Why Is It Hard To Stand Up After Squatting

Why Is It Hard To Stand Up After Squatting?

Why Squat Anyway?

As you get older or are more sedentary after working from home throughout the pandemic, it may seem more difficult to stand up straight after squatting. So what?” you might ask. “What’s the big deal?”

Actually, it IS a big deal, because the movement required to squat is also the movement required to get up from a chair or to bend down to retrieve something from a lower shelf. It’s a movement you’ll want to do throughout your life. In fact, here’s how squats can benefit your body:

  • Overall strength. Each time you squat you get stronger and it makes the movement easier. You’re building a strong foundation for functional movement.
  • Strong legs. When you squat, your legs get a workout, building strength and toning the muscles. Your glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings thank you.
  • Core competence. Squats force you to stabilize your core, an area that is essential to balance and to almost any movement you make. This means the entire torso, including the abdominal muscles, the obliques and the lower back.
  • Boosting your bones. As you build strength, you also build lean muscle mass, which supports your bones.
  • Pregnancy preparation. While you’re strengthening your core with squats, you’re also strengthening your pelvic floor which makes delivery easier. For the aging population, it’s also beneficial to controlling urine leakage
  • Jauntier jumps. If you’re a fan of pick-up basketball, you’ll find that strengthening your legs will add more height to your jumps.
  • Power production. Squats can help you produce explosive power, important in jumping and sprinting.
  • Injury prevention. Many injuries are associated with the body’s imbalances and weaknesses. Squats improve hip and knee stability, which can remedy numerous imbalances. It also takes some of the load off your knees and ankles, aiding ankle stability.

What Muscles Do You Use to Stand Up From a Squat?

Although you may not realize it, squats are a full body exercise. It may seem obvious that your abdominal muscles (core) are involved in helping you bend down and return to a stand, along with your glutes (buttocks), quadriceps (front of thigh), hamstrings (back of thigh) and calf muscles. However, numerous other muscles are involved in stabilizing other body parts as your rise, such as your feet, ankles, pelvis, hips and upper body.

Why Do I Struggle to Get Up From the Floor?

Sure, it’s easy to lower your body down to the floor. Getting back up again? That’s another challenge altogether. It’s a common problem, but one that isn’t healthy. It’s an indicator that you have issues with flexibility and/or mobility. Here are some of the possible reasons:

  • Stiff joints. Lack of physical activity or immobility may make your joints stiff. Sitting at a desk all day certainly is a contributing factor. This means working on your mobility.
  • Core crisis. If you feel off balance when you finally do get off the floor, it’s likely due to weak abdominal muscles, the core muscles that help stabilize your body.
  • Weak muscles. If your legs feel weak and you wobble as you come to a stand, it may indicate a lack of overall strength.
  • Nasty knees. If your knees are weak, you may feel as if they are unable to bear your weight.

What Muscles Do I Need to Strengthen to Get Up off the Floor?

If you’re looking to build enough strength and mobility to be able to get off the floor or out of a squatting position easily, your goal should be to do squats without toppling over or finding your knees locked. Your first port of call should be your registered physiotherapist, someone who is trained to identify weaknesses or imbalances in the muscles and joints and help people to remedy them.

Testing Your Mobility:

Meanwhile, here are a few tests you can do at home to see which joints may need some additional flexibility:

  • Can you bend your ankle beyond 20 degrees? While standing, lift the ball of your foot off the floor.
  • Can you flex your hip beyond 90 degrees? While standing, raise you knee toward your chest.
  • Can you bend your knee beyond 90 degrees? While sitting, slide your heel back under your knee.

Once you’ve identified some weaknesses on your own, consult with your physiotherapist about the stretches you should do to begin improving your mobility. They will be able to assess your level of fitness and suggest exercises that are appropriate. As your strength and flexibility improve, they will adjust your exercises accordingly. Before you know it, you’ll be squatting with the best of them!

Is It Hard for You to Stand Up After Squatting?

what is tendinitis

What is Tendinitis?

If you’ve heard people talk about suffering from tennis elbow or runner’s knee, they’re referring to forms of tendinitis. Tendinitis is an inflammation or irritation of one of your tendons, the thick, fibrous cords that attach your muscles to your bones. Although it can impact any tendon in your body the tendons most usually affected are those in the shoulder, elbow, knee, wrist or heel.

Tendinitis Symptoms

If you have tendinitis, generally, you’ll feel pain in the area where the tendon attaches to the bone, as well as tenderness and mild swelling. The pain may interfere with performing basic daily tasks.

What Causes Tendinitis?

Tendinitis is generally a repetitive motion injury, occurring when the body repeats a specific motion over and over – especially if that motion is awkward. It may be job related, due to typing on computer all day or reaching overhead to store and retrieve boxes from shelves, and or it can be sports related, as with a baseball pitcher who uses his shoulder to hurl the ball regularly.

As you age, your tendons become less pliant and flexible, so you may be more prone to tendinitis. However, it can also result from poor technique in executing a motion or from a sudden impact.

Physiotherapy for Tendinitis

If you experience symptoms of tendinitis in any of your joints, it’s time to talk to a registered physiotherapist. They are trained to assess and treat such injuries and will help you recover so that you can return to your usual activities safely and pain-free. However, be prepared to take things slowly, because the body doesn’t deliver large amounts of blood to the tendons in comparison to your muscles, so healing completely may take time.

Your physiotherapist will customize the treatment to your injury. They will show you how to reduce stress on the affected area by correcting your body mechanics and posture. They will manipulate the area manually, doing some gentle stretches and joint movements to improve mobility in the area. They may also use other methods to promote healing, such as trigger point dry needling, an acupuncture technique that can affect the way the brain and muscles communicate, allowing your system to return to a more normal movement pattern. Your physiotherapist will also prescribe exercises to improve your body’s healing without overloading the affected area.

Get Relief for Tendinitis

If you are in pain and wonder if tendinitis is the cause, don’t hesitate to consult with a registered physiotherapist. Left untreated, tendinitis can lead to a ruptured tendon and possible surgery.

Suffering from a Repetitive Motion Injury?

Active Release Technique

Understanding Active Release Technique

If you’re suffering from a sports injury, an overuse impairment or chronic pain, it can be helpful to consider therapy in the form of Active Release Technique (ART) to alleviate the pain and restore your range of motion.

How Does Active Release Therapy Work?

Active Release Technique is a method of non-invasive manual therapy that combines manipulation and movement to correct soft tissue injuries that restrict movement and cause pain.

Tissues are subject to negative changes from trauma. ART is employed to break down scar tissue and adhesions in your body, promoting blood flow and healing to affected areas. Scar tissue can be binding, causing your muscles and joints to feel painful and stiff.

ART treats issues with muscles; tendons, which connect muscle to bone; ligaments, which connect bone to bone; fascia, the fibrous tissue that supports and protects and supports muscles and organs; and nerves.

The History of Active Release Technique

Active Release Technique is a treatment method that was developed in the 1980s by a chiropractic doctor, Michael Leahy, who was frustrated by the slow pace and inefficiency of traditional means for healing soft tissues, especially for Olympic athletes who needed quick results in order to return to competition. In 2001, he was granted a patent for his soft tissue treatment system. Physiotherapists, chiropractors and others must receive training and certification to become ART practitioners.

ART for Soft Tissue Injuries

ART has proven to be successful for a variety of soft tissue injuries where scar tissue has accumulated. Some of the signs that you may have a buildup of scar tissue include increased pain when exercising; reduced flexibility and limited range of motion; inflamed joints; decreased strength; and tingling, numbness or weakness.

Scar tissue is part of the body’s normal response to healing. It’s a dense, fibrous material that forms as a result of injury to connect and bind injured tissue. Unfortunately, it isn’t as flexible as normal tissue. As a result, muscles can weaken and shorten and nerves can become entrapped, leading to pain and dysfunction. ART can relieve pain and restore function to the affected areas.

Common Conditions Treated by ART

ART practitioners use this technique to address acute injuries, such as tears and sprains; chronic trauma, such as ongoing lower back pain; overuse trauma, such as repetitive strain injuries; and post-operative cases. It is ideal for people with overworked muscles. Some of the common conditions treated by ART include neck pain, runner’s knee, golf or tennis elbow, tendinitis, frozen shoulder, sciatica and carpal tunnel syndrome.

Diagnosis and Treatment

An ART practitioner will use his/her hands to discover anomalies in tissue texture, tension and movement to pinpoint the cause of the problem. Once the problem is identified, your physiotherapist or other ART practitioners will employ ART treatment protocols to restore the tissue’s proper function and relieve pain. This is done by working with the tissue while it is in an active position, applying hands-on tension.

The patient may be required to move the affected area/body part to achieve full release. The experience is reminiscent of massage, combined with movement and stretching. However, your physiotherapist will focus on targeted contact points, rather than using broad strokes.

ART can be intense because it involves precise pressure. Although it may be uncomfortable, it generally yields results in five sessions or fewer.

Post-Treatment Exercises

Once a patient is treated with ART and the restrictive adhesions have been broken up, it’s important to prevent the symptoms from recurring. The patient needs to take an active role in prevention by doing exercises that address four fundamental areas:

  • Strength: Strengthening exercises are most valuable once adhesions and scar tissue have been treated, because any attempt to strengthen shortened and contracted muscles may lead to further restriction.
  • Flexibility: Flexibility refers to allowing for full range of motion, and it is specific to a particular joint. A patient may have full range of motion in the shoulders, but be constricted at the knees. Stretching done prior to ART won’t actually reach the affected area and may lead to further biomechanical imbalances. Stretching once ART is complete is essential.
  • Balance and Proprioception: Proprioception exercises are designed to restore a patient’s kinesthetic awareness, allowing the body to react appropriately to external forces. They form the foundation for the strength, endurance and agility needed for complete rehabilitation.
  • Cardiovascular: Aerobic exercise increases blood flow and oxygen delivery to soft tissues. Poor circulation and lack of oxygen accelerate repetitive strain injuries.

Why Active Release Technique?

ART is unique among treatment modalities because it involves more than 500 specific manual therapy techniques that target restrictions in various soft tissues. There are no known side effects and most conditions are restored in five sessions or fewer.

Suffering from a sports injury, an overuse impairment or chronic pain?

What to Do for a Stiff Knee

What to Do for a Stiff Knee

It’s no fun to have a stiff knee or to feel aches and pains in your knee joints. Knees are so central to our ability to move easily, that any hiccup in their smooth operation can be very frustrating. Luckily, there is help available in the form of medication, physiotherapy and – as a last resort – surgery.

Knee pain can be caused by arthritis, repetitive trauma, a strain or another injury. The knee is a hinge joint and its workings are complex. It is the spot where the shin bone (tibia) and the thigh bone (femur) join, supported by four ligaments, tendons and cartilage that acts as a shock absorber (meniscus). The kneecap (patella) protects the joint. An injury to any of these components or more than one is likely to produce stiffness and pain in the knee, as will osteoarthritis, or chronic inflammation of the joint.

If you suddenly develop knee pain, the first steps should be the RICE treatment regimen: Rest your knee, Ice it to prevent or lessen swelling, Compress (bandage) it for support and Elevate it to send healing blood flow to the area.

Next, it’s wise to have your physician or trained physiotherapist examine you, diagnose the problem and suggest the appropriate long-term solution. If some components of your knee joint aren’t working properly and you ignore the aches and pains, other parts of the knee will generally compensate and the stress that results can lead to chronic issues.

What Causes Stiffness in the Knee?

The root of your knee problems will depend on where you are experiencing pain or stiffness. Pain at the front of the knee may be caused by problems with the position and tracking of your kneecap — a condition known as patellofemoral stress syndrome (PFSS) – that may involve swelling of the kneecap and the tendon connecting the kneecap and shin.

Pain on the outside of the knee may indicate an injury to the medial meniscus or medial collateral ligament, often damaged during exercises that involve twisting. Pain to the outside of the knee can have many causes, including injury to the hamstring tendon or a ligament. One common culprit is stress to the iliotibial band, a thick band of muscle running from the outside of the hip to the front of the knee, where it can rub and abnormally.

There is also pain at the back of the knee, which is rarer, but could be caused by a cyst or by an injury to the hamstring, which attaches there.


Your trained physiotherapist will generally assess your injury using a variety of techniques that may include an analysis of your gait to see how you walk; measuring range of motion to see what capabilities your knee has; measuring your knee’s strength to determine if you have a muscular imbalance; and palpation, hands-on assessment to check for swelling, abnormalities and pain.

What Is the Best Exercise for Stiff Knees?

Exercises targeted to your specific knee problem will be prescribed as the main treatment. Often, this involves strengthening the knee itself, as well as the surrounding supports that can help take pressure off the knee itself. These exercises will generally include balance exercises, lower extremity stretches, straight leg raises and hip strengthening, since your hip muscles help control your knee position.

In addition, your trained physiotherapist may employ techniques such as ultrasound, soft tissue massage, acupuncture, electric stimulation and kinesiology taping.

If your pain is due to arthritis, movement is essential to keep your joints lubricated. There is currently no cure for arthritis other than knee replacement surgery, but the symptoms can be managed and controlled.

