Clary Sage – Can it be used to induce labour?

I love the smell of clary sage, and I know when I am having a bad time during my period this is the oil I will grab to help me out a little. In saying this, I am always cautious when using it because it is very powerful and can be quite overwhelming if used in large quantities.

Clary Sage is a plant native to Italy, Syria and Southern France and grows in dry soil. The essential oil is distilled from the flowers and flowering tips.

Clary Sage flowers

Clary Sage flowers

Clary Sage is such a versatile oil with a high concentration of esters and has many properties such as anticolvulsant, antifungal, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, nerve tonic, sedative, and warming. 

Some users have actually had the sensation of feeling “high” after using clary sage.

This oil is now widely used before and during labour.

Many are told that they can use clary sage to induce labour. Clary sage cannot be used to induce labour unless your body is ready to go into labour. Nothing can induce labour until your body is ready, unless of course you have a medical induction, and even then they are known to fail, causing distress in both mum and baby, which then may lead to other interventions or caesareans.

What clary sage does do is help you to have more effective contractions once you do start having them as it relaxes the mind, body and muscles.  This is what is needed for mums to go into labour in the first place – eliminating catecholamines (adrenaline) and stimulating endorphins and oxytocin. By using the clary sage for relaxing and calming the mind, body and muscles you are more inclined to go into labour spontaneously.

This wonderful essential oil facilitates birth and helps breathing by calming the lower part of the spinal cord and the nervous system. 

It helps labour to progress well when you put a few drops on your labour focus points (see diagram below).  

It can also be used to reduce pain and aid in circulation.

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It is recommended that Clary Sage only be used from 37 weeks onwards just in case your body is in danger of going into premature labour.  It may stimulate the release of oxytocin; therefore it is highly recommended for use during labour to help contractions to intensify and become more effective in pulling up the horizontal uterine muscles to open the cervix and move baby down into the pelvis and into the birth canal.  

The simplest and most common way to use Clary Sage during labour is to put a few drops onto a dry cloth or flannel and mum will inhale the aroma when she needs it to help herself become more calm and relaxed during contractions.  

You can also add a few drops of clary sage to the inner ankle on the labour focus points (Spleen 6 – SP6) to help stimulate the contractions and to ensure that the labour is progressing well.

Spleen 6 (SP6) Labour Focus Point

Spleen 6 (SP6) Labour Focus Point

Another effective way to use Clary Sage essential oil is to put a few drops onto a couple of cotton balls and put them under your pillow.  The aroma will eventually make its way through to your olfactory system and will have many benefits such as relaxation, reducing muscle tension, calming the nerves and increase effectiveness of contractions of the uterus.

Massage with clary sage can also be really calming. Make up a massage oil using 20 drops of Clary Sage oil in 50ml carrier oil and massage gently around the abdomen, hips, lower back and pelvis.  This blend can be rubbed onto the feet and palms of women in labour or if they are waiting to go into labour.  This is a great way of introducing the oil into the body. 

Clary Sage oil can also be added to a bath for a relaxing soak, although not into your birthing water as baby’s skin is very sensitive and most baby’s are born with their eyes open, so I wouldn’t recommend putting any essential oils into your birthing pool.

Hypnobirthing Centre WA

Hypnobirthing Centre WA

When using clary sage essential oils during labour and birth, this can also aid in releasing the placenta, so the mum should continue breathing in clary sage.

Some caution should be taken when using clary sage, and my best advice is to never take clary sage orally as has been suggested recently in some forums I have been on.

Always remember, every woman is different and what works for one, may not work for the next.

Essential oils that form a beautiful synergy for massage during labour and birth are: 

  • Rose is a uterine relaxant and helps the ligaments to soften, enabling the pelvic bones to expand, and also to regain elasticity after the birth. 
  • Neroli works on the nervous system and facilitates easy breathing, especially during labour.  Its calming effect increases the oxygen supply to the blood and brain and helps the woman to avoid hyperventilation. 
  • Lavender helps to stimulate circulation and has a very calming effect on the mother. 
  • Clary Sage is highly regarded as a uterine tonic and used to promote calming while stimulating the uterine muscles and provides pain relief.
Labour Essential Oils by Phoenix Therapies

Labour Essential Oils by Phoenix Therapies

For more information about using essential oils safely during pregnancy, labour and birth, please sign up to our mailing list on the right hand side of our website to receive your free eBook.

My name is Vicki Hobbs and I am a pregnancy massage specialist, hypnobirthing doula, aromatherapist, hypnotherapist and childbirth educator at Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Wellness located in the northern suburbs of Perth, Western Australia.

You can contact me on (08) 9303 9111 or email vicki@phoenixtherapies.com.au and my website is www.phoenixtherapies.com.au

 

I’m pregnant – why does it hurt so much?

Preparing for birth is like preparing for a marathon.

You need to condition both your mind and your body.

You need to release fear, which creates tension, producing more pain, creating more fear, which starts a whole vicious cycle in the mind and body as described by Obstetrician and leading advocate of natural birth, Dr Grantly Dick-Read in his book ‘Childbirth Without Fear’.

However, let’s look at an area of the physical side of pregnancy.  One of the important physical aspects of the body during pregnancy is the pelvis.  Your pelvis is not one fixed bone, it is made up of the sacrum, coccyx and the two sacroiliac joints, one on the left and one on the right, which are joined at the front by the pubis symphysis, a fibrous cartilage.

Surrounding the pelvis are really important muscles which help to stabilise the pelvis, but let’s really just focus on the psoas muscles (pronounced so-as), which also works to send messages back to the central nervous system.

