How to Use Cups at Home

How to Use Cups at Home

By Cheyanne Heyn, Registered Massage Therapist

Cupping therapy is a popular treatment used in manual therapy. This technique is derived from ancient Chinese and Middle Eastern medicine practices and has blown up in popularity due to exposure in sports and pop culture. We have seen famous Olympians such as Michael Phelps with cupping marks and in The Karate Kid, we saw Jackie Chan do what’s called fire cupping. This modality is typically used by physiotherapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and massage therapists. What most people don’t know is the simplicity of the technique makes it possible for you to apply this technique yourself at home. Keep reading to learn how and if it could help you.

Is Cupping Therapy Right for You?

Cupping is associated with an abundance of positive outcomes. Some benefits include:

– optimizing sport performance

– reducing recovery time

– increasing blood flow

– softening scar tissue

– decreasing pain and muscle spasms

Some conditions that cupping therapy can help to treat to reduce or alleviate your symptoms can include the following:

– Arthritis

– Fibromyalgia

– Migraines

– Anxiety and depression

– Bronchial congestion caused by asthma and allergies

– Varicose veins

– Fine lines and wrinkles

– Cellulite

– Muscle and fascial tension

– And many more

What Type of Cups Do You Need?

There are quite a few different types or styles of cups to choose from when you’re looking for a set, but there is no wrong choice. Here are two cup options you can do at home and one that we recommend you avoid unless you have the specific training.

    1. Plastic cups come with a vacuum-like pump and have valves at the top to control pressure. These can come in small or very large sets. These are more ideal for full body cupping.
    2. Silicone cups are the best choice for any type of movement or sliding you want to do with your cups along your muscles. Stride sells cupping sets like this that you can use at home.
    3. Glass cups are typically used for fire cupping. These type of cups should only be used by someone trained in fire cupping and aren’t the best for an at-home option.

What You Will Want to Know Before Trying Cupping Therapy at Home

– If you have diabetes, please consult your doctor before using cups at home, as it can affect your blood sugar levels.

– Avoid placing cups on the front of the neck as you have your Carotid artery and your trachea there.

– Never leave cups on for more than 15 mins in a single spot.

– Do not place cups over open wounds.

– If the sensation of cupping is still unpleasant after five minutes, ensure you remove the cups. They may be on too tight, or you may be too sensitive in that area. Listen to your body, it knows its limit.

– Cupping therapy often leaves circular marks behind due to the blood flow that it brings to the surface. Marks left behind should not be tender. If they are, adjust the pressure for next time.

How Do You Cup at Home?

Now that we have decided if cupping therapy is a fit for you and which type of cups you want to use, let’s learn how to safely use them at home. Below are three methods of cupping that may be used.

  1. Stationary or Static Cupping Therapy

Used for pinpoint areas or if movement is too intense

– Choose an area of the body you will be working on

– Apply cups to the desired area, making note of the time to not leave them on for more than 15 minutes

– Remove cups at the 10-15 minute mark

– Continue on other areas if so desired

  1. Moving Cupping Therapy

Used for large areas or muscle tension

– Choose an area of the body to work on

– Apply an oil or lotion to reduce the resistance of dragging

– Apply the cup to the desired area, set a timer so you do not cup an area longer than 15 minutes

– Move the cup along the area in any direction (up and down, back and forth, or circles)

– Remove cup at the 10-15 minutes mark

– Continue on other areas if desired

  1. Flash Cupping Therapy

Used for your face to reduce fine lines and wrinkles

– This type is typically used only for the face

– With the technique you will only be applying a cup and then popping it off right after, you do this repeatedly for only a couple of minutes because we don’t want to leave any marks or redness on the face

– This is the most precise form of cupping listed here and is likely to have the worst outcomes if done improperly

If you have any additional questions or would like to learn more about the cups we sell at our physiotherapy clinic, feel free to reach out or book an appointment here. One more thing, you may also want to check out our self-cupping video on YouTube for a visual of how you should cup here. Happy Cupping!

3 of the Best Tips for Managing Forearm and Hand Pain

3 of the Best Tips for Managing Forearm and Hand Pain

By: Nadia Lessard, Registered Massage Therapist

As a deep tissue Massage Therapist, I often get asked if my hands or wrists get sore at work. While my wrists do get sore at times, I have a few things that I implement daily to protect my hands and body from injury – just like a contractor on a jobsite might wear a hard hat to protect their head. Below I will share my top three tips and exercises you can do to avoid common overuse injuries in the wrists and hands associated with work or working out.

