Focus on Your Weaknesses and Build Your Foundation

By: Sarah Kuindersma, MAT Specialist

As many of us find ourselves forced to step back from the sports and recreational hobbies we love, right now is a great time to take some time to focus on our body movement fundamentals so when organized sports re-open, you can go in ready to play. With that said, here are Sarah’s suggestions for preparation, rebuilding, and doing your body some good as we head into this next year.

Focus on Your Weaknesses

Now is a great time to assess, work on and fix the weak areas in your training which could include any muscle imbalances and weaknesses that are identified. We've all heard the expression, “You're only as good as your weakest link,” and it's true that it’s often the little things that make a big difference overall. For example, if your glutes aren't firing efficiently, any activity you do will place more stress into your low back, creating stiffness and a decrease in performance. This could mean, for example, less power in your running stride. Therefore finding a way to build your glutes can help to solve or prevent future issues.

Build Your Foundation

Look at this year as an opportunity to build or rebuild a solid foundation. Some of us might have experienced some losses due to lack of activity, and now might need to ‘Get back to the basics.’ Your body stores information in the central nervous system and every time you learn a new movement, a motor pattern is actually integrated and stored. These movements become automatic and are fine-tuned by unconscious feedback that your body is storing as you are learning something new. The saving of motor patterns effectively makes the neuromuscular system much more efficient when the body is exposed to similar demands. For this reason, we do not have to think about a movement like walking, riding a bike, or throwing a ball, we just know! Without basic joint mobility and strength, it will cause to many inefficiencies, so it would be the equivalent to trying to build a house without ever knowing how to use the tools.

Check out Sarah's YouTube channel for some movement ideas, from basic exercises to sport-specific movements, here. If you'd like specific mobility drills to improve your game make sure to book an appointment to have it tailored to your needs and goals. 

How can an MAT Specialist help you identify and focus on your weaknesses and build your foundation?

A problem related to muscular imbalances occurs over time when we are exposed to stress, trauma, or overuse. The resulting inflammation on the body will bring about a less efficient muscular system and diminished neuromuscular function. In other words, your ‘saved’ faulty motor pattern when drawn upon can lead to injury or a loss in the proper power of the motion itself. This transformed communication between the nervous system and the muscular system can lead to altered mechanics which, in turn, can trigger symptoms relating to muscle tightness, pain, and many other physical complaints. 

Active Sports Therapy offers M.A.T.®(Muscle Activation Techniques), which is a way to assess and correct an individual’s muscle imbalances. M.A.T. ® is designed to re-establish the communication pathways between the nervous system and the muscular system in order to restore muscle contractile capabilities.  Having an M.A.T. specialist assess your mechanics can help you learn more efficient ways of moving and lower the chances of a future injury. You can also learn how to train more efficiently for your limitation.  If you would like to learn more about whether M.A.T.® might be right for you please contact us to  schedule a free meet and  greet with specialist Sarah Kuindersma.

A Naturopathic Doctor's Favourite Apps for Health

By: Dr. Gayle Maguire, B.SC, ND

There are many apps out there today that are designed to assist you with your health and wellness in different ways from sleep, to anxiety, to homones. Dr. Gayle frequently encourages patients to embrace technology to help them achieve their health goals and has compiled a list of her favourites.

Kindara -  a great fertility and hormone tracking app. It tracks all the important markers a naturopathic doctor or informed patient would like to know, and is easy to use and share!

Migraine Buddy - this highly-rated app can help patients track and identify triggers, with the goal of eventually learning to prevent their migraines.

mySymptoms Food Diary & Symptom Tracker is also a great option for digestive symptoms.

MyFitnessPal - a great start for those first looking to understand their caloric intake, macronutrients, and exercise.

Insight Timer - thousands of free guided meditations from highly educated professionals to help manage stress, mood and sleep. Awarded Time Magazine's App of the Year.  It includes areas for children, relationships, leadership, interviews, and so much more!

Sleep Cycle - an inexpensive and insightful app to track sleep. Please note that those with sleep issues may not be advised to sleep with their device, or with any lights at or during sleep time, though a short sacrifice to track sleep may be beneficial for some.

