We’re adjusting our prices

We want to let you know we’re adjusting our prices for physiotherapy and massage. You’ll see the changes appear in April 2015, in line with the new tax year (and you can find out more information below).

Over the last 3 years, we’re proud to have provided excellent treatment and evidence-based care to thousands of people in Glasgow and the surrounding area at competitive and fair prices, and we will continue to do so with your support.

Thank you for being part of our journey so far.

 

The First Class Physiotherapy Team

 

 

Initial Assessment –  £45 (unchanged)

Follow-up treatment – £40

Deep tissue massage – 30 minutes   £32

– 60 minutes   £50

Swedish massage – 30 minutes   £29

– 60 minutes   £45

Are you looking for a new challenge?

First Class Physiotherapy is an innovative multi-disciplinary private practice in Glasgow city centre.

 

We are looking for part-time Chartered Physiotherapists to join our dynamic team at First Class Physiotherapy.

The ideal candidate will be hard working and interested in private practice. He/she should be competent working on their own initiative and keen to learn and develop their skills in private practice.

 

The case load is variable and includes spinal, sports injuries and rehabilitation. Shift times are flexible, but ideally the candidate would be available to work 4-8 hours over 5 days.

 

If you are interested please send your CV and details to info@firstclassphysio.co.uk. If you have any questions or would like more information please feel free to contact either Rachel or Jennifer on 0141 237 2721 or at info@firstclassphysio.co.uk.

 

Closing date: 5pm on Monday 10th November 2014

Interviews will take place between 24th and 28th November 2014.

We’re moving

We are moving!

As some of you may be aware we are moving premises.

Over the last few months we have been working hard to find the perfect space for a bigger and better clinic and we have finally found one.

From 27th October we will be working from our new office in the Standard Building, 94 Hope Street. To find us in the building, make your way up to the 2nd floor, through the door at the top of the stairs and follow the corridor around to the left to Suite 2.11.

We will still be contactable on the same numbers and email address after the move.

T: 0141 23 72 721                                    M: 07730 45 99 88
E: info@firstclassphysio.co.uk              W: www.firstclassphysio.co.uk

We look forward to hearing from you soon.

It’s a frozen shoulder… isn’t it?

The pitfalls of self-diagnosis

Ever had a little niggle that just doesn’t seem to go away? Did you give it a name (and I’m not talking Gertrude or Bobby), like “frozen shoulder” or “arthritis”? It’s easy to self-diagnose a problem, especially if you’ve had similar pain before or you know someone with the same symptoms. And although having the occasional pain is one thing, when you’re bothered with a pain that just won’t seem to go away, that’s quite another.

So how can you help yourself? Well, first thing’s first. Get an accurate diagnosis of the problem, that way you can focus your treatment in the right direction.

I’m going to use the shoulder as an example here, to show how easy it is to misdiagnose a problem, and how this can result in symptoms that last a lot longer than they really should.

frozen shoulder pain physio physiotherapy glasgow

http://ow.ly/u19Qp www.moveforwardpt.com

Many people assume that the shoulder pain they have is a frozen shoulder (Sunday name: adhesive capsulitis), either because they know someone with similar symptoms or because their pain has been around for so long that they’ve stopped using that arm as much and now their movement is restricted (or “frozen”).

So what is a frozen shoulder? Found in just under 5% of the general population (although much more common in people with diabetes), it is one of the most common musculoskeletal problems seen by health professionals. Frozen shoulder is the thickening of the underside of the capsule, a supportive and protective soft encasing of the joint. The onset of pain (although it can be brought on by a mild trauma) is usually fairly gradual, and normally only one shoulder is affected at a time. The most typical patient is a female aged 40-60.

*Misdiagnosis point: if you have pain in both of your shoulders, it will most likely not be a frozen shoulder, but could quite possibly be a referred pain from your neck (see our previous blog on referred pain here).

What are the symptoms of frozen shoulder?

The first things you’ll probably notice will be pain (no joke) and a loss of active and passive range of motion. This means you may not be able to move your shoulder fully by yourself, or even if someone was to stretch the joint for you. This phase normally lasts at least 3 months and can take as long as 9 months.

*Misdiagnosis point: sometimes a sore shoulder can be moved throughout range passively (i.e. by someone else), even though it is painful. Unless the stiff phase is experienced, the problem is unlikely to be a frozen shoulder.