Overuse injuries in the forearm and wrists, like golfer’s elbow or tennis elbow, are quite common. These issues arise from inflammation of the tendons located on the inside and outside of the elbow. Any repetitive movement (especially movement new to a person’s routine) can cause inflammation and pain of these tendons. Aggravating movements are gripping, twisting, and lifting with the arm which can really affect someone’s day-to-day activities.

Here are my 3 tips and tricks on how to avoid forearm and hand injuries.

  1. Warm-up:

First, you will want to warm up the forearm muscles prior to starting your work just like you would do at the beginning of a workout. The muscles attached to the tendons near the elbows are responsible for flexion (bending) and extension (straightening) of the wrist. By simply moving the wrist back and forth multiple times, you can increase the blood flow to the forearm. This movement brings oxygen to the muscles which helps to fuel the movement and lessen your risk of injury.

Try doing this exercise 20 times in each direction.

  1. Stretch:

At the end of many people’s workday, the forearm muscles are well used and fatigued, including those who do manual labour and desk work. It can be easy to just go home and relax, but it is still important to take the time to stretch to avoid injury. Stretching keeps your muscles flexible, strong, and healthy which is necessary to maintain the range of motion in your joints. Without stretching, the muscles tend to shorten and become tight, ultimately increasing your risk of injury.

Wrist Extensor Stretch:

Try these 2 exercises for three sets and a 30-second hold on each side.

Remember to only go as far with these stretches as what feels comfortable for you.

  • Bend your wrists so the tips of your fingers are pointed toward the floor
  • While keeping one wrist bent, use your other hand to hold the stretch
  • You should feel this stretch on the top of your forearm
  • Repeat on your other wrist

Wrist Flexor Stretch

  • Position your hand palm facing towards the floor
  • Hold the hand that is facing the floor with your free hand
  • Bend your wrist and bring your hand towards your body, while using your free hand as support
  • You should feel this stretch on the bottom of your forearm
  • Repeat on your other wrist

  1. Self-Massage or Self-Release

Depending on how sore the forearms are from your day, self-massage or self-release may help. Performing this on yourself increases the blood flow to the forearm muscles and accelerates the relaxation process.

You can try a technique called “pincer grasp”, which equates to pinching the bulk of your forearm muscle. This is done simply by grabbing the muscle and holding it for a few seconds.  I would also recommend applying the same technique to the thumb muscles (webspace between the thumb and first finger or bulk of muscle at the base of the thumb) since they work in unison with the forearm. Thumbs are very reliable tool for manual jobs and work that often are neglected in recovery.

The two pictures below demonstrate how to use a lacrosse ball or tennis ball to release the same forearm muscles.

Releasing the Forearm Flexors

Perform for 1-2 minutes on the area.

Releasing the Forearm Extensors

Perform for 1-2 minutes on the area.

I hope you found these tips and tricks to manage forearm and hand pain helpful to keep your wrists and hands healthy. Remember everybody has different needs, but this routine has been helpful for me.

Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions or book online with one of our therapists to help treat any forearm or wrist injuries by clicking here.

Resources:

    1. https://ca.physitrack.com/exercises

 

7 Remedies for Jaw Pain

7 Remedies for Jaw Pain

By: Julia Towers, Physiotherapist

Jaw pain can be a real struggle! Some of our most important and frequent activities require the use of our jaw – talking, eating, yawning and facial expression to name a few. I see many patients in the clinic for this issue so I thought it would be beneficial to discuss seven remedies or helpful tips to get started if you’re experiencing jaw pain.

What is the TMJ?

Our jaw is synonymous with the term temporomandibular joint (TMJ). It is the joint between the skull (temporal bone) and our lower jawbone (the mandible) on either side of the face. Within these joints lie small discs that protect the bony surfaces and allows for smooth movement. Sometimes when this disc shifts, it can cause popping or clicking. If it becomes stuck, the disc may cause locking of the jaw.

TMJ dysfunction can cause pain and tenderness in the jaw or cheek, tension in the neck, headaches, difficulty opening or closing your mouth, and clicking or locking in your jaw.

What Causes TMJ Pain?

