hand.
If there is no one available for you to give a hand massage to, just take a long hot bath and give yourself another hand massage.
Local experiences make great presents
Bristol has lots of types of experience gifts which will be loved by the creative the musical, the energetic, and the lover of tasty things. I have compiled a list to help you with your pressie shopping. I have tried to provide experiences across the price ranges from under a tenner to a few hundred pounds.
The Gift of Creativity
1/ Creative Glass Guild, in St Phillips, Bristol, have lots of different courses glass techniques, mosaic, fused glass, copper foiling, stained glass and glass engraving, for example their
Fused Glass Taster Day, Stained Glass Taster Day and their Build your own terranium course (each at £99).
If you know a creative person but don't want to choose a course for them you can buy a gift voucher from their website so they can choose their own.
Indigo dye workshop (1 day) £26.50
Clay Modelling the Figure (1 day) £40
Hypnotherapy for happiness (1 day) £27.50
Swing Dance workshop (1 day) £8.40
3 Stacking Rings course for £60 (based on 4 people sharing)
Beginners silver jewelley course for £160
Make your own wedding rings for £300+
Cushion Making (40)
Sabina's Sewing Bee (£90 for 5 weeks) - for all abilities but a basic ability with the sewing machine is needed for these sessions.
The gift of well-being, exercise or beauty
10/ Stop For A Massage based in Horfield, Bristol offers bespoke holistic massage for women's well-being (including massage tailored for pregnancy). Sessions of 30, 60 or 90 minutes are available. A free 15 minute consultation is provided for each new client so they can receive the best possible massage for them. A session can provide deep and superficial tissue massage. Gift vouchers are available to buy from the website and will be automatically emailed to the purchaser or recipient.
Yoga Essentials For Home Practise £32 - learn yoga postures and breathing techniques suitable for home practice routines.
Birth Preparation Full Day Workshop - please see the course description on their website. £75 for one or £130 with your partner
A gift of cooking, drinking or eating out
21/ Clifton Cellars in Clifton offer a variety of wine tasting courses from £25 to £150 depending on the depth of knowledge you require.
Sunday Roast Subscription, Meat Free Magic Subscription, Date Night Subscription and World Kitchen Explorer Subscription
You can also book to attend their Curry Legend Workshop for £45 or buy gift vouchers for their How to be a curry legend event £75. The Spicery has links with Refugee Action and Bristol Refugee Rights
Original Stokes Croft Tour
South Of The River Tour
Vegan Stokes Croft Tour
If your not sure which date or which tour to buy as a gift just buy them gift voucher and let them choose for themselves.
Why come to me, at Stop For A Massage, for a massage?
Your massage plan might include some deep tissue work, some mobilisation and some massage for relaxation. It might involve me working in a few different areas of your body with you lying on your back and on your front. I always ask if there are any areas of the body you feel uncomfortable about having massaged. For some people the thought of having their feet touched would be horrendous for others it's heaven. Some people are very conscious about exposing their bodies at all and would never want to expose their legs. The initial consultation gives you the chance to tell me your worries and concerns so that I can avoid any 'no go' areas, so I can hopefully put you at ease. My aim is to make you feel as comfortable, relaxed and cared for as possible so you can enjoy and benefit from the massage.
After the massage we can discuss further ways you can continue to develop the health of your muscles and connective tissues.
Although you will not receive a 15 minute consultation before further massages it will always be important to quickly discuss how things have changed from your last massage and what you would like to get from the current massage.
Why have a few massages?
One of the things I ask in the initial consultation is how stressed you are. We all know that stress can have a hugely damaging affect on our bodies. When we are stressed our brain tells many the parts of our bodies to work much harder because it thinks we are under attack from an external source. Stress can cause us to hold our bodies in unnatural positions which can gradually affect our posture. Permanently tense muscles can also put pressure on nerves which can lead to nerve pain. All of these things can have an exhausting and damaging affect on us if we stay stressed for a long period of time. It can also begin to affect our sleep because our brain thinks we are still under threat and therefore it will not let us relax properly. Our brain in chronic stress will also release hormones to slow or even shut some systems down such as the digestion and the immune system. Many people are a bit shocked when their stomachs start to gurgle loudly when they have a massage. Never be embarrassed by this, it is a lovely sign that your body's parasympathetic nervous system is taking over and you are beginning to truly relax. So please marvel at the wonder of your loudly gurgling tummy! The potential benefits of massage are therefore clear - relax the mind as well as the muscles so that your body can operate more effectively. If your body has been in a state of chronic stress, one massage can be beneficial but a series of massages can have a greater impact on your body and mind.