Stiffness is one of the other main symptoms, and the stiff or “frozen” phase usually follows the pain phase, lasting anywhere between 4 and 12 months. Usually at this time, pain does start to decrease, and towards the end of the stiff phase, you might find you have no pain at all.

*Misdiagnosis point: if your shoulder pain lingers for longer than 4 months, or worsens rather than improves, it could be a sign that there is more going on than a frozen shoulder. If your pain stays the same for much longer periods of time, it’s worthwhile having it checked out as it could be an impingement (another common shoulder problem).

frozen shoulder pain relief glasgow physio

http://ow.ly/u1bbz www.thebackpainreliefcentre.net

Depending on the stage of your frozen shoulder, treatment will usually involve some pain relief, stretching and specific strengthening around your shoulder and arm. You might also find that you benefit from postural advice and exercises to help you keep your upper body in good condition.

*One important thing to remember is that the exercises which work for someone else may not always work for you. Much like prescription medication: unless it’s been prescribed especially for you, don’t take them as they may do you more harm than good (and prolong your pain). It’s important to get your problem checked by a professional, that way you can embark on the right treatment for you sooner rather than later. And get rid of all those “little niggles” too.

If you’d like to speak with a qualified chartered physiotherapist, or make an appointment with us to have your problem checked out, please call us on 0141 2372 721 or email info@firstclassphysio.co.uk.

Referral scheme – helping you save money!

Have you heard about our referral scheme? For every new client you refer to us, you’ll receive £5 off of a treatment (and they’ll get £5 off their first session too).

£5 offIt can be for any kind of treatment at the clinic – physiotherapy, rehabilitation, massage (even the lovely hot stone massage!) So what are you waiting for? All you have to do is refer a friend who mentions your name (the more the merrier!).

Here come the obligatory Ts&Cs… The £5 is non-transferrable, it applies only once the new client has completed their appointment (at the discounted rate), only one £5 off can be used at each session, and the £5 has no redeemable cash value.

Call us on 0141 2372 721, or email info@firstclassphysio.co.uk to book your appointment.

Let us know if there is a new service you’d like to see at First Class Physiotherapy, or if you’d like more information about the above offer.

All you need to know about… muscle cramps

We’ve all had them. Whether it’s a calf in the second half of a football match,  your fingers after writing or typing all day or toes in the middle of the night (just me?), cramp is something we’ve all experienced. But what causes it? What’s the best way to get rid of it, and how can you avoid it?

cramp, leg pain, physio, physiotherapy, glasgow

http://ow.ly/pSmIQ bbc.co.uk/sportsacademy

What IS cramp?

When we talk about cramp, we are generally referring to the sensation of our muscles tightening up involuntarily, leaving us temporarily paralysed and usually in a lot of pain. Cramp can come on for several reasons and is usually harmless (apart from the excruciating pain, obviously), but it can indicate underlying pathology.

One of the most common areas to cramp is the calf muscle, and 75% of these cramps occur at night time. Many people suffer from this for no apparent reason (this is known as an idiopathic condition), but some people have cramps as a result of a pre-existing condition such as pregnancy, diabetes or liver disease. You might cramp more often if you’ve been exercising excessively during the day, or if you are on certain medications e.g. for high cholesterol or high blood pressure (statins or diuretics).

Some cramps last only a few seconds and happen occasionally, but they can last up to 10 minutes and occur more frequently. If the latter is the case with you, or you are experiencing swelling or numbness along with the cramps, it’s worth visiting your GP.

What causes cramps?

Dehydration is thought to be one of the most common causes, and although we may think we are drinking enough in a day, we could always take on board that extra glass or two.

physio cramps physiotherapy glasgow pain massage

http://ow.ly/pSsVV barttersite.org

A deficiency in salt is also a popular theory for cramping, however this doesn’t necessarily mean you should laden up your chips tonight just in case! Potassium (a mineral which can be found in bananas, spinach, mushrooms, raisins and oranges amongst other foods) is an important missing factor in many people’s diets, and eating a little more each day can reduce cramping.

Fatigue is another common reason for cramp. If you have been doing more exercise than usual during the day, or if the weather has been particularly warm (as it was this lovely summer), it’s natural that your body will sweat more and therefore be losing more water and salts than usual.

