Massage Therapist are the worst massage clients

Massage therapists in a row

Massage therapists in a row

Massage therapists are renowned for being the worst people for looking after their own bodies. Being a massage therapist is a physically demanding job, often with 8 hours or more standing each day and applying pressure onto and into the muscles of their clients. Although most massage therapists know about posture and the importance of using a strong position to create the massage pressure from their whole bodies rather than just their hands or arms, giving a treatment can still place a lot of strain on the back and body.

One of the ways massage therapists can help manage their own health is receiving regular massage themselves, we have heard tutors suggest a guide of one treatment a month. Quite often this may be a “swap” with another therapist in the clinic where their empty times coincide, however this can often mean months go by without a treatment. Only yesterday a massage therapist friend of our clinic came in for a treatment with us. Although she works in a different massage clinic in Glasgow she explained that she like to get treatments away from her own workplace. Benefits she mentioned include being better able to relax, not getting caught up in work and that by trying other therapists she can learn new techniques and skills, or even just little touches to help clients relax.

She also explained that being able to “switch off” and relax in the treatment was vital as otherwise every touch and movement can be analysed rather than just enjoyed. This doesn’t mean that you can’t use your massage expertise to feedback what muscles you know need attention. I am not sure our image above of Barney Green, Catriona Gibson and Rosalind McCusker counts as a massage therapist’s massage, not for Barney anyway. If you are a masasge therapist in Glasgow then why not take care of yoruself with one of our therapeutic massage treatments. Our special Morning Massage price is available on weekday mornings.

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Counselling at Woodland Herbs Clinic

As a shop and clinic with a focus on wellness we often speak to customers in the shop who we know would benefit from speaking to a trained counsellor, to help them deal with the issues in their lives. We are fortunate to have 2 experienced counsellors in the clinic. Ian Boyd is a qualified herbalist and shiatsu therapist who has practiced and taught mindfullness for over 10 years. He is currently (Spring 2015) in his final term of studying CBT counselling in Glasgow. for the past year he has been seeing a wide range of clients as part of his training.
Katie MacArthur is an experienced counsellor who is very well qualified with a PhD in Counselling from Strathclyde University.

To find out more about counselling and our counsellors visit their website at .

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Beard Oil Recipes


If you walk down any metropolitan high street you will no doubt notice an increasing number of twenty-something men with longer than usual beards and facial hair. This increasingly common trend is sweeping towns and cities across the country. The problem that arises from this is how to take care of and condition the beards and moustaches.

Some beard oil recipes worth trying are a blend of carrier oils such as Jojoba, Argan, Coconut or Sweet Almond blended with a small amount of essential oil. Some more masculine scented oils include Cedar and Peppermint. In addition to creating a neat and conditioned beard, many of the carrier oils are very good for the skin underneath.

The first steps of making a good beard oil are to get the proportions right to suit you. Once you have picked a nice base oil and essential oil to give it a fragrance, it is important not to make the scent too overpowering after all, it is going to be applied on the face!

Below are some recipes to try.

Per 30ml bottle (ideally with a glass dropper pipette):

Mk 1 Beard oil – “Manly with Moisture”
25ml Sweet almond Oil
5ml Argan Oil
4 drops Cedar
3 drops Frankincense

Mk 2 Beard Oil “Clean and Fresh”
25ml Coconut Oil
5ml Argan Oil
4 drops Tea Tree
2 drops Rosemary

Mk 3 Beard Oil “Fresh and Sharp Coconut “
20ml Coconut Oil
10ml Sweet Almond Oil
2 drops Eucalyptus
2 drops Sage

Mk 4 Beard Oil “Citrus and Jojoba”
25ml Sweet Almond Oil
5ml Jojoba Oil
2 drops Lime
3 drops Sweet Orange

Add the required number of drops of essential oil to the carrier oil then shake the bottle to mix the ingredients. It is best to apply the mixture to a slightly moist beard to aid absorption. Then you can leave the mixture to sink into the hair to nourish and condition it to allow for a neater and more manageable beard that is simpler to maintain and care for.

For more information on different carrier and essential oils to use in beard oil we have a list of all of our essential oils and base oils on our Woodland Herb website as well as empty bottles to blend your oils in.