How to Prevent Knee Stiffness and Pain

Lifestyle modifications can help you keep your knees healthy and strong. You’ll want to maintain a healthy weight, because excess kilos put pressure on your knees. Keeping your hamstrings and quadriceps strong will assist your knees, because these muscles provide support to the knee joints. If you participate in sports, be sure your technique is solid so you aren’t putting unnecessary pressure on the knee joints.

In addition, be sure to warm up sufficiently before you exercise. Stretch your legs before and after you participate in a sport or athletic endeavour; do so slowly.

Remember, knee pain is a signal your body is sending to let you know that something is wrong. Don’t exacerbate the injury by ignoring signals. When you feel pain, employ the RICE method and make an appointment with your physiotherapy professional.

Knees Stiff or Sore?

home office ergonomics

Working from Home Ergonomics: A Guide to Preventing Injuries

As the days of the pandemic turned into months, it became obvious to Canadians working from home that their makeshift office settings were leading to unexpected consequences – new aches and pains in various parts of the body and possible musculoskeletal injuries.

The New Year is the perfect time to take a look at how to prevent injury from your home work setup and get into new, healthier habits. Where and how you work are important to your health. Meanwhile, your physiotherapist can assist you with the appropriate exercises and recovery plan if you’ve already fallen victim to home workplace injuries, such as back strain or carpal tunnel syndrome.

Ergonomics at Home: How to Set Up Your Office

No matter how crowded your quarters, sitting on the couch or bed with your laptop just isn’t wise – you’ll soon be feeling back pain, neck or wrist strain. Even though you may not be able to achieve an ideal setup at home, do what you can to help your body stay healthy. Here are some tips for setting up your workspace in a more ergonomic fashion:


Make sure the lighting in your workspace is adequate; working in rooms that are too dark or too brightly lit can lead to eyestrain and headaches. You also want to avoid glare, so reduce or eliminate it with window shades, diffusers on overhead lights and anti-glare filters for your computer screens.


A chair with proper lumbar support can protect the lower back from injury and keep your spine aligned. You can use a rolled-up towel or a pillow as a support. If possible, use a chair that can be adjusted to your height. Sit with your feet flat on the floor and keep your knees, elbows and hips at about 90 degrees. Your wrists should be aligned with your elbows and your eyes should be in line with the top of your screen. A thick book or a ream of paper is useful in raising your monitor or laptop to align properly and the rolled towel or a pillow also work magic in aligning your wrists and elbows.

Computer Setup.

Your computer monitor should be an arm’s length away to prevent you from bending your neck forward and straining it or causing eye strain if it is too close. Your keyboard and mouse should be placed in a way that allows your wrists to be straight so you avoid carpal tunnel syndrome. Keep your cords taped down or tucked away so you avoid tripping.

Desk Design.

Further ensure that your workspace is ergonomic by organizing your desk accordingly. Items you use frequently, such as your mouse, your keyboard or a pen, should be within a forearm’s reach, while things you use less frequently, such as scissors, tape or sticky notes, could be placed within an arm’s length. Equipment that isn’t used often, such as a printer or a scanner, can be situated further away.

Working From Home: Injury Prevention Strategies

Setting up your home office is only half the battle in staying healthy while working from home. Self-scrutiny and maintenance are also important. Take note of these hints:

Monitor Your Posture.

Keep an eye your alignment while you’re working. Be sure that the there is no pressure under your thighs, that the small of your back is supported and your shoulders are relaxed (not slumped and not elevated).

Take Frequent Breaks.

Sitting for long periods of time can be harmful to your body, so take lots of mini-breaks to allow your muscles and joints to move and recover. Do some stretching or take a short walk. You can set a timer or your watch or download an app to remind you to stop your current task and get up from your desk. Don’t skimp on breaks; your body will thank you later. Yoga is also a wonderful way to stretch overused joints and muscles.

Pay Attention to Discomfort.

You are not being a whiner if you have concerns about new aches and pains; your body is trying to tell you something. Adjustments to your work station may right the ship, but, if not, contact your physiotherapist for an evaluation and some preventive or rehabilitation exercises. Working through your pain may simply make the problem worse and harder to correct.

Life is all about change, and the better you adapt to the changes to your work environment, the happier your body will be. However, if you are experiencing discomfort, don’t hesitate to get in touch with your physiotherapist to put you back on course.

Is Working From Home Causing You Pain?

benefits of physical therapy

The Benefits of Physical Therapy Throughout Your Life

Many people associate physical therapy with injury. You see your physical therapist when you’ve sprained an ankle playing tennis or injured a knee while running and are eager to heal properly so you can get right back at it.

It’s time to look at physical therapy in a different light: as a lifelong helping hand that works to keep you pain free and healthier. Remember, it’s not a choice between seeing your doctor or your physical therapist; physical therapists work with other health-care professionals to ensure you get the best possible treatment for your needs.

The Benefits of Physical Therapy

Let’s take a look at many of the benefits you can derive from taking advantage of physical therapy on an ongoing basis.

Managing Pain

If you have chronic pain, you know that it can be debilitating – but it needn’t be. Physical therapy techniques and therapeutic exercise will help you mobilize your soft tissue and joints and restore function to your muscles. Your pain will be reduced or eliminated, and if you continue your exercises, you’ll be able to prevent pain from returning or climbing to previous levels.

Avoiding Surgery

Physical therapy can be the first line of defence when it comes to surgery prevention. Why jump immediately to potentially costly and invasive procedures, when physical therapy can help you banish pain, promote healing and offer better all-around health, which may help the injured tissue to heal and allow for mobility? Surgery is unavoidable in some cases, but not all, so consider your options.

Assisting with Age-related Issues

As we age, we often develop age-related health problems, such as arthritis, osteoporosis and joint pain. Physical therapy is a good starting point in managing those issues, because it doesn’t require joint replacement, and it is useful in managing pain.

Aiding Recovery

If you injure yourself or do need surgery for a health issue, physical therapy can help speed your recovery. Rather than ignoring your pain or trying to Google your injury and heal yourself, why not talk to a professional? Physical therapy treatment helps improve mobility and balance and will help you get back on your feet more quickly. After surgery, it helps restore joint function, builds up strength in your muscles, assists you in returning to the activities of daily living, reduces pain, eases swelling and improves circulation, which is important in preventing blood clots.

Boosting Your Immune System

Regular exercise improves the body’s immune system and physical therapy is one way of ensuring you’re getting it. For some people, physical therapy is the only exercise they do all day. Exercise leads to good health and a healthy immune system, so don’t neglect it.

Trying New Activities

Often, after a patient has physical therapy and experiences the benefits that stretching and resistance can have for their bodies, they are emboldened to try a new type of exercise or physical activity. They take up a new sport, go to the gym or start a regular exercise regimen at home. Yoga or elliptical trainers, anyone?

Avoiding Dependence on Medications

If you’re injured or recovering from surgery, you may be taking medications to blunt the resulting pain. You may even have a prescription for opioids, which are effective in dulling pain, but are highly addictive. During COVID-19, Canada’s opioid crisis hasn’t received the attention it did previously, but the problem hasn’t disappeared.

Reducing Fall Risk

As we age and become frailer, we’re often at greater risk for falls. Physical therapists can work with us to increase strength and endurance and improve balance to reduce the possibility that we’ll fall and end up with a debilitating broken hip.

These are only some of the ways physical therapy can benefit you throughout your life. Physical therapists work with you to determine your physical goals and help you achieve them. Even better, especially during the pandemic, they can work with you virtually to ensure you get the treatment you need.

Are You Ready To Give Physiotherapy a Try?

new mother pain

New Mother Aches and Pains: How Physiotherapy Can Help

Pregnancy is a wonderful, joyful time for many expectant mothers, but it can be accompanied by a slew of physical discomforts: heartburn, headaches, morning sickness, fatigue and insomnia to name a few.

Pregnancy also strains the back, neck and hips of expectant mothers by shifting their centre of gravity. New moms may think that once their bundle of joy has arrived, the various aches and pains will disappear, too. However, often that’s not the case.

New moms can be prone to various repetitive strain injuries as a result of carrying and nursing a new baby. Here are some of the most common new mother aches and pains and what you can do about them.

New Mom Backaches

New moms can develop a sore back from bending to pick up their baby, leaning over a crib to calm and settle their baby and leaning into a car to place and secure an infant car seat. Over time, this can develop into a repetitive strain injury.

Preventing Postpartum Backaches and Pain

You can prevent postpartum back strain by:

  • Checking and correcting your posture when performing tasks that require using your back, such as lifting and carrying.
  • Make sure your feet are flat on the floor and shoulder width apart when lifting.
  • When changing direction, move your feet with your body instead of twisting your spine so that you keep your back straight and in line with your hips and knees.
  • Lift by bending your knees and hips instead of your back.
  • Do regular exercises, such as Pilates, to strengthen your core and abdominal muscles to reduce the pressure on your back.

Neck Pain From Breastfeeding

Nursing mothers experience neck pain most often because of poor posture during breastfeeding. They assume awkward positions of leaning forward and looking down while sitting. When they do this for half an hour every few hours, they put a lot of strain on the neck and surrounding muscles in the shoulders and back. It can even give new moms headaches.

Preventing Nursing Mother’s Neck

Prevent nursing mother’s neck by:

  • Setting up a feeding station in a comfortable chair.
  • Use a pillow to support the arm holding the baby and another pillow behind your low back.
  • Avoid slouching.
  • Do some gentle neck stretches after each feeding.

Mother’s Wrist and Mommy’s Thumb

An empty infant car seat has a mass of four to five kilograms. Carrying so much weight strains the wrists and elbows, and, over time, can cause repetitive strain injuries.

A new mom can also develop Mother’s wrist or Mommy’s thumb by overflexing the wrist and thumb from carrying the baby. Not only does carrying the baby eventually become painful, but so do other activities, such as turning door knobs and opening jars.

Preventing Lower Arm Strains

To prevent straining the lower arms:

  • Switch sides regularly when carrying your baby. Alternatively, use a front or back carrier to distribute your baby’s weight evenly on your back and shoulders.
  • Take regular breaks to stretch your neck, back, arms and wrists.
  • To lift an infant car seat out of the car, place both hands on the handle and keep your elbows bent.
  • Carry an infant car seat in front of you with both arms to distribute its weight.
  • If necessary, wear a splint on your wrist and thumb to alleviate pain.

Pelvic Pain and/or Incontinence

Women usually carry a baby on the hip that’s opposite their dominant hand. When you carry your baby on one side, your pelvis can shift, which can cause pelvic and hip pain and sometimes lead to an uneven gait. In addition, some new moms experience incontinence due to pelvic floor weakness caused by pregnancy and delivery.

Preventing Pelvic Pain and/or Incontinence

  • To prevent pelvic pain, switch sides regularly when you carry your baby.
  • To treat incontinence, see a pelvic floor physiotherapist to assess incontinence, as well as pelvic pain.

How Physiotherapy Can Help New Moms

In addition to these helpful tips, physiotherapists can recommend exercises for treating and preventing all these repetitive strain injuries that often are just part and parcel of being a new mom. A physiotherapist can provide education on new mother aches and pains, as well as a referral to a pelvic floor specialist.

New motherhood is an amazing experience. Make sure that you’re also looking after yourself so you can give your new baby the best possible care.

Experiencing New Mother Aches and Pains?

overuse injuries

The Scoop on Overuse Injuries

As research has shown, exercise is extremely beneficial for both our body and our mind. It keeps the body strong and healthy so it can fight off illness successfully and it elevates our mood, keeping depression at bay.

Unfortunately, we can’t always exercise as much as we might like, due to injury. We’re all familiar with major injuries — also called acute injuries – such as broken bones or sprained ankles that result from a single blow or fall. Most of us are less familiar with overuse injuries, injuries that result from frequent, repeated use of muscles, joints, tendons, ligaments and bones.

Overuse Injuries

Overuse injuries, also categorized as microtraumas, result over time from repeated action. They include minor sprains to ligaments, muscle strains, overstretched tendons and small tears in the connective tissues and fibres of our muscles.

Exercise generally strengthens, muscles, tendons, ligaments and bones by breaking down old tissue and allowing new tissue to grow. However, if tissue breaks down faster than it can be rebuilt, overuse injuries occur. When we engage in a physical activity too intensely or for too long (such as typing), or we do too much before our body is ready, our body’s structures don’t have enough time to rebuild before they are used again.

Improper technique while exercising can also put stress on the body and lead to overuse injuries, as can favouring a particular body part, such as an uninjured ankle when the other is sprained. Overuse injuries can also result from changing equipment, such as the shoes you wear during exercise.

The causes of overuse injuries can be categorized as poor core stability, muscle imbalance, incorrect equipment, faulty technique, biomechanical issues or lack of necessary strength or endurance.


You are likely to have an overuse injury if:

  • You feel pain immediately or within 12 hours of exercising;
  • You feel pain while exercising, but it doesn’t prevent movement and disappears afterward;
  • You feel pain during exercise and it prevents certain movements, but disappears afterward; or
  • Chronic pain that prevents you from moving and doesn’t improve.

Overuse injuries often show signs of inflammation, such as minor swelling, warmth to the touch, impaired function and/or redness.

How Are Overuse Injuries Treated?

In treating an overuse injury, the first step is to remove the cause. Don’t use the injured body part until it has time to heal and the pain disappears. You can ice the affected area and use over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications to reduce swelling and relieve symptoms.

