Sports Massage in Central Bristol

RUN: Better, Faster, Longer, Stonger

Do you dream of being that runner where every step of every mile is 100% pain free? No aches, no twinges or niggles, no soreness from yesterday’s session. Well, you are not alone; research shows that as many as 79% of runners get injured at least once during the year. That is nearly 8 out of every 10 runners you see at your next race have been or will be injured sometime that year.

Try to think of running pains in terms of scale. At one end you have severe, full-blown injuries, which we’ll name the red zone and includes stress fractures that require time off. The other end, where you’re in top form, is the green zone. Mild, transient aches that annoy you one day and disappear the next sit closer to the green end. Many runners get stuck in the middle, in the not-quite-injured but not-quite-healthy yellow zone.
Your ability to get into the green zone depends largely on how you react to that first stab of pain. It would be beneficial to rest a little, slow down the exercise and maybe receive a massage and rehabilitation advice from a professional until you get back into the green zone. Developing a proactive long-term injury-prevention strategy, such as strength training, stretching, regular massage and foam-rolling can help keep you in the ‘green.’ We can give you all the advice in the world, but it’s you who needs to put it into practice otherwise if you continue with the intensive exercise without any preparation or recovery plan, your sure to run into trouble at some point!

You can find more information and exercise leaflets for injury prevention at this link:


So, What Causes Running Injuries?

 There are lots of theories as to what causes running injuries but it seems the answer is fairly obvious: running! Research has stated that “running practice is a necessary cause for RRI (Running Related Injury) and, in fact, the only necessary cause.” With running being the dominant risk factor for running injuries what other factors influence risk? Over the years a lot of emphasis has been placed on intrinsic factors like leg length discrepancy, pronation (flat foot), high arches, genu valgus/varum (knock knee or bow legged) and extrinsic factors like ‘special’ running shoes being stability shoes, anti-pronation shoes or lack of stretching. However, recent studies have shown there is no one specific risk factor that has a direct cause-effect relationship with injury rate or injury prevention. Whilst warming up, compression garments, acupuncture and massage have some evidence in reducing injury rates, it is all a little grey and leaves you with a multifactorial buffet of probable contributing causes to running injuries.

One specific factor has been proven though and that is due to runners over exceeding their tissues capacity to tolerate load. Estimates suggest that somewhere between 60 to as much as 80% of running injuries are because of training errors and also inadequate recovery time. Ligaments, tendons and cartilage are particularly at risk because they take longer to adapt then muscles to increased mechanical load.

Factors that affect how much training load a runner can tolerate before injury will also have a role. There are 2 key factors that appear to play a part in this – Body Mass Index (BMI > 25) and history of previous injury, especially in the last 12 months. While high BMI and previous injury may reduce the amount of running your body can manage, strength and conditioning is likely to increase it. There is a growing body of evidence supporting the use of strength training to reduce injury risk and improve performance. Training error and injury risk share a complex relationship – it may not be that total running mileage on its own is key but it’s when you don’t build up your milage or speed. The saying “too much too soon” hits the nail on the head!

Injury prevention is really a ‘mirror image’ of the causes of an injury. So, if you understand the primary reasons for getting injured then you are heading in the right direction to staying healthy this running season. You can find out more on injury prevention, with recommended exercise leaflets, at the following link and we have produced a series of prevention and treatment guides for the 6 most common running injuries which you can download there too.


What are The Most Common Injuries to be Aware of?

Body tissues such as muscles and tendons are continuously stressed and repaired on a daily basis, as a result of both ‘normal’ functional activities and sport. An overuse injury often occurs when a specific tissue fails to repair in the time available, begins to breakdown initially at microscopic level and then over time develops into a true injury. So, that’s why where the pain is, the cause often is not, as the pain you feel initially is usually not where it all began.

40% of running injuries is known to be a condition called ‘runners knee’ or patellofemoral pain syndrome. This is followed closely behind by plantar fasciitis, achilles tendinopathy and then ITB (iliotibial band syndrome), shin splints and hamstring strain. These conditions usually need complete rest or at least a reduction in training volume and intensity, followed by physical therapy to promote tissue healing and mobility. Although these are overuse injuries there is frequently an underlying muscle weakness and/or flexibility issue that needs to be addressed with specific rehabilitation exercises. Follow this link to find more specific information about each of the most common running injuries with specific rehabilitation leaflets for you to use.