As we age, our tendons (attaching muscles to bones) naturally shorten, pulling more on the muscles causing them to tighten, which may be one reason people over 60 experience cramp more often.

To prevent cramps…

There is no guaranteed way of preventing cramps (unless you listen to my Granny, whose cure involving nettle leaves and tuna fish is a sure-fire winner…) but there are ways of reducing the severity and frequency. Try to include some moderate exercise into every day, especially targetted stretching of the affected muscles (i.e. a few calf stretches before bedtime). Walking, taking a flight of stairs here and there, even a few extra stretches when on a break from your desk – but do remember that unusually heavy exercise (relatively) may increase the occurrence.

To combat the dehydration issue, spread your fluid intake throughout the day – having a bottle of water at your desk to sip is a good tip, as is having a glass of water after every time you visit the toilet (not from the toilet I hasten to add). Lots of people don’t like to drink too much before bedtime, so the best advice is to drink as much water as possible throughout the day before dinnertime.

If your cramps are worse at night, make sure your ankles are relaxed when you sleep (in other words, don’t sleep with your toes pointed). Your sheets should also be kept quite loose, to allow your muscles to move.

For those with persistent cramping, your GP might prescribe you medication, but the main methods of preventing cramps (as above) should be exhausted first. If your leg cramps occur during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester, you should find these ease once you’ve had your baby.

What should I do when I get cramp?

Ah, the all important part. With any luck, you’re probably already doing some of the right things to help ease cramp when it does occur, but here is a quick rundown of how to help.

physiotherapy glasgow cramp calf stretch pain physio

http://ow.ly/q0JNG www.webmd.com

First and foremost, try to get the cramping muscles into a stretch (see the picture opposite for a calf stretch). Some people find a standing stretch easier, others ask for help and have someone else flex their ankles for them while they lie on their backs. Having someone assist you is often easier for hamstring (back of the thigh) cramps.

Massage the tight muscles gently to try to release the cramp. Once the cramp has shifted, you might be left with a fatigued and sore muscle which can be massaged properly to help return normal sensation and function.

Use warm water to try to ease the pain and tightness if you can.

If you are concerned about the cramps you’re having, it is worthwhile making an appointment to see your GP. If you’d like to book a physiotherapy appointment, or even book a massage, please get in touch by calling us on 0141 2372 721, or emailing info@firstclassphysio.co.uk.

 

Stretching – to do or not to do?

Ask anyone involved in any kind of sport or exercise if they stretch and you’re likely to hear one of 2 answers: “Yes, religiously” or “No, not as much as I should!”

So what should we be doing and when should we be doing it? Well, in this blog we’ll have a look at when to stretch, along with some examples of stretching for different muscle groups at different times (and while we’re at it, we’ll define the various kinds of stretch too).

Stretching your hamstrings

Stretching your hamstrings

Types of stretching

Static stretching is just what it says on the tin – stretching and holding in one position (see our “models” on the left). Usually the hold is for a standard 20 or 30 seconds, but some people like to hold a static stretch using breaths as a measure (e.g. 5 inhales and exhales for one stretch).

Dynamic stretching is stretching while moving. This is a gentle “swing” through your full range of motion, but without pushing too hard at the end of the stretch. For example jogging forward kicking your heels up to your bottom is a good dynamic quad stretch that doesn’t push the muscle beyond its natural range.

Ballistic stretching is holding a muscle at its maximum length and “bouncing” it to try to increase that length. It is almost never recommended, as it can actually cause muscles to tighten or even tear as they are over-stretched. Imagine trying to touch your toes and consistently jerking you fingers closer to the floor each time. Your hamstrings would very likely complain with this movement!

When is best?

Now we’ve covered stretching terms, but when should we carry out each different type of stretching?

Traditionally, people stretched statically before any kind of exercise, but this has been shown to do more harm than good. Herda and colleagues conducted a study on men in their 20s using methods to measure hamstring strength after different kinds of stretching. They found that the muscles could generate more power after dynamic stretching than following static stretching.

Another study by Wallmann and colleagues in 2012 looked at stretching the hip flexors (iliopsoas muscle) before a sprint, and how much difference this made to the performance of healthy recreational runners. Without stretching, the subjects ran the fastest. The next fastest runs were after the dynamic stretching, and the slowest runs were after static stretching. So it seems that not stretching at all before an activity could be best – but the key part is the warm-up and it’s important to note that in this study, the runners all had a warm-up first.

