Monday 10 January 2022

Trigger Points.....those 'ouchy' points

As a massage therapist releasing trigger points is an important part of my treatments for reducing client’s pain and promoting muscles to regain their full function. So what are they and how do they work… here I’ll try to explain my understanding of them….

What is a Trigger Point?

Below is a great explanation given by one of the leading founders of trigger point therapy and also quoted by my excellent teachers at Jing Massage Training school in their recent book: 
A trigger point is described as a “A hyper irritable spot in skeletal muscle that is associated with a hypersensitive palpable nodule in a taut band. The spot is painful on compression and can give rise to characteristic referred pain, referred tenderness and autonomic phenomena (Simons et al 1999, P.5, Quoted In Fairweather and Mari, 2015)
These trigger points form when muscles are used repetitively for extended periods of time or the muscle is held in a shortened position for too long, such as sitting for long periods of time. As the muscle is held in this shortened position for too long, these tight areas form and they are no longer able to release themselves in the usual way. These trigger points can be as tiny as a grain of sugar or rice, they are usually found in the belly of a muscle or at their attachment point and can cause excruciating pain. This pain can be felt as deep, aching, sharp or stabbing in quality. When a trigger point is present in a muscle, there will often be other areas of tension around that muscle too, so releasing the whole area is needed. 

Primary trigger points are active and cause pain when pressed and then secondary trigger points often occur due to the primary trigger point. Latent trigger points can also be present and these sit in the muscle but do not cause any pain, but do still cause a restriction in the muscle fibre due to the tightness that is present and these can later become re-activated following a trauma or injury. 

Trigger point pain patterns

When trigger points were first fully researched by Dr Janet Travell who was a pioneer in her field, it was discovered that each trigger point has its own unique pain pattern. This means that when pain is present in a certain area of the body, by using this knowledge you have a good indication of where a trigger point may be present. In more recent years scientific studies have taken place to further underpin the knowledge on trigger point pain patterns. 

Here are some examples of common trigger points found in the body and their resulting pain pattern….. 

Trigger points in the trapezius muscle can cause pain into the back of the neck and also around the side of your head. Often people experiencing headaches will have trigger points in their Trapezius muscle. 

Trapezius side view
Trapezius back view

The muscles in the side of the neck, called the Scalenes, can cause pain down your arm and into your thumb and first two fingers very much like carpel tunnel syndrome. 


Lower back pain can be a result of trigger points deep into your side, in your Quadratus Lumborum (QL for short) which can result in pain felt in your lower back and is the number one muscle for lower back pain. 


It’s important to say that not all the trigger points may be present at one time, but this shows where each individual one will likely be producing pain. It’s really interesting to see where the tension is actually held compared to where you might be feeling pain.  

Treatment of Trigger Points

Having manual work done on the muscle to reduce active trigger points feels so good, it reduces pain and increases range of motion. When working on trigger points, it’s not about how painful it is and the old saying ‘no pain, no gain’ just isn’t the case with trigger points. If it feels too painful then the brain will automatically think there is a danger and will tense the muscle further.  This is an involuntary reaction within the body. Therefore when working on trigger points, you do not want to feel any pain over a 6 or 7 out of 10 (where 1 is no pain at all, and 10 is excruciating pain). Therefore if the pain felt is about a 3 or 4 the trigger point is more likely to release. 

Releasing trigger points yourself

If you would like to help release trigger points on yourself, self-massage over the tender area with a tennis ball/spiky ball or your hands and really focus on any tender spots is a great way to help them release. Don’t overwork the area and only hold direct pressure on a trigger point for 8 to 12 seconds, otherwise it can become more irritable. Carrying out some simple stretching to the affected area is another great way to help tight muscles to release and holding a stretch for between 30 – 60 seconds gives your body and mind time to relax. 

If you have any questions or want to know more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me, to discuss your requirements.  Also, I want to acknowledge and say thanks for Jing Massage School for teaching me and passing on all these important lessons about the body and it's functions. 

Fascia Explained…so what’s that all about????

Just before covid, back in 2019, I was in Brighton for another part of my BTEC course and it was all about Fascia. Using fascial techniques can be such a powerful part of a treatment which can hold the key to releasing people’s long term pain. It’s only in recent years that scientific studies have been carried out and new knowledge is being gained.

So you might never have heard of I’ll try to explain as simply as I can! Within our body we have 3D connective tissue surrounding every cell, organ and bone in our body. It's like a fluid silken body suit that connects all structures to each other and keeps us all together. 
Strain in one area of the fascial 'silken body suit' can be transmitted to elsewhere in the body (Fairwheather, Mari, 2015)
Fascia becomes important in pain conditions because for us to have the maximum body function our fascia needs to be able to glide and move freely. As we move it needs to glide in order to let our muscles expand and stretch and for movement to occur. However if one area of the fascia becomes restricted perhaps due to bad posture or scar tissue then this will not move freely and may cause pain and discomfort. Because the fascia is restricted it doesn’t let our body move as freely as it would like.

