Athletic Therapy, Chronic Pain, health, Self-Development, Wellness

Why You Can’t Escape Your Pain

We all know the value of communication. We’re taught it on some level from the day we’re old enough to consciously communicate verbally all the way through school and in early job positions. Some of us excel at different forms of communication (verbal, written, creative expression, whatever)- and some of us struggle to effectively communicate for various reasons.. but in the end, still appreciate when communication is effective and open.
Quality communication creates a pathway forwards in any situation, and I think all of us can say that we’ve been in situations where either the communication tactics saved the day, or the lack there of made what should have been a simply solved problem into a Everest sized issue.
In our exterior world.. all this is common sense. So why do we continuously shut down and condemn the communications we all receive, moment to moment, within our own physical bodies?
Pain has gotten a bad rap somewhere along the lines. At one point we stopped respecting the message it had for us, and began muting it in desperation. Was this because the collective pain (emotional, physical, etc) became so overwhelming that we developed all these quick methods to “take it away”?
Pain, at it’s core, is a reaction to a perceived threat. It will have personal biases related to emotional/mental stress, as well as physical stress unique to each individual. Pain perception is almost impossible to measure from person to person, and tolerance will be equally as unique.
We’ve been taught to fear and dread pain as a society. Which, when you put pain under the frame of communication seems counterintuitive to the good practices a mature individual aims to adhere to in modern day operations.
As an experiment.. imagine a common pain for you as another human being, sitting across a table from you. This other person, who is an integral part of your operational team in life, called a meeting with you. Fairly calmly they begin to relay to you an important message (lets say from your lower spine). They calmly state that the amount that you’ve been sitting, combined with the increasing amount of caffeine you’ve been intaking are causing increased immobility combined with heightened nervous system stimulus in a vulnerable area. They are speaking in an inside voice, with a even tempered demeanor.
You respond by pretending they aren’t there.
They begin increasing the urgency in their voice, just as anyone would having recognized that you obviously aren’t hearing their message.
You, again, respond by shushing them and then resume playing ignorant to their presence.
This causes them to have to begin yelling, maybe using exaggerated gestures, in an attempt to get your attention.
This increase in intensity on their part elicits a more dramatic response from you.. you now put ear plugs in and attempt to change tables. Eventually maybe you attempt to remove them from the equation, putting duct tape over their mouth in an attempt to hush them and having some goons remove them from your vicinity.
Now.. this might seem like a dramatic way to handle a interaction.. however, I think we can all relate to at least once or twice where we put the ear plugs in regarding our pain (via the use of medications, pushing through, the endless search of quick fix/relief vs understanding).
As a therapist I routinely meet people who are so completely disconnected from their bodies that pain (or any discomfort for the matter) is something to be avoided at all costs. Yet, at the same time – they have an attachment to their suffering so strong it has become a part of their identity.
This stems from our nervous system. Our nervous system is primed for our survival. Which means whatever pattern it takes on to survive, it will protect at all costs. It’s not too far fetched to say that at a certain point, especially in cases of chronic pain, the nervous system will actually make it more uncomfortable for us to move into a new way of living life (even if this new way is pain free) out of a perceived need to protect our set patterning.
Yes, you read that right. Your nervous system and brain will push to keep you in pain because pain has become your normal.
Which means- in order to begin shifting how pain/messages from the body are received, we need to develop a strong awareness for what our nervous system is saying to us before moving forwards. If we have good communication with ourselves, that phase of perceived increase discomfort becomes an integral part of the process instead of a fear ridden, panic inducing, run away type moment for our bodies and minds. We are much more likely to continue moving forwards if we are able to communicate effectively with our bodies and minds in this case with that budding self awareness.
I have come to think of healing as another term for getting to know ourselves. True healing requires us to look within to listen, feel, and acknowledge what is truly causing our bodies and minds to call to us. The uprising of research in Epigenetics is now confirming that much of our pain (emotional, physical, and spiritual) has been passed down from generations before- and with this in mind, it can be valuable to first look within but also to look at what your predecessors were dealing with. Our genetic histories (how our ancestors struggled, what they were dealing with physically, emotionally, and spiritually, etc) can often provide us a map as to why certain pains or ways of experiencing life have been so steadfast in our lives. This means what has been passed down to us not only has biological inputs and can make us more prone to certain diseases, it also effects us in terms of mental/emotional processing, psychosomatic body memories and sensations, and patterns that control (or guide, depending on how you look at it) our perception of existence.
Most of us, unfortunately, have been raised in a society that is extremely disconnected from the body and mind. Which means we are having to relearn something that should be second nature (or our entire nature) later in life. We know the power of those gut feelings that often guide us in moments of questioning, and we’ve all second guessed or ignored those gut instincts at one time or another- usually to regret it later. That’s where developing that internal listening/observing ability begins. To build awareness we need to have the patience to be with ourselves, through good and bad, to listen, observe, and FEEL it all. The spidey senses will become more attuned from there. Then that pain becomes less of a nag, and more of a nudge along the path. Our perception of discomfort changes, slowly but surely, until we are able to make a change in collaboration with our bodies instead of warring with ourselves in a state of fear and repression. The image of us developing a relationship to a child version of ourselves comes to mind.. where it can be amazingly insightful to communicate with yourself as you would communicate with a small child. This may in itself elicit some areas where your self-communication could be improved.
It takes practice. It takes dedication. However, the benefits far outweigh the cost, in my opinion. We will not gain the ability to truly feel content in our bodies until we have the ability to feel (and stick with) discomfort in our bodies. You cannot look in the mirror and feel love for yourself until you’ve also loved the painful, uncomfortable, unexpected, and often dark parts. You will struggle to adhere to the necessary exercises, lifestyle changes, and inner shifts that await until you turn inwards to listen and respond. Its all our nothing when it comes to our health; especially since our human existence is one that is ever changing. Moment to moment we will experience different things on the spectrum of wellness, and it is our job to be able to fully experience it all. Escaping ourselves is not serving anyone. We can see examples of this in how desperate our global situations are getting in terms of healthcare, and what this is indicating for our economy and society’s wellbeing as a whole.
The cure starts with you. Healing means stepping away from our search for a cure all, and stepping towards truly experiencing ourselves. The journey through healing, through pain, through all emotions is what will heal us, not something that takes the pain away.
Athletic Therapy, Chronic Pain, health, nutrition, Weight Loss, Wellness

