Category Archives: Blog

What Should I Wear for a Sports Massage?
05 Oct

What Should I Wear for a Sports Massage?

Whatever type of massage is sought, this is usually the first question people ask. For a sports massage, the answer is very specific and depends entirely on the treatment you are seeking. If you want the massage to work to its full potential, you need to make sure that the clothes you are wearing are appropriate. This usually means allowing us to be able to see the muscles to make a judgement on the course of treatment, and being able to access the muscles so that we can massage and treat them.

Aims of a Sports Therapist

The main aim of your therapist will be to improve your flexibility and the mobility in your joints as well as relieve muscle pain and help prevent future injury. As the sports massage will work deep within the muscles, the more the therapist can see of your stature, and the more they are able to reach the muscles that have the issue, the better they will be able to treat you.

Massage for the Upper Body

When you have an ache or pain in your upper or lower back, the ideal situation is for you to completely remove your top. For gentlemen, this shouldn’t be as much of an issue as for ladies. In either case, if the lower back is the issue, then a loose top that can be lifted above the muscle in question will be fine. For issues that are higher up, if you are comfortable taking off your shirt, that is great. If not, a sports bra or one that allows us to access the aching muscle will be fine.

Massage for the Lower Body

Generally, if the lower part of your body is to be treated, wearing a pair of loose-fitting shorts is the best idea. If they are too tight, like cycling shorts, it can cause an issue with the massage as they can restrict access to the higher part of your leg. Any clothes worn should be easily moved out of the way as any massage on your thighs or calves will be more beneficial if we can see and get to the muscles on your legs.

Specific Clothing Rules

Ideally, please wear as little around the area to be treated as possible. And don’t forget, if you must wear something:
• Make sure it is easily removable
• You can pull it up or out of the way for treatment
• We can observe the muscles you are having trouble with as well as those surrounding them
• Make sure it is thin and/or loose fitting

Remember these tips so that we can help you get the most out of your massage. Accessibility is particularly important, as often the problem causing the pain or ache you have may not even be in the muscle that hurts. It can be an issue with another muscle nearby, so easy access to the general area of the pain will be advantageous

Acupuncture: What Does it Entail?
19 Sep

Acupuncture: What Does it Entail?

Acupuncture is a treatment technique in which practitioners tend to stimulate specific parts of the body by inserting thin needles through the skin. Scientific study suggests that the art can help in managing certain pain conditions if administered in the right manner. It can be used to relieve low-back pain, neck pain, headache, osteoarthritis, vomiting, and even nausea. The acupuncture experts usually choose the specific points on your body where to place the needles based on your condition. On a typical session, up to 12 points may be used.

For many years, acupuncture has been regarded as one of the best practices used in traditional Chinese medicine. Today, Western acupuncture is widely acceptable in European countries. Acupuncture has become a common practice performed by medical experts for the conditions mentioned above.

How Does it Work?

This technique involves the stimulation of the sensory nerves under the skin and in various muscles of the body. The stimulation causes your body to produce some natural substances which include pain-relieving endorphins. These natural substances which are produced are responsible for the beneficial pain-relieving effects experienced during acupuncture.

To achieve better results, a course of acupuncture is encouraged as opposed to a single treatment. The working of this technique is based on the Chinese belief that energy flows through the body in clear channels known as meridians. The life energy is what is referred to as Qi (Pronounced as Chee).

Medical practitioners who subscribe to traditional beliefs about the technique believe that the free flow of energy in the body can cure illness. They believe that acupuncture can restore the free flow of Qi hence restoring your health.

Acupuncture Safety and Regulation in the UK

England is yet to come up with a statutory regulation of acupuncture. However, all non-medical acupuncture practitioners are required to register with their local authority. For example, patients who choose acupuncture in Manchester must make sure that the acupuncture expert is either a member of a recognised national acupuncture organisation or a regulated healthcare professional such as a doctor, physiotherapist or nurse.

Acupuncture is safe if carried out by a qualified expert. It may help you get rid of the illness that has been burdening you for some time. It may be the breakthrough you have been longing for to lead a happier and more fulfilling life. However, some people may experience short-lived and mild side effects such as:

  • Feeling sick
  • Pain in the regions where the needles puncture the skin.
  • The worsening of the pre-existing medical condition.
  • Drowsiness
  • Bruising or bleeding of the areas where the needles puncture the skin.

