Physiotherapy Toronto Blog 

Six Common Myths About Physiotherapy

By Athlete's Care on January 13, 2023

Our Toronto physiotherapists are busy helping their clients with many issues, some of them relatively little known or understood by the general public. In fact, there are many myths and misconceptions about physiotherapy treatment and what it can do for you. Here are six of the most common, along with the common sense answers.

1. You go to see a physiotherapist only when something hurts

It's true that physiotherapy offers relief from many different conditions related to the musculoskeletal system. And, it can alleviate many of those painful conditions. However, you certainly don't have to be in pain to get the most of of physiotherapy. Physiotherapy treatments can help you stay active and increase mobility, as well as provide targeted assessments and exercise plans. Physiotherapists work to help their patients optimize the way their body performs in many ways.

2. Physiotherapy treatment hurts

A physiotherapist's job is to reduce pain and discomfort, not to cause it—it's one of the major roles of physiotherapy treatment. Therapy has the goal of minimizing pain and helping you move the way your body was designed to move. After an injury or surgery, physiotherapy treatments work to help your body heal, and restore the optimal level of mobility and movement for your situation.

3. It's only for sports professionals

Many people assume that regular physiotherapy treatments are only for professional or near professional level athletes. After all, during pro sports games, the team physiotherapist is often seen on the sidelines. That's a false assumption, however. Physiotherapy can help anyone, from office workers with a sedentary lifestyle, to elite level athletes. It's about helping your body perform at its best. Physiotherapy has also proven useful for many conditions that anyone can experience, including headaches, back pain, knee and elbow pain, and much more.

4. It's just a bunch of exercises you can do at home

Knowing that physiotherapy does involve targeted exercises, some people wrongly assume that it's something they can look up on the internet and do themselves. The truth is that a skilled physiotherapist first takes the time to fully understand and diagnose the root causes of pain or discomfort—then they devise a custom-made plan that addresses your specific issues. No YouTube video can do that. In addition, your Toronto physiotherapist combines exercises and targeted movements with hands-on therapy and guidance to ensure that goals are being met, and no new damage is being caused.

5. It's only for specific injuries

Sure, you'd go to see a physiotherapist if you had a bad ankle sprain, or tore a ligament in your knee. But, it's not for everyday issues or conditions... That's an unfortunate way of thinking, because it would deprive you of the multiple benefits of physiotherapy. It's of great use in helping to heal from musculoskeletal injuries or surgery, but physiotherapy treatment can help help with pelvic health issues, concussion management, and treatment for arthritis, to name just a few.

6. Physiotherapy, massage therapy, chiropractic... it’s all the same

While all three practices fall under the umbrella of musculoskeletal therapies, there are some important differences. A thorough diagnosis by a sports medicine professional will determine which course or combination of treatment(s) is best for you. Massage therapists work with the body’s soft tissues to relieve pain and improve range of motion, among other benefits. Chiropractors are primarily concerned with the spine and its alignment, as well as the nerves connected to it. Physiotherapists are whole body specialists who work with the joints and various structures that make up the musculoskeletal system.

 

Is physiotherapy right for you? Our Toronto physiotherapists are available to answer your questions and concerns. Don’t hesitate to contact one of our Toronto clinics for a consultation.

Tips For Overcoming Workout Plateaus

By Athlete's Care on December 05, 2022

Our Toronto physiotherapists, chiropractors and other sports medicine specialists field a lot of questions on the subject of exercise and fitness.

When—or before—they start out, many people assume that fitness is a kind of straightforward path leading to a specific place. In reality, as all fitness and sports medicine professionals know, fitness and conditioning are lifelong pursuits.

And, the path can have its ups and downs.

The workout plateau

Many people are frustrated by what are called fitness or workout plateaus. When you begin, you'll start to feel improvements in endurance or muscle building, according to what you are targeting.

Then, at a certain point, your gains seem to end. What gives?

  • Your body was once challenged by your workout routine;
  • It developed new muscles/endurance capacity/speed to adjust;
  • Now that it has adjusted, progress has stalled.

First, what you need to remember is: a plateau means you've made solid progress. It may feel frustrating, but it's a sign your body has made positive changes.