The psoas major muscles are quite large muscles and are the only muscles that connect your spine to your leg on either side of the spine.  The psoas connects from the last four vertebrae of the spine between the pelvis and the ribs and then wrap around to the front of the pelvis and drop down to attach at the lower end to the top of the thigh bone.

psoas muscle

The iliopsoas is a hip flexor and externally rotates the hip and the psoas (major) part of the muscle assists in lumbar extension and moves the ribs forward into a thrust, lifting the chest.  When these muscles contract they will shorten, when the muscles relax they will lengthen and release tension.  The psoas is shortened more so during pregnancy due to the anterior pelvic tilt, as your uterus expands, baby grows and you are carrying more weight.

During pregnancy, the psoas contributes to pain through the lower back, groin, adductors and can even cause weakness due to the extra pressure from the weight of the uterus.  Being in a sitting position for long periods of time can shorten the psoas muscle causing pain and tension in the pelvic floor, the hips and the spine.

It can also affect the space in the abdomen, affect the alignment of the skeletal system and limit the range of motion in the spine, pelvis and legs, which in turn will limit the functionality of birthing positions such as squatting.

The psoas plays a significant role in Optimal Foetal Positioning (OFP) and can be a reason a baby stays in the breech position, as it can prevent the hips from extending and restrict the opening of the pelvis.  It can cause the disks in the spinal cord to compress and also shorten the hamstrings and calf muscles.  Pregnant women should learn to relax, release and lengthen the psoas muscles on a daily basis so that baby will find an easy transition into the birth canal.

Optimal Foetal Position

Medical Illustration – Nucleus Medical Media

 

Childbirth Educator and Physical Therapist Penny Simkin writes:  “It is less important to know the foetal position than it is important to respond to the needs of the birth.  The muscles, ligaments and bones may need accommodation regardless of foetal position.  In other words, tension in the psoas pair of muscles or pelvic floor can delay an anterior baby and a posterior baby.  Extension of the anterior foetus’ head can prevent engagement in some pelvises.  The main point is that we can, when needed, promote progress regardless of foetal position.”

It is also important to be aware that the hormone ‘relaxin’ does not reduce muscle tension.  It softens the abdominal muscles to cope with the growing size of your belly and relaxes the pelvic floor muscles.  Relaxin promotes the rupture of the membranes, the opening and softening of the cervix and vagina, relaxes the pelvic ligaments and joints, the intrauterine ligaments and the pubis symphysis to help with the smooth transition of baby from womb to world, however pregnant women need to do more of their own work to stretch out and release stress and tension in the muscles (particularly the psoas) as the hormones will not do this for you.

Liz Koch from Core Awareness is an advisor for the well-known Spinning Babies organisation and recommends this simple gravity technique to help release the psoas muscles during pregnancy and to also encourage Optimal Foetal Positioning while relieving stress and anxiety.

Liz Koch - Core Awareness

  1. Lie on your back and use pillows to create a diagonal support from your sit bones to your head (if you’re not pregnant, you can just lie on your back).
  2. Bend your knees, with your heels about 12 – 16 inches away from the buttocks.
  3. Keep your feet about a hip width apart and parallel with each other.
  4. Place your hands on your belly or at the sides of your body and simply rest in this position for 10 – 20 minutes.

Well known Physical Therapist Susan McLaughlin demonstrates how to release the psoas and relax the pelvic floor muscles, which can also be incorporated during pregnancy.

Susan McLaughlin - psoas release

  1. Place the bolster near the bottom of the shoulder blades.
  2. Make sure that the ribs remain relaxed and flush with your abdominal wall.
  3. Extend the legs.
  4. Make sure that the back of your thighs fully touch the floor.
  5. If they don’t you need to bolster up higher.
  6. Relax like this for 5-10 minutes.
  7. Allow your legs and torso to relax.
  8. Practice breathing.
  9. Focus on allowing the pelvic floor muscles to relax on the inhale.
  10. Tension in the pelvic floor can pull on the sacrum, limiting sacral mobility that is necessary to widen the pelvic outlet.

Regular massage will certainly release tension and stress in the pregnant body encouraging the feel good hormones endorphins, aid in increasing circulation and reducing oedema.  A qualified pregnancy massage specialist will be able release the psoas muscles as well as teach a pregnant woman how to stretch and relax the psoas on a daily basis to ensure her body is ready for labour and birth, and assist in Optimal Foetal Positioning.

I am a Pregnancy Massage Specialist with a Diploma in Pregnancy Massage and Maternity Care from both Well Mother and Pregnancy Massage Australia.  My business is Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Wellness  located in the northern suburbs of Perth and I have been operating since 2004.  I work with women during pre-conception, pregnancy and the postnatal period as well as after caesarean section to promote rapid healing both physically and mentally.

I am also a certified Doula, Hypnotherapist and Heal Your Life Facilitator while running another business as a Hypnobirthing Practitioner at the Hypnobirthing Centre WA and a Member of Hypnobirthing Australia.

To book your pregnancy or postnatal massage or just to get more information please call me on (08) 9303 9111 or email vicki@phoenixtherapies.com.au

 

 

Pregnancy Massage – Is It Safe?

The popularity and education of prenatal massage has increased significantly over the past few decades.

In tribal cultures, prenatal and labour support massage was common.  Anthropologist George Engelmann documented these techniques in the mid 1880’s; however the first documentation of labour massage was in 15th century England.  It was common practice for midwives to use massage while the mother was in labour to make her more comfortable and to relieve pain.

tribal women

The elder women of the Nama Hottentot tribe of South Africa give massage treatments to the pregnant women of the tribe several times a week to prepare for the upcoming childbirth.  In Uganda, pregnant mothers receive massage daily in an effort to make their muscles and joints supple for an easier labour and delivery.

Women in tribal societies resume their normal everyday activities almost immediately after giving birth.  Among the natural methods used to restore strength and decrease post-partum depression in the new mum, the most important and widely accepted tradition is massage.

tribal massage

In our medically advanced society, massage can often be over-looked as an important part of pregnancy health care.  However, this tried and tested tradition is one of the oldest forms of the healing arts and has been used for thousands of years in almost every culture.