Lessons Learned – Experience Shadowing a Rural Physician By: Logan Brennan

Part I – Life of a Rural Physician

Introduction

This past week I had the incredible opportunity to shadow Dr. Reid Hosford and Dr. Megan Cook at the Pincher Creek Hospital in Southern Alberta. Dr. Hosford is a General Practitioner Anesthesiologist (GPA) and Dr. Megan Cook is a Resident Family Physician working with Dr. Hosford. I was introduced to Dr. Hosford through a family friend who suggested I contact him to better understand the life of a rural family physician and to help me determine and understand if this is my ultimate career goal in life. After observing two clinical shifts, one surgery, one colonoscopy and an overnight emergency room shift, I have a significantly greater understanding of the life of a rural physician and a greater appreciation for the entire health care system. As a practicing Athletic Therapist and Community Outreach Coordinator for Integrative Movement I walked away with many Lessons Learned which I hope to share with our followers as well as apply to my current practice and future endeavours. 

Demands and Life of a Rural GPA

There is no doubt physicians have a career which demands an exceptional quantity of time and commitment. As most of you know, physicians generally work long hours, are on call both weekends and nights, have massive patient loads and function in multiple roles and capacities depending on the needs of the organization and community (clinical, emergency, in patients etc).

Dr. Hosford demonstrates the importance of achieving a healthy work life harmony. I chose the term work life harmony because I believe Jeff Bezos explained it best. “Having a work life balance is a debilitating phrase which implies a strict trade off.” The term work life balance creates competing interest rather than emphasizing the interrelatedness of your occupation and life. In order to achieve work life harmony you must recognize this as a continuum rather than a balancing act. Dr. Hosford demonstrates these skills well by maintaining an active lifestyle and prioritizing his young family amidst just recently beginning his career as a practicing physician.

Teamwork and Breadth of Knowledge

Rural physicians epitomize being a career generalist. The demands and problems which a rural physician faces are diverse to say the least. From ingrown toe nails and strep throat, to drug overdoses and surgeries, rural physicians truly have an incredible breadth of knowledge and skills. Because of this variability in practice, the entire healthcare team must work seamlessly and expect exceptional teamwork from all members.

During shadowing, I was continually impressed with the level of communication, respect and accountability which every member of the team demonstrated. From administrators, surgeons, nurses, students, homecare workers and physiotherapists, every member demonstrated professionalism and was appreciative and understanding of each member’s role to achieve the collective team goal. My take away from this experience is that with the right leaders and the right mindset, teams can accomplish and solve exceptionally variable and complex problems.

Responsibility

Although I have always recognized the societal responsibility of physicians, after shadowing Dr. Hosford I acquired an even greater appreciation for the responsibility they bear. Rural physicians are not only Doctors. They are life savers, community leaders, policy makers, counsellors and above all genuine and caring human beings. From delivering babies and completing one-year old check-ups, to treating patients with terminal cancer and writing death certificates, rural physicals interact with the community at every level. These individuals bear massive responsibility for the health, welfare and future of the communities in which they practice and call home.

Part II – Applications to Athletic Therapy and Professional Take Away.

Critical Need to Proactively Address Diabetes and Hypertension

One of the greatest lessons learned from my experience is that our society and specifically our profession as Athletic Therapists needs to address the critical need to proactively prevent and treat individuals at risk for Prediabetes, Type II Diabetes and Hypertension.