You’ll also want to consult a physiotherapist for a proper course of treatment. They will prescribe exercises that help heal and strengthen the injury and its supporting structures. As you heal, they will adjust the type, frequency and intensity of these exercises.

Once you are ready to use the injured part regularly, you’ll need to warm up properly before each exercise session. Your physiotherapist can also advise you on a proper warmup routine. You may also want to consider varying your workouts or activities.

How to Avoid Overuse Injuries

It’s worthwhile taking precautions to prevent overuse injuries. Some of the strategies you can use to stay fit and healthy include:

  • Listening to your body and resting when you feel soreness or pain;
  • Warming up properly before each exercise session;
  • Gradually increase the intensity, duration and distance for your activity;
  • Obtaining instruction from a trainer on how to use equipment correctly;
  • Planning on two rest days each week so your tissues have time to rebuild;
  • Using the proper equipment; for work-related injuries, being sure that your work station is set up ergonomically.

Your body is, as they say, your temple; worship it and it will serve you well in return.

Overuse Injury Causing You Trouble?

airplane back pain

Preventing Back Pain for Flight Crews and Travellers

Air travel is a fact of life for many of us, whether because it’s our livelihood, our work demands it or we want to explore places that are most easily accessed by flying. There were 600 licensed air carriers in Canada in 2018 and just over 159 million passengers boarded and unloaded in Canada last year; 34.7 million of them were Canadians. In addition, for each of the flights that took off or landed in Canada, there were air crews to add to the totals.

Unfortunately, flights longer than an hour aren’t always the most comfortable for our backs and may cause or aggravate injuries. Back pain, as many of us know from personal experience, is no joke, and it is also fairly common. Statistics Canada notes that four out of five Canadians will experience at least one incidence of back pain during their lives, with the pain most likely to occur in those between the ages of 30 and 50. Back pain can impede mobility and affect quality of life, so it’s something we’d all like to forego.

Causes of Back Pain While Flying

Whether we’re flying for work or pleasure, knowing how to prevent and address the concomitant back pain is essential. For passengers, threats to our backs include long periods of sitting or standing, sleeping in an unnatural position, travel stress, lifting heavy objects, such as suitcases, and twisting the body while you’re lifting something.

For air crews, the list includes heavy lifting, reaching and lifting, twisting while lifting or holding a heavy load, lifting or carrying objects with odd shapes, sitting or standing for prolonged periods in one position, working in awkward positions, slipping on a wet floor and, perhaps, poor sleeping positions.

Preparing for the Flight

If you’re planning a trip, you can take some steps in advance to ensure that you won’t incur a back injury, or even a twinge:

  • Get a Doctor’s Note. Your physician can provide you with a letter requesting certain accommodations that will make travel smoother. These can include the ability to walk around during the flight, permission to lie down on the floor and rest, additional pillows and blankets and a possible upgrade to business class.
  • Contact the Airline. If you let your carrier know about any back issues, you can also request a wheelchair to take you from security to boarding, assistance with lifting and carrying luggage and help in boarding.
  • Pack Lightly. The fuller your bags, the heavier they are to lift and carry. Check your bags, if possible, so you have no need to hoist them into an overhead bin. If you do have a carry-on bag, ask one of the flight attendants to assist you in lifting it.
  • Adjust Your Schedule. If you have a choice, fly at a less-busy time of day so you’ll have more room to move about the aircraft and an easier time getting to the aisle, stand or stretch.
  • Prevent Inflammation. Pack your carry-on bag with ibuprofen or any other relevant medication that prevents back pain and reduces inflammation, especially if it’s an ongoing problem.
  • Keep Exercising. Maintain your exercise routine in the days leading up to a trip. Sitting in cramped quarters if you haven’t been exercising could cause muscles to spasm. Exercise keeps your muscles flexible.

Back Pain Prevention In Flight

No one is eager for a back injury, especially with the chance that it could become chronic. Here are some tips for coping with the standard discomforts as a passenger:

  • Keep Moving. Unless you’re one of those travellers who can sleep through a flight, try to book an aisle seat to make it easier to get up and walk around or stand. Doing so will help alleviate any pain and stiffness you feel from sitting in one position.
  • Recline Your Seat. Yes, it may crowd the person behind you, but it relieves the pressure on your discs caused by the standard sitting position. You will be supporting some of your weight with the backrest, rather than your spine.
  • Use a Back Support. Lumbar rolls and back braces can provide you with additional spinal support while flying. Use a roll (or a rolled-up sweater) that supports your lower back without pushing it away from the seat.
  • Stay Hydrated. Drink water and more water for a few days in advance of travel and during travel. Cabins are dry, which can exacerbate back problems. The gel in the inner discs of the spine is also susceptible to dehydration, so drinking water is a good preventive measure against tears and bulges.

Preventive Measure for Crew Members

Airline attendants are subject to different stresses and strains that can cause back injuries. These tips can help them to keep back injuries at bay:

  • Stay Fit. You’ll need good fitness to endure long flights with all of the standing, bending, lifting and reaching your job requires. A strong core, especially, is important for preventing back injury and pain. Cardiovascular fitness is also valuable.
  • Stand Properly. When you’re on your feet, keep your head in line with your shoulders and be sure your shoulders are in line with your pelvis. Draw your buttocks and abdomen in gently – a protruding abdomen puts undue pressure on your spine. Place your feet a shoulder-width apart to distribute your weight evenly. Don’t tense up – it may actually contribute to back pain.
  • Lift With Care. If you need to lift heavy loads, do so from hip level or lower. Bend at the knees, not from the waist, to prevent injury to your back. Your body isn’t designed to twist like a Gumby; avoid doing so when you lift. Move your entire body when you turn, rather than shifting only your upper body. Keep the load close to your centre of gravity – at your chest, rather than down near your hips.
  • Don’t Overreach. When you reach with one hand, be sure to find a stable anchoring point with the other.If you use your feet alone to balance while the trunk is tight and twisting, you can pull muscles in your lower back.
  • Watch Those Bends and Turns. If you need to bend, do so from the waist and don’t turn at the same time. Turn the entire body, rather than turning from the waist.

If you have concerns about back pain, either before or after your flight, your physiotherapist can be invaluable helping you address your concerns.

Is air travel causing you back pain?

warehouse work back pain

Warehouse Work Causing Back Pain

With the rise of Internet shopping, the warehouse – and the warehouse worker – has become a more visible part of the supply chain. When bricks-and-mortar stores were the usual destination for purchasing goods, it is unlikely that consumers gave much thought to where their goods had been stored before being displayed by a retailer. Today, however, as more and more people order goods online – 87 per cent of Canadians made at least one online purchase last year, according to the Canadian Registration Internet Authority — warehouses figure prominently in the packaging and delivery of those items and get more attention.

Warehouses and Back Injuries

Along with warehouse work come back injuries. Canada’s Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), the organization that handles workplace injury claims, reported in 2017 that the lower back was the body part that resulted in the largest amount of lost-work time, accounting for 17 per cent of all claims.

Overexertion was the leading cause of injury for materials handlers, especially those ages 20-24, with the lower back the area most affected, usually by strains and sprains. However, warehouse workers are also subject to other injuries, such as pulled muscles and pinched nerves. It’s no real surprise, considering all of the bending, lifting, twisting and quick shifts in motion that are part of the job.

For example, bending down to reach low shelves and lifting heavy items up can be injurious. Warehouse employees also need to be constantly on the lookout for fallen objects, spills and moving vehicles so they can remain safely on their feet. In addition, vibrations from forklifts used to move boxes and crates cause wear and tear on the body.

Even sitting to do paperwork to document your work or standing around waiting for your next task can be tough on your back. Most of us don’t use proper posture when we’re in our chairs or on our feet and our backs suffer for it.

Prevention is Essential

That’s the bad news. The good news is there are things you can do to prevent back injuries. Your physiotherapist can develop a course of stretching and exercise designed to strengthen your back muscles and ensure you are prepared for the repetitive motions your job requires. It’s important to use the proper technique, because even minor injuries and a poor physical approach to your tasks can lead to recurrent or chronic back pain.

There are also other keys to maintaining a healthy back. Take note of these tips and you’ll have the best chance of keeping your back in good shape:

  • Stretch. Stretching loosens tight muscles and improves flexibility while preparing your body for periods of exertion, along with sitting and standing. Don’t simply stretch prior to the start of your workday; take regular breaks to do a few simple stretches. They’ll help reinvigorate your back muscles and banish those kinks that appear during the course of the day.
  • Lift and Carry With Care. If you need to lift heavy loads, do so from hip level or lower. Keep the load close to your centre of gravity – at your chest, rather than down near your hips. Bend at the knees, not from the waist, to prevent injury to your back. Avoid twisting when you lift; your body isn’t a corkscrew! Move your entire body when you turn, rather than shifting only your upper body.
  • Take Care of Your Tootsies. Your feet are important supports, especially in warehouse work, which requires you to stand much of the day. When your feet are uncomfortable, it places more stress on your back, so be sure you wear supportive footwear. Custom orthotics work well for people who spend most of the day upright. You don’t want to end your shift aching and in pain, so treat your toes well. You’ll feel the difference at day’s end.
  • Stand Properly. When you’re on your feet, keep your head in line with your shoulders and be sure your shoulders are in line with your pelvis. Draw your buttocks and abdomen in gently. Place your feet a shoulder-width apart to distribute your weight evenly. Don’t tense up – it may actually contribute to back pain.
  • Sit Correctly. If you spend part of your time doing paperwork, be as conscious of your seated posture as your upright stance. Place your feet firmly on the ground and your buttocks in the space between back in the chair and the seat. Align your knees with your hips. Make sure your chair allows you to rest your arms at elbow height. Keep your computer screen at eye level.


  • Know Your Limits: Your employers don’t expect you to be Hercules, and you shouldn’t expect it of yourself. Excessive pride can lead to injury. If you need a hand in lifting something heavy, ask for it!
  • Don’t Ignore Pain: Pain is your body’s way of telling you something is wrong. If you feel even a twinge, accept it as a signal that you need to make an adjustment, whether in your lifting technique, your standing posture or your job itself. Don’t hesitate to visit your physiotherapist for an assessment and some solutions.

Is warehouse work causing you back pain?

shoulder pain

Why are my shoulders sore?

You’ve heard your friends describe someone by saying, “He carries the world on his shoulders.” It’s a saying that derives from Greek mythology and it refers to Atlas, the Titan god who held the sky aloft. When the Titans were defeated by Zeus, Atlas was condemned to carry the heavens on his shoulders and he is often pictured as a man bending forward, holding the Earth on his back. Now, who wouldn’t have sore shoulders from such a challenge?

While you don’t literally carry the world on your own shoulders, figuratively, you may feel as if you do. Life is full of stress and challenges and our shoulders absorb much of that tension. In addition, our shoulders are the joints with the greatest range of motion and are ripe for injury. Luckily, there are ways to ease your physical burden.

How do you relieve shoulder pain?

Naturally, some sources of shoulder pain require more serious remedies than others, but all are treatable. There is no need to suffer unduly. The appropriate treatment for your shoulder pain depends on:

  • Severity of the injury;
  • Location and type of injury;
  • How long ago it occurred;
  • Your own age and general health; and
  • Your usual activities.

If your shoulder pain is the result of an acute injury such as an automobile accident or a blow to the shoulder, don’t delay in seeking a medical evaluation and suggestions for appropriate treatment. Fractures need to be stabilized quickly so they can set properly.

Rest for a day or two and regular applications of ice to control inflammation and keep the pain in check are generally appropriate for all shoulder injuries. You may also want to take a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory device (NSAID), such as ibuprofen, to reduce the pain.


Your physician will undoubtedly suggest a visit to the physiotherapist once the pain and swelling have subsided a bit. A physiotherapist will assess the injury, its causes and the associated pain and will create a course of treatment. You can expect questions about the source and severity of your shoulder pain, as well as the factors that aggravate it or relieve it.

Your physiotherapist will also test your range of motion and shoulder strength before determining which exercises and other treatments will be most beneficial. Remedies such as moist heat and acupuncture are among the options available to supplement exercises.

What Is Kinesiology

The anatomy of the shoulder

Your shoulder is a ball and socket joint that consists of three major bones: the upper arm bone (the humerus), the collarbone (the clavicle) and the shoulder blade (the scapula), bound together by tendons, ligaments and muscles. With so many moving parts, it’s no wonder that shoulders are easily injured. In addition, the joint overlaying the shoulder, the acromioclavicular joint, is also subject to injury.

What causes shoulder pain?

Shoulder pain can result from chronic ailments, such as osteoarthritis, or from an injury to the joint or its surrounding parts. Common causes of shoulder pain include:

  • Arthritis
  • Strains from overexertion
  • Tendinitis from overuse
  • Pinched nerves
  • Dislocation
  • Fractures to the collarbone or upper arm
  • Joint instability
  • Frozen shoulder
  • Pulled muscles (sprains) or injuries to the ligaments (strains)
  • Damage to one of the surrounding tendons (torn rotator cuff)
  • Poor sitting posture (hunching over a computer all day, for example)

Some of these injuries are acute and caused by trauma to the area. You may fall and land on your arm in an awkward position; you may twist or bend your shoulder abnormally, perhaps pitching in a pickup baseball game; or you may absorb a direct blow to the shoulder, falling on the stairs, for example.