– Grinding or clenching of the teeth

– Poor posture

– Muscular tension

– Increased stress

– Mask wearing

– Arthritis

– Uneven bite/dental issues

Top 7 Tips or Remedies for Relief:

    1. Self-release of the masseter muscle: This is one of the key “clencher” muscles in the side of your cheek. To do this, use your finger or knuckle to apply pressure from your cheekbone down towards your jawline while simultaneously opening your mouth slowly. Alternatively, massaging the muscles just in front of your ear using small circular motions can provide relief.
    2. Be mindful of your posture: Think about sitting up tall, tucking your chin so that your ears are in line with your shoulders, and pulling your shoulder blades back and down.
    3. Wear a mask that fits well and breathe through your nose whenever possible: If your mask is too tight or loose, you may find yourself wiggling your jaw to keep it in place. Breathing through your nose allows your jaw to relax.
    4. Explore some stress reduction techniques: Whether it be meditation, yoga, or deep breathing, reducing stress will allow the neck and jaw to relax.
    5. Avoid foods that are hard to chew during flare-ups: Things like gum, tough meats, and hard candies can put a burden on the jaw. You can cook some of these hard foods in different ways to soften them or reduce them to smaller pieces before consumption.
    6. Consider talking to your dentist: Your dentist may be able to recommend a custom mouthguard/retainer or refer you for Botox injections in appropriate cases. Botox is used to help relax the muscles around the TMJ.
    7. See your physiotherapist: Having your jaw assessed allows us to determine the best course of action for you! Once the jaw is examined, we can prescribe specific exercises and manual therapy to address your issues.

If you need more information about the TMJ or you’re experiencing jaw pain, feel free to give our clinic a call today or you can book online with one of our Physiotherapists by clicking here.

TOP 3 CORE ACTIVATION EXERCISES TO RELIEVE LOWER BACK PAIN

To 3 Core Activation Exercises to Relieve Lower Back Pain

By: Darwin Paulraj, Physiotherapist

One of the most common areas we treat as Physiotherapists is the low back. Most people are not aware of the best exercises to perform to activate the core muscles after an episode of acute back pain or immediately after back surgery.

Here are my top three exercises to strengthen and activate the core muscles in the early phases of recovery.

Pelvic Tilt (posterior)

    1. Lie on your back with your knees bent. Gently rock your pelvis upwards and flatten your back into the bed or floor.
    2. Note: You should feel your ab muscles and bum muscles (glutes) tighten a little.
    3. Rock back to your starting position and repeat. Aim for five repetitions, 2-3 times a day in the first few weeks following a surgery or injury.
    4. As you progress, allow your back to arch up a little more and tighten your abs more strongly as you push your back into the floor.
    5. Build up towards 20 repetitions.

You can also try this variation: Lie on your back with your knees bent. Gently rock your pelvis upwards and flatten your back into the bed or floor. While taking deep breaths, hold this position for 15-30 seconds.

Heel Slides

    1. Lie down on the floor or the bed with your legs flat.
    2. Slowly begin to slide one heel toward your bum, keeping your heel on the floor or the bed. Your knee will begin to bend.
    3. Note: Continue to slide your heel and bend your knee until it is at its maximum range, and you can feel a small amount of pressure inside your knee.
    4. Hold this position for about 5 seconds. Slide your heel back down until your leg is straight on the floor or bed. Aim for five repetitions before switching to the opposite side.

Knee Roll

    1. Lie on your back with your knees bent and arms out to the sides. Keep your knees and ankles together and slowly let your knees begin to drop over to one side. Start will small movements and progress to larger rotations.
    2. Carefully tighten your ab muscles and roll your knees over to the other side. Try to keep your shoulders down and your head relaxed, looking up with your eyes.
    3. Aim for five repetitions, 2-3 times a day in the first few weeks following surgery. As time goes on, you can increase the range, so your knees drop lower and build up to 20 repetitions.

Once these exercises are comfortable and done in a pain-free manner, it may be time to see your Physiotherapist for more challenging exercises to continue your road towards full recovery. If you’re experiencing low back pain or need some extra guidance, feel free to book with one of our Physiotherapists at our Red Deer clinic today by clicking here.

3 Common Pediatric Conditions that Physiotherapy can Help!

3 Common Pediatric Conditions that Physiotherapy can Help!

By: Devan Mercereau, Physiotherapist

When we think of Physiotherapy, we often think of it as an intervention for injuries, post-surgical cases, or rehabilitation. In addition to treating these conditions in the youth and adult populations, babies can also get treated with Physiotherapy. I have a special interest in Pediatric Physiotherapy, and I often get asked how Physiotherapy can help babies. Below I will dig into the three most common conditions I treat for babies and how our sessions can help.