There is a great video on Youtube which describes how this works too which is worth a watch to understand better -

Also, I’ve attended various online training courses with Functional Fascial run by Julian Baker who is an expert in the field. He carries out dissections of cadavers to learn more about how the fascia is intrinsic in our body functionality.  I have learnt so much about the way our body works as one whole system, in synchronicity, rather than as individual parts. Anatomy has previously been taught as individual muscles, bones, joints etc and now it’s being discovered how we are connected by fascia and work as one system.  This is called Biotensegrity, where the movement of one area will affect another. 

Working with the fascia

Releasing fascial restrictions can be done by a variety of direct and indirect fascial techniques which help the fascia to unwind and let go of it’s tension. Working on these tight fascial areas can sometimes feel like burning or pins and needles as the tissues are ‘stuck’ but as they release you will feel the gentle ‘letting go’ and sometimes you’ll take a deep breath or sigh with the release. Fascial release techniques are mostly slow as the tissues take time to melt and release, so as a therapist you need to tune into your client and wait to feel the tissues move under your hands. It takes practice to feel the subtle movement under your hands. 

Fascia and our emotions

Our fascia also holds lots of emotional memories in it's structure and this can also affects its function. This explains how our emotions, our life events and traumas can affect our body’s function later in life. If you think about when we receive bad news or something scary happens to us, we tense up or feel a knot in our stomach and this tension can be held for years to come within our fascial system. Sometimes if you think back to a traumatic time, you may feel pain within your body too. 

When we work with the fascia to release any tightness this can sometimes lead to a simultaneous emotional release as we let go of old trauma or emotions. It can sometimes come as a surprise but can also be very liberating to release old emotions that we have been holding onto for too long. I’m sure some of you have felt emotional or lighter after you have had a massage, as your body would have been releasing and letting go of some of these held emotions.

I incorporate fascial work into most of my massages at the start of each session and when needed, to help give your body more ease of movement and release these tight restrictions held. Feeling the tissues melt and release is always a good feeling for both myself as a therapist and the client. 

If you have any questions or would like to know more, please do get in contact.

Tuesday 21 July 2020

Covid-19 Policy

Here are guidelines issued by my governing body, which I will be adhering to with my best ability.

Adhering to guidelines

Throughout this pandemic, I am following guidelines issued by the government, NHS, other relevant authorities and my professional association, the Complementary Health Professionals, regarding safe and hygienic practice and the use of any personal protective equipment (PPE).

COVID-19 Risk Assessment

I have carried out a full risk assessment, in line with guidance from the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in order to:

  • identify what work activity or situations might cause transmission of the virus;
  • think about who could be at risk;
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be exposed; and to
  • act to remove the activity or situation, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk.

Health screening

Prior to seeing any of my clients, I will be:
  • Monitoring my own health and deferring treatments if I have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Contacting clients 48 hours in advance and deferring any treatments if: 
  • You have COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19; 
  • You are clinically extremely vulnerable and shielding; 
  • Anyone in your household has COVID-19 or symptoms of COVID-19; 
  • You have been in close contact with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 in the past 14 days; 
  • If you have been contacted by the NHS Test and Trace Service and told to self isolate.
Please call and postpone your treatment on the morning of your appointment if you have a temperature or other symptoms of COVID-19.

Enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures

I have introduced enhanced cleaning and hygiene measures between clients, which includes washing and disinfecting any non-porous surfaces and therapy equipment, such as chairs and couch, and replacing any non-porous or single-use items, such as towels and couch roll. Strict personal hygiene measures will also be adhered to, including regular handwashing/sanitising.

Adapting or restricting treatments

It may be necessary for me to adapt or restrict certain treatments, in order to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 and/or protect my clients’ health and safety. Any clients likely to be impacted will be advised as soon as possible.

Maintaining social distancing

Please note that while my treatments involve close contact, I will be observing social distancing measures wherever possible. This might include, for example, maintaining an appropriate distance during the consultation process, and when arriving and leaving for an appointment.

Cancellations policy

Please cancel your treatment if you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or you have knowingly been exposed during the last 14 days. If a treatment is cancelled or deferred at short notice because you have COVID-19 the cancellation fee will be waivered.

If you have any questions or would like to discuss any aspect of your treatment, please contact me.