When Samson and his colleagues looked at different warm-ups and different types of stretching, they found that an activity-specific warm-up improved sprint times more than a general warm-up. They also found that static stretching increased the range of movement in the subjects better than dynamic stretching (but didn’t improve speed).

So in short, static stretching before exercise can actually worsen performance in sports that require explosive movements like sprinting (and can actually decrease your muscle power by around 3%), and dynamic stretching has been shown to be not quite as detrimental but can still negatively affect performance.

None of this looks particularly encouraging for stretching pre-exercise at all, does it?

Here’s where the warm-up comes in.

Don’t be confused – even dynamic stretching does not equal a warm-up as such.

Warm Up Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Warm Up Image courtesy of Sura Nualpradid/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The best warm-ups consist of an activity-specific and aerobic exercise to get your blood pumping and start your body moving in the way your intended exercise program is designed. Your muscles, nerves and other soft tissues need blood (and its nutrients and oxygen) in order to work, and a warm-up will help deliver these slowly at first, then more efficiently so that you can reach your maximum performance during your workout. Warming up also lubricates your joints, and reduces the risk of your muscles becoming prematurely fatigued.

So for instance a sprinter might do a warm-up of walking, lunges, jogging and then running before finally engaging in sprinting. A footballer might do some jogging followed by some mid-height kicks or mid-paced direction changes with some ball work to warm them up for a game.

So should we stretch after a warm-up? Well, you could do, but the point of the warm-up is to get your blood pumping so your body is ready for exercise. If you have to stop in order to stretch, your heart rate will slow again, defeating the purpose. You could do a second warm-up before exercising but not all of us have the time for that!

Does stretching have any use at all?

Yes indeed! This might seem like an anti-stretching article, but stretching can have fantastic benefits. Right after you cool down (again, doing the same sorts of activity-specific movements as in your warm-up), you should stretch. This should help your soft tissues get rid of the waste products built up during exercise, as well as return your physiological responses (metabolic, heart and breathing rates etc) to normal. Stretching probably doesn’t prevent injury as such, nor will it prevent a loss of power that generally follows on the next 2-3 days after a good workout, but it can have an effect on improving your muscle soreness on the days following your workout (especially in your abdomen and back), which can be a huge drawback to exercise. Plus it’s a nice relaxing way to finish a session.

If you want to improve your flexibility in general, you could take part in a yoga class (and don’t be fooled by its laid-back reputation – depending on the teacher and the type of yoga, it can be pretty hard work!) Pilates is also an excellent way of improving your joint range of motion, your muscle suppleness and flexibility in a low-impact way. But make sure before you do any static stretching that you don’t intend on running any personal best sprints straight after!

As with starting any form of exercise, particularly if you are entirely new to it, seek advice from a registered health professional before you begin. If you’d like to ask us a question, or book in for one of our prehabilitation appointments, please call us on 0141 2372 721 or browse our website for more information www.firstclassphysio.co.uk.

How much exercise is enough to stay healthy?

Some people may be of the “too much is never enough” school of thought, and others may think that walking to the end of the garden and back twice a day is plenty, but just how much exercise is enough to stay healthy?

www.visualphotos.com http://ow.ly/h7CWg

www.visualphotos.com http://ow.ly/h7CWg

First, we need to be clear on what counts as “exercise”. Now we don’t really need a comprehensive list of every sport or activity that ever existed, we just need a measure of how these make us react physically. For some people, a game of tennis will leave them with barely a sweat on, but then what about when Andy Murray plays? Or, for example, I could walk a mile and not be out of breath, but my wee Gran might walk 50 metres and need a lie down.

Every body is different, and everybody’s idea of doing the same exercise is different. So how do we classify physical activity? (We use the term “physical activity” instead of “exercise” as this encompasses all physical movements that help to improve your fitness and general health, not just those we define as sports or games.)

The easiest way is to measure how puffed out you are when you’re doing it. For instance:

Mild physical activity – you won’t be short of breath and you won’t have broken a sweat, but you may be slightly warmer e.g. a stroll outside or a slow swim.

Moderate physical activity – you’ll be able to hold a conversation but you will be a little short of breath, you should feel warm and even mildly sweaty e.g. vaccuuming (the whole house!), dancing, climbing stairs, gardening and lots of kinds of DIY.

