Sciatica or Piriformis Syndrome

Written By: Dr. Evan Steinke, B.Sc, DC

Many of us have heard of sciatica (SI), a painful compression of the nerve running down the back of your leg, however, not many have heard of Piriformis Syndrome. To understand the difference it helps to first understand what the sciatic nerve is and where it travels.

The sciatic nerve is the thickest nerve in our body and is the result of several nerve roots from the lower back and sacrum coming together to form one larger nerve bundle. This bundle is formed around the level of our hip joint and runs the entirety of our leg, from glutes to feet. Nerves branch off to supply everything from the muscles of our legs to the skin and joints. Therefore, any irritation or compression to the sciatic nerve, or the nerve roots it is comprised of, can cause symptoms along its length. In fact, this is what sciatica is in reference to, pain and other symptoms that affect the nerve roots or sciatic nerve. Typically we think of disk herniations, degeneration, or joint narrowing that compresses and irritate the nerve roots that form the sciatic nerve as the cause of sciatica. However, this is not always the cause, in some cases, the sciatic nerve itself can be compressed by muscles which leads us to piriformis syndrome.

Piriformis syndrome gets its name from the piriformis muscle, a slender muscle running from the sacrum to the hip. The location of the muscle places it dead center in the gluteal region and also right over the top of the infamous sciatic nerve. As a result, tension and tightness or inflammation in the piriformis muscle can lead to compression and irritation of the sciatic nerve which in turn may cause sciatica. This could include pain in the gluteal region with possible radiation along the length of the nerve as it travels down the leg to the foot. It can also be characterized by feelings of numbness, tingling, or weakness in the leg and/or foot. Due to its position and function, you may feel increased irritation with sitting for a sustained period or with exercises such as squats.

In any case, if you are experiencing pain along the back of your leg or feelings of numbness or weakness it is best to see your practitioner and have the exact cause determined. From here an appropriate treatment and management plan can be implemented to help you.

If you are interested in booking an assessment call Active Sports Therapy today.

Dr. Evan Steinke, BSc. DC recently hosted a webinar where you can learn more about Sciatica and Piriformis Syndrome. You can check it out here.

*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.

Sciatica or Piriformis Syndrome

Knee pain and Chondromalacia

Written by: Dr Evan Steinke, BSc, DC

Pain in and around the knee is a common occurrence but the causes can be broad and varied. Chondromalacia patella, sometimes known as a runner’s knee, is one potential cause of knee pain. It is characterized by pain to the front of the knee over and around the patella, or knee cap. It may increase with prolonged sitting with knees bent such as while watching a movie. It may also increase with running and other sports that apply pressure to the knee.

Chondromalacia might sound like a mouthful but very accurately describes the condition itself. The word is derived from the word chondros, meaning cartilage, and malakia, meaning softening, hence the softening and erosion of the cartilage on the kneecap is the source of pain in this condition. As the cartilage breaks down the kneecap no longer glides as easily over the knee and may even rub against the opposing joint surface. This can result in painful irritation and irregular movement of the kneecap overtop of the femur.

Treatment of chondromalacia patella often includes trying to reduce inflammation which may be done through rest and ice. If there is a specific cause of the condition, such as running, it should also be addressed with your clinician. This could include analyzing gait, correcting muscle imbalances, using orthotics or different types of shoes, and adjusting any misalignments in the joint.

If you are having knee pain and think you may have chondromalacia it is best to see a chiropractor or physio to have it evaluated. This way an individualized treatment and management plan that addresses your needs and concerns can be created.

If you would like an assessment book in at Active Sports Therapy, for a personal assessment and treatment plan. Dr. Evan Steinke, BSc. DC works at AST Westman

*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.

Knee pain and Chondromalacia

Learn The Benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine Herbal Formulas.

Written By: Dr. Wanda Duong, DTCM

For over a thousand years, herbal therapy has been used all over the world to address a range of health concerns. Looking to nature, those who studied Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM), utilized different plant parts to improve and support health.

