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


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.


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!

13053 <—- click here for exercises!



Chronic Pain, Posture, Wellness

Headache Hacks

With spring in full swing I’m hearing and seeing a lot of you complain about headaches. Just like everything else regarding pain and dysfunction in our society- headaches are something that we’ve come to normalize.

Not only do I hear routine complaints about headaches and migraines- I’ve also had people get defensive as if it’s a negative thing that I”m telling them headaches are often very relievable.

I get it. Whenever someone who has been in pain for years, especially suffering from something like a migraine, is told that that suffering isn’t necessary- it seems like their pain is being minimized. Humans don’t love when they feel that way.

However- I’m going to say this again and again… pain of any kind, even something as normalized as a headache, IS NOT NORMAL nor is there any need for it to be a routine part of your life!

Here are some of the “hacks” I hand out for clients dealing with headaches.


Our lymphatic system holds about 15L of fluid (YEP), and our circulatory system is another 6L of fluid.. our entire body relies on so much water to stay functioning and healthy.

Most people who walk in our doors at Integrative Movement are drinking under 4 glasses of water a day. That fact along makes many of their complaints make sense. Muscle pain, joint pain, chronic pain, headaches, energy troubles…. if we aren’t lubricating our body how can we blame it for complaining?

A optimally functioning adult should be drinking 2-3L of water/day at a minimum. If you have pain, headaches, or other stuff going on… check in with your hydration.


Yes, that thing I talk about so much… that we all do. Another basic life process that is highly underrated when it comes to how we function.

Let’s pause on the word “function” for a hot minute. Unfortunately, these days, “normal function” is another term for “not very functional”. Everyday people are constantly in some sort of discomfort or dysfunction when it comes to their health (which includes mind, body, and emotions).

I’ve written and spoke about breathing a lot. The nitty gritty is that if we are breathing in correctly (aka using large postural muscles in our upper body) we will see an increase in tension around the neck and fascial changes in the body perpetuating tension. Tension around the neck leads to trigger points being activated and headaches all over the place. Think “tension” headaches at the base of the skull, forehead, and behind the eyes. Often migraine symptoms are caused by this as well- auras, trouble focusing, nausea, pain in standing or moving positions, dizziness.

Migraines can be classified in a few ways, one of them being ischemic (code for restricted circulation).. meaning something is causing a decrease in circulation to the brain or soft tissue around the skull. One of these causes can and often is connective and soft tissue tension in the upper body closing in on arteries and lymphatic vessels in the area.

Working on breathing mechanism and the “simple” act of taking some time to lay on your back or stomach with your head resting in your palms and doing some deep diaphragmatic breathing can make a GINORMOUS difference in symptoms of headaches and migraines.

Check this post and podcast out on the hows of breathing…–2018-e19orh/a-a2ve4i


I mean, this isn’t news.. right?

None of us move enough and even those who do move enough don’t get enough variety in their movements.

Repetitive movements will just perpetuate the issues listed above. You get 10,000 steps in? Awesome… but how much did you bend over, twist, roll around, squat, wiggle your toes, etc?

Movement helps circulate lymphatic fluid which is a huge factor in inflammation and pain (if it isn’t moved around). Movement also increases circulation to those tense muscles and helps to relieve undue tension.

This post by Dr. Perry Nicholson sums it up some excellent ideas for adding variety in.

Pain in movement?! Pain will stop you from moving.. and that is not okay. Find a professional who knows how to get you moving painfree again…

Nutrition (also kinda duh?)

Nobody knows what is going on with healthy eating anymore. Why? Because everywhere you turn there is a new diet fad. Run away from anything telling you its the new best way to get healthy. Whether it does have benefits or not isn’t the issue… the issue is that health shouldn’t need anything more then common sense to figure out.

We are designed to eat a variable diet of whole foods. Does that mean there isn’t a place for certain styles of eating? Nope.. actually certain ways of eating can be very beneficial to help alleviate symptoms of many complaints. Including headaches and body pain.. as both these can connect back into general inflammation somewhere in the system. That’s where finding the help of someone who understands health as a whole and using food as medicine can be hugely beneficial.

