People are living longer. As a result, it’s important to maintain or improve your quality of life and make the most of it. Medical experts continue to identify activities and characteristics that can slow the process of aging. Here are some simple and affordable ways you can age in a healthy way.
1. Stay physically active
Research suggests that even if physical activity isn’t sufficiently vigorous to boost fitness, it’s still important. Safe and easy activities include going for regular walks, aqua aerobics, and yoga. Some yoga studios and fitness centers offer yoga for seniors, which tailors to your needs specifically. Try to avoid sitting down all day. After 30 minutes of sitting, get up and move around for a couple of minutes.
2. Stimulate your mind
There are a number of fun brain teasers and puzzles you can do to get your mind going. Strong scientific work shows that exercises like crossword puzzles can even help slow the onset of some age-related mental illnesses by improving cognitive reserve and memory. Try sudoku or other puzzles that require concentration and memory. Putting together a picture puzzle will also help you focus.
3. Go to the doctor regularly
Go to regular check-ups and make sure your medication is up to date. Your doctor will also be able to help you decide which kind of physical activity would be best for your situation. Ask yourself simple questions about your medical history and prior visits so you can ensure the next one is beneficial and productive.
4. Eat lots of fiber
Eating a well-balanced diet that is high in fiber and antioxidants is one way to strengthen the brain through the stomach. Fiber can do all sorts of things: improve your sleep, keep your digestive system regular, and help you maintain a healthy weight. You can use high-fiber supplements, but regular fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain foods will do the trick too.
5. Sleep well and often
Sleep disorders become increasingly common as people age, and the effects can contribute to poor overall health. Make sure you get at least 6 or 7 hours of sleep at night. Avoid eating fatty food a couple hours before bed. Wind down with relaxing activities instead of activities that may wake up your brain. When you can’t sleep, get up and do mundane activities that will help your brain calm down so you can get back to sleep.
6. Activate your social life
One long-term study from Harvard suggests that a key to aging gracefully is having strong, positive relationships. These relationships can be with anyone in your life: family, neighbors, and old and new friends. If you’re looking to meet new people, there are many types of meetup groups you can find online and get together with in person. Look online for people who share common interests with you.
7. Stay positive
Sometimes, life can be a little bit difficult, but staying positive and being grateful can do wonders. Science even shows that positivity is an integral part of healthy aging. Some situations will be harder than others, but try to find the silver lining in your situations and see what you can learn. It will make all the difference.
When you stay physically active, eat healthy, and get a solid night’s sleep, you feel a lot better. As you feel better, you will enjoy life and make time to do meaningful activities. These are simple things that will come at no extra cost to you but will pay dividends.
Cryo is the Greek word for ‘cold’ and cryotherapy simply means cold therapy. It uses low temperatures on localized regions or generally to treat injuries. You can either directly apply the cold to a specific area of the body—for instance, an ice pack on a sprained ankle—or expose the entire body to low temperatures such as an ice bath.
Cold treatment is most effective for minor injuries. It is used to treat superficial tissues such as injured muscles or ligaments that are inflamed or in pain. Intense workouts, especially for athletes, put the muscles in constant breakdown and repair mode. That makes them more vulnerable to injuries than the average person.
How does cryotherapy work?
Cold treatment stimulates a process called vasoconstriction or the narrowing of blood vessels. It reduces blood flow to the affected area and has a numbing effect. After the ice application, the body initiates vasodilation or the enlargement of blood vessels which causes increased blood flow to the area. Experts theorize that this sudden rush of blood improves the healing process of injuries. The cold therapy removes the heat which then improves blood flow around the injury. This in turn supplies oxygen and nutrients to the cells which is a much-needed part of the healing process. The better the blood circulation around the body, the faster it will rehabilitate.
The typical application for an ice pack should be 10-15 minutes multiple times a day. Another icing technique is an ice massage where you gently knead the affected areas with ice. Very Well Fit cautions against going beyond 15 minutes of cold treatment as it can be damaging to soft tissues. Leaving it on for too long may even lead to frostbite. As for water immersion therapy or ice baths, allot the same amount of time.
Who uses cryotherapy?
Cold therapy is used a lot in sports due to its benefits in injury recovery. In 2016, former Barcelona ace player Neymar was spotted with an ice pack on his leg after straining his adductor muscle. Although it was confirmed that there were no signs of an underlying injury, ice application can offer instant pain relief for muscle fatigue. It was not the last time that the Brazilian athlete got injured during a game either. A Ladbrokes feature on the 10 most famous injuries detailed how Neymar was out for two months this year due to a metatarsal fracture. The soccer star, who now plays for Paris Saint-Germain, almost took a pass in this year’s World Cup due to the incident. Although an ice pack cannot reconnect a broken bone, a quick injury response with cold treatment can help lessen pain and inflammation.
Aside from athletes, there are other conditions where cryotherapy can be beneficial. For instance, patients with arthritis can provide temporary relief for inflamed joints and improve range of motion. A study on Reuters even discussed a similar effect on surgical wounds. Patients who underwent surgery reportedly experienced decreased pain when ice packs were applied to their wounds on top of their regular pain medication.
Although the science behind cryotherapy techniques is still being studied, the bottom line is that it has helped many people with injuries and soreness. The main claim is that it relieves inflammation, which can lessen pain symptoms of musculoskeletal damage. If that is something that you think you might need, there’s no harm in giving cryotherapy a try.
Article written for the sole use of coronaphysio.net
Hi! My name is Kaitlyn and I am a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist.
Now, if you are thinking “what is a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist, and what do they do?!” you are in the same boat as many others. It was not until the final year of my master’s degree that I had even heard the title of ‘Pelvic Health Physiotherapist’. This is unfortunate as many women could benefit from seeing a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist for conservative management before immediately seeking more invasive treatments such as medication or surgery, or continue living with the pain or discomfort of a pelvic issue.
And for those who have heard of this specialized profession, Pelvic Health Physiotherapy is NOT just about doing “Kegels”. Each individual’s pelvic floor issues may be caused by a variety of reasons; weakness, tightness, inability to relax or contract the muscles around the pelvic floor and many more. A Pelvic Health Physiotherapist can give you a personalized treatment plan based on a thorough examination.
So what does a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist treat? Here are four common conditions that can be treated by a Pelvic Health Physiotherapist and how they might present.
Have you ever been afraid to cough or sneeze, even laugh because you might “leak”? You may have a type of incontinence called Stress Incontinence, and it is not a normal result of aging or from giving birth. This type of incontinence occurs when the pelvic floor is put under stress, when the pressure in the abdomen overcomes the closure of the urethra, like when you cough. A weak or “hypotonic” pelvic floor can often be the cause of stress incontinence.
You are standing in line at the grocery store or sitting in your son/ daughter’s music recital and suddenly… oh no! you have to get to the washroom ASAP. OAB can be wet (as in you will pee your pants if you are unable to get to a toilet in time), or dry (as in you have s strong urge to urinate but you have never leaked). You may find yourself urinating frequently throughout the day (we are talking more than once every few hours – normal voiding is 5-7x per day) and waking up several times a night to urinate. Overactive bladder can be caused by many things which your Pelvic Health Physio will assess
Pelvic Organ Prolapse
Do you have a feeling of heaviness in your vagina or rectum, or feel like you are “falling out”? You may find yourself straining to urinate or have a bowel movement and often have complaints of constipation. If so, you may have a pelvic organ prolapse. Your doctor may have also told you about your prolapse during a routine medical check-up.