Over the course of my shadowing shifts it was shocking to see how many patients required medication to control hypertension and regulate blood glucose levels. Now to clarify, I am not saying every patient can control their situation by other means (ie exercise, nutrition, meditation etc.) however I do believe many individuals, who if provided with appropriate resources and confidence, could take control of their health and overcome these conditions in the early phases through simple lifestyle adaptations.

In Manitoba alone, 50% of those with prediabetes will be diagnosed with Type II Diabetes by the end of 2019. Secondly, Hypertension is proven to be directly correlated with sedentary behavior. Rather than prescribing a patient basic blood pressure medications or diabetes medications which can become a crutch and create a mindset of hopelessness, we as Athletic Therapists can drastically change a patient’s outlook on these conditions and give them responsibility and control of their personal health.

Furthermore, these two conditions are direct risk factors for Cardiovascular Disease (CVD) and therefore Doctors are very quick to treat these conditions with medication. By treating these conditions immediately, they reduce the risk of CVD which is ultimately the greatest health concern facing Canadians. I believe prescribing medication for conditions which are directly correlated to lifestyle is a short term and largely ineffective means to providing meaningful lifelong changes. Furthermore, this is not the Doctors responsibility but rather our responsibility as Athletic Therapists to build relationships with Physicians and healthcare officials so that appropriate referrals and protocols exist to make long term and sustainable changes to our approach on healthcare.

Smoking and Alcohol

Although both of these are the subject of constant discussion, I believe I need to give my two cents on these issues and communicate why they are important for Physicians and ATs. After spending approximately 36 hours with patients in both a clinical and emergency environment, it is shocking to me how many people still choose to drink and smoke excessively. As a society we all recognize the dangers of these activities and yet as a society we also accept and even encourage them. To everyone reading this, I challenge you to have the difficult conversation of addressing smoking and alcohol use with your loved ones, co-workers and your friends. As Jordan Peterson put it, your success as an individual, family, organization, team, or society is based on the number of constructive uncomfortable conversations you are willing to have. Have that uncomfortable conversation sooner rather than later.

Reliance on Healthcare and Hospitals

As briefly touched on above, our society’s reliance on healthcare is sobering. I am not going to sugar cote this or downplay it. The extent to which our society relies on the healthcare system to save, fix and help them on a moment’s notice is alarming. Because of technology and health care advances, the system has done an exceptional job looking after people. Yet, it has done a disservice to every individual who now believes they do not have control of their own health and that they require a doctor and or medication to stay healthy. As an Athletic Therapist I truly believe we need to emphasize the importance of patients taking accountability for their health by providing them the guidance, confidence and the basic support to do so.

Future Role of Athletic Therapists

The values, principles and scope of practice of Athletic Therapy will provide the essential framework for our profession to adapt, grow and progress to become a valuable contributor in the Canadian Health Care System. The most important component of success will be adaptation. Each one of us must learn and act on improving our recognition with other healthcare providers and prove value. Without creating and demonstrating value we will continue to be overlooked and undervalued in the  health care field that can desperately use our support and expertise. There is significant opportunity for us to make a major impact in providing treatment and value to those with orthopaedic and lifestyle implicated conditions. We must strive to provide value and expect nothing short of excellence in our respective field. If we are able to do this there is no doubt in my mind that the relationship between Physicians and Athletic Therapists will not only prosper but will address and make an impact on many of the significant and current health care issues facing Canadians today.

Have a wonderful week everyone!

Let er buck,

Logan Brennan

Athletic Therapy, Biomechanics, Chronic Pain, Conditioning, Wellness

Is Running Bad For You?

Out of all the fitness rumors and fads, the statement “running isn’t good for you” is one that I actually understand. At least, I understand why it’s come up time and time again (though this rumor may have been started by someone forced to run in a PE class somewhere (me.. Circa 2007)…).

There’s a few things I will add to this as we go, but in short.. No. Running is not bad for you.

Using running as your only form of cross training has the potential to do you harm, yes.

Running without a planned out strategy (see above) will likely end in burn out and pain.

Running with uncorrected muscle imbalances will indeed lead to injury. Most runners I meet are in this situation!!

However- running at its purest form is an excellent and age old way to get cardio work in. The truth is- as with pretty much everything else- if you correct any postural imbalances you have, run appropriately for your goals, and do appropriate mobility/strength training alongside your running program.. There is no way running should cause you issue, or impact your health/performance negatively.

Injuries and pain arise in running when our biomechanics aren’t on our side. Just the same as they do in our rides, or other training. With running, the most common imbalances to see are decreased hip stability, poor foot activation (we will talk about footwear in a second), and poor breathing technique.

When our hips aren’t stable, this means that other muscles around the hips will attempt to take over pelvic stability. With this we see a tightening of the hamstrings, glutes, and hip flexors. There also tends to be an increase in knee pain (think runner’s knee). On top of this, most of us buy into the fad of either highly cushioned and supportive shoes OR jump right into minimalist/barefoot trends.

