the calico massage hub

The Calico Massage Hub is a little treasure trove of articles, tips, information and self-help guides. Have a scroll through and let us know if you have any feedback or questions!

the power of touch | the positive impact of nurturing touch

Much has been said about how the Covid-19 pandemic has denied us one of our most basic human needs - nurturing touch. Touch is the earliest sense to develop in the womb and it remains central to our emotional and physical wellbeing throughout our lives. It is the first language we learn and the fundamental language of connection.

Now I must stress that not all touch is created equal and so want to emphasise that I am talking about here positive, nurturing touch. But we’ve all experienced this - the kind, silent gestures..  a pat on the arm, the touch on a shoulder, a hug from a friend. A single touch that can affect us in multiple, powerful ways. After which we feel happier, safer, more confident, more soothed, more connected. Please just click on ‘Read More’ below for more insights into the importance of nurturing touch on our physical and mental wellbeing and what we can do if we are feeling touch-deprived. 

We have a vast number of touch receptors across our skin and from which our brain can distinguish multiple, tiny variations – for example, between warm, warmer, hot and even hotter... 

But our touch receptors are also excellent at distinguishing between an emotional touch and a similar, but non-emotional one. This is why a sitting in an electronic massage chair isn’t quite the same as getting a massage from your therapist. Touch has far-reaching physical effects too.

A number of robust scientific studies have continually shown how important touch is on a physiological level. The term ‘skin hunger’ is sadly not new. It’s widely recognised that cognitive and physical function is delayed in children who have not experienced nurturing touch in their early years.

And beyond this, research has continually shown that positive touch:

  • lowers blood pressure and
  • heart rate
  • it stimulates the hippocampus (which is the area of the brain central to memory function)
  • And drives the release of hormones that are linked to positive and uplifting emotions.
  • Oxytocin in released when a new mum has skin to skin contact with her baby, forging bonding between them.
  • After an hour’s massage, cortisol levels decline and serotonin – one of the body’s pain relieving and ‘happy’ hormones increases
  • Positive touch also aids sleep and digestion.
  • And, this is key, it boosts your immune system

The more we learn about touch, the more we realise how central it is in all aspects of our lives – cognitive, emotional, developmental, behavioural - from the womb to old age. 

As we move into a time of being able to connnect with each other more, nurturing touch through massage has never been so important to restore our sense of wellbeing. If you would like to book in to see us then please be reassured that we take your safety very seriously and lots more information can be found in the COVID-19 pages. You can also check out our instructions on self-massage found in the sections below if you aren't feeling ready to see a thearpist yet. 

We'd love to hear how you get on!...

massaging your hands | hand massage instructions

This is the first in a series of instructions on giving yourself a massage. There is something very comforting about massaging your hands – we hold so much tension in our hands as they are in constant use. Most of our hand movements involve clenching, clasping and holding actions, so it is wonderfully soothing to counteract these by stretching out the hand and fingers.

This is a really simple set of instructions that you can take 5 minutes out of your day to do. It is a lovely way of taking a break at your desk or doing while you’re on the bus or train on your way home from work. This works with or without cream but if you have some hand cream available, it makes the massage slightly easier.

Just click on ‘Read More’ below for instructions and do let us know if you give it a try!

  1. Cover your hand with hand cream if you have some and then stroke up the back of your hand, towards the wrist and glide gently back.
  2. Gently squeeze your hand all over, pressing it inwards with your palm and fingers.
  3. Compress each finger all over by squeezing between your thumb and forefinger
  4. Using a circular action with your thumb, make circular pressures over the joints of each finger.
  5. Traction your fingers lightly by holding the finger at its base with your thumb and forefinger and pulling gently upwards to stretch it out as you slide your grip up the finger and off the end..
  6. Stroke between the bones on the back of your hand with your thumb. Start between the knuckles and stroke down each dip all the way to the wrist. Repeat 3 times.
  7. Supporting your hand with your other hand, use circular thumb frictions around your wrist
  8. Turn your hand over and support the back with your fingers, then use firm circular thumb pressures all over the palm of your hand.
  9. Starting at the fingers, glide down the palm, stroking towards your wrist and then use the heel of your hand to push into the heel of the massaged hand and circle a few times.
  10. Finish the hand massage by stroking the palm of your hand several times.

Repeat on the other hand. Then relax for as long as you can afterwards.

These instructions can also be used to give you direction when massaging someone else. They will be very grateful and I'm sure will then return the favour!

Directions on giving yourself an arm massage can be found below…!

massaging your arms | arm massage instructions

Continuing our instructions on self-massage  we now move from the hands to the arms. Many clients are tempted to ask their therapist to by-pass their arms when giving them a massage and concentrate on their back instead, where most people feel the effects of muscular tension. Though this is tempting, a thorough arm massage can help to release tension elsewhere in the body, particularly the shoulders.

