Sports massage and cold water immersion could be more effective than rest after a marathon

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The article below was first published in International Therapist issue 127 (Winter 2019)

Sports massage (SM) and cold water immersion (CWI) are more effective at reducing fatigue after a marathon than active rest (AR) and passive rest (PR), according to a study published in PLOS One (Wiewelhove et al, 2018).

Scientists recruited 46 healthy male recreational runners taking part in the same half marathon event and assigned them to four groups of equal ability, which had either SM, CWI, AR or PR within 15 minutes after the event.

The SM group received effleurage, petrissage and friction techniques for 20 minutes, focusing on each leg for five minutes in prone and supine positions. CWI involved participants sitting in cold baths, maintaining a temperature of 15°C ± 1°C, while participants of the PR group sat at rest on a bench, and those in the AR group jogged at 60% of their anaerobic threshold, all for 15 minutes.

Jump height, muscle soreness and perceived recovery and stress were measured 24 hours before the half marathon, immediately after intervention, and 24 hours after the race.

The results showed that SM and CWI had no effect on objective markers of fatigue, such as changes in muscle and the blood, but they did have a significant effect on subjective fatigue measures, including perceived recovery and muscle soreness. These interventions were more effective than PR, while AR had no physical advantage and a negative effect on perceived recovery.

For the full study, go to


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Nordic countries are the world’s happiest


People in Finland are the happiest in the world, according to the recently published World Happiness Report.

The report ranked 156 countries based on six different categories: freedom, life expectancy, income, generosity and social support.

Not only did Finland top the list, but all four top spots were filled by Nordic countries, with Denmark second, Norway third and Iceland fourth. Despite not making the top four, Sweden wasn’t too far behind, in seventh place, after the Netherlands and Switzerland. Following this, New Zealand, Canada and Austria took spots eight to 10, with the UK ranked as the 15th happiest country.

So why have Nordic countries taken all four of the top spots and five in the top 10? According to Josefin Roth, Brand Manager of Scandinavian lifestyle hospitality brand LivNordic, the balanced and healthy lifestyle enjoyed by the Nordic people is based on four simple principles:


1. Connectivity to Nature

“Despite colder temperatures for most of the year, we Scandinavians possess a deep, abiding love for nature. We show our appreciation for nature all year long by engaging in many activities such as hiking, cycling, sailing and swimming in the summer and cross-country skiing and ice-skating in the winter. The change of the seasons forces us to stay in tune with nature – and due to the contrasts in light, dark, hot and cold – appreciate it even more than other regions.


2. Authentic Community

“A sense of community as well as an understanding of the common good is central to Nordic culture. We believe in cultivating authentic relationships based on equality and trust, two factors which studies show to be key factors of happiness. We also believe in quality over quantity, meaning that work shouldn’t interfere with family time. Many offices and businesses in Sweden close before 5 PM and incorporate a Swedish tradition called ‘Fikapaus’ which is centred on taking a break throughout the day. The concept of Hygge, a feeling of cosy contentment and well-being, is also an important feature of our cultural identity is achieved by enjoying and appreciating the simple pleasures of life.

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3. Nordic Wellbeing

We Scandinavians enjoy being sociable but are also self-aware and value our solitude. We often take time to connect to our inner stillness, which can be anything from taking a walk in the forest to appreciating the small things in life – such as enjoying a cup of coffee or simply taking a few deep breaths in the middle of the day. We believe that quality of life is determined by a person and is not something that can be given or bought. It is simply a way of ‘being’ rather than ‘having’ and anyone can achieve it with the right mindset.


4. Creative Fuel

“In Scandinavia we have strong passion for design, music, art and innovation, and believe that it all comes from an inner, creative spark which every person possesses.

Nurturing this inner spark is something we take very seriously, as we believe it is what makes us thrive, giving us beauty and meaning in life and the ability to express ourselves. For us, our creativity evolves out of how we intuitively, observe the world around us, using all our senses, being connected to our environment and each other.”

Access the full report


New podcast looks at eating for longevity


In his latest podcast, GP, Author and TV Presenter, Dr Rangan Chatterjee talks to world-leading researcher Professor Valter Longo about eating well for longevity.

Professor Longo shares his views on diet and nutrition, discussing high protein diets, ketogenic diets and low carb diets; communities in where people live longest, like in Sardinia and Okinawa; and the potential benefits of fasting and restricting your eating window to 12 hours.

He says that the ketogenic diet, for example, is not designed for longevity, warning that most people would see it as a high-fat, high-protein and low-carbohydrate diet, which leads to a higher risk of earlier death, cancer and cardiovascular disease. He also points out that the communities of people who live longest do not eat these kind of diets and that carbs should actually make up around 60% of your diet, with fat accounting for 30% and the rest, including protein, making up 10%. However, like all food groups, there are good and bad carbohydrates. He says legumes and vegetables are the best sources of carbohydrates.

Listen to the podcast here



Get active this April

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Action for Happiness (AFH) encourages us all to look after our physical and mental wellbeing, with its Active April action calendar.

