Learning Opportunities

Many thanks to those who came to our seminar series “Understanding and Overcoming Persistent Pain” at the Halifax Library. It was great to help people gain more knowledge about treating and, more importantly, preventing pain. Based on our experience, we know there is a gap in people’s understanding of pain. We wanted to let people know that (1) that they are not alone, (2) that help is available and (3) that it’s possible to regain control over that aspect of life. Our passion stems from helping people who are suffering with persistent pain live more fulfilled lives. Education, movement, and exercise are key to achieving this. We are firm believers that knowledge is power and it is the first step in gaining freedom from persistent pain. We were very pleased with the turnout for the last series of workshops and recognize that people want help managing their pain or a loved one’s pain. Here are some upcoming opportunities to learn more: April 27th at One to One Wellness: “Health Empowerment: 4 Steps for Shifting From Pain to Performance” June Seminar Series at the Halifax Library: “Strengthen Your Health” Monday, June 5, 7:00pm:  Expressing Authentic Movement Monday, June 12, 7:00pm:  Strength Training for Managing Chronic Conditions Monday, June 19, 7:00pm:  What the Foot: A Game-Changing Philosophy of Human Movement Monday, June 26, 7:00pm: From Pain to Performance  We will explore different wellness principles and how putting all the pieces together helps to not only overcome pain, but to optimize performance as well. Please come along and bring a friend. If you have any questions in the meantime, feel free to...

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Walking: An Exercise or Activity?

I’m often asked “Is walking good for you?” In short, the answer is YES but the rewards and drawbacks of ‘walking for exercise’ depends heavily on the individual. For example, are you are free of injuries or impairments that would cause you to walk with a correction? Do you have a sore heel causing you to put more weight on one leg? Do you experience pain while walking or after? Do you have poor balance and at times worried you might fall? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions, it’s important that you minimize risk. Injury will take the benefit out of any workout. What are the primary benefits of walking? For me, walking is an activity that can be fun (who doesn’t love a social walk with a friend on the waterfront.) Walking gets the body moving. Increases blood flow which contributes to a healthy heart and brings greater fluidity to lower body joints. Walking challenges your weight bearing bones to help fight osteoporosis. In general walking is a low-impact activity that has minimal “wear and tear” on your joints. Walking is free, can be done most anywhere and is one of the best things for your mind & body. The downside to walking: it won’t on its own build muscle. Walking gives you a great cardiovascular boost but offers little improvement in muscle strength. As we age (after the age of 25) we start to lose muscle mass, this is called “sarcopenia”. It becomes fairly critical that we continue to build muscle mass as we age. Walking alone will not give you everything you need to be fit for the long run. I like to think of walking as an “activity” rather than “exercise”. I think any type of sport or recreational movements are in the same column. Activity in my opinion still has many benefits (physical, as well as psychological and social) but if you really want to play or engage in an activity with less chances for injury or “wear and tear” on your joints, then you need to do the fundamental work called “exercise”. I highly suggest weight training using machines or free weights, yoga, pilates, and body-weight training movements (squats, push ups, planks). Exercise is the hard work, and activity is the fun! In summary, walking is great. It’s just not the “be all and end all” of a complete fitness program. If walking is the one thing you do, good for you. You are moving! That’s better than a lot of people! If you are keen to experience the benefits of true fitness try adding exercises that build muscle. You will soon discover an ability to enjoy all types of physical activity safely and with greater...

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Shoveling Tips From A Halifax Physiotherapist

Safety tips from Jamie Turnbull, Physiotherapist! Being a physiotherapist in Halifax, Nova Scotia means you see a lot of patients who injure their back shoveling. After experiencing an unusual warm Christmas day, we are now faced with reality… winter is officially here. There is snow on the ground and we will be confronted with having to shovel our driveways on a regular basis. It is this time of year when we will see many people come in with shoulder or back pain from shovelling. While Physiotherapy is an excellent choice of therapy for these types of problems (and we’re happy to help!), the key message here is that a lot of these issues could be avoided with a little extra care and attention. Likely, a self-propelling snow blower is the best solution, but for most of us this is not an option, nor does it clear all snow covered areas. Thus we must grab our shovels and be mindful and cautious of our movement. So, here are a few tips to avoid these flare ups. ALTERNATE. Do not spend the whole time pushing, lifting, and tossing in one direction. After 5 passes at most, alternate your hands and go the other way. Too much repetition one way accumulates and causes repetitive strain. PACE YOURSELF. Bending forward for a long period causes prolonged contraction of back muscles. If you do not allow muscles to relax intermittently they begin to burn and ache. Therefore take intermittent breaks before feeling symptoms. Move in the opposite direction: hands on your hips and bend backwards a few times, next roll the shoulders back a few times, then resume your activity. BEND THOSE KNEES. When lifting the snow, lift with your legs not just with your arms or back. Get close to the shovel head to reduce the torque on your back, the closer you grab toward the shovel head the easier it is to lift. TAKE YOUR TIME. We often hurt ourselves when we move fast or are in a rush. Give yourself adequate time to get the task done. If you follow these general guidelines, you are less likely to aggravate something this winter – we’re pretty sure simply having to shovel is aggravating enough! Stay safe!...