You may come for a massage one week where you have many aches and pains you'd like relieving wanting deep work in a specific area but another week you may come having had a horrendously draining and exhausting experience. In which case you can receive a nurturing massage to help you feel grounded and supported.
If you would like to read more about a session with me please see my 'What to expect' page or to read more about what massage means to me please see my 'About me' page.
Our brains are 80% water.
Our blood is 92% water.
Our skeletal muscles are 70% water.
We know that it is important to keep the body and brain hydrated by drinking approximately 8 glasses of water 8 times a day (depending on body size) to keep our bodies in a wonderful state of hydration.
When we are hydrated we can think more effectively and be more creative. We all know that feeling of confusion and that headache that comes over us when we've not drunk enough. The days we make an effort to drink a big glass of water when we get up in the morning seem to start better and we function more effectively because we have begun the day by hydrating our brains and body.
So carry a water bottle and stay hydrated. I have discovered this brilliant website and app, refillbristol.org.uk, which shows you where you can get your water bottle refilled in Bristol so you don't need to buy single use plastic water bottles. Click on the map and it shows the businesses around you where you can get a refill.
There are lots of places on the Gloucester Road: Boston Tea Party, Yoga West, The Family Practice, Cafe Ronak, The Fish Shop, Grape and Grind, La Ruca, Harvest Bristol, Blue Lagoon, Gallimaufry, The Urban Standard and The Bishops. Many more refill spots can be found all over Bristol too.
If you haven't got your own personal bottle yet perhaps now is the time to get one. Gloucester Road Central has lots to choose from the insulated Corkcicle bottles and the Fire Extinguisher Design with built in straw in Romantica to the Colour Works flip top straw bottles from the Aladdin's cave Pearces Hardware.
So stay hydrated. Help your body and the environment by using a reuseable bottle and the RefillBristol app.
You don’t have to be able to code to build and manage a website. Obviously the experts who can code can build you brilliant ones but they cost money and what if you want to make lots of changes later. If you are just setting up your business do you really know what your website needs? You will probably want to be able to add things and change things as you develop your business, so building it yourself will mean you’ll have the skills and understanding to do that. Google favours websites that have changing content so having the skills to add and improve you website means you will potentially be able to get your website a higher ranking with Google.
If you’re just setting up and are exploring what you want for your website, there are lots of simple website builders that do the hard stuff for you. There are also lots of blogs which compare website builders.I have used website builders Weebly and 1&1 but there are others Wordpress, Wix, Squarespace etc. They are all basically free and as you add more features you start to pay.
Website builders have a choice of theme which you can choose from. Themes have a preset title and content, preset text fonts, colours and picture layout, all you have to do is add your own text and pictures. Whichever theme you choose make sure that it is optimised for mobile. There will be a choice of free themes and some you pay for.
Once you have a theme you can stick with the layout, fonts and colours provided or you can change them to suit your own ideas and design. You can even try out different themes as you go along. You don't need to know any code as all the building is done by dragging and dropping buttons from a menu onto your page.
For example it you want a heading, drag the 'Add heading' button onto the page, a text box will appear and then just type your heading into the box. It will automatically appear in larger font and in the preset colour. To add pictures drag the 'Add image' button on to the page, you are then able to upload images from your laptop or use an image from the Weebly image library.
I have found Weebly really easy to use although you will have to play around a little to start with as you find were everything is.
Weebly features which are free
- a drag and drop website building tool
- choose a free theme and layout from their examples and then add your own text and pictures
- customise their design as much as or as little as you want
- add as many pages to your website as you want
- add videos, embed You tube videos
- access Weebly from an app
- add social media links to your accounts
- add social media Like and Share buttons to each page
- add a map, a contact form, a blog
- add a booking system
- add basic search engine optimisation including Google Analytics
- Email and chat support if you need a bit of help
You can use a Weebly domain name for free eg www.stopforamassage.weebly.com however if you want your own personal domain name eg www.stopforamassage.co.uk you will have to pay. You can start by using the free custom domain while your exploring it and finding out if it's right for you and then upgrade when your ready. It’s normally about £10 a year to secure a .co.uk domain name for 2 years but you will also need to upgrade to the Weebly Starter package, which is approximately £5 a month, so that you can use the domain with your website.