Neither are necessarily great. Shoes are designed to protect our feet- but in this day and age, they are marketed to do much more. The painful (often literally) truth behind this is that the more “supportive” and cushioned a shoe is advertised as, the more likely it is to just turn off your foot’s natural activation and cause postural issues elsewhere.

But what about my flat feet, you ask? Well.. with a little bit of effort you can correct most foot postural issues (like flat feet) yourself, for free. This doesn’t mean that you should be ditching all footwear and running barefoot, either. While running in minimalist style footwear is something I typically will suggest for some people- it is only after we’ve gone through a rigorous postural correction program to find and fix any imbalances they have, and then slowly worked them down to a minimalist level of footwear for their training (both running, and otherwise). If you choose to go cold turkey on cushioned footwear- you will likely be extremely sore, and want to never use your calves again.

When we start running, it’s important to take time to do some hip stability work (I’ve given many of these moves in previous articles.. Look for clamshells, hip circuits, balance work, side bridges!), foot reactivation (think toe curls with a towel, spreading the toes out as wide as you can (harder than you think!), and utilizing products like toe spreaders in your down time.

As humans – it’s important for us to maintain cardio, and running offers us a great way to build in that training. It is of course not the only option for cardio, and needs to be done with intelligent preparation. If you have doubts as to you running technique, many gyms/therapy clinics offer gait analysis to runners to help them spot and correct major postural dysfunction. 

If you’re new to running, start with low distance/intensity and build up to tolerance. Unless your goals include marathons, running a few days a week is all most of us need in our training program.  

Want to know if your running form is up to snuff? Book a consult with one of our certified Athletic Therapists or Kinesiologists this winter, and we can help you figure it all out.

Athletic Therapy, Chronic Pain, Wellness

Have you been cursed with sciatica?

The last few months I’ve seen what seems like a plague of clients coming in saying they’ve been diagnosed with sciatica. They way they tell me about their diagnosis it sounds like they’ve been diagnosed with a terminal condition never to be reversed. This is far from the reality when it comes to sciatica.

 

While sciatica is a common complaint, it is often overdiagnosed. Unfortunately it seems to now be a catch all for physicians to diagnose Sciatica when there is any complaint of pain in the hip and leg, without giving any true solutions outside of pain masking.

 

Sciatica symptoms include shooting pain or numbness/tingling down the leg stemming from deep in the hip. It is often combined with low back pain. The sciatic nerve runs deep in our hip, and sciatica symptoms often begin when muscles in the same area tighten, or the area become compressed due to poor movement patterns and muscle deactivation (this is why symptoms often begin during long periods of sitting or standing, and are common in manual labourers and desk workers alike).

 

The root cause behind sciatica is quite simple (in my mind, anyway). It is usually a manifestation of less noticeable messages from our body adding up over years- finally reaching a point where the body is sending us a message we can not ignore.

 

More importantly, with some consistency and effort, sciatica should not be a long term problem for people. When a client sees me for sciatica, our first step is to calm the nervous system down in the area. This is done through a combination of soft tissue work (massage/tissue release) and movement prescription. Many people with sciatica often present with pelvic misalignments. Soft tissue work can help to correct the baseline alignment passively- but if we are going to make this correction long lasting we need to layer some activation tactics on top of that. This is where patient participation comes in!

 

My favourite movements to prescribe for sciatica are similar to those I would give for low back pain. Here are three of my top ones for the beginning stages of treating sciatica.

 

  1. Bridges- laying on the floor, placing both feet below the knees and inline with the hips. Activate through the butt muscles to press the hips up towards the ceiling, forming a diagonal line through your body. Make sure the entire foot is pressing into the ground, and both hips are active so that the back is not arching in this movement. Hold at the top for 5-10seconds, slowly lower down, and repeat for three sets of ten.
  2. Figure 4 Stretch: Laying on the floor, your bed, or seated, cross one ankle over the opposite thigh. Grip behind the non-crossed leg (if laying) and pull the thigh towards your chest for a stretch in the hip of the crossed leg. If seated, gently press down on the crossed leg for a stretch through the hip. Hold for 20 deep breaths, repeat on each side for 4-5 rounds/day.
  3. Clamshells- Laying on your side with knees bent to approx. 90deg, hips and ankles stacked- clamshell the knee open lifting from the hip. Do not let your hips fall backwards, they should remain stacked and level throughout the movement. Hold the clam at the top range of motion (wherever you can raise to without your hip sliding back!) for 10seconds, slowly return back to the start position.Repeat 3 sets of 10-15 routinely in your day. The more you activate the muscles properly, the more the brain makes it automatic.

If sciatica symptoms are something you’re currently stuck with, remember that anything that prevents you from living pain free is not a normal part of life. Checking in with your movement based professional to find out what’s causing the root of the problem can be a valuable asset to regaining pain free function!