In other cases, the injuries may be the result of overuse and sneak up on you. Overuse injuries result when too much stress is placed on the joint, through repetition of a motion or by overdoing an activity. Your tennis serve may put repeated stress on your shoulder until, finally, injury results.

In addition, there are seemingly benign sources of shoulder pain, including poor posture and muscle tension.

Can stress cause your shoulder to hurt? Yes, stress can accumulate in the shoulders as easily as it does in other joints.

Overuse injury symptoms

Naturally, if your shoulder injury is due to trauma, such as a tackle during a football game or a fall down the stairs, you’ll be able to identify the cause immediately. However, if your injury is due to overuse, these symptoms may be signs that you need treatment:

  • Limits to your range of motion;
  • Loss of strength in your shoulder;
  • Shoulder pain and stiffness;
  • Difficulty in doing everyday tasks, such as bathing, driving a car, dressing and sleeping comfortably; and/or
  • Problems with accomplishing tasks that require you to put one arm behind your back, such as zipping a dress.

How to prevent shoulder pain

Shoulder problems can usually be repaired without surgery. Nonetheless, why endure them at all when you can take some simple steps to prevent them:

  • Stay in shape: Eat a healthy diet and exercise regularly.
  • Warm up before exercise: Cold muscles are more susceptible to injury.
  • Watch your posture: Sit and stand erect. Get up from your desk every hour to move around and stretch.
  • Lift properly: Don’t strain to reach items you need. Step stools were created to help you.

No matter whether your shoulder injury is minor or major, it will heal with proper treatment. There’s no need to live like Atlas for the rest of your life!

Let's get you some relief for your shoulders!

neck pain

What Causes Neck Pain?

At one time or another, you’ve undoubtedly muttered to yourself, “What a pain in the neck.” Of course, you’re generally referring to an annoyance, not to a literal ache in the real estate that connects your head to your shoulders. Nonetheless, there will come a time when your neck does ache and you’ll wonder why and what to do about it. Let’s demystify neck pain so you know how to react when it occurs.

Causes of Neck Pain

Neck pain refers to pain that occurs anywhere in the region starting at the base of the skull and ending at the shoulders. The neck comprises the bones and joints of your cervical spine, otherwise known as your neck vertebrae; the muscles and ligaments that keep the cervical spine together; and the discs separating your vertebrae and serving as shock absorbers.

It’s not unexpected that your neck muscles, ligaments and bones are subject to the same wear and tear as the rest of your body. Overuse, poor positioning or injury can take their toll, leading to stiffness, soreness or extreme pain.

Chronic conditions are one cause of neck pain. Damage to the discs in your neck over time can lead to a pinched nerve, causing pain in one side of the neck that may involve tingling, numbness and pain that radiates down to your hand, while osteoarthritis can cause pain due to joint breakdown.

In addition, poor positioning of your neck may also cause pain or stiffness, and there are numerous culprits for such behaviour. You may spend a lot of time hunched over your computer or your cellphone; you may sleep with your neck at an odd angle; or you may angle your neck unnaturally, as required to hold a phone between neck and shoulder. In addition, dealing with a lot of stress often leads to neck tension.

Finally, injury can lead to neck pain, discomfort that is sudden and severe. Car accidents and the resulting whiplash, sports collisions at speed or direct blows to the back of the head are sources of acute injury and pain. Neck injuries must be approached with caution, because an injury to the spinal cord could be involved.

Treating Neck Pain

If you experience trauma to the neck, the injury could be serious. Your neck should be immobilized until you can be moved safely and evaluated medically to ensure that there is no spinal cord injury.

Chronic conditions require ongoing treatment that may include physiotherapy, while a garden variety stiff neck should first be treated with rest and ice to prevent inflammation – apply the ice during the first 24-to-48 hours after injury.

You may also want to take over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine to relieve the pain. Afterward, you may wish to use heat on the neck to stimulate blood flow and promote healing.

To speed your recovery and prevent a recurrence of neck pain, you’ll want exercises that stretch and strengthen the muscles in your neck, shoulders and back.

A physiotherapist will be able to guide you in appropriate therapeutic exercises. Your regimen will probably include isometric exercises, where neck muscles are tightened against and opposing force, and range-of-motion exercises that work to relax and lengthen your neck muscles.

Physiotherapists also employ treatments such as ultrasound, soft tissue release and joint mobilization. To keep the neck strong and flexible over with a good range of motion, you’ll want to continue prescribed exercises on an ongoing basis.

Preventing Neck Pain

Why court discomfort? If you have been dealing with a stiff neck, no doubt you don’t want to experience another one. There are a number of measures you can take to keep it from recurring.

  • At night, sleep on your side or your back, rather than on your stomach. People who sleep on their stomachs tend to twist their necks into awkward positions during the night. In addition, don’t use too many pillows in bed, because more than one pillow under your head can restrict its range of motion.
  • At work, don’t sit in one position for too long; be sure to get up and move around regularly so your neck isn’t stuck in an awkward position.
  • Ensure that your computer screen is at eye level so your neck isn’t tilted inappropriately; if you’re using a tablet, tilt the screen to a 45-degree angle or prop it on a pillow; if you leave it flat, your head will be bent down, stretching the ligaments.
  • If you spend a lot of time on the phone, wear a headset or an earpiece to prevent awkward positioning of your head and neck.

So, don’t let your pain in the neck debilitate you. Seek the treatment you need and commit to an ongoing prevention regimen.

Let's get you some relief for your neck pain!

shoulder separation

How to Manage a Shoulder Separation

References to shoulders generally touch upon strength: shouldering a burden requires it, as does carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. However, those figurative tasks would be impossible to accomplish if your shoulder was in a weakened state, as it is when it’s separated.

What is a Shoulder Separation?

A shoulder separation refers to an injury to the top of the shoulder where the front of the shoulder blade (acromion) attaches to the collarbone (clavicle), forming the acromioclavicular (AC) joint. A shoulder separation, also referred to as an AC joint injury, is an injury to one or more of the four ligaments that hold the two bones together so that the bones are no longer aligned properly.

AC separations can be caused by a traumatic injury, such a blow to the site, or by repetitive overuse of the shoulder. People under 35 are the most common victims of AC joint injuries, and men are five times more likely to sustain one than women. They are often the result of a sports injury, and people in the aforementioned age group are the most usual participants in contact sports or those where collisions are likely and can produce trauma, such as football, rugby, cycling and skiing.

Overuse of the joint through repeated stress from activities such as bench-pressing heavy weights or doing physical labour with the arms raised overhead may also lead to an AC joint injury.

Grading an AC Joint Injury

Shoulder separations range from mild to severe and are graded from I to VI, depending on which ligaments are damaged and how severe the injury is. AC joint injuries graded from IV to VI generally result from high-force collisions that occur during motor vehicle crashes and must be treated surgically. Most athletes and others suffer simple AC joint injuries, Grades I, II or III.

A Grade I separation is the mildest and most common AC joint injury; the ligaments may be stretched or partially torn and the joint still lines up properly. In a Grade II dislocation, the acromioclavicular ligament is completely torn, but the ligaments at the rear of the shoulder blade, the coracoclavicular ligaments, remain attached. A Grade III separation is the most severe of the simple types and is a complete separation of the joint. All of the ligaments and the capsule surrounding the joint are torn; the shoulder sags and the clavicle is pushed up, forming a bump on the shoulder.

Symptoms of a Separated Shoulder

If you suffer an AC joint injury, you will have general shoulder pain and swelling, probably accompanied by bruising. The area above the AC joint will be especially tender and swollen and your shoulder won’t feel as strong as usual; its range of motion will also be compromised. In addition, you may have a visible bump on your shoulder and feel pain when lying on the side where the injury occurred. When you move your shoulder, you may feel a catching sensation or hear a popping sound.

Treating an AC Joint Injury

Initially, for a shoulder separation, the goal is to reduce pain by immobilizing the shoulder in a sling and applying ice to the area for 20 to 30 minutes every two hours. Your doctor may also suggest taking an over-the-counter NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory). Rest is essential during the early stages of the separation. Once the acute stage of the injury has passed, you may begin rehabilitating your shoulder with the help of a physiotherapist who will help you return to your daily and desired activities. You can expect treatment to take at least six weeks.

Your physiotherapist will create a rehabilitation plan tailored to your particular injury and to your movement goals. The plan may include:

  • Strength training to strengthen the muscles in the shoulder area. Injury to the area weakens the surrounding muscles, and they must be retrained to work together properly;
  • Range of motion exercises to return the joint to proper functioning as swelling and pain recede. Reaching overhead or across the body are the motions that are most often affected by a shoulder separation;
  • Functional training that trains the shoulder to work properly in order for the AC joint to effectively bear the often-heavy load assigned to it; and
  • Manual therapy, hands-on manipulation that mobilizes and moves your AC joint and the surrounding muscles in order to improve flexibility, motion and strength in these hard-to-reach locations.

Preventing AC Joint Injuries

Once you’ve separated your shoulder, you’ll undoubtedly want to prevent it from happening again. Exercise and stretch your shoulder muscles regularly to keep them strong and ice your shoulder after physical activity. In addition, if you experience pain during a specific activity, stop immediately. As the saying goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Suffering from a Shoulder Injury?

driving night

How to Avoid Accidents This Winter

As fall shades into winter, we slowly adjust to the changes in the weather: the colder temperatures, the darkness that greets us each morning and falls early each afternoon; early morning fog; fallen, slippery wet leaves; and the snow that blankets the ground and leaves roads and sidewalks slick and icy. Drivers and pedestrians both are at more risk for car accidents than usual during this time of year, and it’s not only the road conditions that make navigation challenging.

What causes accidents in the winter months?

During the fall, the sun’s glare on the roads is often noticeable and its blinding effect can also lead to accidents. Cold mornings may be accompanied by fog, making visibility challenging. There are also deer migrating and mating and they can appear on the roads unexpectedly, especially at dawn or dusk.

In winter, there may be glare from the sun shining on snow to impair visibility and there is also danger from black ice, the invisible layer of slippery stuff that blends into the sidewalk or roadway, making falls or skids increasingly likely.

Given these hazards, it is incumbent upon drivers and pedestrians both to be aware of the increased risk and to adjust their behaviours accordingly.

A 2017 study conducted by Insights West for the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia (ICBC) indicated that 75 per cent of British Columbia drivers admitted to bad driving habits and 40 per cent admitted that they may not remember all the rules of the road. However, “While they remain frustrated at the actions of others, drivers still hold their driving skills in high regard,” Mario Canseco of Insight West told Global News. “In fact, two-thirds think their skills are above average.”

driving at night

Don’t take your skills for granted; drive defensively. Make sure your car is in good shape mechanically and stay focused on the road. Leave your phone alone when you’re behind the wheels and be prepared for the unexpected.

If you do get injured in an accident, remember that ICBC provides coverage for physiotherapy treatments for drivers, passengers or pedestrians that have been injured in a motor vehicle accident (MVA). For many injuries resulting from an accident, it is important to start physiotherapy as soon as possible to avoid future complications.

Fall Fixes

Weather in the fall is unpredictable, going from warm to cold at the drop of a hat. Your tires react to changes in temperature by expanding and contracting, causing them to lose pressure, so be sure to check tire pressure regularly. When fog descends, don’t turn on your high beams; they simply cause glare.

car crash accident icbc

Winter Watch

As the seasons turn, prepare to switch to winter tires if you live in a region where snowfall is a regular occurrence. Why not give yourself the advantage of extra grip in slick conditions? You can’t improve the challenges the weather poses to visibility, but you can improve it by clearing your windshields before you set out and by ensuring your windshield wipers are working properly and your wiper fluid reservoir is topped up. Also, be certain that you keep your gas tank full to prevent the gas from freezing in extreme temperatures.

Pedestrian Problems

ICBC notes that 43 per cent of all crashes involving pedestrians occur between October and January. A car – because of its size and weight – is usually the victor in any interaction with a pedestrian, so, unfairly, the burden of safety falls more heavily on anyone who is walking.

In B.C., 69 per cent of accidents involving pedestrians occur at intersections, so take extra care there. Take off your headphones or earbuds so you can hear and focus on oncoming traffic; put away your phone, too, so you can focus. Keep an eye out for drivers turning both left and right through the intersection. Try to make eye contact; don’t assume that they see you.

pedestrian safety

Visibility, in fact, is a major concern, because inclement weather decreases visibility, as does darkness. As a pedestrian, don’t jaywalk, because drivers may not see you, and try to wear reflective or light-coloured clothing in the dark to give yourself added insurance when crossing streets.

Drivers, the burden may be on pedestrians to keep themselves safe, but you need to do your part. Slow down at intersections and look carefully for pedestrians. In poor weather, they may be hard to see near streetlight posts and telephone poles.

Also, at transit stops, bear in mind that they may step out into the street to look for approaching vehicles, so cut your speed. If you’re not sure whether a pedestrian plans to cross or not, a short honk and a wave can give them the go-ahead.

All-Season Security

Before you turn on your vehicle’s ignition, take a moment to think about the driving conditions and precautions you can take to ensure you arrive safely. One factor you can control is your speed. ICBC notes that speed limits are determined based on driving in ideal conditions. If you’re driving in the snow, rain or fog, slow down and allow yourself twice the usual braking distance for stopping, given the slick surfaces and poor visibility.