You can also give your own arms a massage relatively easily. Just click on ‘Read More’ below to find out how and let us know if you give it a try!

Don't forget to  visit and like our Calico Massage facebook page for more tips and all our latest news!


  1. Cover your arm with some oil or hand cream.
  2. Stroke your full arm firmly from the wrist to the shoulder, gliding up your arm. Glide back down and repeat about 6 times.
  3. Grasp your arm and using your thumb, knead all the way up your arm, squeezing and releasing the flesh.
  4. Again using your thumb, do circular pressures on your forearm. Then, using both your thumb and fingers, firmly circle around the hollows in your elbow.
  5. Using a flat palm, pat your upper arm to stimulate the circulation.
  6. Finish off by stroking your whole arm again firmly about 6 times.
  7. Repeat on the other arm and then relax for as long as you can afterwards.

massaging your neck and shoulders| shoulder massage instructions

Do you feel like you need a massage but the pandemic is stopping you having a treatment with us?  Well, whilst it obviously isn’t as enjoyable and relaxing as being massaged by a therapist, self-massage (now, no sniggering at the back!) can actually be quite effective at soothing away tension if you follow our directions, make sure you are comfortable and don’t overstretch.

It can be an amazingly effective way of soothing aches and pains - particularly if you are working from home in a less than ideal office set-up or the stress of this past year is just taking its toll on your neck and shoulders.  It is also great for easing tension headaches. 

Let us know in the if you try this and what you think. For full directions on shoulder just click on 'Read more' below this post.

Most of us suffer from occasional stiff necks, aching shoulders and headaches, especially if we spend long periods of time working at our desks, so the shoulders and neck are a good place to begin the self-massage.

Make sure you are sitting comfortably – you can do this through your clothes but you will need to use some oil or cream if you do massage your bare skin. You can sit on a chair or on the floor or lie down with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. 


    1. Start off by moulding your hand to the shape of your body and stroking down your right shoulder using your left hand. Start at the base of your skull and move down your neck, over your shoulder and down your arm to the elbow. Glide back to your neck and repeat at least 3 times, then do the same on the other side
    2. Then, working up the neck and around the base of your skull, make small, circular pressures with your fingertips on either side of your spine. Then knead each shoulder by squeezing and releasing the flesh on your shoulders and at the top of your arms.
    3. Next, loosely clench your left hand into a fist and rhythmically pound your right shoulder (not too hard – this isn’t about self-flagellation!). This should be a springy movement rather than a punching movement and will improve your circulation and invigorate you. Repeat on the other side.
    4. Finish off by using two hands to stroke smoothly and gently down the sides of your face, gliding down under your chin. Slide your hands over each other at the front of your neck so that each hand is on the opposite shoulder. Stroke down gently over your shoulders, down your arms and off at your fingertips. Repeat this at least 6 times, or as often as you like. This is a really relaxing technique which is great for relieving headaches.

massaging your feet | foot massage instructions

Now who doesn’t love a foot massage (ticklish people excepted!)? While it’s lovely to have someone else rub your feet for you, it is actually quite easy to massage your own feet.

So on that note and continuing our run of massage instructions, this next instalment gives details on how to massage your own feet. It is amazing how a foot massage can relieve tiredness and relax your whole body. So if you can’t rope someone else into giving you a foot rub click on Read More below for instructions on doing it yourself and do let us know if you give it a try!

Don't forget to  visit and like our Calico Massage facebook page for more tips and all our latest news!


To perform this massage, sit yourself comfortably on a stable and solid chair and then rest one foot on the opposite thigh or, alternatively, lie down and bend one leg and rest your other leg on the thigh of your bent leg. It is a nice idea to use a drop of cream or massage oil to help smooth the massage movements. You could try a drop of peppermint oil in some massage base oil or any general body moisturising cream will work just as well.   

  1. To start off, place one hand on the top of your foot and the other underneath and then in a smooth movement, stroke from your toes to your ankle.  Repeat about 6 times.
  2. Then massage each toe by supporting your foot with one hand and squeezing and kneading around the joints of the toes with your thumb and index finger and gently stretching and pulling each toe to finish off.
  3. Using your thumb, gently massage between the bones on the top of your foot.
  4. Moving onto the sole of your foot, support your foot with one hand, make a soft fist with the other and using your knuckles, make circular movements all over the sole of your foot.
  5. Then using your thumb, do circular pressures along the arch, ball and heel of your foot.
  6. Moving to the ankle, stroke around the ankle bone with your fingertips
  7. Then pinch the narrow part of the back of your ankle, moving up and down about 6 times
  8. Finish stroking the foot as in step 1.