#1:  Delayed Developmental Milestones

Developmental milestones are important for many reasons. They help to give infants a sense of awareness of space, help them transition into different positions, improve their core and muscle strength, and increase their overall independence. There are many stages of development within the first two years that are outlined here. Some common examples include:

– Holding their head up

– Rolling over

– Sitting up, crawling

– Standing and walking

It is important for infants to reach each milestone throughout their early development. Many concerns arise from parents that developmental milestones are delayed, but sometimes this is okay, as there is an age range. That being said, we do not want them to get too far behind. Physiotherapists can help facilitate and motivate your baby to continue to reach their milestones.

During a Pediatric Physiotherapy appointment, your therapist will go through many different positions important for milestone development based on your child’s age. Your Physiotherapist will give tips and tricks to help promote and facilitate these stages at home and provide an email with alternate positions, props or carrying positions to help your child reach all of these important stages in development.

#2: Brachycephaly/Plagiocephaly

These complex words can often be overwhelming, however they are quite common in infants. To start, brachycephaly and plagiocephaly rarely affect your infant’s brain development or milestone progressions, and often improve over time (5) . So, what are they?

Brachycephaly is flattening of the back of the head, often from spending time on their backs (common from sleeping) (4).

Plagiocephaly is flattening of one side of the back of the head, which can occasionally cause changes in the symmetry of the eyes and ears. Plagiocephaly can be commonly associated with torticollis that will be outlined below in the third common condition.

Again, these two conditions do not affect the infant’s brain development, as babies’ fontanelle (soft spots) in the skull have not fused together, therefore the brain still has the capacity to grow. These soft spots typically fuse together between 18 months and 2 years of age (1).

Commonly these changes are noted in the first few months as infants sleep a lot! When these changes are noted, it is important to encourage tummy time, side lying, or supported sitting to decrease the time spent with pressure in one spot of the skull. As your infant spends less time on their backs, this typically improves overtime. A Physiotherapy assessment can help with education for different positioning and encouragement of alternative play positions to help changes in head shape.

#3: Torticollis

Torticollis is the 3rd most common musculoskeletal condition in infants (2). Torticollis is caused by increased muscle tone in the sternocleidomastoid muscle (SCM). The SCM muscle performs two different actions: neck side bending and rotation. Commonly, parents will notice that their baby tends to always be looking in one direction and their head is tilted in one direction. An infant with torticollis may also struggle with nursing from one side. With a tight SCM, the head side bends towards the affected side and rotates away. Physiotherapy intervention for torticollis may include gentle massage to the SCM and other neck muscles, along with all developmental play positions and once again, education. Education for parents may include:

– Alternative strategies to encourage looking in the opposite direction

– Carrying positions

– Gentle home stretching

If you are concerned about your baby’s development or have any questions about their milestones, feel free to reach out to our clinic in Red Deer or book an appointment online with one of our Pediatric Physiotherapists by clicking here.

Resources

  1. “Anatomy of the Newborn Skull.” n.d. Stanford Children’s Health. Accessed December 31, 2021. https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=anatomy-of-the-newborn-skull-90-P01840.
  2. Chen, Qiyu. n.d. “Congenital torticollis.” Physiopedia. Accessed December 30, 2021. https://www.physio-pedia.com/Congenital_torticollis.
  3. Mohammed, Layla. n.d. “Developmental Milestones.” CS Mott Children’s Hospital. Accessed December 30, 2021. https://www.mottchildren.org/posts/your-child/developmental-milestones.
  4. “PEDIATRICS.” n.d. APTA Pediatrics. Accessed December 30, 2021. https://pediatricapta.org/includes/fact-sheets/pdfs/Plagiocephaly.pdf.
  5. “Plagiocephaly and brachycephaly (flat head syndrome).” n.d. NHS. Accessed December 31, 2021. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/plagiocephaly-brachycephaly/.

What Should You Do After a New Injury?

 What Should You Do After a New Injury?

By: Eric Walper, Physiotherapist

As a Physiotherapist in Red Deer, one of the first and most common questions we address with our patients is what they can do at home to promote an efficient and safe return following a new injury. When you experience a brand-new injury and emergent care is not required, we implement the principle called: PRICE. PRICE is an acronym that stands for: Protect, Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation.