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Athletic Therapy, Biomechanics, Chronic Pain, Free Workouts, Posture, Wellness

Knee pain: It’s not complicated (usually)

After seeing an older woman in the clinic the other day a few weeks into her post-knee replacement rehabilitation- her daughter approached me stating she knew she was headed in the same direction as here mom (aka, was already having knee and hip pain in her life) and wanted to know if there was anything she could do to prevent the process.. or if it was just inherent that she too would eventually have to replace a joint or two.

If there is one thing I want to get across to people it’s that nothing to do with our health is guaranteed.

What I mean by that is.. just because you have a family history of something does not mean it can’t be prevented or course corrected. ESPECIALLY when it comes to our movement health!

When it comes to the knees.. generally the actual problem is coming from the hips and/or feet. I refer to the knee as a bridge joint. It is designed to improve efficiency of transit, absorb and transfer force. If the lines of force get messed with (aka you lack stability in the joints above and below), then the efficiency of that joint and it’s movement go right out the window. Stress builds up and that leads to warning signs (pain), inflammation, stiffening, and of course eventually degeneration of the structures within the joint. This can present via tendonopathies, osteoarthritis, runner’s knee/jumper’s knee (both tendonopathies), patellofemoral syndrome or patellar chondromalacia, and even increase your risk of ACL/MCL and meniscal injuries.

Barring external trauma (but yes postural dysfunction can even contribute to the risk of this), pain and issues in the knee generally are coming from above or below.

This is why I always recommend those passionate about running or other repetitive movement based activities get their gait screened by a professional. Catching dysfunction early and prescribing appropriate corrective movements is key in preventing problems down the chain.

Here are 4 “simple” exercises I prescribe routinely to clients experiencing knee/hip/back pain or rehabbing a joint replacement.

1. Clamshells.

You’ve probably seen these before. Designed to activate the lateral stabilizers in the hip, you should feel the burn on the top side of your hip as that is where the activation should come from. Laying on your side with knees bent to approx. 90deg, hips and ankles stacked- clamshell the knee open lifting from the hip. Do not let your hips fall backwards, they should remain stacked and level throughout the movement. Hold the clam at the top range of motion (wherever you can raise to without your hip sliding back!) for 10seconds, slowly return back to the start position.

Repeat 3 sets of 10-15 routinely in your day. The more you activate the muscles properly, the more the brain makes it automatic.

2. Gait Activation

Laying on your stomach, tuck your chin to lift your head (nose should remain pointed down to the ground!), and squeeze your butt cheeks together. Holding and maintaining this position, press opposite arm and leg to the ground while lifting the other opposite limbs off the floor. Hold for 4seconds, switch and repeat process.

This activates Deep postural muscles and connects the brain to a proper gait transfer pattern. It also cues butt activation and neck stabilizers.

Repeat 3-5round of 20 a day.

3. Single Leg Bridging

If you struggle with regular bridging, this is a advanced progression- so work towards it with holds before movements. Glute activation is key here!

Finding your bridge, lift one leg off the ground maintaining your glute activation. Lower the pelvis down half way and then push back up to full bridge on the one leg. Your hips should be the pivot point, not your low back! Core should remain strong, and glutes should be the main push to full hip extension. Drive up through the supporting heel to help engage the back half of the body/butt.

Repeat 6-10/leg for 3 – 5 rounds.

4. Side Bridges

Classic hip hinging activation exercise. All these movements also double as releases for the front of the hip (tight hip flexors anyone??).

On your side, supported by your elbow, shoulder, and core activation, pivoting from the knees- use glutes to actively push hips up and forward through a hinge motion. Hold at the top for 5-10seconds, then sit back and down through the hip hinge.

Common mistakes here: slouching into the shoulder (push UP through the ground/elbow and squeeze shoulder blades together), lack of core activation/bracing allowing for the spine to hinge instead of the hips (think of a squat motion at the hips!), lifting up THEN forwards.. try and make this simultaneous, as if your hips are moving up and down a ramp.

Repeat 6-12x for rounds of 3-5. Great used as a warm-up to other activities.

You would also do well to add in some foot exercises! @thefootcollective on instagram is one of my fav resources- but you can also refer to our existing post about old person feet here!

Struggling to figure these out? We offer complimentary movement assessments and consults to new clients. Prevention and rehab programs for all sorts of clients are available. Have questions? Leave a comment or find us directly at katmahtraining@gmail.com. We’re always happy to help you get your movement right!

Have fun kids!

Athletic Therapy, Biomechanics, Chronic Pain, Conditioning, Equestrian, Free Workouts, Motor Learning, strength training, Weight Loss, Wellness

At your age…

Here’s a fun tidbit I hear OFTEN second hand from clients after their friends/family/peers find out what their training and therapy plans consist of…

“At your age, should you really be lifting weights?”

“Isn’t weight training dangerous for your joints? Does that really help you feel better?”

“Aren’t you worried about getting injured again?”