You should also ensure that your windshield has no streaks or smudges; the glare of oncoming headlights or the sun can magnify these distortions and impair your ability to see the road. In addition, be sure that your lights and signals are working properly and use them so that others are prepared for your next move.

Yes, accidents happen during fall and winter, but if you follow some of these tips, you’ll be less likely to be involved.

Have you been injured in a car accident?

stay fit

Stay Fit During the Winter

As the days get shorter and the outdoor temperature drops, there’s no avoiding the truth: Winter is coming. Many of us dislike the combination of dark and cold and tend to huddle indoors, curling up with a book, binge-watching TV shows or eating carbs for comfort. And, once the holiday season arrives, there’s so much shopping, cooking, baking and wrapping to do that there are even more reasons to get away from our healthier warm-weather exercise routines. Add holiday parties and their rich food to the mix and you have the perfect recipe for sluggishness and inactivity.

Holiday Calories and Temptations

This year, don’t give in to all of these distractions and excuses: Resist! Your body and your mind will thank you, because you’ll be fighting back against all of those additional holiday calories you’ve consumed and you’ll be producing endorphins, the feel-good hormones, through exercise, helping you to combat the winter blues that can be triggered by lack of sunshine and Vitamin D. In addition, if you stay fit you’ll fight off the weight gain that can accompany a sedentary winter routine and will find it easy to rock that bathing suit come summer.

Outdoor Exercise

If you’ve embraced the cold weather as a component of your Canadian identity, you will undoubtedly enjoy exercising outdoors. The air is crisp, the snow is beautiful and activity brings a healthy glow to your face. Even better: While you’re in motion, you won’t feel the cool temperatures, as long as you’re dressed properly.

For cold weather activity, dressing in layers is the best approach to remaining warm and dry. You can always remove layers if you are too warm or add layers if you aren’t warm enough. The layer closest to your skin should be made of fabric that wicks away moisture; cotton isn’t ideal because once it’s damp, it remains so. The outermost layer should resist both moisture and wind.

stay fit winter

Plan your outdoor exercise during the day, if possible, in order to take advantage of the warmer temperatures and sunshine. Exercising earlier in the day also allows you to check it off your schedule and forget about it for the remainder of the day. If your schedule only allows for exercise in the darkness, be sure to wear bright or reflective outer gear so you are visible to motorists and can stay safe.

Winter offers you the opportunity to engage in a variety of outdoors activities, so why not try a new one? Skating, sledding, snowboarding, snowshoeing and skiing are all available. There’s no need to rush out and buy equipment; rent it and take a lesson or two to test the new moves to see if they suit you. Running and walking can also be activities that help you stay fit during the winter, although they require more care – you’ll need to choose routes that are reasonably free of snow and ice and you’ll want to watch your footing more closely.

Once you’re back indoors, unless you’re wet, keep your exercise gear on for 10 to 15 minutes as your body adjusts. Losing heat from your body too rapidly can lead to post-exercise hypothermia; your body reduces its production of heat because it’s in a warm environment, but it also loses its heat stores rapidly, so don’t shock it by stripping down quickly.

Indoor Exercise

For those who don’t find the cold endearing, Canadian identities notwithstanding, there are many indoor alternatives that will help you to stay fit during the chilly, dark winter. The gym is an obvious option. Gyms are readily available, and they generally offer exercise equipment for those who prefer solo workouts, as well as classes for those who like some company as they sweat. Try yoga or Zumba or Pilates or all three, for example. There’s no need to choose solo exercise over classes or vice-versa; switch up your routine to prevent boredom. Gyms allow you to do it all.

gym exercise

If you are a runner or a walker, treadmills are practical indoor substitutes. Or, you may discover an indoor mall walking group; they usually meet in the morning before a mall opens, so you’ll have some exercise under your belt before the rest of your day begins.

Indoor exercise doesn’t mean investing in a gym membership if your budget doesn’t allow it. Community centres offer drop-in fees to use their facilities, which may include a pool, a running track or fitness classes. You can also get yourself a workout DVD; do yoga or an aerobics routine in the comfort of your own home. Walking stairs for a designated amount of time is also a great workout, as is dancing to the radio. Who says exercise isn’t fun?

Whether you choose to keep moving outdoors or indoors during the winter, don’t forget to stay hydrated. You might not feel as thirsty as you do in summer, but you need water just as much. If you’re out in the cold, a thermos of herbal tea is a good substitute; it keeps you warm without any diuretic effects.

Remember, no matter what type of winter exercise you choose, the goal is to continue exercising regularly. Why lose that muscle tone you’ve worked so hard to build, just because it’s cold? There’s an exercise for everyone, so no excuses!

We Can Help You Stay Fit This Winter!

piriformis syndromw

Piriformis Syndrome - a real Pain in the Butt

We’ve all heard people say it, no matter how impolite it may sound, “What a pain in the butt!” However, anyone who is suffering from piriformis syndrome can make that exclamation literally: Piriformis syndrome actually can cause your buttocks to hurt.

What is Piriformis Syndrome?

Piriformis syndrome refers to the irritation to the sciatic nerve caused by the piriformis muscle.

The sciatic nerve is the body’s longest nerve, running from the base of the spine to the feet. The piriformis muscle extends from your sacrum, the triangle-shaped bone between your hipbones, across your sciatic nerve to the top of your femur, the large leg bone running from hip to knee.

This muscle helps you move your leg from side to side. When it spasms, it can put pressure on the sciatic nerve and result in a variety of symptoms.

Therefore, piriformis syndrome is actually a form of sciatica, the blanket term for any irritation of the sciatic nerve. Harvard University researchers say it is estimated that five per cent of all sciatica cases can be attributed to piriformis syndrome.

sciatic nerve

How do you treat Piriformis Syndrome?

You may find relief from pain through over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen. You can also alternate applications of ice and heat to the area in 15-minute segments, repeated every few hours to relieve your pain.

If the piriformis syndrome doesn’t disappear on its own, which it often does, the next stop is physiotherapy. Your physiotherapist will recommend a course of exercise and stretching, the mainstays of treatment for piriformis syndrome.

The physiotherapist may focus on such treatments as

  • adjusting your gait;
  • exercises to stretch the muscle and those surrounding it;
  • improving the mobility of your sacroiliac joints;
  • strengthening your hip abductor muscles, those that move your leg outward;
  • acupuncture.

If your ailment doesn’t respond fully to such treatments, you may need an injection of corticosteroids to reduce muscle inflammation. An ultrasound, X-ray or other scan will help determine the proper site for such an injection to be effective.

You may also receive a transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulator treatment where a handheld device is used to send electrical charges through your skin to interrupt pain signals to the brain. In severe cases, which are very rare, surgery may be required.

What is the main cause of Piriformis Syndrome?

Piriformis syndrome can occur for a variety of reasons, including:

  • prior hip surgery;
  • injury;
  • abnormal alignment of the spine, e.g., scoliosis;
  • prolonged periods of sitting, especially if you have a wallet in your back pocket;
  • a piriformis muscle or sciatic nerve that has developed abnormally;
  • a discrepancy in the length of your legs;
  • foot problems;
  • a direct hit while playing a sport;
  • a wound that reaches all the way to the muscle;
  • overuse from frequent repetitive exercise, such as running;
  • a change from a sedentary lifestyle to a more active one.

Symptoms of Piriformis Syndrome

Initially, piriformis syndrome may appear to be hip bursitis or a herniated disc. A catalogue of symptoms during diagnosis should make it clear to your physician that the cause of the sciatic pain is piriformis syndrome.

Individuals suffering from piriformis syndrome will have:

  • trouble putting weight on one side of the buttocks;
  • spasms of the piriformis muscle;
  • sciatica-type pain if the hip is rotated outward when there is resistance;
  • piriformis muscle pain during a rectal exam;
  • difficulty sitting for long periods of time;
  • pain that increases the longer you sit;
  • leg and buttocks pain that increases when you are active;
  • tingling or numbness in the buttocks that extends down the back of the leg.

People who sit for long periods of time on the job or at home are at risk for piriformis syndrome, as are people who regularly do rigorous lower-body workouts.

Can MRI detect Piriformis Syndrome?

Although your physician may diagnose piriformis syndrome simply based on your symptoms, he or she may also order tests to support the diagnosis. Two that have proven useful are magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), which looks for nerve inflammation, and the FAIR test (flexion, adduction and internal rotation), which stretches your hip and puts pressure on the sciatic nerve.

The test measures the delay in sciatic nerve signals during muscle compression. An MRI can also help your physician to rule out arthritis or a ruptured disc as causes of the pain.


The stretching exercises suggested by your physiotherapist to ease your pain are also good exercises to use regularly to prevent piriformis syndrome from recurring. You should also develop good form for any repetitive motion tasks you perform regularly; consult with your physiotherapist. In addition, don’t undertake exercise that involves the injured muscles until they have healed and practise good posture, which includes wearing shoes that fit well.

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tailbone pain

Tailbone Pain: How can I relieve it?

The technical term for the tailbone is coccyx, which is derived from the Greek word for cuckoo. It was so named because the bone resembles the shape of the cuckoo bird’s beak. Now that we have that settled, let’s discuss tailbone pain itself. It is also known, technically, as coccydynia.

What causes Tailbone Pain?

Coccydynia is an injury to the tailbone, which is a multi-segmented bone that sits at the base of the spine immediately above the buttocks. The tailbone is small, but mighty. It helps to stabilize you when you sit and it is located in an area of the body full of tendons, muscles and ligaments.

Generally, tailbone pain sufferers experience dull, throbbing pain at the base of the spine reminiscent of a muscle spasm, but they may also feel sharp, stabbing pain when sitting for long periods of time or after being active. The pain may radiate up your back or down your legs and it may feel as if the injury is located in your tailbone itself or in the surrounding area. Sex and defecation may become painful, and women may also feel discomfort during menstruation.

Tailbone injuries have a variety of causes. A direct blow to the area that may be caused by a fall from your bicycle, for example, can result in coccydynia. Pregnancy and childbirth are also potential causes; in your last trimester of pregnancy, the ligaments in the area loosen to provide the baby with space, while a natural birth can cause trauma to the tailbone.

If you sit for long periods of time, especially if your sitting position is an awkward one or you are sitting on a hard surface like a bench, tailbone injury can result. Other potential causes include a weak pelvic floor, joint degeneration and straining due to hemorrhoids or constipation.

Tailbone Pain Treatment

Generally, coccydynia will disappear by itself in a few weeks or months. However, there’s no need to suffer unduly before the pain dissipates.

You can use over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication to lessen the inflammation that is causing pain; acetaminophen, ibuprofen, naproxen or COX-2 inhibitors are helpful.

How can I relieve my Tailbone Pain?

You can ice the area immediately after the pain begins and do so for a couple of days to reduce inflammation. However, after the first few days, heat will be more helpful. Heat applied directly to the area with adhesive heat strips, a heating pad or a hot water bottle can relieve the muscle tension that causes or exacerbates the pain.

If the pain worsens during bowel movements or due to constipation, your dietary habits may require some changes. You’ll want to increase your intake of both fibre and water and you may want to consider using a stool softener.

If you are required to sit for long periods of time, a donut cushion can help relieve some of the pressure to the area; consider using one at home, at work and in the car. Whether you use one or not, make a conscious effort not to sit for long stretches of time; get up and walk around at least once an hour or consider switching to a standing desk.

Poor posture aggravates the pressure on the tailbone, so be sure to sit with your feet flat on the floor and your back against the back of the chair. When you sit down, lean forward.

tailbone pain treatment

Tailbone Pain Exercises and Stretches

A physiotherapist can also demonstrate ways to help reduce your pain and prescribe a suitable course of exercises that will alleviate tension and strengthen the surrounding muscles, including the stomach and the pelvic floor.

Once movement is less painful, your physiotherapist may recommend gentle aerobic activity to increase the blood flow to the area to promote healing. Aerobic exercise also stimulates the release of endorphins, which are your body’s natural pain-relieving chemicals.

A physician may suggest gentle massage to the muscles attached to the tailbone. He or she might also inject a local anesthetic into the tailbone to relieve pain for a few weeks.

Surgery to remove the tailbone is a last resort and won’t be suggested until all other avenues of treatment are exhausted.

If you have severe, unrelenting pain that persists, you shouldn’t ignore it; there may be a more serious underlying cause. Your physician will want to conduct diagnostic tests, such as X-rays or an MRI, to determine if tumours, cysts or bone spurs are causing the coccydynia.

Remember, it’s the tail that wags the dog, so to speak. If your tailbone hurts, you’ll feel like growling instead, so get treatment.

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groin strain

What is a Groin Injury?

The groin, perhaps because of proximity, isn’t a region that is mentioned often in polite conversation. In fact, although it is likely we can all refer to its general location, we have probably never tried to pinpoint it or define it.

However, it’s a challenge we’ll take up here, because the groin is an area of the body that is prone to injury – groin strains are common, but before we can treat them, we must be clear about what we’re discussing.

Where is your Groin?

Let’s take a look at groin anatomy. The groin, also called the inguinal region, is the area of the body between the abdomen and the thigh on each side of the pubic bone. It contains the adductor muscles of the hip.

Usually, groin strains, which are muscle tears, take place in the upper groin area near the pubic bone or at the front of the leg. Depending on their seriousness, groin strains are classified by grade.