Many plants and plant parts have unique therapeutic properties that can help support our body’s health and encourage our body’s natural healing abilities. These unique therapeutic properties can be combined to create a balanced herbal formula where the main active ingredients are used to address the primary symptoms, other ingredients to address secondary symptoms, and some ingredients to harmonize and create a balanced formula. TCM herbal formulas are used to address not just symptoms, but the potential root cause of those symptoms. TCM herbal formulas, similar to TCM acupuncture, treat the entire human being by addressing the potential underlying root cause of a symptom(s) and aim to support the body’s own natural ability to sustain health by encouraging certain biochemical reactions to take place.

The therapeutic properties of herbs are often described as their “nature” and their “flavor”. In general, herbs can have a thermal nature that is cold and cool, or hot and warm. This means that herbs which have a cold nature are great to cool the body by combatting heat and toxicity while herbs that are hot in nature are great to balance coldness and warm the body to promote physiological functions. For example, peppermint has a cooling effect and can be found in a formula used to address symptoms of menopause like hot flashes. On the contrary, cinnamon bark is warming and may be found in a formula to warm the body and increase circulation. Another example is including peppermint in an iced tea to help cool the body on a sunny day and in the winter we often find cinnamon in hot ciders to help warm the body. Though the therapeutic properties of these two plant parts are different, they may be found in the same herbal formula, with other ingredients, to create a balanced formula that has a cooling, invigorating, and warming effect.

Herbs will also display a certain flavor profile of sour, bitter, salty, pungent, or sweet and each of these flavor profiles is associated with a therapeutic action. Finally, herbs may have a therapeutic movement influence of directing downward, to address acid reflux for example, or to direct upward to support lifting like in prolapse. All of the properties of a plant part are taken into consideration when herbal formulas are created.

TCM herbal formulas should only be prescribed after a consultation with your TCM practitioner as each herbal formula is specific to address the potential underlying issues causing a symptom or pattern of disease. For example, two individuals with the same diagnosis may be prescribed a different herbal formula because the type of symptom they are experiencing, in addition to

potential underlying root causes, dictates a specific herbal formula that is best for their individual condition. This is similar to two individuals seeking treatment for lower back pain by a physiotherapist, massage therapist, or chiropractic. These two individuals will receive an individualized treatment plan that is specific to which muscle groups are involved, underlying conditions at play, inflammation or structural issues, etc., and both may receive very different treatments even though they both experience low back pain.

Because TCM herbal formulas, similar to pharmaceutical prescriptions, take on a specific role and address very specific underlying issues, it is important to consult with your Active Sports Therapy TCM practitioner to find the best herbal formula to address your condition. You may book a TCM herbal consultation for advisement on a herbal formula that may be appropriate for you, or you may also discuss herbal formulas at your next acupuncture session with your Active Sports Therapy TCM practitioner. Before a herbal formula can be prescribed, the TCM practitioner will ask for a detailed health history including past and current illnesses. They will ask questions related to different body systems and may also inquire into current medication you are taking. This is important because, though herbs are generally quite safe, the TCM practitioner wants to ensure that there will not be any adverse reactions between your pharmaceutical prescription and the herbs, and vice versa. It is also safe to take a herbal formula while also taking a pharmaceutical prescription, though both should be taken at separate times. Continue to take your prescribed medication even if a TCM herbal formula has been prescribed to address a similar symptom. TCM herbal formulas should not be seen as substitutes for medical care, but as a supplement to support holistic health.

TCM herbal formulas are available in different forms, from raw, dried herbs, to powder, to capsules and tablets. They can be used to address current symptoms, or used as a preventative approach for health. TCM herbal formulas can be used to address acute symptoms for 1-2 weeks, such as a cold, or longer standing health problems that are chronic in nature in which case an individual may be advised to take a herbal formula for a few months. Your Active Sports Therapy TCM practitioner will always follow up with you when taking herbal formulas and before prescribing additional formulas. Herbal formulas often have little to no negative side effects as their ingredients are found in nature, most often plant-based. However, it is important that your TCM practitioner is aware of any allergies or sensitivities you may have.