PRICE starts you on the right path for recovery. Below is some more information about each phase:

    1. Protect: To brace, wrap or prevent excessive force or load going through the affected area.
    2. Rest: To avoid using the affected area for any form of performance or functional use.
    3. Ice: Intermittent ice or cold therapy to prevent excessive swelling and discomfort.
    4. Compression: Once appropriate, light compression to help prevent excessive swelling.
    5. Elevation: When able, elevation of the affected limb to avoid excessive swelling due to gravity.

PRICE is a tried-and-true method that is easy to both remember and understand. Injuries typically follow a predictable recovery that goes through three phases of tissue healing. The timing for when a patient progresses beyond the PRICE model will depend on where they are in the healing process.

Phases of Healing:

Phase 1: Is referred to as the acute phase of tissue healing and typically lasts 4 – 5 days after the point of injury. During this period PRICE is almost exclusively implemented without manual therapy or exercise to allow the body to experience the full scope of the injury.

Phase 2: The subacute phase, lasts from day 5 until about the end of week 2. During this phase your swelling and inflammation will decline with a gradual reintroduction of movement and activity. Physiotherapy treatments are often implemented at this phase to include manual therapy, modalities, and light exercise. At this point in time, we will also begin to administer heat. Heat is an effective pain control strategy that is also useful in promoting circulation for the purposes of tissue healing. Heat usually replaces ice relatively early in our treatment of injuries.

Phase 3: The remodeling phase, is focused on regaining full range of motion and improving strength through exercise. It is important to note that following injury, we are susceptible to reinjury for several months as our body continues to remodel and strengthen scarred tissue to its previous functional capacity.

While we have generalized recovery timelines with expectations on recovery, we cannot rely solely on this to determine when to progress an injury towards returning to previous demands.

Since no two injuries are the same, it is important to seek the opinion and care of our Physiotherapy team in order to make safe, educated decisions. Click here to book an appointment online.

How Our Physiotherapists Can Help After a Car Accident

How Our Physiotherapists Can Help After a Car Accident

By Jen Goehring, Physiotherapist

If you have joined us for this blog, it’s likely because you were unfortunately involved in a motor vehicle accident (MVA). Aside from all the initial drama and figuring out how to get from point A to point B for the foreseeable future, you may have tweaked your neck, back, or another body area, which is causing you pain.

Following a car accident there is immediately a big to-do list. Paperwork and many phone calls to different people which can be quite overwhelming. This is before you can even think about getting on your road to recovery and we completely get it! We often guide our clients through the whole process from the beginning to the end to make it as easy as possible to navigate. That’s why we put together this simple 5 step guide so you can find most of the information regarding your injuries in one place.

Step #1: Report Your Accident to Your Insurance Company

Give your insurance company a call at your earliest convenience to report your car accident. They will be able to give you all the information and documents necessary to kickstart your claim and begin getting your vehicle (and body) fixed.

Step #2: Book an Appointment with Your Medical Doctor or Pop Into a Walk-In Clinic

It is important to see a medical professional as soon after your car accident as possible so they can assess any injuries you may have and appropriately triage you for care.

Step #3: Give Our Clinic a Call to Book in for a Physiotherapy Assessment

If you are experiencing any aches and pains throughout your body, then please give our clinic a call to book an appointment. It is most common that following a car accident, your aches and pains will intensify a few days later. It is important that you try to get an assessment by one of our Physiotherapists within the first 10 days following the date of your accident to follow the Alberta guidelines and allow our team the time to fill out the proper paperwork. Please let our front desk know this at the time of your booking so we can accommodate you.

What Can You Expect at Your First Appointment Following Your Car Accident?

Our team will guide you through all the required paperwork to submit your injury claim. You are required to fill out a form called an AB-1 which is the “Notice of Loss and Proof of Claim Form” from your perspective. We will happily provide these forms to you at your first appointment and submit this to your insurance company on your behalf.

At the time of your appointment, it is also helpful if you bring us your insurance company information and any adjuster/case number you may already have. This allows us to easily communicate with your insurance company about your injuries and bill the appointments on your behalf.