A Grade 1 strain is a minor tear to the muscle that causes some pain or tenderness; a Grade 2 strain is the tearing of a larger percentage of your muscle fibres that causes tenderness, pain, weakness and, possibly, some bruising; while a Grade 3 strain is a severe tear that results in a lot of pain and bruising.

Causes of Groin Pain

A groin injury can occur when there is any forceful leg movement: changing directions while running, jumping or kicking, for example. A direct blow to the area, a fall or any movement that moves the groin at an unusual angle may cause a strain.

Athletes are always at risk for groin strains, which can occur while skating, kicking a ball or playing basketball. A groin strain may also result when you are pushing, pulling or lifting heavy objects. It may also result from overuse of your muscles or from exercising without warming up.

groin injury

Groin Strain Symptoms

When you strain your groin, you will generally feel a sudden pain accompanied by a snapping sound when you move your leg or your hip. Swelling and bruising will probably follow quickly. You may also have spasms and feel sharp pain if you try to lift your leg or bring your legs together.

With a Grade 1 sprain, you’ll be able to walk normally and the use of your leg won’t be impaired. A Grade 2 sprain will commonly lead to a limp and restricted use of your leg. With a Grade 3 strain, it will be very painful to put any weight on your leg and you will have difficulty using it. There may even be a dent in the muscle that is visible under the skin at the tear site.

How to treat a Groin Injury

Once you experience groin pain and realize you have sustained a groin injury, you’ll want to begin the standard RICE treatment — rest, ice, compression and elevation – and continue it for the first 24 to 48 hours. Try not to put weight on your leg and apply ice to the area for 15 to 20 minutes every two hours. Apply an elastic bandage to the area for compression and ensure it is cushioned by pillows to elevate it.

To get relief from the pain in your groin area, you can take an over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen.

Your physician, after diagnosing the injury, should refer you to a physiotherapist for treatment. In assessing your injury, the physiotherapist will ask you questions about how the groin injury occurred and what you felt at the time.

They will test your muscle strength, move your leg away from your body and gently touch you to determine exactly where the tear has occurred. He or she may also do additional testing to ensure that your hip or your back aren’t injured, too.

Following the assessment, your physiotherapist will design a program of rehabilitation and recovery for you to allow you to heal quickly and return to normal activity as soon as possible. Your program will include exercises and stretches for groin pain that will improve strength, improve motion and hasten your recovery.

Prevention of Groin Injuries

You can certainly take steps to prevent a groin injury, although there are no guarantees, especially if you are involved in sports. Warm up your muscles by stretching or doing light exercise before participating in a game or more intense exercise.

If you don’t exercise regularly, take things slowly. You don’t want to exceed your comfort level or injury can result. Try to keep your level of exercise consistent, rather than doing some intense exercise on Monday and not exercising at all for three or four days. Take a hint from professional athletes who generally train year-round.

If you keep your leg muscles strong, you’re less likely to experience a groin injury.

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what is a heel spur

What is a Heel Spur?

Do you suffer from heel pain? If so, you’re not alone. Unfortunately, many people try to ignore the early signs of heel pain and keep on doing the activities that caused it. When you continue to use a sore heel, it will only get worse and could become a chronic condition leading to more problems.

It shouldn’t hurt to get to your feet in the morning or walk throughout the day. If you notice a sharp, stabbing sensation in your heel with each step you take, you may be suffering from heel spurs.

How do you know if you have a heel spur?

Heel spurs develop over time; they don’t magically appear. Repetitive strain on your muscles and ligaments in the foot and heel can lead to a heel spur, a bony buildup of calcium on the heel that can form and cause pain.

There are two types of heel spurs: an inferior calcaneal spur, which results from ongoing stress to the bottom of the heel and grows between the heel and the arch of the foot; and a posterior calcaneal spur, which is the result of repeated trauma to the back of the heel where the Achilles tendon is attached.

The posterior calcaneal type of heel spur is often visible to the eye and can be easily felt, but the inferior calcaneal spur is trickier to diagnose, because the pain it causes can be mistaken for plantar fasciitis.

Generally, an X-ray is required to ascertain that a heel spur is, indeed, the cause of the pain you are experiencing.

What causes heel spurs?

Common causes for heel spurs include heel bruising, arthritis, shoes that fit poorly, the effects of excess weight, footwear with minimal support (e.g., flipflops) and gait issues that put too much pressure on the heel bone and surrounding ligaments and nerves.

Aging can also be a contributing factor, because the plantar fascia become less flexible and the heel padding becomes thinner. Flat feet or high arches may also lead to heel spurs, as can diabetes or work that requires you to spend most of the day on your feet.

heel spur

Heel Spur vs Plantar Fasciitis

Heel spurs often co-exist with cases of plantar fasciitis. The plantar fascia are the fibrous tissues that run from the heel to the ball of the foot and inflammation of these tissues is called plantar fasciitis. However, plantar fasciitis can be cured, but once heel spurs develop, they remain in place, although their impact can be minimized.

Heel spur sufferers may experience a sharp, knifelike pain when they stand up; the pain generally lessens and becomes a dull ache. You may feel heat radiating from the area and see inflammation and swelling.

Walking barefoot may be difficult due to tenderness at the bottom of the heel. Often, the heel spur itself is not the cause of the pain; the pain comes from the injury underlying it.

Can a heel spur go away on its own?

As mentioned, heel spurs may be easily confused with plantar fasciitis, so your physician will generally request an X-ray before making a diagnosis. Heel spurs don’t dissolve or disappear, but you can mitigate the pain and discomfort they generate.

How to relieve heel spur pain

Your physician may suggest one or more possibilities to relieve heal spur pain. The easiest is the use of over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen, acetaminophen or naproxen. Icing your heel will also help reduce any swelling or inflammation.

Heel spur exercises

Physiotherapy is another useful option. Your physiotherapist will do an analysis of your gait and can prescribe a course of exercises that will help correct any imbalances that allow your heel spurs to grow. They may also use a combination of manual therapy and ultrasound to break down calcification. Acupuncture may also be employed to help reduce pain. To reduce the stress on your foot’s muscles and tendons, your physiotherapist may use strapping or taping techniques in the area.

Orthotics for heel spurs

Your physician or physiotherapist may also prescribe custom orthotics, inserts that are placed in your shoes to assist in correcting your gait and suggest that you wear cushioned sports shoes to alleviate pain.Custom orthotics often have a well cut in them to provide extra cushioning to the affected area to reduce the impact of walking or being active on your heel.

How long does a heel spur last?

Most sufferers of heel spurs recover from the pain and discomfort with nonsurgical treatments. However, if the discomfort persists after nine to 12 months, surgery may be necessary.

Remember: a heel spur is a chronic condition, so it will be up to you to manage it. By following your physician’s recommendations and doing the exercises prescribed by your physiotherapist, you should eventually be able to forget that they exist.

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core stability

Why is Core Stability important?

Your core refers to the midsection of your body, front, rear and sides; it connects the upper and lower regions of your body. The core’s major muscle groups include the transversus abdominis (your six-pack abdominal muscles), the pelvic floor muscles, the internal and external obliques, the rectus abdominis, the multifidus, the erector spinae, and the diaphragm, which is crucial for breathing.

The core supports your spine and pelvis and is integral to motion, transferring force from one area to the other. Having a strong core is important for movement, because weak or inflexible core muscles can interfere with the proper functioning of your legs and arms. Strong core muscles also provide you with balance and stability and help prevent falls and injuries.

What Is Core Stability and Why Does it Matter?

Core stability refers to the ability to keep your spine from moving during physical activity, such as walking, running, swimming, etc. Your core helps you control your body effectively, helping you use your arms and legs to the best advantage and preventing your spine from bending or flexing unintentionally. Core stability is important because stability is crucial to your everyday activities.

Signs of a Weak Core

If you haven’t really thought about the importance of core strength until now, it’s time to pause and assess yourself. If you have a weak core, you needn’t simply sigh and fret; you can do core stability exercises to strengthen it.

There are a number of signs of a weak core. One of the major indicators is lower back pain that isn’t the result of another back issue. You need strong muscles surrounding your spine in order to properly support its vertebrae and discs. Without them, the forward curve of a normal spine won’t be possible and you may have pain in the surrounding tendons and muscles.

Another indicator is poor posture. Your spine and pelvis are held in place by the muscles in your abdomen and lower back. If they aren’t strong, your posture will suffer and the resulting slouch will strain muscles. Sitting or standing erect for long periods of time will be problematic. Often, people with lower back issues also have posture problems and vice-versa.

Strong core muscles are the key to stability, so if you are having trouble with your balance, your core may be the weak link. Test yourself by standing on one leg with your eyes closed for ten seconds; try this with each leg. If you can’t hold the position, it’s a sign that your core needs strengthening. If you stumble, a strong core can help you remain upright, so it’s important to exercise those muscles.

The hollowing test is another way of checking your core strength. Take a deep breath and pull your stomach muscles back toward your spine as you exhale. If you can’t manage to hold them there for 10 seconds, it’s another indicator that more core strength is required.

If you have ever practised yoga, you are familiar with the plank position, one that challenges your abdominals and tests your core strength. Try it by assuming doing a push-up, resting your weight on your arms, elbows and toes with your hips held level and steady. If you can’t remain in this position for 50 seconds, guess what? Your core needs strengthening.

Finally, general muscle weakness may be an indicator of inadequate core strength. Your core provides the power for motion and stability, too. If your arms and legs aren’t being accommodating, it may be due to a weak core.

core stability exercises

Why is Core Stability Essential for Seniors?

Core stability is integral to a wide range of daily activities, from walking to reaching for cans in the kitchen cupboard. It underpins almost everything you do throughout the day, so it is crucial to your quality of life.

A stable core allows you to have more control over your body, whether you are in motion or sitting still. A healthy core is important in preventing accidents and injuries; seniors are often vulnerable to falls, so stability is especially important as you age. A healthy core also helps you fight pain and maintain balance, co-ordination and good posture. It even assists with breathing and digestion.

If you’re determined to stay as healthy as possible as you age, having a strong, stable core is an essential ingredient.

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RICE method

Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation - The RICE Method Explained

RICE is the acronym that stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. It’s a mnemonic, or memory device, that helps you remember quickly what to do when injury strikes a ligament, a tendon or a muscle.

The RICE method can generally be used even before checking in with your physician or physiotherapist. It is generally effective if employed as soon as possible within the first 24 hours following injury and continued for up to 48 hours. It’s simple to do and the benefits are evident, because sprains are often painful and swell rapidly.


If you think you’ve sprained an ankle or pulled a muscle in your back, it’s time to stop any activity that aggravates the injury and causes you pain. Especially if it’s a limb, avoid moving it and keep weight off it to prevent further damage. Crutches or a brace may be necessary if your leg is involved.

You may be able to exercise other muscles to prevent de-conditioning, but handle the injured area with care; in fact, it would be wise to check with your physiotherapist to determine which exercises won’t be harmful under the circumstances.


Cold is useful for its ability to prevent or limit swelling. It can also numb the affected area, which is a blessing if you are in pain. In applying cold to the injured area, be sure the frozen item has no direct contact with your skin; place ice or a cold gel pack or frozen peas or corn – which mould nicely to the shape of an ankle or knee – in a dishtowel to protect your skin from freezer burn.

Try to apply the cold/ice to the injured area as soon after the injury as possible and continue to do so for 20 minutes at a time, eight times each day, for the first 48 hours.


Compression also helps decrease swelling in the injured area. Use an elastic or tensor bandage to wrap the affected area, but don’t make it so tight that you prevent proper circulation in the area. If you wrap it too tightly, you’ll probably see swelling BELOW the bandage. Other signs that the compression bandage is too tight include numbness, tingling, coolness or increased pain.

Use compression to treat your injury for 48 to 72 hours. If you have a more severe injury, your physician may suggest an air cast or splints to provide more support while assisting with compression.


Elevation reduces blood flow to the injured area, consequently reducing swelling and keeping bruising down. Raise the injured area above your heart, if possible – especially when icing it – and cushion it with a pillow. Try to elevate the injured area for two to three hours daily.

Of course, depending on the injury, the RICE method is likely to be only the first stage in treating it. In general, you’ll want to have your physician assess the injury, especially if you can’t put any weight on the area or if the area is numb or misshapen. You may also want to take non-prescription non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to relieve pain.

Once the swelling has gone down, your physician will probably suggest you see a physiotherapist to rehabilitate the injury through targeted stretching and strengthening exercises.

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What is a Contusion?

There shouldn’t be any confusion about a contusion. In plain English, it’s a bruise. We’ve all had them, especially as children: bumping into the dresser in the bedroom or getting tackled on the soccer pitch, for example. Contusions are very common workplace injuries and sports injuries, almost as common as muscle strains. They can be painful, but generally, they’re not dangerous to our long-term health.

Contusion Definition

A contusion is an acute direct muscle injury result from blunt trauma to the tissue, accompanied by an accumulation of blood. You may sustain a blow in a sport or you may bump into a fixed object; either way, both your muscle fibres and small blood vessels (capillaries) become injured. Blood from the capillaries leaks out and settles under the skin, although the skin isn’t broken.

The size of the bruise depends on the force involved in the injury, as well as the cause. The greater the force or the larger the object involved, the bigger the contusion.