Vigorous physical activity – you’ll feel very warm and out of breath, and will probably have broken a good sweat e.g. running, playing a hard game of tennis, spin classes, carrying all the shopping home in one go at a fair pace because you left the oven on…

www.primoclipart.com http://ow.ly/h7Do0

www.primoclipart.com http://ow.ly/h7Do0

Right, great, we’ve put some labels on different activities and personalised what we regards as “mild”, “moderate” or “vigorous” intensity. Now we need to know HOW MUCH to do. The most current evidence recommends that adults (ages 16-64 years) do 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise. That’s 5 half hour brisk walks a week. Or 10 fifteen minute sessions on the cross-trainer (without exerting yourself too much). It is recommended you carry out this physical activity on most days – in other words, you can’t “store” the benefits of exercising for 3 hours on a Monday then be a sloth the rest of the week!

Alternatively, you can do 3 twenty-five minute sessions of vigorous activity. So maybe 3 two-and-a-half mile runs (if you’re running around 6 mph and pretty out of breath at that!), or 3 skipping sessions (don’t mock me: skipping is exhausting).

The key to all of this is remembering that useful and beneficial exercise is done in 10 minute blocks or longer. Anything less than that, and your body won’t reap the same health benefits but some is always better than none! You’ll also find that many of the above exercises not only strengthen your muscles but also improve your flexibility and balance, making it easier for you to stay injury free.

What if you’re over 64 or under 16?

If you’re 65 or over, you should still aim to hit the 150 minutes a week, but focus more on the balance and flexibility exercises. These will help reduce the risk of falls, and especially reduce the risk of injuring yourself if you do fall.

For younger people (children and teenagers), we need to make sure they do more physical activity – at least 60 minutes on most days. Now if you have been around a toddler lately, you’re probably still exhausted as they do burn up a lot of energy running around, which is great (for them!). For older children, a combination of PE, walking/cycling to school, sports, dancing/swimming/tennis classes and general play is enough to ensure they hit that daily hour of physical activity. If you’re concerned, or you feel that your child is falling short of this, you can find more information and some ideas at Active Schools, Soccer Success, Day Out With The Kids, Let’s Go With The Children, Spend Day.

www.blogbydonn.com http://ow.ly/h7DI4

www.blogbydonna.com http://ow.ly/h7DI4

Now for the why? part…

So why would you bother doing this amount of exercise? Well, I’ve mentioned how you can improve your fitness and health in general and that there are “health benefits” and (you’ve guessed it) there are a whole host of other reasons to up your regular activity, even if you already consider yourself active. Here are 12 of the good ones:

  1. You’ll lower your risk of putting on weight
  2. You can reduce the risk of premature death by 20-30%
  3. As you get older, you can stay independent for longer as you’ll remain mobile for longer
  4. You’ll half the liklihood of developing coronary heart disease (like angina, or a heart attack) and if you already have heart disease, you’ll prevent it from worsening
  5. It can lower your desire for a cigarette and help you quit smoking (plus ease those withdrawal symptoms)
  6. You’ll be about a third less likely to have a stroke (a clot, or a burst in the brain blood vessels)
  7. You can lower your blood pressure and your risk of developing osteoporosis (a bone-thinning disorder)
  8. You’ll be less likely to develop type 2 diabetes (something best to avoid as it contributes to heart disease and other conditions)
  9. You’ll half your risk of developing bowel cancer and reduce the risk of other cancers
  10. You’ll have more energy! And you’ll sleep better (and be less stressed)
  11. For children, it can improve their socialising skills and their sense of well-being
  12. No surprise to find that regular physical activity increases the good kind of cholesterol (HDL or high density lipoprotein) and helps lower your risk of developing cardiovascular disease (diseases of the heart and blood vessels)

For some ideas on how to include more physical activity in your week and to give you some ideas of fun things to do, have a look at some previous scribblings for inspiration!

If you have an existing health problem, and you’re wondering whether increasing your physical activity is a good idea, have a chat with your GP or give us a call on 0141 2372 721.

 

How are those New Year’s resolutions going?

*For those who may recognise some of this, it’s a refresher from our blog at this time last year but it does have some handy hints and tips to keep you motivated!