Sanvello for Anxiety, Depression & Stress - this app uses cognitive-behavioural therapy techniques and mindfulness to track and cue users to take care of their mental health. You can even set reminders to drink more water, which is great for our physical health too, but can help users increase their self-care.

Talk to your medical or naturopathic doctor for personalized medical advice. These apps are not endorsed by Dr. Gayle, nor does she receive compensation in any way for reviewing these apps. Some benefits may reimburse for subscriptions so check with your insurance provider.

*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  

Supporting Your Immune System - The Connection Between Your Brain and Gut

By: Dr. Fiona Lovely, DC

Recently, a panel of AST experts joined forces to discuss the important topic of immunity. I had the pleasure of sharing the connections between the brain and the gut and below are just a few of my takeaways.

The human immune system is made up (in part) by the 4.4lbs of organisms (100 trillion of them!) which make up the human microflora, or microbiome and cells of the lining of the gut. The health and stability of the microbiome is what you are establishing and feeding when you take your daily probiotic. Think of it like a garden to be cultivated. They are bacteria, parasites, fungi, virus living within us and helping to regulate the system. They even contribute to our DNA, our genetic makeup and our ability to adapt to any environment. Poor diet, stress, chronic disease and antibiotic therapy will diminish or eliminate the bugs of our gut. You must re-seed the garden after antibiotics and it must be inoculated with a high quality probiotic supplement ongoing. I am often asked why it is important to eat organic - remember this, the pesticides, fungicides, etc that are sprayed on our produce are not fruit and vegetable selective! They will kill off your microbiome too.

The health of these systems, the microbiome, your organ reserves and health and your voluntary inputs (nutrition, stress management, exercise, etc.) make up the terrain that dictates how healthy you are. Terrain is the term used to describe the inner environment of a human being.  The health of the terrain explains why some get sick and some do not.

What can you do to help the health of your gut?

Let’s look at stress. When you are experiencing stress, your defences diminish because the brain is sending resources to the stress response system. We are living through one of the most intensely stressful times in our history, so if you are feeling stress, you aren’t alone. Stress is our current way of life, it isn’t going away anytime soon, you cannot control it. But what you can control is your response to something stressful. Are there calming thoughts you can have when something stressful comes up? Can you pause to meditate or incorporate meditation into your daily routine?

Take a closer look at all of the different things that you are consuming daily. News? Negative people? Toxic relationships or stinking thinking? Are you a complainer? Do you engage in drama? All of these things encourage you to have both negative thinking and a survival response. When you are surviving, your blood flow shunts from the extremities to the core organs resulting in your immune system taking a back seat to critical functions.

Here are three things you can start doing today to help with gut health and thus, immunity too:

Healthy mind = healthy brain = healthy gut = healthy immunity = health.

*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  

Improved Treatment for Headaches with Active Release Techniques

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]Any headache sufferer knows that headaches can be among the most frustrating and debilitating health problems. When headaches develop they often interfere or prevent many of our most basic daily activities such as using the computer, reading, carrying on a conversation, and even thinking. To make matters worse, studies show that treatment for headaches top the list for conditions in which patients are most dissatisfied with their care.

Now for the good news, a treatment technique known as Active Release Technique (ART) is proving to be a very effective method to treat many common types of headaches.  Through ART treatments, many headache sufferers are now able to finally get a handle on their headaches and get back to living their lives.  But before we talk about how ART works so effectively we first need to understand how headaches develop in the first place.

Understanding Headaches

There is a common perception that the cause of all headaches is in the head itself, which seems like a logical assumption since that is where the symptoms are.  However, there is now a firm base of scientific evidence that suggests many of the most common types of headaches may actually be generated in the muscles, joints, and nerves of the neck.

When talking about the neck, we are actually talking about the upper portion of the spinal column – the cervical spine.  The cervical spine consists of 7 small bones call “vertebrae” stacked on top of each other.  By themselves the joints of the cervical spine are not very stable, so to protect the region, a complex system of muscles surrounds the spinal column to control movement and protect the area from injury.

Not only do these muscles need to move and protect the cervical spine, but they also must control the weight of the head.  The head and neck have a unique anatomical relationship in that the larger, heavier head – which weighs about 10 pounds – sits atop the thinner neck.  This essentially represents an inverted pendulum, to topple over. This places a high demand on the neck muscles to both support and control the weight of the head, while at the same time ensuring adequate movement and stability of the joints of the cervical spine. This complex process requires each muscle to be adequately strong, flexible, and coordinated, and as long as this is the case the neck remains protected and healthy, and will not generate headache symptoms.

