Spring has spRUNg

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Well, almost anyway. If you’re crazy brave enough to run out-of-doors you’ll notice the number of people joining you has increased. Maybe it’s just 5 others running along the canal instead of 1, but there’s no doubt the slight rise in temperature means running season is just around the corner. 

Most people take to spring running to help shed the pounds gained from a winter of hibernating, but there are a multitude of other benefits. Increased cardiovascular health, decreased stress, increased energy, prevention of bone/muscle loss and the increased ability to survive during a zombie apocalypse are just a few. Oh, and stomping your time from last year’s Ottawa Race Weekend is a good reason to lace up the trainers sooner rather than later. So let’s get to it, shall we? 

No matter if your past running experience is 20 marathons or 20 minutes, the best thing you can do for yourself now is to START SLOW. After 4 months of sitting around (conveniently the span of the worst parts of an Ottawa winter), you’ve lost enough endurance to merit starting out at a beginner level. Don’t think all that snowboarding counts either – running is a different ball game, using different muscles in different ways. Your lungs and heart might be in good shape, but we want to keep your joints and tendons like that too. 

So how do you start running slowly? Try 20 to 30 minutes at low intensity, two or three times a week. Low intensity is different for everyone, so listen to your body. Once you’ve got 30 minutes down no problem, start increasing the time in 5 minute intervals, or increasing the intensity by about 5%. It might seem slow, but d’you know what else is slow? An injured runner. 

Will starting slowly guarantee you won’t be injured? Unfortunately not, but it’s a great place to start. Another great way to detour around injury town is to partake in a running evaluation. Performed at any of our three clinics, it’s spread over two sessions. The first is a clinical evaluation, which delves into your previous running/injury history, takes a good look at your current level/goals, and identifies any physical factors that may impact your running biomechanics. 

The second session is a running evaluation, where your technique is assessed on an outdoor track. Based on your movement patterns, recommendations are made to make you the best runner you can be, while minimizing injury. If this is the year you want to have your fastest time, the detailed training plan we’ll provide will certainly get you there. This isn’t a generic week-to-week program! Running is a highly technical sport and a personalized plan will definitely help bring out your best.

You can schedule a running evaluation by calling the Orleans, Barrhaven or Westboro office of Ottawa Physiotherapy and Sports Clinics. Now go get running! Race Weekend is only 9 weeks away!

Needles = pain?! Nope. Acupuncture = treatment for chronic pain!

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For those who are skeptical, acupuncture might conjure up anxieties about needles or an image of Pinhead from Hellraiser. For those who have found relief from chronic pain, acupuncture is a miracle. From your father’s ever-sore back to your bum right knee, many of us have struggled with the effects of chronic pain. From depression to sleeplessness to loss of mobility, it often goes far beyond the pain itself. Unable to ease the pain, people often try to learn to live with it, but there’s no need: acupuncture can effectively treat chronic pain.

What makes pain chronic? It lasts longer than 12 weeks, and can persist for months or more. While it is often the result of a known injury or trauma (ie. why you should come in and see us as soon as you get injured), sometimes illness or undiagnosed problems are the cause.

You might think “Aches and pains are a part of aging!”, and decide to just tough it out, but the localized pain itself isn’t the only problem. Pain has an effect on the nervous system that can cause you to become more sensitive to other pain, known as “central sensitization.” Even things that wouldn’t normally hurt can become painful, and it can persist far longer than in a pain-free individual. There’s also an emotional burden attached to constant pain, leading to anxiety, anger or fatigue. If that wasn’t bad enough, those emotions can decrease the body’s natural pain defenses, creating a vicious cycle. Oh, and long-term chronic pain has been shown to suppress the immune system. Bad on all counts.

Orleans Acupuncture may not be the treatment you think of, but you should really reconsider. It is currently being used to treat everything from headaches to cramps, back pain to asthma, and with good reason: a large scale study with data from over 18,000 people showed acupuncture to be an effective treatment for chronic back, neck and should pain, osteoarthritis and headaches. These were clinical studies, meaning it’s been proven to work.

If you or a loved one is dealing with chronic pain, any of our physiotherapists can help you figure out if acupuncture is the right way to go. No horror movies necessary.