Dry Needling

Written By: Rachel Grant, MScPT, B.Kin.

What is dry needling?

Dry needling is using a thin filiform needle inserted through the skin into areas of the muscle. Your therapist may use the needle to help with the management of muscular pain, trigger points and movement
impairments. Dry needling helps to

dissipate inflammatory chemicals, the same ones which can lead to persistent pain. Additionally dry needling helps to release trigger points so your muscle can perform optimally and provides a neurological reset to help with your pain and also muscle function.

What is a trigger point?

A trigger point is a hyperirritable spot in skeletal muscle that is often sensitive to pressure or touch and can feel like a taut band. What you can feel with a trigger point is local or referred pain (pain felt elsewhere away from the initial injury), or even numbness.

Dry Needling Techniques:

There are different techniques used by our practitioners at AST. These can include dynamic dry needling where the therapist will manipulate the needle to get a desired response. These include “pistoning,” “rolling”, or using an electrical machine. When your therapist uses these techniques you may feel a twitch within the muscle being treated followed by a deep ache. This subsides shortly after. Additionally, static techniques can also be used with the dry needle. This is where the needle will not move but stay in the muscle for a certain period of time.

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What injuries or conditions are suitable for dry needling? This list is not extensive.

●  Back or neck pain

●  Elbow tendonitis - also commonly known as tennis or golfer’s elbow

●  Headaches and migraines

●  Shin splints

●  Shoulder injuries

●  TMJ and jaw disorders

●  Whiplash disorders

●  Patellofemoral pain

Dry needling is usually just one component in a larger pain management program. It may be accompanied by exercise, soft tissue and hands-on manual therapy, and modalities such as heat or ice. Discuss with your practitioner if dry needling would be beneficial for you! If you are new to the clinic please give us a call to book in with a member of our team today.

*The content contained in this blog is provided for general information purposes only. The content is general suggestions and not intended to replace the services of a trained physician, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

Do you have a love-hate relationship with running?

How I went from hating running to loving it, and gaining speed on my younger self.  

Written by: Sarah Kuindersma, MATm, PTS

If this title drew you in, you must be runner, a former runner, or someone who loves the idea of running but has found it hard to get into a flow and enjoy it. 

I’m here to sympathize and help you get to running. 

Hi, my name is Sarah Kuindersma. I’m the Muscle Activation Technique Specialist at A.S.T. Back in the day, I ran cross country in high school and later transitioned into triathlons at university. I used to love running until I was riddled with injuries and had to stop. Stopping was difficult for me, but eventually, I found new hobbies. Then March of 2020 happened, and most of our hobbies were suspended and many of us turned to running, as did I. I remember starting slow, 1 minute of running followed by 1 minute of walking. It felt terrible. My run felt heavy, I couldn’t get my breathing under control and most concerning my knee pain from university was rearing its ugly head again. 

At this time, I had 2 choices, I could have just shrug and say, oh well running isn’t really a passion of mine anyways or use this time to figure out why running was posing such challenges for me. It wasn’t long until I realized I had multiple strength imbalances and mobility issues placing strain on my knee. I also learnt I had a low resilience to running and poor running mechanics. 

Where do you go from here? 

You would think, someone like myself, educated in muscle imbalances, personal training and a former triathlete should know these answers, but finding a place to start just felt daunting 

So, where do you start?

You, you start with you. How are you currently moving? Or rather not moving? It’s important to take an honest look at your starting point of mobility, strength, and fitness. 

I started with a movement screen. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CApP_PyjUog I did not have a passing mark. There’s no judgement on that, it’s just a starting point. And this is why we use this as a gage to see if you’re ready to run or not. First, I needed to work on my mobility and strength. 

After 6 weeks, I checked back in with the return to run screen, although not perfect I did get a passing mark which gave me the green light to start adding small amounts of running. I started with 2 x 30 second runs focusing on run mechanics, and waited 2 days to ensure there was no knee pain that followed suit. We were in the clear, over the next few months I continued with my strength and mobility work while slowly adding more volume and less rest during my runs. 

Soon I started craving running, which I never thought I would. I craved it because it felt great. My run mechanics were improving, my fitness was improving and my knee pain was non-existent. We are going to fast-forward the time line here. As I mentioned before I took my progression really slow, but then June of 2022 rolled around and a friend invited me to do WASA with her. It’s a sprint triathlon close to Cranbrook BC. I hemmed and hawed, wasn’t sure I wanted to get back into triathlons but decided why not. Thanks to Facebook memories, I was reminded I had done that exact race, on the same day exactly 10 years ago with a finishing time of 1hr 26mins. The crazy part was I finished WASA in 2022 with a time of 1 hr 26 mins. 10 years apart, same course, same time, but this time around I wasn’t burnt out, I didn’t have injuries, and I was excited to train for my next event. 

This long-winded story inspired me to pursue getting my running coach's license and put together a program for anyone wanting to love running again. I’m excited to tell you we have this program ready for you starting January 1st, 2023! The goal of the program is to run for life without pain, learn the proper running mechanics and find the ease of efficient running. 