We’re now a week into 2013 and some of us are going strong with those New Year’s promises to ourselves: eating healthily, staying off the demon drink and fitting those gym sessions in. However, the rest of us might just be in need of a wee bit of help – be it motivation, time-management skills or just a change of activity to something more interesting.

And because we’re so kind, our First Class Physiotherapists have had a brain-storming session to help you out!

Motivation

It can’t have escaped many people’s notice that the west of Scotland has a poor health record, with almost 65% of Scots overweight or obese. People who are obese have a higher risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, arthritis, strokes and cancer – in other words, they are likely to die earlier than people who are not obese.

For those of us who like a diagram of sorts:

High blood pressure

Too little exercise                 Increase in weight      Type II Diabetes

Too much junk food  >>>       and BMI =         >>>  Heart disease             >>>      Death

Too much alcohol                     obesity                     Arthritis

Cancer

That’s very doom and gloom isn’t it?!

People who are obese have a one in 2 chance of developing diabetes mellitus. Now we’ve all heard of diabetes, but did you know that type II diabetes (diabetes mellitus), like obesity, is avoidable if you lead a healthy lifestyle? This means eating less fat, keeping your cholesterol at a healthy level and exercising regularly.

Hurray! Some good news at last.

There is a real life-saving reason you decided to cut down on alcohol/fish suppers this New Year, or walk the dog every day for half an hour!!

 

Managing your time

Yes, yes, all very well and good. We should exercise more, but “I’m so busy at work (read: my boss is a nightmare), there are the kids to look after (and all their extra-curricular activities), I must visit my parents twice a week, the dog needs to go to the vet, it’s my brother’s birthday this week, the house needs cleaned…”

Regular exercise for an adult is doing something that makes you moderately breathless for 30 minutes, 5 days a week. You can split this into 10 minute sessions (in other words walking quickly, taking the stairs, playing tig with the kids, running for the bus, digging in the garden, swimming, cycling to work/the shops/your parents’ house, roller skating (yes, some people still do this!), dancing to a few of your favourite tunes, vacuuming the curtains…)

So if you break down your day and think of the in-between-activities moments, like when you’re between places – from home to work for example – you can work in a little bit more physical activity by simply getting off the bus a stop earlier and walking, or taking the stairs every time instead of the lift. While you’re waiting to pick up little Chloe at the Brownies, why not go 10 minutes early and have a brisk walk round the block? That flop into the armchair will feel so much more satisfying if you’ve spent the last 15 minutes giving the house a quick vacuum.

Or maybe the next time a mate asks you to join them at 5-a-sides or Zumba, say yes?

 

But what if I find the gym boring?

You’re not alone. Not only can the gym make you feel bored and isolated, it can cost a small fortune to keep up that membership when you’re not taking full advantage.

Here are a few alternatives to pounding the treadmill…

Pole dancing: there are huge advantages to pole dancing, namely: it’s a cardiovascular work out (that covers at least 30 minutes), your upper body will become toned and strong (no more bingo wings!), your posture will improve and so will your confidence! (This one’s in Washington St, G3 http://www.twirlntonepoledance.co.uk/)

Hula-aerobics: a fantastic work out and a great way to tighten flabby waistlines, slim hips and improve your Elvis-pelvis dance moves http://www.cylex-uk.co.uk/company/the-joy-of-hooping-17521787.html

Skipping: not just for little girls and boxers, 10 minutes a day for a few weeks will have your upper body toned and your heart and lungs on full workout mode – a lot harder a workout than you used to think! But it’s fantastic fun, cheap, compact and do-able anywhere http://direct.tesco.com/q/R.212-8394.aspx

Ultimate Frisbee: while we’re on the playground games, this will really get the blood pumping and it’s a great laugh too!
www.ukultimate.com

Tennis: not just a summer sport. We can all pick up a racket at the most basic level and join a local club, or just hire a court with a few friends. This counts for badminton too http://www.glasgow.gov.uk/en/YoungGlasgow/12to18/YoungScotCard/outdoorfunfacilities.htm

Running: or jogging, or even brisk walking, we’re not looking for the next Paula Radcliffe here. Find a buddy who lives nearby and can motivate you when you can’t be chuffed – and you’ll be able to give them a gee up in turn! That half hour will fly in with some banter along the way. Alternatively, it can be the perfect way to have 30 minutes to yourself (go on, everyone loves “me time”).

