Forget Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

By Grayce Bartlett, massage therapist in Islington

STOP! Nutrition, the most important thing of our lives, or it should be anyway. We were brought up with the mindset of breakfast, lunch, dinner and two snacks, which for some people just doesn't work!

I have 6 meals a day, consisting of carbs, protein and fat, all the essentials our body needs to function. That does mean I can be eating chicken, sweet potato and veg at 10am! But, it works for me and my body.

We hear at least every day of people who are trying to lose weight, or put on weight/muscle mass, but the common problem is that we just aren't eating enough (of the right things!). Yes, even if you want to lose weight! Trust me!!!

We need to be eating every 3 hours, other wise our body goes into 'starvation mode' and starts storing fat and eating muscle, as it genuinely doesn't know when it's going to get fed again. Most of us go 4/5 hours without eating, then wonder why we are feeling 'hungry' (hungry/angry), and why we always crave something sweet in the afternoon, our body is calling out for food!!! Our sugar levels drop, and our body then stores the fat, just in case we aren't going to eat for a while, it all goes back to cavemen times.

Anyway, the moral of the story is, EAT regularly. Every 3 hours, small meals. Get out of the mind set of "It's lunchtime so I need a sandwich or soup", our body needs feeding, from all food groups. Try to find out what works for your body, whether you respond well to good fats or good carbs. Stick to single ingredient foods, not processed, artificial rubbish, and stay away from sugar.

Good foods include:

Protein Carbs Fat
Eggs Sweet potato Avocado
Chicken Brown rice Cahsew nuts
Turkey Green veg Nut butter
Lean beef mince   Coconut oil
Lean steak    


Grayce Bartlett is the massage therapist in In Islington but she is also a keen body builder and is looking to compete in a bikini body building competition later this year. she is full of knowledge and is keen to share it so any questions about massage or keeping fit, ask her!


Strapping and taping techniques are some of the most important and most visible skills a physiotherapist, sports therapist or athletic trainer working with sports men and women can have.

Strapping and taping techniques can help prevent injury as well as protect the athlete from re-injury whilst returning to sport and provide compression to a recently injured joint.
The principles of taping are pretty much the same for all applications. An anchor point is applied then support strips of tape restrict movement or provide support.

The role of tape is to limit the movement in an injured joint to prevent excess or abnormal movement. In addition it should provide support to the muscles surrounding the joint that may be under additional strain due to the ligament injury.

Another benefit of taping is thought to be the enhanced proprioception (or kinaesthetic feedback) that the tape provides during movement (or in other words it is thought to improve co-ordination).

For example if a taped ankle starts to invert (turn over) during a jump then the tape will restrict this and inform the body that it needs to contract muscles to prevent this movement in the ankle.

Without this feedback the athlete may be unaware the ankle has started to invert and land on it badly injuring it again.

Tape can also be used to protect unstable joints where repeated or severe ligament damage has resulted in stretching of the ligaments and joint laxity. For examples athletes who repeatedly suffer ankle sprains due to laxity of the joint may benefit from taping or wearing an ankle brace to support the joint because the ligaments have been stretched too much to do their job properly.

Tape is also used to secure protective pads and dressings.


K-tape is a taping technique developed by the Japanese chiropractor Dr Kenzo Kase in Japan more than 25 years ago. It claims to assist in the healing of sporting injuries. It comes in a number of bright colors and is used to help fluid circulation, do activate a muscle and to deactivate a muscle depending on how it is applied. I use Rock – Tape the best on the market and very effective.




There are a number of different of sports tape including EAB, zinc oxide tape and cohesive bandage. There are different types available on the market and their purposes in sports strapping and taping.




What should you do if you suffer a Sprained Ankle?

In the first few days following an ankle sprain it is important to follow the RICE protocol - rest, ice, compression and elevation (never apply ice directly to the skin). An Ankle Cryo/Cuff is the most effective method of providing ice therapy and is the professional's choice. A Cryo/Cuff is ideal for home use as it is the safest and most effective method of ice therapy. It can provide continuous ice cold water and compression for 6 hours and significantly reduce ankle pain and swelling.

Alternatively, if you have to apply ice at home, the use of an Ice Bag is recommended. This is a safe method of ice application to avoid the risk of an ice burn. Alternatively, use an ice pack or bag of frozen peas but make sure that the ice is kept form the skin by a few sheets of kitchen roll or a tea-towel.

R- Rest

I- Ice

C- Compression

E- Elevation

Rehabilitation (video) significantly improves the level of ankle function. Wobble board training in the later rehab stage is designed to assist the re-education of the proprioceptive system. Previous research has suggested that patients with ankle instability who underwent wobble board training experienced significantly fewer recurrent sprains during a follow-up period than those who did not follow the training programme.


Rest from sports is essential, but even walking on the ankle, if it is painful, may cause further damage and should be avoided. No weight should be put through the injured ankle and crutches should be used. Pain relieving medication prescribed by a doctor may be necessary.


Ice Packs are applied for periods of twenty minutes every couple of hours (never apply ice directly to the skin). The Ice Packs relieve pain and are thought to reduce bleeding in the damaged tissue. The Aircast Ankle Cryocuff is the most effective method of providing ice therapy and is the professional's choice. It can provide continuous ice cold water and compression for 6 hours – and significantly reduce pain and swelling.


A swollen ankle is a sign of a significant ankle sprain. The swelling is caused by bleeding in the tissue and a leaking of cellular fluid secondary to tissue damage. If this swelling is allowed to consolidate it can produce excessive scar tissue which seriously lengthens the rehab period. Compression during the early stages helps to resolve swelling and is essential for a good outcome. Compression is provided by the use of a Removable Plastic Cast which has inflatable air cells to massage out swelling, with intermittent use of an Aircast Ankle Cryocuff to provide ice and compression.


If the ankle is not elevated the effect of gravity causes the tissue fluid to accumulate at the ankle. This can cause increased tissue pressure which is extremely painful. To relieve pain and prevent excessive swelling, the ankle is elevated above waist height.

If the pain allows, the ankle should be removed from the Removable Plastic Cast and gently pumped forward and back 20 times each hour. This is done by sitting down with the leg elevated and pushing the toes forward and back. This facilitates the dispersal of swelling from the ankle. Electrotherapy treatments such as ultrasound and pulsed short wave diathermy are effective in speeding the healing process.

Often people coming in for treatment of a sprained ankle are suffering with repetitive injuries which are causing weakened ankle ligaments and surrounding muscles and tendons. In this case, light frictions may be used although it is important to consider that the ligaments are already weak and you should be aiming to build up the strength in the muscles surrounding the joint. Muscle energy techniques can help to re-establish proprioception to prevent future injuries.

In the case of a 1st injury, treatment is important to prevent the injury happening again. Sports massage can help with flushing out the swelling in the joint, breaking down adhesions and stretching tight tissues such as the calf muscles.


By Mark Povey - Sports Massage Therapist

Preparing for the slopes

Skiing isn’t unlike other exercise – or is it? Well it really is. Most of us tend to Ski for one week once or twice a year which makes carry over a lot harder for our muscles. It’s also amazing how much harder your body has to work to just stay warm in the colder climate. Go and find a walk in freezer and hold a deep squat position and you’ll see what I mean. Fatigue will set in a lot quicker as your body is having an internal tug of war as to where the blood needs to flow.

During normal exercise the blood flow is directed to the parts of your body most in need of it; the musculoskeletal system and the lungs mainly. When it’s cold the blood flow is directed mostly to the internal organs and away from the peripheries. This is why that first day on the slopes hurts like crazy! But add to that a sedentary lifestyle or de-conditioned muscles then you will need more than the après ski to get you through!

Adequate preparation for a ski trip should start about 4-6 weeks before you fly. If you are not sure what you need to do or what you need to work on then go and visit a physiotherapist or sports massage therapist and they can either assess your biomechanics or the strength / tone of your muscles. Following this you should have an idea of the muscles that you need to work on. Often practising exercises such as squats, lunges, step ups and step downs coupled with general lower limb stretching will be enough to prepare you. However, core stability, balance and proprioception (fancy word for where your body is in space) are all areas that should also be addressed. Ultimately you want your muscles working efficiently and in conjunction with each other.

Whilst training it is a good idea to have a regular sports massage. This allows for better repair of muscles due to an improved blood flow and lymphatic drainage and also enables your muscles to have a chance to regain the right length / tension ratio.

Injuries are unfortunately inevitable in such a sport as skiing. Some of the more common injuries are fractures to areas such as the collarbone and upper arm, ligament ruptures or sprains to the knee or around the collarbone, muscle injuries to the shoulder and wrists and hands. More seriously head injuries and spinal injuries can occur with the higher impact crashes.

Preparing your body will prevent as much fatigue and enable you to be fitter and stronger which will aid your response times. Remember the old saying – failing to prepare is preparing to fail!