Pelvic organ prolapse is a protrusion (bulge) at or near the vaginal opening, which may or may not be accompanied by perineal pressure (pressure between your vagina and anus), which is aggravated by standing, jumping or straining and relieved by lying down.
This pressure can be caused by the bladder (cystocele), rectum (rectocele) or uterus itself descending into the vaginal canal.
Pelvic pain is a very generic statement for a very complex issue. Pelvic pain is defined as any type of pain or discomfort in the lower abdomen to groin region between the hips and into the genitals. Pain experienced in the pelvis can be constant, intermittent or only come on with certain activities ie. Sexual activity. There are many reasons that an individual could develop pelvic pain including:
Trigger points, also known as muscle knots
Connective tissue dysfunction, which is essentially tension in the tissue between the skin and the muscle
Neural tension, which is tension along the nerve pathway, causing difficulty with the normal sliding and gliding of the nervous system
Pelvic congestion caused by varicose veins, or poor circulation
Sacro-iliac joint problems
Tension organs of the lower abdomen including the bladder, prostate, uterus and ovaries
These are just some of the many conditions a pelvic health physiotherapist can help manage. If you find that you can relate to one or more of these issues, or have any other questions about your Pelvic Health, it may be time to contact your Doctor or Physiotherapist directly to schedule a Pelvic Health appointment.
“Eating clean” is all the rage this New Year’s! How discouraging it might be, with current diet trends all over the map, to find many different definitions of clean eating when you simply want to tackle your health issues the right way. Popular diets today range widely in their foundation and restrictions: we’ve got ultra-low-carb ketogenic diets, ancient (though pseudo-science-founded) Paleo diets, newer and trendy 30-day recipe plans, seemingly extreme and expensive versions of fasting, and finally – dare I say it out loud in carnivorous Albertan territory – vegan and vegetarian diets. Unfortunately, most dieting programs, plans and philosophies are quite inconsistent in their rules according to who you talk to, and lack valid scientific backing for their effectiveness.
If you’d like to achieve health in a sustainable manner, not taking steps backward and regaining weight, consider that small yet intentional steps toward removing non-nutritious foods and including nutrient-dense foods is the most effective way to achieve a healthy weight, reduce systemic inflammation, and achieve your best health!
I promote disease prevention through foods all the time, but it’s not just unhealthy foods that load our body down with extra unnecessary tasks of cleaning itself out! The most commonly found toxins that affect us are bisphenol-A (BPA), heavy metals, PCBs, and pesticides. Here are my top 8 ways to clean out the body by removing potential carcinogens, hormone disruptors, disrupted hormones, and chemical or hormonal potentiation of chronic disease.
8 Nutritionist-Approved Ways to “Detox” in the New Year!
Eat more plants! Plant-based proteins and diets are SO IN right now!
There is not one person I have met that thinks they eat enough vegetables. Whole plant foods are chock full of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Take one step further to increasing your intake of plant-based foods by trying a new recipe containing beans, your favourite vegetable, or a new ancient grain that you haven’t tried yet. Note that if you are concerned about organic versus non-organic, it is better to include non-organic vegetables and fruits than to exclude them for the purpose of avoiding pesticides (further explained in this video!). For more information on how a slightly more or drastically more plant-based diet can help you, check out this blog post.
Replace added sugars with lower sugar substitutes and WEAN yourself off sugar.
Some people are cautious to remove added sugars from pop, honey, syrups, cane sugar, and sweets with artificial sugars, and understandably so. There has been lots of controversy surrounding artificial sweeteners in the past 20 years. There have been some thoroughly-tested safe natural sweeteners such as stevia and xylitol, that, added in small amounts, can satisfy your sweet tooth. Try substituting regular sugar in your recipes and hot beverages with half the volume of Truvia – a stevia-containing baking substitute – or use raw fruits, blackstrap molasses, or a few dates to add sweetness to a breakfast, salad dressing, or sauce. Over time, reduce the amount of sugar you use – don’t worry, your taste buds will adjust!
Reduce toxic load from plastics – on yourself, and on the environment!
Do not, do not, do not, use plain water bottles. BPA-free plastic containers and BPA-free water bottles should be number one on your shopping list if you don’t already possess or use them. Consider the tons of plastic waste, wraps, and bottles from the foods and beverages cleaned out by customers at just one grocery store in a year, let alone the entire globe! A lot of it ends up in oceans and is very dangerous to marine life.
Some plastics containing the recyclable label 3 and 7 contain BPA – avoid heating and using these if you can. Canned foods are also sometimes lined with BPA-containing resin, so as for the items you would usually get canned, try to cook from scratch.
While we’re at it, go bag-less and receipt-less at the grocery store. Bring your own bags – remind yourself by writing it at the top of your grocery list so that you grab them before you run out the door!
Printed receipts contain bisphenol-A – which is numerous in other products – but this is one item you might touch daily, so avoid touching them if you can and ask for them to be put in your bags if you need to keep them. If you must work with receipts, try to use gloves.
If you must use plastic containers, avoid putting them in the dishwasher or heating them in the microwave. The plastic may break down over time and leach into foods. Clickhere for beautiful, biodegradable beeswax cling wrap, here for trendy ocean blue BPA-free glass food storage containers, or here for reusable sandwich and snack bags.
Eliminate body negativity and worry. (Listen to Bob Marley’s “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” if you need a reminder!)
Stress hormones (adrenaline and cortisol) are certainly linked to a depressed function of the immune system, which then leads your body to be less able to fend off illness, toxins, and chronic health issues. One significant source of stress in a lot of people I meet and work with is their struggle with body image.
Your journey to health is not going to end next week, next month, or likely even next year. It’s going to last your entire life, and therefore there isn’t a reason in the world that we should give ourselves permission to sit comfortably in a state of body negativity. Take every day as an opportunity to bless yourself and others. Seek to emulate that irresistible joy that radiates from people who accept and love who they are. Stop trying to “punish” yourself with a workout after eating treat foods. Instead, reward your heart, lungs, and brain for working so hard all day for you with cardiovascular care in the form of exercise. Then, fuel appropriately so that your muscles and blood vessels have all the tools they need to rebuild, recover, maintain, and strengthen your body.
Having trouble with setting body-positive and healthy, but not overwhelming goals on your own? Send me a personal message here detailing what you are experiencing and I’ll see how I can help. If your stress response runs deeper than just food and body image, perhaps seek out a counselor or psychiatrist or psychologist in your area to assist you in dealing with the stresses in your life.
Review the ingredients in your toiletries. (Not just for the ladies!)
This one’s not just for the ladies. Listen here to a snippet about the latest on aluminum-containing antiperspirants. You can then further review the things that you apply daily and weekly to your skin or rinse in your mouth. Look beyond the claims touting products as “natural” and “organic”, and screen the labels for any POSSIBLE hormone-disrupting or carcinogenic chemicals, such as those listed here, to help not only yourself, but the wildlife of planet Earth. Watch out also for hair dyes – every time you have your hair lightened or bleached, you’re infusing your scalp with a hefty dose of ammonia. Best to have a low-maintenance ‘do if anything!
Get moving and get your sweat on!