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Stand Up Straight – 5 Myths about Posture

There are people in the world whose main job is to help us sit up correctly, stand in harmony with our bodies, run, walk, play instruments and all forms of movement exactly how nature intended. These amazing people are Alexander Technique teachers. For many teachers this is their overwhelming passion – helping people to reduce injuries, prevent wear and tear on their bodies, and to be able to go further, sit longer, have less pain and enjoy themselves more. Even the NHS recognise their skills, with Alexander Technique now recommended in cases of back pain. There is no real substitute for having Alexander Technique lessons as your body and your life are unique and this is what the teacher needs to observe.

Barbara Harrington, an Alexander Technique teacher in Glasgow shares the top 5 misunderstandings about posture.

1.”Stand up straight!” This is a myth, as standing up well, needs flexibility and balance, not to be a straight and rigid position.

2. “Put your shoulders back and chest out”. This may work for soldiers on parade to look professional, however it actually creates injuries and weaknesses in their bodies. This is not the way a 2 or 3 year old child moves, as they are still learn the bad habits that come with these myths about posture.

3. “Your head has a correct position for good posture”. This is a definite myth. Rather than a position for the head, you need to have a free balance of the head on the top of the spine for each different activity you do; whether running, playing a musical instrument or loading a washing machine.

4. “Your body needs to be symmetrical”. Another myth, as people generally have a preferred side, and there is always a difference in tension in the muscular movement between the left side and the right side. Both sides need to be addressed appropriately to work together in a balanced way.

5. “The best way to good posture is through exercise”. Yet another myth, the best way is to be aware of your habits throughout the day in everything you do.

A series of lessons with an Alexander Technique teacher will allow you to increase your  awareness of what habits you have which are destructive and how you can avoid those habits. By avoiding those habits you can achieve healthier, happier posture and more importantly a healthier, happier life.

Barbara Harrington has been a Alexander Technique teacher since 1981 and teaches Alexander Technique in Woodland Herbs Clinic in Glasgow.

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Deep Tissue Massage – Why don’t we list it in our clinic massage therapies.

We are sometimes asked for a  deep-tissue massage in our clinic and have to explain why it is not one of the therapies we think need to be listed on our price list. What people don’t know is that for £30 and 4 hours of their time a massage therapist can add the title “deep tissue massage” to their list of qualifications. Sometimes it is a one day or sometimes a 2 day course or unbelievably a 12 hour correspondence course with no contact with a tutor or clients can be enough!

Having said that in our clinic almost half the therapists have attended a follow on further training course on deep tissue massage as part of their ongoing learning and development. Some have found a useful insight, a new technique or improved application for a current client, whereas other have observed that it repeated what they learnt early on in the first massage course. So knowing this we decided early on that offering “deep-tissue massage” doesn’t really offer a client and assurance of skill, experience knowledge or even of a “deeper” treatment.

Instead of a title we assess the depth of massage a therapist can offer and that they know when deeper is not appropriate, before they join us. We do this in a trial treatment before they join us and make sure they have the physical ability and skills needed to use deeper pressure where it is beneficial. This also makes sure when you say, I like a deep treatment then we know the therapist can make sure they achieve your preference but not do any harm by applying more pressure than is appropriate, depending on the muscle or injury present.

Currently in our clinic we have one therapist who uses a gently pressure and if someone asks for a deep pressure we make them aware that she may not be the right therapists for their preference (the frustration of not having a preferred depth means clients can tense up and become stressed – not ideal when having a treatment as muscles need to be relaxed”). Having said that, Harumi is a incredibly experience and skilled therapist whose background as a nurse means she brings huge amounts of knowledge to every treatment. She says “I just don’t need to use more pressure to get good results!”

Best wishes

Graham Swanson

P.S. Sometimes a deep-tissue massage qualification may be needed to claim the cost of a massage on health insurance. Our therapist qualifications and  insurance list is at the bottom of this page.