Thursday 30 April 2020

Healthy mind and body thoughts

As we move further into this pandemic of Covid-19, our lives have all changed in some form or other. Many people are now working from home or staying at home either alone or with family and children. Others are still working harder than normal to continue providing a service to those in need. Thank you to all those amazing people who are providing much-needed support in the community, health care and volunteer services.

Life is currently unusual, it has changed and we are all adapting to this new way of living each day. We are creating new routines and self care to get through this time and I wanted to give you some really positive things to try to incorporate into your daily life. Self care and looking after yourself is one of the most important things you can do for yourself to keep well during this time.

Take a breath

Making time to just stop for a few minutes each day, take a few deep breaths and really appreciate how you are feeling. Make some time for yourself, get comfortable, close your eyes and just breathe. Notice your breath. Take time to feel your emotions and how that feels within your body. It’s much easier to cope with your emotions if you notice how you are feeling and deal with them rather than push them back inside and carry on. There are some great guided meditations on apps and Youtube which can help you to relax and keep focused. At first, you may think of all the other things you could be doing, but taking some time to stop and notice your breath and thoughts can be really grounding and relaxing.

Movement throughout the day

Do you get a chance to move around much during your day? Try to get your body moving during the day and try not to sit for too long in one position. Take regular breaks from the computer or from sitting down as your body will start to stiffen up with lack of movement. You could make reminders or schedule tea breaks during the day so that you remember to move about. During these breaks, stretch the body and loosen up tight areas. You could also try to incorporate movement by doing something you really enjoy such as gardening, dancing, home workouts, yoga or walking. Don’t make it a chore, by choosing to do something you really enjoy you will get lots of pleasure from it and feel happy after.

Mindful Eating

It seems like baking and cooking is giving people lots of joy and happiness at the moment which is great to see. Make sure you are not over-consuming through boredom and ask yourself ‘am I just bored or actually hungry?’ before you eat another biscuit or slice of cake! Whenever possible also try to eat healthy and nutritious food to help keep your body fuelled with lots of good vitamins and minerals.

Keeping in Touch

Keeping in contact with others and maintaining communications with people is so important for our well being. It’s good to pick up the phone, write an email or send a text message to the people in your life. Sometimes you will reconnect with people you haven’t spoken to for a while and rekindle friendships. We all need to stay connected with friends, family and our wider community and this helps us all remember that we are cared for and keeping contact can mean so much to us all. Hearing or seeing a friendly face can lift your spirits and help your well being so much. 

Staying Positive 

My heart goes out to all those who have lost their life due to this terrible virus and all the people who are working so tirelessly to help minimise the fatalities. To think that the whole world is going through the same thing and we are all in this together can be very overwhelming and sad. Watching the news and reading social media too often can create a feeling of despair and sadness. Try to limit when you look at news, so that you don’t become overwhelmed. If you can, try to look at the positives and find something to be happy about each day. You could keep a gratitude diary, and write the things you are grateful for each day. Anything big or small can be added to your diary such as the birds singing in your garden, seeing the sunshine, eating a delicious meal or talking to a friend and is a great way to notice the good things in your life and shift to a more positive outlook. 

Stop comparing

Everyone is different. We all feel differently and cope in different ways. Some have mental health issues, medical issues, family or money worries. Everyone is finding their own way of coping, so be kind and thoughtful as we don’t always know the full story about somebody. Some people may find doing lots of exercise the only way to cope and others may feel pain just walking into the kitchen. Some may need to get outside every day for their mental health and others maybe putting themselves out to help people in need. Having all this time to think and reflect on life can be difficult and some hard decisions may be needed to be taken, so be kind to people who may be suffering on the inside whilst this is going on. Everyone is trying to do the best for the current situation they find themselves in and cope in the best way possible.

Tuesday 24 March 2020

Grounding exercises for worry, stress or anxiety

I wanted to give you some ideas about how to ground yourself. If your mind is racing or you are worrying, grounding brings you back to the here and now and can be helpful with feeling overwhelmed or anxious.

Using visualisations and noticing your body can help keep you to calm down quickly and bring you back to the present moment. When we are full of worry and feeling anxious this can be really helpful.

As a massage therapist, I use these techniques all the time and these now feel normal to me, as I have to protect myself during sessions with my clients to ensure I don’t end up taking on everyone’s emotions or burning myself out.

We are taught good grounding before and after every treatment at Jing Massage training, and it’s something I really connect with. 