TCM herbal formulas, in addition to TCM acupuncture, are only a small part of the holistic approach we take towards health here at Active Sports Therapy. Together, we are united to give you the best care we can so that you can enjoy all aspects of your daily life.

Book in with Dr. Wanda Duong at AST Willow Park to experience how Traditional Chinese Medicine Formulas can help you live your best life.

Learn The Benefits of Traditional Chinese Medicine Herbal Formulas.

Healthy Food Habits For Busy Schedules

Kira Greasley - BA, CHNC

Is it that time again? With school starting back up and, schedules getting busy, what better opportunity to take some time to review some not-so-sweet facts about food? My hope is to inspire YOU and YOUR loved ones to set your stage for life!

-  Food is not only fuel for the body but it is used as information that directly communicates with our bodies, brain & DNA.

-  Food nurtures our gut bacteria (microbiome), allowing them to do what they do best which is keeping our bodies and brains healthy. Did you know that 70% of your immune system resides in your microbiome and that it is also responsible for your metabolism, hormonal systems, brain and levels of inflammation?

-  Unnatural food products such as refined carbs, sugar (which suppresses your immune system by 60% for up to 5 hours), & vegetable oils, cause the cells in the body to send out SOS signals & free radicals that are damaging (think of free radicals as bulls in a china shop). If these SOS signals & free radicals are left to their own devices, they can kill cells from the inside out.

-  No-one should consume more than 5 tsp of sugar a day most adults are consuming an average of 22 tsp/day and kids consume up to 35 tsps. There are over 115 names for sugar so the easiest rule to go by is if it ends in “ose” it is sugar.

-  Many bowls of cereal contain one spoonful of sugar for every three spoonfuls of cereal eaten.

-  4 grams of sugar = 1 teaspoon of sugar

-  Research from the Public Health Journal linked diets high in fast foods and refined sweets to a 40% higher rate of depression due to lower amounts of dopamine (the feel-good hormone and neurotransmitter).

“Your fork sets you on a path that leads you to a disease or back to health” - Dr. David Perlmutter

If you are interested in learning more about healthy nutritional lifestyle choices call AST Willow Park to book a consult with Kira Greasley today.

Healthy Food Habits For Busy Schedules

Tips for Choosing a Backpack for Kids

By: Active Sports Therapy

As we get our kids ready to go back to school, buying a new backpack seems to be a late August tradition. Although kids will often choose their pack based on colour and design, there are a few tips that you should watch for when narrowing down their choices.

Backpack features that reduce the incidence of back pain can be:

In terms of wearing the backpack, please remember the following:

If your child is complaining of pain, however, it’s important to listen to them as it could be a symptom of a larger problem or an issue that needs to be looked at by a professional. At Active Sports Therapy we have both sport and family chiropractors equipped to assess and treat your little one if needed.

*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]

Staying Injury-Free during Hiking Season

Written by: Rachel Grant, MScPT, B.Kin

We are fortunate enough to live just a few short hours from the beautiful rocky mountains! Whether you are an avid hiker and have years of experience under your belt, or have just started to explore the trails, injury prevention should be a top priority. Hiking injuries tend to be injuries to the lower limb. These injuries can range from acute injuries such as a ligament sprain to overuse injuries such as tendonitis. The goal of this blog is to give you an idea of what injuries to look out for and most importantly some prevention tips.

The most common lower limb sprain injury tends to be an ankle sprain when you overstretch the ligaments in your ankle from rolling it on uneven terrain. A key aspect to preventing this injury is to first have proper footwear.

●  Getting fitted to a hiking boot or trail runner that fits you well and provides you support around the ankle joint for your activity is key.

●  Secondly, it can be beneficial to strengthen and stretch your calf muscles. Completing a basic calf stretch before and after hiking in the parking lot helps keep your ankle mobile. Strengthening your calf muscles with exercises such as a calf raise will provide stability around your ankle joint to tackle uneven rocks, tree roots and the steep incline and decline of a trail.

