Lynn Rae is a sports and remedial massage therapist and Pilates teacher with a special interest in the face, jaw, and postural realignment and post-breast cancer massage and movement therapy.
With more than 30 years’ experience working with the face and body, Lynn works from a solid knowledge of anatomy, as a result of her training at the London School of Sports Massage and as a Pilates teacher, and she has an intuitive and holistic approach to working with clients as individuals.
Frozen shoulders, stiff necks, aching backs—these are just three of the postural problems that are becoming all too common in modern life. Hours spent desk-bound, peering at computer screens and tapping into mobiles are big contributing factors.
I personally had the above holy trinity of screen users’ complaints—and then some. Recently I had started waking up with a jaw as tight as a drum, and trapezius muscles so tense they might have spent 10 rounds in the ring with Roman Gonzalez overnight.
So I Googled ‘impossibly tense jaw and shoulders’—and that’s how I found Lynn Rae. Lynn specialises in Remedial Face and Jaw Massage and Realignment—a highly developed form of facial therapy that helps people like me with chronic jaw tension or pain from clenching or grinding. I loved that it promised to ‘release stress or posture-related pain’ in the jaw and head; I’d never heard of intra-oral massage, but by then would have tried anything.
Lynn’s credentials look impressive. Besides having tons of experience as a sports massage therapist, Lynn teaches Pilates and posture awareness and even runs Facial Pilates workshops said to offer ‘a natural alternative to Botox or surgery’. She treats medical conditions such as Bells Palsy, and offers post-breast cancer treatment and therapy. Her own health journey has led her to adopt a holistic healing approach. This was the woman for me.
I arrived at a charming terraced house in Wandsworth Town, where Lynn lives and practises. I felt instantly at ease as she welcomed me with a sunny face and a noticeably radiant smile—her ‘inner smile’ I later learned she calls it. She started by taking my medical history, and moved onto my specific problems. I told her I didn’t believe I was guilty of ‘bruxism’—grinding and clenching of the teeth, often when sleeping—but I suspected my teeth and jaw were not ‘sitting comfortably’ together, and my bite had changed and no longer met properly. Lynn said that bite and how teeth are impacting on jaw comfort could be checked by a specialist dentist—she sometimes refers clients to London Holistic Dental Centre.
What can also help a lot are exercises. She believes in educating clients so they can continue the work she has done and improve at home. Doing the exercises she showed me would create good ‘muscle memories’. So we had a mini tutorial in mouth awareness.
‘Where does your tongue usually sit?’ she asked. I thought about it and said on the lower part of my mouth, its tip butting against my bottom teeth.
This is not a good position, she said, because if the tongue is resting in the lower part of the mouth, the facial and jaw muscles will be dragged with it. ‘Ideally the tip of the tongue should be resting on what professionals call “The Spot.” That Spot is behind the front teeth on the anterior third of the palate. The entire rest of the tongue should then be PLASTERED to the roof of the mouth- covering what’s called the hard palate and extending to what is called the soft palate. It should never touch your front teeth, and instead it should rest about a half inch behind them.,’ she explained.
Then she showed me her ‘inner smile’; she visualises her smile lifting from her lips up through the cheeks to the temples. I practiced elevating my tongue position and gave the inner smile a go too; in the mirror I could see that doing so instantly lifts and softens my face. The ‘inner smile’ also—like regular smiling or laughing—produces the ‘happy hormone’ oxytocin.
Once Lynn decided how she would treat me, she asked me to lie on my back on the therapy table, and covered me in warm towels. So far so cosy. She placed her hands under my shoulders—which I’ve been told by other massage therapists are ‘like rocks’—and gently worked away. I could feel some of their solid rockiness dissolving, and as she moved onto my neck and upper arms, my scalp and even my ears, the massage was blissfully relaxing.
Then to the piece de resistance—the mysterious ‘intra-oral massage’. Lynn put on latex gloves (the sort surgeons wear). She slipped a few fingers into my mouth and, with incredible care and sensitivity, massaged inside my cheeks and lips. The massage goes all along the inside of the teeth, and up into the palate. In that area I heard faint popping sounds—I’m guessing it’s tension in my palate being released. I won’t lie, the intra-oral massage was the least pleasant part of the treatment for me. However, Lynn was so careful I was able to trust, relax and go with the flow.
I left Lynn’s therapy room feeling so much more supple and mobile in the shoulders and upper body area—I’d say 50-60% more comfortable and at ease in my own skin. As for my stiff jaw, post-session my mouth felt more open, wider and just, well, more alive. The therapy clearly woke up areas of my mouth that had gone bye-bye ages ago. I slept particularly well that night.
A fortnight later, I went back for a second session (most clients take a course of three). The second time was not quite as deeply felt or profound as the first, probably because on the first occasion I was so tense that the difference was naturally more marked. I did feel a second session consolidated the work of the initial session, and I was also able to check I was doing the at-home exercises correctly. Plus, Lynn’s massage and touch is simply so relaxing, unwinding and therapeutic that doing myself some good has rarely felt like such a total, blissful treat.