Just 30 minutes of moderately-intense, almost-short-of-breath physical activity is enough to help your blood vessels clean out nasty cholesterol plaques. Combined with not smoking and eating a plant-based diet, exercise is an important part of the formula to halt and even reverse heart disease. Many of us 9-to-5 folk spend a lot of the day sitting. Start by getting up out of your chair a few 15 minute intervals a few times a day – even just marching in place – and gradually increase to a point where you have trouble completing a run-on sentence like this one. Sweating and rehydrating helps your skin and organs to clean out your blood – so if you are able, do an activity that gets you sweating a bit!
Increase your fiber intake.
Most Canadians and Americans get no more than 15 grams of fiber each day, whereas the minimum recommended intake is 25 grams for females and 38 grams for males. Make sure that your breakfast begins with a hefty dose of fiber – not just from Metamucil or Benefiber. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes (lentils, split peas, chickpeas, and other beans) include special antioxidant compounds that are bound up in fiber that also help your body in other ways besides elimination from the gut. If you have cancers of the bowel in the family, diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, irritable bowel disease, or irritable bowel syndrome, it’s time to speak to a Dietitian and optimize your fiber intake!
Drink water as your main source of fluids.
This goes without saying, especially if you are sticking to tip number seven. While you increase fiber, make sure to increase water intake. Plenty of added calories from the typical diet come from liquids. Your brain does not recognize liquid calories as a sign that it has had enough to eat – it recognizes bulk in the stomach and commands your appetite from that signal. You can drink various teas or a bit of black coffee, but choose water or infused water as your beverage of choice. If you are curious about juicing, read my Juicing 101 guide!
When it comes to dieting or “detoxing”, research tells us that efforts to lose weight as “dieting” will result in the weight coming back within a few years for the most of us, with a vengeance! More and more people are taking charge of their own bodies and health, and are benefiting from professional and individualized support and help from a trusted health care provider, namely, nutritionists or Dietitians. While you’re contemplating what it might be like to have someone working one-on-one with you according to your needs and lifestyle, check out the other blog posts and recipes on my personal website, www.nourishedbybri.com !
Some of the most common questions we field in physical therapy are concerning the funding model for assessment and treatment through Alberta Health Care.
A number of clinics in the Edmonton area are allotted a monthly and yearly allowance for community rehabilitation. Wait times vary depending on demand, though clients typically are seen within the week for their initial assessment at Corona Station Physical Therapy.
Those clients who have undergone surgery or suffered a fracture are automatically approved for an additional six visits through Alberta Health Care. Clients who are on certain government subsidy programs, or are considered to be low income will qualify for a one time per year allowance of six additional visits with three treatments covered for any subsequent injuries that are not fractures or surgeries. Should further treatment be needed at the completion of these treatments, the physical therapist can complete a Request for Review Funding form, applications are reviewed on a case by case basis with some individuals receiving additional treatment if it is determined to be necessary.
Those clients who have not had a fracture or surgery or are not low income may qualify for an additional two visits as determined by the Determination of Need rubric that is completed by the physical therapist. This tool takes into account the severity of the person’s injury, the benefit they are likely to receive from treatment and the impact that delay would have on a favourable outcome. The funding is based on certain body areas so, for example, if a client fractures their wrist and has the misfortune of later injuring a second body part, they can again access Alberta Health Care funding. The health care year renews annually in April.
If clients are dissatisfied with an assessment where they are deemed ineligible for funding, they are entitled to a second assessment through Alberta Health Care. Those individuals injured in a motor vehicle accident or at work must access different funding sources for their treatment. Some services, such as vestibular rehabilitation, women’s health, concussion management and running gait analysis are not covered by the community rehabilitation program and must be paid for privately. For further information, visit http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/info/service.aspx?id=1028551 or contact us at the clinic at 780-424-4804.
As the weather gets warmer and the grass greener, the itch for golfers to begin their season inevitably grows stronger. Unfortunately, this excitement to start the season right where they left off the previous year can lead to injury for amateur golfers. The most common injuries seen in golfers include:
The shoulder complex is a complicated region of the body, trying to balance its large amount of mobility with stability. We rely heavily on the shoulder’s musculature to provide stability, especially when doing demanding tasks like swinging a golf club. 75 percent of shoulder injuries occur to the lead shoulder in golfers. It is crucial that golfers train the proper muscles before their season starts, to prevent injury.
Most people assume a common elbow injury in golf would be “golfer’s elbow”, however the more prevalent injury is tennis elbow, otherwise known as lateral epicondylitis. It is normally seen on the lead elbow and can be caused by gripping the club too hard, changing the grip, or bending the elbow on the follow-through or take-away phase of the swing. Golfer’s elbow, or medial epicondylitis, will more often be seen on the trail elbow and is the result of “early casting of the club in the downswing” (Davies et al, 2010). Strengthening the forearms pre-season can help prevent both golfer’s and tennis elbow.
Wrist injuries most often occur when the club contacts something before it hits the ball; for example, the ground, a tree root or the mat at the driving range. The club and the wrist both decelerate rapidly which, without proper training, can cause stress and injury to the wrist. Once injured, it is hard to continue playing as each swing will stress the wrist joints, therefore it is important to strengthen the wrist before injury occurs.
Low back pain accounts for 36 percent of injuries in amateur golfers. The golf swing incorporates high velocity end range rotation, with the spine in a flexed position, and this position puts golfers at higher risk for low back injury. Any hypomobility or hypermobility at any of the involved joints can result in compensations in the kinetic chain and, thus, lead to injury. Having good core and back strength, along with full lumbar spine mobility, can help prevent injury.
Fast rotation of the hips, pelvis and trunk is crucial for a proper swing. When strength or range of motion is lacking in the hip, the body makes compensations that can “stress muscles, ligaments, tendons and joints in the area” (Davies et al, 2010) and can result in pain. It becomes near impossible to have an efficient swing without proper hip rotation, without which, golfers risk further injury or even worse – a few extra strokes on the score card!
Golf is a wonderful low-intensity sport that can be played by all ages, however, the injury rate of 40% is a barrier for participation. “A major factor in the development of injury is the lack of sport-specific training and inadequate preparation prior to golfing” (Brandon et al, 2009). Having a proper stretching and strengthening program will help prevent injuries from occurring. At Corona Physiotherapy, we can provide you with a program so you can start your pre-season training, and assist you if you get injured during your season. Contact us to book an appointment!
Davies, C., & DiSaia, V. (2010). Golf anatomy. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics.
Brandon, B., & Pearce, P. (2009). Training to Prevent Golf Injury. Current Sports Medicine Reports, 8(3), 142-146.
Q) I am new to adventure racing, is this something I am going to be able to do?
A) Absolutely! Whether you are new to the sport, or to a fitness inspired lifestyle in general, you will be able to do it. Our courses and the obstacles laid out throughout them are designed to be tough and challenging, both from a physical and mental perspective. I’m not going to lie, there may be times when you’re on course and you ask yourself if you will be able to finish, or if it was a good idea to start this race in the first place. You may doubt yourself, but if you remember WHY you signed up and why you ventured past the starting line on to the course to take on this challenge, you will find the determination and motivation inside you to keep moving forward and finish. You can run a race or you can walk it. It doesn’t matter how you run a race, at the end of the day it all comes down to how you finish, not how fast.
Q) I would like to try adventure racing but where do I start?
A) Sign Up! Give yourself a tangible goal that is 3, 6 or 9 months from now and start working towards completing that goal. With the race and date on the horizon, you will be motivated to work towards it. Whether it is going for a walk or run, going to the gym, playing with your kids at the park or staying active in general; each step is a step forward in the right direction. You don’t have to start your journey already in tip-top shape, the journey is how you get there. Over time as you prepare you will notice yourself getting stronger, having more energy, and building self-confidence that accomplishing the goal is within reach.