After you have completed your paperwork, you will meet with your Physiotherapist for a through assessment. This will include the following:

    1. Your therapist asking a detailed history about what happened during the car accident, your pain and other symptoms, and any other pertinent medical information you want to provide.
    2. Your therapist conducting a thorough assessment of each body part that has been injured.
    3. Your Physiotherapist providing you with your diagnosis.
    4. Your diagnosis will determine your eligibility for a number of treatments.
    5. You will also be given a full treatment on your first visit, as well as a treatment plan for sessions moving forward.

After your first appointment, our team will submit your AB-1 and AB-2 (Treatment Plan from your Physiotherapist) on your behalf to your insurance company. Following this, you don’t have to worry about the paperwork for your injury claim – our team will easily take care of submission and follow up with your insurance company so you can focus on healing!

Step #4: Start Attending Treatments

The number of treatments that you are eligible for depends on your diagnosis and the length of time since your accident took place. The majority of patients fall into a category called “under protocol”, which is defined as seeking treatments within 90 days of the date of your accident. Most injuries are categorized as such so that you are eligible for 21 total visits that need to be completed within those 90 days. Treatments can include: Physiotherapy, Massage Therapy, Chiropractic Care, and Acupuncture. In addition to in-person treatments, you are also eligible for some equipment that can be used at home to get you on the road to recovery. On the odd chance that you don’t fit into this category of treatments, our team will guide you through the step-by-step process.

Step #5: Recovery and Discharge

Well, what if you’re not better after those initial 90 days? Not to worry! Our team will get in touch with your adjuster to discuss your progress and propose the expected new treatment plan that will include a number of visits over a certain timeframe. This puts you into the next category called “Section B”. It means that we are required to submit the treatment costs to your extended health benefits first and the remainder will be billed to your MVA insurance. The nice part is that Stride Physiotherapy will direct bill this all on your behalf!

You have two full years following the date of your car accident to claim any medical appointments related to your injuries. Once you get back to feeling 100%, we will discharge you from care! The great news? We are still here for you whenever you need us, and we can help navigate potential problems that you may experience in the future. If you have any further questions about this, feel free to give our team a call or you can book an appointment by clicking here.

3 Tips to Prevent Common Snowboarding and Skiing Injuries this Season

3 Tips to Prevent Common Snowboarding and Skiing Injuries this Season

By Blake Goehring, Physiotherapist

Being active and getting outdoors has been a wonderful escape from the restrictions surrounding the COVID pandemic. As the time to hit the slopes draws closer, we can identify a few tactics to allow you to seize every minute of this upcoming ski season and stay injury free.

Tip #1: Protect your Head

Concussions are among the most common injuries experienced while either skiing or snowboarding. This makes perfect sense; fast downhill speeds combined with a snow and ice mixture are not the best ingredients for a soft landing. Like “one strapping” a backpack, skiing and snowboarding without a helmet has become an outdated practice and most people on the hill are safety conscious.

Our tip: Wear a helmet! Ligaments and muscle injuries heal quickly but your brain does not. Helmets significantly decrease trauma to the head during a crash and they also work great to keep those ears warm on chilly days!

Tip #2: Wrap your Wrists

Wrist injuries are the most common upper extremity problem associated with snowboarding. Poles assist skiers with their balance and ability to stay on their feet during a potential fall, but snowboarders aren’t so lucky. Whether it is falling forwards or backwards, it is a reflexive reaction for snowboarders to brace with their hands first. This is especially the case with beginners who have a propensity to spend a greater chunk of the day on their wrists and bums than on their feet!

Our tip: Splinting or bracing your wrists can help to prevent the hyperextension injury that is typical in snowboarding. This protection still allows you to have full function of the thumb and fingers but keeps the wrist in a rigid position and away from harm, even when you fall.

If you’re looking for some options, our physiotherapy clinic carries two different braces that could work perfectly for the hills this winter. You will likely even have these covered by your extended health benefits plan. Check out the feature picture to see what it might look like!

Tip #3: Strengthen your Stabilizers

From the perspective of prevention or “Pre-hab”, building up muscles that keep you balanced and centered prior to the season is a great injury prevention practice. Dislocations and ligament sprains … I am talking about you! Though most injuries in the sport of skiing or snowboarding seem highly traumatic in nature, they often begin with a loss of balance or stability at a joint. The muscles surrounding the major joints of the body that perform more of a stabilizing role than a moving role are vital for injury prevention.