Happy skiing!

If you want a sports massage in Islington or you want advice on how to avoid a skiing injury or even if you are remembering how your muscles felt after your last skiing holdiay arrange a session with Mark.

The second blog entry by our patient training for the London Marathon. Okay, it doesn't sound like a blog about running but it is. It is just that she is a very complex person!

Pancakes and the art of dressing yourself

I’ve spent most of my week chained to a desk and the most physical exercise I’m managed is operating a hole punch or picking up some lunch from Pret….. I did manage to get out for run on Sunday but I think the sleep deprivation must be getting to me because I managed to leave the gas hob on (I blame the new pancake diet – see below) and also ran for over an hour with my running leggings on back to front. They actually felt more comfortable that way so I might keep doing it and I would urge anyone to try this.

My sister bought me a subscription to Runners World for my birthday and I am loving the recipes but kind of got fixated on an article in the February issue about pancakes. This has resulted in a diet based almost solely on pancakes (blueberry and coconut, or banana for breakfast and a Mexican version with corn, guacamole and chilli sauce for dinner) …

I’m not entirely sure this is a nutritionally complete diet but, in any event, I think I’m more likely to meet my demise from causing an explosion from leaving the gas on than not having enough of whatever vitamins and minerals pancakes are lacking ….

Running Theory

It’s bloody freezing and I’m working too much but the good news is that Julo* informs me that my body is in tip-top shape. Muscles are totally relaxed. Clearly exercise is bad for me.

Up until it turned Baltic and work took over my life I was managing to get in some regular runs and swims and a run/swim combo on the weekends which involved running to the lido, swimming and then running home (looking like a drowned rat).

The stretching was also going moderately well too but where I think I’ve been excelling is in the field of running theory. My brother had a theory about how to run a 10km in under 40 minutes. This involves him saying “one, one, one, one, one” to pace himself….

Apparently it makes him run faster than if he says “one, two, one, two, one two” (army style)** I mocked this ‘theory’ until he did his last 10km in 39.59 (pretty bloody accurate on the “one, one, one” counting) so I thought maybe I should expose myself to some more running theory and with that I signed up to a seminar on marathon training.

The marathon training seminar was run hosted by an Ozzie rugby player (well – I think he was Ozzie and he definitely looked like he was a rugby player) who introduced the three speakers in turn.

The first was a physio who began her spot by diligently listing some of the problems she commonly sees in runners: ITB problems, tight hamstrings, groin strain, shin splints, lower back issues….. At this point Julo*, who was sat next to me, looked over at me and kindly pointed out that I have every single one of those problems….

Apparently, this marathon/tri is as much a trial for her (to keep me in one piece) as it is for me to actually motivate myself to do some training on a freezing day….

The second speaker was a doctor who seemed a bit obsessed with periods (apparently low iron levels is a big problem for female runners).

The last presenter was the runner who seemed not to have any particular expertise other than he liked running A LOT and had done a ridiculous amount of marathons. His useful tips included: trying out all your running kit before a big race, setting out your socks and shoes the night before (kind of reminds me of being about four years old), checking TfL and packing some snacks for afterwards. He favoured Yazoo chocolate milk and Mars bars, which made me feel a little suspicious that he had some kind of sponsorship deal going on. Forget the protein shakes - I think this might be Yazoo’s big break!

*Julie Curran – the best massage therapist in the world. (Add ‘o’ to the end of any name to make it Australian).

**I’m unsure how he’s going to break his PB on the basis of this theory as presumably saying “nought point nine, nought point nine, nought point nine” is going to slow him down?!

If you want to make an appointment with Julie the massage therapist please click below.

Getting Fit and Staying Injury Free when Training

Hi, I’m Julie Curran and I’m the sports massage therapist at Islington’s Angel Wellbeing Clinic.

I have a keen interest in sports injuries and back in Australia I treated a number of sportsmen and women, and I was closely associated with a number of sports clubs.

I have been at the Angel Wellbeing Clinic for two years and treated Liz in the passed although her signing up to complete this triathlon (& not to mention the marathon in October) will be a test on her and me.....

My test will be to keep her body in tact her test will be whether she takes my 'home care' advice . . . . e.g. stretching more frequently, regular treatments & strength work.

Liz has problems with her hip flexors, quadratus lumborum muscles, calf muscles & glutes. In our sessions we mainly focus on these areas. Applying a deep pressure with trigger points we release these areas giving her relief.

So I need to hand you over to Liz and she will carry on from here.

First episode…………!!!!!

New Years Resolutions…

blog about training for london marathonSo, we’re now well into February and most people’s New Year’s resolutions are already a distant memory…. Mine would ordinarily be too, and to be fair some* of them have already fallen by the way side, but foolishly I signed up to do a marathon; triathlon and 100 mile bike ride before my enthusiasm for what is clearly not meant to be a lucky year faded.

It’s now starting to dawn on me that signing up to enter events is the easy part and that I am actually going to have to do some training in order to avoid humiliation and actually have a chance of completing any of these events. I seriously don’t know what I was thinking at New Year, I have barely ridden a bike or done any swimming since I was at school, now well over a decade ago, and have been carrying a hip injury since 2012.

I got a bike for Christmas but, apart from one ridiculously frightening ride through central London, during which I caught my pedal on the pavement while going over Tower Bridge, I haven’t actually ridden it.

I have, however, managed to come up with a whole range of great excuses to avoid getting on the damn thing. Most of them centre around the dangers that come with riding a bike in London, or when it’s wet, or when it’s cold (because my hands might not be able to work the breaks which seem to have been positioned on the wrong part of the handle bars). However, I’ve got a plan: I bought a turbo trainer, an invention I didn’t even know about until a couple of months ago but means you can train for a bikeathon without ever having to leave the house or miss an episode of ‘How I met your Mother’. At present it’s acting much like a display facility for my sparkling new bike but it’s a first step right?!

I’ve done marginally better on the swimming having been approximately three times this year so far and what’s more I have a much better excuse for my woeful lack of training in this area. I had laser eye-surgery in mid January and for a week prior to the surgery you’re not allowed to wear contact lenses, so I was too blind to swim for that week. Then to avoid going blind after the procedure I had to follow the post eye-surgery rules and was not allowed to swim for two weeks, which is kind of ironic given that you have to wear goggles in bed during the same period…. Anyhow, I’m going swimming tomorrow so am feeling a bit more positive that swim training will actually happen.

Without a doubt running is my strongest discipline but I’ve been carrying injuries all year and have only ever done half marathons so not sure the body will hold out for the full 26.2 miles of the marathon (or the last leg of the triathlon). Julo** is always telling me I need to stretch more, use the foam roller, stop walking around in heels and carrying bags on one shoulder, drink more water, do yoga and take Epson Salt baths.

So I’m trying to follow this advice – I’ve definitely got the bath thing down but not sure that bathing while listening to The Killers is what was intended... I’ve also been going to yoga but this week that seems to have caused more injury that it’s prevented. Until I had a massage this afternoon I couldn’t turn my head fully to the left as a result of some over enthusiastic shoulder standing.

So, in the face of fear I’ve spent Saturday night preparing a training regime for the next few weeks/months. I intend to spend tomorrow putting it into an excel spreadsheet and colour coding my schedule depending on the discipline and intensity.

Now if I can only persuade the organisers of the London triathlon to exchange cycling or swimming for a leg involving formatting excel spreadsheets (i.e. acting like a dickhead) I think I’ll be in with a chance of completing at least one of my remaining resolutions.

*Other resolutions included: getting laser eye surgery (done); drawing a picture every day (fail); giving up sweets and ice cream (epic fail) and drinking more sensibly (I went to watch Ireland v Wales in Cardiff last weekend - drinking started at noon - say no more).
** Julie Curran – the best massage therapist in the world. (Add ‘o’ to the end of any name to make it Australian).


Pregnancy and Massage

Hi there,

I’m Julie Curran and I’m the massage therapist at Islington’s Angel Wellbeing Clinic and I specialise in sports and rehabilitation massage as well as in the treatment of mums to be.

• Are your emotions playing havoc with you?
• Are you struggling to get a good night’s sleep?
• Are you worrying about finances, preparing the nursery, weight gain, exercise, labour   &   delivery?
• Are you experiencing constipation and cramping?
• Are you aching in parts of your body you didn’t think could ache?

I don’t have the answer to all of these problems– although I will say that regular massage treatment throughout your pregnancy will help with a lot of these things and prepare you better emotionally to deal with this life changing event!

My experience in treating woman throughout their pregnancy has proven to be beneficial physically and mentally. Feedback from previous clients has been that labour & delivery is much more comfortable following regular massage treatment throughout the pregnancy. Also, their sleeping patterns have improved which is great when you have to start to deal with a crying baby!

Getting a good night sleep during pregnancy can be a source of anxiety and frustration for many mums-to-be.