The problem is the key to your solution.

Most of the time, training plateaus are caused by the fact you are using the same workout routine over an extended period of time. Over-training may also be at work, meaning that you aren't giving your body enough recovery time between workouts to rebuild muscle and increase capacity.

What can you do?

In short: change it up. Keep the challenge in your workouts by switching up your routine.

  • Switch between quick/high intensity and slow/low intensity activities;
  • Use progressively heavier weights, or add repetitions;
  • Interval training can be a good way to snap out of a flat plateau.

Add something new. The same activities use the same muscles. Trying something new, or simply adding a new type of exercise to an existing routine, can help.

  • New equipment can boost your results;
  • Classes can give you new ideas;
  • Try new devices such as wrist or ankle weights to add difficulty.

There are simple ways to increase the intensity of your workouts:

  • Use heavier weights;
  • Add more reps;
  • Increase the level of difficulty of exercises.

When bodybuilding, alternating more intense workouts with less intense regimens can help.  Sometimes, just rearranging your reps can do the job. If you've been doing five sets of four, try eight sets of three instead.

Get professional help; the advice of a professional trainer can be invaluable in helping you achieve your fitness goals, as well as adapting to plateaus along the way. Your Toronto physiotherapist and other sports medicine specialists can provide advice about the right kinds of exercises for your fitness level and condition.

Recharging

Allowing your body enough time to rest and recover between workouts is essential. That's when muscle tissue is repaired and rebuilt. If you don't allow yourself enough time, you'll continue to tear down without letting your body build itself back up—stronger.

  • Be sure to get the right nutrition from your diet;
  • Don't forget about getting enough sleep.

Fitness has mental as well as physical dimensions.

  • Reconsider your goals, and the plan you've set to get there. Perhaps there are alternative ways and means that can give your workout the boost it needs.
  • Recognize that small gains are still gains. Once you've reached a certain level of fitness, the improvements you'll experience will necessarily seem lesser—simply because of how far you've come.

Remember, too, that your results are highly individual, and that what works for you won't necessarily work for the next person, and vice versa.

If you design your workouts with variables and change built into the program, you may never reach another plateau.

If you have any questions or issues with your sports or workout regimen, our Toronto sports medicine specialists are ready with answers and advice. Don’t hesitate to contact one of our Toronto physiotherapy, chiropractic and sports medicine clinics for a consultation.

 

Exercises That Help You Train For Hiking

By Athlete's Care on November 10, 2022

Many of the clients at our Toronto physiotherapy and chiropractic clinics come to us for advice on exercise and staying fit.

Hiking is a rewarding and fun activity that you can take anywhere you go and enjoy all year round – at least potentially. It can also be quite demanding, depending on the terrain. But, don’t let that hold you back.

Hiking builds:

  • Muscular strength;
  • Cardiovascular endurance.

Hiking also requires:

  • Muscular strength;
  • Cardiovascular endurance.

In other words, you'll need to reach a certain level of fitness to be able to enjoy your hike – both before and after. If you’re just starting out, or getting back into it after a time away, here are some tips on training to work your way up to hiking wherever the passion strikes you, or to keep in hiking shape if you prefer to wait out the winter.

Remember: If you’re just starting to become physically active for the first time, or after a lengthy sedentary period, you should consult your Toronto physiotherapist or other sports medicine specialist for an evaluation. They can design a regimen that focuses on your individual areas of interest.

Including specific exercises in your regimen to build the muscles you'll use hiking will bring you closer to your goals when to endurance, speed, and agility.

Think about starting your training 8 weeks before your first major hike.

It's all about the legs

Strong legs will get you where you want to go when it comes to hiking. One of the easiest ways to help get into hiking shape is by using something almost everyone has access to: stairs.

  • You'll definitely want to start with walking – stair running is a high intensity workout;
  • Be sure you’re using the glutes and muscles of the back of the leg to push up – and not your knees;
  • Begin with taking them one at a time, then alternate with two steps at a time;
  • Start with 10 steps, then a two minute rest, then repeat;
  • Work your way up slowly.

