How to do your BEST at ANY sport!

If you want to be at the top of your game, there are millions of things you could do. Visualize success, get more sleep, do yoga, use inversion tables, cold thermogenesis, drink BCAA’s, eat ketogenic, do physiotherapy every day…the list is endless. I mean, you could spend the rest of forever researching how to obtain optimal performance, and you’d likely never have time to implement ALL THE THINGS. Lucky for you, there’s one thing, that’ll make sure you’re in top performing mode: hydration.

Yes, yes, you know that water is important, we’re made of it, blah, blah, blah. Oh, but do you really know why, as an athlete it’s important? Like REALLY important? Well, maybe it’s because your VO2 max can decrease up to 11% when you are dehydrated. Less water in you = less blood to circulate oxygen =  less oxygen for muscles = less performance. Dehydrated muscle cells can’t properly metabolize the bits they need to repair themselves. Water is part of the lubrication system that keeps your joints/tissues/nerves/etc. sliding around each other properly, which means dehydration leads to a limited range of motion when tissues get gummed up together. Improper electrolyte balance from dehydration slows down the chemical reactions that keep your body moving, stealing away precious, precious energy. Any of those things sound good to you? No, didn’t think so.

Staying properly hydrated is one of THE easiest ways to make sure your body is running at it’s best. Here’s how:

  • Drink 2-3 liters per day. For serious.
  • Don’t just drink water. Drink pure water when you eat. Add a pinch of salt or some electrolyte powder if you’re drinking sans food. For serious.

You might think ‘electrolytes’ are just a catch phrase to sell sugary sports drinks, but they are essential to keeping you hydrated properly. There’s a balance your body needs to maintain (see electrochemical processes above) and dehydration isn’t the only thing to throw it off. Exhibit B: hypo-hydration, where you slam TONS of water but your body doesn’t absorb it. Ever up your water intake,  have to pee like crazy, but still feel thirsty? You’re not crazy, just not properly hydrating. Add a pinch of salt to your water bottle each time you fill it, and you’re good to go. Or go ahead and grab some non-sugary electrolytes like Nuun tablets – they taste delicious, and research says more flavour means you’re more likely to drink up!

Need some performance help beyond hydration? We can help. Set up an appointment with any of our physiotherapists by calling our Orleans, Barrhaven or Westboro office.

Keep cool when it’s HOT! How to Exercise in Hot Weather

Ottawa Physiotherapy and Sport Clinics

It’s HOT. The siren song of the ice cream truck is calling, and the air conditioner is whispering sweet nothings in your ear. But you’ve got a competition to win! You’ve got a race to train for! You’ve been cooped up inside all day and need to get your nature on! So how do you handle the hot weather, especially when you need to be in beast mode? Pre-cooling friends, pre-cooling.

Exercising in the heat saps your energy way faster than normal, as your body tries to deal with the hotness. It’s response is to up your sweat game and to shunt blood from your core towards your skin. These are great ways to ditch some internal body heat, but they ramp up your heart and decrease the blooood (said in a dracula voice, obviously) going to your muscles, which is why your workouts feel so much tougher come hot days.

Here’s where pre-cooling comes in: it helps you lower your core body temperature before you start exercising. That means you can go harder for longer, before your body hits it’s hot high-point and starts working extra hard/slowing you down. While studies have shown heat zaps an athelete’s performance, studies have also shown that pre-cooling can boost performance when it’s hot and humid out.

How to go about it? Cold showers and frozen underwear are options, but not the most practical. Who wants to run after having a shower?! Instead, try these tricks 10-20 minutes before your workout:

  • wear a cooling vest
  • drape a frozen towel around your neck
  • eat a freezie or a cup of frozen sports drink (the sugar makes the mixture colder than if it were just ice)

If you’ve got your own tricks to stay cool, leave them in the comments! And if something other than the heat is keeping you immobile, you can schedule an appointment with our physiotherapists or nutritionist by calling the Orleans, Barrhaven or Westboro office of Ottawa Physiotherapy and Sports Clinics.

Foam Rolling 101: Roll The Right Way!

