Friday, 26 June 2015

Chronic stress puts your health at risk!

"Chronic stress can wreak havoc on your mind and body. Take steps to control your stress."

Your body is hard-wired to react to stress in ways meant to protect you against threats from predators and other aggressors. Such threats are rare today, but that doesn't mean that life is free of stress.

On the contrary, you undoubtedly face multiple demands each day, such as shouldering a huge workload, making ends meet and taking care of your family. Your body treats these so-called minor hassles as threats.

As a result you may feel as if you're constantly under assault. But you can fight back. You don't have to let stress control your life!

Understanding the natural stress response

When you encounter a perceived threat — a large dog barks at you during your morning walk, for instance — your hypothalamus, a tiny region at the base of your brain, sets off an alarm system in your body. Through a combination of nerve and hormonal signals, this system prompts your adrenal glands, located atop your kidneys, to release a surge of hormones, including adrenaline and cortisol.

Adrenaline increases your heart rate, elevates your blood pressure and boosts energy supplies. Cortisol, the primary stress hormone, increases sugars (glucose) in the bloodstream, enhances your brain's use of glucose and increases the availability of substances that repair tissues.

Cortisol also curbs functions that would be nonessential or detrimental in a fight-or-flight situation. It alters immune system responses and suppresses the digestive system, the reproductive system and growth processes. This complex natural alarm system also communicates with regions of your brain that control mood, motivation and fear.

When the natural stress response goes haywire

The body's stress-response system is usually self-limiting. Once a perceived threat has passed, hormone levels return to normal. As adrenaline and cortisol levels drop, your heart rate and blood pressure return to baseline levels, and other systems resume their regular activities.
But when stressors are always present and you constantly feel under attack, that fight-or-flight reaction stays turned on.
The long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body's processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems, including:
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Digestive problems
  • Heart disease
  • Sleep problems
  • Weight gain
  • Memory and concentration impairment

That's why it's so important to learn healthy ways to cope with the stressors in your life.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Introducing our Courses

We offer excellence in ITEC/BTEC Accredited Diplomas and FHT/CThA Post-graduate courses with exceptional pass rates.

Our Signature Course
BTEC Level 5 in Anatomy, Physiology, Pathology and Therapeutic Massage 
(includes ITEC Level 3 Diploma in Massage) 

ITEC Level 3 QCF
Award in Indian Head Massage

ITEC Level 4 QCF
Certificate in Sports Massage Therapy

ITEC Level 5 QCF
Certificate in Sports Massage Therapy

FHT / CThA Accredited Post Graduate Courses

Welcome to London School of Massage!

Hello everyone, and welcome to the London School of Massage blog!

Here we will update you on all things holistic; whether that be tips,techniques, industry news or reviews, as well as the latest news from the school itself, including training and course updates.

You can catch Jason and/or Natalie in the office in Kings Cross Monday-Friday. We're both trained and employed therapists, so can assist from both a practical and theoretical point of view. Bhavesh is often in and out of the office and, of course, will also help  with any queries that you might have.

The school and office 'headquarters' are based in Kings Cross however we also have a training centre in Harrow. You are always welcome to pop in to see us and we'll show you around.

We are currently undergoing lots of exciting changes here at London School of Massage, so do keep an eye on our progress through the website and here on the blog. New courses and a new website are just the beginning, so watch this space!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Keeping Well in Autumn

At this time of year, it is common to start feeling more tired and run down than usual. Tiredness is a common symptom year round. which we can combat by taking some time out to rest and recharge our batteries. Fatigue, however, is a different beast; affecting our concentration and stamina levels, and our ability to sleep.
Fatigue, unlike tiredness, cannot be cleared up with a rest. If not addressed, fatigue can lead to exhaustion, which is far more serious and is characterised by confusion, delirium, difficulty to stay awake and sleep and often results in a complete withdrawal from others.  Anyone experiencing these symptoms needs to consult their GP as there may be a deeper problem.