A contusion also may not be visible immediately; it may take time to develop. It also may not appear directly at the site of the injury, since gravity can send the leaking blood to the lowest portion of your limb; hence, trauma to the knee may result in a contusion near the ankle.

Contusion Symptoms

Bruises add a bit of colour to our complexions, albeit not the most attractive sort. The contusion will also change colour over time. Initially, a bruise usually looks red in colour due to the new blood leaking into your tissues. It contains both oxygen and hemoglobin, a protein that is rich in iron.

Shortly afterward, the blood loses its oxygen and your contusion turns a blue or purple colour. As the red blood cells break down, they leak hemoglobin and iron, often turning the contusion a darker purple or a black colour.

Since a contusion doesn’t usually involve muscle tears, you may be able to ignore it and continue on with work or a sporting activity. However, the area may be tender and there may be some swelling and soreness to the touch. Contusions do have an impact upon muscle function, so your range of motion in the area may be limited.

Contusion Treatment

When it comes to how to treat a contusion you’ll want to adopt the PRICE protocol in the first 72 hours following an injury that causes a contusion. PRICE is an acronym standing for protect, rest, ice, compress and elevate and is useful in controlling bleeding, pain and swelling. If the injury occurs during a sporting contest, stop playing immediately to prevent further damage.

The term, rest, is a relative one. You shouldn’t keep the area immobilized – it’s important to get it moving – but you should do so gently without exerting undue force.

Icing should be done on and off for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. The cold reduces pain while preventing additional tissue damage. Be sure to wrap your ice or cold pack in a towel to prevent damage to the skin.

Using a compression bandage can also assist in keeping swelling down and improving circulation, although it is important not to bind the contusion too tightly.

Elevation is also useful for 10 to 20 minutes at a time; it helps to reduce swelling and promote circulation and healing.

Once you get past the 72-hour mark, you’ll want to begin promoting movement and improving the function of your injured muscle. A physiotherapist can be very helpful at this stage in prescribing exercises that increase strength and pain-free range of motion.

These movements will help increase circulation and healing, clear the area of cellular debris and prevent the buildup of scar tissue. A physiotherapist may also employ hands-on techniques to speed recovery, such as massage, or electric modalities, such as ultrasound.

How Long does a Contusion Last?

You can expect a contusion to heal in about two to three weeks, depending on the severity of the injury. As you begin to heal, your physiotherapist will eventually introduce resistance exercises and sport-specific exercises that ready you for a return to sport, if that is your goal.



Most contusions are straightforward and heal as expected over time. However, in rare cases, there may be complications, especially with more severe contusions. You’ll want to consult with a physician if these develop.

Your contusion may develop a hematoma, or a blood clot, which feels like a hard lump in your muscle that is evident fairly early on in the recovery process. Generally, it is absorbed back into the tissue.

Once in a while, a contusion leads to deep vein thrombosis, a blood clot that forms deep in the veins. It is a very serious condition, because there is always a risk of a piece of the clot breaking off and travelling to the lungs.

You can help prevent such clots from forming by ensuring that you begin moving the affected area of the body early, regularly and gently.

Luckily, complications are, as noted, rare, and you should be healed and raring to go in a matter of weeks.

Do you need help with treating a contusion?


What is Whiplash?

In Canada, whiplash accounts for more than $2 million in insurance claims each year that cost the economy about $600 million in lost work productivity, sick leave and medical care.

Let’s take a look at some of the most common questions surrounding whiplash including:

  • What is whiplash?
  • What does getting whiplash mean?
  • How do you know if you have whiplash? What does whiplash feel like?
  • How long does whiplash last?
  • What is the best treatment for whiplash?

What is whiplash?

The Physiotherapy Association of British Columbia defines whiplash as “an acceleration-deceleration mechanism of energy transfer to the neck. It may result from rear end or side impact motor vehicle collision but can also occur during diving or other mishaps. The impact may result in bony or soft tissue injuries (whiplash injury), which in turn may lead to a variety of clinical manifestations called whiplash-associated disorders (WAD).”

What does getting whiplash mean?

Anatomically speaking, the mechanical forces that occur when the head and neck are whipped forward and back place major stress on the cervical spine. As the head is thrown backward, then forward, the cervical spine is first hyperextended and then hyperflexed; these movements are outside the normal range. The discs can rupture and soft tissue damage can occur. The muscles and ligaments in the neck can become stretched, nerves may be damaged and, in rare cases, bones may break.

Although motor vehicle accidents are the most common cause of whiplash, it can result from a number of other activities that can yield a strong impact on the cervical spine, such as contact sports like hockey, football, rugby and boxing; roller-coaster rides; horseback riding or bicycling accidents. Any direct hit to the head by a large, heavy object may lead to whiplash.

whiplash injury

How do you know if you have whiplash?

Whiplash injury symptoms may not appear immediately upon impact. They usually develop within 24 hours of injury, but they may disappear and return after a day or two. They are usually confined to the upper, or cervical, spine and to the middle of the back (thoracic spine), but pain may radiate into the arms, shoulders and head.

If you have whiplash, you may have restricted movement in your neck and your head may feel heavy. Common symptoms include neck stiffness and decreased range of motion; an aching or painful neck or back; fatigue; arm pain and weakness; headaches that generally attack the base of the skull; shoulder pain and stiffness; and jaw pain. The pain is usually dull but may worsen depending on your movements.

Whiplash sufferers may also experience cognitive symptoms as a result of their injuries. You may suffer from ringing in your ears; memory problems; dizziness; difficulty sleeping; irritability; difficulty concentrating; and blurred vision or other visual disturbances.

If your symptoms are painful, spreads to the shoulders or arms, causes numbness or tingling or interferes with everyday activities, you should seek treatments. Medical advice and physiotherapy can help you get back on track.

How long does whiplash last?

When you meet with your physician and with your physiotherapist, it is useful for them to have a catalogue of your symptoms and the movements that create pain.

Generally, it takes about three months for the neck to heal completely, although the pain will subside much sooner.

What is the best treatment for whiplash?

After the initial injury, you may want to ice your neck and consider non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medicine that is available over the counter.

In the past, it was believed that rest was essential to recovery from whiplash and sufferers were given foam neck collars to wear in order to prevent movement. However, it has been demonstrated that this approach does more harm than good; the neck needs to be strengthened in order to aid recovery.

Your physiotherapist will help you strengthen your neck muscles and make them more limber by giving you exercises targeted to your whiplash injury. Not only will this help you heal, but it will make you more resistant to future neck strain.

Starting physiotherapy and its attendant neck exercises as soon after injury as possible will help you recover completely. It will also forestall you from adopting poor posture and overarching your neck to avoid pain. Doing so can create long-term neck problems.

In addition to prescribing a course of whiplash exercises, your physiotherapist may use ultrasound therapy to improve function and decrease pain, while enhancing cartilage repair. Deep tissue massage may be used to treat muscle stiffness that results from the tension that can result from whiplash, and electrical stimulation can assist in relaxing muscles that are tight or having spasms.

As you heal from whiplash, you’ll undoubtedly be eager to prevent it from occurring in the future. If your injury is related to an automobile accident, be sure to buckle your seatbelt when driving and to adjust your headrest to the proper height to give yourself the best chance of avoiding whiplash during an impact.

Are you suffering from whiplash?

abnormal gait

Abnormal Gait and Balance Problems

Most of us give little thought to walking; it’s movement that seems to come as naturally to us as breathing – except when it doesn’t.

Walking takes strength, balance, sensation and co-ordination. Think about babies: first, they gain enough strength to raise themselves to their hands and knees to crawl. Next, comes pulling themselves up by grabbing a chair. Finally, they merge their newfound strength with co-ordination and manage to propel themselves forward, albeit awkwardly. It takes time and practice for them to find a natural gait.

As adults, we tend to forget how intricate this process is and how easily it can be disrupted. However, normal gait and balance rely on the proper functioning of various body parts, including the ears, eyes, brain, sensory nerves and muscles.

Injuries or problems with any of these parts can result in an inability to balance or to an unsteady gait, which can lead to falls or injuries if the causes and symptoms aren’t addressed.

Common Causes for Abnormal Gait

If an injury or illness has impaired your ability to walk normally, you may need gait training to improve your motion. Potential causes of problems with gait and balance include:

  • Aging: With a natural decrease in strength and flexibility comes impairment to your balance.
  • Musculoskeletal Problems: If your range of motion, strength, endurance and mobility are impeded for any reason, your gait may be affected, since you need a certain level of balance and strength to walk properly.
  • Impaired Cognition: You are less able to adapt to a situation if your judgment or safety awareness decreases, your attention is poor or you process information more slowly than before.
  • Impaired Neuromuscular Responses: Disruption in the signals between the brain and the muscles can affect gait and balance. The disruption can result from a variety of issues, such as a stroke, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis.
  • Impaired Sensory Processes: If your body’s sensors are unable to collect information about the environment, it can lead to balance and gait issues. Sensory disabilities may be caused by glaucoma, cataracts or diabetic retinopathy, to name just a few possibilities.

Gait Analysis

Your physiotherapist may diagnose your gait as abnormal after reviewing your medical history, discussing your symptoms and doing a walking gait analysis. She or he may use a gait scan device to assess the biomechanical function of your feet.

gait exercises

Gait and Balance Training

Gait and balance training is a type of physiotherapy that helps you learn to walk normally again. The benefits of gait and balance training include:

  • Improving your balance and posture;
  • Strengthening your joints and muscles;
  • Developing muscle memory;
  • Increasing your endurance;
  • Retraining your legs to participate in repetitive motion; and
  • Increasing your mobility while decreasing the risk of falling.

It also offers other health benefits; because you are mobile rather than stationery, it can improve your overall health, prevent increased osteoporosis and keep heart disease at bay.

Your gait and your balance are inextricably linked, both relying upon the body’s cognitive functions, the eyes, the ears and joints, muscles and nerves. Gait and balance training helps these parts work in harmony.

Gait and balance training is also very helpful to people recovering from a variety of health issues, such as a spinal cord injury, a joint replacement or a stroke. Learning to walk properly again requires determination and practice. Training also helps prevent injury, assists with posture and keeps related aches and pains to a minimum.

Before you start gait and balance training, you must be healthy enough to take part in physical activity and your joints must be strong enough to support you. The activities your physiotherapist will instruct you to do will depend on your diagnosis and physical abilities. Gait training exercises often include walking on a treadmill, combined with strength and mobility exercises.


In addition to your gait and balance training, your physiotherapist may suggest custom orthotics for your shoes. Custom orthotics are not the casual shoe inserts that you can buy at any drugstore to add extra cushioning to your shoes. They are custom-made, prescription medical devices that you wear inside your shoes to correct biomechanical foot issues – unstable or impaired gait when walking or running. These prescription inserts are useful in helping improve your gait and correcting the appropriate problem.

If you’re having trouble walking or are recovering from an injury, it is worthwhile to consider gait and balance training to get you back on your feet and on the right track.

Let's get you back on your feet!

degenerative disc disease

What is Degenerative Disc Disease

The discs that reside in our spinal columns are a vital part of our anatomy, acting as shock absorbers for our vertebrae and allowing our spines to bend and twist. These discs are located between vertebrae and are actually tire-shaped pieces of rubbery cartilage with gelatin filling the hole.

Degenerative Disc Disease Causes

The prevalence of disc degeneration in people under the age of 50 has been shown to be 71 per cent in men and 77 per cent in women; for those over 50, it is present in 90 per cent of both men and women.

So lets take a look at some of the degenerative disc disease causes. As we age, our discs naturally degenerate. They lose fluid, making them flatter and narrowing the distance between our vertebrae. This means that the discs are less able to absorb shocks and render us less flexible.

The outer layer of the disc may also be subject to tiny tears or cracks, allowing the gelatin in the centre to seep out. This may cause the disc to bulge, rupture or break into pieces. Bone spurs may also form or the disc’s rough surfaces may rub against each other, given the decreased space between them; this may result in pain and inflammation.

In addition, the nerve roots, the points where spinal nerves leave the spinal column to extend to other body parts, may get irritated or become compressed. The condition and these related maladies are lumped together under the term degenerative disc disease (DDD).

Disc degeneration doesn’t always lead to tearing and subsequent pain. It is most likely to do so if you have a history of smoking; do heavy physical work; don’t get much exercise; or are obese.


There are various ways the discomfort of degenerative disc disease pain can manifest itself.

  • Cervical Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms. You may have back or neck pain that travels to the extremities; it can be mild or severe. You may find that your arms and shoulders are numb or tingling if the degeneration affects your cervical spine.
  • Lumbar Degenerative Disc Disease Symptoms. If your lumbar spine is affected, you may have numbness in your legs, back or buttocks. If your ribcage hurts, your thoracic spine is likely responding to DDD. Bending over, reaching up or twisting may increase your pain, and it may worsen if you remain in one position for a long period of time. It may also be worse early in the morning.

The onset of pain may result from a major injury, such as a car accident, or a minor injury, such as falling from a stepping stool. However, it may also appear for no apparent reason.

degenerative disc disease pain

How to Treat Degenerative Disc Disease

If your physician suspects that you have degenerative disc disease based on your symptoms, he or she may try to pinpoint the source of your pain; measure the range of motion of your spine, your arms and your legs; perform muscle strength and sensation tests to determine if a nerve is affected; and examine your posture and observe your gait.

