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!

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WOD: Physiotherapy for Crossfit

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You Crossfit. We get it. You don’t need to define AMRAPs or WODs to us. We know an injury keeping you out of the box just isn’t going to cut it. Whether you’ve hurt yourself on your very first kettlebell swing or have been to the Crossfit Games (like the team at Physics Crossfit who we’re very proud to be treating), we’re here to help.

Crossfit gets a bad rep for being injury prone, but it doesn’t have to be. People get injured because they don’t do the following:

1. Listen to your coach – This is a biggie. You want to get more reps in, lift heavier, go harder, so you won’t slow down or stop to fix up your technique. Let something slide in the beginning and it can lead to big problems as you advance in the sport. Want to get more reps in, lift heavier, go harder? Listen to your coach.

2. Perfect your technique BEFORE increasing your load – yes, we’re making this point again, it is THAT important to avoid injury. Better to do your WOD with a lower weight but perfect technique than increase the weight but do even one with poor technique. When are you going to get hurt? It’s during that one rep where your technique sucks. You’ll get to that higher weight much faster if you don’t have to take time off for an injury. Honest.

3. Listen to your body – Something hurts? Feels weird? Sort it out now. Give us a call and we can set you up with a mobility and stability program that’ll keep anything giving you trouble from getting any worse.

How will we help you stay sorted? It depends on your situation, but we’ll include the following in your physiotherapy sessions:

1. Biomechanical assessment looking for weakness, asymmetry or loss of mobility.
2. Hands on manual therapy for immediate symptom relief and restoration of mobility if you’re already injured, including diagnosis and management guidelines.
3. A personalised rehabilitation program designed and progressed while communicating with you and your trainer.
4. Education on how your body works, what you did to cause the injury/pain and how to prevent further episodes. We’ll also teach you stretching and release/rolling techniques to help with injury prevention.

You’re welcome to come into any of our clinics without a referral, but we do encourage a referral from your trainer so we can all work together to approach your injury prevention or rehabilitation. We want to keep you training, with modifications if required! If you do need to take a break, we want to get you back to the box in the shortest time possible!

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.

Old or recurring injuries? Stop ’em now!

If you’ve been injured in the past or exercise regularly, and haven’t fixed the aches, pains, or sore spots that keep nagging at you, we hear you. Whether you’ve just tweaked a little something that keeps aching or have an injury that keeps on coming back for more, it’s time to get them straightened out so you can be in tip top shape come the sunshine!

Injuries happen, and an ache or pain that dissipates in a few days is usually nothing to worry about. If it’s lasting for weeks or months, or happens to reoccur, that’s a sign that something isn’t quite right, so it’s time to stop ignoring it! Even if the pain is mild, don’t try to be macho – pain can cause your body to alter it’s mechanics which leads to unnecessary stress on joints, ligaments, muscles and tendons.

These pains are likely due to overuse or a small injury to a tendon or muscle. While taking something like ibuprofen can make you feel right as rain, it doesn’t take care of the problem. Exercising through the masked pain and swelling can leads to chronic inflammation, causing weakness, tissue breakdown, more pain, more swelling and BAM! You’re got yourself a nagging injury.

So what do you do? The first step is to apply heat before exercising, and use RICE (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) after training to help control the pain and swelling. It will help you control the symptoms best without having to slow down too much, but again, it’s not going to fix the problem. It’s time to see the physio, be evaluated and figure out what the issue is so you can say buh-bye to that pain-in-the-whatever.

Instead of quitting exercise because something hurts, your physiotherapist will set you up with a personalized treatment plan, including exercise options that won’t aggravate your injury. The plan will also include advice on how to modify your training techniques so you can keep doing the activities you want, but pain free.

Once your physiotherapist helps make that pain a distant memory,  be sure to start ramping up your normal activity slowly. Again, most of these sorts of injuries are due to over training, so getting back at it too hard or too fast will land you right back in injury land!

Don’t get shut out: preventing groin strain

With the Winter Olympics now in full swing, almost everyone in the country is thinking about one thing: HOCKEY! We know offsides and icing are common in hockey, but unfortunately so are groin strains.Whether you are a back yard rink rat or a 2018 hopeful here are some tips to keep you on the ice and off the injury reserve:

WARM UP: this is most often on the injury prevention list because it is SO important! Make sure to warm up completely, including dynamic or movement stretches. If you aren’t sure what that means, ask next time you’re in and your physiotherapist would be happy to explain these to you.
STRETCH THIGHS DAILY: stretch both the inner thigh and outer thigh muscles daily. While tight groin muscles can lead up to a strain, you should also stretch your hamstrings to keep your muscles balanced.
REGULAR MASSAGE & MANUAL THERAPY: regular massages from a massage therapist and regular manual therapy from your physiotherapist helps to keep your muscles flexible. They also help to break down old scar tissue and help with trigger points that could lead to injuries later on.
PRACTICE SPORT-SPECIFIC DRILLS: sudden changes of motion during play can cause groin strains, but practising the movements helps your muscles adapt and become stronger while doing them. Based on the sport your play, and the condition you are in, our physiotherapists can assign exercises specific to your needs. 
WORK ON CORE STABILITY: a strong core is a stable base for the movements you’ll be doing no matter the sport, and can reduce the chance of straining your adductor.
IMPROVE YOUR PROPRIOCEPTION: proprioception is your body’s ability to know what part of it is doing without looking at that part. That seems a bit confusing, but it’s how you can walk up stairs without looking at your feet, or put food in your mouth without a mirror. That seems like the sort of thing you might not be able to improve, but it’s based on balance, coordination and agility. Balance and sport-specific movement work improve your proprioception, improve your stability and all that helps to avoid injury.
STRENGTHEN THIGH & HIP MUSCLES: strengthening the muscles involved in the movement responsible for an injury increases your stability in that area. It is important for preventing injury, but especially for preventing a reoccurrence if you’ve already been injured. Your physiotherapist can determine where your muscle imbalances are, and assign exercises specific to your needs.
REST: make sure you rest! Over training leads to fatigue, which most definitely increases your risk of injury. Use it as your excuse to watch some of the games! Go Canada!

Don’t get snowed in! How to Shovel Snow and Prevent Snow Removal Injuries

With all the snow we had this past weekend (and all that’s surely still to come), many of you are probably best friends with your shovel. If you’re lucky enough to have teenagers to do it for you, pass this on to some of your less fortunate friends. Those of us who are stuck  shovelling, huffing, and anticipating a hot cuppa afterwards often think of snow removal as just another of the joys winter brings, but in all seriousness, it can actually be dangerous! Every winter people are injured while shovelling or using a snow blower, so heed these tips to make sure you aren’t one of them:

Look out: watch out for icy patches or uneven ground, since a fall could be worse than just having to shovel a bit of snow. Make sure to keep scarves and hats from blocking your vision, you need to watch where your shovel or blower is going too.

Warm-up: warm up with some light exercise inside for 10 minutes before you go exercise by moving snow outside. Once you’re back inside warm up again with a nice hot drink.

Pace yourself: just like any other exercise, be sure to take breaks when you need them, and don’t get dehydrated. You don’t feel as thirsty when it’s cold, but you need to stay hydrated all the same. If you’ve gone at it too hard and experience chest pain, shortness of breath of other signs that  indicate a heart attack be sure to stop immediately and call 9-1-1.

Pace your blower: snowblowers can help make quick work out of clearing a driveway, but if used improperly could leave you with a back injury. They are designed to move at a particular speed, so don’t be trying to force your blower to go faster – it’s already doing the work for you!

Pick your weapon wisely: if using a shovel make sure to pick one that is comfortable for your height and strength. Using a shovel that is too heavy, too long, or even too short is not only asking for injury but also makes shovelling less efficient.

Just don’t do it: if you have a medical condition or do not exercise regularly, make sure to check in with your doctor before braving all that white stuff. Snow removal places high stress on the heart, and you might be better off hiring someone to remove the snow for you.

How to shovel snow without injury:

  1. Push the snow, instead of lifting it, as much as possible
  2. If you need to lift the snow, lift with your legs by squatting with your back straight; don’t bend at the waist
  3. Only scoop small amounts of snow at a time, and remove deep snow in pieces: holding a heavy shovel of snow with your arms outstretched puts strain on your spine
  4. Walk the snow over to where you want it, do not throw it over your shoulder to avoid twisting your back.
That’s it! We might not be able to make it fun, but with these tips and snow removal should be easy and injury free. If you’ve already hurt yourself dealing with snow this winter, be sure to give any of our clinics a call. Our physiotherapists would be happy to assess the injury and help get you back to pain free!

Avoid Winter Injuries

The ski hills are open, the canal is frozen, and you have to wake up 30 minutes earlier to shovel the driveway. Oh, what joy winter brings! All that snow and ice can also bring along injuries, so it’s important to take extra care out there.

  • Be careful: yeah, yeah, take care because it’s slippery out, we all know that. Most of us don’t heed that advice though. When winter strikes you get winter tires and drive more slowly on icy roads. You should take the same care with yourself. Wear shoes with good traction for walking around and keep an extra pair at the office to make sure you’re still conforming to dress code. Allow a little extra time for getting around and moving a bit more slowly will help you avoid the embarrassment of slipping when you’re out in public, and save you a bruise or two!
  • Warm up: in this weather, the only warming up you want to do is by the fire with hot cocoa after a full day on the slopes. You should also be warming up before you start. Do the first 10 minutes of your skate/ski/snowshoe at a slower pace. Start with a few blue runs before you drift over to the black diamonds.
  • Cool down: when it’s cold outside your instinct is to dash into the chalet right after a session. Don’t just stand about in the cold, but remember to dial down to a lower intensity before you finish up for the day. It signals to your body that activity time is coming to an end, and the drink you’ve earned is soon to come.
  • Start slowly: New Years Resolutions and months of non-winter sports can lead to “too much too soon”. Where does that get you? Very likely injured. Off-season cross training is the best way to make sure you’re ready once the snow base builds, but not everyone has thought that far ahead. If you haven’t, start slow. Or come in to see one of our physiotherapists: we can help identify any imbalances or instabilities you might have. Call any of our clinics so we can help you stay injury free now, instead of treating you for the rest of the year!