Every pregnant woman deserves some pampering and massage is a wonderful way to reduce stress and promote general wellbeing.  Massage can be received during all three trimesters of your pregnancy for both normal and high risk pregnancies.

With the exciting news that you are pregnant, your body is about to undergo stress-producing changes.  Some of the consequences of these changes can leave a woman feeling sore, tired and uncomfortable.  Massage is therefore a great way to relieve this discomfort through the positive effects of soft tissue manipulation.

pregnant woman1

Pregnancy Massage therapy helps the body adjust to accommodate the life growing within.  It can assist in reducing stress, encourage relaxation and prepare muscles and joints for childbirth.  Not only can this be a treat for you, but a much needed therapy to ease some of the aches and pains experienced during pregnancy.

It has been claimed that during the first trimester, pregnant women should not have massage as it may cause miscarriage, however if the pregnant woman is healthy and proper guidelines for working with pregnant women are followed, then there is absolutely no medical evidence to support that a massage could harm the pregnancy or cause miscarriage.  Most times this myth is circulated by the very ones who should not be doing pregnancy massage as they are not qualified to do so.

Just recently the Australian Association of Massage Therapists (AAMT) has announced after completing their own research that pregnancy massage during the first trimester is considered safe “if undertaken by a trained pregnancy massage specialist.”

Here is a recent article about this breakthrough in pregnancy massage during the first trimester:

http://pregnancymassageaustralia.com.au/break-understanding-first-trimester-massage/

Probably the main reason for not getting massage in the first three months is more about comfort as it may trigger dizziness or increase your morning sickness – on the other hand it may eliminate these symptoms.  You won’t know until you try it and then you can let your therapist know if you start to feel uncomfortable and adjustments can be made or you can just stop the treatment.

Remember, there is no danger, just the potential to be uncomfortable.

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The most important thing to consider with pregnancy massage is using a qualified Remedial Massage Therapist who has had specialised training in pregnancy massage and knows the anatomy and physiology of a pregnant woman.  Just being a massage therapist doesn’t mean that they are qualified to give massage to pregnant and postpartum women.  Be cautious that just because a brochure offers pregnancy massage, it doesn’t always mean that they are qualified to do so.

It is essential to ask any questions or raise any concerns you may have to your therapist at any time during the treatment.  A professional pregnancy massage will always start with a minimum fifteen minute consultation prior to actually having a massage each and every time you attend.  You should be asked specific questions about the progress of your pregnancy, your current condition, your antenatal appointments and specific areas of discomfort and range of motion checks.

A trained pregnancy massage therapist will safely and effectively answer any questions you may have about having a massage during any stage of your pregnancy.  We also do not recommend the tables with the hole where the belly hangs down, as this puts so much more pressure on the sacrum, lower back and can strain the ligaments around the uterus and pelvis, not to mention your growing breasts which may be tender or uncomfortable.  Just imagine all that weight of your baby in your womb, just hanging down with the force of gravity – while your therapist is also then creating more pressure during the massage with the massage techniques (or not effectively working through this area so they don’t put more pressure there), so then your glute (bum) muscles are tensing trying to overcompensate for the pressure created in your back.  The best position during pregnancy massage is in a side-lying position, with your top leg at a 90 degree angle supported by a bolster under your leg and knees stabilising the hip joint, along with your top foot also being supported, not just hanging down at the edge of the bolster. Support cushions will also be used to stabilise your body to prevent you from rocking or rolling from side to side.

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Vicki Hobbs of Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre is a qualified Remedial Massage Therapist specialising in pregnancy, induction, labour and postnatal massage.

Vicki is a highly trained pregnancy massage specialist having completed the Diploma in Pregnancy Massage course in 2013 with Pregnancy Massage Australia.  This training is an advanced level of training for pregnancy massage, but also specialising in working with high risk pregnancy clients such as those with pre-eclampsia and other conditions such as pubis symphysis separation, pelvic girdle pain, lower back and hip pain, injuries and other pregnancy related dysfunctions.

She also holds a Diploma in Pregnancy Massage & Maternity Care after training in 2008 with Suzanne Yates, who is a well-known author, shiatsu practitioner, midwife and the Director of the Well Mother Centre in the UK. www.wellmother.org

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Vicki has expert knowledge and training of the anatomy and physiology of the pregnant body, stretching during pregnancy, labour position techniques and massage instruction for your partner.  She is also a Certified Birthing Assistant (Doula) and Childbirth Educator and conducts regular “Essential Birthing Journey” workshops for pregnant women.  Vicki is passionate about sharing her knowledge as a Hypnobirthing Australia Practitioner having been trained in this method earlier this year and also in the Mongan Method (originally in November 2009 and then completed a refresher in November 2012).

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In addition to this, my insurance company specifically covers me for pregnancy massage, not just remedial massage, which further ensures that all strict training criteria and guidelines have been met for your own peace of mind.

As with most therapies, there are always precautions involved with receiving treatment during pregnancy, however pregnancy massage (when performed by a trained and experienced therapist) is a safe procedure with benefits far outweighing the risks.

For your own peace of mind, you can even discuss with your medical practitioner or obstetrician of your intention to have a pregnancy massage, and they will advise you if they feel that you should not do so for whatever reason.

BENEFITS OF PREGNANCY MASSAGE

The benefits of massage in general are numerous, however more specifically for pregnancy they include:

  • Relief from muscle cramps, tension, spasms;
  • Relief from pain especially in the lower back, neck, hips and legs;
  • Reduction of stress on weight bearing joints;
  • Improvement of muscle tone;
  • Dilate the blood vessels, therefore improving blood circulation including the placenta, which brings greater nutrition to the tissues of the body and enhances waste removal;
  • The lymphatic system circulates faster and more efficiently which results in more energy and less fatigue and helps to reduce swelling;
  • May help with the reduction of varicose veins;
  • Stimulates glandular secretions which will stabilise your hormonal levels and reduce their side effects;
  • Enhancement of elasticity and pliability of skin and connective tissue (ligaments and tendons);
  • Helping with sleeplessness or insomnia;
  • Increased range of flexibility and movement and become less prone to injury;
  • Helps to calm the nerves and reduce anxiety, which is also transferred to your baby to help them feel more relaxed and soothed;
  • Prepares the muscles and tissues used during labour and birth.