Using information from the Jing Massage Fusion book written by the wonderful teachers Rachel Fairweather and Meghan S Mari here is a way to ground yourself:

  • Sit or stand in a comfortable position and feel your feet connecting to the floor.
  • Feel that connection and imagine roots growing from the bottom of your feet and going down into the earth. Take time, don’t rush just feel those feelings.
  • On the in-breath imagine you are drawing up light, warmth and energy into your belly.
  • On the out-breath imagine that energy is shooting up our spine, down your arms and out of your hands.
  • Focus on your breathe and be still for a moment.

Other ways to stay in the present moment are looking around you and notice what you can see, try to name 3 things that you see around you.

Listen to what you can hear and feel around you, and really focus on what they are.

Wiggle your fingers and toes or really focus on a part of your body and describe how it feels at that moment.

I hope that the above techniques can be of assistance to you and if you start to feel overwhelmed or anxious at any time, please try one of these techniques to see if this can help you relax.

Take care everyone, Emma xx

(Fairweather, R. and Mari. MS., 2015. Massage Fusion The Jing Method for the treatment of chronic pain)

Friday 25 November 2016

Beautiful new therapy room for you to relax in

I’m really pleased to announce the opening of my new therapy room. I have created a lovely calm and tranquil space for you to rest and rejuvenate during your chosen holistic treatments. The good news for all my existing clients is that I haven’t moved building, just upstairs!  

For all those who haven’t visited the salon, it’s called Complexions Beauty and is based in Lowford, Southampton. Full address details can be found on the appointments page of my website. 

I’ve been based at Complexions since May 2014 and I’m delighted to have a dedicated room for providing holistic treatments. With a warm welcome and friendly lovely staff, it’s a pleasure to be part of the team.

Please take a look at the photos, I hope you like what you see and I really look forward to treating you there soon.

For your comfort, I have invested in an electric massage couch which helps you to easily get on and off and is kept nice and cosy with a warm electric blanket keeping you toasty during your treatment. Obviously if you don’t like the warmth I can turn it off, but most people just melt into the bed and don’t want to leave! 

If I haven’t seen you before, take a peak at the treatments I offer which include back massage; full body massage; hot stones massage and Reiki. If anything takes your fancy and you would like to book in or discuss any questions please get in contact with me. 

Warm wishes, Emma x

Monday 30 November 2015

Pre-blended Aromatherapy Oils

Below is a short summary of each of the pre-blended aromatherapy oils I currently have on offer to give you that extra pamper during your massage treatment. 

The oils I'm using are finest cold pressed and pure essential oils made by Naturally Thinking which are synthetic free, naturally scented and luxury. 100% pure oil, no added preservatives, chemicals or dispersants, contain organic cold pressed ingredients.

Calm & Tranquillity Massage Oil

Bring peace and tranquillity to body and mind, allow your mind to relax and escape from the humdrum of life with this beautiful blend of Lavender, Frankincense, Sandalwood Almond and Jojoba which promotes relaxation, nourishes the skin and calms the mind.

Ingredients: Sweet Almond seed, Jojoba Seed, Vitamin E, Lavender flower, Frankincense resin, Sandalwood.

Renewed Energy Massage Oil

A complete recharge to body and mind this uplifting blend of Bergamot refreshes, invigorates and re-focuses the mind, and blended with vibrant Australian Eucalyptus oil and Wild Thyme helps stimulate the body into action too.

Ingredients: Grapeseed, Bergamot peel, Thyme herb, Lavender flower, Eucalyptus leaf, Neroli flower.

Original Carshalton Lavender Massage Oil 

Rich therapeutic tones of pure indulgence this oil is bliss for the skin and mind, a deeply calming and relaxing blend of Lavender helps sooth dry skin, ease tension and stress and is wonderfully nourishing to the skin.

Ingredients: Organic Sweet Almond, Organic Jojoba, Original Carshalton Lavender™ Oil, Vitamin E.

Muscles Massage Oil

Naturally easing muscle rub for sore muscles, relieves tensions, aches and pains, warms muscles and helps with toxin removal. Helpful for those suffering anxiety and tension by assisting with relaxation and mind clearing.

Ingredients: Sunflower seed, Grape seed, Clary Sage, Sage leaf, Lavender flower, Rosemary flower, Black Pepper fruit, Vitamin E.

Signature Base Massage Oil 

Divine skin nourishing oil, this anti-oxidant burst of sunshine is rich in Sea buckthorn providing an antioxidant charge for the skin, aids skin recovery and repair and deeply moisturise's the skin giving a natural glow. The oil can temporarily colour your skin due to the rich nature of Sea buckthorn oil, but it truly is worth the long term skin benefits.

Ingredients: Sweet Almond seed, Sea Buckthorn fruit, Argan, Vitamin E.

If you have any feedback or questions relating to the oils I'm using then please do get in touch with me.

For further information about the above oils and their benefits please see the Naturally Thinking website:

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