You can find our prevention and treatment guides for the following running injuries at this link:


  • Medial tibial stress syndrome (shin splints)
  • Patellofemoral pain (runner’s knee)
  • Achilles tendinopathy
  • Plantar fasciitis
  • Hamstring strains
  • Iliotibial band syndrome


While guidance can be given, it is general in its nature, whereas individual complaints may need individual attention. If you do pick up an injury (including ‘tightness’ ‘irritation’ or ‘niggle’) that you’re worried about then we can help, the sooner it’s treated the better.

Pain Is As Unique As The Person Feeling It


Pain means different things to different people, in different contexts, and based on different experiences.

Acute, short-lived pain following a traumatic injury, in many cases heals. The pain that becomes increasingly hard to live with and manage, is the pain that has persisted month after month and often year after year, particularly when the source often can’t be diagnosed.

Living with chronic pain is almost a disease in itself. It slowly and progressively eats away at you, your confidence, self- worth, and independence. It can consume your life and thoughts, often alienating you from your friends and family even your workplace. This causes your pain to become worse as chronic pain Is heavily caused by your feelings and psychological system.

Living with pain is exhausting, lack of sleep, anxiety and depression often go hand in hand with pain, which in turn can lead to anger and frustration and problems with your relationships at home and with yourself.

And the physical pain can stop you from doing things you love, like taking walks, playing sports and socialising, which also has an impact on your mental health.

You know the saying “it takes a village to raise a child”, well we believe it takes an army to survive and thrive with chronic pain. Although it’s important that you are in control and are the driver of your pain management, it would be unrealistic to assume you can do this alone. You need the support of friends and family, work colleges or associates and pain specialists and therapists.

Physical therapists are experts in handling pain, finding the source of the pain and treating your mind, body and spirit. Physical therapy can be very beneficial in managing chronic pain by promoting joint movement, using exercises to reduce stiffness and improve muscle strength – all of which can reduce your pain and improve your mobility which may help with daily activities. Specific nerve mobility treatments can help reduce sensitivity to pain and massage has always been a trusty stalwart as it reduces stress and anxiety as well as pain.

This month we’ve put together a range of resources that can help you learn to manage this pain, whatever pain level you’re at.

We have leaflets on the following topics:

–          The Strain of Pain: Dispelling the myths behind chronic pain with strategies for managing your pain

–          Understanding Chronic Pain

–          Skills to Cope with Chronic Pain

–          How Physical Therapy Can Help You if You Suffer from Chronic Pain

–          How Pain Affects Your Life (infographic)

–          Relaxation for Chronic Pain (exercise handout)

–          Building Activity into Your Everyday Life If You Suffer from Musculoskeletal Pain

–          Chronic Pain: Tips for Managing Activity Levels


These resources are packed with practical tips and advice, along with worksheets, exercise leaflets and infographics that combine to help you master your chronic pain.


You can download the resources by clicking on this link


If you’re living with pain on a regular basis, there are many ways we can help so if you need advice, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


And if you know anyone who could benefit from any of these resources, please feel free to share this blog post with them.

How can desk jobs cause shoulder and neck pain?

We see and treat a lot of people who suffer from upper back and neck pain and most of the time this is caused by spending hours sitting ‘hunched’ in front of a computer so therefore it’s poor posture which is causing this.

Since our move to Central Bristol, we have been seeing even more clients with this problem because of the numerous offices surrounding us.

We have therefore started offering Seated Massage  as this treatment is ideal to help relieve pain in the upper body and it is also through clothes so therefore you can pop in on your lunch break from the office for a no fuss treatment and the sessions can be shorter.

So, what is the name given to the pain experienced from this type of posture?

It is called: ‘Upper Crossed Syndrome’.

It is when muscles become deformed and form an over lapping pattern of underuse and overuse.

There is evidence to suggest that as well as sitting hunched in front of a computer all day, a sedentary lifestyle and a lot of driving and reading can cause this.

The image above shows Upper Crossed Syndrome and which muscles are typically tight and weak.

Massage can help relieve tension from the overworked muscles and help stop the pain.