Many of the problems that arise during pregnancy are due to muscle strain, weakness and poor posture.  Proper exercise and appropriate stretching will increase your energy, strengthen the muscles most strained during pregnancy and labour, stimulate circulation and increase flexibility in the joints.

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Here is a great testimonial from one of our regular pregnancy massage clients:

“I would recommend Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre to anybody.  I first heard about them in an advertisement in the local magazine Offspring.  I was 24 weeks pregnant, working 25-35 hours a week in a busy café and was starting to feel a little tense in my lower back.  I decided to treat myself to a massage but I was a little nervous about having a massage while pregnant so I did some reading on the internet and Facebook which helped me to make a decision.

Vicki and Sarah are very professional and welcoming and I felt comfortable in their abilities almost instantly.  The bodyCushion that they use is so comfortable and supportive.  Pregnancy massage was such a great way for me to relax (body and mind) before the arrival of my baby. I continued to work right up to 36 weeks (3 weeks before baby was born) having a massage every 2 weeks or so definitely helped me stay very active during my pregnancy especially towards the end. I look forward to going back for a massage without my big belly!

Thank you Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre”
Laura

MORE INFORMATION

For more information or to book a pregnancy massage contact Vicki Hobbs of Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre, which is now located from my lovely home in Landsdale (the northern suburbs of Perth).

My details are (08) 9303 9111 or check the website www.phoenixtherapies.com.au

phoenix_pregnancy_3colour

Are you or someone you know FIFO?

It is not uncommon for FIFO workers to come home exhausted and mentally fatigued.  We hear about the lack of affordable housing, relationship breakdowns, mental illness, under-resourced and over-stretched local services – the list goes on.

We all know that FIFO workers work exceptionally hard for long periods of time in sometimes really hot conditions and cramped accommodation.  They are away from their homes and loved ones and are exposed to stressful situations, which can contribute to poor physical health, emotional distress and significant disturbances in their sleeping patterns.

FIFO5

It has now become a necessity for all FIFO workers to wind down mentally, physically and emotionally and the best way to do that is through massage using quality, pure essential oils.  Our massage includes slow, deep tissue massage techniques combined with trigger point stimulation, stretching and myofascial release.  You will experience not only the physical manual manipulation of your tight muscles, but also enjoy the quiet ambiance of your surroundings, the calming of your mind and the balancing of your emotions.

As much as it is important for FIFO workers to spend time with their loved ones when they return, it is equally as important that they have some “down time” or “me time” and having a massage in the first day or so of arriving home can be extremely beneficial in easing aches, pains and muscular discomfort, restlessness, insomnia and so many other conditions that generally affect FIFO workers.

FIFO3

Furthermore, we also have to take into consideration that mum or the partner of these FIFO workers also needs to have some “down time” or “me time” particularly if they don’t have any support from an outside source while their partners are away.  Our thinking is that once the FIFO worker has had an opportunity to become “grounded” and” revitalised” that they are more likely to be in a better place and ready to take on their “home duties” and “parenting duties” in a better frame of mind.  Then it is important for mums to have some “down time” and “me time” so they too are encouraged to have massage to improve their physical, mental and emotional well-being.  This will definitely lead to better quality time together and shared appreciation in each other.

There are many ways in which the benefits of massage can improve the quality of your life.  Many people think the benefits of massage are restricted to relaxation (which in itself is hugely important!). But there are numerous other health and wellbeing benefits.

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Peer-reviewed medical research has shown that the benefits of massage include: pain relief, reduced anxiety and depression, and reduced blood pressure, heart rate. The release of endorphins and serotonin can: prevent fibrosis or scar tissue, increase the flow of lymph and improve sleep.

Relief from pain due to musculoskeletal injuries and other causes is one of the other major benefits of massage. It can also relieve tension headaches.

The benefits of massage therapy are fully integrated into the Australian health care system (via alternative and complementary medicines and practitioners). Awareness of the many benefits of massage therapy is increasing all the time.

FIFO1

Acupressure or trigger point massage may be very beneficial in relieving back pain.  After massage, EEG patterns indicate enhanced performance and alertness on mathematical computations, with the effects perhaps being mediated by decreased stress hormones.

Massage stimulates the immune system by increasing blood flow and lymph drainage. It improves circulation and relieves congestion in the tissues. It stimulates the production of blood cells and promotes lymph flow which hastens the elimination of cellular wastes. It helps clear muscles of lactic and uric acid that build up during exercise and relaxes muscle hypertonicity as well as relieves muscle tension.

FIFO4

Benefits of massage also include improving muscle tone and delaying muscle atrophy resulting from inactivity. Deep massage can separate fascial fibres, and prevent the formation of adhesions and helps reduction of inflammation and oedema in joints and soft tissue. Massage stimulates increased proprieties and kinesthetic awareness of the body

Massage assists the body’s natural ability to heal itself. It relaxes and tones the muscles preventing injuries, increases circulation and therefore improves the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to all body cells.

One of the best benefits of massage is that it makes you feels great!!!

For first time clients we will give you 20% off your first visit so you can experience for yourself how good it feels to have a great massage with one of our qualified and experienced remedial massage therapists.

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Just mention that you are a FIFO worker to get 20% off your first visit.

We also have a FIFO Healthy Lifestyle Saver Option where you pay for 5 massages up front and you get the 6th massage for FREE!

If you have private health insurance, you can also receive a rebate from your health insurance fund depending on your level of cover.  Just call your health fund to find out if you qualify and to find out how much rebate you will receive.

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To book in for your FIFO super tune-up please call Phoenix Therapies Wellness Centre on (08) 9303 9111.

