Myofascial release and low back pain

Low back pain can be defined as either ‘non-specific’ (there’s no obvious cause) or ‘mechanical/ specific’ (the pain originates from the joints, bones or soft tissues in and around the spine, which might be caused by disc herniation, infection, fracture, spinal deformity or a tumour) (NHS, 2021; Chen et al, 2021).  

Some studies have also indicated that one cause of low back pain is the limited function of the back and deep trunk muscles caused by changes in the structure of the fascia (Chen et al, 2021).  

A systematic review recently published in Complementary Therapies in Medicine aimed to analyse the effects of myofascial release (MFR) on patients with low back pain, to help ‘improve the evidence of MFR in the treatment of low back pain and provide reliable recommendations for clinical rehabilitation therapists’. 

The review only included randomized controlled trials (RCTs) where the participants were at least 18 years of age, had been diagnosed with low back pain and had experienced pain for no less than three months. In addition, the experimental group had to be treated with MFR alone or MFR combined with physical therapy, manual therapy, or exercise therapy for low back pain. The control group had to be treated with a non-MFR treatment. Outcome measures used in the studies included pain intensity, back disability, lumbar range of motion, and quality of life in low back pain patients, but each RCT did not necessarily cover all four measures. 

Based on an analysis of eight studies (386 patients) that met the review’s inclusion criteria, the findings suggest that ‘MFR can improve the effect of physical therapy alone and exercise therapy alone, and that MFR can be an effective adjuvant therapy. Meta-analysis showed that MFR has a significant effect on reducing back disability in patients with low back pain, but no significant effect on reducing pain intensity, improving quality of life, and improving lumbar range of motion’. 

Access the full study 

Did you enjoy this research summary? 

The summary above will be published in the Autumn 2021 issue of International Therapist magazine. To find out more about the many benefits of being an FHT member, visit 


Chen Z, Wu J, Wang X, Wu J, Ren Z. The effects of myofascial release technique for patients with low back pain: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Complementary Therapies in Medicine. 2021 Jun;59:102737. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2021.102737. Epub 2021 May 10. PMID: 33984499. 

Photo: Kindel Media from Pexels

Top tips to live green and do good this Recycle Week, and beyond!

The past 18 or so months have been challenging in so many ways, including our efforts to be green. Thanks to a renewed dependence on single use plastic, the necessity to wash clothing, uniforms and equipment on a higher temperature and using cleaning products more so than ever before, it has been tricky to be green while also following government guidance to keep everyone safe. However, the small habits we already do, such as recycling, make a huge difference when it comes to fighting climate change and living more sustainably.

Recycle Week is Recycle Now’s flagship annual event which is a celebration of recycling across the nation. Now in its 18th year, the theme for 2021 is Step It Up! There are so many ways to recycle different household items now, from makeup containers, to tinfoil, PPE and food waste.

Below are some articles that discuss how to recycle different items, tips on creating and working in a greener setting, and everyday habits we can adopt that make a big difference:

How to recycle your used PPE

Food Waste Day: Ten creative things to do with your food waste

New Dr Chatterjee Podcast addresses plastic pollution crisis

Green salon – Looking to make your therapy business more eco-friendly?

2020 FHT Green Therapy Business of the Year, Wellbeing at Whistlewood, share an update since winning the award

Green clean – Recipes for home-made aromatherapy cleaning products

We hope you find the above resources useful. If you’d like to learn more about International Therapist and some of the many other benefits you receive as a member of the FHT, please visit 

Photo: from Freepik

Alzheimer’s Society asks us all to learn more about dementia this World Alzheimer’s Day 

World Alzheimer’s Day takes place on 21 September and is part of World Alzheimer’s Month. This year, the Alzheimer’s Society is “encouraging everyone to know the signs and symptoms of dementia so they can get the right diagnosis and support as quickly as possible”. 

While we appreciate that many FHT members are very knowledgeable about Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, if this is an area you are less familiar with, why not spend just 30 minutes or so to enhance your knowledge in this area. 