How do problems in the neck lead to headaches?

The interesting fact is that muscle and joint dysfunction in the cervical spine has actually been shown to cause headaches through a process known as referred pain. The referred pain phenomenon is a complicated neurological process, but simply stated, referred pain is a process that causes pain to be felt at a location other than where the problem is occurring.  Other examples of referred pain can be seen during a heart attack, when pain is felt in the left arm, or with a disc herniation in the low back, which causes pain to be felt down the leg.

Scientific studies have shown that when problems in the muscles and joints of the neck occur, they often refer pain to the head, causing symptoms such as ache, throbbing, pressure, burning, even stabbing pain. In many cases there can be some ache or tension in the neck that occur along with the headache symptoms, but in many cases there are no noticeable symptoms in the neck at all.

How do problems in the neck lead to headaches?

There are many situations that can develop which will affect the health and function on the muscles and joints of the neck. For example, poor or prolonged postural strain that occurs with computer use and many desk jobs, repetitive use with certain sports, muscles imbalances, lack of stretching or strengthening, or previous injury such as car accidents (even minor accidents with little or no injuries that occurred at the time) can all lead to muscle tightness, weakness, and a lack of coordination of the cervical spine muscle – muscles that are critical to maintaining the health and function of the head and neck region.

Over time this strain develops into what is known as micro-trauma. Simply stated, micro-trauma is very small scale damage that occurs in the muscles, tendons, joint capsules, and ligaments in response to small levels of strain. In many cases this micro-trauma is not painful, but damage still need to be repaired. The body responds to micro-trauma in a predictable way – by laying down small amounts of scar tissue to repair the area. Unfortunately over time this scar tissue will build-up and accumulate into what we call adhesions. As these adhesions form they start to affect the normal health and function of the muscles and related joints. In fact, they will often lead to pain, tightness, stiffness, restricted joint motion, and diminished blood flow. This places even further strain on the neck muscles, which in turn leads to even more micro-trauma. Essentially a repetitive strain injury cycle is set-up causing continued adhesion formation and progressive cervical spine dysfunction.

The Nerves and Their Role in Headaches

Although strain of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments themselves can be responsible for tension-type headaches through the referred pain phenomenon, they may also cause headaches if they compress or entrap the nerves that supply the head. As the nerves exit the spinal cord they travel through small openings in the spinal column, then pass through and between the muscles that surround the cervical spine, and continue on to supply distant structures such a muscles, joints, skin and blood vessels.

Many of these nerves travel down the arm (which is why neck problems often cause arm pain) but some of these nerves actually travel up to supply the back, side, and top of the head.  Under normal circumstances these nerves should be able to move and slide between the surrounding muscles. However, when the neck muscles become tight and there is an accumulation of scar tissue adhesions in the around the muscles it is common for these adhesions to affect the nerves.  In many cases the adhesions can cause the nerves to become “stuck” to the surrounding muscles and other structures. Instead of the nerves easily gliding between the muscles they become stretched and irritated.  When nerves become irritated symptoms are usually generated in the area that the nerve travels to – in this case, the head.

How Can Headaches Be Treated?

The Traditional Approach

            The most common approach to treating headaches is medication to reduce inflammation, block pain, or relax muscles that may be causing headache symptoms. In the case of chronic or recurrent headaches, sometimes doctors will prescribe stronger prescription medications to help fight the headache symptoms. In some cases, even more invasive measures such a joint blocks are used, whereby an agent is injected into the joint to block the referred pain and other symptoms.

The main reason that medications fail to provide long-term resolution for headaches is that they fail to address any underlying problems of the muscles, nerves or joints of the neck that are causing recurrent headaches.  Instead, they address the symptoms of the headache and simply cover up the underlying issues in the neck – issues that if not addressed will continue to cause problems. As a result many people become reliant on medication to accomplish relief of their headaches.  This is not only a temporary fix that is only covering up the problems, but it also increases risk of side-effects and dependency on the medication.

