Knee Osteoarthritis: Don’t Let it Stop You

Knee Osteoarthritis: Don’t Let it Stop You

Osteoarthritis can affect any joint like the knee, hip, shoulder, fingers and toes but the most common of all is the knee. Osteoarthritis is basically wear and tear or degenerative changes in the joint due to the mechanical stress on the joint. And, knee joints have to withstand the extreme force that our body weight, twisting, turning, running, walking and jumping put through it daily.

The bones that form our joints are covered in a smooth tissue called cartilage. And due to the ongoing mechanical stress, this cartilage becomes thinner and roughened and then the bone underneath is exposed slowly and becomes thicker and sometimes the bone at the edge of the joints grows outwards forming bony spurs called osteophytes. Risk factors that may contribute to degenerative changes include: Age more than 40-45 years, previous joint injury or surgery, obesity or over weight, repetitive stress through the joint, etc.

Some of the main symptoms of knee osteoarthritis are: pain, swelling, stiffness and creaking or grinding. There are many different ways to manage these symptoms and a few of them being:

1.     Be active and keep your knees moving: Maintaining your joint range of motion and strength is integral to a fully functioning knee. To maintain the range of motion of the knees you could start with just bending and straightening your knee regularly throughout day. This can be done in the bed before going to sleep and getting out of the bed in the morning, sitting at the desk at your work, sitting and watching television or even sitting at the dinner table. These would further help with decreasing the stiffness and swelling.

2.     Maintaining knee strength: It is very important to strengthen the muscles that surround the knee joint and keep them strong to off load the knee joint to avoid or prevent further damage or wear and tear of the joint.  There are many strengthening exercises that can be done but it is critical to handpick the exercises that are appropriate to your current knee status.

3.     Managing pain: You can use hot or cold packs for pain relief or speak to your doctor about different forms of pain relief you may be able to use.

4.     Being fit and healthy: Keeping an eye on your cardiovascular fitness and weight is important as well. If unable to do regular exercises due to pain, start with low impact walking, cycling or pool exercises which would decrease the impact or stress off your knees.

While the structural changes of arthritis cannot be reversed, the symptoms and related functional limitations can be minimized. We are happy to help you improve your joint health so can you continue to do what you love to do. Call us at 416-207-9395

Is Heel Pain Hindering Your Mobility?

Is Heel Pain Hindering Your Mobility?

Plantar fascia is a thick band of connective tissue that runs along the underneath of the foot from the heel bone to the toes. It acts as a bowstring pulled between the heel and the toes and helps in maintaining the longitudinal arch of the foot.

As the name suggests this is a condition where plantar fascia is irritated/inflamed as a result of stress it is put under during daily activities. Some of the factors which could potentially increase relative stress on the plantar fascia are but not limited to flat feet/low arch, very high arch, knock knees, tight calf muscles or any biomechanical mal-alignment in the lower limbs that could alter the way you walk or place the feet on the ground. People with flat feet are at the top of the list presenting with plantar fasciitis, however, any mal-alignment or activity that puts excessive stress or over load on the plantar fascia can result in plantar fasciitis.

It usually presents itself as heel pain, but can sometimes be felt along the whole foot and or the back of the leg. Especially, the inner heel is tender to touch or slight pressure as that is where the plantar fascia originates. Initially the symptoms are worse in the morning and getting onto your feet after a period of rest which settles down after taking a few steps. Your feet might also be sore and painful at the end of the day if you are on your feet mostly through the day. And, the symptoms become more persistent as the condition gets worse.

The following things could be considered to help alleviate the symptoms and treat plantar fasciitis:

1.     The first thing to start with is avoiding the activities if you know which are causing stress or putting extra load on the plantar fascia

2.     Foot wear: Avoiding high heels and considering flat foot wear with soft soles

3.     Taping which can help in offloading the plantar fascia

4.     Icing the heel and foot to calm down the pain and inflammation

5.     Stretching plantar fascia and calf muscles to increase flexibility

6.     Custom made orthotics if you have low arch or flat feet

7.     Strengthening the intrinsic muscles of the foot 

As this can be a condition that is difficult to get rid of we are happy to advise you on the measures that are most appropriate to your recovery.Allow us to help you stay on the move.Call for an assessment at 416-207-9395.

How to Prevent Lower Back Pain

How to Prevent Lower Back Pain

Lower back pain is one of the most common problems these days, and can mostly be attributed by posture, ergonomics and improper body mechanics. Sitting improperly with a slouched back or leaning over the desk puts more pressure on your intervertebral discs and keeps your back muscles stretched all the time leading to weakness and imbalance in your muscles.