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A Healthier Nova Scotia…Wellness!

By Nick Matheson, Owner It was eleven years ago; a birthday truly worth celebrating. My oldest daughter, Maryn, had reached a milestone. Three years old and she was cancer free. Born with a rare tumour in her liver, the disease had progressed to her lungs, reaching stage 4, before we had the good fortune of an accidental discovery. A fall on her belly a few months previous ruptured the tumour, threw her into shock, and propelled our family into a 4-month sprint to conquer this disease. On this particular day, she raced all over the playground, climbing, swinging, and jumping. Not a big deal for most three year olds, but quite a feat for a kid who was only three weeks post liver transplant! Having donated a significant chunk of my liver to the effort, I was quite the contrast as I winced with pain and hobbled lethargically around the park trying in vain to keep up. At only 31 I was already envious of the energy and recovery potential of youth! My family’s brush with cancer taught me that there are many things in life that I cannot control. It was in that moment, full of joy in Maryn’s victory and facing struggle in my recovery, that I vowed to control those things I could. Until that point, health was something I took for granted. It’s easy to do that until you start to lose it. So many people spend so much time and energy focused on things that do not matter at all when their own health or the health of those they love is at risk. Illness can be an important wake up call. I’m sure my family has claimed more than our share of Nova Scotia’s health care dollars. We are very grateful that the stress of coping with a kid facing a serious illness was not compounded by wondering how we would pay for her care. We are incredibly thankful for the exceptional care that was provided and, of course, for a miraculous outcome. I realize that it is not without problems; however, the system was there for us when we needed it. For the most part, health care in Nova Scotia works when you are sick. The challenge is that it does very little to keep us well. And, frankly, I don’t think there is much it can do. The population of Nova Scotia is aging rapidly, chronic disease continues to increase, and unhealthy lifestyle habits are among the highest in the country. Illness places a growing burden on health care budgets and personnel. I understand fully that there are many things we cannot control. I invite every Nova Scotian to accept responsibility for controlling those they can. Wellness is too often sacrificed to denial or lack of awareness. Every choice takes one closer to or farther from a state of good health. The scientific literature is...

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Beat the Heat!

By Joline Boudreau, PT It’s hard to believe that just a few short months ago we were chipping away at ice, and spent hours shoveling snow.  If anything, the winter that we had has maybe sparked something in all of us; to get out there and take advantage of our summer and warmer weather.  As someone who enjoys going for runs, cycling, and just being active outdoors I can certainly attest that the hot weather can bring about its own challenges. I decided that I would share some tips to help with these hot summer days.  Though they may seem basic, putting these into effect can make a difference.          Wear loosefitting, lightweight clothing          Protect against sunburn          Drink plenty of fluids          Take extra precautions with certain medications          Take is easy during the hottest parts of the day I’ve included a link to a short video that describes what happens when you have heat...

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My Shoulder is Frozen?

There is an awful condition called adhesive capsulitis, or more commonly referred to as frozen shoulder, that shows up in about 2% of the population, mostly between ages 40 and 60, and more often women than men.  It is associated with stiffness and pain in your shoulder and can be treated in many manners with relatively the same outcome.  Unfortunately, the outcome, which is usually that the pain and stiffness resolve, doesn’t happen very quickly, often requiring 2-3 years to fully return to normal.  The reason why I decided to write about this subject is to hopefully save someone who has this terrible pain even more, and rather unnecessary, pain because of treatment to supposedly help them. First we have to look at what it is to understand how we can know what we should do if it happens to you.  Anatomically, the shoulder joint, which is made up bones, ligaments, and tendons is surrounded by connective tissue which forms a type of capsule  to further support of the “ball and socket” joint.  See the picture below.  Systemic issues can increase the likelihood of frozen shoulder (Diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, thyroid issues) but more commonly the capsule, for many reasons such as tendon injuries, a broken bone, post surgery, all at the shoulder area, or following a stroke, can thicken and tighten and become inflamed. Now it hurts every time you move your arm. So then the less you move, then the stiffer it gets, but also the more forceful you make it move, the more painful it gets.   Darned if you darned, darned if you don’t it seems!! Frozen shoulder is characterized into 3 stages: 1) Painful (“freezing”) stage: pain with almost all movements at the shoulder, losing range of motion over a period 6 weeks to 9 months. 2) Frozen stage: Perhaps a bit less painful but losing more range of motion, lasting about 4 to 6 months. 3) Thawing stage: Again, a little less painful and range of motion slowly returns, taking 6 months to 2 years to complete. Options on how to treat frozen shoulder: (this is not an exhaustive list but these are two more common attacks!) 1) Physiotherapy: There are two ways of treating frozen shoulder with therapeutic exercise.  One way is to passively and actively stretch the shoulder as much as possible (despite discomfort or pain) by doing a series of daily exercises.  The second way is to gently work the joint actively and passively through its available painfree range.  One study in 2004 (1) looked at the effect of (group A) intensive passive stretching and manual mobilization compared to outcomes from (group B) supportive therapy and exercises within the pain limits.   At the end of one year 64% of group B had normal or near-normal painfree function and at two years 89% had the same.  Interestingly, the “no pain no...

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