“I heard that weight training is bad for you- doesn’t it cause arthritis”

First off.. I’m honestly not sure where people are finding that last bit of information from, at this point in our history. Secondly I’m also endlessly grateful that I’ve stopped frequently hearing that weight training will make women bulky- at last that myth has been put out of it’s misery. Third off- weight training is highly effective for arthritis rehabilitation and management- WHEN IT IS DONE CORRECTLY. The only time it’s going to cause arthritis is if you don’t do it in good form. This is why having the guidance of a trained professional is imperative when starting any new program. At the very least get a movement assessment and see where you need to work!

Would I tell someone of ANY age to just go and start lifting weights (no matter how much)? NOPE.

Do I prescribe and coach programs for ALL ages (yes, all the way up to 90-somethings- seriously) that involve various amounts of loaded movements, functional movements, dynamic movements, and stability training? You bet I do!

Here’s the neat things about the body.. it works on an adaptation based system. Which means- invariably- to IMPROVE our systems we have to STRESS our systems.

Here’s the feedback I get from my dedicated clients:

“I don’t wake up at 3am anymore with back pain”

“I sleep through the night and don’t wake up stiff in the mornings anymore”

“I don’t get tired during the day”

“My joints aren’t bugging me as much since I started training”

“I’m making healthier choices elsewhere in my life since starting this training routine.”

“I FEEL GOOD”

When we apply GOOD, healthy stress to our system- things change for the better. We also develop a higher tolerance for negative stressors, which means we function just overall more kick ass.

It no longer new information that the mind and the body are one coordinating unit.

Exercise, movement- of any kind- is the BEST and most EFFECTIVE medicine. The stats support it. Check these out.

According to the Conference Board of Canada, if we were to decrease the number of inactive Canadians by even 10%, we’d see a 30% reduction in all-cause mortality and major savings in health care. It is in fact estimated that more than $2.4 billion, or 3.7 per cent of all healthcare costs, were attributed to the direct cost of treating illness and disease due to physical inactivity1. The financial impact of poor health amounts to a loss of more than $4.3 billion to the Canadian economy, and the negative repercussions of inactivity cost the healthcare system $89 billion per year in Canada2. According to several studies, properly structured and supported exercise program, designed and delivered by a kinesiologist can, among other benefits:

  • Reduce the risk of high blood pressure and heart disease by 40%;
  • Reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 50% and be twice as effective as standard insulin in treating the condition;
  • Help the function of muscles for people affected by Parkinson’s disease and Multiple Sclerosis;
  • Decrease depression as effectively as pharmacological or behavioural therapy;5
  • Reduce the risk of stroke by 27%;
  • Reduce the risk of colon cancer by 60%;
  • Reduce mortality and risk of recurrent cancer by 50%;

(Based on year 2009. Jansen et al., 2012 2 Based on year 2013. 3 Cardiorespiratory fitness is an independent predictor of hypertension incidence among initially normotensive healthy women.
Barlow CE et al. Am J Epidemiol 2006; 163:142-50. 4 Reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention or metformin. DPP Research Group. New England Journal of Medicine 2002; 346:393-403. 5 Exercise treatment for depression: efficacy and dose response.
Dunn A et al. American Journal of Preventive Medicine 2005. 6 Physical activity and colon cancer: confounding or interaction? Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:
June 2002 – Volume 34 – Issue 6 – pp 913-919)

Weight training- when done intelligently for each individual- is just as effective as other types of exercise in improving health. It has it’s own set of extra benefits and of course risk factors. Just like that Tylenol you like to pop for your back pain.

There is no one way to utilize the benefits of movement. Some people to pick things up and put them down.. others like to yoga.. some like to do step classes, and others just like to go for regular walks and stretch. IT’S ALL GOOD.

The biggest emphasis I am trying to make is that adding weight to your routine when you’re doing it correctly for YOUR SYSTEM (this is where the help of a trained professional often comes in), you’re looking at more resilience throughout your body and mind.

Don’t knock it til you try it 😉

(With the correct prescription and educated advice, of course!)

Athletic Therapy, Biomechanics, Chronic Pain, Conditioning, Equestrian, Motor Learning, Posture, Weight Loss, Wellness

If it ain’t broke.. The right way to move

Is there a correct way to move?

This is a question that has plagued therapists, trainers, and clients since the age of time.

Actually.. probably not that long.

The evolution of health and movement is one to be admired- in that, we’ve gone from quadruped beings, to walking, running, bipedal masterpieces, to what we are now.

We’re at an interesting point in movement science. We’ve somewhat regressed in our movement ability. While yes, we are still bipedal, upright beings- we no longer spend much of our time moving around in a variety of ways.

Now we move from point a-b-c-d in condensed timeframes, spending majority of our time between 3 positions (or variations of..): standing, seated, and laying down.

The author of Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari, points out that the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions not only may have ended our movement ability, but also may have birthed the beginnings of the various chronic illnesses and pain that affects us today.

