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.

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.


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.

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:


-Bridges, single leg bridges, Nordic curls


-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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5 Tips For Doing Your At Home Exercises

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

Very often, our patients receive a treatment and then they get sent home with a number of exercises and stretches that are going to help with the recovery or maintenance of their issue. Like it or not, getting stronger and more flexible is going to take hard work, and time. The other important factor here is consistency. Therefore, the homework part of your treatment is as important as what happens at the clinic.

With assigned exercises and stretches, it might be difficult to see the results straight away. Research tells us that in order to see a change it can take 2-3 weeks of doing the targeted exercises and stretches consistently (3-5 days a week) to notice a change in your muscles and movement. Without this repetition, the change simply cannot occur.

To help to be successful, we’ve compiled a few tips:

  1. Identify your motivation – Is it to decrease pain or to be able to continue with an activity that you love? Both of those should be sufficient reasons to ‘Just Do It,’ as they say at Nike.
  2. Schedule It - Most groupings of assigned exercises should take no more than 15-30 minutes to complete. Some might be lucky enough to have even less to do! Schedule it in your calendar and use the technology that we have at hand. A Google Calendar alert, a phone reminder, Siri or Google Assistant can let you know, and there are even some great ‘habit tracking’ apps out there. Simply type in ‘Habit Tracking’ at the app store to find something you like.
  3. Track your pain and flexibility level. Keep a diary of your pain and flexibility. The pain scale is a simple 1-10 rating on what your pain level is. Track your flexibility simply by noting where you’re at and noting specific tasks that feel easier than they did before. The positive changes will no doubt lead to increased motivation to stick to it.
  4. Prioritize - Ask your therapist or doctor to let you know which exercises are the most important. On those days when you simply can’t fit them all in, you can challenge yourself to at least complete the most important ones.
  5. Make Associations – Building associations can help you to do your exercises throughout the day, sometimes automatically!
    • Calf raises or stretches every time you brush your teeth.
    • Stretches during commercials or before the next Netflix episode starts.
    • Quad stretch every time you’re waiting for a microwave.
    • Posture practice during conference calls.
    • Pectoralis stretch in the shower.
    • Wrist extension or flexion stretch at a stoplight.

Lastly, be patient with yourself as the truth is it takes a lot of repetition and hard work to start a new habit. Some studies suggest upwards of 60 days for a new behaviour to become automatic. But if you prioritize yourself and your health, we know you can do it![/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]