Cecile joined us earlier this year in our low cost clinic. She is progressing very rapidly, on track to ‘graduate’ to the full cost clinic at the end of the summer. In her Q&A, she gives a tip for stretching and explains how backs are like maps.
Why did you become a sports & remedial massage therapist (SRMT)?
I first got into massage through the holistic and relaxation door.
While relaxation is an aspect of massage I really enjoy (and find essential for well-being and balance), at times I felt quite limited when working with clients who had serious issues/complaints.
I wasn’t sure how to achieve a more lasting improvement. That was quite frustrating at times.
I needed a better understanding of body mechanics and tools that would allow me to offer a longer-term solution to clients.
That’s what brought me to SRMT. It gives me a better chance at helping clients live without pain (or with significantly less pain)* and to support them at a level that relaxation massage couldn’t always reach.
I believe both approaches are important to give a person a sense of balance, so I like to marry them in a treatment if I can.
What do you like most about it?
Two aspects particularly attract me to SRMT – detective work and the collaborative aspect.
You have to approach each case with care, curiosity, openmindedness and a sense of the bigger picture.
You have to quickly get an understanding of who your client is and what he or she does (work, activities, etc), how they move, how they use their body on a daily basis, and so on.
Much like a detective, you then add to all this information the assessment of their posture and movements on the day.
This combination of observation and information allows you to compose a working theory of what might be going on and where the problem might be coming from.
Each body tells a different story, and that is truly exciting to me!
With the collaboration aspect, there is a need for a constant dialogue and rapport between the therapist and the client. We become a team working together to achieve a goal.
Without that back and forth, it can take much longer to achieve a positive outcome (or it may not happen at all).
It’s this sense of working together that I think can really feel quite special.
What sports or other activities do you enjoy doing?
I cycle everywhere I go, I enjoy going on long walks (in the park but also getting lost in the city or wandering along the Thames) and I love swimming.
I also go to the theatre quite a lot and enjoy the regular exhibition or film.
The best day off for me?
Combining all of the above – walking to the theatre where I’m going to see a performance or cycling to the swimming pool or spending hours walking around an exhibition!
When you’re not working with clients at the clinic, what else do you do?
When I’m not working at the clinic I can be found running the cellar of an internationally renowned craft beer pub – a completely different world!
It is a very physical and stressful job with long hours spent running up and down the stairs, moving casks, kegs and heavy crates around, and making sure of the quality of what comes on the bar.
I never would have thought that I would one day become a cellar manager (I don’t drink and I knew nothing about beer or even pub life when I first started) but I am really proud to have reached this position.
Not only because of the technical knowledge and fitness it requires but also because it is still quite rare for a woman to be in that position.
It also means that I fully understand what it’s like to have a hectic work life that is very demanding on your body. I’ve been doing it for four years now and I am quite speechless looking back at the journey it’s been.
Is there a favourite body part you like to work on or type of client you like?
I particularly like working on people’s back as I like to think of them as maps.
I always feel a bit like an explorer when I’m treating someone’s back – assessing the ‘terrain’ (i.e., knots and tension) following the paths (bony prominences), sinking into the tissue (especially during myofascial work), essentially getting to know what’s going on in this unique ‘territory’…
I particularly enjoy working with clients who also take an interest in understanding how their body works and happy to take a part (even if it’s small) in their own self-care.
Nothing makes me happier than when a client gets a true sense of improvement, an understanding of how we got there together, and how they can use self-care to keep it that way.
Can you tell me a funny or interesting story with a client you worked on, like a good outcome, or something that surprised you?
Client’s feedback sometimes takes unexpected forms.
I once treated a young man for lower back problems – he was in his late twenties, leading the hectic stressful life of a freelance producer, running everywhere and travelling a lot.
At times, he would be so overworked and stressed that his back would give up and get completely contracted to the point where he could barely get out of bed.
Over a series of session, his relationship with his back progressively transformed and he had a renewed awareness of it.
At the end of one of our sessions, he turned to me and declared (positively glowing):
“my back now feels like an ocean”
It was a lovely moment.
Is there a number one tip that you’d give your clients, around self-care or massage?
When it comes to stretching, don’t overdo it!
Choose 2, maximum 3 exercises that you feel comfortable with and are willing to commit to, and make time for them in your day/week/training schedule.
It isn’t about pushing/pulling and hurting yourself, it is about encouraging your muscles to open up. So go gentle and subtle.
Cecile is available at our low cost clinic on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8:00-14:00 and one Sunday a month. You can book online with her here.