There is lots of useful information available on the Alzheimer’s Society website, and below are links to three articles by dementia and massage specialist, Nicolle Mitchell, MFHT, that have been published in International Therapist magazine: 

Peace of mind – supporting people with dementia  

Peace process – a case study  

The link between dementia and trauma 

We hope you find the above resources useful. If you’d like to learn more about International Therapist and some of the many other benefits you receive as a member of the FHT, please visit 

Photo: by Lucas Guimarães from Pexels

Oh Magazine readers encouraged to try reflexology

This September, we encouraged visitors to Oh Magazine’s website to treat their feet to some reflexology and highlighted five great reasons why they should try this gentle but powerful therapy:

  1. Reflexology can help to reduce anxiety, improve sleep and mood, and relieve tension.
  2. Many people use reflexology to help them manage long-term health conditions.
  3. People of all ages can potentially benefit from reflexology and the power of positive touch.
  4. Reflexology can help to mobilise stiff or tired toes, ankles and feet.
  5. As reflexology usually only treats the feet, it can be enjoyed just about anywhere!

At the end of the article, readers are encouraged to visit FHT’s website to find a professional reflexologist in their area. And for those who enjoy the print version of Oh Magazine, we have also promoted our members with a full-page print advert in the September issue.

If you’re not familiar with Oh Magazine, this beautifully illustrated publication has a readership of 120,000 and offers a fresh perspective, covering new ways of looking inside ourselves and out. Oh offers mindfulness for everyday living, with mindful activities and adventures for readers who want to live ‘on purpose’.

Read our article on Oh Magazine’s website

Picture: Akshaya Premjith from Pexels

Natural Health article tackles four common myths about therapies 

As well as promoting FHT members and the amazing range of therapy services they have to offer, we also take great pride in promoting best practice in popular consumer titles.  

In an article published on Natural Health’s website this month, the FHT addresses four common myths about complementary, beauty and sports therapies… 

Myth 1: ‘Alternative’ and ‘complementary’ therapies are the same thing.  
We highlight the importance of using therapies alongside conventional medicine, and not as an ‘alternative’. 

Myth 2: If something is natural, it’s safe.  
Here we emphasise that while essential oils have amazing health-boosting properties, they can cause harm if not used properly. 

Myth 3: Beauty therapy is just about aesthetics and ‘looking pretty’. 
We touch just a few different ways that beauty therapy can be used to help support people with serious health problems and body esteem issues. 

Myth 4: Sports massage is only for athletes. 
Far from it! We explain that sports massage can be used to tackle a range of muscular aches and pains caused by everyday activities. 

At the end of the article, readers are directed to FHT’s Directory to find a local therapist who is professional, suitably qualified and accountable. And to promote our members even more, we also have a direct link to the FHT Directory on the Natural Health website homepage throughout September, as well as a full page advert in the September issue of the printed magazine. 

Click here to read the full article on Natural Health’s website 

Blood pressure checks to be made available from NHS pharmacies

From October, every NHS pharmacy in England will be able to provide blood pressure checks to people aged 40 and above, following a new deal between pharmacies and the NHS.

It is estimated that this new initiative could prevent more than 3,700 strokes and 2,500 heart attacks over the next five years, and save around 2,000 lives.

The aim is to detect thousands of people living with cardiovascular disease earlier, helping to prevent over 150,000 heart attacks, strokes and dementia cases, which is a key objective of the NHS Long Term Plan.

As part of the new contract, local chemists will also help to support NHS smoking cessation services by offering advice and care to smokers who have recently been discharged from hospital. Patients will be able to receive support sessions over a 12-week period with a trained member of the pharmacy team.

Professor Stephen Powis, NHS National Medical Director said, ‘It has been an extraordinary year for our pharmacy teams who have continued to ensure millions of people have access to medicines and health advice as well as playing a vital role in delivering the NHS COVID vaccination programme.

‘More high street heart checks for blood pressure will mean more rapid detection of killer conditions and quicker treatment for patients who need it.

‘Pharmacies are in the heart of communities and so they are ideally placed to provide these convenient checks so if you are worried about your health, please do get tested – it could save your life.’

For more information, see the NHS England website


Cancer charity seeks volunteer therapists for 2021 London Marathon runners

The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity (RMCC) is looking for two volunteer therapists to provide post-event massage to runners helping to raise money for the charity at this year’s London Marathon.  