Foot pain and the Tarsal Tunnel

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


Your foot and ankle are hosts to a considerable number of arteries, tendons, and nerves. These structures have weaved in and around bones with very limited space. In the case of Tarsal Tunnel Syndrome (TTS) they pass through a rather small tunnel where they have the potential to be compressed. As a result, patients may suffer from pain at and below the point of compression. This leads to the characterized pain along the inner ankle and sole of the foot possibly with numbness or tingling. In some cases, it may feel like a burning sensation and be
accompanied by weakness of the foot muscles.

The tarsal tunnel itself is comprised of two main structures, the base and the roof. The base of the tunnel is created by a concave in the bones of the feet with one peak being the ankle and the other being the innermost part of the heel. The second structure is a fibrous connective tissue running between the two peaks essentially acting as a roof and creating the tunnel. The tunnel is filled by three tendons, an artery and vein, and the tibial nerve. Due to the high number of structures running through a closed, narrow space any amount of swelling or inflammation can lead to compression of the tibial nerve. It is this compression that causes the symptoms of
TTS such as the pain and tingling sensation.


Treatment is based on trying to relieve pressure on the tibial nerve as it enters and passes through the tarsal tunnel. This often includes trying to reduce swelling and inflammation of surrounding tissue or injuries, especially to any tendons that directly pass through the tunnel itself. This may include icing or resting protocols or over-the-counter anti-inflammatories. Adjustments to the base of the tunnel may be performed if there are any bony malalignments. Additionally, soft tissue massage or ART/MRT may be applied to tight muscles to try and alleviate pressure from the nerve.

If you are interested in a more in-depth explanation of the lower leg and ankle you can learn more in an upcoming webinar hosted by Dr. Evan Steinke on December 15 at 7:00 PM. Sign up here.

If you are looking to book a personal assessment to get to the source of your hip pain book in at either AST location. Our many expert practitioners will assist you in your journey toward better hip mobility. If you are looking to book in with Dr. Evan Steinke, he works at AST Westman.

*The content contained in this blog is provided for general information purposes only. The above content is general suggestions and not intended to replace the services of a trained physician, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 

Knee Injuries & Skiing

Written By: Rachel Grant, MScPT, B.Kin,

It’s that time of year again and whether it's your first time clipping into your bindings or you are a seasoned skier, prevention of knee injuries should be at the top of your mind.

The knee joint is composed of bones, cartilage, ligaments and tendons. The most common knee injuries related to skiing include damage to the ligaments; a ligament is a short band of tough fibrous tissue that connects bone to bone. Meniscus or cartilage injuries within the knee itself are the second most most common injuries. The four primary ligaments in your knee hold the bones together to help stabilize your knee. The knee can become easily injured because it relies heavily on the ligaments, meniscus, cartilage and the surrounding musculature for stability.

Skiing is a sport that tests the ligaments and supporting structures in the knee through quick changes of direction and constant muscle contraction to maneuver down snow or ice. Strength training and targeting every muscle group of the lower limb is one way to set yourself up for a successful ski season!

Below are some examples of each lower limb area to focus on, along with an exercise example:

Hamstrings:

-Bridges, single leg bridges, Nordic curls

Quads:

-a combo of closed chain exercises where both legs are on the ground such as squats, along with open chain exercises like controlled step downs and lunges.

Hip Strengthening for Gluteus Medius and Maximus:

-Clamshells, side lying hip abduction, single leg squats

Other Important Knee Injury Prevention Tips:

-Learn proper technique with a professional if you are new to the sport

-Choose suitable runs (green, blue, black) comparable to your ability level.

-Ensure you have properly fitted equipment. Including ski's bindings, and poles. Most importantly, check your bindings are fitted to the boot you will be wearing. Non-release of bindings has been reported to be a contributor of skiing injuries in youths and adults. Release bindings which can be adjusted to a skiers ability and weight can help to prevent knee injuries.

-Lastly, add dynamic stretching to your ski routine. Warm up and general movement with short hold stretching (10-15 seconds) pre-skiing, such as when you are gearing up in the parking lot gets your muscles ready for the day. Finishing the day are-ski with static stretching will prevent possible injuries the following day.

Sadly, despite our best efforts, injuries may still happen. If you experience an injury skiing or maybe you want to ensure you are strong leading into the ski season, our team at Active Sports Therapy can design a treatment program for your specific 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.

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Could your hip pain be caused by FAI?

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

Hip pain is a common symptom that can come from a wide array of conditions. Femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) is one such condition that is characterized by limited motion of the hip and pain over and around the hip and groin region. To best understand this condition it is helpful to first examine the hip in a normal state.

The hip joint is a ball and socket joint that joins your pelvis and leg located along the groin. It is the joining of the upper leg bone, the femur, into the socket of the pelvis called the acetabulum. Hence the name, femoroacetabular joint, is really just the amalgamation of the femur (femoro) and the acetabulum (acetabular). This ball and socket joint provides a huge amount of mobility and is why we are afforded a such great range of motion in our legs. Muscles such as the glutes work to move our leg backwards, while muscles such as our quadriceps work to bring our legs forward.