●  Adding in some challenging balance exercises such as balancing near a counter with your eyes closed or working on maintaining your balance while standing on a pillow can prepare your ankle for the mountains.Overuse injuries are the next most common injuries you can encounter. Pain at the front of the knee, particularly with the descent of a hike can result in injuries such as patellofemoral pain syndrome and/or patellar tendonitis (inflammation of the tendon). Stretching and strengthening the muscles surrounding the knee and hip joint can help prevent and treat this knee pain.

●  Stretching the front of the thigh of the quadriceps muscle before & after a hike is also beneficial to prevent this injury. A simple stretch you can add is shown here.

●  Strengthening this same muscle with exercises such as a single leg step up and down a stair, and lunges can also be very beneficial.

●  Strengthening your hip muscles such as your glutes will provide support to your knee joint. Simple exercises such as a squat and a glute bridge with a resistance band are a great addition to any workout program. Lastly, an important part of injury prevention is preparing your body for the activity by slowly building up your endurance. Starting with lower elevation and shorter hikes at the beginning of the season to gradually building up to more challenging trails builds up your muscles to tackle a full hiking season injury free! Don’t forget about taking adequate rest breaks during the hike and in between hiking days while mixing in other kinds of exercise such as cardiovascular and strength training.

Sadly, despite our best efforts, injuries may still happen. If you experience injury hiking or maybe you would like to focus on injury prevention tailored specifically to you, our team at Active Sports Therapy can design a treatment program for your goals today! Call the office at 403-278-1405 today to book in with our team of experts.

*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.

Staying Injury-Free during Hiking Season

Carpal Tunnel or Pronator Teres Syndrome?

Written By: Dr. Evan Steinke, B.Sc., DC

Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a well-known condition that can cause wrist and hand pain. It is notorious for causing pain and/or numbness along with the hand among office workers, gardeners, and anyone performing repetitive tasks. It is caused by the squeezing of the median nerve as it passes through a narrow tunnel at the wrist. However, despite how prevalent CTS is it is not the only location the median nerve can become compressed.

Pronator Teres Syndrome (PTS) is a lesser-known form of median nerve compression and may mimic, and even be misdiagnosed, as CTS. The condition is named after the muscle that causes it, the pronator teres. This is a relatively small forearm muscle located at the inner elbow and is responsible for turning our forearm palm side up (known as pronation). What makes this muscle interesting is that in most people there are two heads to the muscle and the median nerve passes directly between the two. As a result, muscle tension or injury can lead to compression of the median nerve. Compression at the elbow will result in downstream effects such as pain, pins and needles sensation, numbness or muscle weakness in the hand, again mimicking the effects of CTS. Interestingly, around 1 in 7 people are missing the second head of the pronator teres muscle which is thought to reduce the risk of developing this condition.

Patients suffering from PTS may have increased forearm irritation when activating the pronator muscle and may also experience upper forearm pain. However, differentiating the conditions can be nuanced so checking with your doctor and having a detailed physical exam can help differentiate the two. While a physical exam is often sufficient in severe cases your doctor may recommend that additional nerve tests be ordered.

Management of PTS often includes the following:

Muscle release techniques: These techniques aim to help ease pain and release muscle tension to free up the median nerve.

Exercises and Stretches: A variety of programs can be performed at home that aim to improve flexibility and decrease muscle tension.

Activity Modification: Depending on your occupation and home needs your doctor may modify your daily routines and activities to reduce the use and stress on the pronator teres muscle.

Rest: Inflammation and swelling around an injured muscle can add pressure to the nerve. Allowing the muscle to rest and the body to clear the inflammation will aid in recovery.

Ice/heat: In cases of trauma or acute injury, the use of ice and/or heat can help reduce pain and bring blood to the area.

Ultimately both CTS and PTS are caused by the compression of the median nerve just at different locations. A thorough examination is vital in differentiating the two conditions and for appropriate treatment to be applied.

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms be sure to book in at Active Sports Therapy, for a personal assessment and treatment plan. Dr. Evan Steinke, BSc. DC works at AST Westman

Carpal Tunnel or Pronator Teres Syndrome?