What happens to slleping habits in the different trimester’s?

First trimester

• Insomnia is relatively common and is caused by the hormonal changes of pregnancy

Second trimester

• Sleep problems are rare as hormones stabilise.

Third trimester

• Insomnia often occurs in the third trimester.

As the third trimester progresses there's more pressure on your lungs and you fatigue more easily but start sleeping more poorly. Therefore regular massage can help towards a good nights sleep….avoiding the horrible feeling of sleep deprivation.

Specialised massage during pregnancy can be beneficial, relieving the discomfort of backache, aching hips, swollen ankles, feet and hands. These are all due to fluid retention.

How can pregnancy massage help me?

Many studies show that women who receive regular massage throughout their pregnancy tend to have shorter labour with fewer complications. Studies have also shown that women who receive massage at least twice a week before delivery have lower levels of stress hormones. This is very impoartant as this reduces the risk of premature delivery and postnatal depression.

“women who receive (pregnancy) massage at least twice a week before delivery have lower levels of stress hormones. This is very impoartant as this reduces the risk of premature delivery and postnatal depression”.

The specialised techniques used at the Islington clinic for pregnancy massage, address the discomfort associated with pregnancy and helps relax muscle tension and improve blood circulation, improving nourishment to both mother and baby.

Pregnancy massage has a range of benefits including improvement in posture, helping to reduce swelling in the hands and feet, reduce the appearance of stretch marks and prepare the body for childbirth. In addition, a relaxing massage has been found to help alleviate the common problem of insomnia during pregnancy.

Regular pregnancy massage can help:

• Reduce back pain and ease general aches and pains caused by pregnancy
• Encourage a better nights sleep
• Lower levels of stress hormones
• Reduce blood pressure & fluid retention
• Improve circulation & mood
• Reduce anxiety
• Enhance health and nourishment of the skin
• Boost energy levels and most importantly

Postnatal massage can help restore the body to its pre-pregnancy state, helping to reduce the appearance of stretch marks and improving skin tone, reducing water retention and increasing circulation – thereby speeding up the healing process.

It is important to note that pregnancy massage is not a replacement for prenatal care.

No matter where you are in your prengancy I can help you have a more comfortable pregnancy and better experience of childbirth. If you have already given birth I can help you with your post-natal recovery.

If you want to arrange for a massage at the Islington clinic, or if you want to email me please click below. If you want to discuss your massage needs call the clinic and I will phone you back.

Cycling and Low Back Pain


This article is by Julie Curran the massage therapist at Islington's Angel Massage Clinic. Julie has plenty of experience in the treament of low back pain in athletes and she has a number of patients that train and compete in triathlons and Iron Man competitions.

Julie works closely with the physiotherapist, the osteopath and the chiropractor at the Angel Wellbeing Clinic in London and this multi disciplinary approach has proved very successful.

back pain and cycling treated by the massage therapist in IslingtonLow back pain is a common complaint amongst cyclists and those who have experienced low back pain will be aware of just how debilitating it can be. The effects of low back pain are far reaching, having impact on your work, social life and sports performance.



Causes of low back pain in cycling

The most common low back pain whilst riding a bike is due to prolonged flexion of the lumbar spine. This can lead to muscle fatigue, chronic tension of ligaments within the spine and compression of the discs. It is important to remember that although the disc may be a source of pain it does not necessarily mean it has herniated or ruptured.

Pain arising from the structures in the spine may remain localised within the spine but pain may also refer into the buttocks, groin, thigh and even down to your feet. In chronic back pain the pain often has its origins from a multitude of sources.

Where to look for the cause

Usually, upon examination, cyclists who have low back pain will also have a stiff lower lumbar spine, poor hip range of motion, and tight posterior chain muscles (particularly gluts and hamstrings), or possibly all three!

♦ A stiff lumbar spine will mean that you reach your limit sooner into range.

♦ Poor hip range can pull your pelvis into posterior tilt and therefore your lumbar spine     into more flexion to create the flexion needed to get to the top of your pedal stroke.

♦ Tight gluts and hamstrings can also limit your hip flexion, and along with your back extensors, can be a source of pain themselves should they develop trigger points and excessive tightness.

The Solution

The solution is the same as the method of prevention of low back pain when doing most sports = Core stability and correct movement patterns

The lumbopelvic stability muscles not only have to tolerate prolonged flexion of the spine but they also have to provide a stable platform to absorb the massive forces generated by the legs and to prevent the rotation of the pelvis causing too much rotation of the lumbar spine and the lumbar discs.

Each time the legs push down onto the pedals, a force is also directed up into the trunk. You may have noticed that when a cyclist becomes tired they have more uncontrolled movements occurring at their trunk (i.e., increases in lumbar flexion, rotation or side flexion) as they push down with their legs. This is because the trunk is not strong enough to absorb the forces from the legs and maintain a neutral spine, which then causes fatigue and back pain.

With good core stability, cyclists are better able to control these movements, absorbing the huge forces from their legs more effectively and, therefore, cycle faster!

Transversus abdominus is a very important muscle which provides crucial support to your lumbar spine. It is your deepest abdominal muscle and acts like a corset around your trunk.

Studies have shown that people who suffer with low back pain do not have adequate transverses abdominus activation.

In addition and probably more importantly, it has been shown that following spinal injuries and once back pain has subsided, this muscle does not automatically reactivate. Therefore, it is paramount that transverses abdominus is retrained following a back injury to prevent re occurrences. We have included a few basic core stability exercises which you may find useful.

If you suffer from low-back pain when riding, try increasing your lumbar and/or hip mobility and range, stretch your gluts and hamstrings (in fact, all your major lower limb muscle groups would be beneficial), learn how to engage your core muscles, and learn how to do this on a bike!

Another way to help prevent the low back injuries that are prevalent to cyclists is stretching the hip flexors. One of the big problems with this is that there are very few activities of daily living that stretch out this muscle group. The flexibility of this group in general is poor at best.

As cyclists, we are forced to perform in a position that forces the hip flexors somewhere between 'short and shorter'. These 'short and shorter' muscles are very susceptible to fatigue and spasm.

One example where short hip flexors is problematic is during a ride with a long climb so imagine how Bradley Wiggins will feel in the 2013 Tour de France on stage 18. This stage on July 18th requires the riders to climb Alpe D’huez twice, a total climb of 3510m.

long periods in the saddle can lead to tight hip flexors and back pain

After a relatively short amount of time, the rider gets tired and the lower back can become uncomfortable or even painful. To get some relief, the rider will stand. The standing in the pedals is where the rider experiences the benefit of stretching the hip flexors.

"standing in the pedals is where the rider experiences the benefit of stretching the hip flexors".

Remedial massage can help with releasing the appropriate muscle groups that are contributing to the tight areas. Working specifically through the lower back region, hamstrings & gluteal muscles, quadriceps (especially the rectus femoris), Iliotibial band & the hip flexor/psoas areas.

How I can help you?

Firstly it is important to make sure you fit your bike perfectly. There is no point working on your back problem and getting you back to fitness if the moment you get back onto your bike and mess things up! We recommend Denver Collins who is an expert bike fitter at On Your Bike in London Bridge. For more information about Denver’s specialist service click here.

It is my experience that a two-pronged attack is the best approach initially. Physically helping the muscles to relax through massage (therapeutic) rehabilitation exercises for retraining the movement pattern that has been hindered by the injury.

The second phase of the treatment involves the return to fitness and the return to pre-injury training levels and how to minimise a recurrence. This in itself is a big topic and deserves its own dedicated article.

If you are a keen cyclitst or if you are in training for a triathlon or Iron Man competition call Julie at the Angel Massage Clinic in London and arrange an appontment to acces you on how you can improve your performance and prevent injury.

Training for a half marathon when you have sciatica


This article is close to home for me at the moment as I am suffering with sciatic nerve pain. I have treated numerous clients over the years both back home in Australia and also here in Islington at the Angel Massage Clinic with low back pain and sciatica

The understanding of a ‘condition’ or ‘injury’ obviously becomes more apparent when you are suffering from it yourself and I can now really sympathise with all my clients. The symptoms I am suffering from are exactly what my clients have described to me in the past and it is a real eye opener!

I can empathise with everyone I have treated with this problem, and it is very frustrating when you like running or keeping fit yet have nerve pain. At the moment I am in training for a half marathon in Killarney-Ireland on July 14th. A lot of the patients I see with low back pain and or sciatica at the massage clinic in Islington are in there 20’s and 30’s. Most are physically very active so keeping active and maintaining fitness is important to them during their recovery from their problem. As it is to me!

