Archives for posts with tag: Remedial massage

I was reminded the other day that I do actually do other forms of massage, not just Lymphatic Drainage.  I mean, of course I knew that, but a colleague sent me a message to ask if I did “normal massage” because she’d been reading my blog and it all seemed pretty specialised and she wanted to buy a gift certificate for someone for a relaxing massage.  Could I do that?

Yes!  Of course.  But somehow it’s much more exciting talking about the dramatic results with Lymphatic Drainage.  That’s not to say that I haven’t achieved some beautiful results while giving a “normal massage”.

Here is a beautiful comment that one of my clients, a naturopath, posted on her own business Facebook page …

“I just have to give a plug because this woman is the BIZ for massage. It takes a lot for me to rate someone in the massage stakes but after a particularly stressful time, I relinquished and made an appointment after about a year since last seeing her. Nothing short of spectacular in energy, flow, technique and physical genius. Lisa Higgins, Massage and Lymphatic Drainage in Brookvale. Do it.”

For me, it’s very much listening to what the client wants when they walk through the door.  We discuss how they would like to feel at the end of the session so I can tailor the massage to their particular needs at that time.  And I do have regulars who come in and say, “well, today I think I need something that’s going to energise me” or “I really need to relax and let go of some stress” or “I’ve had some intense workouts this week, you’ll need to get your elbows out”.  Each day is different.

It’s quite funny when I’ve had someone who’s only experienced me with Lymphatic Drainage then they ask for a Remedial Massage because they have some pain and could I really work the area.  It can be a real shock when I do “work the area”, it’s nothing like the gentle Lymphatic Drainage they are used to, but it’s effective.  Of course, I am sensitive to their needs and don’t apply more pressure than they can cope with (I check in regularly to see if they need more or less).

I’m also sensitive to having the right music playing in the background while I’m working as that can enhance a massage tremendously and I have a wide selection available so that I can chop and change between clients.

And I let the client lead in the talking.  For some people a massage is all about zoning out and relaxing and that means shutting the eyes and not talking.  Others talk the whole way through.  Or start off at a pace then after some time the words just trail off into silence.  If someone talks to me I always answer but I never initiate a conversation.  For me it’s all about creating the best environment for you to relax in.

So do I do “normal massage” – absolutely!



Visit my website here for more information on all the therapies I offer.


I want to introduce you to M.  He’s not my typical client, not that I really have those but you know what I mean.  Until May 2009 he was your typical (there’s that word again), active male, working hard and enjoying being outdoors and active.

He was up a ladder clearing out some guttering and he fell, landing on concrete, resulting in two months in a coma at Royal North Shore Hospital and then a few more months in recuperation at Ryde Hospital, until December.  Since then he’s been getting himself back – he’s had to learn to walk again and attends an exercise program called Walk On, three times a week.  He still walks with crutches but the Walk On guys have him walking short distances unaided – they work him HARD and he comes in with very sore muscles every week.  He sees physios and swims and is doing whatever possible to help himself.

M came to see me at the end of October last year because he had some swelling and pain in his lower leg for three weeks and after a clear Doppler his GP suggested some lymphatic drainage might help and sent him to see me.  That in itself is a minor miracle, a GP sending me a client, but I have to commend this particular GP, she’s sent me two clients recently – progress.

I did the usual upper body MLD clearing and focused on his left leg.  M was very sensitive to touch and had (and still has to a lesser degree) jerking responses, even when clearing his thigh his lower limb would be twitching, or sometimes his right leg.  I have to say that I did drop my lecturer a note about that and she assured me that this happens sometimes, it’s the increase in lymphatic flow making everything work a bit better and that includes nerves firing.  At the end of that first treatment he was amazed at the reduction in swelling.

He’s been coming regularly and we’ve added some laser to the treatment as the area around his lateral ankle is a bit firm and that has helped break down some of the fibrosis.  What we’ve been doing of late is adding ten minutes of remedial massage to his quads because he is worked so hard at Walk On that his muscles are sore.  Our treatments change according to what he needs on the day but it’s great to have a toolbox from which to choose.

Over the time we’ve had many discussions and I’m amazed by some of the things M still does, in spite of his limitations.  He related the story of being helped into the ocean while on holiday and a guy swimming out to him to tell him he shouldn’t swim because of the sharks – his response “I’m going to swim from one beach to the other and he should get out if he was worried about sharks”.  Well, the guy got out and M did his swim.

Or skiing again, using a special ski chair and going down so fast and doing such a sharp turn he broke one of the skis and had to get it repaired.  He’s given me some photos of him skiing with his instructor – pretty amazing huh.

