The Phil Brown Massage Studio

Phil Brown Massage now on Facebook

April 26th, 2010 by Phil Brown

You can now become a Fan of Phil  Brown Massage on Facebook. Enjoy benefits like regular notifications of new articles, tips and advice appearing on the website. You can also receive a FREE 30 minute sports massage taster session or 30 minute fitness consultation at the clinic if you have a contribution to the new discussion boards at Facebook.

It just went ping……I wasn’t doing anything with it, honest!

April 9th, 2009 by Phil Brown

Accessory to the fact

These other muscles are the ACCESSORY muscles to the exercise I am doing. An example is the good old bench press. We men like the bench press for three reasons:

1. We can lie down.

2. We can pump up our manly chest muscles.

3. Its an easy exercise to get strong at and feel impressive.

However, many of us don’t take into account all the muscles involved in the movement of the bench press. Sure, we like to focus on the big pectoral muscles as we squeeze that bar up. And that focus is a good thing, since these are the primary muscles we want to affect. There are other muscles hard at work however and when it comes to an injury, it is rarely the big powerful pecs that get damaged in the bench press.

A pressing problem

The rotator cuff are a group of muscles that work to stabilise the shoulder joint during an exercise such as the bench press. It is these muscles that – in this movement – are working in an accessory role. Injury to these muscles can occur when the load placed on the pectorals and the shoulder joint is too much for these stabilising muscles to cope with as they fight against the more explosive powerful forces of the chest muscles. Rotator cuff injury is a common one in men overtraining and overloading their bench presses.

The “invisible” cause

A large percentage of people at most big gyms are not even aware of the accessory muscles in a movement. Hence, when they get injured, it is sometimes hard for them to identify the primary cause of the injury. In the case of rotator cuff injury from bench press, it is hard for people to make the connection between a shooting pain or ache down the upper arm (one possible symptom of rotator cuff tendon damage) and the heavy chest exercises they were doing the week before.


In other cases, someone may be doing an intense resistance exercise to work one muscle group.  Suddenly, they get a sharp pain somewhere they were not expecting. They might come to the massage clinic saying “It just went ping…..I wasn’t doing anything with it, honest!”

Hamming it up

I have an excellent example of just this. Me. This morning. While doing a resistance exercise focusing on my shoulder retractors and mid/upper back muscles. I got hurt. But not where I would have expected. Silly me. And I should know better.

I was doing cable rows. I love cable rows. I am good at them. I make sure to keep my lower back stable and smoothly pull through into my belly and squeeze my shoulder blades together. I have good form. I did not expect to get injured. I did not anticipate the sharp sharp pain. In my upper hamstrings. I was not TRAINING my hamstrings!

The sharp pain and nasty tightness occurred on the sixth or seven repetition of a set of around eight or nine. The reason is this:  as the primary muscles involved in the movement began to tire and weaken (my back and arms), I began to “cheat” the movement with other muscles. The hamstrings are HIP EXTENSORS.  As I sat with a flexed hip pulling a heavy weight towards me in a rowing fashion, my hamstrings were bravely stabilising me  AGAINST hip extension. They were activated and tight, but not moving, SO I DIDN’T NOTICE THEM. Then, when I started to “cheat” and moved my lower back a little into extension because I was tired, my hips extended a little and my already tight hamstrings cramped and got damaged.

This had never happened before! I wasn’t doing anything honest! It just went ping!

The “silent” partners

I had forgotten about the “silent” muscles in a movement. This meant that I had not stretched and warmed up my lower body before beginning the more intense phase of my workout. My hamstrings were ready to get injured due to some leg exercises they were still tired from a few days before, plus I had been spending alot of time sitting down working at a computer. In this position, the hamstrings are kept short for long periods. They need to be stretched and warmed up before exercise if you have spent a long period beforehand in one position.


Although I am not glad I got injured this morning, I can use it as a reminder of the following:

1. Warm up your WHOLE body before a workout. Make sure your muscles are warmed and stimulated ready for the more intense work to come.

2. Familiarise yourself with your different muscle groups and their roles in movement, so you know what the primary AND accessory muscles are in each of your exercises.

3.Make sure you are doing the exercise correctly and efficiently. Many injuries happen in very slight, everyday movements we make without thinking. Something goes “ping!”  in a muscle group that has been constantly worn out by overuse in imbalanced exercises.

4. Never think about one muscle in isolation. Although there are exercises in the gym that you can to effectively isolate a muscle (e.g preacher bench bicep curls) – you can never truly isolate one muscle, since your whole body is always using many muscles to stabilise you in a position or a movement.

Tony Dobbie

January 27th, 2009 by Phil Brown

Ex RAF pilot Tony Dobbie is one of varied people from different walks of life who have benefitted from remedial massage treatment. Read his account of how treatment at Phil Brown Massage helped him to return to the activities he thought he would have to stop.

“I’m 70 years old, but still quite active – both of choice and necessity! We live in an old welsh farmhouse, complete with large outbuildings and about half an acre of garden, all of which require a fair bit of upkeep. Such maintenance involves cutting over 125 metres of hedges, repairing and building dry stone walls and fences and cutting, sawing and chopping timber. Strong winds are more the norm here than the exception, so on occasion storm damage requires me to climb up on the roof to replace and repair slates.

I have been very fortunate in my health during my working life. However, during my teens I had a number of sudden arrivals on the ground – while working on a hayrick on a farm, falling off a parallel beam in a gymnasium and a couple of cycling accidents. All these accidents usually resulted in me landing on my back or on my shoulders.

Some years ago I was stationed at RAF Valley as a flying instructor. In my 40th year I had to eject from an aircraft, which resulted in 2 compression fractures in my back. I returned to flying after 3 months and continued flying for some 10 years after that with no ill effects. However, during the last 5 years in particular, ANY physical work has resulted in some of my shoulder and neck muscles becoming very stiff. The pain usually started about 2 or 3 days after some activity, commencing on one side of my shoulders and neck, before travelling up into my head and then the next day transferring to the other shoulder and commencing all over again. This resulted in tension headaches that lasted for some 24 hours, all of which was quite distressing for my wife and me, so much so that I was almost at the point of thinking that any outdoor physical activity would have to be given up permanently. However, a friend recommended Phil Brown to me and after only 3 sessions of treatment I have not suffered these back pains. I can whole heartedly recommend Phil Brown’s massage therapy. Since I commenced his course of treatment and instructions on how to alleviate further stress, I have been able to recommence all my former activities.”

Work inside the treatment studio at Phil Brown Massage

December 11th, 2008 by Phil Brown

Phil works with a variety of people.

Phil works with a variety of people.

Relaxation is key for effective, meaningful results from massage treatment.  Many patients need effective stretching techniques applied to muscle groups that have become short and tense through overuse or inactivity.

The studio at Phil Brown Massage provides an environment that is personable, warm and friendly. Lacking the clinical atmosphere that many can find threatening, patients are quickly at their ease and able to relax and enjoy participating in their treatments.

Phil uses muscle energy technique to relax and lengthen tight hamstrings

A major contributant to overuse injuries in runners is lack of flexibility.

The studio is situated in Llandaniel on the island of Anglesey, an area rich in outdoor beauty where a strong culture of outdoor sports and activities exists.  Half an hour from the studio in each direction are the mountains of Snowdonia and the beaches around the coast of Anglesey.

Sports like rock climbing and sea kayaking are very popular and Phil has provided treatment for practitioners of these and other sports, helping them recover from injury and return to getting out in the great welsh outdoors as soon as possible!

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