Unfortunately, muscle tightness, scar tissue adhesions, nerve entrapments, and abnormal joint movement cannot be seen on x-rays or advanced imaging. This is because the water density of the scar tissue tends to be quite similar to the surrounding tissues.  These problems in the muscles, joints, nerves and ligaments can, however, be felt or tested with the hands of a properly skilled practitioner, as scar tissue has a very unique texture. A thorough history and clinical examination is usually sufficient to give the clinician enough information to diagnose the problem.

ART: Our Approach – A Better Solution

ART stands for Active Release Techniques. It is a highly successful hands-on treatment method to address problems in the soft tissues of the body, including the muscles, ligaments, fascia, and nerves.  ART treatment is highly successful in dealing with headaches because it is specifically designed to locate and treat scar tissue adhesions that accumulate in the muscles and surrounding soft tissues. By location and treating the soft-tissue adhesions with ART, it allows the practitioner to, 1) breakup restrictive adhesions, 2) reinstate normal tissue flexibility and movement, and 3) more completely restore flexibility, balance, and stability to the injured area and to the entire kinetic chain.

You can think of an ART treatment as a type of active massage. The practitioner will first shorten the muscle, tendon, or ligament, and then apply a very specific pressure with their hand as you actively stretch and lengthen the tissues.  As the tissue lengthens the practitioner is able to assess the texture and tension of the muscle to determine if the tissue is healthy or contains scar tissue that needs further treatment. When scar tissue adhesions are felt the amount and direction of tension can be modified to treat the problematic area.  In this sense, each treatment is also an assessment of the health of the area as we are able to feel specifically where the problem is occurring.

An additional benefit of ART is it allows us to further assess and correct problems not only at the site of pain itself, but also in other areas of the kinetic chain, which are associated with movement compensations and are often contributing factors to the problem. This ensures that all the soft tissues that have become dysfunctional and are contributing to the specific injury are addressed, even if they have not yet all developed pain.

One of the best things about ART is how fast it can get results. In our experience, many patients respond very well to ART treatment, especially when combined with the appropriate home stretching and strengthening exercises. Although each case is unique and there are several factors that will determine the length of time required to fully resolve each condition, we usually find a significant improvement can be gained in just 4-6 treatments.

If you think that ART for your headaches could be an option, please reach out to us for an appointment by calling 403-278-1405 or email mail@activesportstherapy.ca.

*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  

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Active Release Therapy for Sciatica

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By: Active Sports Therapy

Sciatica is a pain syndrome that is caused when the sciatic nerve is compressed by muscles located within the pelvis. The sciatic nerve branches from the lower back, through your hips and buttocks, and then it heads down each leg.  A person with symptoms of sciatica might experience the following:

The pain is often one-sided, and extends from one’s lower back down through the leg, and, in some cases a person may feel they symptoms all the way down to their toes. This usually is dependent on where exactly the sciatic nerve is being affected.

Causes of Sciatica

The main causes of sciatica are:

Treatments

At Active Sports Therapy, one treatment we use for sciatica is Active Release Therapy/Active Release Techniques®. To help with sciatica, ART can be helpful in that it can break up adhesions and scar tissue, as well as reduce any muscle spasms that are contributing to the problem. This will help to take the pressure off of the neve, allowing the symptoms to ease and often resolve. The practitioner will treat the soft tissue of the area by using a hands-on treatment that uses pressure and movements to work on the tendons, muscles, and fascia associated with your issue.

In addition to Active Release Therapy, acupuncture and cupping can also help relieve the symptoms of sciatica. For a deeper look into sciatica, please visit Dr. Corey Finan's blog, The Many Faces of Sciatica.

What You Can Do to Help With Your Sciatica Problem

  1. Maintain a healthy body weight.
  2. Take regular stretching breaks if you have an occupation that requires sitting. Stand up, move around, and employ some stretches that specifically target tight muscles that can lead to sciatic pain such as the piriformis.
  3. Exercise and working to build strong core and back muscles will improve your posture and in turn allow your body to move and sit in a more proper way, taking some of the pressure off of the sciatic nerve.
  4. Use ice and heat as needed. Alternating ice and heat can help bring some relief to sciatica sufferers. Remember that ice is anti-inflammatory and heat provides relaxation and increased blood flow. You will need both to combat this pain as opposed to just heat alone.
  5. Try laying on your back on the floor with a pillow under your knees. The floor is better than laying in a soft bed because of the support that it will provide.