I recommend looking into different options of Registered Dieticians, Holistic Nutritionists, or Functional Medicine practitioners and do your own research. Try things. Experiment with the types of foods you eat, and don’t be afraid of experimenting. As questions of yourself and others. We are ever-changing creatures and no diet should be a forever solution.

Take homes?

Headaches OFTEN come from neck tension, postural dysfunction, lack of hydration, and sometimes inflammatory conditions in other ares of the body causing a chain effect.

Don’t get stuck in a negative pain loop around your pain/headaches. Never stop looking for a solution. Do stop sourcing quick fixes. Believe that there are ways to break the pain cycle- there always is!

Chronic Pain, Wellness

FYI: Myofascial Cupping 101

Myofascial cupping is a therapeutic technique derived from ancient chinese therapeutics used thousands of years ago.

It also resembles someone post octopus attack, and has been spotted (no pun intended) on many high level athletes. Similarly to how Kinesiotape (we’ll discuss this next time!) became mainstream after it was seen on a few olympic athletes, cupping has become increasingly popular in the therapeutics realm.

How does it work?

Cupping works in a “negative pressure” style. When we think of most therapeutic treatments or modalities, the goal is generally to increase (or decrease) circulation, change tissue temperature, use friction, pressure, or tissue movement to do the first two things, realign soft tissues, and change the nervous system’s perception of an area. One of the most common modalities, massage, works in a positive pressure style. That being, the practitioner is applying pressure to the area to increase circulation, temperature, create soft tissue change and affect the brain’s perception of the area.

In cupping, cups are applied with suction to draw the layers of tissue apart, allowing circulation to rise from the bottom up through the different layers of tissues (think muscle, lymphatic vessels, facial tissue and connective tissues). The suction helps to create heat, and is a modality that has been shown to be effective in releasing fascial and tissue tightness, scar tissue, and increasing lymphatic drainage.

As a practitioner, I find that myofasical cupping will get deeper than my hands can when it comes to releasing certain types of tissue trauma and tightness. I use cupping to assist in the treatment of arthritis, all sorts of soft tissue injuries, back pain, and chronic injuries (that broken rib you had years ago that still bugs you, or that ankle that just doesn’t move right, or the knee that you tore a ligament in years ago and still have issues with). I also have body builder clients who love cupping as it relaxes the fascial binding around muscle groups, which allow their muscles to “pop” more. Of course, like all modalities, it comes with some risk. Those with vericose veins should avoid cupping directly over the area, and it should be used with caution (and by an experienced professional) with individuals dealing with an acute stage injury, spinal injuries, and those with hypermobility disorders.

In the clinic I find it extremely beneficial with clients working with arthritic joints. Knees and shoulders specifically seem to respond very well to the addition of myofascial cupping to their rehab plan, and many with back pain often find it helps to calm down the acute levels of pain. Myofascial Cupping can also be used to stimulate acupressure points for a more holistic style of treatment, if the practitioners is trained in the meridians of the body. I have seen it used to treat digestion troubles, menstrual cramping/pain (which is not normal!!!), stress and anxiety, and insomnia. More often then not, the structural release will also help with some of these conditions- as the body is all one big dynamic system. It is important to take a big picture approach when treating any condition, physical or otherwise.

As with any modality- it is a tool to be used in the process of returning someone to being able to move without pain- and a stepping stone on the pain to rehabilitative and preventative movement and lifestyle practices. It should not be used as a bandaid or a quick fix for pain/dysfunction.

Clients are often put off by the circular bruise like marks cupping leaves, but majority of the time those marks are not painful nor are they technically bruises. Rather they are titled “ecchymosis”, which is basically the technical term for a hickey. Another common misconception is that cupping breaks blood vessels. Cupping does not break blood vessels, in most cases, the marks are left because the circulation is drawn to the surface underneath the circular cup. Rarely are vessels actually damaged or broken. If we look at the ancient chinese style of cupping, some pracitioners still provide “wet cupping” which involves blood letting, as well as hot cupping or fire cupping- in which the practitioner creates suction by heating hte cup with a flame before it is applied. Majority of soft tissue practitioners will use a suction gun to suck the air out of the cup, and wet cupping and fire cupping aren’t as common.