We are based in the northern suburbs of Perth at Darch Plaza, 225 Kingsway, Darch WA 6065.

 

Resources:
Australian Association of Massage Therapists (AAMT)

Headaches – could it be from tension in the jaw?

Everyone carries tension differently.

When some people are stressed or anxious they will become tense in their shoulders and upper back, while others may feel tension in their neck.  However, if you hold your tension in your jaw or grind your teeth, this could be leading to more than just a sore mouth.

tmj muscles

Having pain or tension in the jaw is often referred to as a TMJ (temporomandibular joint) disorder or syndrome.

The temporomandibular joint connects the mandible to the skull’s temporal bone and contributes to the acts of biting, chewing, swallowing, speaking and making facial expressions.

When you have tension in the jaw this can then radiate tension to the muscles in the head, neck and shoulders.

This can cause muscle tension headaches and contribute to migraines by restricting blood flow.  That’s why relaxing your jaw and neck muscles is crucial to eliminating headache pain.

Our massage therapists can feel straight away if there is tension in the jaw which may be causing headaches, and one of the first things we ask the client is “do you grind or clench your teeth?” Some people are aware that they clench or grind their teeth, but others have no idea they are doing it particularly those who grind their teeth when they are asleep. Some people clench their teeth when they are angry or stressed so it’s a good idea to monitor this next time you are feeling these emotions.

Pain is the most common symptom of TMJ.

The pain is often described as a transient, dull ache in the jaw joint and nearby areas, including the ear. Instead of pain, some sufferers only have problems in the use of their jaw.

Additional symptoms of TMJ can include:

  • Inability to open the mouth comfortably
  • Clicking, popping or grating sounds in the jaw joint
  • Locking of the jaw when attempting to open the mouth
  • A bite that feels uncomfortable or “off”
  • Neck, shoulder and back pain
  • Swelling on the side of the face
  • Tinnitus or ear pain
  • Dizziness

Massage therapy works very well to help reduce and eliminate the tension and symptoms in your jaw, neck and shoulders.  During massage, we will work the acupressure points around the main areas of the jaws, ears and forehead which will feel a little tender, but you will notice a difference immediately.

We will use myofascial release techniques on the neck muscles and pectoralis major to correct any roundness of the shoulder posture and release pressure on the jaw followed by stretching.  Another technique is to “pick up” the sternocleidomastoid and to use slight twisting movements to release any trigger points and tension along with kneading, stripping and trigger point release through the neck muscles. All of these techniques will help to relieve pain, increase blood flow to the muscles and elevate endorphin levels to further reduce the client’s pain and stress. We will also spend time working through the scalp and releasing the hair follicles to ensure that all tension through this area is then not going to contribute to jaw tension.

At your next massage at Phoenix Therapies Wellness Centre, ask your therapist to release your TMJ (temporomandibular joint) to ensure that you are doing everything possible to ease and eliminate regular headaches and tension.

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To arrange an appointment contact Phoenix Therapies on 9303 9111 or visit our website www.phoenixtherapies.com.au

Pregnancy Massage and PreEclampsia

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Nearly 75 of pregnant women experience swelling during the last trimester of their pregnancy and most of the time it is relieved by good posture, massage, staying cool, elevation of legs and rest.  However, when something like pre-eclampsia develops, severe swelling or ”pitting oedema” is merely one symptom of sometimes a more serious condition known as pre-eclampsia.

Pre-eclampsia affects 2 in every 100 pregnant women.  This is a severe type of high blood pressure, where the only known cure is to deliver the baby. Until now, the only way to diagnose pre-eclampsia has been to check for high blood pressure and to measure the level of protein in the urine but both tests can be unreliable, meaning the condition can be both missed or misdiagnosed with babies being delivered prematurely for no reason.  Until now doctors have also had no way of telling how severe the condition was for each individual woman.

In the UK there is now a blood test which gives an accurate result in just 15 minutes, by measuring the level of Placental Growth Factor (PIGF) in the blood.  Those that show a very low PIGF level have severe pre-eclampsia and will be admitted to hospital for birth, and those with a high level PIGF are unlikely to have a severe form of the condition, regardless of any other symptoms present, and therefore can carry their baby to full term.  Having enquired about this blood test to King Edward Memorial Hospital recently a spokesperson confirmed that this test is not available in WA at the moment, however steps are being taken to be able to perform this blood test in the near future.

Generally speaking, the fluid retention that causes mild swelling the last few weeks in pregnancy is a normal defense mechanism against blood loss during childbirth. Your body will be able to quickly replace lost fluids and begin breastfeeding at the same time, with these fluid stores in place.

Pregnant women experience dilation in the blood vessels, especially in the lower extremities, and “pooling” of blood, which causes oedema (swelling).  The best way to deal with excess fluid is not to restrict it, but to mobilize it. Keep it from staying in areas that cause the most discomfort, such as in the legs, feet, fingers and abdomen. Assisting the kidney function is one way of doing this. Rest and fluids are the two best ways to help the kidneys rid themselves of excess fluid.

So, what are the differences between normal and pitting oedema?

  • Normal Swelling in Pregnancy: Normal swelling is usually limited to the feet, ankles and lower legs but can also affect the wrists, hands and fingers. It generally gets worse after long periods of standing or sitting upright (like driving a long distance or flying).  Normal swelling usually decreases after resting, especially resting with your feet raised and whilst sleeping overnight.  Also, normal swelling will not usually leave a pitting oedema mark in the skin.
  • Pitting Oedema in Pregnancy: A major sign of pitting oedema is when you depress the skin and it does not go back to normal within a few seconds – it stays indented.  This basically means that if pressure is applied to an area of oedema with the finger or thumb for 20-30 seconds and then removed, the area being compressed will have a ‘pit’ or hollow in it which can be both seen and felt easily and does not subside within 30 seconds. Oedema will be obvious both to the sufferer and to those around her.  A very good example of this was when a pregnant woman placed a 20c piece on her lower leg and left it for 30 seconds and when she took it off she was able to see the imprint of the design of the coin on her leg clearly for several minutes.  This is definitely cause for concern and should be checked out immediately.
Notice the difference between normal and pitting oedema - when you depress the area it stays indented.