Q) How can I be most effective with my training for Rise Up Challenge?
A) The simplest and easiest way I recommend people train for an event such as the Rise Up Challenge is to enjoy the outdoors. All the tools you need to get ready for an obstacle course race can be found in nature and within your city’s trails, river valley, parks and suburbs. These tools may include natural elements such as logs, rocks, water and varied terrain and hills. They could also include more man-made structures like stairs or playground equipment. After a few Google searches and YouTube videos it can be easy to learn how to workout outside and train for your first Rise Up Challenge or OCR event. OCR has a handful of basic moves you can focus on to train outside and prepare yourself for race day. These moves consist of lifting heavy objects, carrying the objects from point A to point B. Climbing on, under and over structures such as walls and cargo nets, grip strength for using your upper body and of course running on trails, through water and up and down hills.
Here’s an example of how you can use the outdoors as your training grounds. Take a fallen log or rock for example. These objects are great tools to build functional strength and endurance. They could be used for carrying up hills, or weighted hikes. They could become your new dumbbells for building strength in your back, arms, shoulders and legs.
Another example you may find outdoors are retaining walls or fences. It may seem silly at first but these are great tools for building your climbing abilities, calling on all types of functional strength in your legs, back, arms and hands.
One last piece of equipment you’re sure to find in any part of your neighbourhood or city is a Playground. These structures are great for all types of fitness and they’re a lot of FUN! The best part about playgrounds is that if you have young kids, they can play as you workout. Playgrounds are great spaces to work on tough obstacles like monkey bars, slippery walls (think running up a slide) and simply running through mud or sand.
When it’s all said and done, keeping these basic moves in mind will give you the ability to build your level of fitness and get ready for your first obstacle course race.
Q) What should I wear on event day?
A) I personally always wear shoes and clothes that I don’t mind throwing away afterwards if they get too dirty or wrecked as I run through the mud and over obstacles. Make sure you wear something that is comfortable when you’re dry and wet and can move freely in, at all different angles. Clothes that don’t retain water or act like a sponge when wet are also very advantageous. Depending on the type of person you are and how confident you are with staying hydrated, I would wear a camel-backpack or carry a water bottle. You never know when you will come across a water station, and it is important you can stay hydrated. The last thing you want to happen on a tough obstacle course is to run out of water.
Oh and remember, don’t take any valuables on course like earrings, wedding rings, car keys or cell phones.
Q) Any other tips on how I can make my run a success?
A) It’s simple, get outside, enjoy the fresh air and sunshine (even in the winter) and have fun! If you’re having fun, you won’t even notice how hard you’re working.
Q and A with Personal Trainer Devon Chang – Returning to the Gym Following Injury
We get a number of questions from our clients who are eager to return to the gym and their other regular activities. This month’s guest blogger, Devon Chang, is a CESP – Certified Personal Trainer at World Heath Club (Jasper Ave location) and has some excellent information for those looking to transition back to the gym after an injury!
Q) I’ve had an injury and my physiotherapist says I can start back at the gym; where should I start?
A) With the green light from your physiotherapist, it would be the best to start with the very basics. The goal here is to re-groove the basic movement patterns and muscle activation that you were doing prior to your injury; such as core and glute activation, squatting and hip hinging, and pushing and pulling movements to name a few. We want to avoid jumping right back into our old training as we need time to allow our bodies to rebuild what was lost during the healing process. In summation, we are looking to regain our full range of motion, move effectively and start to rebuild our strength as a whole. Regardless of your experience, type of injury or goals moving forward, it would be in your best interest to consult a fitness/ post rehab professional.
Q) How often should I be working out once I am back to training?
A) Coming back from an injury is tough. Our habits are thrown off and our bodies don’t feel like working like they used to…yet. It is important to rebuild those lost habits (or continue) and get back on track. Starting 3 times a week working with resistance training with the addition of 1-2 maintenance (focus on injured area; mobility/ flexibility; active recovery) days is a fantastic place to begin. From here we can look to increase our gym frequency and continue to progress to where we left off prior to injury. If you were training less than 3 times a week prior to injury then continue to move forward in your programming and coming back even strong than before.
Q) What is the advantage of consulting with a fitness/ post-rehab professional following an injury?
A) One of the greatest advantages to consulting and working with a fitness/ post-rehab professional is it takes the guess work out of the process. The job of your coach is to help you progress efficiently through your program and support you in rebuilding your habits and overall health and fitness.
Moreover, the main goal is to rebuild functionality and strength within your injured area and regain your confidence in that body part or parts. Whether that is guiding you through a program built by your physiotherapist or assessing you and building a program for you from scratch, your coach will help get you back to where you want to be and beyond.
A) What should I keep in mind to prevent re-injury?
Q) Injuries happen. Whether you’re a competitive athlete or a weekend warrior and casual gym goer, injuries still happen. Our responsibility is to prepare ourselves to avoid them the best we can. Many injuries are freak accidents while others could have been prevented. However, we should keep in mind how we got injured in the first place and what plans we need to follow to build everything back up stronger and more stable.
More specifically, we target and strengthen the previously injured area and surrounding area. I know that’s a very broad statement but keeping in mind the necessity of building a strong foundation stemming from your core and moving outwards and towards all areas; including the injured ones. Be patient and ease back into your program while being extremely mindful of your form and muscle activation. The best approach is to consult a professional to help get you started on the right track.
Q) I’ve never lifted weights before but my physiotherapist recommended weight training to help prevent injury in the future; where should I start?
A) This right here is one of the biggest road blocks many people face. And that’s ok. You don’t know what you don’t know. So please don’t be afraid or too proud to ask for help. If your car broke down would you try and fix it yourself or would you call a mechanic? Now you mechanics out there shush, you know what I’m getting at. Same goes for bouncing back from an injury or simply learning how the gym works.
To avoid getting hurt again or falling off the wagon, it is imperative to learn the basics of human movement and functionality. I’m not talking about training for the next Olympic Games (unless you want to then by all means go for it!) but I’m talking about keeping your body happy and healthy. This is where consulting and if it’s a good fit, hiring a professional to teach you how to do it. You learn. You apply. You learn. You apply. The internet can teach you theory and provide good instructional videos (make sure it’s a credible source) but being hands on with someone who knows what’s up will go even further to becoming knowledgeable and more independent. That is how you will build your foundation and understand how this whole gym and training thing works.
Q) I’m back at the gym following an injury and haven’t noticed any of my old symptoms, how quickly can I ramp up my training?
A) First and foremost, consult with your physiotherapist and/or the fitness professional you are working with. Better to be safe than sorry right? One rule of thumb that I personally apply is this: if it hurts stop doing it! Now that’s pretty vague but essentially I mean ease into increasing the difficulty and be patient. Make sure your body is stable and in proper position. The litmus test is pain or transitioning into bad form. That is where you dial it back and reassess.
Q) I would like to return to my group exercise classes now that my symptoms have almost been resolved; any tips for success?