So, you foam roll, right? Crossfitters, runners, gymnasts, masochists…everybody’s doing it. We even sell them in our clinics! Foam rollers are amazing tools to combat injury, speed recovery and improve performance by breaking up adhesions in your muscles and connective tissue…but only if you use them correctly. Here are 5 quick tips to make sure you’re getting the most out of your roller:

ROLL AROUND THE PAIN: sometimes it can feel good to knead a sore muscle, but rolling directly where you feel pain can lead to an increase in inflammation in that area. When you hit a tender spot, ease off and roll the area a few inches around it first, using large sweeping motions. Using a tight IT band as an example: roll the glutes and outer hip muscles first to help loosen things up before you go hammer where it hurts.

ROLL SLOW HOMIE: you need to slow it down while you’re foam rolling, to give your brain a chance to tell those tight muscles to chill out. Use short, slow rolls over tender spots where adhesions live.

ROLL FOR SECONDS: pressing hard and spending 5-10 minutes on each knot? You could cause bruising or hit a nerve. Try for 20 seconds on your sore spot, then move on. It’s better for your body, and will save you some time too.

ROLL WITH GOOD POSTURE: YES, good posture is ALWAYS important. ALWAYS. Any of our physiotherapists would be happy to help make sure your foam rolling posture is on point, or video yourself and watch it afterwards to check your alignment.

ROLL YOUR UPPER BACK…AND YOUR LOWER BACK MUSCLES: healthy spine = happy life, so don’t go making yours cranky by foam rolling up on it! It’s safe to roll from the bottom of your rib cage up, but when it comes to the lower back only roll along the sides of your spine NOT on it! You might also find release for your lower back by rolling your piriformis, hip flexors and rectus femoris.

No matter how or why you are using a foam roller, make sure to understand the origin of your pain first. Again, our physiotherapists can totally help with that! If you know what you are trying to achieve, you’re in much better shape of rolling the right way to get there.

To get the most benefit from your foam roller you’ll have to put in the work – consistency is key! Your pain-free, supple body will thank you. So get out there and get rolling!

How to get rid of neck pain? Back pain? Put down your phone, and straighten up Canada!

Your mother always told you not to stare at a screen for too long because it’d ruin your eyes. Turns out it’s doing a lot more than that. As people are using more screen-based technology (computers, smart phones, tablets, etc.), health professionals are seeing an increase in problems like headaches, neck pain, back pain, and even pain felt the face. Not good.

Why exactly are these gadgets causing a problem? People’s posture is often horrible while they use them. Heads forward, eyes cast down, shoulders forward – these can all spell bad news. Staring at a screen often takes your head off the vertical, bending it forward up to 45° – moving your head forward just an inch increases the pressure on your neck by 10 pounds. Sitting with your shoulders forward causes tightness in both the pectoral and back muscles – it can also compress the veins and nerves of the arms which increases the chances of problems like carpal tunnel syndrome.

Getting rid of technology isn’t going to happen, so what can you do? Seeing a massage therapist can help with tightness and pain. To really fix the problem though, you’ll need to actively work on your posture. Stretches and exercises to strengthen your muscles are essential and here’s a great video series to get you started.

If you’re looking for solutions specific to your posture and mobility, give us a call and any of our physiotherapists can help find the exercises that will work best for you.

7 Habits of Highly Fit People

Happy holidays y’all! Between the parties, and the food, and the endless trips to the mall, have you managed to stay on track with your fitness goals? Just given up and decided NEXT year’s resolutions will stick? You don’t have to wait for an arbitrary stoke of midnight. You could start…NOW! How to do it and stay on track? Try to make use of the same habits the fittest of the fit use:

SET A GOAL: This is where you start. Now, while “get healthier in 2015” is a goal, it’s not smart! I mean, it’s clearly an intelligent thing to pursue but it’s not: Specific, Measureable, Achieveable, Realistic, Timely. What is a smart goal? How about I will run 5k in under 30 minutes by March 31 or I will lose 1″ from my waist in 4 weeks or I will do my physio exercises as often as prescribed and log my progress for each appointment. Notice that it’s set goal. Don’t go crazy – baby steps mean you’re more likely to avoid burnout or two-weeks-in-give-up-itis.

WRITE IT DOWN: Doesn’t matter what your goal is, forget about it and it’s not going to happen. Writing it down helps you cement it as a priority, and means you’re taking a little more time to think about it.