Symptoms of sciatica or nerve root pain:

• Constant pain on one side into the glutei muscles or down the leg
• Pain worse when sitting
• Burning or tingling down the leg
• Weakness, numbness or difficulty moving the leg or foot
• A sharp pain that may make it difficult to stand up or to walk

Sciatic pain can vary in its intensity and of course it can vary in its level of annoyance. Sciatica can range from being intermittent and only mildly annoying to being constant and incapacitating with pain on almost every movement. In my experience of being a massage therapist in Islington the specific symptoms of sciatica can also vary widely and everyone’s interpretation of pain can also be different.

While symptoms can be very painful, there is a glimmer of light as it’s rare that permanent sciatic nerve damage will result. If there is nerve damage and a loss in reflexes or in the innervation of a muscle this should heal over time.

The Sciatic Nerve and Sciatica background:
• Sciatica symptoms occur when the large sciatic nerve is irritated. The sciatic nerve is the largest single nerve in the body and is composed of individual nerve roots that start by branching out from the spine in the lower back and combine to form the “sciatic nerve” which runs down the back of the leg.
• The sciatic nerve starts in the lower back at lumbar segment 3 (L3).
• At each level of the lower spine a nerve root exits the spine between the vertebrae and behind the intervertebral disc they then comes together to make up the large sciatic nerve.
• The sciatic nerve runs from the lower back, down the back of each leg
• Portions of the sciatic nerve then branch out in each leg to innervate certain parts of the leg e.g. the buttock, thigh, calf, foot, toes.
• The sciatic nerve provides both sensory and motor nerves.
• The sciatica symptoms (e.g., leg pain, numbness, tingling, weakness, possibly foot pain) are different depending on where the nerve is pinched. For example, a lumbar segment 5 (L5) nerve impingement can cause weakness in extension of the big toe and potentially in extension of the ankle.

As the massage therapist in Islington at the Angel Wellbeing Clinic I think it will be helpful to all of my patients that have sciatica and a disc problem if I let you know how I am treating my disc pain and sciatica. I will also keep you up to date with how I am maintaining my fitness levels for the approaching half marathon whilst juggling the discomfort of having a pinched nerve radiating pain down the back of my left leg!

The treatment I have found to be the most effective for the pain is the application of ice. I usually apply ice for approximately 20 minutes and then repeat it every two hours. It is not so easy at work to walk around with a bag of frozen peas shoved down the back of my trousers but it’s no problem when at home.

Most of my clients use ice first. This approach does make sense as ice reduces acute inflammation such as in an acutely inflamed disc. I like to remind my massage clients that you ice a twisted and swollen ankle. This is similar to the damage in a disc that leads to sciatica and a pinched nerve.

In some cases ice just doesn’t have any effect on them and they find more relief with heat. This doesn’t make any sense to me but if it works for them who am I to disagree! The cold and heat can be alternated in some cases but have a chat with an osteopath, physiotherapist or chiropractor first and get a proper diagnosis first.

So what have I been up to that helps decrease my discomfort? Firstly I have been having regular massages in Islington to free up the tightness in my low back the and the buttock muscles. Massage helps to increase the blood supply to the muscles and this improved circulation helps to clear out the build up of lactic acid produced by the chronically tight muscles. Therapeutic massage also helps to produce endorphins which can also help to relieve some of the symptoms.

Finally, working at Islington’s Angel Wellbeing Clinic I have access to chiropractic, osteopathy, physiotherapy and acupuncture so I am tackling this problem from all angles.

Next article will be about my experience of having my sciatica treated by an osteopath and how I plan my training around the sciatica.

Wishing you all well,

Julie Curran

If you are suffering form sciatica or are jest a keen runner and want to have a sports massage in Islington with Julie click below to make an appointment.


Sports massage and therapeutic massage in Islington and recovery from a marathon

This article is by Julie Curran the sports massage therapist at Islington’s Angel Massage Clinic.

The Virgin London Marathon is coming up this weekend and this comes a week after the Brighton Marathon. So good luck to anyone that ran a marathon last week and is doing another one this weekend!

We have seen a number of patients over the last few weeks at the Angel Massage Clinic in Islington with the aches and pains from following the training schedule which up until a week or so ago had the mileage increasing on a weekly basis. A number of patients were finding that as the mileage increased so did there recovery time and that overuse injuries were appearing.

• Achilles tendonitis
• Anterior compartment syndrome
• Posterior compartment syndrome
• Runner’s knee or iliotibial band syndrome, ITB syndrome.
• Muscle strains

After running a marathon the joints in your legs and back will have suffered from repetitive micro trauma so don’t be surprised if your knees ache. The same goes with your back, don’t be surprised if you have back stiffness in the mornings.

recovery from the virgin london marathon with sports massageThe repetitive impact of running is absorbed by the discs in the spine and they can suffer micro trauma and take time to recover. For this reason it is important to have a massage on your legs and lower back. According to some experts it can take a month to get over the effects of running the Virgin London Marathon. Why do it!

Massage is a great way of stretching your running muscles, in addition to relaxing aches and soothing pains. Remedial massage is a great way of cleansing your body of many of the sprains, aches and pains that may result from a lengthy run. Runners often use this massage to overcome back, leg and neck ache as muscles and tissue are stretched and tapped to release more blood and ease running aches.

Sports massage and running

The most important outcome of remedial massage treatment is that it reduces pain and enables a return to a normal range of movement and function. Remedial massage essentially involves locating and removing blockages thus creating the conditions for the body’s return to optimal health.

• flushing the fluid through the tissues
• pressing the muscles to release tension
• pressing areas of hardened tissue to break them up
• stretching tissue to restore normal range of movement
• tapping muscles to increase the blood supply and tone the muscles.
• Reduces muscle inflammation
• Reduces muscle soreness
• Reduces muscle tension
• Promotes muscle flexibility
• Increases muscle recover time
• Increases mental alertness and reduces muscle fatigue
• Decreases your chance of developing a muscle injury

Sports massage promotes muscle flexibility by removing lactic acid and it should be part of your post Virgin London Marathon recovery programme. This post marathon recovery programme should be adhered to with the same motivation as the training schedule if post race problems are to be avoided as you return to normal exercise patterns.

Massage immediately before and after a marathon will also help reduce the muscle spasms that occurs with vigorous exercise and help to make the event as pleasurable as it can be!

Good luck to everyone taking part in the Virgin London Marathon and a special good luck to all my patients that are running at the weekend.

Other relevent articles:

Massage found to reduce inflammation following strenuous exercise.

Running Injuries: Anterior Compartment Syndrome and Posterior Compartment Syndrome or Shin Splints

Runners Knee Part 2: Is this the Magical Cure?

The Treatment of Runners Knee or Iliotibial Band Syndrome

Achilles tendonitis

If you are taking part in the Virgin London Marathon and you want a post race sports massage click below to make an appointment with Julie Curran the sports massage therapist and remedial massage therapist at Islington’s Angel Massage Clinic.


Massage Found To Reduce Inflammation Following Strenuous Exercise

The massage therapist at the Angel Massage Clinic in Islington has plenty of experience of treating atheletes. Whether they are triathletes or marathon runners Julie has found that regular massage helps with training and performace and can help prevent the little niggles from becoming something more severe!

Most athletes can testify to the pain-relieving, recovery-promoting effects of massage. Now there's a scientific basis that supports booking a session with a massage therapist: On the cellular level massage reduces inflammation and promotes the growth of new mitochondria in skeletal muscle. The research, involving scientists from the Buck Institute for Research on Aging and McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario appears in the online edition of Science Translational Medicine.

For the rest of the article click here.

If you are in training for the Virgin London Marathon or are a triathlete, or simply a fun runner, regular massage can really help you with training. for an appointment with Julie the massage therapist in Islington at the Angel Msssage Clinic click below.

Valentines Offer

2 4 1


Swedish, Remedial, Deep Tissue

Treat yourself & your partner…

Contact Julie on 079 6065 1849 or ask reception for availability.
Massage’s normally £60 per person

Ultraman 2011 and sports massage

I have massaged athletes at all levels although none quite like Rod Smith so here is my account of Rod doing the 2011 Ultra Ironman.

I treated Rod in Sydney through different Ironman & local events, so when I moved to London and he told me he was coming to the UK to compete in the Ultraman UK competition, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be involved.

The Ultraman UK competition is a gruelling 3-day 320 mile ultra endurance event held in the beautiful countryside of North Wales, where the rain falls as sleet!

The schedule was as follows

Saturday - Stage 1 – 10.0 km (6.2 mile) circuit swim, taking the swimmer up the right side of Bala Lake (Llyn Tegid) 5 km (3 miles), around a marker, and back to the starting point (as you look at the lake from the direction of Bala town).

massage therapy for triathalon










This is then immediately followed by a one-loop bike ride in Betws-y-Coed in Conwy County (to the west) 144.8 km (90.0 mile). This ends Day-1.

massage therapy for triathalons









Sunday - Stage 2 – A one-loop (to the south), consisting of a 275.8 km (171.4 mile) bike ride, around Betws-y-Coed in Conwy County. This ends Day-2.

massage theray for triathalon












Monday - Stage 3 – A double-marathon run, in Betws-y-Coed in Conwy County centred around Mt. Snowdon, consisting of a gruelling 84.3 km (52.4 mile). This ends Day-3.

massage therapy for triathalon







To prepare, Rod trained for 26 hours a week since the start of 2011, leading up to the competition.