Understanding the role of the adrenal glands, adrenal stress and fatigue
Poor thyroid function, poor nutritional intake, low blood sugar levels and lifestyle factors can all affect your tiredness levels. By far the most common causal factor for fatigue is what is often referred to as “adrenal stress”. The adrenal glands are triangular shaped glands that sit on top of the kidneys. They are mainly responsible for releasing hormones in response to stress including cortisol, the stress hormone, and adrenaline, the energising hormone responsible for the fight flight response.  At times of stress, whether physical, hormonal or environmental, the adrenals over-produce cortisol.  It is important to define stress here as follows:  physical stress is the stress as a result of a physical event such as bereavement. Hormonal stress is the reduction of both male and female hormones which occurs as we age or cyclically on a monthly basis, and environmental stress is the stress on the body due to pollution and toxins. Some amount of cortisol is essential for life since it is necessary for brain and immune function, muscle function, blood glucose function and circulation.  High cortisol levels, due to chronic stress, can lead to increased fatigue, reduced energy levels, irritability, insomnia, anxiety, impaired concentration and restlessness.  Whilst the adrenals are busy producing cortisol, the levels of adrenaline and other energising  hormones are depleted resulting in fatigue. High cortisol levels also result in an increased production of insulin, the fat depositing hormone that leads to weight gain. Cortisol lowering herbal supplements include the use of magnolia extracts and Siberian ginseng.
Other causes of fatigue
Fatigue as a result of over-exertion physically, emotionally or mentally does not allow sufficient recovery time. The best way to reduce over-exertion is to maintain reasonable work and personal schedules.
Poor Diet
A well balanced diet consisting of proteins, carbohydrates, fruits, vegetables and healthy fats will ensure that the body functions at an optimal level.  Unfortunately, the foods these days are often highl  It would be prudent to try and eat a balanced diet, avoid skipping breakfast and use a good food state multivitamin supplement.  The multivitamin supplement may be thought of as an insurance policy just in case nutrient intake from foods is not sufficient.
Iron deficiency anaemia is one of the leading causes of fatigue in both men and women affecting approximately 1 in 20 of the adult population. With iron deficiency anaemia, there is a reduction in the numbers of red blood cells and haemoglobin, a protein that carries vital oxygen to all the cells of the body which is required for energy production.  Iron deficiency anaemia rarely causes any serious complications and iron supplements such as iron bisglycinate, a non constipating form of iron, are very effective at restoring iron levels in the bloodstream.
Lack of sleep
Sleep is meant to be uninterrupted helping the body and brain to recover and rest.  Sleep disturbances may be due to adrenal stress mentioned above, or they may be a case of sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea (interrupted breathing during sleep).  Lifestyle changes such as weight loss and cessation of smoking may help with sleep apnoea whilst supplements containing magnolia extracts may benefit those whose lack of sleep is attributed to adrenal stress.
Depression and Anxiety
Depression is much more than a psychological disorder and can present itself with many other concerns including impaired concentration, fatigue, headaches, loss of appetite and headaches.  There are many supplements that may help to counter the symptoms of stress including St John’s Wort, Ashwagandha and Milk Peptides but depression requires specialist treatment.   Consider the use of Vitamin D3 often referred to as the ‘sunshine supplement” since this vitamin increases levels of serotonin in the brain, the mood elevating and nerve calming neuro-nutrient.
Caffeine and other stimulants
Caffeine boosts energy levels quickly but too much caffeine can have the opposite effect increasing the heart rate and blood pressure.  This results in the body working in an “overtime” mode resulting in fatigue.  Limit caffeine intake to every other day or minimal amounts.
Lack of exercise
Exercise helps to increase circulation delivering vital oxygen and nutrients to each and every cell of the body helping to counter fatigue.  Although exercise may not seem fun for most, even 30 minutes of activity such as walking or house work will counter fatigue and may help to boost metabolism.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

The Power of Touch

Wondering whether there might be more to massage than it making you feel good; doctor Mark Rapaport, led a study, published in Autumn 2010, that looked at 53 healthy adults who received one of two types of touch treatments. Blood tests revealed that those who had a Swedish massage with moderate pressure experienced decreases in stress hormones and increases in white blood cells, indicating a boost in the immune system. Meanwhile volunteers who had a "light touch" treatment showed higher levels of oxytocin, a hormone that promotes bonding. Based on the findings, Rapaport believes that massage might be effective in treating inflammatory and autoimmune conditions.

The Cedars-Sinai study is part of a growing body of research that shows a link between many forms of touch; from massage to hand-holding, and improved health. A study from the University of North Carolina found that sitting in close contact with a partner for 10 minutes lowered blood pressure in women. Other research has found that physical contact can trigger a boost in serotonin, a natural antidepressant.

Tiffany Field, PhD, director of the Touch Research Institute at the University of Miami School of Medicine, recommends getting a "regular dose" of some type of touch lasting at least a few minutes each day, although 10 to 15 minutes is optimal. This is true even for those who tend to guard their personal space. "Most touch aversion is to social touch; it's the unpredictability of it that bothers people," says Field.

Rapaport has gained such an appreciation for the power of touch, he's starting a new trial to investigate the effects of massage on anxiety and has made the topic a personal research focus. "We're finding biological changes associated with a single massage session," he says. "That's saying something".