A) Ah yes. Group exercise! A fantastic place for camaraderie and getting your butt whooped by someone twice your age. Kudos to that person! Group exercise is great and always a very diverse place of skill level and intensity. When getting back into the groove of group ex we have to keep in mind basically everything we just covered above and then some. It is important to push ourselves but also important not to compete with the other 40 people attending the class. We are coming off an injury and have to be diligent in performing the class with solid form and at the pace that is conducive to our post-rehab goals. In group ex we lack the advantage of having someone analyze and cue our every move so it is up to us to follow and perform the movements led by the instructor to a tee. Otherwise we could jeopardize our recovery and perform the exercises with poor form and movement patterns. Go at your own pace and use the appropriate weights and movements for where you’re at in your recovery. If in doubt ask for help or advice from the instructor leading the class. Always consult with your physiotherapist or the professional leading your recovery.
Devon Chang is a 2013 University of Alberta graduate with a Bachelor of Physical Education and Major in Sport Performance and Physical Activity. Originally from Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, he came to Edmonton as a young teenager in pursuit of hockey excellence and ended up finding his passion for helping people with their health and fitness. Devon has been a CSEP-Certified Personal Trainer since 2012 and is currently working with the team at World Health Jasper Avenue as an Elite-Level Trainer and club Integration Manager.
Discover more at https://worldhealthedmonton.ca/clubs/jasper-avenue/
Workplace ergonomics is becoming an important consideration in injury prevention given the increasingly large number of people who spend the majority of their day working at a desk. Some relatively easy and inexpensive adjustments in the workplace can have a significant impact on many postural and repetitive strain type injuries including chronic neck and back pain, tennis elbow, shoulder impingement and carpal tunnel syndrome.
Ideally, a chair should be adjustable not only in a vertical direction but in all three planes of movement to accommodate various body types. The height of the chair should be adjusted to be able to slide the chair under a desk while maintaining hip flexion of 90 degrees or slightly greater, a foot stool can be used to achieve this if needed. An ergonomic chair will also include an area of lumbar support. Used properly, this curve at the bottom of the chair helps to support the spine’s natural lordosis. Depth of the chair will vary depending on leg length, a two inch clearance between the back of the knees and the chair is recommended.
Sit to stand desks are becoming increasingly popular and are a great option for alleviating some of the health concerns typically associated with prolonged sitting. Employers are becoming better educated on the advantages of sit to stand desks and will sometimes consider an upgrade if recommended by a health care professional. Often however, these more expensive substitutes are not in the budget. Desk set up can be optimized by having the monitor 20 to 30 inches from the eye with the top of the monitor at approximately eye height and centred in front of the face. Having room under the desk to allow the legs to move and stretch is also advised.
The Keyboard and Mouse
A drop down keyboard allows a worker to keep the elbows close to the body and the forearm parallel with the floor, decreasing the amount of reach and subsequent strain on the shoulder, elbow and wrist. Newer ergonomic mouses and keyboards keep the wrist in a more neutral position, lessening the risk of repetitive strain injuries to the wrist and hand.
These small changes can have a big impact but further consultation with a physical therapist can help to address additional factors that are specific to the individual.
50% of people who take up running will quit within the first year due to an injury! The majority of injuries suffered by runners are repetitive strain type injuries related to tissue overload with inadequate time for tissue adaptation. Most of these injuries can be diagnosed clinically and will respond well to conservative management with imaging and medical specialist referral often not required.
Most Common Running Injuries
Patello-Femoral Pain Syndrome
characterized by anterior knee pain usually felt above the patella, worse with stairs, kneeling and prolonged sitting.
Ilio-tibial Band Syndrome
characterized by lateral knee or hip pain, occasionally a click or catch at the lateral knee, onset often at specific mileage or duration of run
arch pain, usually worse in the morning, may be related to the addition of plyometrics to training
achilles tendon swollen or tender to palpation, may be related to the addition of hills to training
Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome/stress fracture
anterior shin pain, overload type injury related to increased mileage
anterior knee pain below the knee cap, may be related to increased hill training
Runners presenting with any of these conditions would benefit from physical therapy treatment. Visiting a physical therapist who specializes in running analysis can facilitate a speedy recovery and help to maximize performance as well as prevent future injury. Evidence based running analysis is now being offered at Corona Station Physical Therapy. Foot strike pattern, cadence, shoe choice, strength, biomechanics and training habits will all be evaluated to ensure that you are running safely and efficiently. If you have an upcoming race, training plans can be developed to maximize adaptation to mechanical and physiological loads.
Ashley Cripps and Ehryn Crane are both physical therapists certified through The Running Clinic as Specialists in injury prevention in runners.
A large percentage of skeletal stability is afforded by muscles. Muscles are designed to stabilize the skeleton in mid range, functional positions and are the only system that can compensate for changes in articular integrity.
All muscles are important for motion and support, however, not all muscles function in the same manner but rather fill specialized roles. The more superficially positioned neck muscles can maintain head position against gravity and have a greater torque producing capacity than their deeper counterparts. These superficial muscles, however, are not suited to provide fine segmental motion control. The deeper cervical muscles situated immediately adjacent to and spanning shorter sections of the spine, form a sleeve around the cervical and craniovertebral regions. Their anatomical design allows them to provide effective segmental motion control and support spinal curves. (Mayoux Benhamou 1994, Boyd-Clark 2002) Segmental buckling would occur if the superficial muscles were to work on their own without adequate activation of the deep muscle network. (Winters and Peles, 1990) Balanced activation of the deep and superficial flexor and extensor muscle networks is necessary to optimize function and minimize the potential for a pain state.
Numerous studies of individuals with neck pain have identified changes in relative activity of the deep and superficial neck muscles. Individuals with neck pain show decreased strength and endurance of their deep neck flexors (Longus Capitis and Longus Colli) when compared to control subjects. They also exhibit increased superficial muscle activity (SCM and Anterior Scalenes) compared to control subjects. (Jull et al 1999, 2000, 2004, 2009; Gupta et al 2013; Elsig et al 2014) Decreased activation of the deep cervical flexors with concurrant increase in superficial flexor activity will typically result in altered movement strategies and increase the potential for dysfunction.
The craniocervical flexion test (CCFT) is a simple yet proficient test to screen for neuromotor control of the deep neck flexors. It assesses for activation and isometric endurance of the deep cervical flexors. In addition, it monitors for early or excessive activation of the superficial neck flexors. The CCFT can serve as an effective retraining tool in cases where dysfunction is identified, progressing the individual through increasing levels of difficulty. (Jull GA et al. 2008) The CCFT is used routinely by physiotherapists at Corona Station as both an assessment and treatment tool with favourable results.
One of the most common questions we hear as physical therapists is “How long will it take for me to recover”? Soft tissue injuries such as ligament sprains and muscle strains follow a characteristic pattern of healing with three general phases, the inflammatory phase, the proliferative or fibroblastic phase and the maturation or remodelling phase. These stages may overlap and are not always linear, injuries may progress or regress through the phases depending on certain patient specific factors that may be either intrinsic (such as severity of the injury and age) or extrinsic (such as anti-inflammatory use or repeated re-injury).
The inflammatory phase is characterized by a complex cascade of events at the biomechanical and cellular levels. The net result is clotting of any ruptured blood vessels with a return to homeostasis, followed by vasodilation and the introduction of antibodies, white blood cells, enzymes, nutrients and growth factors to the wounded area. Pain, swelling and redness are typically noted during this initial phase, which lasts five to ten days.
Once the damaged tissue has been cleared with the inflammatory phase, the body can begin laying down new tissue during the proliferative phase. This tends to be a relatively inelastic type of scar tissue that is different in make – up than the original tissue of the ligament, tendon or muscle. This stage of healing can last from four to six weeks.