You can get your domain name through Weebly but they seem to cost a bit more. I chose one and was quoted £13.95 a month for 2 years. I then looked at another Domain name site GoDaddy and they quoted £8 for 2 years. Almost half the price but you would then have to link it up with your Weebly account which isn’t complicated but maybe the extra cost would save you the hassle. When you buy a domain you need to pay to keep your personal information private in domain listings, again it is only slightly more to do this through Weebly.
How to connect a GoDaddy domain to a Weebly website Click here
GoDaddy has a domain name search tool so when you are choosing your domain name you can see which ones have been taken and how much each name would cost. You can use this search tool for free. It's quite a good idea to use this tool when your choosing your business name even if you aren't ready to build a website because it's always good to have your business name and website name as similar as possible. Imagine getting your business cards printed and then finding you couldn't get a domain name to match your business name. (You can do this through Weebly too but you seem to have to sign in to Weebly first.) If you want to be really thorough see if people are already using your business name /domain name on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram by doing a quick search on those sites, if you think you will be using them.
Wix is has more templates to choose from that Weebly, it has a more flexible drag and drop tool enabling you to put objects where ever you want on the page whereas Weebly's is more limited and it and it gives you more design features. There are two important features which make me choose Weebly over Wix.
Firstly with Wix which ever theme you choose to use you are stuck with it this means that as you begin to design your website if you realise your theme doesn't suit your evolving ideas you will have to start again completely. If after a year or two you want to modernise by updating your theme you will have to start your website from scratch. In contrast Weebly lets you change your theme as often as you like without it affecting the contents of your website. Business websites need to evolve with the business and I think this feature supports this idea.
Secondly you are unable to access the code in a Wix website whereas Weebly provides access and also enables you to move your website to another website host. This means that you are not tied to Weebly and if in the future you would like someone with coding experience to develop your site further it is possible. This would not be possible with Wix.
The differences between Wix and Weebly are compared further in a review on this comparison website Website Builder Expert.
The great thing about website builders is your website can grow with your business. You could just decide to have two pages to start with and see where you go from there. Weebly is probably the most easy to use of the website builders, you just need to have a little play with it to find out where everything is. If you can build a two page website you will have the necessary understanding of Weebly to easily add extra pages and features as you need them.
Here are some links to some website builder comparison site with their 2017 reviews
With the start of 2017 I have been thinking about my New Year's resolutions. I always try to have one and stick to it but it doesn't always happen but I feel it is worth a go. Whilst wasting time on the internet the other day I came across the Pomodoro Technique website. In Italian a pomodoro is a tomato, the Pomodoro Technique has really nothing to do with tomatoes apart from the fact it uses a timer which is shaped like a tomato.
The technique was developed in the 1980's and may be familiar to you. When you have a task to complete, set the time for 25 minutes and commit to working on the task, uninterruped until the timer rings. Then have a 5 minute break away from the task. If you need to continue with the task after the break, set the timer again and commit again to uninterrupted work.
It's so easy to get distracted by social media, phone calls and messages but there are very few things which can't wait 25 minutes. If you think of something that's urgent jot the thought down and continue working. After four Pomodoro 25 minute sessions the website suggests you need a longer break of 20 to 30 minutes.
Doing the massage course has made me think about my own aches, pains and terrible posture so maybe I could do something to help my body in my short break. This month we have been practising shoulder mobilisation and neck massage to help the aches caused by hunching. After sitting hunched over a screen, book or pile of laundry we all need a stretch to stop the hunch becoming permanent, so I searched out some exercises to help with shoulder mobilisation and posture.
I selected two short You Tube videos. The first video I chose because it covers shoulder mobilisation exercises which are easy to do standing away from a desk and two which could be done sitting down as I to return to work. The second video is an exercise designed by a chiropractor to help with correcting bad posture involving the neck.
I think I will aim to do a few a day and see what happens. Happy New Year.
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