To be his massage therapist, and part of his support crew, was an experience that you smimming part of the ultraman competitioncan never forget! The competition put Rod’s body through a tremendous amount of trauma and strain, to the point where I had to massage Rod both morning and night.
Having said that, I was unable to apply any form of massage treatment to his body for a period of 12 hours after the third day of the competition. His muscles became far too sensitive by the end of the competition, and the mere thought of me massaging them made him wince!


ultraman 2011 massage therapy for the cycling stageDay-4 (1 day after the end of the competition), I was delighted to see how well his muscles responded to the massage, considering how tight they were shortly after the last event. By Day-5 (2 days after the end of the events), he was on track to feeling half normal again!

The regular massage sessions during the competition helped Rod greatly. But Rod’s speed of recovery was entirely due to the treatment leading up to the competition, and more importantly, the treatment after the competition.



ultraman 2011 massage therapy after the run stageInflammation around his right knee had developed during the competition, which had increased to such a degree that during the double marathon, you could physically see the difference in size between each knee. But, by treating this with icing and the appropriate massage technique, the inflammation quickly dispersed.






Rod is a prime example of how massage therapy can 'keep you on track' to do the things you put your mind to!

Injuries can be overcome!

Other relevent articles

The types of problems people present with at Islington's Angel Massage Clinic

Randomised controlled study about massage and back pain

If you are training for a triathlon or are just a keen runner or cyclist, the massage therapist in Islington at the Angel Massage Clinic will be able to help you. Click below to make an appointment.

We never doubted her! Julie Now Has a Randomised Controlled Study demonstrating how effective her massages are

Julie Curran is the Angel Massage Clinic’s massage therapist and part of the Angel Wellbeing Clinic’s team of practitioners.

The results of a randomised controlled trial published in the Annals of Internal Medicine in July 2011 compares both structural and relaxation massage on back pain.

The study found that massage helps people with back pain to function even after six month, which allowed them to work and be more active.

This is important because chronic back pain is among the most common reasons people see doctors, chiropractors, physiotherapists, osteopaths and massage therapists. This is significant because back pain can have arthritis as an underlying problem and arthritis is the second most common cause for absenteeism from the work place for both men and women. According to statistics in 2001 from the Office of National Statistics and department of Work and Pensions 206 million days were lost in the UK due to arthritis in 1999-2000. This equates to a loss of £18 billion of lost production.

The trial enrolled 400 Group Health Cooperative patients who had had low back pain for at least three months. Their pain was "nonspecific," meaning with no identified cause. They were randomly assigned to one of three treatments: structural massage, relaxation massage, or usual care. Usual care was what they would have received anyway, most often medications. The hour-long massage treatments were given weekly for 10 weeks.
At 10 weeks, more than one in three patients who received either type of massage—but only one in 25 patients who got usual care—said their back pain was much better or gone. Also at 10 weeks, a questionnaire showed nearly twice as many massage patients (around two thirds) as usual-care patients (more than one third) were functioning significantly better than at the trial's outset. Patients in the massage groups spent fewer days in bed, were more active, and used less anti-inflammatory medication than did those with usual care.

"As expected with most treatments, the benefits of massage declined over time," Dr. Cherkin the lead researcher said. "But at six months after the trial started, both types of massage were still associated with improved function." After one year, the benefits of massage were no longer significant.

The bottom line: "We found the benefits of massage are about as strong as those reported for other effective treatments: medications, acupuncture, exercise, and yoga," Dr. Cherkin said. "And massage is at least as safe as other treatment options. So people who have persistent back pain may want to consider massage as an option."

Prior studies of massage for back pain had tested only structural forms of massage, not relaxation massage. But relaxation (also called Swedish) massage is the most widely available and is taught in massage schools. It aims to promote a feeling of relaxation throughout the body. By contrast, structural massage involves identifying and focusing on specific pain-related "soft tissues" (like muscles and ligaments). It requires extra training and may be more expensive—but more likely to be covered by health insurance plans—than relaxation massage.

"The massage therapists assumed structural massage would prove more effective than relaxation massage," said Dr. Cherkin's colleague Karen J. Sherman, PhD, MPH, a senior investigator at Group Health Research Institute. "They were surprised when patients in the relaxation group got so much relief from their back pain."

Next steps include figuring out whether the structural and relaxation massages were equally effective for the same—or for different—reasons:
• Structural or relaxation massage, or both, might have specific effects, such as stimulating tissue or calming the central nervous system.
• Either or both might work through "nonspecific effects" that may promote a person's ability to play an active role in their own healing. Possible nonspecific effects include: being touched; spending time in a relaxing environment; receiving care from a therapist who seems caring; getting advice on caring for yourself, such as exercises to do on your own; or becoming more aware of your own body, so you're better able to avoid triggers for your back pain.
• Some combination of specific and nonspecific effects might be at play.

Julie Curran is Angel Massage Clinic fully qualified massage therapist so whether you are an athlete suffering from a sports injury, or an individual who’s every day tasks are made harder to achieve by muscular pain or other conditions, Julie's thorough assessment, treatment and management plan will help restore your health and well being to ensure you’re able to get back to the things you enjoy.



Tips for Bonding with Baby from Angel Wellbeing Clinic’s Parent Coach

Here are ‘Ten tips for bonding with baby’ from our parent coach Emua Ali. Emua is the parent of four children and a qualified parent coach having worked with parents for over 15 years.

Dads are parents too and can feel a bit marginalized initially, so if you are a dad with concerns or worries Emua can help you too and then you can help mum and baby.

Here are some simple tips to help you bond with your baby and develop a secure attachment. This will help your baby to settle and reduce emotional and behavioural problems later on:

1. Make eye contact and speak with your baby from day one.

2. Give your baby your time and you will grow together.

3. You are your child's first teacher, so sing, laugh and play together.

4. When your baby cries, avoid sticking a bottle or breast in their mouth
straight away. Find out what your baby is trying to communicate to you.
Your baby may not be hungry. Are they bored? Is your baby wet and needs changing? Does your baby need some attention?

5. Do what comes natural to you and your baby and listen to your instincts.

6. Baby's love games like peek-a-boo, funny faces and they love watching your face and listen to the sound of your voice and as you play with them. Let your baby see you cooking, cleaning and doing household chores as they enjoy your company and describe what you are doing to keep them entertained and interested.

7. A settled baby is a happy baby and they enjoy routines like bath time, story time, nap time, meal times and once a routine is established you can also have family time and couple time.

8. The more time you invest in your baby when they are small the closer you will become and this leads to a secure attachment. Baby feels safe and comfortable.

9. Do ask for help from friends and family. You need to build a team around the family and get support from others. Being a parent is the hardest job in the world but the most rewarding.

10. You cannot spoil a baby so give plenty of cuddles, kisses and hugs and the more you invest in your baby's emotional bank account when they are small, the higher the dividends you will get back when they are older because you will have a strong bond and cooperation will be easier.

If you want to find out a bit more about Angel Wellbeing Clinic’s parent Emua Ali and how she can help you and your baby click here.

The Treatment of Runners Knee or Iliotibial Band Syndrome


The media love’s to trend topics. You would have to have been on the moon not have heard superinjunctions mentioned and in recent years we have had swine flu and ADHD in the health industry. So what I the latest health trend?

Iliotibial band syndrome or ITB syndrome or maybe the more friendly ‘runners knee’ is beginning to trend, or should I write #runnersknee! It has been around since we started running but since everyone can have a go at running without a major outlay in finances the incidence of runners knee is on the up.

What is Iliotibial Band Syndrome or Runner Knee?

Runners knee is inflammation and irritation of the lower part of the iliotibial band as it rubs against the outside of the knee or lateral femoral condyle of the long bone in the thigh, the femur. This happens during flexion and extension of the knee and this occurs every-time you take a step.

If you are susceptible to runners knee this action will irritate the ITB and the bursa (friction reducing pad separating the bone form the ITB) under the ITB every-time you take a step. The inflammation builds up in the ITB until it causes pain and you have to stop the pain inducing activity.

Do you think you may have Runners knee?

It is possible to have all the symptoms but more likely one persistent symptom may recur after running a certain distance and it is most common in those that have increased their millage or are training for marathons. There is always an increase in the presentation of runners knee in the last six to eight weeks before the London marathon as the novice runners start to run over twenty miles in their training.