The final phase of healing is characterized by remodeling of the collagen fibers, which will become more parallel with the lines of stress applied to the injured tissue. Tensile strength will continue to increase, providing greater mechanical integrity and reducing the susceptibility to injury in the future. This process can continue for up to a year, the clinical implications being that a client may still feel some mild residual symptoms and may be prone to injury with lesser insult.
Given the stages of healing typical of a soft tissue injury, clients can expect a six to eight week recovery process, with the understanding that that the final phase of healing can continue for up to a year following the injury. Also of note, the stages of healing are affected by client specific factors including age, the severity of the injury, previous injuries, co-morbidities, job demands and compliance with activity modifications recommended by the therapist. For further information or to speak with one of our physical therapists, please contact Corona Station Physical Therapy directly at email@example.com.
The term manual therapy is widely used in physical therapy practice but is perhaps less widely understood. Manual therapy is a broad phrase used to describe the “hands-on” work performed by physical therapists and can include soft tissue techniques, joint mobilization and mobilization with movement, manipulation and myofascial release. These techniques form a cornerstone of the physical therapy profession and all treatment plans typically include at least some form of manual therapy.
What are Mobilization and Manipulation?
These interventions are forms of manual therapy and aim to restore motion, decrease pain, improve function, and can indirectly decrease muscle tone. They are based on a biomechanical model. Along with the particular movement of a bone in space (an osteokinematic movement) there is a consistent associated glide at the joint (arthrokinematic movement). For example, when we flex the finger, the distal bone glides in a palmar direction on the proximal bone at each of the interphalangeal joints. Clinically, this means that if an individual is limited into flexion following a hand injury, a physical therapist can aim to restore motion by performing a palmar glide of the distal bone. Manipulation is defined as the skillful application of a high velocity, low amplitude thrust and is used when a joint is fixed, in cases where mobilization is no longer providing improvement, as a means of improving muscle tone via neuromuscular feedback, and in incidences where there is a loose body in a joint. Often there is a cavitation or popping sound as gas is released from the joint. Manipulations can be applied so that the force is perpendicular to the joint surface, causing a gapping or distraction of the joint, or so that the force is parallel to the surface of the joint, causing an arthokinematic type glide and restoring motion in a particular direction.
Is There Evidence to Support The Use of Manual Therapy?
There is a growing body of evidence addressing the efficacy of manual therapy. To date there is evidence to support the use of manual therapy in treating numerous conditions including ankle sprains, rotator cuff tendinopathy, cervical spine dysfunction and chronic low back pain (1, 2, 3, 4). Manual therapy is rarely used in isolation and is more often one component of a comprehensive treatment plan that will include education, therapeutic exercise, dry needling and modalities. For more information or to speak to one of our physical therapists, please contact the clinic directly.
The Efficacy of Manual Joint Mobilisation/Manipulation in Treatment of Lateral Ankle Sprains: A Systematic Review. Loudon JK1,Reiman MP,Sylvain J. Br J Sports Med 2014;48:365-37
The Efficacy of Manual Therapy for Rotator Cuff Tendinopathy: A Systematic Review and Meta- analysis. Ariel Desjardins-Charbonneau, Jean-Sébastien Roy, Clermont E. Dionne, Pierre Frémont, Joy C. Macdermid, François Desmeules. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2015; 45(5):330-350
Manipulation and Mobilization of the Cervical Spine: A Systematic Review of the Literature. Hurwitz EL1, Aker PD, Adams AH, Meeker WC, Shekelle PG. Spine (Phila Pa 1976). 1996 Aug 1;21(15):1746-59
Manual Therapy and Exercise Therapy in Patients With Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized, Controlled Trial With 1-Year Follow-up. Aure, Olav Frode PT; Hoel Nilsen, Jens PT; Vasseljen, Ottar PhD. Spine: 15 March 2003 – Volume 28 – Issue 6 – pp 525-531
The World Health Assembly in May 2012 stated a goal of ‘no increase in obesity or diabetes levels’ from 2010 by 2025. Ezzat et al (2016) conducted a meta-analysis from 1975-2014 and now state that if trends continue there is zero percent chance of meeting the global obesity target. The correlation between chronic disease and sedentary lifestyles are well documented. Getting more physical activity and losing weight is something the majority of people would say they need, but whose job is it to tell you this medically, and who do you ask for advice? When does that advice become more than ‘eat less refined sugar and exercise more’?
How Does the Body Use and Store Energy?
Pancreatic release of the hormones insulin and glucagon dictate what gets used as energy and what is stored in reserve. The food we eat is broken down in the stomach and the energy floods into the blood stream at differing rates, depending on factors such as glycemic index and fibre content. Increased blood sugar levels trigger the release of Insulin which gathers the excess circulating metabolites for storage. They are then transported to the muscles and liver and stored as glycogen (which have a limited capacity), or lumped together as a TAG (3 free fatty acids-FFA, and a glycerol) and stored as adipose. So it makes sense that if our diets contain high concentrations of sugar and fat, then our body mass index will increase. When we haven’t consumed energy for a few hours, Glucagon is released as blood glucose levels are low. FFAs are liberated from the adipocyte to the bloodstream by the hormonal reaction – lipolysis. Transport proteins deliver the FFAs to the working muscles, where they are utilized inside the mitochondria as energy. If insulin is the storing hormone then glucagon is the mining hormone. That being understood, exercise can now be utilized to manipulate whether we burn off exogenous or endogenous energy by ensuring we don’t exercise immediately after food consumption.
Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is what we spend as energy and is a derivative of metabolites such as muscle glycogen and fat. ATP demand positively correlates with the power output of an exercise bout (Egan and Zierath 2012). Exercise intensity however, can be manipulated to determine where the ATP source derives from. Romijn et al. (1993), & Van Loon et al (2001) found both intra-muscular and extra muscular levels of FFA utilization are at their highest during low-moderate (<65% V02 and aerobic) exercise, and as the intensity increases, muscle utilization of the circulating FFA declines, whereas glucose utilization increases (anaerobic >65%). It therefore stands to reason that if we want patients to lose weight, exercising at lower intensities for longer periods of time is sound advice. This advice is also in line with the safety precautions we would take when prescribing exercise as an intervention in patients with HBP and CHO, and even AS, DM and angina. If the goal of exercise is weight loss, then knowing when and how to exercise is the key to being efficient and safe.
What Does This Mean for Those Looking to Lose Weight?
Consuming an energy drink high in glucose before exercise causes glucose to flood the blood stream and is readily transported to working muscles for conversion to ATP. So in this instance you are burning the sugars which you have just taken in, not your own reserve, therefore they are counterproductive if your goal of exercise is weight loss. Conversely, following a fasting period >3hours or overnight, the high levels of glucagon and low levels of insulin mean that adipocyte reserves have been liberated and increased blood concentrations of FFA are been transported to the muscle for ATP, thus you are burning fat as energy. This metabolic state is only achieved through a period of fasting, otherwise glucose and FFA levels in the blood are high due to a recent feed, along with high levels of insulin, so in this state if you are not exercising you are most certainly increasing your adiposity reserve. First thing in the morning glucagon release has been facilitating homeostasis via lipolysis throughout the course of the night, but relatively speaking we don’t need much energy to maintain a sleeping body. The notion of breakfast being the most important meal of the day does ring true, but why not capitalize on this perfect window of natural lipolysis first with some low intensity exercise? In low risk patients, how you capitalize and burn off more endogenous fat is patient preference, walking, jogging or intermittent exercise will all be effective. In higher risk patients we know we need to restrict intensity and duration boundaries via RPE, heart rate and blood sugar levels but all can be manipulated to facilitate efficient weight loss.
