Physiotherapy Toronto Blog 

Our Toronto physiotherapists and chiropractors field a lot of questions about many different aspects of musculoskeletal health, including exercise and workout advice. Stretching is one of the most common subjects that our clients ask about. Everyone from amateur athletes to dedicated pros seems to have some bit of advice to offer on the subject of stretching. Should I stretch before a workout for best results? Or should I stretch after exercise? How much is too much – and how much stretching is just enough?

 

 

Here’s a look at the facts.

What type of stretch?

There are different types of stretches.

  • Static – this is the type you are most likely familiar with, where you take a position that pulls a muscle to the point of slight discomfort, and then holding it for a count of 30 or more.
  • Dynamic – repetitive movements, where the range of motion is gradually increased with each repetition. While static stretches are the norm, some studies suggest that dynamic stretching is of just as much benefit.
  • Bouncing – going into a position stretching a muscle, and then bouncing it to increase the range of motion.
  • Proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) – a technique where a stretch is held while you also contract and relax the muscle repetitively.

How much stretch do I need?

The answer depends on the activity. Stretching increases flexibility and range of motion. You will need much more flexibility, for example, for dance than you would as a long distance runner.

  • If you are working to build muscle, you don’t want to over-emphasize flexibility before your workout, which can reduce a muscle’s natural spring. This can affect sports like weight training, or those where you need to be able to keep your balance in motion, such as football or soccer.
  • Conversely, too little flexibility can increase the risk of injury as muscles become less able to absorb strain.
  • The research seems to point to the fact that too much static stretching before a workout is detrimental in many cases. It can make muscles weaker and slower to react.

Timing is everything

The nature and timing of stretching is important.

  • Most experts recommend a warm up of at least 10 minutes, with a light aerobic component, and dynamic stretching that involves the muscles and movements you will use in your sport.
  • For runners, for example, dynamic stretches could involve high knees, leg swings, or butt kicks.

Stretching after exercise

When muscles are warm, there is some research that supports the idea that static stretching can be beneficial in a number of ways.

  • It reduces injuries;
  • It helps to increase speed;
  • It helps to increase power.
  • If your activity is yoga or pilates, then you can incorporate stretching right into your workout.
  • If your activity is a sport like tennis, or a workout of some type, then stretch after the activity.
  • Pro Weight Tip: during the workout, stretch the antagonistic muscle to the one you are working on for an extra boost.

Need advice on exercise, or any other aspect of your musculoskeletal health? Our Toronto physiotherapists, chiropractors, and other sports medicine specialists are waiting with expert advice and information. Call or drop by one of our Toronto physiotherapy clinics today.

Top Tips For Helping Prevent Low Back Pain At Work

By Athlete's Care on June 27, 2019

In many cases, our Toronto physiotherapists, chiropractors, and other sports medicine specialists treat clients with musculoskeletal conditions caused by injuries caused by playing sports or other activities. But, did you know that sedentary occupations – involving a lot of sitting in one place – can also cause injuries and musculoskeletal issues?

 

Among the most common health complaints of those who work sitting down, typically in an office setting, is low back pain. Here are some helpful tips on how to avoid the debilitating discomfort of low back pain.

Sit right.

How you sit at your desk makes all the difference. Here are the major points to keep in mind.

  • Your head and neck should be aligned comfortably above your shoulders – not straining forwards.
  • If you use a mouse, place it right next to your keyboard so you don’t have to reach, or twist your upper body.
  • Your chair should support your lower back and the curve of your spine. Ideally, you should tilt your chair slightly backwards.
  • Sit with your torso about an arm’s length from the monitor, and the monitor should be about 2 to 3 inches above eye level. This arrangement will minimize stress on the joints.
  • Keep feet flat on the floor, about a foot apart. This will ease tension in knees and ankles.
  • Knees should be bent at a 90-degree angle.
  • If you sit constantly at a computer, be sure to get up about every 30 to 60 minutes to reduce the pressure on your spinal disks.
  • If you work at a laptop, attach a separate keyboard and mouse to avoid having to stretch your arm and wrist constantly.
  • Avoid sitting cross legged, as it creates an imbalance, and makes it difficult to keep your spine straight.

