What can we do about pain?
– sometimes tissues repair but associated protective patterns may not, and that may be creating the persisting pain. Have you developed protective, but harmful, movement patterns? Are there areas of tension, tightness, weakness, compensation, that are not allowing your body to function normally as it once did?
– some tissues don’t repair as well as we would want, so have you learned how to stabilize, support, mobilize, or strengthen the area to make it as healthy as possible?
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”
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 ask!
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.
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.
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).
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 ease.
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 shoveling. 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.
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!
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 full of results demonstrating the positive impact that diet and exercise have on chronic disease. And yet many continue to rely instead on taking a few pills or being caught by the health care system once they’ve fallen. As I’ve said, I’m as appreciative as anyone for that safety net. I’m also determined to strengthen my health and give those around me every opportunity to thrive.
Thriving comes from attention to 3 main areas:
Mind: The first step toward change is awareness. The second is acceptance. In words from those far wiser, all suffering comes from wanting things to be other than they are. Learning to be aware of my ability to respond rather than react has brought great freedom. Practices like meditation and yoga can bring focus, clarity, and relaxation. Becoming more awake means recognizing that I always have choice.
Muscle: As the engine that makes us go, muscle must be maintained in order to do the things we want to do. Loss of muscle begins as soon as we stop naturally growing unless something is done to stimulate strength. Being stronger makes everything you want to do easier. Body composition, which provides an indication of muscle mass, is actually one of the most important measures of overall health and one of the most significant determinants of an active lifestyle.
Movement: Our bodies are meant to move. From a young age, we learn that we are our thoughts and we become somewhat disconnected from our bodies. Sedentary lifestyles contribute to tightness, stiffness, and weakness. Pain can cause further restriction and avoidance. Crappy weather can make us cocoon in front of the TV instead of embracing the great outdoors. There are lots of excuses and all must be overcome. Quite simply, movement is the best medicine for creating change in a person’s physical, emotional, and mental state.
Ultimately, we must all be the change we wish to see in the world. I can see a healthier Nova Scotia. I work every day to become more aware of my choices and to help others align mind, body, and spirit toward their own vision. Please accept this as a Nova Scotia Wellness Challenge and commit today to whatever changes you feel are most important to move you – and all of us – to a greater state of health. That would be worth celebrating!
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.
I’ve included a link to a short video that describes what happens when you have heat stroke.
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:
Options on how to treat frozen shoulder: (this is not an exhaustive list but these are two more common attacks!)
Having frozen shoulder is terrible, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel for you. I would strongly suggest if you decide to try to get some relief through active treatment that you really look into the research and hopefully find the treatment that will not increase your pain and/or possibly delay your progress. I believe that proper, gentle physiotherapy can be helpful and somewhat pain-relieving and should be a part of a frozen shoulder recovery.
The weather is warming up and many of us are spending more time in our gardens lately. This can involve a range of activities from light to heavy tasks. It is easy to sustain an injury or feel pain with awkward movements, too much loading, or sustained postures. Adhering to some simple principles will minimize your risk and allow you to get outside and enjoy your garden all summer long.
Do not bend over too far when doing a pulling activity, and do not overreach. Use tools with a longer handle when possible.
Combining bending and twisting together can get you in trouble, this can add strain to your back. When lifting, keep the load directly in front of you.
Do not bend from the waist. Squat or kneel on a kneeling pad. Sit on a milk crate or a low stool to weed or plant; this will be easier on your back.
If you can move a task so it is at counter height then do so. This will be easier than trying to crouch or bend over.
Use a wheelbarrow to move heavier loads. Even if it is not a heavy load, a bag of soil or mulch can be an awkward lift so a wheelbarrow still makes the task much easier (well worth the investment).
Pacing is important! Spread the task out over a longer period of time, alternate between tasks and rest in between. If you get absorbed into a task and do it for too long, you may pay for it later in pain or discomfort.
Take your time and don’t rush or cheat. When we are in a rush we lose focus and this is when we get into trouble.
Your next posture is your best posture! Be dynamic and move a lot.Periodically move in the opposite direction of the posture you sustained. Do not sustain one posture for several minutes at a time. Sustained postures restrict blood flow, and lack of blood flow leads to mechanical pain.
Enjoy the summer and be safe!
It is a common fallacy that running is bad for your joints and accelerates wear and tear. There is, however, no real scientific evidence of this. For the most part, this line of thinking is not true. If done excessively, running can violate your health, though not really your joint health. It actually has a greater impact on muscle health and it can accelerate muscle wasting if dosed incorrectly. Done in the right amount, it can be a great way to maintain your running skill and running fitness. Rarely anymore do people need to completely stop running. Most often, adjustments in volume or intensity enable people to continue running productively. The information on this site can help you understand what to ask and look for when evaluating your running regime.
I am as guilty as anyone of trying to find the easiest way to get what I want accomplished and expecting the best results despite it. However, as a physiotherapist, I am a big promoter that the power to improve one’s health is proportionate to how much effort the individual puts into their treatment and home care.
I see a lot of people with knee and hip pain and most of them start out with “I’m not sure if there is much you can do about it since I have Osteoarthritis (OA) in my joint(s)”. There is evidence to show that people with OA can improve function and pain levels, though they often don’t know what can be done or they don’t want to put in the effort to do it!
I can understand why people may not want to do what may be very beneficial because just taking pain medication may seem easier than physical effort. This article explains quickly what I mean.
Even though weight loss and exercise have been proven techniques to decrease pain and improve function, many people just don’t do it. Weight loss is a slow process and many types of exercise can appear intimidating, over-whelming, inconvenient, or even pain-inducing. At One to One Wellness, our clients experience how low-force strength training, along with prescribed and specific cardiovascular exercise, can create enormous gains. It is important for people suffering with OA that exercise is non-intimidating, welcoming, convenient, and above all, comfortable.
Feel free to ask a physiotherapist how to get you more active on your own journey to improving the symptoms associated with OA. A little bit work can go a very long way!