AFH publishes monthly calendars, available in 12 different languages, offering daily suggestions on the theme of the respective month. Active April has 30 suggested actions that can be followed throughout the month, to help you stay active and give your mind and body a boost.

Suggestions for Active April include the following:

  • Go up and down the stairs whenever possible today
  • Eat only heathy and natural food and drink lots of water
  • Do stretch and breath exercises at three different times
  • Recharge yourself. Avoid tech for two hours before bedtime
  • Spend as much time as possible outdoors today

Download the calendar

NHS trial to look at Ayurvedic remedy as a replacement for antibiotics for colds and the flu


Could an Ayurvedic remedy offer an alternative to antibiotics for colds and the flu? This is the question being asked by GPs wary of overprescribing antibiotics, where they are sometimes not needed.

A new trial led by the University of Southampton will enable 20 GP surgeries in south east England to offer andrographis, or a placebo, to patients to examine its effects on sinusitis, coughs and sore throats.

This trial forms part of the NHS’ five year antimicrobial resistance action plan, that aims to see antibiotic prescriptions drop by 15% by 2025.

This is the first trial of its kind in the west, following more than 30 trials in the east that showed that andrographis had potential benefits for patients with colds or the flu.

Speaking to the Telegraph about the study, Dr Michael Dixon, speaker at the 2018 FHT Conference and NHS England’s National Clinical Lead for Social Prescription, said ‘With the NHS confirming its five-year antimicrobial resistance action plan this research programme is extremely useful.

‘Involving family doctors from the outset is especially welcome as GPs are on the frontline in reducing reliance on antibiotics.

‘To have the prospect of a natural remedy like andrographis able to enhance a patient’s resistance would be a big step forward.’

Find out more

Paintings in Hospitals secures National Lottery support on its 60th anniversary


Paintings in Hospitals has received a National Lottery Heritage Fund grant of £9,800 to explore and share its heritage. The People, Paintings and Positivity project has been made possible by the monies raised by National Lottery players. It will focus on Paintings in Hospitals’ pioneering 60-year history and its impact on the nation’s health and wellbeing.

Supported through The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the People, Paintings and Positivity project will draw together narratives from Paintings in Hospitals’ extensive archives, from its unique art collection, and from the stories of the people involved, both past and present. The project will culminate in a free public exhibition at the Menier Gallery in London, co-created in collaboration with healthcare staff, which will include a soapbox talk event. The gallery exhibition will later become a touring display that will travel to two UK healthcare sites, enabling people from across the country to discover and discuss the hidden history of this unique organisation and how visual arts have supported the UK’s health and wellbeing over the last six decades.

Paintings in Hospitals is a national charity dedicated to inspiring better health and wellbeing through art. Founded in 1959, Paintings in Hospitals was an early pioneer of the now flourishing ‘arts in health’ sector and, today, its art loans, artist projects and creative workshops touch the lives of two million patients and carers every year. People, Paintings and Positivity participants and exhibition visitors will gain insight into a hidden history and gain a deeper knowledge of how art can benefit our day-to-day mental and physical health.

Commenting on the award, Ben Pearce, Director of Paintings in Hospitals, said:
“We are delighted that The National Lottery Heritage Fund are supporting our work. We are very excited to begin celebrating 60 years of Paintings in Hospitals. For the past six decades, we have been working across every type of health and social care site – from hospitals to care homes – to transform the UK’s health through museum-quality art. Art is proven to help us stay well and aid our recovery from illness and injury. Now more than ever, it is vital that people are aware of the enormous contribution art has made and will make to public health in these challenging times.”


Swedish massage can help improve sleep


One in five people experience excessive tiredness at any given time, while one in 10 have chronic fatigue (Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2018)

Fatigue and depleted energy could be addressed with weekly Swedish and Thai massage, suggests a study published in the Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies (MacSween et al, 2017).

Researchers from Teesside University and the University of Leeds invited 20 participants with fatigue and/or depleted energy to receive treatments with a massage therapist. The participants all agreed to commit to a six-week study and complete diary entries on how they felt after treatments in Swedish and Thai massage, administered by Susan Lorrimer, a member of the FHT.

The participants were split into two groups and half of them received three weekly 45-minute Swedish massage treatments. This was followed by three in Thai massage therapy from weeks four to six. The treatment order was reversed for the other 10 participants.

The results showed that both Swedish and Thai massage relieved symptoms of fatigue or depleted energy by reducing stress, promoting relaxation, relieving pain and improving energy.

However, Swedish massage was more effective than Thai in improving sleep, promoting relaxation and de-stressing. Thai massage was more energising, rejuvenating and motivating and had longer lasting benefits than Swedish.

Read the study abstract here


For full references, go to

Photo by Kevin Grieve on Unsplash


We hope you enjoyed this article, which was first published in the Spring 2018 issue of International Therapist!

International Therapist is the FHT’s membership magazine. Published on a quarterly basis, it offers a broad range of articles – from aromatherapy and electrolysis, to sports injuries and regulation updates. The magazine is a membership benefit and is not available off-the-shelf or by subscription.

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