Our tip: Add a stability component to your normal exercise routine. If you are a runner, plan a trail run instead of pounding the pavement next time you go out. If you workout in a gym, try to modify your normal routine by adding a balance component. Doing more single leg activities and pushing off of unstable surfaces (i.e. bosu ball, swiss ball, balance cushion, etc.) can help prevent falls and injuries.

These three tips from our Physiotherapy team can prevent skiing or snowboarding injuries this season and get more value from your punch card or seasons pass. If you have questions about these concepts, give us a call and one of our therapists will provide a custom program to suit your body and needs. You can also book online by clicking here.

3 Health Tips for Women

3 Health Tips for Women

By: Devan Mercereau, Physiotherapist

There’s no denying it, these 18 months have been a whirlwind for many of us. From the continuous announcements and updates to changes in restrictions, activities and social gatherings, many of us have had to adapt throughout this time.

Having some sort of routine on a day-to-day basis can help us prioritize self-care, create better habits and even help with our mental health. There is no cookie cutter routine for everyone – each of us have different lifestyles, goals, careers, and accessibility. That being said, there are a few components to your routine that can help change your health and make time for care.

Below, you will find 3 habits that can help change your health for the better:

1. Establishing a Sleep Routine to Ensure Adequate Rest

Sleep is a key factor in our day-to-day health and a major contributor to proper healing. Adequate rest can help to increase our moods and productivity throughout the day. It is important for us to get around 7-9 hours of sleep a night. Now, I know what some of you are thinking – that seems like an impossible amount of rest to get every night! But, simply getting into the habit of waking up around the same time every day and going to bed at the same time can help build our routines to make us feel more rested. This usually means an alarm to wake you up in the morning and for your bedtime too!

Limiting screen time (phones, T.V., computers and tablets) prior to going to bed can also help with a better sleep. Alternatives such as reading, audio books, journaling or mediation are great ways to help wind down from our busy lives to get a better, more restful sleep.

Getting enough sleep can boost our energy levels, which ties into the next habit – having enough energy to get physical activity into our daily routine.

2. Add Physical Activity into Your Daily Routine

Making time in our routines for physical activity throughout the day plays an important role in our overall health and energy levels. The great thing about physical activity is that we can do it in so many different ways. Whether it is strength training, running, walking, biking, hiking, chasing after the kiddos, taking the stairs, or sporting activities!

Having a variety of physical activity can help us stay motivated and interested in any form of exercise. There are a couple things to consider when incorporating physical activity into our daily routine: such as what are your goals or motivations, what is your current level of physical activity and are there any reasons as to why you should not participate. If there are any concerns about where to start, talking to your medical doctor or getting exercise suggestions from a Physiotherapist can help guide you in the right direction! With such a range of exercises, many of our physical activity routines will look different based on our goals, abilities, accessibility and interests.

Adding exercise into your daily routine, even just 30 minutes a day can help improve or maintain your range of motion, muscle strength and endurance, and balance. All of these components are key throughout our lives to keep us functional!

3. Nutrition and How to Eat to Nourish Our Bodies

D Nutrition is another key component to our health. Healthy eating habits can help fuel us to exercise and plays a role in a good night’s sleep. Getting the proper sources of carbohydrates, protein and fats help us regulate our energy, increase moods, and allows us to stay strong and healthy. A balanced diet can also help lower risks of secondary medical conditions such as: type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

Following the recommendations on the Canada’s Food Guide is a helpful way to guide us into healthier eating habits. Each person will have different dietary needs based on their age, medical history, and activity level. To help incorporate healthy eating into your routine try making a list of groceries and meals for the week or get the family involved and have a plan ahead of time (especially for those with busy schedules) to help you keep on track to a healthier diet and routine.

If you have a lingering injury that is limiting you from physical activity, need some guidance with exercises prescription, or want to make more time for care, then feel free to reach out to the clinic or book an appointment online with one of our team members by clicking here.

Resources:

https://www.helpguide.org/articles/sleep/getting-better-sleep.htm

https://www.blurtitout.org/2018/11/08/mental-health-benefits-routine/

https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/diet-nutrition/changing-habits-better-health

https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/

Getting to the Core of Low Back Pain!

Getting to the Core of Low Back Pain!

By Julia Towers, Physiotherapist

The lower back is one of the most common areas that we treat here at Stride Physiotherapy. Low back pain (LBP) is now the most common cause of lost time at work, potentially related to our increasingly sedentary lifestyle and prolonged periods of sitting1 – COVID and working from home hasn’t helped this either! As a Physiotherapist, I often hear of the ways that this limits a patient’s function and quality of life, so feeling better quickly is typically the main goal. Despite the fact that there isn’t a “snap of your fingers fix”, there has been a huge amount of research done on this area of the body, specifically in relation to the core muscles. Let’s take a look at what we can do to treat this nasty pain!