This image also shows tightness in the Suboccipital muscles but this is usually when you have ‘Forward Head Posture’ aswell.

Forward Head Posture occurs when the head extends too far in front of the gravity line and it usually coincides with having Upper Crossed Syndrome. In Forward Head Posture, the Suboccipital muscles have to work hard to tilt the head and bring it to “eye level”.

The overused muscles in Upper Crossed Syndrome are The Levator Scapula and Upper Trapezius which are held in a lengthened but tight state and the Pectorals which are short but also contracted.

The action of the Upper Trapezius and the Levator Scapula muscles are to elevate the shoulder blades (Scapula) and they work hard during Upper Crossed Syndrome. The Lower Trapezius which pulls the Scapula down (depression) becomes weak because of being underused due to the Scapula being elevated for such a long time.

The action of the Pectorals is to pull the shoulders forward (protract the Scapula) in Upper Crossed Syndrome but when they are doing this for hours, they are bound to be tired.

There’s only so much time that muscles can work hard before they become fatigued and you’ll know when yours are as you’ll probably feel a dull ache and stiffness in your neck and upper back (as if these muscles are crying out for help).








Unfortunately, the other muscles such as the (Rhomboids, Serratus Anterior, Lower Trapezius and Deep Cervical Neck Flexors) can forget how to fire up and contract as they haven’t been used for a while and so they do not help the Upper Trapezius, Levator Scapula and Pectorals. Hereby is the dysfunctional pattern of Upper Crossed Syndrome.


Human beings are not meant to be in the same position for hours on end, our bodies are designed to move and muscle imbalances can eventually lead to an injury if not dealt with.

There is evidence to suggest that Upper Crossed Syndrome and Forward Head Posture can also eventually cause headaches and because every muscle in the body are linked it can cause problems to occur in your lower body.

On a positive note though, you can do something about it.


So, how can Upper Crossed Syndrome get treated? 

The short muscles ideally should get lengthened, the tight muscles loosened and the weak muscles strengthened. It is also beneficial to work at improving your posture seeing as Upper Crossed Syndrome is caused by poor posture.

Every muscle in the body has another muscle that does the opposite action of it and they work together so that’s why dysfunction can occur when one of the muscles is weak and the other is overused and thus there is an imbalance.

For instance, the action of the Deep Cervical Neck Flexors is to flex the head forward and the Upper Trapezius and Levator Scapula extend the head backwards, the Rhomboids retract the scapula (bring the shoulder blades back and together) and the Pectorals protract the scapula (bring the shoulder blades forward and away from each other).

In Forward Head Posture and Upper Crossed Syndrome as the Neck Flexors aren’t being used properly, the anatogonistic muscles to them (the muscles that do the opposing action) are trying to do the Neck Flexors job too and that’s why they become strained.

You can also perform stretches which not only relax your Upper Trapezius and Levator Scapula, but they’ll help to get your Neck Flexors functioning again at the same time.

By flexing your head downwards and in different directions and by holding each position (stretch) you are relaxing the Upper Trapezius and Levator Scapula which has been working hard to elevate the shoulders when slouching and you are also initiating contraction of the Deep Neck Flexors. 

Stretches should be held for ideally held for 20 – 30 seconds to allow time for the muscle to be stretched.

The stretch below is to lengthen and release tension from your Pectoral muscles and is my favourite Pectoral stretch as it focuses on each side individually. Therefore you only need to stretch one side if you have short Pectorals on one side. To do this, you stand in a open doorway and place one arm on the inside of the door frame and step forward with your leg. As the static door frame is holding your arm where it is but you moving your leg, you should feel a stretch in your Pectorals and as if your ‘opening up’ your chest. 

The exercise below is a good Rhomboid muscle strengthener as it retracts the shoulder blades and it can also help improve your posture.

I recommend doing this as many times in a day as possible and holding it for about 10 seconds.

Try to imagine there is a finger in between your shoulder blades and then squeeze the imaginary finger by just using your shoulder blades. Try not to use your shoulders to do it too as the aim of this is to utilise the shoulder blade muscles that aren’t being used.

The movement can feel subtle, but I believe it is very effective. 

You can also utilise the Lower Trapezius muscle by moving your shoulder blades down after pulling them back as it depresses (pulls down) the shoulder blades.