Cupping is an effective modality for a variety of conditions, and from someone in the industry I can tell you that it is worth the hickeys. As always, cupping isn’t a one stop fix. All treatments or modalities should be accompanied by a preventative exercise and wellness program. Before attempting cupping, check in with the practitioner about the risks and where they took their certification.

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 We’re always happy to help you get your movement right!

Have fun kids!

Free Workouts, health, nutrition, Self-Development, Weight Loss, Wellness

5 Simple Health Hacks for 2018

Resolutions are overrated. Building habits and setting smart goals are what its really all about.

Sorry if I’m killing your #newyearnewme vibes. The truth is that resolutions made this time of year are generally not accomplished by 80% of us lowly humans.

The problem with habits is that they take time and effort, and that is something us humans don’t naturally drift to. Setting a fiery resolution as of Jan 1, 2018 does not come close to guarantee that you wont’ be saying the same thing next year at this time. Health is an ongoing series of habits and decisions you make EVERY SINGLE DAY. And every day is a new adventure, so the decisions will change DAILY. The best solution is forming a solid line up of habits to help you along the decision making trail.

One of the biggest barriers clients tell me about is not having enough time to include new healthy habits into their life, or being too busy to commit to a coaching schedule, complete daily tasks to support their long term health, or to take time for themselves. A lot of this involves choosing to remove the inconvenience of health from our lives (and ironically thereby making health more convenient– making it the obvious choice).

We’ll talk more about sustainable habit practices soon. In this post I am going to outline 5 SIMPLE things you can add to your day to day routine that don’t require more then 5min.

1. Get Down (on the ground)

The simple act of spending time on the ground, and getting back up again is an amazingly simple way to get the whole body moving. Most of us spend the majority of our days in a seated position. It’s well known by now that our conventional chair based positions are absolute crap for our bodies. Evolutionarily we were designed to spend majority of our time in transit (walking, crouching, etc), or in ground based positions (deep squats, kneeling positions, cross legged or other variations of sitting on the ground.).

We have seen a slow creep of convenient ways to bring different positions back into our lives- from ball chairs to standing desks, however, the majority of us still plunk down and stay for way too long.

So here’s the deal. Take a minute, get off your duff, and get on the ground. Sit however is comfortable, kneel, or even lay down and do some rolling around. Then… get up!

That’s it.

Do that 20-50times a day for the best results. Start with what you can handle, and build from there.

If you have joint pain or other health conditions preventing you from doing this simple movement, you need to get yourself to a practitioner who knows what’s up and deal with that. Or, comment/email us with questions and we can send you some personalized advice.

Consults are always free at IM, and having someone chat with you about where you’re at and how to get you where you want to go is never a poor investment.

One of the best tests of longevity is this simple (and yes, it should be SIMPLE), act of moving your body weight from the ground level to a up right position unassisted. No matter what your age or ability, I am confident you can get there with the right tools- and that you’ll feel much healthier for this addition to your day.

2. Hydrate

Okay, seriously, let’s talk about this.

Majority of people are not drinking nearly enough water. Especially those of us who live in the sub zero temperatures on this planet.

I can tell the minute I look at someone, and work on their tissues, what their hydration is like.

Why is hydrating so important? Well why is gas and oil necessary for your car?

Water does many things for our body. Our brain function relies on proper hydration and will use majority of what we get into ourselves immediately just for baseline functioning. All our tissues all the way down to a cell level require water to be healthy. If our cells aren’t healthy, our tissues don’t function at their full levels, and we pay the toll. Joint stiffness, muscle soreness, fatigue, headaches, bloating, water retention, arthritis, sleep issues, low mood quality, you name it I can probably relate it back to your poor hydration habits.