Please give us a call if you are looking for help with your sciatica at 403-278-1405. Our team will be happy to setup an appointment for you. The earlier you start treatment, the sooner you’ll see results!

*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Shockwave Therapy - For Fast Pain Relief and Mobility Restoration

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]Active Sports Therapy is excited to introduce Shockwave therapy. Shockwave has proven to be helpful for many chronic conditions.

Who can benefit from Shockwave therapy?

Patients with chronic pain who have been treated unsuccessfully with other forms of therapy may benefit from Shockwave. Conditions such as shoulder pain, tennis elbow, heel spurs, hip pain, knee pain, carpal tunnel syndrome, calcification, or chronic tendinopathy treated by Shockwave have reported up to an 80% success rate.

What is Shockwave Therapy?

Shockwave therapy produces acoustic waves with high energy peaks that interact with tissue, causing effects such as accelerated tissue repair and cell growth, analgesia or pain relief, and mobility restoration. New blood vessel formation is caused by the therapy through creating capillary micro-ruptures in tendon and bone, thus triggering repair processes. With Shockwave therapy, reversal of chronic inflammation, stimulation of collagen production and the breaking up of calcium build up can be achieved.

Shockwave Therapy FAQ's

Does the treatment hurt?

There might be a slight feeling of discomfort during the treatment, however, treatments are short and last only about five minutes. As well, the intensity of the Shockwave can be adjusted to make the patient more comfortable.

How many treatments will I need?

The number of treatments will vary depending on each person, but the effects of each treatment are cumulative. Most people will not need more that 4-6 treatments per area. Many people will notice an improvement after their first treatment.

How often will the treatments occur?

Most patients will be treated 1 to 2 times per week depending on their response to the treatment and their tolerance for the treatment.

Will there be additional pain after a treatment?

Most patients experience immediate pain relief following a treatment, however within 2-4 hours after the treatment, there may be some soreness in the area.

Are there any restrictions after treatment?

It is recommended that a patient refrain from physical activity, particularly any activity that would heavily rely upon the treated area for 48 hours post each treatment.

Please give us a call at 403-278-1405 or email us at mail@activesportstherapy.ca to book a consult or treatment.

References: BTL's Shockwave Therapy Complete Edition

Image Credit: Ortho Canada[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Acupuncture for Stress Relief

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By: Dr. Vikki McGuire, DTCM and Dr. Wanda Duong DTCM

Stress is a natural reaction to the world and experiences that we are a part of and every single person will feel stress occasionally be it from work, finances, relationships or anything else, the body’s response will be the same; elevated stress levels sending the body into fight-or-flight mode. The difficulty arises when a person has elevated stress levels that are persistent to the point where it begins to take a toll on the body and starts to show up in different people in different ways.

Stress when ignored can manifest into both physical and/or emotional symptoms. It is usually only then that we start to question why we feel a certain way. Stress is a silent burden that affects us all differently, and if stress is an issue for you, just know that you’re not alone. The ‘fight or flight’ response that we experience during a stressful situation was meant to solve short-term problems, but if we are left in this ‘fight or flight’ state of being (sympathetic nervous system dominance) numerous health concerns can begin to arise. Some people may struggle with sleep issues and others might find that anxiety and depression are interrupting their life and draining their energy. Another person might notice that they’re catching colds during more stressful times throughout the year.

If this is the case for you, it might be a great opportunity to discover the benefits of acupuncture and Chinese Medicine to help rebalance your body and mind and to get you back to a happy and healthy life!

Symptoms commonly associated with stress can include:

In more severe or long-term cases, stress may increase your breathing rate, increase your heart rate or your blood pressure, and consequently put your cardiovascular system at risk of a severe illness (e.g. heart-attack or heart disease), so it’s important to do whatever you can to help manage your stress.

