Physiotherapy Toronto Blog 

Physiotherapy for Migraine Headaches

By Athlete's Care on April 06, 2021

Can our Toronto physiotherapists or other sports medicine specialists help when it comes to migraine headaches? The answer is yes, in many cases. That might come as a surprise, even to many migraine sufferers, or migraineurs. The disorder is generally considered to be neurological in nature, so how can physical therapy of any kind help? It may seem counter-intuitive, and there isn’t much research into this area specifically, but physical therapy is known to help migraneurs in a variety of ways.

Migraine Headaches

Migraine headaches are extremely debilitating, and are about as common as high blood pressure. The throbbing pain, accompanied by other symptoms such as nausea and sensitivity to light and noise, can make it difficult to perform even the simplest everyday tasks. The neck is a complex structure made up of bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The jaw and muscles of the face that control that eyes can also be stress points. What constant pressure can create is a vicious
cycle of tension and pain.

Migraines due to cervical (neck area) disorders and impairments may be treated with physical therapy. As part of your individualized treatment plan, other options may be added to your therapy team, such as:

  • Massage therapy;
  • Medical acupuncture;
  • Exercise therapy


Vestibular Migraines

It’s an unfortunate fact that vestibular migraines are often difficult to diagnose. As such, patients often receive the wrong treatment, and management plan. Some end up undergoing a series of tests with no real answers. Research into the problem has shown that many people who suffer from vestibular migraines
end up seeing four or five specialists before finding an accurate diagnosis.

In general, up to half of all migraine sufferers don’t seek or receive any treatment at all. The vestibular system incorporates the inner ear, and portions of the brain that handle eye movements and balance. For about 40% of all migraine patients, their symptoms include some level of vestibular syndrome, which means:

  • Difficulty balancing;
  • Dizziness, which can be severe;
  • Vertigo accompanied by nausea and vomiting;
  • Neck pain due to muscle spasms in the cervical spine;
  • Confusion and disorientation;
  • Anxiety, and even panic


Physiotherapy Options

Along with other treatment options and lifestyle modifications such as avoiding food and environmental triggers, physiotherapy can also be of help in managing migraines. In some cases, depending on the exact type of migraine and cause, it can provide significant relief.

Your physiotherapist will assess things like your hand, eye and body movements, range of motion and more. There may also be neurological tests. Your Toronto physiotherapist can advise you on which types of therapy are appropriate in your case.

This might include:

  • Manual therapy;
  • Exercises and adjustments to posture;
  • Working with the shoulder, neck and jaw muscles;
  • Cranial massage and therapy;
  • Chiropractic spinal manipulation;
  • Among others.

If you experience migraine headaches and you’d like to discuss your treatment options, please don’t hesitate to contact one of our Toronto physiotherapy, chiropractic, and sports medicine clinics today for a consultation.

 

5 Tips To Make The Most Of Outdoor Walking As Exercise

By Athlete's Care on March 19, 2021

Walking is the ideal exercise, and it’s recommended for many of our clients by our Toronto physiotherapists and other sports medicine specialists. It can be performed indoors or out, virtually anywhere, and virtually anytime – with some exceptions, of course.

When it’s not possible to get to the gym, it’s an always-available workout. But, just a stroll down the street won’t maximize the opportunity. Here’s how to make the most out of your walk.

1. Make Your Warm-Up Dynamic

Many people begin their walks with a bit of stretching. You can add to the impact of your walking workout by taking your prep up a notch or two. Add activities that will help boost your blood flow, and begin to get those walking muscles in motion. Here are some ideas to try:

  • Leg swings;
  • Calf raises;
  • Lunge walking;
  • Hip flexors.

2. Increase The Distance A Little Every Day

One easy way to get more out of your walk is to simply add more time – i.e. more steps. If you’re just starting out, a 30 minute walk three times a week is a realistic goal. After the first two weeks, begin to add an extra five minutes onto each walk, and bump it up to four times a week.

  • Keep going until you find it challenging to keep up the pace;
  • That’s your benchmark;
  • You can stay there, or switch to shorter walks at a faster pace.

Walking for an hour can help your body burn up to five times as many calories post-exercise, as compared to a 30 minute walk.

3. Add Intervals Of Intense Activity

It’s a mistake to think of walking as taking place a single speed or pace, especially when you want to make it more challenging. Adding the idea of intervals to your walk is a good way to do that. Here’s a sample pattern you can adapt to your own use:

  • Begin with a walk at your usual pace for about 10 to 15 minutes;
  • Now walk as fast as you can without breaking into a run – you should feel your heart beating faster, and your breathing accelerate – for one minute;
  • Slow back down for one minute;
  • Accelerate for another two minutes;
  • Slow back down for two minutes;
  • Keep going to three and even four minutes each if you can, and then work your way back down to one;
  • Follow up with 10 minutes at your regular pace.

4. Add Weights Or Resistance Bands

There are a few different ways you can add weights and resistance to your walk.

  • Wrist weights of 1 to 2 pounds each;
  • Carry light (2kg) dumbbells, or even soup cans;
  • You can buy weighted vests.

If you bring along one or two resistance bands, you can stop along the way and add a series of resistance moves like monster walks or lunges. You can loop a longer resistance band around a fence or playground equipment and add tricep extensions or pull-downs. Our Toronto physiotherapists and sports medicine specialists can advise you on appropriate exercises using small weights and resistance bands.