IMG_0049 IMG_0052 IMG_0046

The moral of the story is, don’t be limited by what you think your body can and can’t do, anything’s possible.

I have to start this post by saying a big thank you to Kate, who has kindly given me some photos of herself to use to demonstrate how beneficial Manual Lymphatic Drainage is for bruising.

Kate is one of my regulars, but she usually comes for a remedial massage.  She is a very fit, energetic mother of three who trains hard in her spare time, in between mothering, being a wife and helping to run a small charity called “The Sisterhood”.

The Sisterhood collections donations and supports The Manly Women’s Shelter with items such as toiletries, cleaning goods and equipment and a regular delivery of organic, free range mince as well as home-made meals for their freezer.  The Sisterhood also organises micro finance loans, particularly lending to the Kiva Foundation, helping women in impoverished communities around the world.

As if her life isn’t busy enough, Kate and three friends recently participated in The 2013 Sunsuper Ride to Conquer Cancer benefiting The Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.  In case you’re wondering, that’s a 200km bike ride over two days!  A few weeks ago, while on holiday in Queensland and doing a training ride, Kate was knocked off her bike by a car.  Luckily she wasn’t hurt and after a week or so with her feet firmly on the ground and a couple osteopathic treatments she was back on her bike training.  About 10km before the end of the event Kate came off her bike, losing consciousness for a very short while and she was taken off to hospital for a thorough check.  So disappointing to be that close to the end and not be able to finish, but her team mates continued the ride at her request and completed it.  Amazingly, the only injury Kate sustained was bruising to her face and one small bruise on her leg.  Doesn’t that just show how fit and strong she is?

Kate had an appointment booked in with me for a remedial massage the Saturday after the ride but of course with her bruising there was no way she could lie face down so we did a lymphatic drainage instead.  She came in for a follow-up on the Tuesday.  She took the first photo a day or two after the race and the second photo was taken three days after her second treatment.  Spot the difference anyone?


I know I usually post about people who are courageous in spite of their illness or circumstance, but this post is about courage of a different kind – courage to lead a life that gives back to those who are less fortunate.  Well done Kate – truly an inspiration.

I’ve been following posts from different groups on Linked In recently and in one a massage therapist asked how other therapists got their clients to be quiet during the session.  The discussion was pretty lively between those who strongly believed clients should be silent and those who felt that talking during the session is part of the healing.  I fall in the latter group.  I don’t initiate a conversation during a massage but if my client asks something and it develops into a discussion then I am comfortable letting it continue.  I feel that great healing can happen from articulating an issue.  Actually, it doesn’t have to be an issue that is spoken about.  Here’s the perfect example …

Last week one of my regulars came in for a remedial massage.  She had booked an appointment ages before and on the original day she had sick kids and had to postpone to the following week.  The following week she had caught what they had and so she rescheduled for three weeks later as the kids were on school holidays in-between.  So five weeks after she had originally planned it she got her massage.  She’s a chatterer, we discuss kids, food, playground mum politics … all sorts of stuff.  Last week we settled into the massage and she asked what I thought about Reiki.  I initially did my Reiki over 21 years ago – it has always been part of my family’s life and for me on a personal level it was the biggest hit of energy and growth I’ve ever had.  I shared this with her and said I think most people would benefit from learning Reiki themselves and I gave her the name of a few places that offered attunements.

The talk moved to health generally and the fact that she was considering starting a nutrition course.  I just had to jump in and talk about my Thermomix.  (If my kids ever read my blog they’d be rolling their eyes right about now, “good grief, here she goes again with the Thermomix”.)  She got really excited, she’d been to a demo and wanted one but was struggling with the price so I mentioned that they sometimes offer interest free loans and I’d let her know the next time one came up.  Then we moved on to the next topic.

She mentioned that her son had started chewing his nails.  I had the perfect solution – kinesiology with my friend Angela, who does a lot of work with kids.  Repetitive behaviours respond well to kinesiology and I felt sure they would find some joy.

That night when I got home there was an email from Thermomix saying they were offering the interest free option from now till early next year so I left her a message and she called back all excited, because she had called the demonstrator and asked her and had got the news.  And in the meanwhile, she had booked in for a Reiki course on the weekend and booked her son in to see Angela.  All in the space of 24 hours!

This morning she walked into the clinic carrying a bunch of irises – she had come to say thank you.  She’s ordered her Thermomix, it’ll be delivered sometime this week.  She’s done her Reiki and has already used it on her kids and they’ve felt it (even if she can’t feel what she’s doing and wonders if anything is really happening).  And she noticed that her son wasn’t chewing his nails this morning, nor could he remember doing it for a while.


I don’t feel like I’ve done anything special enough to deserve flowers, but she felt that through our conversation she had already made so many positive shifts in her life and she wanted to express her gratitude.