How acupuncture can help with stress levels:

Acupuncture is a treatment where fine needles are placed into certain points in the body that will help to stimulate nerves, muscles, and connective tissues. With regards to stress directly, there is evidence that shows that acupuncture therapy can decrease the body’s overall stress response and in some cases, help reverse the effects of it. Each of us has something called the parasympathetic nervous system which is basically the good state your body is in when you are in a relaxed state. This is a great state of being, and it is where we want to live, unless of course, you are actually in danger! Working with the flow of energy in the body, acupuncture can help bring back flow to areas of the body that may be obstructed or are experiencing an imbalance. Many people experience a very peaceful feeling immediately after an acupuncture session. Acupuncture works in both curative and preventative ways when it comes to your stress and is just one way Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctors can help with this issue.

There are many conditions addressed in Traditional Chinese Medicine are actually the result of stress manifesting in other areas of the body, so even if you don’t think your condition is related to stress, it might be worth taking a closer look with a full assessment from a DTCM.

Book in with one of our Traditional Chinese Medicine Doctors to go over all your health concerns and to find out if acupuncture could be right for you.

*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, Dr TCM,  physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Understanding Pain Sources and How They are Perceived in Your Brain

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By: Dr. Corey Finan BSc., DC, CCSP, RMT, ART

I can’t tell you how many patients come into my office complaining of nerve pain, or a pinched nerve feeling, but it is a lot!  Most of the time it turns out they are having nociceptive pain (pain from a nociceptor activation, which is basically a pain fiber in their soft tissue that sends a signal back to the brain that we call “pain”).  Studies estimate that of the thousands of patients that suffer from chronic pain, 20% of them have neuropathic pain.  That leaves the other 80% to be of nociceptive origin.  Unlike nociceptive pain, neuropathic pain does not respond to anti-inflammatories or opioid medications as they are unable address the underlying mechanisms of the neuropathic pain.  To add insult to injury, the underlying mechanisms of neuropathic pain are often vague and hard to determine.

To understand each pain source better, let’s identify each of them.

Nociceptive pain is:

Neuropathic pain is:

As you can see the two are VERY different from one another.  Most people who come in to our clinic, and really any walk-in clinic will be typically presenting with nociceptive pain.  Neuropathic pain leads people to believe something drastic is going on with them, and they seek emergency medical attention.  Once they go through the battery of tests that show their pain is neurogenic and not something worse, they will come in for care.  Both types of pain can be treated conservatively, and both respond well to care.  Nociceptive pain can be further broken down by the tissue that is causing the pain.  Muscle pain is different than tendon pain, which is different than ligament pain and bone pain is different as well.  Muscle pain is often achy if it is tight or fatigued (overused), while ligament pain is very sharp.  Tendon pain can be a combination of sharp and achy depending on the reason it is sore.  Bone pain is often described as a “deep achy pain”.  Some nociceptive pain can be a sort of phantom pain, where the pain is felt in one part of the body (say along the outside of the knee or lower leg), but is generated by a trigger point in the hip.  Working on the knee and lower leg WILL NOT help this type of pain, ONLY working on the trigger point in the hip will resolve the leg pain.

This raises another important point in understanding pain, and that is understanding the timing of the pain.

When does it hurt?

Neurogenic / Neuropathic pain is generally a constant pain (the nerve fiber is constantly irritated, thus sending off constant pain signals to the brain), while nociceptive pain often comes and goes.  Sometimes the pain is present at rest, consistent with tightness in the muscles that when not being used, and therefore lacking blood flow and warmth will tighten.  This tightening leads to a pulling of the tendon where it attaches to the bone.  This will lead to an achy sensation at the tendon-bone interface.  This is a common presentation of patellofemoral syndrome, where the quadriceps gets tight through activity, but while using it, it becomes more pliable and does not cause pain.  Once activity is complete, blood flow through the muscle diminishes, and the muscle begins to tighten (shorten), causing a pull at the tendon-bone interface again, leading to that achy pain down at the knee cap, or at the tibial tuberosity where the patellar tendon attaches.  This is basically what patellofemoral syndrome is.

The emotional side of pain...