All of these will boost your energy (sounds backwards but it’s true!), improve your health and help you sleep better which is a whoooooole other advantage that will make you feel fabulous for 2013.

And if all else has failed with the New Year’s resolutions you made in January, you can always start again in February!

How massage works (and how it can help you!)

Dare I say it… Chr—–s is coming soon (see, I didn’t really dare did I?) Many of us will have been lucky enough in the past to receive exactly the gift we were after, or maybe we’ve been given money or a voucher to go out and choose what we’d like. Yes, this is a plug for our gift vouchers – a fantastic get-out for gift ideas for your loved ones (and a December Deal into the bargain)!

Ok, down to business. We’ve all heard of massage, and many of us will have been fortunate enough to experience a good one. But what makes a good one? How does it work? And how can it help you?

What is massage?

Massage has been around for hundreds of years as a means of using touch, pressure and stroking to relax, relieve stress and promote good circulation in different areas of the body. This in turn speeds up healing time, and new healthy cell production.

Types of massage

You’ll find all sorts of massage out there (keep it clean) but we’ll whittle it down to 3 simple types here. The first is a Swedish massage. This is our most gentle massage, where we use stroking, kneading and pressure of the soft tissues to encourage increased blood flow to the tissues (I’ll explain why in a minute), warmth and relaxation.

www.mwfitness.co.uk ow.ly/fHFns

Then we have sports massage or deep tissue massage. This is not so gentle, but is absolutely brilliant for releasing deep set tension in muscles, as well as removing those pesky adhesions and toxins which cause tightness and pain between the soft tissues of the body. And yes, we’ll get the elbows in.

Finally we have a hot stone massage, which is veeeery relaxing, but also has the added benefit of heat which stimulates the metabolism and circulation as well as giving that lovely warm calming effect.

How it works

So, we talked about increasing blood flow – how does this work, and how can it benefit you?

Now we’re getting into the nitty gritty. The blood vessels of your body are split simply into arteries (which deliver oxygenated blood to the organs, including the skin), veins (which take the de-oxygenated blood back to the heart) and capillaries, which are the tiny vessels found everywhere in the body and “join up” the arteries and veins. When you’re cold, your blood vessels narrow (called vasoconstriction) to keep the warm blood away from the surface of the skin, and conversely when you’re warm, the blood vessels widen (vasodilation) to let the heat from your blood out into the air (that’s why you get red when you’re hot).

en.wikipedia.org ow.ly/fHGvs

Vasodilation of the facial blood vessels www.salongeek.com ow.ly/fHIms

Whilst continually kneading and stroking the skin will naturally increase the heat in the tissues and therefore stimulate blood flow, adding heat through the medium of hot stones can deepen the effect (up to 4cm/1.5 inches!). The increased blood flow will bring new blood filled with oxygen and nutrients and all the good stuff to supply the tissues that are being massaged, as well as help remove the build-up of toxins and lactic acid.

The manual shifting of the tissues can help increase joint range of motion and muscle flexibility, and the increase in circulation and nutrients to the area means that when new tissues are formed, they are healthier and more supple. For those having a sports massage, the physical “knocking out” of those tense bumpy tissues will enable you to stretch better and move more smoothly, whilst the removal of those waste products will help cut down your DOMS period (delayed onset muscle soreness to the uninitiated among us) and help you recover faster from the hardest of workouts.

Finally, the idea of massage as a pampering, luxurious treatment has not been around for centuries without reason. Your body will soon relax to the rhythm of massage, your breathing will slow, and the heat transferred from the therapist’s hands (and stones) will help you into that serene state of mind.

Right, our next section was going to be headed “How can massage help you?” but really, I think you have it all figured out already.

m.tescomagazine.com ow.ly/fHVx4

If you would like to gift one of these fantastic treatments to someone, or just spoil yourself, please give us a call on 0141 2372 721 or drop us an email to info@firstclassphysio.co.uk.

We can give you a gift voucher to give to someone special (or your brother’s new girlfriend whom you’ve met once), or book you in for an appointment to suit you.

Right now you can get 30% off the usual price, for exactly the same fantastic treatment.

Let’s face it, anything that can take the stress out of Christmas is a good thing and we’re only too happy to help.

*Remember, be sensible with all treatments, and seek qualified medical advice for symptoms which last longer than a few days.