Alternative Therapy Newcastle – Stretching

Alternative Therapy Newcastle – Stretching

We offer Alternative Therapy Newcastle and today I want to talk to you about the importance of stretching


As a massage therapist, I often give advice to my clients to stretch tight muscles between treatments. This enables them to capitalise on the benefits of the massage and to accelerate and aid recovery.

Reactions to this advice vary. Some will take the advice very seriously and religiously carry out a stretching regime to the letter.

However, the most usual reaction is to start the stretching regime with very positive intentions. But life gets in the way a bit. Of course, as they start feeling so much better, the impetus to lie on the floor and pull limbs in various seemingly unnatural directions, wanes.

It’s only when the niggles start creeping back in again that they think ‘’Perhaps I really should do those stretches!’’


But there’s always a few that are a bit cynical about the benefits of stretching. Perhaps they have done a yoga class in the past and they’ve strained something. Or dare I say it, the class was a bit ‘woo-woo’!

But flexibility is a fundamental requirement of fitness along with stamina from cardio exercise and strength for weight bearing exercise. And the bottom line is, if you don’t actively try to at least maintain a reasonable level of flexibility, you’ll find simple acts in daily life increasingly difficult. I for one, don’t want to be helped to put my socks on!

And whilst it seems that a stretching program isn’t particularly beneficial the older you get, the evidence is clear. A study from Japan investigated how much (if any) degrees of muscle stiffness could be reduced by a static stretching program in both younger and older men.


20 younger (21–24 year olds) and 20 older (62–83 year olds) men were asked to practice a static ankle flexion. Stretch to see if it released tightness in the calf and improved the range of movement in the ankle.

They were asked to hold a stretch of the ankle for 90 second. Following this to repeat it 5 times. The range of the ankle movement was measured before and after the stretching. In addition the tightness in the calf muscle was measured.


The older men were found to have greater muscle tightness and less range of movement in the ankle before the stretching began. But stretching significantly improved the range of movement for both groups. 

The bottom line is that stretching can reduce muscle stiffness regardless of age. However, the stretching effect on muscle stiffness in older men is suggested to be limited compared with younger men. This is because older men cannot stretch their muscles sufficiently.



Quads – Lying on your right side, legs straight, reach behind you with your left hand and grab your left ankle. Pull the left foot towards your bottom and hold for 20 secs, release then repeat.

You should feel the stretch up the front of the leg. Repeat on the other side. If it’s tricky to reach your foot, loop a dressing gown cord around the ankle to extend your reach.

Hamstrings – Lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Loop a dressing gown cord under the instep of the left foot, straighten the leg and elevate it. Do this until you feel a stretch up the back of the leg. Hold for 20 seconds, release then repeat. Repeat on the right side. Make sure you keep the pelvis down on the floor.

This will make the most of the stretch for the hamstrings.

Alternative Therapy Newcastle - Stretching, Hip Flexor

Hip Flexor – Kneel on your right knee.Put your left foot on the floor with your left knee at a 90-degree angle. Drive your right hip forward. You should feel a stretch at the front of the right hip. Hold the position for 20 seconds then repeat. Swap over to the other leg and repeat.

Chest Opener – Lie on a foam roller or a  rolled up towel. The roll should be placed across the spine at the level of the bottom of the shoulder blades. Raise the arms up straight, keeping them shoulder width apart. Gently lower them above the head, hold for 20 seconds, release then hold again.

Neck Stretch

Neck Stretch – seated or standing, place the right hand on the right shoulder to anchor it. Place the left hand on the right side of the head. Very gently draw the two hands apart so that the left ear moves down  towards the left shoulder. Hold for 5-10 seconds, release and repeat. Repeat on the other side.


I hope this gives you some inspiration to try some stretching. It really can make you feel great. But always start gently until you are confident as to what your muscles can take. And, of course you can always give me a ring or email me if you need any help. Happy stretching!!

Please make sure you have connected with me on Facebook

Upper Back and Neck Pain

Here at our North East Therapy Rooms we are finding that upper back and neck pain are becoming more and more prevalent in today’s society

Upper Back Neck Pain North East

Are Upper Back and Neck Pain Related?

The reasons behind the discomfort of upper back and neck pain may vary, but in most cases they all come down to our posture and lifestyle.

Our love of screens also plays a major role in upper back and neck pain. For instance the average office worker will spend almost 1700 hours a year in front of a computer screen, and most of us spend over 3 hours on our phones every day!

The neck and upper back are closely located, yet separate areas of the body, which seem to experience similar problems at the same time; but are both of them related?

Upper Back Pain

Whether it occurs through injury or repetitive strain, upper back pain is something most of us have experienced. The most common causes include muscular irritation and joint dysfunction.

The upper back, or thoracic spine, is designed for stability to anchor the ribcage and protect vital internal organs.