Most people think pain is simply a physiological phenomenon.  It is however a multi-factorial collection of several ongoing processes including, but not limited to, contextual, psychological, and socio-cultural factors.  What this means for the average pain sufferer is that not all pain is the same person-to-person.  A stubbed toe for you may feel like a 2 out of 10 achy pain, while for another person it could feel like an 8 out of 10 excruciating pain.  This interpretation of the pain level often has an emotional component to it, and may be influenced by emotional scars from childhood, or other experiences in your life.  We all know people who have an unexplained fear of things such as spiders, snakes, thunderstorms, etc., these people have been primed emotionally to fear such things because of prior experiences or hearing about tragedies involving whatever it is they fear.  This is an emotional tag placed on the object they fear.  They associate whatever they are afraid of with something bad that could happen to them (a spider bite, getting struck by lightening, etc.), and so they have a heightened sense of fear around those things.  The same can work with pain.  People have an eversion to pain.  I’ve been working on patient’s dry needling them, and they burst into tears, not due to pain from the treatment, but rather from the fear of the needles.  When I ask them if it is painful they deny that it is, and they often cannot explain why they are crying.  They just are afraid of the needle damaging them.  They are almost paralyzed with fear, while another person can carry on a conversation with me as if we were sitting having coffee instead of me inserting dry needles into them.  Our experiences in life shape how we perceive things, and it is no different with pain.  Perception of pain is really what we are looking at here, not just pain.

So, what is the takeaway?

There are many faces to pain.  We all suffer from pain at one point in our life, usually we get over the pain, sometimes it lingers.  No matter what the cause, pain is usually and end stage of damage to tissues, and is the body’s “smoke detector” telling us there is a fire.  We can use the pain to guide our activities and avoid doing further damage to the tissue, or we can take pain meds to decrease the pain.  This is like taking the batteries out of the smoke detector in order to stop the alarm going off.  However, the fire is still there.  Naturally, it is important for everyone to find their comfort level, and do what you feel is important for yourself.

If you are unsure what is causing your pain, it is important to seek out professional advice from a musculoskeletal specialist to get a proper assessment and figure out exactly where the pain is coming from, and the most effective way to treat your particular pain.

At AST we are experts in musculoskeletal pain, and can take care of any pain you present with, be it acute, chronic, of unknown origin, and unrelenting.  We are here to help, and happy to do so.

If you are in pain and want to get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan to help, please call to book in today.

*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

Active Release Techniques - A Very Successful Type of Hands-On Treatment

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By: Active Sports Therapy

ART stands for Active Release Techniques.  It is a highly successful hands-on treatment method that addresses problems in the soft tissues of the body, including the muscles, ligaments, fascia, and nerves.  ART treatment has great success in dealing with soft tissue injuries because it is specifically designed to locate and treat scar tissue adhesions that accumulate in the muscles and surrounding soft tissues.

You can think of an ART treatment as a type of active massage. The practitioner will first shorten the muscle, tendon, or ligament, and then apply a very specific pressure with their hand as you actively stretch and lengthen the tissues.  As the tissue lengthens the practitioner is able to assess the texture and tension of the muscle to determine if the tissue is healthy or contains scar tissue that needs further treatment. When scar tissue adhesions are felt the amount and direction of tension can be modified to treat the problematic area. In this sense, each treatment is also an assessment of the health of the area as we are able to feel specifically where the problem is occurring.

An additional benefit of ART is it allows us to further assess and correct problems not only at the site of pain itself, but also in other areas of the kinetic chain, which are associated with movement compensations and are often contributing factors to the problem. This ensures that all the soft tissues that have become dysfunctional and are contributing to the specific injury are addressed, even if they have not yet all developed pain.

One of the best things about ART is how fast it can get results. In our experience, there are many types of injuries that respond very well to ART treatment, especially when combined with the appropriate home stretching and strengthening exercises. Although each case is unique and there are several factors that will determine the length of time required to fully resolve each condition, we usually find a significant improvement can be gained in just 4-6 treatments.

Here’s a list of common problems that our chiropractors are equipped to treat using Active Release Techniques. You may be surprised to learn that our chiropractors can treat more than just your back!