Modern Day practitioners have been preaching alignment for decades already, and certainly our posture and ability to move has a huge impact on our overall wellbeing.. but is there such a thing as the “perfect” posture or alignment? Is there one optimal way to move?

The truth is yes, but also.. no.

There is certainly a most efficient way to move- in that, we will put minimal stressors on our structure and expend the least amount of energy to create that movement. There is a general textbook answer to this optimal alignment.

As an aside- it’s common to hear practitioners saying that one of your legs is longer then the other, or your pelvis is out of alignment.. when often the truth is some asymmetries are NORMAL to a certain degree.

We all have one shoulder that will be slightly depressed based on our hand dominance. We all have slight differences in how our rib cage sits, because of our anatomy (the left side has less lung in it to account for the heart- causing a shift between left and right), and where the rib cage goes the hips follow. Our body works in a chain like system- one link compensates for the next.. and while many compensations cause other problems, not all asymmetries are bad or abnormal. This will also change based on the mental health and perception an individual holds on pain, stress, and their systemic health. The debates on these fuel many research articles and books already. Stay tuned for more discussion on those topics and how movement relates to them.

When it really comes down to it, our movement is as unique as we are- and what is the best way to move for one person may not always mirror the best way to move for another person. We’re designed to be adaptable beings, and our postures should be just as adaptable.

Wait.. haven’t you been preaching posture and biomechanics your whole career?

Yes.. and while there may be differences across our spectrum of movement- majority of us inherit similar postural dysfunctions.. it’s very rare to find someone who moves well, even though there is no set checklist for what exactly moving well means.

Moving poorly in relation to your body can create a vicious cycle of degeneration, causing pain, causing less movement, causing more negative health outcomes. You can get enough movement, but if you don’t move well- you can actually do harm to your body which results in less movement.

For that reason *usually the first step with clients is to assess and correct how they move. From there we build a foundation of efficient movement, and build their movement habits on top of that foundation.

While I can’t say there is one right way to move, I can say that it is very rare to find someone with obviously inefficient movement without some sort of history of pain. The thing about pain is that it may not even present as physical pain.. it may be present in the form of gastrointestinal issues, or undue mental states. Our structure represents our internal framework too- and that can be a chicken or the egg scenario.

Many movement based practitioners will offer within their consult with you a movement screen. If you’re looking for an assist with your health, this is one of the things you should look to your professional to do. Cookie-cutter exercise programs, apps, and group fitness classes are convenient and cost effective- but the grain of salt there is if you get injured or develop pain because you’re movement wasn’t properly screened before starting a program- they cost you more in the long term.

We routinely see clients at their wits end come into our care. They’ve tried everything and nothing works- they are even hesitant to try anything else. They can’t move enough because of pain, or- they’ve never been taught healthy habits around their lifestyle (including movement and nutritional practices). This is what plagues our healthcare system today, and the message I keep putting out there to clients and peers is that none of this is a difficult fix- it just requires a shift from expecting a quick, cheap fix, to some quality time spent investing in our own health and getting educated guidance.

If you have questions about your movement today- send us an email and we’d be happy to help. Consults are always free.

Athletic Therapy, Chronic Pain, Wellness

5 Reasons Why Integrative Movement is Different

1. Accessibility

We pride ourselves in providing a simple, affordable solution to health and lifestyle services. We also offer services out of four satellite locations covering South Winnipeg, the Pembina Valley, Charleswood, and Selkirk region. All our locations are partnerships with other likeminded health facilities. From full functioning gyms to yoga studios – we do the groundwork to develop a health focused community feel wherever we go. We also offer online services and training for those at a distance or on a budget! 

2. Investment

How many of us have bought into a health program, rehab, or gym membership only to under utilize it and later feel like we’ve just wasted the money? Our job is to support you in whatever your health goals require. Whether it’s developing healthy habits in the gym or at home, recovering from an injury, or pushing yourself to a new level of health and fitness, we work hard to provide highly skilled and knowledgable support. As a bonus, new members at our Selkirk and Charleswood locations automatically get 6 weeks of coaching alongside their memberships. No longer will you be stuck not knowing what to do with your gym membership! Your health is an investment, and we believe that navigating those investments is best with accessible, individualized support.

3. Individuality

It’s all about YOU- At IM we are different then your average rehabilitation facility or personal training sales pitch. We take the time to figure out what makes you tick. From consult to regular sessions, you can expect to spend 45min-1hr with us in either dedicated one on one therapy, consult, or training sessions or in a small group of likeminded individuals working at a common goal. Keeping things personal allows us to make sure you’re getting all the resources YOU need to reach your full health potential.

4. Diverse Experience

We are a team of Kinesiologists and Athletic Therapists with years of education and a growing experience base. Each of us enters our practice with our own personalities, history, and interests. For that reason, we pride ourselves in working as a team to meet our clients where they are at- and when appropriate work as a team with other professionals you deem valuable to your healthcare team.