Due to its sturdiness, it is remarkably resistant to injury. Therefore when pain does occur, it is typically due to long-term poor posture.

Neck pain

Neck pain is extremely common, and aside from injury, lifestyle factors and stress are significant contributing factors. We all know the feeling of having to rotate our entire body to look sideways when unable to move our neck. 

As with the upper back, neck pain, or cervical spine pain, is most commonly caused by muscular irritation and joint dysfunction, but may also be accompanied by tension headaches, facial pain and pain or tingling in the arms.

The cervical spine is more mobile and less stable than the thoracic spine, and although more susceptible to injury, most cases of neck pain are again typically caused by poor posture.

Simultaneous Pain

Due to the proximity of the neck and upper back, pain can often be experienced simultaneously.

In fact, when poor posture is involved, and even when pain is only felt in one or the other, it is always best practice to focus treatment and rehabilitation on both areas collectively as they are anatomically interdependent.

The thoracic spine is ‘kyphotic’ or curved outwards, whereas the cervical spine is ‘lordotic’ or curved inwards.

These curves are balanced and relative to each other, for example, if the curve in upper back is increased, so is the curve in the neck. There are also many muscles that connect both areas, including the trapezius and levator scapulae.

When one area becomes stiff and tight, these muscles will exert force on the other, with at least some of this tightness being transmitted. There are many other shared structures between the neck and upper back, and the proximity of the nerves that supply both areas may also lead to referred pain.

Pain prevention

Pain in the neck and upper back may be prevented with exercises to stretch tight muscles. Similarly, to strengthen weak muscles and mobilise joints.

Here are 5 exercises to target the most common neck and upper back issues:Repeat this exercise three to five times.

Upper Back and Neck Pain, prevention

Exercise 1 – Towel Roll Stretch

  • Fold a dry towel in half lengthways and roll it up.
  • Place it on the floor (or your bed if preferred) and lie down on your back on top of the towel. The towel needs to run along the length of your spine.
  • Use a pillow to support your neck and bend your knees to protect your lower back.
  • Relax and breathe! Stay in this position for 2-3 minutes letting gravity work for you gently stretch your thoracic spine.
  • For an extra stretch, bring your arms out to the side to make a ‘T’ shape.

Exercise 2 – Back extensions

  • Fold a dry towel in half lengthways and roll it up.
  • Place it on the floor (or your bed if preferred) and lie down on your back on top of the towel. This time, the towel needs to run across your back, at the level of your shoulder blades.
  • Bend your knees to protect your lower back.
  • Place your hands on top of your head, and slowly drop your upper body as low as comfortable, and then return to the original position. Repeat 5-10 times. You can change the placement of the towel to mobilise different levels of your thoracic spine.
  • You can also perform this exercise in a seated position by placing your hands on your head and slowly bending backwards over the backrest of your chair.

Exercise 3 – Upper trapezius/ Levator scapulae stretch

  • Sit in a chair in an upright position.
  • Place one hand under your leg, so that you are effectively sitting on it.
  • Carefully lean towards the opposite side until you feel a stretch in your shoulder and neck.
  • Let your head drop to the side to increase the stretch in the side of your neck and hold for 20-30 seconds. Then, let your head tilt slightly forwards whilst still to the side to increase the stretch in your shoulder, and hold for 20-30 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
  • You can make this stretch more effective by gently pulling your head with your other hand.

Exercise 4 – Dart strengthening exercise

  • Lie on your stomach with your legs together. Arms along your sides.
  • Lift your abdominal muscles away from the mat. Inhale.
  • Exhale. Keep your abdominal muscles pulled in. Extend through your spine and out the top of your head to lift your upper body slightly off the mat. Anchor your pubic bone to the mat to protect your lower back. Your legs and glutes are engaged as part of the stability of the lower body but don’t over-squeeze them. Know that your head is an extension of your spine. Your gaze will be down. Your shoulder blades will slide down your back as your arms reach behind you like they are being blown back.
  • Hold for an inhale.
  • Exhale to lengthen and lower your body to the floor.
  • Repeat this exercise three to five times.

Exercise 5 – Door frame stretch

  • Stand in an open doorway.
  • Raise each arm up to the side, bent at 90-degree angles with palms forward. Rest your palms and elbows on the door frame.
  • Slowly step forward with one foot. Feel the stretch in your shoulders and chest. Stand upright and don’t lean forward.
  • Hold for 20-30 seconds. Step back and relax.
  • Repeat 3 times.

Keep in mind that these exercises must feel good! If any feel uncomfortable, discontinue them straight away.

It’s also important to always be mindful of your posture in your everyday activities. Hopefully these tips will help you to maintain a healthy spine around a busy schedule: …..

