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What to expect from your massage appointment?

Massage treatments work brilliantly as a stand alone treatment or in conjunction with osteopathy appointments: we are all working towards the same goal - helping you to move better!

Massage appointments at Physical Balance are 45 minutes long and depending on your needs, can include a variety of soft tissue techniques.

Normally we start off by having a chat about what you’re feeling and your general health & wellbeing. Then we ask you to undress to a point where we can access the area we are focusing on for that session - we will always make sure that you are comfortable. Usually we will ask you to perform some movements to get an idea of how that troublesome area is behaving. And then it’s on to the couch. Depending on what is needed, you may be face down, face up, on your side, seated or a mixture - we will make you as comfy as possible wherever you are. Then your treatment! Our massage therapists have a range of techniques up their sleeves to make the session completely personal to you. Read on to find out more.

STR - soft tissue release

The idea behind Soft Tissue Release (STR) is to encourage lengthening within the muscle/s, which may be shortened due to hypertonic muscles (an increase in muscle tone), to aid recovery from an injury, to assist in breaking down scar adhesions, or to compliment rehabilitation of an injured site.

So how do we do STR? Let’s use your hamstring as an example: the therapist will bend your knee so the hamstring is shortened, from here they will place a controlled amount of pressure on the hamstring muscles, ‘pinning’ the muscle in place. The pressure will remain in place whilst you are asked to slowly straighten your leg, creating a stretch on the hamstring muscles. This will then be repeated as the therapist moves along the hamstring pinning different sections on the muscles.

After treatment you can sometimes feel a bit achy, as if you have held a stretch for a while.

MET - muscle energy techniques

METs are a way of getting muscles to relax and encourage a reduction of muscular tension. This is useful in a variety of situations from getting a certain area to “let go” to improving the range of movement at a joint. In a treatment, you’ll be asked to hold a contracted muscle position or resist a particular movement which sends a message to the central nervous system providing the opportunity for the muscle fibres to let go and relax or lengthen. METs are really useful when muscles are chronically “tight” or particularly painful.

Myofascial Cupping

Myofascial Cupping uses plastic cups of varying size with a small, hand-operated vacuum pump. The suction created from the vacuum pump draws in the soft tissues, lifting the skin from the muscles, providing a tensile force to the soft tissue system and allowing the increase of lymph and blood flow.

Myofascial cupping can be effective for muscle sprains, strains, imbalances and tightness, as well as iliotibial band syndrome, plantar fasciitis, and general musculoskeletal pain and injuries. The cups can be used in a variety of ways:

  • They can be left in one place providing a trigger point therapy which targets a specific area or muscle tension.

  • They can be used in movement, gliding along the tissue. This promotes blood flow and assists in the breakdown of any adhesions that may be present.

  • Cupping can also be used in soft tissue release (STR). This is when a muscle or group of muscles are put into a shortened position, the cups are applied and the therapist will then gently encourage the muscle/s to lengthen by moving the limb/area, and creating a stretch. This improves muscle tone, assists in breaking down adhesions and increases the patient’s range of movement.

Due to the vacuum of the pump, it is very normal to be left with a bruise-like mark after treatment. This is because the blood is pulled towards the surface. These marks typically fade in 7-12 days and should not be painful.

Acupuncture - dry needling

When we experience tension, pain or discomfort in our muscles,, it’s our brain saying ‘we’re injured, protect the area!’ and by doing this our central nervous system goes on high alert and tells our muscles to stiffen up to protect the sight of ‘injury’ by reducing movement. This is a very useful mechanism in cases of acute injury but sometimes it can be a little too enthusiastic and the repeated messages can result in painful, tight muscles and in some cases a reduced range of movement. This can then escalate to surrounding areas and before you know it you’re struggling to move without pain.

By using medical acupuncture, we interrupt that repetitive ‘protecting’ signal and instead it allows the muscle/s to relax. As well as this, it also encourages your body to release pain-relieving chemicals, which makes moving easier and less painful. The effects of medical acupuncture last for roughly 24hrs which provides a window to allow you, the patient, to get moving. The more we move, the more confident we become and the more we can reduce the ‘protection’ signals from the brain and we can start a positive cycle of more movement and less pain.

Tooling Fascial Tooling is an instrument-assisted, soft tissue mobilisation therapy. This is a fancy way of saying it helps in breaking down fascial restrictions, scar tissue adhesions and encourages blood flow to the specific area it is being used on.

A specialised instrument is used, which can be made from stainless steel, wood, plastic, ceramic and in some cases jade or quartz and can come in many different shapes and sizes.

The instrument is used in a cross-friction massage, which involves rubbing or gently scraping against the grain of the restricted area or scar tissue, increasing the blood flow which promotes the body’s natural healing process. This technique can be very effective on conditions such as tennis and golfer’s elbow, ankle sprains and strains, rotator cuff tendinosis, and achilles tendinosis. After treatment you can be left with a temporary bruise-like mark as a result of the friction created - these marks should reduce in 3-10 days and shouldn’t be painful.


The tape we use in a treatment is sometimes known as sports tape, kinesiology tape or k-tape (it has lots of different names!) The idea behind this stretchy tape is similar to the cups. It creates some lift between the different layers of tissue; skin and fascia, which can be helpful when healing from inflammation or bruising. Because of this, tape is useful for injury management at various stages. Tape can also be used to provide some extra support for muscles and joints. So if an area needs a little reminding about how to work best, the tape will provide some sensory feedback to prompt the body to do what it should be. Tape can be used for knees and ankles, lower backs, shoulders and even pregnancy bumps.

And of course, massage!

Massage works physically to impact the muscles, blood & lymph movement, and all the soft tissues in

between but it also has other benefits like giving your body the opportunity to rest. It is such a fantastic way of tuning into your body and listening to what it wants.

In clinic, we see a great variety of people so we use these techniques in different quantities and frequencies depending on who’s coming in and what they are feeling that day with the aim to make our treatments adaptable and highly personalised.


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