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Therapeutic Massage – the one massage to rule them all

When looking at  a choice of massage therapies offered by some spa’s and clinic’s I often despair that massage will one day stop being a skilled practice by professionals and become a service offered in MacDonalds. “So its a Bigmac and fries and a back-shoulder-stress-buster-massage, and would you like you to supersize that with a coke and a foot massage?”. The menu approach to choosing a massage based on packaged options may be the result of a marketing genius observing how we buy other things but I don’t believe it is right for massage treatments.

In our Glasgow clinic our team of ten massage therapists offer therapeutic massage treatments. When you book in the therapist can then modify and adjust their massage treatment to focus on different things. For example if the client asks to focus on the back then the therapist can spend more time on that area, and even more important if during the treatment they think the problem may be related to shoulder tension or tight hamstrings they can explain to the client that it may be good  to work on those areas too. It also means that during the treatment if a particularly tight group of muscles or knots needs to get extra attention and also maybe even returned to later in the treatment when they have recovered from the initial massage strokes then that is what can happen.

This adjustment and freedom for a skilled therapist to read the clients body and to listen to what they think or feel is the key to a successful treatment, whether helping with muscle pain, high stress levels or an injury. So next time you see a massage menu which has ten different options with fancy sounding names, perhaps it is time to look for a skilled therapeutic massage therapist who can adjust their treatment to what is best for your body.

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Remedial, Sports, Deep Tissue, Swedish, Advanced, Medical – Why are there dozens of names for a massage treatment using oil?

Massage treatment continues to grow as a popular therapy to maintain the health of bodies, to treat injuries or to mange excessive stress and tension. However there has also been an increase in the different titles for massage treatments and qualifications. There is one simple reason this happens : To sell massage course to massage therapists!

Here in Glasgow many of our massage teaching colleges like to have a progression in their courses so they can keep teaching their student for several years – Swedish this year, remedial next year, deep tissue the year after, then therapeutic injury massage the year after. Rather than calling this massage year 1, massage year 2 etc, it is more glamorous to have a title and helps the college to get more bookings.

At our clinic we always arrange a trial treatment from therapists that want to work with us and over the years we have found that the title of their qualification really doesn’t matter. We have had treatments from “sports massage therapists” who know almost no anatomy, treatments from “Swedish massage therapists” who are incredible, massages from “deep tissue qualified therapists” who moisturised our skin and not much else. We now know that the title does not matter!

So what does matter when you are looking for treatment/massage therapist?

We know what matters:

1.  that the therapist cares for their clients,

2.  that the therapist keeps adding to their knowledge (whether they add a new title or not),

3.  that the therapist starts with a good training and basic knowledge behind them,

4.  Finally if you prefer a deeper/lighter pressure then that the therapist has the awareness and ability to adjust their depth to the clients needs.

 So how does this help you?

If you are near our Glasgow clinic then these are the questions we answer before a therapist can join our team – so you can confiently book with one of the massage therapists in our clinic . If you aren’t able to visit us then what you need to do is:

1.  Ask people you know in your local area for recommendations and hopefully one or two people will stand out as the “go to” massage therapist.

2.  Look for a local clinic that specialises in natural healthcare. Their job is to have great therapists. You can even ask about the reception staff about the experience and background of the therapists and how busy they are.

3.  Finally consider asking contacting someone such as a local reputable acupuncturist or similar therapist to ask who the best local massage therapists are. They will probably know and be happy to tell you.

I hope this helps and we hope you find a great therapist.


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Five ways to make a loose herbal tea

Most people when they make a herbal tea from loose dried herbs are surprised by how much more flavour, aroma and beneficial effects they have than a prepackaged herbal teabag. The only downside is that it may take a few more seconds to make your tea.  Here are 5 different options we recommend.

tea_infuser_nettle_320h1. Classic option – a metal tea infuser. These are the quickest and simplest option -  open the jaws and grab the amount of herb you need. Stand it up in a cup and add hot water then once brewed remove and dispose the used herbs in a bin or compost. They are not a perfect filter so a small amount of leaf in a cup is normal

herbal_coffee_press_320h2. Use what you already have with a coffee press (caffitierre). This is a favourite, especially if making for lots of people. Use the caffiitere as if you were making coffee but use your loose herbs instead of ground coffee. Once finished you can pour off excess water and put the used herbs in the bin or compost.

tea_bag_in_cup_320h3. Get a really good filter by adding your herbs to an empty biodegradable tea bag . These gives a great filter and can be used to make one cup or a larger teapot. Our empty teabags can be filled and stood up in  a cup or rolled over and held closed with a clip if being added to pot.