The purpose of the above was not to give prescription parameters of exercise but to establish the chain of metabolic events when we eat, fast and exercise and how it’s possible to manipulate these events to make exercise more efficient when weight loss is the goal. For the prescription of exercise parameters a comprehensive understanding of cooperating energy systems is needed, along with the potential co-morbidities of the patient.
Romijn. E., et al (1993). ‘Regulation of endogenous fat and carbohydrate metabolism in relation to exercise intensity and duration’. Am. J. Physiology. 266. pE380-E391.
Ezzati., M. (2016) ‘ Trends in adult body-mass index in 200 countries from 1975 to 2014: a pooled analysis of 1698 population-based measurement studies with 19·2 million participants’. The Lancet. 387. p1377-96.
Egan., B & Zierath., J. (2012). ‘Exercise metabolism and the molecular regulation of skeletal muscle adaptation’. Cell Metabolism. 17. p162-184. World Health Assembly (2012). Resolutions and decisions. Geneva May 21-26.
Transversus Abdominus and its Role in Lumbar Spinal Stabilization
Spinal stability is dependent upon three sub-systems: the active or contractile system, the passive or non-contractile system and the neural control system. (Panjabi, 1992). If dysfunction is present in any one or a combination of these sub-systems, the stabilizing capacity of the spine will be compromised and painful movement more likely to occur. While all muscles contribute to spinal stability and movement, some are better suited than others to provide dynamic stability. In the lumbar spine (L/S), the deeper muscles, close to the axis of joint motion, with a predominance of Type I muscle fibers, have proven more effective as stabilizers than the larger, more superficially located lumbar spinal muscles.
Research has shown that: 1) people with low back pain (LBP) present with atrophy and altered activation of the deep spinal muscles when compared with persons without LBP (Hodges et al., 1996; Hides et al., 1994) and 2) the deep spinal muscles play a key role in developing inter-segmental motion stiffness which translates into improved dynamic control of the spine (Hodges et al., 2003).
Transversus Abdominus (TA) is an important dynamic stabilizer of the L/S. TA is able to directly increase intra-abdominal pressure which converts the trunk into a more solid cylinder. This reduces compression and shear forces acting on the L/S and transmits them over a wider area (Twomey & Taylor, 1987). TAs attachment to the thoracolumbar fascia further increases its ability to stabilize the L/S.
The success of specific spinal stabilization training for TA and other deep muscles lies in: 1) teaching clients to activate the dysfunctional muscle in isolation of other muscles; 2) effectively retraining slow twitch muscle fiber function through isometric contractions (low loads, sustained hold times); 3) repetition: to aid motor reprogramming; 4) teaching co-contraction of the target muscle, first with other deep muscles, then the global muscle network and 5) training carryover for physical and functional tasks of increasing levels of difficulty.
“Exercises that target the deep abdominal muscles with minimal external loading in the spine have been shown to be effective in increasing lumbar stability, thus treating and preventing the recurrence of LBP.” (Teyhen et al., 2008; Axler & McGill, 1997).
The physiotherapists at Corona Station Physical Therapy recognize the importance of specific exercise prescription and a properly executed home exercise program to ensure optimal rehabilitation results. Time is spent educating the client as to the importance of the exercises they are given, while frequent review ensures proper exercise technique and allows for appropriate progressions. We believe it pays to be picky! For more information, please contact us at the clinic by phone or email and ask to speak to one of our physiotherapists.
Plantar fasciitis is a common condition causing pain in the heel, which can radiate into the foot. It is typically seen in people age 40-60 but can also occur in younger people who are on their feet a lot, like athletes or soldiers. Plantar fasciitis may present in one foot or both feet. The plantar fascia or arch ligament runs under the foot from the calcaneus to the metatarsal heads at the ball of the foot. It is thought to be an inflammatory condition as well as involving some degeneration of the collagen fibres close to where the plantar fascia attaches to the calcaneus.
A variety of causes or contributing factors exist for plantar fasciitis. Some of the most common causes include:
excessive weight load on the foot due to obesity or prolonged standing
mechanical imbalances through the joints of the foot
sudden increase in walking or running (overuse)
tight calf muscles, which also insert into the calcaneus
wearing shoes with poor support, including flip-flops
The most common treatments for plantar fasciitis include:
* strengthening the foot and lower quadrant muscles
* wearing a night splint
* wearing shoes with arch support
* stretching the calf muscles
* physiotherapy (which often includes many of the above)
There is no single cure for plantar fasciitis. Whilst many treatments can be used to ease pain, in order to treat it effectively long-term, the cause of the condition must be addressed. A recent randomized controlled trial (2011) investigated the effects of trigger point (TrP) therapy combined with a self-stretching program for patients with heel pain. After one month, the patients receiving a combination of calf muscle and plantar fascia stretching and TrP release had significantly greater improvements in their calcaneal pressure pain thresholds, functional and pain scores as compared to those receiving only the self-stretching program.
For patients presenting with plantar heel pain it is important that all contributing factors be addressed. At Corona Physio-Rehab Centre, we are able to address the biomechanical factors and provide education, custom orthotics if indicated, and personalized home programs of stretching and strengthening. We also assess the gastrocs and soleus muscles for tight bands, knots, and trigger points and treat them using various deep tissue release techniques. Dry needling has also been found to be very effective in releasing these trigger points. For further information, please contact us at the clinic and ask to speak to one of our physiotherapists.
Reference: Renan-Ordine R et al Effectiveness of myofascial trigger point manual therapy combined with a self-stretching protocol for the management of plantar heel pain: a randomized controlled trial. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2011 Feb;41(2):43-50. Epub 2011 Jan 31
Shoulder Impingement Syndrome – Contributing Factors and Management
The primary function of the rotator cuff (RC) muscles is to stabilize, compress and provide fine motor control to the glenohumeral joint. The supraspinatus acts to compress the humeral head into the glenoid fossa and prevent excessive superior translation of the humeral head during functional activities. The subscapularis acts to prevent excessive anterior and superior translations of the humeral head, which is one of the leading biomechanical causes of impingement syndromes (Sarhmann, 2002). The infraspinatus and teres minor act to prevent excessive superior and posterior translations during activity.
The subacromial space houses the supraspinatus tendon, subacromial bursa and the biceps tendon.
Factors that affect the subacromial space:
–anatomical variation: shape and size of the acromion or presence of osteophytes
–previous shoulder trauma that disrupts the stabilizing mechanisms of the joint, affecting the firing patterns of the RC muscles
–altered scapular positions due to muscles tightness, imbalance or poor stabilizer recruitment patterns
Postural faults, scapular dyskinesis and muscular imbalance can also lead to RC impingement. Shortening and tightness of pectoralis minor can cause the scapula to sit in a downwardly rotated position at rest, bringing the acromion process closer to the humeral head (Borstad, 2004). Poor thoracic spine extension causes the scapula to be further protracted and downwardly rotated thus limiting the mobility of the scapulothoracic complex (Borstad, 2006).