Achilles Tendonitis, Ankle Injuries,Back Pain / Injuries, Bicipital Tendonitis, Bursitis. Carpal Tunnel Syndrome, Compartment Syndrome, Foot Pain and Injury, Frozen Shoulder, Gait Imbalances, Golf Injuries, Golfer’s Elbow (Tendonitis), Hand Injuries, Headaches, Hip Pain, Hyperflexion Injuries, Iliotibial Band Syndrome, Impingement Syndrome, Joint Dysfunction, Knee and Leg Pain, Knee Meniscal Injuries, Muscle Pulls or Strains, Muscle Weakness, Myofascitis, Neck Pain, Nerve Entrapment, Syndromes, Repetitive Strain Injuries, Plantar Fasciitis, Post – Surgical, Restrictions, Running Injuries, Rib Pain, Rotator Cuff Syndrome, Shin Splints, Scar Tissue Formation, Sciatica, Swimmer’s Shoulder, Shoulder Pain, Sports Injuries, Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, Tendonitis / Tendonosis, Tennis Elbow,Weight Lifting Injuries, Throwing Injuries, TMJ, Whiplash.

Book an appointment today with one of our ART trained Chiropractors. 

*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]

What is Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS)

[vc_row][vc_column width="1/1"][vc_column_text]By: Active Sports Therapy

Intramuscular Stimulation (IMS) is an effective treatment for chronic pain of neuropathic origin. This technique uses needles similar to the needles used in acupuncture to find and diagnose muscle shortening in deep muscles. This technique is great because it has very few side effects.

IMS was developed by Dr. Chan Gunn while he was a clinic physician at the Worker’s Compensation Board of British Columbia in the 1970’s. He is presently President of iSTOP and clinical professor at the University of Washington’s Multi Disciplinary Pain Center in Seattle. Dr. Gunn has been awarded The Order of British Columbia as well as The Order of Canada, the nation’s highest honor, for his contributions towards solving chronic pain. He has also been elected Honorary Fellow of Peterhouse Cambridge University. Although IMS uses implements adapted from traditional acupuncture, it is based on scientific, neurophysiological principles. The acupuncture needles used are very thin (much thinner that the hollow needle used to inject medicine or take blood samples). You may not even feel it penetrating the skin, and if your muscle is normal, the needle is painless. However, if your muscle is supersensitive and shortened, you’ll feel a peculiar sensation – like a muscle cramp or Charlie Horse. This is a distinctive type of discomfort caused by the muscle grasping the needles. Patients soon learn to recognize and welcome this sensation. They call it a “good” or positive pain because it soon disappears and is followed by a wonderful feeling of relief no longer tight, you no longer feel it. What has happened is that the needling has caused your abnormal muscle shortening to intensity and then release. It is important that you experience this sensation in order to gain lasting relief.

“Neuropathy”- or- what happens when nerves start to go wrong…

Doctors usually have no difficulty in treating pain caused by injury (a fracture, for example) or inflammation (such as rheumatoid arthritis). But they are perplexed by pain that shows no sign of tissue damage or inflammation, such as headaches, “whiplash”, backache, tennis elbow or frozen shoulder.

Dr. Gunn had introduced “neuropathic pain”, to describe this type of pain. Typically this occurs when nerves malfunction following minor irritation. Nerves and nerve-endings become extremely sensitive and cause innocent, harmless signals to be exaggerated and misperceived as painful ones. (This characteristic is known medically as supersensitivity). The result is pain, even when extensive medical tests show there is “nothing wrong”. Until recently, supersensitivity has received little attention in medical circles.

The Effects of IMS

The effects of IMS are cumulative – needling stimulates a certain amount of healing, until eventually, the condition is healed and the pain disappears. Some patients treated with IMS have remained pain-free for over 20 years.

Frequency of Treatments

Treatments are usually once a week (but can be spread out to two weeks) to allow time between treatments for the body to heal itself. The number of treatments you require will depend on several factors such as the duration and extent of your condition, how much scar tissue there is (usually increased after previous surgery) and how quickly your body can heal, the rate of healing depends on the condition of your nerves (young people usually heal more quickly, although older is not necessarily slower). If the pain is of recent origin, one treatment may be all that is necessary. In published studies of patients with low back pain, the average number of IMS treatments required was 8.2.

Treating Neuropathic Pain

Supersensitivity and muscle shortening cannot be operated on and “cut away”. “Pain killers” and other analgesic pills only masks the pain. The goal of treatment is to release muscle shortening which presses on and irritates the nerve. Supersensitive areas can be desensitized and the persistent pull of shortened muscles released.

If you think IMS could be the right treatment for you, please book in for an assessment.

*This blog is not intended to officially establish a physician-patient relationship, to replace the services of a trained physician, naturopathic doctor, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.  

 

 

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