If you are struggling with upper back and/ or neck pain, we can help with Osteopathy and Remedial Massage at The Therapy Rooms.

Contact us on 0191 213 6232 if you’d like to speak to us or book an appointment.

Self Massage Advice

Self Massage Advice, neck and shoulder

Self massage advice. neck and shoulder routine is designed to ease tension. The idea originated from several of my clients saying that they were starting to stiffen up.

Self Massage Advice, neck and shoulder
Self Massage Advice, neck and shoulder pain

This whole routine was delivered to the lovely ladies in North East Network using Zoom and recorded with them.

During the session I do talk to them and get responses back which are muted for recording purposes. It does seem as if I’m talking to my imaginary friends! But honestly they are real!

Lockdown has been tough but I haven’t felt the need for creating someone to talk to – yet!!

The whole routine is seated. You can do the routine through your clothes, if you want to but directly on to the skin is better.

There’s no massage oils or creams used. You’ll need a massage ball. I’m using a spiky ball but any small ball will do.  It needs to fit comfortably in your hand.

Spiky Ball

The ball needs to have a non-shiny surface so it doesn’t just slip off the skin or your clothes and the softer it is, the more comfortable but less effective the massage will be.

To be safe, it is better to do less, use less pressure. If you find that you’re okay with that, then the next time you do the routine, you’ll know that you’re safe to do more movement and use more pressure.

These notes are designed to be used in conjunction with the video. All movements are gentle. Nothing should be done aggressively or quickly. You have to listen to how your body responds to the movement and react to that accordingly.

Self Massage Advice, neck and shoulder

Self massage advice – Mobilisation

  • Rotate your head to look over your left shoulder then the right. Repeat 5-8 times.
  • Drop your chin to your chest and trace the chin round to your left shoulder, back to the centre. Then trace your chin along your chest to the right shoulder, and back to the centre. Repeat 5-8 times.
  • Shrug your shoulders. Repeat 5-8 times.
  • Roll your shoulders forward 5-8 times. Roll your shoulders back 5-8 times.


  • Hold your left shoulder with your left hand. Place your right hand on the left side of your head. Gently draw your two hands apart. Keeping your head in this stretch, drop your hands down to the sides of your body and allow the weight of your arms to lengthen the stretch. Repeat on your right side.
  • Sit on your hands and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • With your feet firmly planted on the floor and your lower body facing forward, turn your torso to the right. Using your hands, pull your torso round a little further to affect an active stretch. Repeat on the left side.
  • Repeat the first stretch but at the point you drop your hands to the side of your body, look up then down.

Self Massage

  • Using your massage ball, gently massage the posterior surface of the top of the shoulder and up into the side of the neck, using small circular motions. You should press hard enough to feel the muscle move with the pressure. You’re not just rubbing the massage ball over the skin. This will only irritate the skin and do nothing for your muscles. Then work these small massage circles on the anterior surface of the shoulder and neck. Don’t press on the collar bone, keep above it. Make a mental note where you found a tender spot. We’re going to find it again in the next section.
  • Locate again the tender spot and place two fingers gently on it. The pressure should be gentle. The warmth of your fingers and the gentle pressure should have a softening effect on the tissues underneath. Allow at least 2 minutes for this, More if necessary. 
  • Repeat the side bend neck stretch.
  • Repeat the massage routine on the other side.
  • Using your massage ball, work into the chest muscles, starting at the breastbone and working out towards the point of the shoulder. Pay attention to any tender spots.


  • Sit on your hands and squeeze your shoulder blades together.
  • Repeat the first two mobilisations. Make a mental note if the movements feel at all freer, less tender or less crunchy.

Well, I hope you enjoy this neck and shoulder self-treatment. If you have any concerns about your neck and shoulders, please get a qualified doctor, osteopath, chiropractor, physio or, of course, massage therapist to check before trying this routine.

If you would like any advice please do not hesitate to get in touch

Sports Therapy Massage Newcastle

Meet James Tatham – Sports Therapy Massage Newcastle

Sports Therapy Massage Newcastle, James Tatham

Sports Therapy Massage Newcastle – How Did James Get Started?

James trained at Teesside University, studying for three years and qualifying in 2012. He has been working as a sports therapist for five years. He worked in private practice for four years, doing massage, rehab exercise classes, running clinics and assessments. He does a lot more assessments now he works for himself.

As a keen sportsman when he was younger, playing a lot of football, James often suffered injuries. On a visit to see a physiotherapist James was amazed by how much the physio knew about the human body. Realising that the physio knew his body better than he did, this prompted him to get into sports therapy rather than coaching, which was his initial plan.

And so the study began and James learned that sports therapy focuses on the musculoskeletal system and rehab after injury.

Is Sports Therapy Only for Athletes?