Typically, the subscapularis and supraspinatus need to be strengthened to reduce anterior and superior translation of the humeral head. Coupled with this, the posterior cuff with an overactive ingraspinatus and tight posterior capsule need to be released. Through specific neural and strength retraining, physiotherapy can influence the firing patterns of the RC as dynamic stabilizers and use manual therapy and/or needling techniques for the posterior cuff. Furthermore, the physiotherapist can address the scapular kinetics, releasing and stretching muscles causing downward rotation (the pec minor and levator scapulae) and strengthening muscles that work to upwardly rotate the scapula (serratus anterior). The physiotherapist will also address postural faults including thoracic hypomobility via mobilization/manipulation and postural endurance retraining of the rhomboids and middle and lower trapezius. For more information, please contact us at the clinic by phone or email and ask to speak to one of our physiotherapists.
There are many definitions of pain. The International Association for the Study of Pain defines pain as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage or described in terms of such damage.” In the human body the experience of pain starts with the stimulation of a nociceptor (pain receptor). The stimulus may be noxious, inflammatory or due to disease. Nociceptors are located in the skin, joints, muscles and the walls of organs. The stimulus is changed to an electrical current which travels along the nerve to the spinal cord BUT this is not yet pain. In the cortex of the brain many areas are activated by the transmission of the stimulus including those associated with emotional learning, memory and reward. Here pain is perceived or interpreted from the complex interaction of electrical and chemical impulses from different areas of the brain. At the cortical (brain) level then a response is generated dependent on many interacting bits of information.
Is all pain the same?
Pain may be acute or chronic/persistent. Acute pain occurs when tissue is damaged as for example in a burn or sprained ankle. This type of pain usually goes away as the lesion heals or the cause of the pain is removed. Chronic or persistent pain refers to pain that is experienced after an injury heals. This may be the pain related to a degenerative disease, or long-term pain from an unknown cause. Chronic pain may be generated by the body’s response to acute pain. Repeated or intense stimulation of nociceptors may trigger changes within the nervous system. This can be in the periphery, or centrally in the brain and spinal cord. Some of the changes include hypersensitivity to stimulation or magnification of normal stimuli. This condition is described as a sensitized nervous system.
At Corona Station Physical Therapy, our registered physiotherapists stay up to date with the latest in Pain Sciences/Medicine. We manage acute and persistent pain. Persistent pain conditions often require team work with other health professionals. For more information, please contact us at the clinic by phone or email and ask to speak to one of our physiotherapists.
The Gokavi Transverse Technique (G.T.T.) was developed by Dr. Cynthia Gokavi, a physician with many years of experience treating myofascial pain syndromes. With an extensive background in both traditional acupuncture (AP) and dry needling, Dr. Gokavi herself has suffered from chronic pain for more than 25 years. Her quest, both personal and professional, for improved chronic pain treatment measures led to the development of this technique.
G.T.T. is a dry needling acupuncture technique used to treat myofascial pain (acute and chronic) and soft tissue restriction. G.T.T. differs from other dry needling AP techniques in that: A) it utilizes high frequency electrical stimulation pre-needling and B) advocates transverse orientation of the AP needle into target muscle tissue. Acupuncture needles are inserted in a specific transverse direction to form a closed circuit which encompasses the target treatment area. Needles are then electrically stimulated with two different high frequency currents. Electrical stimulation results in relaxation and analgesia of muscle tissue enclosed within the circuit. Muscles are then lifted and needled transversely through their entire thickness to release palpable trigger points and taut myofascial bands.
Advantages to using G.T.T. are many. They include: decreased dry needling pain. The relaxation/analgesic effects induced by the circuit, combined with the transverse orientation of the needle (generally recognized to be less painful than a perpendicular approach) results in less muscle cramping and spasm. This notably decreases both needling pain and post treatment soreness. Larger areas can be treated in a shorter period of time. Less needling is required during subsequent treatment sessions, fewer treatments are required and time between treatment sessions can be lengthened. Increased patient compliance is noted as a result. Muscle relaxation obtained with the circuit allows the practitioner to effectively target myofascial restrictions in deeper muscle layers. Results are immediate. The transverse orientation of the needle decreases the risk of injury (i.e.: perforation) to internal organs.
Possible side effects to any dry needling technique include the potential for: bruising/bleeding, discomfort, post treatment fatigue/soreness and syncope. Contraindications include: pregnancy, local infections/skin conditions, anti-coagulant use, bleeding disorders and cardiac pacemakers. Clients with pacemakers can be treated if the circuit is omitted.
Our physiotherapists at Corona Station Physical Thrapy are qualified to perform G.T.T., and it is frequently employed at the clinic in the treatment of individuals with chronic myofascial pain, fibromyalgia, adhesive capsulitis, muscle restriction post immobilization and total joint replacements (pre-surgical), to name a few. Results have been very favourable. For more information, please contact us at the clinic by phone or email and ask to speak to one of our physiotherapists.
One of the main developments in treating lower back pain has been the understanding that the abdominal muscle group plays an important role in supporting the spine, and that strengthening this region is valuable in all prevention and treatment programs for lower back pain.
The paraspinal muscles, particularly multifidus, co-contract with transversus to maintain a “neutral” lumbar spine. This refers to the low back, or lumbar segment of the spine as neither extended nor flexed, with the pelvis flat and not tilted. Learning to control this “neutral” position is the focus of most care stability exercises. Research shows that poor multifidus activity is found in back pain patients. Walters suggests that we should be striving for a comprehensive program of exercises that effectively strengthens all the muscles and movements of the spine. Lower back pain has a variety of causes, and while focusing on a neutral spine is important in the early stages of rehabilitation, global musculature and functional movements must be incorporated for optimal function.
Back movement and function:
Any back movement is a combination of the basic flexion, extension and rotation. The key muscles involved in the performance of each of these movements are:
Flexion: rectus abdominis, internal and external obliques and hip flexors
Extension: erector spinae, quadrats lumborum, gluteus maximus and hamstrings
Rotation: rectus abdominis, obliques and erector spinae
The most effective lower back pain programs involve all the muscles, how they move and function and in which positions these movements occur. This comprehensive approach also takes into consideration that back injury and lower back pain can be caused by various factors, including poor posture, lifting strain, poor stability, muscle strength imbalances, small repetitive stresses and poor flexibility. The more comprehensive and varied the lower back pain program, the more likely all these factors will be accounted for.
Any rehabilitative training needs to be specific to the individual patient and progressed according to the diagnosed contributing factors. A progressive program may start with specific activiation and co-contraction training of transversus and multifidus, but should progress to exercises such as planks, bridging, trunk twists, back extension and superman type exercises to recruit more global musculature. More advanced exercises could include the wood chop, deadlifts, and squats. It is important to incorporate two pull movements for every push movement. Functional training exercises with equipment such as the multi-directional cables, TrX, and kettle bells challenge the body in ways that conventional lifting cannot. The key point of the latter exercises is that most of these require the body to move or stabilize in a rotational direction thus simulating everyday life tasks. The final point is that rehabilitative and training exercise programs need to be regular to generate the stress to create an adaptive process.
At Corona Station Physical Therapy, our team of experienced physiotherpists believe in a comprehensive rehabilitation approach to treating low back pain as well as working to prevent recurrence. For further information please contact us by phone or email and ask to speak to one of our physiotherapists.
Haladay, D., Miller, S., Challis, J. & Denegar, C. (2013). Quality of Systematic Reviews on Specific Spinal Satbilization Exercise for Chronic Low Back Pain. JOSPT, 43(4).
Walters, P. (2000). Back to Basics. Health and Fitness Journal, 4(4).