Injury Prevention During Race Season.

By: Active Sports Therapy

Spring and Summer are a fantastic time to get the competitive juices flowing by signing up for various races and challenges in and around the city. Maybe it’s your first 5k, your second marathon of the summer or a community triathlon, either way, you’ll want to be ready for it.

In addition to the obvious…which is training properly for the event, we’ve compiled a list of a few more things that can help.

Gait Analysis: Have your gait looked at to determine if there are any corrective measures you can take. Orthotics can be a game-changer for many a runner especially if you have excess pronation, suffer from plantar fasciitis or in general, just have poor foot biomechanics.

See a Running Expert: Calgary is home to a very strong running community so you’ll definitely be able to find someone who can analyze your form and help you make injury-preventing corrections. One great example is Solo Sport Systems in Calgary.

Listen to Your Body: Not just in running, but in everyday life. This is advice we always give to our patients for injury prevention. If there’s pain, don’t dismiss it. We recommend you take quick action to nip the problem in the bud by seeing your practitioner as soon as possible before the pain bumps you out of the race completely.

Just RICE it!: Rest. Ice. Compression. Elevation. As soon as the injury happens RICE it for 10-15 minutes, several times a day. In addition to this, be sure to protect the area with crutches, rest, and avoidance of activities that cause pain in the area.

Stay Positive: Sounds simple enough right? This can be a challenge for many, especially if you've been taken away from an activity that you love. Focus on some brain conditioning during this time to help you achieve the best possible recovery by remaining optimistic and confident in your ability to recover.

See a Chiropractor: A chiropractic adjustment can help ensure there is the proper alignment of your spine and pelvis leading up to the big race. Active Release Therapy can also play a role in loosening up tight muscles by breaking up restrictive adhesions, allowing your movement to be more fluid and pain-free.

Visit an MAT Specialist: MAT stands for Muscle Activation Technique. This technique can assess and correct muscular imbalances, and instability of joints, and help correct any difficulties with a range of motion allowing your muscles to move, fire, and function at their very best.

Book in for Chiropractic, Active Release Therapy, a foot analysis to see if Orthotics are right for you, or MAT right here at Active Sports Therapy.

*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]

Injury Prevention During Race Season.

The Top 4 Most Common Golf Injuries

By: Active Sports Therapy

As golfing is a seasonal sport, people often jump into it quickly and with high frequency. Since 18 holes are the most common way to play, overuse injuries can occur. If you develop an injury, it can result in a frustrating experience out on the links as injuries affect your swing, and ultimately, your game.

The most common injuries include:

Golfers Elbow - Will cause pain and inflammation in the tendons that connect the forearm to the elbow. The pain may radiate into the forearm.

Wrist Pain - Can occur and is usually related to the wrist flexor or extensor tendons. Impingement syndrome and tendonitis can also occur.

Shoulder Pain – The lead shoulder is most often the one to be injured in a golfer with the rotator cuff is the most likely to become injured and it is often related to the style and form of the golfer's backswing.

Back Pain- In the upper, mid, or most commonly, the lower back can occur. Golf involves twisting, bending, and reaching down to get the ball out of the cup, all of which can add up to back pain for some.

Tips for Prevention

Swing Mechanics. Even the best golfers are taking 70-90 swings and putts per game. Considering that you can see how easily an overuse injury can occur. Learning proper posture from a golf pro might give you the corrections you need to prevent injury.

Avoid trying to hit the ball too hard. This is common for ‘new golfers’ as they opt for power over the form. Again, a lesson or two might teach you the proper pace required for a mechanically correct swing.

Be sure to use proper mechanics when lifting or carrying your bag, even if it’s just taking them out of the trunk of your car.

Just because golf isn’t a fast, contact sport, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have to stretch it out a bit before you play. Stretch your shoulders, chest, triceps, back, and lower body.

Here is a great resource from Golf Digest

How Can your Chiropractor Help with These Injuries?