So what is the best treatment for degenerative disc disease?

At home and at work you can get some pain relief for degenerative disc disease by applying heat or cold to the affected areas and take acetaminophen or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication.

To achieve ongoing relief, physical therapy is the most common treatment. It helps in managing degenerative disc disease pain and improving range of motion, strength and flexibility. It assists patients in strengthening muscles that can help assume some of the load previously handled by the discs; it also increases blood supply to the injured area, bringing more oxygen and nutrients that can assist in repairing the damage done.

Degenerative disc disease exercises may include stretching and flexibility exercises that help you to improve movement in your joints and muscles, which generally aids in pain relief.

Strengthening exercises will strengthen both your core, which provides support to your spinal joints, and your extremities, which can assume some of the workload usually done by the spinal joint. Aerobic exercises may also be added to the program, since they improve mobility, relieve pain and help you maintain a healthy weight.

In addition, your physiotherapist may use spinal traction and some hands-on techniques, such as massage, to loosen tight muscles and stiff joints so they can move better. He or she will also give you instructions about sitting, standing, bending and sleeping properly to ease your pain.

If none of these methods produce results, talk with your doctor. In severe cases, surgery may be required.

Remember: disc degeneration is a normal part of aging; you can’t prevent the march of time but you can manage the changes with proper advice from trained professionals.

Let's get you some relief!

muscle cramp

How to Get Rid of Muscle Cramps

Our muscles are the body’s gateway to movement. They are the only tissues in our body that can contract and move the other parts of our body, so we rely on them heavily.

It is skeletal muscles that allow for physical motion. These striated muscles are attached to bone in at least one place, and many reach across a joint and connect to bones at each end. They are the key to all of our conscious movements.

Muscle Cramps

Given our reliance on muscles for movement, when a muscle cramps, we’re dismayed, because, for a brief period, they don’t function. A cramp is a tightening or painful, strong contraction of a muscle that happens suddenly and involuntarily and lasts for a few seconds to a few minutes. It prevents the muscle from functioning properly.

Most people experience muscle cramps in legs, calfs, and feet. They may manifest themselves as a lump of hard tissue visible under the skin’s surface. Some people are prone to muscle cramps at night – the tightening of muscles in the calf, thigh or foot that often occur as they are awakening or falling asleep.

What Causes Muscle Cramps?

While all of the causes of muscle cramps aren’t known, they are sometimes related to an underlying medical condition, such as nerve compression, mineral depletion and inadequate blood supply. Generally, people are more susceptible to muscle cramps as we age, because they lose muscle mass and the remaining fibres are overstressed more easily.

  • Muscle cramps can happen if a muscle is injured or overused or they can occur during exercise.
  • Mineral depletion, often due to the use of diuretics prescribed for high blood pressure medication, can lead to cramps, as can a dearth of calcium, potassium and magnesium in your diet.
  • Muscle cramps in pregnancy are common due to the need for additional minerals in the diet during pregnancy.
  • If you are dehydrated or exposed to cold temperatures, especially cold water, your muscles may contract.
  • Standing on a hard surface or sitting in one place for an extended period of time can cause cramps, as can sleeping with your legs in an awkward position.
  • In addition, if you are taking certain medications, such as birth control pills, or steroids, you may be more prone to muscle cramps.

muscle cramps in legs

Home Remedies for Muscle Cramps

For most people, you can address the cramps yourself using a variety home remedies for muscle cramps:

    • If you find one of your muscles cramping, first try massaging it and stretching it.
    • Heat may alleviate some of the discomfort, so take a warm bath or shower or apply a heating pad to the affected area.
    • If you’d prefer to try ice, use an ice pack on your muscle, but don’t place it directly on the skin; use a dishtowel as a barrier.
    • Taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication may also help ease the pain, and these are readily available over the counter.
    • Finally, ensure that you aren’t dehydrated; drink fluids. Sports drinks can be helpful in easing leg cramps.
    • If your cramp is a leg cramp, try jiggling your leg or walking around. You should also stretch your calf muscles, either while standing or sitting.

Generally, your cramps will ease as a result of one or more of these home remedies. However, consider seeing your physician if the cramps don’t improve with self-care; occur frequently; prompt redness, swelling or changes to your skin; cause severe pain; or don’t seem to bear any relation to exercise, overuse or any particular cause.

How to Prevent Muscle Cramps

If you want to prevent muscle cramps, staying hydrated is your first line of defence. Drinking fluids allows your muscles to contract and relax. Maintain a healthy diet, rich in magnesium, potassium and calcium.

Stretching both before and after exercising is also a good preventive measure. You may want to consult a physiotherapist about the best prevention exercises to use.

Let's get rid of those muscle cramps!

calf strain

How to Treat a Calf Strain

The area of the leg behind the knee that reaches to the ankle is called the calf, deriving from the Old Norse word, kalfi, which referred to muscles in the lower leg.

In any case, our calves comprise two major muscles: the soleus and the gastrocnemius. The gastrocnemius is the large, diamond-shaped muscles that gives our lower legs their bulge. The soleus muscle is a flat muscle that lies beneath the gastrocnemius. They taper and merge with our Achilles tendon, which inserts into our heel bone. They are responsible for the downward motion of our foot. The calf muscles pull the heel up to allow for forward motion.

Calf Strain Symptoms

The most common injury to our calf muscle is a calf strain, which is also called a pulled calf muscle and a calf muscle tear. In actuality, the two conditions refer to different degrees of the same problem. They result from overstretching the muscle and tearing some or all of the fibres. The difference is in severity.

The most severe injury is a rupture, in which the muscle is completely torn away from the bone. The least severe is a Grade 1 strain. Strains can be cumulative, resulting from injuries over time, or instantaneous, occurring as the result of a particular movement or injury.

With a Grade 1 calf strain, the muscle is partially stretched; a few fibres may be torn. The muscle may feel tender or painful, but your motion isn’t impaired and you can walk normally.

A Grade 2 calf strain is a moderate injury with more stretching and more muscle fibres torn. You may feel a snapping or pulling sensation when the tears occur and you’ll probably feel tenderness and some pain. You’ll find a loss of strength in the calf and may find yourself limping as you walk.

A Grade 3 calf strain is a severe tear of your muscle fibres; it may even be torn all the way through. This is called a rupture and the muscle itself may collapse or roll up into a ball that can be seen under the skin. You should feel extreme pain and won’t be able to walk.

Calf strains mean injured muscles and disrupted cells, leading to bleeding and bruising under the skin. Bruising may extend down the leg toward the ankle as gravity forces some of the blood lower. There will likely be swelling in the area and the muscles may feel tight.

calf muscle injury

Common Causes for a Calf Muscle Injury

Often, a calf muscle injury occurs during a sporting activity when you push off on your foot quickly to achieve a burst of speed. Athletes in sports such as tennis, baseball, soccer and track are often subject to strains, as are gymnasts and dancers.

In general, calf muscle injuries are caused by sudden or forceful, uncontrolled movement, and can occur instantly – an acute injury – or over time – an overuse injury. As we age, our calves become more vulnerable to injury.

Calf Strain Treatment

When a calf strain first occurs, take care of it during the first 24 hours by adopting the RICE method: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. This includes resting on your couch, elevating your injured leg, icing it every two hours for about 20 minutes and wrapping it tightly in an elastic bandage. If you must walk, heel lifts in your shoes are recommended.

For Grade 2 or 3 strains, you’ll probably want to see your physician for an accurate diagnosis. A Grade 3 strain may require surgery to repair the tear, and you may need to undergo an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), a CT (computed tomography) scan or a calf muscle ultrasound to confirm the diagnosis.

For Grade 1 and 2 strains, your physician will probably suggest a course of physiotherapy to help you rehabilitate your injured calf. Your physiotherapist will design a course of treatment that will encompass minimizing pain, improving motion and strength and minimizing recovery time. To minimize pain, a combination of hands-massage, ultrasound, electricity and taping may come into play.

Initially, your physiotherapist may gently manipulate your calf to allow gentle motion; you’ll progress to exercises and stretches. You’ll also start to do strengthening exercises, possibly employing weights or machines to work your calf appropriately. Your physiotherapist will work with you to achieve your goals of returning to activity and participating in the sports you love.

Any injury takes time to rehabilitate, so the best strategy is to prevent it from occuring in the first place. Be sure to do warmup exercises before participating in a sport and follow a stretching and strengthening program during the off season. Wear shoes that fit properly and don’t increase the intensity of your activity too quickly. There are no guarantees that injuries won’t happen, but these measures will make it less likely.

Let's get your calves some relief!

osteoarthritis hip

What is Osteoarthritis of the Hip?

With our aging population here in Canada, you may have noticed an increasing number of people walking with canes or limping as they walk. Aging translates to wear and tear on our bodies, and our joints are very susceptible.

One of the most common ailments as we age is osteoarthritis or arthritis of the bones, often called “wear and tear” arthritis. Osteoarthritis can occur in any of our joints, and the hip is one of its most common locations.

A 2009 Statistics Canada survey found that arthritis affects 10 per cent of the Canadian population ages 10 and up. Of those 20 and older, 37 per cent of arthritis sufferers said osteoarthritis was their sole arthritic condition; two per cent experienced hip pain; 29 per cent had knee pain and 29 per cent experienced both. These numbers certainly don’t prompt us to cheer, “Hip, hip, hooray!”

Osteoarthritis Hip Pain Explained

The hip is a ball and socket joint; the head of the upper leg bone, or femur, fits into the socket created by the acetabulum, a section of the large pelvis bone. The surfaces of both bones are generally covered with cartilage, a slippery substance that protects and cushions them. Between the bones, there is also a thin layer called the synovium, which produces fluid to lubricate the cartilage to ensure that movement happens smoothly. The cartilage also helps to absorb any shocks that aren’t dispersed by your hip bones.

With osteoarthritis, the cartilage begins to wear away and becomes rough in the process. The protective space between the two bones shrinks and, without cartilage, the bones may rub against each other. Bone spurs may also pop up, attempting to compensate for lost cartilage. It’s a slow process, but one that is increasingly painful.

arthritic hip joint

Risk Factors

Although the actual cause of hip osteoarthritis and deterioration hasn’t been identified, you are more likely to suffer from it if you have one or more risk factors, including aging; heredity or congenital defects; previous trauma to the joint, such as a broken hip from years earlier or effects of sporting activities; obesity – the hip experiences six pounds of pressure for every pound we gain; and gender – women are more likely than men to experience it.

Osteoarthritis Hip Symptoms

Because hip osteoarthritis is an ailment that develops slowly, people often ignore it until it affects their daily activities. If you have hip osteoarthritis, you may have stiffness in the groin, buttocks or thigh after sitting or lying down for long periods of time, including when you arise in the morning.

You’ll will likely have pain that will worsen over time, especially when you put weight on the hip; it may radiate down the thigh to the knee. You may have some swelling, which can weaken the muscles supporting the joint. Your hip joint may lock or stick periodically and there may be a sensation of bones rubbing against each other – a crunching or popping sensation.

Walking may be painful and you may unconsciously avoid putting weight on the hip, giving your gait a limping or lurching motion. You may have some loss of function – tasks that require bending, such as tying your shoes, may become difficult, and it may be a challenge to get into a car or a chair.

Treatment for Osteoarthritis of the Hip

In addition to discussing your history and doing an examination, your doctor will test your range of motion and check for pain points. He/she may order an MRI or an X-ray to confirm the diagnosis.

It isn’t possible to reverse the damage done to your hip by osteoarthritis, but you can slow its progress and address the symptoms. Relieving pressure on the joint through weight loss and/or muscle strengthening are common approaches. For more severe cases, injections and surgery may be suggested.

Any approach to treatment should aim to reduce pain and ensuring that you can function well enough to carry on with your daily activities. You’ll need to find the proper balance between activity and rest; inaction simply exacerbates the condition. You can also use a cane in the opposite hand and/or wear cushioned shoes to relieve some of the pressure on the hip when walking.

Non-invasive treatment should be your starting point, and physiotherapy is a useful tool to strengthen your surrounding muscles, increase range of motion and reduce pain. Your physiotherapist will start by manipulating your hip, moving on to designing a course of stretching and strengthening exercises.

Osteoarthritis hip exercises can also decrease stress on the hip and increase stability. They may also help you modify your gait. You’ll want to minimize activities, such as running, that cause pain and try those, such as swimming, that don’t place stress on the hip.

More Invasive Treatments

You may also consider more invasive options. Your physician may suggest steroid injections to reduce swelling or hyaluronic acid injections that provide lubrication to the joint to make movement easier. They don’t work equally well for everyone, but if they are successful, the impact lasts anywhere from six months to a year.

Surgery is the most drastic response to hip osteoarthritis. If the osteoarthritis is having a major impact on your lifestyle, you may want to consider it. There is arthroscopic surgery that can be used to remove bone spurs or loose pieces of cartilage; osteotomy that reduces friction by aligning bones properly; and total hip replacement, which replaces your joint with an artificial one. Discuss these possibilities with your physician if the osteoarthritis becomes severe.

Finally, don’t take your condition lying down (you’ll get stiff!). Be proactive in addressing it by staying active, losing weight and adopting a course of exercise that will strengthen the muscles around the hip.

Let's get you some relief!