5. Use The Landscape

If you can choose, vary the landscape that you walk on, including nice uphill challenges. Walking uphill can be even more physically demanding than running. Walking downhill also uses different sets of muscles, and involves your sense of balance.

Naturally, stairs are an ideal way to boost your workout, so if there is any way to incorporate a set, it’s a great idea to make the most of them.

If you have any questions or need advice on exercise tailored to your condition and lifestyle, please don’t hesitate to contact our Toronto physiotherapy and chiropractic clinics for a consultation.

 

Keep Your Lower Back Strong To Prevent Injury

By Athlete's Care on March 05, 2021

The lower back is a complex structure in the body, and our Toronto physiotherapists and sports medicine specialists treat many patients with injuries or disorders in this area. Keeping it strong and flexible is the key to protecting it from injury.

 Even more than that, the lower back is crucial in maintaining overall balance and mobility – a strong back protects the body from falls and other potential injuries. 

A Complex Structure

The lower back is called the lumbar region. Technically speaking, it involves the area from below the rib cage to the tailbone, and includes five vertebrae.

  • The lumbar spine bears the weight of the whole upper body.
  • The spinal cord and nerves run through the vertebrae.
  • Muscles stabilize the structure as the lower back transitions into the hips.
  • Connective tissue runs through the area.

Because of the intertwined structure, and the complicated movements that can be made, it's no surprise that lower back problems are among the top reasons for missed work in North America. 

Tips To Keep Your Back Strong

Keeping your back strong and healthy means looking after it in your everyday life. There are several areas that you can work on and improve anytime and virtually anywhere.

  • Strengthen the core with exercise:

Daily exercise is important to strengthen the core muscles that support the lower back. This can include exercising ball workouts, water therapy, yoga and/or resistance training. Your Toronto physiotherapist or other sports medicine specialist can provide guidance on what kinds of exercises are best for you, and customize a regular routine.

Aerobic exercise, such as a brisk walk or run, which increases blood flow to the area, and loosens up your muscles, is also crucial.

  • Stretch:

Stretches that incorporate the hamstrings in particular can both alleviate lower back pain and help to keep the lumbar region flexible and strong. These can include knee to chest stretches, seated twists, and other lower back stretches.

  • Ergonomics and posture:

Posture is important whether standing or seated. Your spine should have a natural curve when standing, with shoulders back and down to balance the upper body. While seated, the lower back needs sufficient support. An ergonomically designed chair – especially for office work – and work station will allow you to work with a minimum of stress on joints and body parts, including the lumbar spine. If you work seated, it’s also very important not to sit for too long at a time. A change of position every 20 minutes or so is ideal.

  • Lifting properly:

Keeping your back strong means avoiding injury. Lifting something that’s too heavy, or trying to haul up a heavy box with your lower back muscles can cause a painful sprain or even a more serious condition. Lifting with your legs, keeping your lower back straight and not twisting – these are guidelines you need to keep in mind no matter where you are.

  • Rest:

Playing your favourite sport, it’s tempting to keep going even after your muscles have started to complain. When it comes to your lower back, if you’re feeling the strain, it’s time to stop and rest. Don’t overdo it – including exercises – and let your core strengthen gradually.

 

If you are experiencing any problems with your lower back, or you’d like more information, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Toronto physiotherapy and chiropractic clinics today for a consultation.

 

Five Must-Haves For Winter Running

By Athlete's Care on February 16, 2021

The Norwegians have a saying that our Toronto physiotherapists and sports medicine specialists appreciate – there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes. When it comes to running in the winter, that saying couldn’t be more appropriate.

The right gear can make the difference between an unpleasant, challenging experience, and a great run in the cold. Naturally, the first rule of thumb is to dress in layers that will keep you warm, and let you adjust your coverage when (if) you warm up enough along the way. Along with the basics, here are five pieces of essential equipment to make your winter runs more fun.

1. Running socks – merino wool is the ideal material, both moisture-wicking and warm

2. Weatherproof jacket & pants – this set is a must-have to add as a top layer on the coldest or windiest days, and will keep precipitation away from your body.

3. Headband or hat – this is essential even during the fall when it only begins to get cooler. Keeping your head and ears warm will go a long way towards your overall comfort in cold weather. In the coldest weather, a tight skull cap covered with a warm woollen hat is your best bet.

4. Running gloves or mittens – look for warmth without too much bulk, so that you can still use your hands easily.

5. Long-sleeve tech shirt as a base layer: best in a moisture-wicking wool or polyester blend. The best idea is to have both a medium-weight poly-blend for moderate cold, and a heavyweight wool blend for the coldest days. You can also get them with a hood – handy for windy days.

Here’s how to ramp up your gear as the weather gets colder:

  • Early fall – a long-sleeve shirt, running tights or shorts, lightweight gloves plus
    headband.
  • Mid-fall – two layers over your torso, running tights, gloves plus headband.
  • Late fall into winter – two long-sleeve layers over your torso, running tights, gloves or mittens, hat plus windproof jacket & pants on top.
  • Coldest winter days – add a ski mask to cover your whole face, and you should consider goggles to cover your eyes as well.

If you are looking for advice on your running routine, our Toronto physiotherapists and sports medicine specialists are ready with answers. Don’t hesitate to contact one of our Toronto physiotherapy clinics today.