What your body thinks of massage

In order to understand the benefits and effects of massage, it is important to consider how the body responds physiologically...

Stress and anxiety

  • If we could really hear what our bodies are saying to us, there is a strong possibility it would be saying: “Someone make it all stop!” We live in a culture where we drive ourselves so hard, sometimes a spot of ‘me’ time is essential. Stress can be associated with symptoms such as: hypertension, anxiety, insomnia, fatigue, and digestive disorders.
  • Stress, can be met in the moment of massage. While it is not an overall panacea, massage has been shown to increase the body’s production of pain-killing endorphins and the mood-altering hormone serotonin. It can also slow the release of the stress hormone cortisol. This becomes a positive affect on our emotions.

Skin... our biggest organ

  • Technically, massage works the superficial and deep layers of skin, muscle and organs of the body and elongates muscle tissues that have contracted from overuse; lack of use, illness, injury and unhealthy lifestyles. It causes relaxation and mechanical responses in our bodies.
  • Our nervous system responds through the physical touch of massage techniques. When pressure is applied to the soft tissue of the body a physical result occurs: different stokes can trigger different responses. The light touch of gentle effleurage, a flowing massage stroke, awakens the skin, lets the body know the massage therapist is there and the client relaxes.
  • Emotionally, touch is essential to our functioning as human beings – so book your massage today!

Neck, upper back and shoulders

  • Many clients come in, squeezing their neck and shoulders and almost leap onto the table in their need to release the built up tension in this key area. Our head, is held on our shoulders by the atlas – the first cervical vertebra, think of the image of the mythical Greek god, Atlas, who held the world on his shoulders – it is not dissimilar to many clients.
  • Tightness in this area can produce a “domino effect” on the whole body creating imbalances and dysfunctions in various parts of the body. So many people suffer from headaches and upper back pain from severe tightness here. So massage to releasing this area is key for many people. Also maintaining good posture when working at a computer – not slumping and being mindful of posture when using a tablet or texting are crucial to helping this area stay free of pain.

Abdominal and lower back issues

  • As commented in discussing stress and anxiety, one of the results of stress is a slowing down of digestion. In the fight or flight response that we experience when stress takes over, for our bodies to meet stress, one of the systems that shuts down is digestion. When you compound this with our busy lifestyles, which often don’t give us chance to sit down and take our time over a meal, these issues can lead to a whole range of digestive troubles and disorders. Add to that the fact many people (again due to lifestyle stresses) have issues around what nutrition their bodies are taking on board (I am not a qualified nutritionist but I do deal with the result of dietary issues through massage), and you’ve got a recipe for a digestive disaster!
  • Massage is very helpful in easing abdominal issues. It lowers our stress levels by causing the release of endorphins, the body’s “feel-good” chemicals, and abdominal massage can relieve indigestion, abdominal pain and bloating. Back massage is also great for indigestion and gas.

Muscles and joints

  • Since the early 1980s when Jane Fonda popularised the concept of ‘no pain – no gain’ people have been reaching ever high levels of fitness. In principle this is great, but… many people begin these more extreme levels of training later in life, without a strong baseline of muscle and ligament strength. What massage does is applies moving pressure to muscles and other tissues such as tendons, ligaments, and fascia (which sheaths muscles like a sausage casing). This softens fascia tissue and makes clenched muscles relax. My running days are over but I do see runners coming for massage with some common issues including:
  1. Iliotibial Band Syndrome. This ligament runs from your hip to your knee and in runners it regularly tightens and becomes inflamed. Massage can aid release of this  – once experienced, never forgotten!
  2. Plantar Fasciitis. The plantar fascia is a tough and flexible band of tissue that runs under the sole of the foot. It connects the heel bone with the bones of the foot, and acts as a kind of shock absorber to the foot. Deep tissue massage to the arch and calf and some effective self-stretches will help.

“Massage means many things to many people… to the avid triathlete, its release, injury prevention and repair, to an expectant mother, relaxation for herself and the child within and to many, a welcome release from the stress and strain of day-to-day living…”

Heather is an MTI certified Massage and bodywork practitioner, core process psychotherapy student of Mindfulness & Buddhism at the Karuna Institute and a passionate advocate of the importance of touch.


As a massage therapist, Heather is continually adding to the skills and knowledge that provide a profound depth to the power of healing touch. She believes that the body signals when it’s in need of attention and today people often don’t take the time to listen and ‘put up’ with aches and pains that one really shouldn’t. Stress, for instance can manifest itself in many ways. Part of her satisfaction arises from her clients gaining a better understanding of their bodies and for them to help themselves long-term.