For those of you with existing health conditions or looking to lose weight. This should be of extra importance for you!

How much do you need to drink? You should have a water bottle with you throughout your day, and be taking sips routinely. Generally, I would say 2-3L/day for a healthy adult is adequate. Bet thats a lot more then you’re currently drinking!

For those of you raising protest about more frequent trips to the bathroom, your kidneys thank you in advance. This won’t be a long term inconvenience, but like anything allow for an adjustment period. Try adding herb or fruit (lemon is popular!) infusions! Tea counts as intake as well, but coffee and other sugary drinks not so much.

Want to make this easy? Get yourself a water bottle you’ll love to carry around with you, and keep it full! Just the simple act of having it near you through your day will remind you to take sips from it.

3. The 80% Rule

Coming off of the holiday season and rolling into our new diet plans is always easy when we start… but forming the right habits now will make that February crash and burn easier to prevent.

When it comes to nutrition, there are a lot of things I could throw at you in terms of the latest trends in dieting and why they are probably bulls*** and why you should stick to whole foods and a variable diet full of the things we all know that are good for us… but instead I’m going to leave you with the simplest guideline.

Eat SLOWLY and MINDFULLY, and stop putting things in your mouth when you feel 80% full.

Get the DISTRACTIONS (aka, your phone) away from your eating area, and enjoy what you’re eating. Finding 80% full for most of us is pretty difficult at first, but having minimal distractions and eating slower will help the process. 80% full to me feels.. satisfied. Not hungry, not stuffed. Not empty, but not bloated or brimming. Pay attention to what your literal gut is telling you, and then LISTEN TO IT.

Doing this now while you’re high on resolution plans will make the habit before you hit the Valentine’s day chocolate sales . Trust me.

Feel like you need a little more help building your nutrition habits? Check out our membership page or book a consult to learn more about our coaching programs. (The consult is free 😉 )

4. Learn How to Breathe

We posted on our instagram a few days ago about the Alligator Breathing exercise. If you missed it, find it here and the video here!

We’ve talked about breathing before. The mechanics of it are something a lot of us get wrong a lot of the time, and switching back to diaphragm breathing or alligator style breathing not only benefits the rest of our movement, but also our nervous system and therefore our entire being.

No matter where you’re at, a high performance athlete, runner, weekend warrior with aches and pains, office worker, retiree, everyday human with average health, working on getting yourself to a healthier place, or still stuck where you are, changing your breathing can literally change your life. From mood improvement, sleep enhancement, pain reliever, stress reliever, and focus enhancer- this could be your first step towards something better.

Was that cheesy? #sorrynotsorry

As an added bonus it ties into our next step…

5. Take Five

I don’t care who you are you have time to take 5minutes for yourself.

This isn’t about making sure you hit the gym everyday, or only eat the perfect meals, or even about adding a dedicated meditation practice to your day.

I want you to take 5 minutes to do whatever the heck you want to do.

Some suggestions I could make would be:

  • spending 5 minutes practicing your breathing
  • going for a stroll outside your office (even better, in the actual outdoors)
  • taking 5minutes to get up and down off the floor, or do any other combination of movements that you want to do– check our instagram for ideas here!!!
  • 5min letting your mind clear while sipping your favourite drink (OR THAT WATER YOU SHOULD BE DRINKING ANYWAY)
  • Writing out your intentions for the day, week, month and the goals that will help those intentions come to fruition.
  • 5 technology free moments to meditate on all the things your grateful for today (write these down for added benefit!)

You get the point. The minutes are yours, use them wisely and in a forward thinking way with your health goals in mind.

Those are all simple things right? How many of you will actually add them in? I’m curious!

As I mentioned above, consults with IM coaches and therapists are always free. Our drive is to help you with your drive towards health. Whatever level you are at. Click here to book your consult with us. We’ll even include some goal setting tricks to get you started!

Let’s make 2018 all it can be!

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.”


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!)