• Swelling at the location of discomfort
• A snapping or popping sensation as the knee is bent
• Pain on the outside of the knee joint
• Tightness in the iliotibial band or outside of the thigh

• Pain normally aggravated by running, particularly downhill.
• Pain during flexion or extension of the knee
• Weakness in hip abduction.

Treatment of `Runner Knee’

The problem needs to be looked at in two ways. Firstly, stop running and address soreness and the easiest way to do this by icing the painful area on a regular basis.. secondly, address the tightness in the ITB through stretching and massage by an experienced sporst massage therapist. it is easy to overdo the massage.

Ober's stretch is good but generally it easiest done with help form a friend or therapist.Ober’s stretch is good but generally it easiest done with help from a friend or therapist.

Alternatively, foam rollers are terrific and let you work on the ITB yourself but make sure you don’t overdo it. With anything that is inflamed there is a balance to be reached between treating the painful area and aggravating the area. Don’t forget to ice afterwards!


Stretching and icing are a start but the factors that lead to runners knee also need to be addressed.

• Hip flexors – the gluteus medius may be weak
• Trigger points – glutius medius wont work effectively it is in spasm.
• Training route – is it uphill?
• Leg length inequality
• Pronation of feet.

These last points need expert assessment and this is where Verity simon our Angel Wellbeing Clinic’s sports physiotherapist and Julie Curran our sports massage therapist can help.

Runners knee is common and it is painful and if you want to get back to training you need it treated properly and you need to monitor your return to training carfully.


One on One Yoga with Christian at the Angel Wellbeing Clinic - Testimonial

I have tried doing many different varieties of yoga in many different places but I feel like I’ve only really started to improve since I’ve started having one to one classes with Christian Gentile at the Angel Wellbeing Clinic.

It’s hard work but I feel like I’m doing the positions correctly and improving every time I go. You can also tailor each session to do what you want to do – and work on areas where you feel you need it. The room is a bit small but that’s my only complaint. Christian is a really good teacher and the price is very reasonable – and the special deal for the first four sessions is great.

DB, Islington N1


Meet Julie our new massage therapist and her 30 second quiz


What is your role at the Angel Wellbeing Clinic?

Massage Therapist

Where are you from?

Sydney, Australia

How long have you been practicing your therapy ?

9 years

Why did you become a therapist?

I had a slight interest in massage – then once I started studying & treating people it has become a passion.

How long have you worked at the Angel Wellbeing Clinic?

Im new to the clinic.

What do you do in your free time?

I love running (have done a couple of half marathons & hoping to push myself to a full) Socialising & checking out new things to do & see.

julie Curran Angel Massage Ck

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

Moved country!

Summer or winter?


What is the last book you read?

Text book on Nutrition…….

If you could switch places with any other person for a week (living or dead) who would it be?


If you could go a trip where would that be?

To many places I want to see…..

Favourite album of all time?

Love all types of music

Most memorable night out?

Again to many…..

Favourite drink?

Vodka (oh yeah & water)

What would you like to achieve in your life?

Complete state of happiness!

Massage Will Help You to Recover from the London Marathon


Maybe you did it with some friends to raise money for charity or maybe the reason for doing it was more personal and it was about the challenge. Either way you have done it, you have run the London marathon!


Now that the post race euphoria has subsided and the cold winter evening runs are a dim and distant memory, where do you go from here? Do you keep up with a schedule of training aiming for the next marathon or do you keep on running just to stay fit and for the fun of it? What you should do now is listen to your body.

Now is the time to let yourself recover and it may take a couple of weeks. Plan your post marathon life with the same meticulousness as you planned your training. Your leg muscles have been overworked during the marathon and they have will have suffered from micro trauma and will ache. Definitely do some stretching, maybe some yoga or get a massage.

If you have nasty blisters get them seen by a professional. If you start running with blisters you will change your running style and this will have a negative effect on your biomechanics increasing the risk of injury.


The joints in your legs and back will also have suffered from repetitive micro trauma so don’t be surprised if your knees ache. The same goes with your back, don’t be surprised if you have back stiffness in the mornings. The repetitive impact of running is absorbed by the discs in the spine and they can suffer micro trauma and take time to recover.

Sort out any niggles that have developed during the race as they need to be dealt with before training can recommence. These niggles may also be signs of biomechanical problems with the feet, pelvis and back, so get these problem areas looked at. Tendonitis is a common injury from marathon running and pain at the back of the ankle may be Achilles tendonitis. Similarly pain on the outside of the knee may be an indicator that you have iliotibial band syndrome or ‘runners knee’. Any of these symptoms need the attention of an expert to prevent them from getting worse.

The immune system suffers due to the increase in cortisol production during the marathon and post race you will be more susceptible to colds. So eat well and get plenty of sleep.

If you take this post race period as seriously as your pre-race training and allow yourself to recover, you will build on your existing level of fitness and be a better runner for it.


Meet our new receptionist Marty and her 30 second quiz!


 What is your job role? Part Time Receptionist

How long have you worked here? 1 day!

What do you do in your free time? Go to clubs/ bars / restaurants, theatre and socialise with friends.

What is the craziest thing you have ever done? Sea - Para gliding in Cyprus (I'm scared of heights!)

Summer or winter? Summer most defiantly.

What is the last book you read? How Could She by Dana Fowley

If you could switch places with any other person for a week (living or dead) who would it be? Beyonce Knowles or Michelle Obama.

If you could go a trip where would that be? The Bahamas

Favourite album of all time? Can't choose just one, but anything by Jay Z.

Most memorable night out? Hawa's wild limo Birthday.

Favourite drink? Jack Daniels




Mum’s diet may play a role in the earlier development of diabetes

This article was written by Elspeth Stewart, Angel Wellbeing Clinic’s Nutritional Therapist located in Islington.

It is widely acknowledged that a healthy diet during pregnancy can make a difference to the health of both mother and child. A new piece of research coming out of Cambridge University, in a study lead by Susan Ozanne, has highlighted how maternal diets may be linked to the earlier progression of type II diabetes in the next generation.

This research, carried out in mice, demonstrate that a low-protein diet caused changes to gene expression leading to a reduction in a protein required for beta cells in the pancreas to produce insulin effectively (Hnf4a). If this takes place, the beta cells ‘age’ prematurely and struggle to maintain a normal insulin response. Similar beta cell ‘aging’ has been identified in people with type II diabetes but research is yet to demonstrate this particular dietary association in human studies. Given the ethical considerations of carrying out research around pregnancy it may be a little more difficult to demonstrate.

Where's the protein?

As a nutritional therapist working in Islington I spend a lot of time looking at the diets of new clients, I often find myself encouraging people to look at how they might include more protein to improve their health. The explosion of convenience foods since the 70s and Islington’s Upper Street has plenty, has significantly changed the way people eat and prepare food. The diet most people now follow is quite carbohydrate rich and the bulk of protein seems to be consumed at dinnertime. A typical food diary I might see includes:

cereal or toast for a quick, easy breakfast
a sandwich for lunch on the go
biscuits, fruit, flavoured yoghurt or crisps for a snack
juice, soft drinks or sweetened tea or coffee as drinks through the day

Even dinner can be quite carbohydrate-heavy with pizza, pasta, noodles and rice dishes. So unless taking care to select foods that contain a reasonable amount of protein and plenty of vegetables, it is easy to end up with a diet that is predominantly carbohydrate based.

Referring back to the study on mice, it doesn’t seem far-fetched that a similar process may have been taking place in humans over the last 30 years, contributing to the current epidemic of diabetes. It is not unusual now for teenagers to be diagnosed with type II diabetes, a condition once associated with old age.

Our diet influences the expression of genes

Research into epigenetics (how diet and environment can shape the way our genes are expressed) is starting to demonstrate clearly that our health is not entirely fixed in our DNA and that we have the power to shape how genes are expressed through modifying our diet, exercise and stress levels. This is great news for anyone who wants to take positive control of their health.

Good nutrition during pregnancy is essential

If starting a family, it is essential to recognise the importance of a healthy diet and how you can eat in a way that will not only keep you and the baby well in the short term, but also lay a foundation for good health in years to come.

Elspeth Stewart is Islington’s Angel Wellbeing Clinic’s Nutritional Therapist, she has a keen interest in how nutritional therapy can improve health and how nutritional therapy can improve pregnancy. Elspeth Stewart is part of a team including, Orly Barziv, Islington’s Angel Acupuncture Clinic’s acupuncturist and Chantal Prince, Islington’s Angel Osteopathic Clinic’s osteopath. Chantal spends a lot of her time at the clinic treating mums and babies.

Stretching before running 'does not prevent injury'

Stretching before running does not necessarily prevent injury a US study of over 2,700 has suggested.

But the researchers say runners should maintain their current routine, whether or not they stretch, as it is changing that is the problem.

Christian is the massage therapist at the Angel Massage Clinic Islington and can provide a beneficial massage for those training for the London Marathon as well as massage for other sports injuries.