The below exercise helps to strengthen the deep neck flexors (such as the Longus Colli). 

Start by standing against a wall with your head also against the wall. You then move your head down as if tucking your chin in which helps to activate your Deep Cervical Neck Flexors and then move your head so it is back against the wall again. Repeat this movement about 10 or 20 times and perform it several times a day.

Finally, the below ‘Scapula Pushup’ is a good exercise to strengthen your Serratus Anterior muscle.

Holding this position for up to 10 seconds is good if you can.

To improve your posture when sitting or standing, you can also imagine there’s a helium balloon attached to the top of your head and that you are being lifted up by the balloon. This allows you to sit or stand up straight. 

Some of these stretches can be incorporated easily into your working day as you can do some of them when sitting at your desk and they should help improve Upper Crossed Syndrome.

Experienced Sport and Remedial Massage Therapists can also use tests to find which muscles are weak and which are overused before the treatment and then exercises can be given to you after the treatment that are ideally suited to you and your individual lifestyle. 



We’ve moved to Central Bristol!!

We have exciting news!! Be Complete Massage have now moved to Central Bristol next to Broadmead and the Cabot Circus shopping centre and we’re not at ‘The Practice Rooms’ in Clifton, Cotham and Westbury-On-Trym anymore.

Our new location is a much closer to a lot of our client’s homes and work places and there will be no more walking up that Clifton Hill!!

We now have a lovely peaceful therapy room to call our own.

The public transport is also better to get to our new location then our old premises as most buses go to the bus stops all through Broadmead and outside Cabot Circus and across the road from us too!

We are on the 3rd floor at ‘Castlemead’, Lower Castle Street, Bristol, BS1 3AG and there are lifts and a reception you can wait in if you arrive early for an appointment.

Reception staff are there 24 hours a day and 7 days a week too!

To celebrate moving premises we are offering you 4 60 minute treatments for £100!

The Bristol Thai & Multicultural Food Festival

Be Complete Massage are going to be giving Sport and Remedial Couch Massages at  The Bristol Thai & Multicultural Food Festival on 28th – 29th July 2018, so why not come along for an indulging and therapeutic massage and on the same day savour delicious Thai and Multicultural food whilst experiencing the Thai culture!

We’re going to be there from the opening time of 11am until close at 6pm on both Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th of July and it takes place at Millenium Square in central Bristol.

I myself absolutely love Thai food and am very much looking forward to be part of this amazing event.

Seated Massage for Mental Health Awareness Week!

Be Complete Massage are going to be teaming up with ‘Changes Bristol’ to raise money to help people with Mental Health problems.

We are going to be located in The Mall, Cribbs Causeway, Bristol during Mental Health Awareness Week on Wednesday 16th May and we are going to be giving Seated massages from 13.30 until 20.30 and charging only £10 for a 20 minute treatment.

50% of that money will go directly to Changes Bristol who provide crucial support groups for people with Mental Health problems.

Massage can not only help our physical health but it can also improve our mental health as massages can be very relaxing and can help alleviate stress and our calm our psychological system.

Receiving a massage can also heal the muscles that have become overused and have tightened due to us feeling ‘stressed’ and the way that massage therapists do this is to apply pressure onto the sore and tight muscles such as by using a ‘deep tissue treatment’. This releases tension from the muscles and loosens them up so they feel more normal again.

This treatment may feel a bit painful at the time but it should be just enough pain in order to lengthen and soften the muscles as much as is needed and to begin the healing process.

Mother’s Day Gift! Treat your Mother to a Luxury Massage for Two!

Why don’t you treat your mother on Mother’s Day to a luxury Sport or Relaxing Massage for two from Karonna at Holistic Cocoon and myself which will take place in one of our treatment rooms in Clifton or Cotham in Bristol!

You can therefore treat your mother and somebody else at the same time!

Please contact Lucy from Be Complete Massage on 07581019891 for more information or to book a treatment.


How Massage Can Help Stop Chronic Stress

In this blog, I’ve written about how regular massage treatments can help stop stress before it becomes long-term and chronic.

What is Chronic Stress?

Life can be so stressful and demanding with its deadlines and responsibilities. Relationships can also make us feel emotionally stressed.