Heather believes that massage is an essential component of one’s overall personal wellbeing program. Integrating body, mind and spirit, massage can significantly reduce physical, mental and emotional fatigue and stress, resulting in a strong overall feeling of energetic rejuvenation and healthy well-being.

Heather will individualise each massage treatment based on the goals, needs, and requests of each individual client. The spectrum of light to firm pressure and attention to general relaxation versus specific clinical issue are determined by each client.

Heather embraces one or more of the following techniques or modalities: swedish massage, deep tissue massage, trigger point therapy, sports massage, energy work, shiatsu and a specialised approach to pregnancy massage. Along with this she has a deep commitment to continuing study, learning and experiencing alongside her practice.

Heather works primarily from her home clinic in Deddington, Oxfordshire. With ample parking and a calming therapy room, it is well placed.

Mobile appointments are possible within a 10 mile radius of Deddington.

Heather offers a mobile service to meet the needs of those who cannot travel for an appointment.Mobile appointments are possible within a 10 mile radius of Deddington. Please get in touch to discuss your individual requirements

Learn more about Massage and Bodywork

Read about the latest in massage research and techniques as well as recent Live Well Massage news and updates with these informative articles and posts

  • Thank you, thank you, thank you. It's so lovely to be able to really relax into my body at this late stage of my pregnancy when I feel like I am being pushed and pulled from the inside. I know I will sleep well tonight, for the first time since this little one inside started dancing.

    Marsha Drew

  • An amazing massage that helped to relax and to re-align some really tight muscles - great body work.

    Lucy Timmer

  • “Heather immediately identified I was struggling with pain in my shoulders and upper back and suggested massage. After an hours work I could feel the tension evaporate. I can not recommend Heather highly enough; her friendly yet professional approach combined with obvious understanding of the body enables her to quickly identify and address problem areas.”

    Stefanie Simmons

  • “Heather is one of the best massage therapists I have experienced, she created a warm relaxed environment which instantly put me at ease. I enjoyed a deep massage in the areas which needed it and importantly, without me feeling bruised and battered afterwards. I look forward to regular treatments.”

    Barry Jenkinson

  • “Heather is like the United Nations of massage therapists: very soothing, and excellent in trouble spots.”

    Rachel Coppleson Entwisle

Further Questions

If you have never had a massage, you are probably thinking about all sorts of questions. One of the key thoughts to remember is that massage stimulates the body’s parasympathetic “rest-and-relax” nervous system (the opposite of its sympathetic “fight-or-flight” response), so it counters both physical and mental stresses — giving you a better shot at relaxation and relief from daily life.

Below are some of the most common questions, but do feel free to ask or email others...

I have never had a massage before, what can I expect?

You can expect to have your massage in a safe, nurturing environment. You can expect to feel peaceful, totally relaxed and calm afterward. You can expect to be listened to – you are the one who knows your body. I cannot “fix” you, since you are not broken. I can assist your body in finding its way to relaxation by using massage.

Do I need to make any preparation before I come for a massage?

In the main no but there are a few things to think about:

First of all, make sure it is a good time for you to have a massage: please consider rescheduling your appointment if have a fever, skin irritations (such as impetigo or sunburn), or if you are trying to stabilise a medication (because massage can affect the dosage needed).

Give yourself enough time to arrive on time and relaxed. If you are rushing and arrive stressed, it will take longer to get into a relaxed state.

Are you going to ask me any questions?

Yes. But rest assured it is part of the process to ensure you have the treatment you need and know that anything you say is totally confidential.

Generally, the things I will ask about are:

  • Medical conditions
  • Areas of concern
  • Your level of pain or discomfort on good and bad days
  • What helps reduce the pain and what makes it worse
  • Contact information

Do I have to take my clothes off?

This is a frequent question that a lot of people want to know, but don’t always ask. You only have to undress to your level of comfort. You will be on the massage table, with sheets and blankets covering you at all times. Only the part of your body being worked on will be exposed, for example arm, leg, and back. If you are not comfortable getting undressed at all, I have techniques that I can use through your clothing. It is always your choice on how much clothing to take off or leave on. You will always be properly draped for your privacy and comfort level.

Don’t rush or worry that that I will walk in on you – I will knock and check you are ready before I entering the massage room.

For more Frequently Asked Questions, including more condition-specific questions please refer to the FAQs page.