Some other recommended exercises include:

  • Squats – they use the hamstrings and other larger muscles of the leg, as well as the glutes, and jump squats and other variations can ramp up the level of difficulty – and gains – when you're ready;
  • Side planks and leg raises – they work both the core and key leg muscles.;
  • Step-ups – stretching the muscles at the back of the leg;
  • Lunges – both uphill and downhill to stretch and tone;
  • Weights – kettlebells and other small weights are ideal for deadlifts that really work the hamstrings.

But...don't forget the core

Building a solid core is also essential. It's crucial when it comes to maintaining balance, and by extension, avoiding injuries. You’ll also need a strong core to support your backpack.

  • Yoga and Pilates can help build strong torso muscles.
  • Also: don't forget to stretch, including 5 to 10 minutes of dynamic stretching before, and the same amount of time in static stretches after.

Add an aerobic activity of choice to build cardiovascular capacity, and in a couple of months, you should be able to hit the trails with confidence.

If you need advice on your exercise regimen that’s catered to your condition and lifestyle, our Toronto physiotherapists and other sports medicine specialists are here to help. Call one of our Toronto physiotherapy clinics today for a consultation.

Top Stretches To Do Daily

By Athlete's Care on November 07, 2022

Physiotherapist, Rostam Torki, shares four easy, effective stretches that can be added to your stretching routine. Check them out here or make an appoitment with Rostam at Athlete's Care Aurora for exercises and treatment that can help you!


As an active person myself, I still find myself sitting at the desk or on the couch for long periods of time during the day. You probably feel the same way. And let’s be honest here, the pandemic has only made matters worse. All this sedentary time has definitely caused some tightness throughout my body, especially in my neck, hips, and lower back. You’re probably feeling the same way. 

This is why why I’ve started doing a very quick stretching routine each day to relieve the tight and sore muscles around my neck, hips, and lower back. Since I started this routine about 2 weeks ago, I’ve already started feeling less tight and sore when I wake up and throughout the day. I’ve also been sleeping better! The best part is, this stretching routine takes less than 10mins to do each day?

Cat/Cow

The first stretch on thi list is one of the most well-known stretches and it is also one of the easiest stretches to do. This stretch has many benefits for your spine. You’re most likely sitting at the desk in a slouched posture to do work or lying down on the sofa while watching TV for long periods of time. This is far from ideal, as our spines are meant to move in all different directions all the time! By doing this stretch, you can relieve the stiffness in your entire back by opening up your spine along with activating your core muscles which help support your spine. 

     

How to do the cat-cow stretch:

  1. Get on all fours with your hands under your shoulders and knees under your hips. 

  2. Curve the middle of your back towards the ground, as you bring your head and tailbone towards the ceiling. As you do this, keep the movement slow and controlled and take a slow and deep breath in. Hold this position for 1-2 seconds. 

  3. Slowly reverse this movement, by bringing your mid back towards the ceiling and tucking your chin and tailbone down into your body. Again, do this slowly but this time exhale all the way air out. Hold this position 1-2 seconds. 

Research by the famous Dr. Stuart McGill who has devoted his life to back pain suggests that repeating this movement for about 7-8 controlled cycles just once a day gives the most bang for your buck for a healthy spine. 

Kneeling Wall Rotations

If you recall, I mentioned that your spine is meant to be moving in all different directions. Well, this stretch works on moving your spine in a direction different from the cat-cow you just performed. As the name suggests, this stretch works on the rotation of spinal movement. This stretch has several advantages:

  • Relieves the stiffness in your spine through rotation

  • Stretches out your chest and shoulders which often become tight due to prolonged computer or cellhpone use

  • Stretches the hip flexors which become tight from prolonged sitting (and can cause low-back pain!)

How to do the kneeling wall rotation stretch:

  1. Kneel down with the knee that is on the ground as close to the wall as possible and your other leg straight out in front of you

  2. Bring both arms out straight in front of you with the back of your hand touching the wall

  3. With the arm away from the wall, rotate your entire upper body to try and touch the back of your hand to the wall behind you - it’s okay if you can’t!

  4. As you do this, be sure to keep your hips stable and stop them from rotating

  5. Rotate back so your palms are touching each other again in front of you

You can repeat this stretch for 8-10 repetitions before switching to the other side. You can make this stretch easier by placing your outside foot further away from the wall.