Chronic stress is when you’ve been feeling stressed for a while and is long-term.

In the short-term the stress response in our body is crucial as it mobilises it’s fuel resources in order to prepare us for the strenuous efforts required by fighting or running away.

Chronic stress isn’t good for you though and as well as helping to cause an array of physical health problems such as cardiovascular and autoimmune deseases, it can cause long term tension and pain in our muscles.

The good news is that there is lots of ways to help stop stress as getting to the chronic stage as scientific research tells us and receiving a regular massage is one of them. Other alternative therapies such as yoga and meditation can help too.

So, how can massage help us to feel great?


Well, let’s start with what happens when we feel ‘stressed’ and not great!


The stress response in our body responds to emotional/physical stressful states and then it coordinates a response known as the ‘fight or flight’ response. We can think of this response like when we see a threat (such as a lion) and our body goes into a state of acute stress and panic. Our body reacts in many ways because of this and one thing it does is release stress hormones such as Adrenaline and Cortisol.


Chronic stress can cause us to feel in a constant ‘fight or flight’ state but massage can help to reverse these physical effects.


The Limbic System is situated between our spinal cord and the Cortex in our brain and it links our emotional psyche to our physical state and physiological processes. It sorts out and reorganises the somatic (physical) expression of states such as anxiety, anger, depression, arousal and states of relaxation and emotional wellbeing.


During a massage session, the proprioceptors and other sensory modulators in our body communicate to the brain that the touch is pleasurable. The message then goes up through our spinal cord, into our brain and to the Limbic system and the Limbic system then decides that the touch is pleasurable and then communicates this message back to the body.


We can manipulate the decisions the Limbic system makes through massage and touch.


The psychophysiological response from the Limbic system is transmitted back to the body along three principal pathways:


The Motor pathway is the pathway which causes our muscles to increase or decrease in tone and tense up or relax, depending on whether we are aroused and stressed or relaxed and happy. In this case, the muscle tone would decrease and become less tense as we would be feeling good.


The Neuroendocrine and Autonomic pathways is when massage can cause our blood pressure to decrease, lower our heart rate and decrease levels of cortisol and increases levels of dopamine (dopamine increases concentration, memory, and general happiness).


Therefore receiving a massage can help us to feel more relaxed and most importantly, help us to stop feeling stressed so that it doesn’t become chronic. And even if you are suffering from chronic stress, massage can help get you on the path to recovery!


Valentine’s Gift – Treat your loved one to a couples massage!


Be Complete Massage is teaming up with Holistic Cocoon this Valentines day to offer you a couple’s massage from the luxurious surroundings of The Practice Rooms in Clifton and Cotham!

Is your lover, friend or family member in need of a massage to relieve aching muscles, pain and/or psychological stress?

This is a great chance to help them, treat your loved one and also benefit from it yourself at the same time!

Please click on this link to get this offer before it runs out!



So, why choose to have a couple’s massage?


Well, why not?! Why wouldn’t you want to share the wonderful experience of receiving a relaxing and indulging massage treatment with someone special?

During and after the treatment you will probably be in the same mindset as your loved one and therefore feel more connected with them too.

Life can get very busy and stressful and sometimes we don’t have enough time to spend with the people we care about, so as well as getting to spend quality time with them you can also experience a treatment that can not only be blissful and relaxing, but it can change your life for the better as there have been studies conducted to say that massage therapy can help relieve many health conditions.

You are therefore giving someone an amazing gift if you get this.














How Weak Buttock Muscles Can Cause Lower Back Pain

Did you know that a lot of uncomfortable and painful conditions are caused because the muscles in your bum/buttocks are not being used, or if they are, they are not being used properly?

The proper term for this group of muscles is the ‘Gluteal muscles’ and because they are in the centre of your body they are like the glue to stick the top half of your body onto your bottom half and vice versa and so its vital that these muscles are in good working order.

The Gluteus Maximus muscles are gigantic muscles (as is highlighted on the right in the top photo) and the action of these muscles is to extend and laterally rotate the hips.

For instance, the Gluteus Maximus is in action when a footballer is about the kick a football and they are moving their leg backwards in preparation for this.