In the case of impingement, we no longer have full motion of this ball and socket joint because of boney restrictions forming around the joint itself. As the bone growth begins to further encapsulate the joint it can no longer move as freely. If the bone growth is located on the femur it develops a raised lip near the joint. This is termed a ‘cam’ impingement. When the joint is moved this raised lip will now contact the opposing socket sooner than before, resulting in restricted movement and may also elicit pain. The opposite is also possible, boney growth of the socket can result in a ‘pincer’ that extends towards the femur. As the femur tries to move it will now collide with this new extended piece of bone again causing a restriction of motion and possibly pain.

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Removing the bony growth would require surgery, however, conservative care methods can help manage symptoms and progression. Practitioners can utilize various techniques to help maintain joint health, preserve remaining joint mobility, adjust biomechanics, and improve ergonomics.

If you are interested in a more in-depth explanation of the hip joint you learn more in a webinar hosted by Dr. Evan Steinke HERE.

If you are looking to book a personal assessment to get to the source of your hip pain book in at either AST location. Our many expert practitioners will assist you in your journey toward better hip mobility. If you are looking to book in with Dr. Evan Steinke, he works at AST Westman.

*The content contained in this blog is provided for general information purposes only. They content is general suggestions and not intended to replace the services of a trained physician, physical therapist or chiropractor or otherwise to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. 

The Benefits of Turmeric.

Written By: Kira Greasley, B.A., CHNC.

With summer behind us and, temperatures cooling, my thoughts always drift to those foods that bring warmth.

Turmeric, a relative to ginger, comes from the large, deep-yellow underground stem of the plant Curcuma domestica. This intense yellow-orange coloured root is a deeply warming spice that has powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. The active constituent in turmeric is curcumin which has been shown to decrease pain and inflammation in the pancreas, stimulate the production of insulin and reduce blood sugar levels, which helps reduce the risk of onset diabetes. Curcumin also protects the kidneys from the damage caused by drugs, chemicals, heavy metals, diabetes and kidney surgery. If that wasn’t already enough, turmeric is also known to inhibit platelet aggregation, which can reduce the risk of blood clots, a major risk factor for heart attacks and strokes.

Turmeric can be often hard to grind yourself, so most often, I buy my turmeric already ground. If you do the same, make sure you buy small amounts of good-quality powder and use it up before you buy more.

If you are curious and looking for ways to add turmeric to your diet book a consultation with Kira Greasley, B.A., CHNC to learn more.

**If you are on any medications, please consult your MD or ND before introducing turmeric into your diet.

Could You Have a Predisposition to Getting a Concussion?

Written By: Dr. Fiona Lovely, DC

What if I told you that there was a way to predict whether you might be more likely to have symptoms when you hit your head than the person sitting next to you?  It’s true.  If we were to line up 10 people at random and ask them a few questions, we could determine who was more likely to have a concussion.  Intrigued?  Read on…..

Things which can predict your likelihood to have a concussion:

1.  Playing recreational sports.  You are likely to injure yourself at some point when you engage in sporting activities.  And you will have a higher chance of having a concussion than someone who doesn’t play contact sports.  Make the decision to play with a full understanding of the risks and a plan for how you will manage injury when it does happen.  Get a baseline brain test at the start of each season so should an injury occur, you have a professional to help already cued up.

2.  Inflammation.  This is a very common problem fed by the human condition.  Stress.  Poor nutrition - the typical sugary, high-carb, processed food diet is a common cause of inflammation.  Toxic relationships.  Money concerns.  Work you dislike.  Health challenges like diabetes, high blood pressure, and food allergies (many of these are caused by inflammation.)  These things all fuel inflammation in the body.  Inflammation excites the brain tissues which support function.   This overstimulation of the brain tissues makes you far more likely to have symptoms if you bump your head!

3.  Gender. It is well documented that girls playing the same sports as boys their age are more likely to have a concussion that produces symptoms.  The female body is diverse anatomically and the muscles of the neck are less protective in the case of head injury than those of their male counterparts.  Additionally,  a head injury sustained during the second half of the menstrual cycle can cause a crash of high progesterone levels which can make symptoms of a concussion feel much, much worse.  Females are also prone to physical damage to the pituitary gland during a TBI event causing hormonal imbalances which can last a lifetime.  

4.  Brain function imbalance.  This can be from birth as the birth process is meant to toggle a number of primitive reflexes that are necessary for our early development.  With the rise of C-section births, this critical process can get missed.  When the brain develops without these switches activated, imbalances can occur.  Previous concussions, chemical exposures, poor nutrition, and other things can cause a functional brain imbalance which can make you more likely to suffer a concussion.  Your Chiropractic Neurologist can help correct these imbalances of the nervous system.

Knowledge is power.  If you or your child are going to play contact sports, please be conscious of the risks.  Prepare yourself ahead of time and have a plan should you have a traumatic brain injury (concussion).  Look at the list above and see what you can do to moderate the risk by making some diet and lifestyle changes.  Get a brain assessment before you begin to play to correct the functional concerns (lowering your risk for concussion). 

If you would like to book an appointment with Dr. Fiona Lovely DC, please contact Active Sports Therapy 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.  

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.

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

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.