For the rest of the article clic here

Pregnant Women Awash in Chemicals. Is That Bad for Baby?

“We should be concerned about the number of chemicals pregnant women have in their bodies and we should we taking steps to find out what the implications are for exposure to multiple chemicals,” says Woodruff, who is also an associate professor in the UCSF Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences.

For the full article

The Lab Rat Gets Petted: How Massage Works

Dr. Mark Hyman Rapaport, chief of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at the hospital, along with colleagues Pamela Schettler and Catherine Bresee — found that even a single deep-tissue Swedish massage resulted in a significantly larger decrease in a hormone called arginine vasopressin (AVP) than a control treatment of light-touch therapy. AVP constricts blood vessels, raises blood pressure, and reduces excretion of urine. The Rapaport study also suggests that massage produces reductions in levels of cortisol, a hormone released when you're stressed, as well as increases in lymphocytes, cancer-fighting white blood cells.

For the complete article


Depression, Pregnancy and Having an Emotionally Healthy Baby.

The Angel Wellbeing Clinic has a strong interest in all things mother and baby, with the acupuncturist, cranial osteopath, counsellor and parent coach having a keen interest in this topic. We are able to help with the lead up to birth and post birth, with care for the mother and baby’s physical needs and the mum and dad’s emotional needs.

There have been a few articles published in recent years that look at the emotional state of the mother, and the effect on the foetus with respect to the emotional state of the baby [Kinsella, 2009]. This touches on a number of different fields: medicine, psychology, psychiatry, embryology and neuroendocrinology. It really is the point where there is a convergence of anatomy and physiology to produce a sentient being with an individual personality.

Studies have shown that an increase in maternal depression during pregnancy leads to an increase in cortisol levels in babies at birth [Marcus et al., 2010]. Cortisol is produced by the adrenal glands, which are located just in front of the kidneys as a response to physical or psychological stress. In doing so, cortisol prepares the body and the brain to deal with this stress by guaranteeing that they have enough energy to react and function whenever this stress occurs. Other than being known as a stress hormone, cortisol has a number of other effects on the body such as regulation of blood pressure and cardiovascular function, as well as regulating carbohydrate metabolism and suppressing immune function.

Cortisol is secreted into the blood stream from the adrenal glands as a response to physical and emotional stress. Apart from its effects as a stress hormone, cortisol also has a neuronal developmental effect; therefore, it is also involved with the development of the child’s brain, particularly the limbic system and prefrontal cortex, which is part of the neuroendocrine system that interprets and regulates emotions. This influence of cortisol on the development of the child’s brain may carry on until they are 10 years old and the mylination of specific neurones is completed. This fits in nicely with Bowlby’s theory of maternal deprivation [Bowlby,51], where he suggested that an unbroken attachment to the mother was essential during the first two years of the child’s life to prevent problems in later years.

The exact influence that cortisol has on the neurons of the brain is not fully known. However, it has been suggested in [Essex et al., 2002] that the substance may accelerate the loss of the neurons, resulting in delays in the mylination of the neurons or in abnormalities due to inappropriate ‘pruning’ of the neurons. Moreover, the effect of this on the brain is that the brain becomes more sensitive and responsive to stress. Consequently, the body has less control of stress, which, as a baby developing into a toddler, then into adolescence and finally into adulthood, can exhibit behavioural and emotional problems.

Understanding the long term effects of having a ‘damaged’ stress response should promote better care pre and post partum, with better care for the mum pre and post birth and mum and dad post birth, to create the most secure parenting environment possible. This is something our parent counsellor has a keen interest in and as an adult, CBT therapy can help with dealing with inappropriate stress responses.

Once your baby is born, his or her brain develops partly because of genetic instructions (nature) and partly because of exposure to the outside world (nurture). Experiences help determine which synapses grow stronger and which are pruned. If the baby is exposed to consistent and empathic parenting the neurons that promote low anxiety for the baby will be nurtured and the baby will express low anxiety behaviour. The baby will then grow up being able to handle stressful situations better, be less anxious in relationships and be less vulnerable to stress-related illnesses. If the converse happens, the baby may grow up having an increased risk to anxiety-based disorders such as Generalised Anxiety Disorder, OCD, PTSD and ADDH to name but a few [Coplana, 2002].

In summary, how you are as a mum in the run up to birth is essential for decreasing the level of stress for your unborn child. How you are as mum and dad in the lead up to the birth is also extremely important too. Post birth with the change of situation, the reaction to that situation and the change in the relationship is also important to produce a low stress child.

What can you do for your baby at the Angel Wellbeing Clinic?

• Massage and acupuncture help reduce stress.
• Parent coaching can help plan and prepare you both for the birth and anticipate the changes.
• Massage, acupuncture and osteopathy post birth can help physical and emotional recovery.
• Cranial osteopathy can help with making the baby as settled as possible.
• CBT therapy can help with any fears and worries about parenthood.


[Bowlby, 51] Bowlby, J., Maternal Care and Mental Health, Geneva: World Health Organisation, 1951, ISBN 1568217579.

[Coplana, 2002] Coplana, J.D., Moreaub, D., Chaputb, F., Martinezb, J.M., Hovenb, C.W., Mandellb, D.J., Gormanb, J.M., Pine, D.S., Salivary cortisol concentrations before and after carbon-dioxide inhalations in children, Biol Psychiatry, Feb 15 2002, 51:326-33.

[Essex et al, 2002] Essex, M.J., Klein, M. H., Cho, E., Kalin, N.H., Maternal stress beginning in infancy may sensitize children to later stress exposure: effects on cortisol and behaviour, Biological Psychiatry 52, pp776-784, 2002.

[Kinsella, 2009] Kinsella, M.T., Impact of Maternal Stress, Depression and Anxiety on Fetal Neurobehavioral Development, Clinical Obstetrics & Gynecology: September 2009 - Volume 52 - Issue 3 - pp 425-440,
doi: 10.1097/GRF.0b013e3181b52df1, Psychiatric Disorders in Pregnancy

[Marcus et al., 2010] Marcus, S., Lopez, J.F., McDonough, S., MacKenzie, M.J., Flynn, H., Neal Jr, C.R., Gahagan, S., Volling, B., Kaciroti, N., Vazquez, D.M.,
Depressive symptoms during pregnancy: Impact on neuroendocrine and neonatal outcomes, Infant Behavior and Development, July 2010.



Ten Ways To Manage Christmas Stress - or maybe not!


Christmas is an expensive time for everyone so set yourself a budget and stick to it. Accept that being a good parent or being a good and loving partner doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of money. It is the thought that matters and if they don’t like the ‘thought’ then they aren’t worth it so leave them. That goes for the children too!

If your child says ‘I can’t live without it’ with reference to a wii game or something similar, they are lying so ignore them!

Hosting Christmas can sometimes feel like a bit of a burden, especially if you're cooking dinner. So to reduce stress get invited to someone else’s and leave before it is time to do the washing up..

Look after yourself! If you're feeling stressed, you're not going to have a good time. Make sure that you feel relaxed by having a drink and falling asleep on the sofa when it is time to wash up.

Don't be afraid to ask for help, if you delegate properly you will have next to nothing to do

If you're getting a touch of cabin fever and your family is getting on your nerves go out for a walk to the pub. It is okay to take the children with you if there is an outside play area.

It's easy to underestimate that children may get tired or bored quite early on in the day and so irritate the adults so banish them to their bedroom nice and early. If they put up resistance tell them that if they are bad children Santa has to pass this way on his way back to the North Pole and he can always stop off and collect the presents, it is their choice!

You should try to eat and drink regularly to keep yourself hydrated and alert. Start the morning with a bucks fizz but don’t forget that keeping the fluid levels topped up constantly throughout the day is important so maybe a gin and tonic before lunch may help. Don’t get seduced by the old wives tale about drinking plenty of water.

Don’t worry about over eating on Christmas day and Boxing Day as you can combine a New Year healthy eating campaign with a detox programme from too much alcohol consumption over New Year. Obviously don’t get upset with the knowledge that you make the same New Year’s resolution and it only lasts a week!

Although everyone dreams of the perfect family Christmas, try not to panic if it doesn't work out how you wanted. There is always another one in 12 months time!

Pauline's 30 Second Quiz

What is your role at the Angel Wellbeing Clinic?

Practice Manager

How long have you worked here?

Coming up to 2 years January.

What do you do in your free time?

Read, gym, yoga, go movies, dim sum with mates

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

Marry my husband!

Summer or winter?

Does it matter? So long as there is sunshine and blue skies!

What is the last book you read?

“The Light Fantastic” by Terry Pratchett

If you could switch places with any other person for a week (living or dead) who would it be?