Deep Squats

Even if you go on frequent walks or to the gym, you likely rarely use the full range of motion of your hips, knees, or ankles. This can result in those joints becoming stiff and the muscles becoming weak. That is why doing deep squats can target all the joints from your hips down. This exercise helps relieve the tightness in your glutes, hamstrings, quads, and calf muscles. Most importantly, this exercise is very simple to perform!


How to do deep squats:

  1. Lower yourself to the ground in a squatting motion until your bum is almost touching the ground - you’ll probably feel the stretch already!

  2. When you are in the deep squatting position, make sure your feet point forward and your chest is nice and high 

  3. From this position, try rocking side to side, alternating the amount of weight you put on each foot (this helps train your balance and core strength too!)

  4. Now, place your elbows on the inside of your thighs/knees and slowly push them apart - you should feel a deep stretch on the inside of your hips

If this stretch is too difficult, you can roll up a towel or yoga mat to place under your heels as you go into the deep squat. Over time, you’ll notice that you can make the roll smaller and smaller. Progress is awesome!

Wall Angels

Now that you’ve stretched out your whole spine, your entire leg, and your shoulders, you can put all the extra wiggle room you have to work! Wall angels are a great way to loosen up the tiny muscles in your back that help support your spine and shoulders. In fact, they’re often used in shoulder rehab. Given the amount of time we spend on our computers and phones these days, these muscles are bound to become both weak and tight. 

Just as you worked on your core with the cat-cow stretch, this stretch helps work on the “core” that stabilizes your neck and shoulders. After all, proper control of your shoulder blade means less shoulder pain and injury. This exercise is essentially a stretch, coordination, and strengthening exercise all in one! Who doesn’t love getting the biggest bang for their buck? You can watch the video below to help you with this stretch. 



How to do wall angels:

  1. Stand with your back on the wall in a wall squat position

  2. Tuck in your belly button and round your back so that there is no space between your lower back and the wall

  3. Tuck in your chin to make the space between your neck and the wall smaller

  4. Hold your hands in a “W” shape by your side with your elbows and wrists touching the wall - if this is too difficult, just keep them as close to the wall as you can!

  5. As you brace your core, slowly raise your arms up to make a big “V” against the wall before slowly lowering back into the “W” position

  6. Remember to keep your back and neck tucked into the wall throughout the entire exercise

To make this stretch easier, you can move your feet farther away from the wall and work on bringing them closer over time. You can make it even easier by simply lying on the floor to do this exercise before progressing to standing.

Stretching Works!

Stretching is used by most physiotherapists, chiropractors, and many other professionals to help relieve and rebalance muscles that become tight due to the demands of our lives. Stiffness, aches, and pains are something you and I both deal with every day because of the tendency to spend a lot of time on the phone and computer. 

These stretches can be an amazing way to break up screen time throughout the day. You can also do these stretches to start your day with more fluidity and energy, or to relax yourself before bed to get a good night’s rest.

Stretching is NOT the end of the line

The stretches you learned about today are great for everyone to do, as they address the common issues we all face. However, it is important to remember that your specific needs warrant a customized treatment plan to address your personal goals. Stretching is a great starting point, but some form of strengthening is typically needed to address more complex problems. 

Your physiotherapist can help you determine if there are any other specific stretches you should be doing. They can also help you with a customized treatment plan with both manual techniques as well as an exercise plan to get you back to doing what you love!

FAQ:

How long should I hold a stretch for?

Static stretches (stretches that you hold in one position and count) provide the most benefits if held a minimum of 30 seconds. Dynamic stretches (stretches that you move through a range, like the ones in this post) provide the most benefits if done for at least 7-8 repetitions (which typically ends up being about 30-40 seconds similar to the static stretches!)

What muscles should I be stretching?

Determining the muscle that needs stretching can be tricky. Usually, you feel tightness or stiffness in the muscle, and this indicates that stretching can help. However, some muscles can be quite difficult to stretch out. Additionally, there are times when muscles are tight, but the ideal treatment for the tightness may not be stretching, but rather strengthening the muscle. This is why it’s important you contact your physiotherapist to determine the most optimal treatment plan for your needs.