5. We get it.

Life happens. Injuries are tough. Pain messes with our heads. Taking the steps towards lifestyle change seems impossible some days. We have been there, and we understand. Even on the days where you think it’s never going to change, the pain will never leave, or you’ll never get your old energy back.. we’ve got you. We won’t give up even when you don’t know where you stand. As the therapists and coaches we are, we hold out hope even when all hope seems lost. We’re all in the same boat, us humans, and we approach your care on your side every single day.

Want to learn more about how we can fit seamlessly into your journey towards optimal movement and health? Book your FREE consult here or drop by any of our locations to learn more. Looking forward to meeting you!

Athletic Therapy, Chronic Pain, Wellness

5 Reasons Why Integrative Movement is Different

1. Accessibility

We pride ourselves in providing a simple, affordable solution to health and lifestyle services. We also offer services out of four satellite locations covering South Winnipeg, the Pembina Valley, Charleswood, and Selkirk region. All our locations are partnerships with other likeminded health facilities. From full functioning gyms to yoga studios – we do the groundwork to develop a health focused community feel wherever we go.

2. Investment

How many of us have bought into a health program, rehab, or gym membership only to under utilize it and later feel like we’ve just wasted the money? Our job is to support you in whatever your health goals require. Whether it’s developing healthy habits in the gym or at home, recovering from an injury, or pushing yourself to a new level of health and fitness, we work hard to provide highly skilled and knowledgable support. As a bonus, new members at our Selkirk and Charleswood locations automatically get 6 weeks of coaching alongside their memberships. No longer will you be stuck not knowing what to do with your gym membership! Your health is an investment, and we believe that navigating those investments is best with accessible, individualized support.

3. Individuality

It’s all about YOU- At IM we are different then your average rehabilitation facility or personal training sales pitch. We take the time to figure out what makes you tick. From consult to regular sessions, you can expect to spend 45min-1hr with us in either dedicated one on one therapy, consult, or training sessions or in a small group of likeminded individuals working at a common goal. Keeping things personal allows us to make sure you’re getting all the resources YOU need to reach your full health potential.

4. Diverse Experience

We are a team of Kinesiologists and Athletic Therapists with years of education and a growing experience base. Each of us enters our practice with our own personalities, history, and interests. For that reason, we pride ourselves in working as a team to meet our clients where they are at- and when appropriate work as a team with other professionals you deem valuable to your healthcare team.

5. We get it.

Life happens. Injuries are tough. Pain messes with our heads. Taking the steps towards lifestyle change seems impossible some days. We have been there, and we understand. Even on the days where you think it’s never going to change, the pain will never leave, or you’ll never get your old energy back.. we’ve got you. We won’t give up even when you don’t know where you stand. As the therapists and coaches we are, we hold out hope even when all hope seems lost. We’re all in the same boat, us humans, and we approach your care on your side every single day.

Want to learn more about how we can fit seamlessly into your journey towards optimal movement and health? Book your FREE consult here or drop by any of our locations to learn more. Looking forward to meeting you!

Athletic Therapy, Chronic Pain, Conditioning, nutrition, Weight Loss, Wellness

Baby Steps

Health shifts are HARD.

I often warn clients that it’s going to seem like the tiniest baby steps forward, and progress won’t always be blatantly obvious.. until it is.

I’ve had the perfect example of one of those “until it is” situations the last little bit. A long time training client decided to join me in using ProCoach, a new nutrition and habit coaching software that allows me to get at some of the whys of why progress requires daily change.

This client works hard in every workout, and admittedly needed to make some other health shifts to really get the progress in their health they were looking for.

We’d already used the power of exercise to help them lose some weight, and decrease the medications they were on due to a chronic health condition. They were now ready to add in some dedicated nutrition and lifestyle change.

It’s be 10weeks on this new program. This program requires them to think daily and reflect on their habits, choices, and diet. They started asking questions about what they were eating and how their choices every day could be affecting their progress and health. They got daily workouts and maintained their 2x/week sessions in the gym with their trainer.

They started the new program hesitant, but determined. Knowing they wanted to make change. They committed to doing the work- and that, my friends, is the hardest part of change.

Small baby steps, every day, every week. In their first 2 weeks they dropped 5lbs.

By 6 weeks they had dropped inches off their body composition and another 5lbs.

Now at 10weeks? They’ve dropped even more inches and are down a total of 16lbs. They’re feeling and looking different… better different.

This is a year long course/program for the client… I can’t wait to see what happens in the next 10 weeks!

All these growing improvements and positive changes for a workout and 5min a day of reflection, and small habitual diet and lifestyle change.

Seems like nothing- but it takes huge mental effort to make that commitment.

Daily effort. It’s not as easy as a miracle pill to manage symptoms. Even if that pill has negative side effects.

The rewards though of that daily effort to shift? Much, much greater- and- the only side effect is improved health and happiness!

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