Although it is safe to have acupuncture, if you are an expectant mother, then the technique is not advisable if you have a metal allergy or some form of infection in the specific area where the needles are to be inserted. Also, patients with bleeding disorders such as haemophilia are advised to talk to a medical practitioner before considering acupuncture.

Musculoskeletal Screening in the Workplace
16 Aug

Musculoskeletal Screening in the Workplace

The benefits of musculoskeletal screening in the work environment

In 2016, a musculoskeletal screening survey took place which had lasting improvements for 32 employees. The survey was conducted by Connect Health, within a large public sector body. Each candidate was given:

  • A pre-screening questionnaire;
  • A full, 40 minute, musculoskeletal physiotherapy assessment;
  • A 20 minute long case review after a month’s participation in the study; and
  • A final assessment (30 minutes) after three months.

Read more »

Surprising Health Benefits of Pilates
27 Jul

Surprising Health Benefits of Pilates

Did you know that pilates is also good for curing back pain and rosacea?

“I stopped groaning. When I get out of the car now, I don’t go arrggghhh”, said author Martin Amis, in relation to pilates. We at Total Restore share Mr Amis’ enthusiasm. Our physiotherapist, Sarah, is a qualified Pilates instructor. This was through the APPI (Australian Physiotherapy and Pilates Institute).

Read more »

What is Tennis Elbow?
25 Jul

What is Tennis Elbow?

Everything you need to know about tennis elbow in plain English

Summertime: often a wondrous time of the year noted for cricket, golf, tennis, and long days in the sun. With this time of the year noted for Wimbledon, some of us want to be Roger Federer instead of paying over the odds for strawberries. So we take to the tennis courts. After a few sets, arrrgghhh…! The curse of tennis elbow strikes back.

Read more »

Benefits of Sports Massage
26 Mar

Benefits of Sports Massage

The Restoration Blog

Benefits of Sports Massage. It’s that time of year again when the days start to get lighter and we get the spring back in our step. With plentiful opportunities coming up in the running calendar this year, many of us are getting off the couch, dusting off the trainers and getting stuck into a training regime. Once we start to lead a more active athletic lifestyle, then massage becomes as essential as a good rehabilitation and training programme, rest and food.

Did you know that in the first Olympic games of 776 BC, athletes had massages before their events? Sports massage therapy has been used for centuries and why? Because it works! It involves the manipulation and management of the soft tissues in the body to alleviate and rehabilitate the musculoskeletal system. It has 3 basic forms: pre-event, post-event and maintenance massage, to prepare the body for sports and maintain it in optimal function both during and after.  It is suitable for a wide variety of people who are wishing to prevent or recover from general tension or soft tissue injury such as overuse or repetitive strain injuries.

So, whether you’re an athlete or a couch to 5k here are the top 10 benefits to a sports massage.

  1. Preventing injury and injury rehabilitation by restoring and optimising the mobility, flexibility and tone in muscle tissue. Sports massage can speed up recovery healing times and alleviate soft tissue injury, strains and soreness.
  2. Pain reduction. Sports massage techniques manipulate muscles, tendons and fascia to reduce tired muscles from strain, aches and pains. Sports massage prevents or treats a condition called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). This condition happens a few hours after exercise, and can not only be painful but also effects function.
  3. Improved blood and lymph circulation by increasing blood supply we increase oxygen uptake and removal of lactic acid and by-product toxins which can build up in muscle tissue, reducing cramping. Increased lymph draining can help to reduce swelling in joints and muscles.
  4. Restore and re-balance muscle imbalances by focusing on and treating specific muscles to achieve better quality and harmonious movement.
  5. For relaxation, wellness and to reduce anxiety. Heart and breathing rates slow, blood pressure lowers, cortisol (our stress hormone) production decreases, serotonin levels increase (our happy hormone) and muscles relax. Massages make you happy!
  6. Restoring flexibility, mobility and muscle recovery. By relaxing, stretching and normalising soft tissue (muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves and deeper connective tissue). Muscles massaged after exercise have fewer damaged fibres and less signs of white blood cells meaning the body does not have to work as hard to repair after exercise.
  7. Improved tissue metabolism and scar tissue re modelling. Scar tissue from muscle damage can be a limiting factor in exercise. Addressing scar tissue early can help to minimise secondary scar tissue problems such as pain, nerve impingement, postural malalignment, prohibited circulation and risk of future potential injury.
  8. Improves sleep. Reduces cortisol and increases serotonin levels to lead to a more restful nights’ sleep.
  9. Boosts immune defence. By decreasing cortisol levels our immune cells become less compromised. Additional white blood cells help to ward off illness.
  10. Improved function, energy and performance. Prepares you physically and mentally for optimum performance and productivity.