Repeat on the other foot. Then lie back and relax for at least 10 mins.


massaging your legs | leg massage instructions

Continuing our series of instructions on self-massage, today we have some directions on massaging your legs.

It doesn’t really matter whether you live an active or sedentary life; everyone can suffer from aching legs so it is handy to know how to give them a quick massage. This can help tired muscles recover after exercise or after standing for too long or just from being stuck at your desk from hours on end.

So here are some instructions on how to give yourself a quick rub down…!

Let us know what you think. For the directions click on the  'Read more' link below this post.


It is best to do one leg first and then work on the other. Sit down on a bed or the floor and take some time to make yourself comfortable. You might like to sit on a cushion and support your back.

  1. Start by stroking the full length of your leg from ankle to thigh with one hand on each side of the leg. Working from your foot, stroke smoothly and quite firmly up the calf, over the knee and up to the top of the thigh. Repeat about six times.
  2. Then knead your thigh, paying particular attention to the front and outside. Think of kneading bread here and so with alternate hands, squeeze and release the flesh on your thigh.
  3. The stroke up the thigh from the knee, with one hand following the other in a smooth and flowing action.
  4. Pummel the front and outside of your thigh in a light way (again this isn’t about beating yourself up!). This enlivens and invigorates your legs and helps get the blood flowing.
  5. Massage all round your knee by applying circular pressures with your thumb round your kneecap. Finish by stroking in gentle circles behind your knee.
  6. Using both of your hands, knead your calf muscle, alternately squeezing the muscle away from the bone and then releasing it. Then soothe the area by stroking gently, one hand following the other up the back of the leg towards the direction of your heart.

Shoulder and neck massage instructions can be found above!

feelig blue? | calico's small suggestions to help

This is a hard time of year, isn't it?  The days are short, it is freezing outside and January can end up feeling like a long slog, not least in 2021 with all the challenge and trauma of the 2020 still reeling through us and our daily lives. Keeping spirits lifted can be hard at this time of year, even in the best of times. 

So here at Calico we’ve been thinking of ways to beat the blues...  we've found things that while blue actually help us beat the blues. Just click on 'Read More' below for links to some things we like. 

These are just light hearted suggestions and so please, if you are struggling, do reach out. It can be hard to admit to friends and families that things are tough and so we've also listed some mental health helplines in the detail below too.  With love x

  1. Bathe in blue
  2. Eat the blues
  3. Wrap up in blue
  4. Laugh at the blues
  5. Dance the blues
  6. Visit the blue 
  7. Sing the blues
  8. Admire the blue

These are just light-hearted and gentle blues-beating suggestions. If you are suffering or just not feeling mentally at your best, please do reach out..

NHS Mental Health Advice 

the power of lavendar | make your own eye pillow

Eye pillows are a great way to help you relax, relieve congestion, headaches and stress. You can heat them up for a few minutes in the microwave to use as a heated compress on stiff shoulders or anywhere else that is sore. Or you can keep them in the freezer and use them to cool sore, tired eyes.

If you have some basic sewing skills and a bit of spare time  then why not try making one?! Detailed instructions and details on what you need can be found by clicking on 'Read More'  Or if that all seems like far too much bother then you can buy them here or here.

massage therapy and stress relief | relieving stress

Many of our clients book a treatment with us because they have a specific physical issue that they wish to be worked on, which is totally fair enough!

However they may not realise that one of the additional benefits of massage is that it can help relieve stress. And it is often the stress they're experiencing that is contributing to their physical discomfort.

For those interested in finding out more just click on 'Read More' below for information on how massage therapy can help relieve stress.


Here is a quick-to-read and interesting article on how massage therapy helps to relieve stress:

How Does Massage Therapy Reduce Stress?

A more in-depth look at the specifics behind massage and stress relief:

5 Ways Massage Can Reduce Stress

And an abstract from the Journal of Applied Behavioural Science on reasearch findings of massage and stress reduction in the workplace:

Journal of Applied Behavioral Science Research Article


what do you think about when you have a massage | massage thoughts

Before the end of the day... what do you wish could happen?

Everyone experiences massage in different ways, but often the time spent on a massage couch can be a contemplative one. So for those of you who fit into this category, next time you're having a treatment, why not ask yourself what you wish could happen before the end of the day and is there anything you can do to make this happen...?

Click on 'Read More' below for some contemplation inspiration. 

Don't forget to check out our Facebook and Instagram Pages!