And I’m learning to accept it.

P has struggled with eczema all his life.  After 20 years of applying topical steroids prescribed by his doctors he decided he’d had enough and stopped them cold turkey.  Bad idea.

That little stunt put him in hospital, fighting for his life and the first thing they had to do was put him back on the steroids.  Coming off them after all that time is not something you can do without medical supervision – weaning off them slowly and building up the immune system at the same time is the safest way to go, UNDER MEDICAL SUPERVISION.

When P came in to see me initially we had a very long discussion about what had happened when he tried to come off the steroids before and what he was doing to manage it this time.  He was referred to me by his homeopath Debbie Rayfield (  I have a good working relationship with Debbie, her clinic is downstairs from mine and I am registered to practice there as she’s on the ground floor and some of my clients just can’t make it up the stairs to my clinic.  So we were able to have a good chat about P’s case afterwards.

P had started his supervised withdrawal six weeks prior and was seeing Debbie as well as an integrative doctor at Your Health ( in Manly.  He was taking numerous supplements and using natural creams on his skin, ate no meat (though still had some fish in his diet) and did not drink alcohol.

When I first saw him he was purple.  And he looked sore.  And a bit scary.  His skin was peeling off and was very dry, particularly on his stomach.  He hadn’t been able to work during that phase as he is a musician and as he looked and felt so awful he went into a depression and didn’t leave the house for some time.


photo courtesy of, copied from google images

It was actually a month before I worked with him.  In the first treatment I mainly did some craniosacral work to help with his stress levels.  At the end of the session I spent ten minutes clearing his main collections of nodes and his stomach (he was able to tolerate both deep and superficial work) using manual lymphatic drainage.

P is a very spiritual person and is able to tune into what is going on in his body on an energetic level which always makes it interesting working with him.  I could be working on something physical and he’d say something like “yes, that’s an old hurt from childhood that I’ve been holding on to”.  Great!  If you can consciously release things on an energetic level while having your physical body worked on then the whole treatment is more effective.  Each time he came we’d use a different combination of therapies, depending on what he presented with.  If he had some aches and pains, we’d throw in some Emmett Technique releases.  If he was feeling run down, more lymphatic drainage.  While doing craniosacral work he’d have all sorts of releases – there’d be smiling or laughing, burping, coughing and overwhelming thoughts of what affirmations he needed to say or things he needed to bring into his life (to name a few).

I’ve been seeing P for nearly eighteen months now, off and on.  Our last three sessions have all been remedial massage!  I use coconut oil as I know his body can tolerate it without a flare up.  Remedial massage is the thing he’s missed the most during his recovery and he’s thrilled he can now have some. 

Because he is compliant (that is, he takes his vitamins/herbs/creams regularly) he is well on his way to a full recovery.  He’s been told it could take two to three years for his skin to become normal again and he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get himself there.  What a long way he’s come already.

It may seem from my writing that I only see people with major illnesses, but actually, a good percentage of what I do is massage for stress relief.


I use different techniques according to how the person is feeling and what they would like to achieve.  Some people are remedial massage people – that’s what works best for them to relax their muscles and get them feeling fighting fit.  It always amazes me when I’ve finished a really deep massage that I personally think would have been quite painful (good pain that is) and the client says … “oh, that was so relaxing, I was falling asleep”.  My reaction is usually one of shock … “but I’ve been sticking my elbows into you, how could that be relaxing”. Just goes to prove we’re all different.  I’m partial to giving a moderate massage, deep but not digging in, working on spots that are tight with stretching or circular movements to release them.

Every now and then I get mums with young children who come in and they give me that look of terror that says “I’m so stressed I don’t care what you do – help!”.  My go-to treatment in that case is always craniosacral therapy.  I did my training with the Upledger Institute, here’s a link to their FAQs page,  People ask me what they will feel and I honestly can’t tell them as it’s so different for each person, but what is consistent is that clients get off the table and say a variation on “dunno what you did but I feel like I’ve slept for a week”.  Some people can’t articulate what they felt and that’s ok.  Others have emotional releases – laughter, tears and all in between.  Some fall straight to sleep.  Others remember events or people they haven’t thought of in ages.  No session is ever the same.

For many I use a combination of therapies.  What works really well is to start with some massage, say half hour to the back and neck followed by half hour of craniosacral.  This is what I offer those who are used to remedial massage but who want to try something new and it usually ends up becoming their regular massage combo.  I occasionally throw a bit of Reiki in at the end to balance the emotions and send clients out feeling like they’re floating. Mmmmm.

Stress relief is definitely one of the strongest benefits of massage – book yourself in for one today!