It’s important to know that you can come for a sports therapy session even if you’re not a sportsperson. James treats people from all walks of life, and prefers to work in a relaxed clinic setting rather than out on the side of a sports field. He enjoys seeing people improve over time in their daily life, as well as on a football pitch.

Example of a recent injury

James explained that he recently treated a posterior cruciate ligament (PCL) tear. These occur in the back of the knee, and it’s the ligament that holds the knee together. Patients can be offered surgery, but if they choose not to have that, rehab and soft tissue work can help strengthen the knee.

Soft tissue work involves light massage to increase the blood flow to the injured area. James uses deep tissue massage, a more vigorous form of treatment, to try to separate muscle fibres, break down scar tissue or adhesions to muscles (adhesion is when a fibrous tissue develops from a small tear).

He also does pre-event work to stimulate the muscles. Soft tissue release is designed to lengthen a muscle by working it through its movement. Trigger point work is a held position on an area with a build-up of metabolic waste or which is hypersensitive. This can alleviate the pain and desensitise the area.

How can Sports Therapy Help?

Sports therapy is great for general aches and pains. Everyone has muscles which can get tight. One of the most common problems James treats are caused by people sitting for too long at a desk – they get very tight across their shoulders and mid-back. It can also cause neck pains and tension headaches, so massage will alleviate the tightness in the muscles that have been under stress.

Other typical problems include people who’ve sustained an injury while playing sports, such as receiving a knock in football or rugby. Massage is good for relieving the pain post-match.

What can You Expect During a Sports Therapy Massage Newcastle Session?

James talks extensively to each client about what their particular problem is and what they would like their treatment outcomes to be. He then discusses what he would do to help the patient reach their goals.

During treatment, James explains what he’s doing at every stage, so the client knows what’s happening and they feel comfortable. Deep tissue massage can be aggressive, as it’s designed to loosen tightness, which can sometimes seem scary.

Then, he talks through what the client should do post-treatment and what they can do at home to help themselves. James says that the best solution is to see aprofessional but also do a home exercise plan to really benefit.

Who is Sports Therapy for?

James treats a range of clients, many who are office-based for their working day.

They often have chronic back and neck pain, which is because posture slips after an hour sitting at a desk. James recommends getting up regularly and walking around to reset the body. People come to James as and when they feel they need to have treatment.

James has treated a range of injuries, caused by a variety of sports: football, rugby, cricket, volleyball and swimming. Massage benefits everybody, whether they play sports for fun or are elite athletes. It’s a misconception that you have to be a sportsperson to have sports therapy.

Contact us at The Therapy Rooms  on 0191 2136232 to arrange a Sports Therapy massage appointment with James Tatham.



Acupuncture Migraine – Newcastle

Acupuncture Newcastle – Migraine

Acupuncture Newcastle - MigraineWe provide Acupuncture in Newcastle to help relieve the symptoms and effects of Migraine. Have you ever considered alternative therapies for Migraine?


Acupuncture Newcastle – Facts About Migraine


  • Did you know that migraine is the third most common disease in the whole World with around 14.7% of sufferers. You are not alone! In fact, if you suffer with migraine, you are 1 in 7.
  • Chronic migraine affects approximately 2% if the World population.
  • 75% of migraine sufferers are women – most probably this is hormonally-driven
  • Recent research suggested that there are 190,000 migraine attacks every day here in the UK.


Acupuncture Newcastle – The Impact of Migraine

Migraine is ranked World Wide as the 7th most disabling disease and the leading cause of disability among neurological disorders.

In the UK alone the population loses 25 million days from work or school each year because of migraine and is estimated to cost the NHS £150 million each year, mostly from the costs of prescription drugs and GP visits.


Migraine and Depression – Acupuncture Newcastle

Depression is 3 times more likely in people with migraine and severe headaches than in other healthy individuals.


Acupuncture Newcastle – Migraine Treatment

Acpuncture Newcastle. no trepanning!In the old days, migraine was treated with a surgical procedure knows as trepanning. Trepanning was quite horrific.  A drill was used to drill a hole in to the skull – with the aim to release the evil spirits within – who were obviously the cause of the pain!

Thankfully we have moved on from this!

Acupuncture can be a fantastic aid to sufferers of Migraine. Did you know Seasonal change can be a trigger for Migraine? Spring and Autumn can be a particularly difficult time when migraine strikes.

Acupuncture helps lessen the frequency of attacks and severity of pain .

Acupuncture also reduces the “aftermath ” effect

If you get a chance have a look on BBC iplayer and watch “Health Truth or Scare ” – Episode 3 with Angela Rippon – this demonstrates how well Acupuncture helps clear Migraine

If you would like to find out more about how acupuncture can be used to reduce your migraine symptons please do ring Jo at The Therapy Rooms on 07821 027711 or to book an appointment call 0191 213 6232 or 07974 725 546