Leonardo da Vince. A painter, scientist, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor…. The list goes on! Driven by his unquenchable curiosity, he was a technological genius, churning out theories and conceptualisations of so much that are common-place in our modern-day world. Inspiring! Great for days when the brain seems to lag behind my body by half a day.

If you could go a trip where would that be?

Shangri-La, although a fictional place described by J.Hilton in his book “Lost Horizon”, wouldn’t it be nice to just stumble upon this place, where it’s people live an almost immortal life of total contentment, in complete isolation from the outside world. In reality, many people have debated where Hilton gained his inspiration. Wherever it was, general consensus seems to be somewhere around Tibet. Sounds like a good place to start an adventure!

Favourite album of all time?

Aaron Neville, “To Make Me Who I Am”

Most memorable night out?

Zhang Yimou’s “Impression Liu Sanjie”, Yangshuo, Southern China. An awe-inspiring out-door staged-show on the Li River, that runs through Yangshuo, with a backdrop consisting of illuminated karst hills. The show has a cast of more than 600 indigenous people – farmers, fishermen and children from surrounding villages. Together, they perform a famous regional love story through folk songs and dances, conducted with lots of lighting, flames, beautiful costumes and gliding around the river on bamboo rafts.

Favourite drink?

Got to be Malibu with coke.



Are We Doing it Right?  

Everyone at the Angel Wellbeing Clinic is aware that patients want top quality clinical care and top quality customer service. We achieve the clinical care standard by selecting our therapists carefully and listening to what the patients say about them, and we achieve good customer service results by taking the patients needs very seriously.

Like most things in life we can always do things a bit better but we need your input for that. We do try and see things from the patient’s perspective but we aren’t the patient so please fill in the customer satisfaction form and tell us what you think.

Many thanks.

Brian Bamberger  


Natalie C.

What is your job role?

Afternoon/evening receptionist and in charge of social media for the clinic.

How long have you worked here?

Just over 7 months, feels longer though…

What do you do in your free time?

Look after my 2 children, see my friends and clean my house!

What is the craziest thing you have ever done?

Appeared on GMTV for a makeover, lets just say I am not a natural in front of the camera!

Summer or winter?

Winter, I love cold days and crisp mornings and hot chocolate and soups and log fires and cosy coats and snuggling under a warm quilt and Christmas and my birthday….

What is the last book you read?

The secret life of Marilyn Monroe by J. Randy Taraborrelli, it was brilliant!

If you could switch places with any other person for a week (living or dead) who would it be?

One of my children’s teachers at their school to see what my children really are like when I am not around!

If you could go on a trip where would that be?

To see the Northern lights.

Favourite album of all time?

I haven’t got one, my tastes change all the time.

Most memorable night out?

Let’s just say it involved a lot of booze, a bar on Upper Street, a fire extinguisher and being picked up by a bouncer and thrown out of said bar, memorable for all the wrong reasons but one to tell the grandchildren!

Favourite drink?


Massage and the immune system

The October edition of The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine published and interesting article about how the immune system benefited from this hands on form of therapy. We all know that when we are stressed and run down we are more prone to colds and flu so it would seem obvious that receiving a massage would have the opposite effect. Obviously this is a preliminary study and more work needs doing.

Among the study's results were:

People in the Swedish massage group experienced significant changes in lymphocytes, (lymphocyte numbers and percentages white blood cells that play a large role in defending the body from disease.

Swedish massage caused a large decrease in Arginine Vasopressin (AVP) a hormone believed to play a role in aggressive behaviour and linked to helping cause increases in the hormone cortisol.

Swedish massage caused a decrease in levels of the stress hormone cortisol.

-Swedish massage caused a notable decrease in most cytokines produced by stimulated white blood cells.

In the study, 29 subjects received 45 minutes of Swedish massage and 24 received 45 minutes of light touch massage. Each participant underwent informed consent, a physical and mental evaluation and was deemed to be physically healthy and free of any mental disorder. Massage therapists were trained in how to deliver both Swedish and light touch using specific and identical protocols.

Prior to the massage, study participants were fitted with intravenous catheters in order to take blood samples during the study session. Then participants were asked to rest quietly for 30 minutes. Following the rest period, blood samples were collected from each person five minutes and one minute before the massage began. At the end of the 45-minute massage session, blood samples were collected at one, five, 10, 15, 30, and 60 minutes after the massage.

The Theory Behind Aromatherapy

It is believed that the inhalation of essential oils stimulates the part of the brain connected to smell - the olfactory system; a signal is sent to the limbic system of the brain that controls emotions and retrieves learned memories. This causes chemicals to be released, which make the person feel relaxed, calm, or even stimulated. If the aromatherapy includes massage the effect is to further relax the person.

The limbic system includes many structures in the cerebral pre-cortex and sub-cortex of the brain. With the term having been used within psychiatry and neurology. The following structures are, or have been considered to be, part of the limbic system:

Amygdala:Involved in signalling the cortex of motivationally significant stimuli such as those related to reward and fear in addition to social functions such as mating.Hippocampus: Required for the formation of long-term memories and implicated in maintenance of cognitive maps for navigation.

• Parahippocampal gyrus: Plays a role in the formation of spatial memory
• Cingulate gyrus: Autonomic functions regulating heart rate, blood pressure and cognitive and attentional processing
• Fornix carries signals from the hippocampus to the mammillary bodies and septal nuclei.
• Hypothalamus:Regulates the autonomic nervous system via hormone production and release. Affects and regulates blood pressure, heart rate, hunger, thirst, sexual arousal, and the sleep/wake cycle
• Thalamus:The "relay station" to the cerebral cortex.

In addition, these structures are sometimes also considered to be part of the limbic system:

• Mammillary body:Important for the formation of memory
• Pituitary gland:secretes hormones regulating homeostasis
• Dentate gyrus: thought to contribute to new memories and to regulate happiness.
• Entorhinal cortex: Important memory and associative components.
• Piriform cortex:The function of which relates to the olfactory system.
• Fornicate gyrus: Region encompassing the cingulate, hippocampus, and parahippocampal gyrus
• Olfactory bulb: Olfactory sensory input
• Nucleus accumbens: Involved in reward, pleasure, and addiction
• Orbitofrontal cortex: Required for decision making.

The limbic system operates by influencing the endocrine system and the autonomic nervous system. It is highly interconnected with the nucleus accumbens, the brain's pleasure center,

The limbic system is also tightly connected to the prefrontal cortex. Some scientists argue that this connection is related to the pleasure obtained from solving problems. To cure severe emotional disorders, this connection was sometimes surgically severed, a procedure of psychosurgery, called a prefrontal lobotomy (this is actually a misnomer) made famous in the film One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest. Patients who underwent this procedure often became passive and lacked all motivation.

The essential oils are said to have a direct pharmacological effect. Aromatherapists claim there is a synergy between the body and aromatic oils; however there is no scientific proof that this is the case. Nevertheless, some preliminary clinical studies have revealed positive results.

Essential oils, phytoncides and other natural volatile organic compounds (VOCs) work differently. When targeting our sense of smell they activate the limbic system and emotional centers of the brain. When applied topically (onto the skin) they activate thermal receptors and destroy microbes and fungi. Internal application may stimulate the immune system (generally in prescribed form)

Popular aromatherapy oils

• Basil - this is used to sharpen concentration and alleviate some of the symptoms of depression. Also used to relieve headaches and migraines. Should be avoided during pregnancy.
• Bergamot - said to be useful for the urinary tract and digestive tract. When combined with eucalyptus oil it is said to be good for the skin, and skin problems caused by stress, as well as skin affected by chicken pox.
• Black pepper - commonly used for stimulating the circulation, muscular aches and pains, and bruises.
• Citronella oil - this is a relative of lemongrass. It is commonly used as an insect repellent.
• Clove oil - a topical analgesic (painkiller) commonly used for toothache. It is also used as an antispasmodic, antiemetic (prevents vomiting and nausea) and carminative (prevents gas in the gut).
• Eucalyptus - often used for relief of the airways for people who have a cold or the flu. Commonly combined with peppermint.
• Geranium oil - this is commonly used as a diuretic (makes you get rid of water), astringent (draws together or constricts body tissues and is effective in stopping the flow of blood or other secretions), and antiseptic.
• Jasmin - this is said to have aphrodisiac qualities.
• Lavender oil - commonly used as an antiseptic for minor cuts and burns. Also used to help people relax. It is said to relieve headache and migraine symptoms. Also used to help people with insomnia.
• Lemon oil - used to give the person a mood-lift, also said to be effective for relieving the symptoms of stress and depression.
• Sandalwood - some say this has aphrodisiac qualities.
• Tea tree oil - said to have antimicrobial, antiseptic, and disinfectant qualities. Commonly used in mouth rinses.
• Thyme oil - said to help fatigue, nervousness and stress.
• Yarrow oil - used for cold and influenza symptoms. It is said to help reduce joint inflammation.

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