Notice the difference between normal and pitting oedema – when you depress the area it stays indented.

Severe headaches and visual disturbances (flashes or blurry vision), pain in the upper right abdominal area under the ribcage or right shoulder are also warning signs that you should contact your doctor or midwife immediately.  Another warning symptom of serious swelling during pregnancy is swelling that extends above the feet and legs; particularly if you find your face or arms are swelling contact your health care provider.

If this is the case, then pregnancy massage is highly contraindicated, which means that massage must not be performed until the client has been to her health care provider to be tested for the onset of pre-eclampsia or any other serious condition such as a deep vein thrombosis (DVT).  This is why it is so very important for women to go to qualified pregnancy massage therapists who have been specially trained to identify conditions that are contraindicated for massage particularly this one.

I’ve had a real interest in working with women who are diagnosed with pre-eclampsia.  I have had first hand experience of dealing with pre-eclampsia that quickly went on to become eclampsia and toxemia. This was not diagnosed even though during all my prenatal visits I had high levels of protein and high blood pressure, which I had never suffered prior to pregnancy. The swelling in my feet and legs was incredibly noticeable, (I went up two shoes sizes and still they were tight) however I was being told that swelling was normal during pregnancy and I shouldn’t be concerned. It wasn’t until I passed out going up the stairs at the shopping centre that it suddenly became a serious concern. I was rushed to King Edward Memorial Hospital and had an emergency caesarean at 32 weeks. I was then transferred to intensive care and closely monitored with my blood pressure at 160/100 and my baby girl Hannah was taken to the Special Care Nursery.

For 48 hours we were separated – I was just too sick to visit her and all I had was a polaroid photo that one of the midwives had kindly taken for me.

Special Care Nursery - Hannah born at 32 weeks weighing 4lb 8oz

Special Care Nursery – Hannah born at 32 weeks weighing 4lb 8oz

In milder cases of pre-eclampsia pregnancy massage would be beneficial for the woman’s well-being and obviously the baby as well, however the massage is quite different to your usual massage.

Lymphatic massage of arms and legs will reduce oedema by forcing the excess toxins into the excretory system to be eliminated.  However, if the pre-eclampsia is severe, massage would in fact add more strain on the kidneys.  Protein in the urine is already a sign that the kidneys are struggling to process the wastes.

Seeing Hannah for the first time 48 hours after birth. My legs and feet still very swollen and I couldn't walk.

Seeing Hannah for the first time 48 hours after birth. My legs and feet still very swollen and I couldn’t walk.

Recently we had a client who came for pregnancy massage who we referred back to her health care provider before we could do the massage, and it was found that she did in fact have pre-eclampsia bordering on eclampsia.  What this means is that her kidneys are already over functioning to try and remove toxic waste from the body, therefore having massage would have put even more strain on the kidneys and could have had a really negative effect on her wellbeing.

Only a fully qualified pregnancy massage specialist can provide massage to a client with pre-eclampsia, as this is a very specific type of massage and can have huge benefits to the mum if done correctly.

Vicki Hobbs of Phoenix Therapies Pregnancy Centre is trained and qualified through Pregnancy Massage Australia to perform this type of massage and can be contacted on (08) 9303 9111.

For more information about the signs and symptoms of pre-eclampsia go to the Pre-eclampsia Foundation
http://www.preeclampsia.org/health-information/sign-symptoms

Are You Stressed?

Studies show that stressful situations can develop into more serious health conditions.  For example: a sudden or unexpected stressor can activate your adrenal glands, which sends adrenaline and other hormones into your bloodstream.  This brings about an increase in your breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, and blood flow to the muscles.  

This physical response was appropriate generations ago when it was needed for our very survival, but today much of our stress is emotional.  With the high number of mental stress incidents that we can experience each day, these repetitive physical responses can begin to wear out all of the body’s intricate systems. 

When your stress is chronic, your body releases cortisol; a hormone designed to help the body handle a period of prolonged physical stress.  This hormone is hard for the body to metabolise and consequently can lead to an immune system that becomes heavily suppressed, a damaged cardiovascular system, and a worn out endocrine system (the system responsible for handling stressful conditions).  

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Here are some common stress symptoms: 

  • Frequent headaches, jaw clenching or teeth grinding;
  • Neck ache, back pain, or muscle spasms;
  • Frequent colds and infections;
  • Difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness and confusion;
  • Excess anxiety, worry, guilt or nervousness;
  • Depression or frequent mood swings;
  • Insomnia or nightmares
  • Lack of concentration and forgetfulness.
  • Significant weight loss or gain without diet change;
  • Nervous habits such as fidgeting;
  • Constant tiredness, weakness or fatigue 

Regular massage is the ideal remedy for a stressful life.  With massage your blood and lymph circulation is increased, which helps all parts of your body to receive essential nutrients, dispose of waste products, and defend against disease. 

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Stress may take its greatest toll on the nervous system.  Massage can address the imbalances that stress causes in your body by stimulating the sensory receptors that interconnect and harmonise all areas of your body, bringing it back into proper balance.  This brings about that sense of wellbeing you experience that goes far beyond the release of tense muscles.  

Studies have shown that stress hormones consistently fall after massage, and night-time sleep patterns also improved.  By having a regular massage (even once a month will make a difference) – you are giving your body, mind & spirit the chance to de-stress before it will give you distress.

DID YOU KNOW?