Stay active, be happy, eat well, and find a great Physiotherapist to keep your body at its best! Massage, you know you KNEAD it!

Structures of the Spine and Causes of Back Pain
16 Nov

Structures of the Spine and Causes of Back Pain

Welcome back to Part 2 of the Restoration Blog! In Part 1 we discussed Keeping Your Spine Healthy in the Office and in this issue, we will start to consider the root causes of pain in Structures of the Spine and Causes of Back Pain.

The spine is a complex network of structures and any injury, irritation or problem with these can cause low back pain. This includes the musculoskeletal spinal muscles, ligaments, the bones, intervertebral discs, joints and the nerves which exit the spine. BUT this is where it gets a little confusing ….! It is important to emphasise that structural abnormality is not always indicative of pain and that structures actually causing back pain is a controversial topic. The term can should therefore be used carefully. The symptoms and severity of back pain vary greatly; a simple muscle strain can cause severe acute pain, while a degenerating disc may present with milder intermittent symptoms. Studies have shown that one individual may have a disc bulge on an MRI scan and have no pain, whereas another person may have no abnormality found on an MRI but are in 10/10 pain.

The pain you feel is therefore unique to you and is not necessarily coincidental to the type of structures involved or indicative of scan results. In this blog, we attempt to summarise the most commonstructural causes of back pain but we must always remember that our bodies and pain itself are complex and there are a wide range of variables to consider. Back problems can be connected; tight muscles can irritate the underlying nerves, which may or may not be interrelated with underlying disc or joint problems. The body can compensate in terms of posture and muscle imbalances and can be exacerbated by stress, inactivity, poor general health and nutrition. We focus below on looking at spinal structures, however we must also ask ourselves is the source of pain from or correlated with other variables rather than any structural abnormality …….

Muscular/ Soft tissue Problems

This is the most common cause of acute back pain and ranges from symptoms of a mild ache to sudden severe pain. Muscular and/or ligament (bands of tissue connecting vertebra to vertebra) problems can be caused by different mechanisms such as muscular strains from heavy lifting, repetitive overuse through sitting or bending activities, sports injuries, underlying muscle weakness, postural problems and subsequent compensations. Either the muscles or ligaments become over stretched or torn, placing undue stress on the lower back. Symptoms normally include the following: localised lower back pain, tendernesspasm and nerve problems.s, muscle pain,

Lumbar Disc Problems

Your intervertebral discs are the spongy pads between your vertebrae which act to cushion the spine as it moves. Herniated discs can occur gradually due to wear and tear of the spine, or suddenly due to injury such as heavy lifting. A prolapsed disc is whereby the disc becomes compressed and bulges outwards or ruptures. Alternatively, degenerative disc disease, which is degeneration of the disc itself can also be a source of pain. As the discs deteriorate they lose their shock absorbing ability during bending and torsion of the back.

Sacroiliac Dysfunction

The sacroiliac joint connects to the bottom of your spine (lumbar), to the tailbone and pelvis. Any dysfunction to this joint, such as too little or too much movement, can cause lower back pain and/or referred pain.

Lumbar Stenosis

This is a less common cause of back pain whereby there is narrowing of the spinal canal or nerve root canals exiting the spinal column. This can result in nerve end compression with neurological type symptoms; leg pain, tingling, weakness and numbness.


General wear and tear of the spine (arthritis), and of the cartilage surrounding the facet joints of the spine, can be a source of pain and limitation of movement.


The sciatic nerve extends from the lower back into the leg and to the foot. It can become impinged or irritated anywhere in its’ course and from any of the above conditions/ problems. The most common symptoms of sciatica are: burning type pain and/or tingling at the back and/or buttock, back of the leg and sometimes into the foot. Piriformis Syndrome is a problem whereby the piriformis muscle, a small muscle located in the buttock, becomes tight or spasms. The piriformis muscle can be irritated alone or because of a nearby structure such as the sacroiliac joint (see sacroiliac dysfunction). This can cause pain into the buttock area and can also irritate the underlying sciatic nerve.