ART stands for Active Release Techniques.  It is a new and 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 overuse injuries because it is specifically designed to locate and treat scar tissue adhesions that accumulate in the muscles and surrounding soft tissues.

By locating and treating the soft-tissue adhesions with ART, it allows the practitioner to, 1) break up restrictive adhesions, 2) reinstate normal tissue flexibility and movement, and 3) more completely restore flexibility, balance, and stability to the injured area and the entire kinetic chain.

This style of treatment can be applied to all of your common golf injuries. We can also help you to learn how to prevent further damage through exercises and stretches. Our physiotherapy area has specialized equipment to help speed healing with laser therapy and Game Ready ice machines. We can assign the proper stabilizing brace or suggest supplements if needed.

Book in today at and we’ll help you Get Back to Your Game!

The Top 4 Most Common Golf Injuries

What is Auricular Therapy?

By Dr. Wanda Duong, DTCM, R.Ac., B.Sc.,

Auricular Therapy (AT), also called Auriculotherapy, is both a diagnostic and an integrative treatment procedure whereby the external surface of the ear, or auricle, is stimulated to alleviate conditions in other parts of the body.

The principles of Auricular Therapy (AT) are based upon both Traditional Chinese Medicine and neurological reflex therapies that were discovered in Europe. The essential principle in AT is that there are neurological reflexes and energetic correspondences between specific areas of the external ear, or auricle, and other parts of the body that are arranged in the pattern of an inverted fetus, which is similar to principles of reflexology on the feet.

AT can produce a therapeutic effect for treating various conditions by stimulating the acupoint that corresponds to the targeted part of the body or organ. Treatment of those reactive ear points can be achieved by tactile acupressure (ear seeds and acupressure) or by the insertion of very thin acupuncture needles.

The WHO recognizes AT as a micro-acupuncture system that can produce a positive impact on regulating the whole body, and its therapeutic effect has been investigated in a wide range of health problems in both oriental and western countries. AT can be used to address very similar issues that body acupuncture can address including reducing pain, anxiety, withdrawal and addictions symptoms, migraines, insomnia, digestive issues, and many other conditions. Similar to body acupuncture, thin needles can be used on the ear for a short duration and a strong effect/stimulus. As an alternative, ear seeds can be placed onto acupoints of the ears to provide a much gentler stimulus whereby the patient is sent home with the ear seeds still in place and instructed on how to massage the ear seeds. This allows for a gentle yet longer stimulus of the acupoint on the ear. Traditionally, ear seeds come from the flowering herb Vaccaria, but practitioners can also use metal, silver, or gold-plated seeds today.

An ear seed appointment can be completed quite quickly and is done in a seated position. The procedure will typically look something like the following:

1. Clean and dry the outside of your ear. The ears are disinfected in preparation for the ear seeds that will go on the outside of your ear, not in your ear canal.

2. Identify the correct points. The acupuncturist will locate the best points based on your needs and symptoms.

3. Ear seeds applied. Ear seeds typically come pre-attached to adhesive tape where the The practitioner will press gently on the tape to make sure the ear seeds stick to the ear well.

4. Massage ear seeds gently. The patient is asked to follow simple instructions of massaging the ear seed three to five times each day or when symptoms are present. Apply pressure to massage the ear seeds for 30 seconds to two minutes if comfortable.

5. Change them regularly. As ear seed application does not stimulate an acupoint as strongly as needles, it is recommended to have an ear seed (auricular) appointment every 1-2 weeks when beginning treatment. Additionally, though safe to shower with, ear seeds will naturally fall off on their own from 2 – 7 days. Your practitioner will also recommend you remove any remaining ear seeds after about 5 -7 days regardless, so it’s recommended to get them replaced regularly to continue to benefit from those points.

6. Removal. You can use tweezers or your nails to remove the ear seeds. Simple tilt your head slightly to face the ground and remove the seeds.

Speak to our registered acupuncturist, Dr. Wanda Duong TCM, for more information or book your ear seed appointment today at Active Sports Therapy, Willow Park 403-278-1405

What is Auricular Therapy?