 Surveys have been conducted by a number of Australian organisations, with the following findings: 

  • Workplace stress costs Australian companies up to 1.2 billion dollars a year;
  • 50% of workers reported an increase in workplace stress from the previous year;
  • Workplace stress-related claims are increasing by 20% each year;
  • 26% of employees admitted they have taken a day or more off due to stress, most using regular sick leave;
  • 20% of teachers in one survey reported a medically diagnosed stress disorder;
  • Major reasons for work stress cited by employees are:
    • Management issues, including lack of communication;
    • Increased workload and longer hours;
    • Job insecurity and lack of career opportunities;
    • Organisational change and restructuring, and
    • Inadequate staff and resources. 

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HOW DO YOUR MUSCLES RESPOND TO STRESS? 

When the musculoskeletal system is “stressed” a biochemical stress response sequence is initiated.  The sequence includes the following events:

  • A stressor causes an increase in muscle tone.
  • Increased tone for extended periods leads to retention of metabolic wastes.
  • Increased tone simultaneously leads to a degree of localised oxygen deficit, resulting in ischemia (restriction in blood supply).
  • Increased tone may also lead to oedema (swelling / fluid retention).
  • These factors (retention of waste, ischemia and oedema) lead to discomfort and pain.
  • Discomfort and pain results in increased or maintained hyper-tonicity (increased tension of the muscles).
  • Inflammation or chronic irritation results.
  • Poor functional patterns develop leading to chronic musculoskeletal problems and pain.

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Tools that you can adopt to promote health and wellness, and manage stress levels include:

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One of my favourite tips I love and share with our clients who are tense and stressed is every night before you go to bed “pull your hair”… I am serious, just grab clumps of your hair close to the roots and gently pull – don’t yank so that it is painful – and then grab another clump of hair and gently pull. What this does is releases the tension in the hair follicle and therefore releases the tension in the scalp. You will notice the difference instantly and it will help you to sleep better as well.  

Go on try it right now!!

It is such a simple yet effective way of releasing head tension and ease headaches as well.

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As a massage therapist we have lots of different techniques and helpful tips to support you in your “stress less” journey to better health and harmony in your life.

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At our centre located in Darch (northern suburbs of Perth) we have 5 highly trained remedial massage therapists who all offer different styles and techniques of massage.  We also have a chiropractor who works from our premises so you can be assured of a variety of different options to help ease your pain and reduce / eliminate your stress related dysfunctions.

After hours appointments including Saturdays are available.

Contact Phoenix Therapies Wellness Centre today to book in for a massage or any one of our stress management therapies with Vicki Hobbs.

 

 

 

 

 

Massage Therapists – what makes an exceptional one?

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A GOOD MASSAGE THERAPIST AND AN EXCEPTIONAL MASSAGE THERAPIST?
Written by Vicki Hobbs, 
Owner / Operator of Phoenix Therapies Wellness & Pregnancy Centre 

I believe that I am an exceptional massage therapist!

The difference between me and a good massage therapist is hands on experience, ongoing training and the understanding that you will never know everything and that is why it is important to constantly seek out more knowledge, more experience and more understanding.

From the moment I meet my client, I watch the way they stand, sit and walk. I look at their posture and the way they hold their neck and shoulders. I look at how their feet are positioned as they walk and when they are lying on the table. Before I have even spoken to them I already have an idea of the muscles that need work based on my observations. I look at what they have written on their client history form, checking what they do for a job, any past or present conditions that might be affecting muscles, what type of exercise they do, how much water they drink and what are their stress triggers and my mind is ticking over all these important clues of how I can perform my clients treatment. When my client is in the treatment room I ask questions and I listen to the answers, all the while formulating my treatment strategy. Once they are on the table I look at their alignment and the tell tale signs of tense muscles.

For me the best massage a person can give you is one in silence. A therapist who is constantly talking is not thinking about the treatment they are giving you or the muscles that they are working on, no matter how good they are. Yes they may still give a good massage, but not an exceptional massage and you as the client deserve value for money – you deserve the best! phoenix-43 - Copy

During the treatment as I run my hands over my clients body initially in the warm up phase of the massage I just “feel”. Massage is all about touch and feeling for areas of dysfunction. I can instinctively pick the areas that are causing you problems immediately just through that initial touch.

During my remedial training, one of my awesome lecturers made us close our eyes and feel each muscle while we worked. To this day, I still close my eyes from time to time while working on a client and in my mind I visualise every muscle I am working on, visualise the attachment points, visualise the tension being worked out of each muscle and the muscles lengthening, I visualise the stress, anxiety and discomfort being released from my clients body, and as I work I notice the calm and peacefulness coming over them.

I take my job very seriously. I am passionate about massage and how much it will benefit a person not only physically, but mentally and emotionally as well. Massage is not about a quick rub down of the body. Massage is about incorporating many different techniques such as trigger point release, deep tissue, relaxation and positional release of muscles.

My centre is not a day spa where most therapists are trained to certificate level in swedish massage, which is for relaxation and they definitely do create a beautiful experience for someone who needs pampering. When you come for a remedial massage at Phoenix Therapies, it is our job to work on your problem areas, however I guarantee you will leave feeling relaxed and calm as well, rejuvenated and re-energised because we make it our mission to work on all levels of the mind, the body and the emotions.

Testimonial by Alison of Edgewater
I have been attending Phoenix Therapies on a regular basis for over 2 years now. Initially I visited Vicki for relaxation massages. When I moved back to Perth I sought Vicki out when I hurt my back. The time she took to assess my personal situation and then create a remedial plan ensured that my injury healed completely. I now see Sarah every month for continued massage therapy. These regular visits are a part of my personal management plan to ensure my physical and mental well-being are looked after. I have always found Vicki and her team to be very caring. Vicki as a business leader is keen to take on any feedback – positive or negative. She has the courage to act on this feedback and then make the changes necessary to improve her business. I know when she was looking to expand she spent a lot of time finding the right personnel for Phoenix Therapies. People who would not only be able to do the job but also to fit in with the ethos and principles of the business. Vicki’s holistic approach to massage is the key to her success. I have no issues recommending Phoenix Therapies to friends and colleagues.