4. Go traditional with a teapot and tea strainer over your cup. A classic tea party option although some of the larger leaf dried herbs may be more difficult to pour.

5. Go with an in-cup filter. These vary in style and price but are very simple. Just add to the cup, place in the herbs you want and then add water. Once infused lift out the filter, dispose of the used herbs and rinse. They generally give a great filter and sometimes have a lid which can help keep in some of the beneficial phytonutrients in scented teas such as lavender or chamomile.

So there are five options, you need never settle for weak prepackaged teas again. You can even make your own blends – chamomile and peppermint for the stomach, rosehip and nettle for energy or any combination you like. You can make your own blend online or simply have a stock of dried herbs ready to use as you need them


Graham Swanson is the co-owner of Woodland Herbs a natural healthcare shop and clinic in Glasgow and has over a decade’s experience in natural healthcare.

This article is for information only. Consider seeking medical advice if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, if you are already taking prescription medication or if your symptoms continue or worsen.

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5 reasons to replace coffee with a herbal tea

Here at Woodland Herbs we have over 100 different herbal teas, however many of us like our morning cup of coffee. Working in a natural health shop we know that there are lots of reasons to cut back on coffee and here are five – maybe they can encourage you to cut back on your coffee habit.

1. Caffeine. Caffeine is a trigger to your adrenal system, the “fight or flight” mechanism humans evolved to run away from lions. Your body responds to adrenaline by diverting blood away from digestion to the muscles – ready to run; your heart rate increases – ready for activity; and many other changes. This “stress” response puts your body on edge. Constant caffeine consumption continually causes this state and can lead to difficulties such as exhaustion, irritability, and even dips in performance once the caffeine hit runs out. The move in historical practice from having a cup or two of coffee a day to having a constant stream of coffee is not normally considered good for your overall health.
2. Milk. Most herbal teas don’t really suit milk (a small amount of sugar or other sweetener such as honey can be added if needed). There are many reasons to cut back on dairy – and reducing how much milk you have in hot drinks is an easy way to reduce your dairy intake.

3. Health giving alternatives. With over one hundred herbal teas you could be taking something really positive for your health every time you have a hot drink. One of our favourites is nettle. It is high in iron, Vitamin C and the B vitamins. It is so nutritious it smells like cut grass or compost – however it has a smooth green refreshing flavour.

4. Taste. Many people struggle the first time they have a herbal tea as most herbal teas don’t have the very strong tastes of coffee or tea. By giving your taste buds a rest and something else to try, you are likely to begin to appreciate flavours in foods, wine and other drinks even more.

5. Natural affordable remedies. Once you find that herbal teas can be enjoyable and healthy you are likely to find that you are able to use teas from time to time as simple and natural help. From chamomile as a night time drink if you are having difficulty sleeping, to peppermint if you have an upset stomach, most people can use herbal teas to help with a huge range of ailments – saving you money, living a more natural lifestyle and you may even begin to help your family or those close to you with their minor ailments.


So next time you habitually reach for a cup of coffee why not think about trying one of the nice tasting tea – consider limeflower, lemon balm, peppermint or nettle as good places to start. Our tea sample sets have six different loose herbal teas, a tea infuser and a book (or a smaller sample set with a leaflet) to get you started. You don’t have to give up coffee completely, just find the right balance for you.



Graham Swanson is the co-owner of Woodland Herbs a natural healthcare shop and clinic in Glasgow and has over a decade’s experience in natural healthcare.

Note: This article is for information only. Consider seeking medical advice if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, if you are already taking prescription medication or if your symptoms continue or worsen.

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2014 Class and Course Calendar

Our new class and course calender of natural health talks, workshops and more is now available on our calendar page and also on our facebook page.

To keep track of what we are up to you can subscribe to our calendar (at the bottom of the page) or like us on facebook. You can even book online.

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