The volunteer therapists would be required to work from midday to 6pm on the day of the event (Sunday, 3 October 2021). 

The RMCC will be able to provide: 

• Massage tables 

• Massage oil 

• Towels/paper towels. 

The location of where the massages will take place is yet to confirmed but if you are interested in supporting RMCC’s runners, please email Rachel at for further details.

If you are an FHT member and taking part… 

Please ensure that your FHT membership and insurance is current on the day of the event and that you hold a relevant Level 3 qualification in massage that meets the FHT’s criteria.  

We’d also welcome a photo and small post-event write-up to share in FHT’s communications. Please send information and photos (with relevant permissions from anyone photographed) to  Thank you! 


Reflexology research

In each issue of FHT’s membership magazine, International Therapist, we publish a research section that features a short summary of four or five different studies that have recently appeared in peer-reviewed journals. As these studies help to highlight the potential health and wellbeing benefits of different therapies – often in a healthcare context – it’s not surprising that our members consistently vote* this as one of their ‘Top 3’ regulars in the magazine. 

With just over two weeks to go until World Reflexology Week (20-26 September, 2021) we thought we’d take this opportunity to share four research summaries that focus on reflexology, which we have re-published on our blog for all to enjoy… 

Reflexology reduces anxiety and improves sleep in informal carers of cancer patients  

Reflexology reduces back pain following coronary angiography 

Reflexology eases anxiety and depression in patients 

Hand reflexology and acupressure are equally effective for anxiety 

If you’d like to learn more about International Therapist and some of the many other benefits you receive as a member of the FHT, please visit 

*In our 2021 FHT Member Survey, 70% of respondents chose research as a section of International Therapist that they were most likely to read and engage with. 

Revisiting some of your reflexology favourites

As World Reflexology Week (20-26 September) draws nearer, we thought we’d re-share a short self-help video and a handful of reflexology articles published in International Therapist magazine. Enjoy!

Hand reflexology routine
In this short video, Kate Mulliss, MFHT, shows viewers how to work reflex points on the hands that can help to address stress and anxiety.
Watch Kate’s video

Steps to health
Six FHT members explain how they are supporting clients with different health and wellbeing needs, from pregnancy and Parkinson’s disease, to cancer care and fibromyalgia. (First published in International Therapist, Autumn 2019.)
Read the full article

Reflexology – pregnancy and labour
Dr Julie McCullough talks about researching the effects of antenatal reflexology on pregnancy and labour outcomes. (First published in International Therapist, Spring 2018).
Read about Julie’s research

Stress reflex
Carol Samuel, PhD, FFHT, examines the link between stress and pain, and looks at how reflexology can help. (First published in International Therapist, Autumn 2017).
Read Carol’s article

Reflexology and autism
Lorraine Senior, MFHT, talks about introducing reflexology to a school for children with autism. (First published in International Therapist, Winter 2018.)
Read Lorraine’s article

A big thank you to our lovely reflexology members who contributed to the video and articles above.

Did you enjoy these articles?
The FHT regularly publishes articles on reflexology in International Therapist magazine. To find out more about the many benefits of being an FHT member, visit

Picture: VTCT

FHT promotes reflexology to Natural Health readers

In the run-up to World Reflexology Week (20-26 September 2021), we have been busy sharing information about the benefits of this gentle but powerful therapy with some of our favourite health and wellbeing titles.

On Natural Health’s website, you’ll find an article that provides a short introduction to reflexology, along with five different ways it can benefit clients – from reducing stress and anxiety and supporting those affected by cancer, to helping women struggling with symptoms associated with the menopause.

At the end of the article, readers are directed to FHT’s Directory to find a local therapist who is professional, suitably qualified and accountable. And to promote our members even more, we also have a direct link to the FHT Directory on the Natural Health website homepage throughout August, as well as a full page advert in the August issue of the printed magazine.

Click here to read the reflexology article on Natural Health’s website

Have you downloaded your World Reflexology Resources from FHT’s website yet?

If you are an FHT member and qualified in reflexology, you can get involved in our ‘treat your feet’ campaign and help to spread the word through a range of free resources available via the Members’ Area of our website. Log in, download and start sharing today!

Picture: Anete Lusina at