It's been a while since it was first launched into the world, but I so loved the 'Fifty People, One Question' project. It was a simple premise... with surprising results. They went to a place, asked fifty people the same question and filmed their responses. This from the project team "The project started in New Orleans, LA and received such a warm response that we decided to do it again in New York City. Now we're traveling to more cities and asking new questions. Always just trying to capture a little slice of humanity. Whatever happens happens."

The videos are over a decade old now and so it is interesting to see how some of the responses have stood the test of time...

Fifty People, One Question London

Fifty People, One Question New York


pregnancy and post-natal massage | massage therapy

Just a little reminder that alongside regular massage therapy, Calico also offers specialised pregnancyand post-natal massage too! 

Pregnancy can be a wonderful time but as your body is changing and adjusting, it can also result in aches and pains, tiredness and some stress. My aim is to support you through this exciting and challenging time by helping to relieve physical discomforts while also calming and soothing you.

Post-natal massage is also offered to help you through the busy, demanding and amazing months after your baby's birth.  Just click on 'Read More' below to find out more about this specialised massage or visit the dedicated Calico Pregnancy Massage website for lots of information on the treatments offered. 

Calico's treatment room in Headingley, Leeds is in a lovely, dedicated wellbeing centre which has parking right by the door (so important when you are pregnant!) and our mobile service makes things really easy and hassle-free for you as your treatment is provided at your home or workplace, so you don’t need to worry about driving, parking or finding a babysitter.

I also offer post-natal massage to help you in the weeks and months following your baby’s birth. At this time there can be considerable stresses and strains on your body from cuddling, feeding and carrying your new baby. Massage can help reduce these and just as importantly for you – and indirectly for your baby and family – can give you some gentle time out to recharge, relax and let someone else look after you for a while.

And if you are planning a baby shower or would just like to get together with some other mums while you look after each other’s babies, why not book Calico to come along to your event? I’ll come along to your venue with all that is needed to give the mum-to-be a wonderfully relaxing massage and also treat your other guests to a selection of gorgeous treatments. There is a simple set of packages and pricing structures to make your party planning as easy as possible.

All the information on this and the treatments offered can be found on our pregnancy massage dedicated website where you’ll also find frequently asked questions and details about pregnancy massage safety. Or just contact me for a chat or email with any queries. - I'd love to hear from you!

calico gift vouchers | gift vouchers for massage therapy

A brilliant way of supporting small businesses during the pandemic is to buy gift vouchers than can be used by your loved ones at a later date. This gives us, as a small and local business, a much needed boost to the piggy bank but most of all, a boost to our morale, while giving the lucky recipient a  lovely treat to look forward to when restrictions ease.  

I don't know about you but I think a lot of us are going to need some tlc and attention given to all those aches and pains that the last year has wrought on our bodies. 

Vouchers do usually have an expiry date on them but these are being extended and will factor in any lockdowns/restrictions so that you don't need to worry that they won't be able to be used. 

Just contact us letting us know the vouchers you'd like, pay through PayPal and we'll email the vouchers through to you asap.

Please do just get in touch with us to arrange to buy a gift voucher. They can be purchased for any value of your choice and we can turn them around quickly if you need a last minute present! You can also find more information on gift vouchers, payment and differnt types of voucher by following this link. 

And for those of you would feel a pang of envy as you send the gift voucher onto the luck recipient then why don't you contact us and let us book you an appiontment for whenever the restrictions allow - go on, you deserve it!

corporate massage | calico at your workplace

We realise that many people would love to have a massage treatment but may not be able to fit one into their precious free-time. So we’re delighted to offer corporate and on-site massage therapy so that short, but effective, versions of our massages can be enjoyed during your lunch or tea break in your office or workplace.

We’ve got a range of pricing options so employers have the most flexibility. We've worked with some amazing companies over the years who keep asking us back and so we must be doing something right!

There is lots more information on our workplace massage page or just get in touch if you’d like to talk through the options. Obviously while offices are closed during the pandemic we've had to put this service on hold but we are poised to start up again as soon as we are able. 

Click on Read More below for a tongue in cheek letter we've written for you to send to your boss!

Dear Boss

We know that you love us and we’ve discovered a great way for you to show us just how much… Calico Massage Therapy is a company that provides massage in the workplace. They’ll send out a fully qualified and insured massage therapist to the office of any company to provide a range of different massage treatments lasting between 15 and 30 minutes. They’ll even give you a massage (if you are nice to them).

Many companies swear by the benefits of massage in the workplace as they say it can help reduce stress levels, increase morale and productivity. Not only that, but it shows you as just the sort of progressive and caring employer we know you really are.

We believe that this service could make a big difference to our company and so we would like you to consider our suggestion and check out Calico Massage Therapy. You can call them on 07528 242 659or email them at [email protected] Thank you!

Your loyal employee