Remember that if you experience low back pain, you are not alone. 80% of people will suffer with low back pain at some point in their lifetime. Most low back pain will resolve in days to a few weeks with correct self management and/or temporary treatment, but we must also get to the root cause, whether it be due to structural abnormalities, other factors, or a combination of both. A holistic approach is usually necessary to choose the best strategies and treatments to move forwards with for longer term management and prevention of reoccurrence. In Part 3 we will be focusing on treatment methods for the different causes of back pain, with an emphasis on re-gaining confidence with your back and getting you back to your best. See you in Part 3; Breaking the Vicious Cycle of Back Pain.

Total Restore. Your Manchester Physio Clinic.

Getting you back to your best.

Keeping your spine healthy in the Office
10 Oct

Keeping your spine healthy in the Office

Muscular Skeletal Pain and Musculoskeletal PhysiotherapistsWelcome to the Restoration Blog! In this first series we will be focusing on back pain, a common complaint which unfortunately most of us will suffer with at some stage of our lives. First up, in part 1, Keeping The Spine Healthy in the Office.

At the clinic we often find that people experiencing low back pain, whether it be a new onset or a recurring episode, are at a loss as to how and why it has happened. People will often say: I don’t understand, I was absolutely fine and woke up one morning with the pain, is it my mattress? Have I slept in a funny position? Have I pulled something whilst exercising the day before?

The spine and the pain we feel is complex and in Part 2 we will think more about the Structures of the Spine and Causes of Pain, but foremost let’s go back to basics on a practical level; where do many of us spend a considerable amount of our time? At the office. Work is essential in keeping us physically and mentally healthy but we must look after ourselves, particularly if we spend hours either sitting still or completing repetitive tasks. These activities can lead to poor posture which in turn can cause tight and weakened spinal muscles. Unfortunately, this could also mean that stressors on other structures have occurred; for example, stretched spinal ligaments, nerve and disc irritation, weak gluteal and core muscles, stiff and mal-aligned vertebrae. We must therefore attempt to unload the spine to counteract these negative effects, to reduce strain, fatigue, tension and to restore circulation, mobility and posture to the spinal column.

Here are some simple tips to a healthier and happier spine at the office:

  1. Keep moving! Aim to stand up from your desk every 30 minutes; get yourself a drink, go to the photocopier, check out the lovely view out of your office window if you are fortunate to have one, or just walk to the other end of the room in a pointless manner and back… your spine will thank you later.
  2. Take your breaks; this can be micro breaks for a couple of minutes every hour (see examples above or be creative and think of your own!), tea breaks, lunch breaks and rotating your tasks to combine sitting and standing activities if possible. No eating your lunch at the desk please unless you really have no other option.
  3. Look at the ergonomics of your work station and your posture. Most work places offer a work station assessment of some kind; make the most of this if they do. If not, ensure your lower back (lumbar spine) is supported ideally with a built in lumbar chair support, or a rolled up towel or pillow is better than nothing at all. Keep your hips slightly above your knees, feet firmly on the floor or on a foot rest, your monitor at arms’ length and at or slightly below eye level.
  4. Stretch the contracted lower back muscles. Here are three you can do at work to get you started:

Exercise #1 Hip and Spine Release:

Sit in an upright posture in your office chair (see point 3). Cross your left leg over your right knee. Lengthen your spine. Inhale and on the exhale, slowly bend forwards, bringing your chest and torso towards your folded legs. Allow your arms to drop down to the floor and hold this position for 5 deep breaths. Slowly curl the spine back up to an upright posture. Repeat 3 times on each side.

Exercise #2 Spinal Chair Twist

Sit slightly forward in your chair with an upright posture. Turn your head and trunk to the right. Cross your left arm over your body and rest this on the right arm rest or the side of your right leg. Place your right hand on the top of the back of your chair. Hold this stretch for up to 30 seconds, repeat 3 times on each side.

Exercise #3 Spinal Reach

Sit tall and upright. Clasp your hands and face the palms outwards. Reach above your head with clasped hands, stretching through the spine. Inhale and keeping your weight even through both hips, exhale as you reach up and over to the right. Hold up to 30 seconds, breathing normally. Return to centre and repeat 3 times on each side.

Often it is the small changes to our daily lives which make the most difference to our health and these office tips are easy to do, effective and will empower you to get back to your best. See you in part 2 for Structures of the Spine and Causes of Pain.

Total Restore. Your Manchester Physiotherapy Clinic. Getting you back to your best.