Protect your back.

If you have a sedentary job, the best thing you can do for your back – and your general health – is to take that into account when you consider your overall lifestyle. Your Toronto physiotherapist or chiropractor can give you advice on the best exercises to keep you loose and protect your back.

Exercise is the best way to stay limber.

  • Along with aerobics, be sure to target the core muscles of your abdomen and back.
  • Strong muscles mean balance and a reduced risk of injury.
  • It will also help your posture by providing proper support to your spine.

Consider weight loss.

  • Excess weight adds to the pressure on your spine and lower back in general.
  • It can also reduce your mobility and balance.

Quit smoking.

  • You may not be aware of the connection, but it’s there: smoke and nicotine can cause spinal discs to deteriorate and age much more quickly than if you don’t smoke.

Lift properly.

Whether you lift objects as part of your job, or simply on occasion for household purposes, the way you do it is important.

  • Stay close to the object as you lift it, and hold it close to your body, keeping your feet about a shoulder’s width apart.
  • Keep your back straight, and bend with your knees to reach the object.
  • Lift it with your leg muscles, keeping your abs tight.
  • Don’t overdo it – if you need help, then ask for it rather than attempting to lift something too heavy.

If you are experiencing low back pain, or you’d like personalized advice on this or any other aspect of your musculoskeletal health, don’t hesitate to contact one of our Toronto physiotherapy, chiropractic, and sports medicine clinics today. Call us or drop by one of our Toronto clinics to make an appointment.

You Sprained Your Ankle - What Now?

By Athlete's Care on June 07, 2019

An ankle sprain can be painful, debilitating, and make life awkward as it heals. It’s also one of the more common injuries treated by our Toronto physiotherapy and sports medicine clinics, and can result from participation in sports or an everyday accident. So, you stepped off the curb awkwardly, or you kicked that soccer ball at a bad angle, and fell, and now your ankle is swollen up like the proverbial goose egg. What now?

Ankle Sprain

 

In a sprain, the ligaments of the ankle have been stretched, and possible torn. Typically, you will see swelling and experience pain and soreness. While it’s a relatively minor injury most of the time, repeated or severe sprains can actually result in weakness of the joint, and joint pain that lasts long term. Proper treatment can make a big difference in healing time and efficacy.

Self Care – R.I.C.E.

What you do right away will make a difference, both in terms of healing, and pain management. Here’s what you can do at home – the R.I.C.E. method.

  • Rest – stay off the ankle and leg, and try to keep it as still as possible.
  • Ice – an ice pack can help reduce swelling and pain. If you don’t have an ice pack, a bag of frozen peas is a handy substitute. Use it for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, repeating every two or three hours. NOTE: If you have heart or circulatory issues, or diabetes, you will want to consult a physician about applying ice.
  • Compression – an elastic bandage – the kind in an ordinary first aid kit – wrapped snugly around the ankle will help to reduce and stop swelling. Don’t wrap it so tight that you compromise circulation.
  • Elevate – keep the ankle above the level of your heart to reduce swelling, particularly at night. You can use a pillow while you sleep. This will help to drain any excess fluid.

Over the counter pain medications such as ibuprofen, naproxen sodium, or acetaminophen should help with pain. The swelling and pain of a minor sprain should diminish within a couple of days.

Once You Get To The Doctor…

Unless the sprain is very minor and resolves itself within 2 or 3 days, you should seek medical help. If you can’t put weight on the foot, or it swells a great deal, then you should seek treatment beyond self care. Once you’ve gotten to your Toronto physiotherapist or other health care provider, a proper diagnosis can be made. An examination of your lower leg, ankle, and foot, will reveal the tender points, and range of motion. If the sprain is severe, and there is a suspicion of extensive damage to the ligaments, an imaging scan such as an x-ray or MRI can reveal the extent of the damage, as well as rule out a bone fracture.