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The same goes with pregnancy massage. Massage therapy during pregnancy is a necessity, not just a luxury to assist in reducing stress, anxiety and to promote relaxation, but not only that it helps to prepare muscles and joints for childbirth along with so many other benefits. As a mother of two (born 15 years apart), I have experienced two very different pregnancies and my second pregnancy was made all the more rewarding and manageable by having regular pregnancy massage incorporating remedial techniques.

Again, when I work on a pregnant woman I visualise and “feel” all the problem areas that need attention and I utilise all the right techniques to ensure that when that pregnant mum leaves my centre she not only feels those sore spots have been managed or eliminated, she also feels the calming sensatons and relaxation of the mind and body.

My training in pregnancy massage and maternity care has been extensive and I just can’t get enough in terms of soaking up like a sponge new information, therapies and remedies to ease pregnancy related discomfort. I am a certified Doula / Birthing Assistant and Childbirth Educator and I love sharing my knowledge with pregnant mums and giving them support and natural alternatives to the medical model of pregnancy care.

Working with pregnant women gives me the opportunity to share ways that you can ease your discomfort at home with really simple stretches, positioning and handy tools. I can provide you with information that will be of benefit to you during your pregnancy, labour and birth. If I don’t know something then I will definitely find out for you as I belong to a wonderful network of like-minded Doula’s, Midwives and Natural Therapists. I want you to feel empowered as a woman and about your birthing choices.

I feel so honoured when a first time mum who has visited our centre and felt their care with us was so exceptional that they return after baby is born for postnatal massages and then for subsequent pregnancies. Our pregnancy massage club is rapidly growing with all the beautiful little cherubs we helped to bring calm and peace while they were still growing inside. It’s fantastic when the husbands or partners visit as they too benefit from deep tissue remedial massage incorporating relaxation techniques, as let’s face it, our men can get pretty stressed out from time to time and they feel that with tense muscles, headaches, lower back pain and shoulder and neck pain too.

Testimonial by Mel of Hamersley
I was given a gift of some money to have a massage to pamper myself during my pregnancy, and my Obstetrician’s team suggested trying Phoenix Therapies and I am just so happy that I decided to try it. I had been experiencing a lot of back pain and the general discomfort of pregnancy, and was not expecting more than a few moments of relief. But not only did I completely relax during my session, I had the most blissful nights sleep that night and following nights! Staff took the time to find out about my specific needs, made me so comfortable both physically and emotionally, and even took the time to show me some ongoing exercises that I could do at home to keep my back pain at bay. I really appreciated the holistic way you cared for me and created a really special memory for me during my pregnancy, as well as providing much needed practical physical relief.

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All our therapists who work at Phoenix Therapies have all been chosen for their excellent training opportunities and their beliefs about massage, the body and the mind and for their ability to perform an exceptional massage. Keep in mind that what works for one person may not necessarily work for the next and that is why we suggest alternative treatments to clients so they can find what works best for them.

Similarly, you may not like the technique of one therapist so try one of the others to find who suits you best because at the end of the day I want you to leave my premises feeling you got value for money and an exceptional massage experience so that you keep coming back and recommending our services to your friends, family members and colleagues.

MORE TESTIMONIALS

After a recommendation from a friend, I started attending Phoenix Therapies Wellness Centre, and have maintained a monthly visit for a therapeutic massage for over 3½ years, and more recently the services of the on-site Chiropractor. I personally, have found the difference between this centre compared to other massage places vastly different, not only due to the professional attitude of the staff, but also their friendliness, knowledge of their work and the general ambience of the Centre. The atmosphere of the Centre is one of absolute peace and calmness, which to me, is what the whole experience of massage and the related services are all about. I plan to experience some of the other services on offer in the near future, and have no doubt at all to recommend others to the Centre for their own personal experience, whether it may be therapeutic or just ‘feel good’.
Sue of Marangaroo

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Having been a happy client of Phoenix Therapies for the past 4 years, I am more than willing to state that the level of service and professionalism with which I am treated on every occasion that I visit is absolutely second to none. I was impressed from my very
first contact with Vicki and her team of attentive therapists. Having enjoyed the specialised Pregnancy Massage service whilst expecting my first child, I was eager to return for the same indulgent and remedial magic again, now that my second baby is on the way. I find the conscientious attention to detail, during the in-depth pre-treatment interviews very reassuring, and know that my unborn baby and I are in the best of hands. Vicki also regularly sends out relevant and interesting email newsletters about new services available at the practice and also about unique upcoming workshops and courses. These newsletters are never intrusive or trying to sell me something, but more educational and structured to compliment my course of treatment in a holistic way. The staff at Phoenix Therapies are very friendly and courteous, always welcoming me with big smiles as I walk in the door. I also appreciate the reminder text I am sent automatically the day before my appointment, and their ability to keep me on short notice waiting lists for opening appointment times. I certainly feel like one of their valued clientele, and am always telling my family and friends about my great experiences with Phoenix Therapies. Especially anyone who is pregnant, as it is very difficult to find qualified, experienced and trustworthy therapists in this field in the northern suburbs of Perth. I wish Vicki and her team every success with their growing and evolving business, and I consider myself lucky to have access to their invaluable services.
Megan of Wanneroo

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The residents of Darch and surrounding suburbs are lucky to have such a fantastic business like Phoenix Therapies at their local neighbourhood shopping centre. Vicki and her team of happy staff have grown a great business which seems to be adding
to its products and services to experience each time I hear from them via email/Facebook or visiting the centre. From the moment you enter the centre you feel relaxed and calm and while waiting for your therapy to commence there is a wonderful range of products in reception to view and purchase to take home a little piece of the experience. I usually visit the centre for remedial massage and have been lucky enough to meet both Sarah and Kieko who usually look after me with happy and friendly service while delivering an exceptional remedial massage. I can’t speak highly enough of Phoenix Therapies and their wonderful staff.
John of Darch