Studies have shown that they also play a massive role in stabilising the important Sacroilliac joints while going through the gait cycle (for instance when walking or running).

John Gibbons the renowned Osteopath and Remedial and Sports Massage Therapist wrote a whole book on this subject!

The Sacroilliac joints are the big joints on the hips and when they are not functioning properly, they can cause lower back pain. There has been positive tests to prove this.

About 98% of my clients have Glute muscles which are weak, underused and aren’t firing properly when they first come to see me.

When a client comes in with low back pain, Sports and Remedial Massage Therapists can do a postural assessment and some tests to find out if the Gluteal muscles are weak, and in my experience, I’ve rarely had a client who hasn’t got weak Gluteal muscles. That also goes for extremely fit people.

We can then help to get the muscles functioning in the way they should be through techniques applied in the session and by giving clients practical advice such as stretching and strengthening exercises that can be done in their own time after the treatment.

So, why are Gluteal Muscles often Weak?


The muscles that do the opposite action from the glutes (the antagonistic muscles) are often tight to compensate for the weakness in the glutes.

There are a few reasons for this dysfunction and one reason is because muscles work in pairs and when one muscle is working, the opposing (antagonistic) muscle isn’t.

Some muscles naturally fire more easily then others and therefore it’s important to work at strengthening the muscles (such as the glutes) that don’t fire so easily.

Another reason why we can have weak gluteals is because of lack of movement, poor posture and sitting down for long periods of time. I will explain this in a bit more detail later on.

Tonic (Postural) and Phasic Muscles


The neuromuscular system is made up of ‘slow-twitch’ and ‘fast-twitch’ muscle fibres with some muscles containing more ‘fast-twitch’ fibres and some having more ‘slow-twitch’.  Slow-twitch fibres are made for sustained low-level activity and fast-twitch fibres are for powerful, gross movements.

The Gluteal muscles contain more fast-twitch fibres and its opposing antagonistic muscles contain more slow-twitch fibres. The Gluteal muscles therefore need to be used more but it is often the opposing muscles that get over worked and that goes for a lot of fast-twitch and slow-twitch muscle types.

The reason behind this is partly thought to be because muscles are also split into being ‘tonic’ (postural) muscles and ‘phasic’ muscles. The Glute muscles are phasic muscles and their antagonistic muscles are postural.

Postural muscles are involved in the maintenance of our posture and are innervated by a smaller motor neuron. They therefore have a lower excitability threshold, which means the nerve impulse will reach the postural muscles before the phasic muscles. With this sequence of innervation, the postural muscles will inhibit the phasic muscles which will reduce the phasic muscles potential for activation.

For example, this is why muscles in your neck, calves and upper back (upper trapezius muscle) are commonly sore and tight, as they are predominately classed as Tonic (postural) muscles.

So, what Muscles are Antagonistic to the Glutes?


The muscles that do the opposite action of the Gluteal muscles are the hip flexors. These are often painful, tight and overused on people.

One of the most important hip flexor muscles, if not the most important in my opinion is the ‘Psoas Major’.

These muscles are attached to a lot of bony landmarks and that’s partly why they are important muscles because they are relied on a great deal for movement and strength. They can be difficult to locate but fully qualified Sports and Remedial Massage Therapists will be able to locate them.

The Psoas Major is activated also when we are sitting down and so when we sit down for long periods of time these muscles can become tight and sore and this can therefore cause the glute muscles to become weak which can cause us to experience low back pain.

 How would you Know if it’s a Muscle Imbalance that’s Causing your Back Pain and Not Something Else?


Sports and Remedial Massage therapists will be able to help you to find out what the cause of your pain is. We will conduct a thorough case history and then do tests and a physical assessment if need be.

One of the questions we will ask you is what does the pain feel like for you in order to try and determine the cause. For instance if the pain is to do with soft tissue (muscle) you would most likely be experiencing a dull ache and the pain would be worse on movement.

If the pain is to do with a nerve you would feel a sensation like pins and needles and maybe numbness and weakness.

If you do have nerve pain symptoms we will refer you to your GP or to another professional to get it diagnosed and assessed. But if you have soft tissue or muscle pain as well then we usually are able to carry on with the treatment with caution.

We will ascertain if we can proceed with the treatment after we have undertaken a through assessment.