WATCH YOUR PORTIONS: If your goals are based on getting fitter, but you’re still eating whatever you want, you’re going to have a bad time. Fitness isn’t just about exercise folks. You still need to eat right. (Not sure how? Give our dietitian Meghan a call – she works out of the Westboro Clinic)

MAKE MOVEMENT MATTER: Don’t have 2 hours to do WODs at the crossfit box everyday? That’s cool, but if you want to get fit, you need to make fitness a priority. It could be a brisk run every morning or yoga in your basement once the kids are asleep. You’ve just got to make the time.

P-L-A-N: Failing to plan? Then you’re planning to fail. You’ve heard it before, and it’ll never stop being true. Want to eat healthy? Then you’ll need to prepare meals instead of just picking something up from the drive through. Planning a morning pump class? Pack your bag the night before. Fit people don’t just end up being fit. They plan it.

MAKE MOVEMENT MATTER (II): You’re fitting workouts in, and that’s awesome, but don’t waste your own time. If you’re not seeing positive results, think about changing the speed, length or intensity of your workouts. In the beginning a 15 minute walk might be a huge accomplishment, but you need to keep challenging your body as it adapts to what you throw at it.

SET A REALISTIC GOAL: Remember, your goals need to be smaRt! Choosing a realistic goal means setting yourself up to achieve it right from the beginning. You might want to lose 20 lbs, but you’re not going to do it in a month. Try breaking that huge goal into little, attainable goals, like 4 lbs. a month, and your successes will help keep you motivated above and beyond your initial goals.

Get “back” into “action” (wink, wink)

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While lower back pain means you get to avoid helping your brother move for the 133rd time, that’s probably the only benefit. It can keep you home from work, stop you from playing sports, and even make a mess of your looooove life.

Wait, what does back pain have to do with, uh, relations? Well, studies indicate 84% of men and 73% of women have seen their sexy times decrease on account of lower back pain. That may seem shocking, but back pain is one of the most common things we see in the clinic. It affects 8 out of 10 people at some point in their lives, and that point could very well be while you’re with your sweetie in the bedroom.

However, a set of papers from the University of Waterloo is providing suffers with some hope: there are certain positions that could help to keep back pain at bay between the sheets. By tracking the spine movements of 10 heterosexual couples while they did the deed, the researchers gained some insight on how to lessen spinal motion and potentially prevent back pain caused by flexion (forward bending) through intercourse:

  • The gentleman uses hips & knees to control movement instead of his back, while his partner maintains a neutral spine position (eg. missionary position supported on your elbows)
  • The gentleman kneels behind his partner to prevent flexion of the back

Hopefully those tips will help you experience bliss back pain free, but remember there are many different triggers for back pain. If your back pain is putting intimacy in the bedroom on the back burner: CALL US! Solving your back pain problems is going to make EVERY aspect of your life better.

Run as fast as you can. Seriously!

The Ottawa Race Weekend has come and gone, but that doesn’t mean running season is over. The river pathways are packed with people trudging along, all in the name of health and PRs. Trying to get faster? Want to run without injury for the rest of your days? Then a running evaluation might just be the thing for you.

A running evaluation starts with an hour long assessment in the clinic. One of our physiotherapists will give you a head-to-toe assessment to find out if you’ve got any tightness, stiffness or weakness. They’ll also get an idea of what your running style is. You’ll get exercises to make sure your muscles are where they need to be, so we can teach you how to use them properly when you run.

The next step is going off to the track, where the magic’s really going to happen. As far as we know, we’re the only clinic in the greater Ottawa area to take you outdoors as part of a running evaluation. We obviously want to take advantage of the nice weather, but more importantly, running drills are almost impossible to do on a treadmill. Some of them will cause you to fall right off, and we don’t want any of that: this is about getting you to run without injury. You also run differently on a treadmill than you do outdoors, since the treadmill helps you run. You time on the track will be spent running you through a series of drills (pun intended), and tweaking your running style based on YOUR body.

Why would you want this? Well, because we can get you running more efficiently. By the time your track session is up, you’ll be running with better form and less effort. That means it won’t take you as much energy to run, so technically you should be able to run longer and/or faster. We can almost guarantee that you will.

Everybody can run, but not everybody can run properly. For most people the differences between the two are some simple technique scenarios that just need to be tweaked. Our physiotherapists are more than happy to do the tweaking.