The treatment plan will depend on your individual situation, including your general physical condition and other factors. The goals are: to reduce pain and swelling, and restore the ligament to normal function.

  • Rest – this is very important. You want to rest the ankle as much as you can while it heals.
  • Rehabilitate – exercises that work on range of motion can begin almost right away after injury in many cases. Ask your Toronto physiotherapist for advice, including ways to prevent further injury by both restoring and further supporting your ankle in terms of strength, range of motion, flexibility, and stability.
  • Support – you may have to use a cane or crutches for extra support so you can rest your ankle and lower leg while you heal.
  • Surgery – rarely, a severe sprain may require surgery. This is usually an option only when physical therapy and exercise have not worked to restore balance and strength. Surgery can repair ligaments that resist healing.

How long should recovery take? Each case is different. A good rule of thumb is, if you can hop on the injured ankle with no pain or instability, you are ready to go back to your sport and other usual activities.

If you have experienced an ankle sprain, or any other condition involving your musculoskeletal system, our Toronto physiotherapists and other sports medicine specialists are waiting to help. Don’t hesitate to contact one of our Toronto clinics today, or drop by to make an appointment.

 

 

Exercising On Vacation

By Athlete's Care on May 24, 2019

The spring weather is warming up, and our Toronto physiotherapists, chiropractors, and other sports medicine specialists know that there will be many schedule changes as we go into holiday season. Going on vacation is a kind of therapy all by itself. Far from the busy workday environment, with no constant demands on your attention – it’s the kind of break your brain needs.

 

 

Your body, on the other hand, needs to stick to a healthy routine. Let’s not forget those superb brioches from that charming bakery in Paris...or the gooey delicious desserts at the night market in Bangkok. When you add changes to your diet to a lack of exercise, you shouldn’t be surprised if your work suit is a little tight when you get back home.

What can you do? You can keep track of the gooey desserts so you don’t fall too far overboard, and incorporate some of our smart ideas for staying on the fitness track while you explore the world.

  1. Check out your hotel. That means checking out hotels for workout facilities, and in more detail, what type of facilities and equipment are available for use.

  2. Stay park side. Is there a park or even a running track nearby for walks and runs? A university campus is typically a good bet for the latter.

  3. If you love the hotel, but there’s no fitness facilities, then look for a fitness club nearby where you can purchase a day or weekend pass. Ditto for public pools, and check nearby hotels and resort facilities with good fitness facilities, where you may also be able to purchase a day pass.

  4. Bring a resistance band – and learn how to use it. Even if you are stuck in a hotel room on a rainy day, you can do a good upper and lower body workout with a standard resistance band. Provided the hotel floors are of sufficient quality, you can also use a jump rope for an intense aerobic workout. Your Toronto physiotherapist or other sports medicine specialist can advise you on exercises customized to your physical condition.

  5. Do some homework. What is unique to the area you will visit? Hiking trails in the Appalachian Mountains? Boating on the Kawartha Lakes? Volleyball on the beach in Rio? There is often a way of combining fitness activities with the unique landscape of your vacation destination for a truly enriching holiday experience.

  6. Take the stairs. This is a good rule of thumb at home or abroad. With a pedometer, you can also measure how many steps you take, with a goal of 10,000 per day.

  7. Find parks, nature reserves, and other places nearby within an easy drive or otherwise accessible, where you can take a hike.

  8. A hotel pool may not be the ideal place for uninterrupted laps. But, pool walking – with the water at waist height or higher – is a challenging workout in and of itself. When you’re lounging by the pool, try five to 10 minutes of pool walking for every 20 minutes of lounging.

  9. Many cities offer bicycle rentals for a low daily fee. It’s a great way to get to know the city you are visiting while staying active – and earning those occasional treats.

Looking for advice on holiday activities while you recover from a musculoskeletal injury or condition? Don’t hesitate to contact one of our Toronto physiotherapy and chiropractic clinics today for a consultation.