What Is the Core?

2

Your core is so much more than just that sought after 6-pack! Looking at the picture below, you can see that our bodies have many layers of muscle at the front, back, and sides. Not pictured are the pelvic floor and diaphragm muscles which are also critical to core stability. Of particular importance is a muscle called “transversus abdominis” (TrA). It is our deepest layer of abdominal muscle – one I like to refer to as our bodies natural back brace. Think of it as a corset that draws inward around the spine.

How Does the Core Relate to Low Back Pain?

The TrA muscle stabilizes the pelvis and lower back prior to movement of the body. Early work by Hodges and Richarson showed that in those with 18+ months of low back pain, there was delayed activation of the TrA muscle compared to those without LBP3, 4. What this means is that after long periods of pain, the deep stabilizers of the back have less control.

What Is the Best Exercise for Treating Low Back Pain?

Many studies have tried to tackle this question over the years and the main conclusion has been that compared to general exercise, core stability training is better for decreasing pain and increasing function in those with longstanding LBP in the short-term5. In the long-term, general exercise (eg. biking, walking, running, weight training, etc) was just as effective.

 

6

There are many ways to train core stability and believe me – there is much more to it than just doing a pile of sit-ups and crunches. Actually, doing these typical core exercises will only strengthen the major mover muscles and miss true core stabilization all together. Being able to activate the TrA is the first step. Below is a fantastic exercise to start with!

    1. Lie on your back
    2. Feel for the area about an inch inward from where your hip bones stick out at the front (this is where your TrA muscle lies, deep down)
    3. Breathe in and as you exhale think about drawing your belly button toward your spine and pulling your hip bones inward – this is just a cue (the bones won’t actually move)
    4. As you do this, gently press your low back into the floor
    5. You should feel a gentle, slow activation under your fingers
    6. Work towards holding for ~5-10 seconds without holding your breath

Although this may seem easy, it is very important and sometimes difficult to achieve correct form. I would highly recommend booking in with one of our Physiotherapists at Stride to fully assess, determine a plan, and teach you this exercise. Once you can perform this exercise, we start to add other, more functional movements and change the positions that you’re training in. Eventually this re-teaches the deep core muscles to “kick on” during routine and athletic activities before you move, lift, bend, exercise, etc. To book your appointment online click here.

Final Thoughts

This has been a lot of information, but I want to reassure you that your back is a very robust and resilient structure! Although we can’t blame one muscle for LBP, we do know that there can be some short-term improvements if we train the deep core stabilizers. Ultimately, the best thing for chronic LBP is getting moving. Change up your posture frequently, go for a gentle walk, and if there’s an activity you particularly love let’s talk about getting you back to doing it!

Please consider seeing a Physiotherapist who can help you keep your LBP at bay and assist you on your journey of healthy ageing! We would do this with a combination of hands-on treatment, education, and exercise. Let’s break bad habits of motion, change fear related to movement, and build some self-efficacy!

Resources

    1. Lynders, C. (2019). The Critical Role of Development of the Transversus Abdominis in the Prevention and Treatment of Low Back Pain. HSS Journal, 15(3), 214-220. doi:10.1007/s11420-019-09717-8
    2. Build Your Core. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://us.humankinetics.com/blogs/excerpt/build-your-core
    3. Hodges, P. W., & Richardson, C. A. (1998). Delayed Postural Contraction of Transversus Abdominis in Low Back Pain Associated with Movement of the Lower Limb. Journal of Spinal Disorders, 11(1). doi:10.1097/00002517-199802000-00008
    4. Hodges, P. W., & Richardson, C. A. (1996). Inefficient Muscular Stabilization of the Lumbar Spine Associated With Low Back Pain. Spine, 21(22), 2640-2650. doi:10.1097/00007632-199611150-00014
    5. Wang, X., & Chen, P. (2014). Core Stability Exercise Versus General Exercise For Chronic Low Back Pain Meta-analysis. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 46, 505. doi:10.1249/01.mss.0000494982.79731.79
    6. Physitrack, “Transverse abdominis in hook lying”. https://ca.physitrack.com/exercises