The same thing happens when you are involved in repetitive bending or lifting with your back arched too much, instead of bending from your hips and knees. Sometimes more pressure on the discs can put them out of place (Disc bulging or protrusion) pinching on your nerves, which in turn can give you pain, tingling, numbness, burning or weakness in your legs.

Practice Good Posture at Work

The first and best way to get rid of your back pain is to start with improving your posture, ergonomics and body mechanics at work or with any activities throughout your day.

For example when you are working at a desk, your back should be resting on the back rest with your hips as far back as they can go in the chair with your feet flat on the floor and computer screen at your eye level and keyboard around elbow level which keeps your shoulders and wrists relaxed.

Lift From the Hips, Turn From the Feet

And, when it comes to bending or lifting, try to squat from your hips and knees instead of bending forward from the back and trying to keep the load to be lifted as close to the body as possible using your core muscles. Also, taking care to turn from your feet instead of twisting your back.

Strengthen Your Core

Moreover, for a good overall back health, you should consider strengthening your core muscles, which act as a corset and help decrease strain on your back muscles with activities. One other good thing is to try and arch your back backwards a couple of times a day whenever you get a chance as most of our activities throughout the day involves bending the back forwards and none bending backwards. Also, strengthening your back muscles with McKenzie exercises is helpful, as weak back muscles usually lead to improper posture and altered body mechanics.    

 

Your team at stepuphysio is here to help you discover your unique path to achieving the freedom to move comfortably. Our Physiotherapists, Massage Therapists, Kinesiologists, Nutritionists and Trainers are here to help!

 

stepuphysio

577 Burnhamthorpe Road, Unit 1

Etobicoke, ON.

M9C 2Y3

Tel: 416 207 9395

Will Organic Food Really Change My Health?

Will Organic Food Really Change My Health?

How would you describe “organic food” quickly in three words or less? Good for you? Or expensive? Neither is a wrong answer.

 

We often hear in broad terms about how organic food is good for you and good for the environment. And, although we want to do the right thing for our bodies and our planet, the premium prices hardly seem fair. Walk into any grocery store, and you’ll see how organic food is priced significantly higher than conventional produce. Sometimes nearly double! So, why is that?

 

Unlike conventional farming, which uses synthetic fertilizers to boost crops with an instant punch of nutrients, organic foods are fertilized by organic matter. The difference is that compost and animal manure slowly build the soil, releasing their nutrients naturally over time. This slow and steady approach generally means that an organic crop will yield approximately 20% fewer crops than their conventional competitors.

 

So what’s a health and eco-conscious shopper to do? Do you buy into the hype without really knowing, or is the difference truly worth it?

 

According to a new study in Nature Plants, yes, it’s worth it!

 

Organic agriculture has been proven to be sustainable in numerous key areas, including its ability to:

 

●      Benefit soil quality and the environment,

●      Provide economically viable jobs to farmers,

●      Support social well-being with meaningful interactions between farmers and consumers.

 

These are all great reasons to make a difference with your dollars by supporting the organic food movement. But chances are you’re still wondering….

 

How does organic food actually benefit me?

 

1.   Organic food has more vitamins and minerals. Without the use of pesticides, organic fruits and vegetables must fend for themselves. They do so by producing more of their own antioxidants to guard against harm. Studies show that organic foods contain 18 – 69% more antioxidants than conventionally grown crops. This means that organic eaters consume nearly twice as many cancer-fighting, age-reversing, immune-boosting antioxidants every day!

 

In addition to those awesome antioxidants, one study also shows that organic  foods have higher levels of vitamin C, iron, phosphorus, and magnesium than conventionally raised crops.

 

 Meanwhile, remember those synthetic fertilizers mentioned earlier? Well, they get that big boost of energy via high levels of nitrogen. This causes conventionally grown crops to have higher levels of sugars and starches as opposed to the protective antioxidants found in organic foods.

 

So, which would you rather be eating?

 

2.    Organic food is less toxic than conventionally grown crops. It’s probably something we all assume when we think of “organic,” but it’s good to know that there is scientific proof backing that assumption. A meta-analysis of 343 peer-reviewed studies conducted by the British Journal of Nutrition found that conventional crops have higher levels of the toxic metal cadmium and as well as pesticide residues.

 

 As you may have heard, researchers also found an increased cancer risk in children near California strawberry farms that use pesticides. And in recent news the large agricultural corporation, Monsanto which manufactures a well-known pesticide, just lost a lawsuit with a cancer patient, and  now owe him 289 million dollars. He simply applied Monsanto’s weed killer pesticide regularly on the school lawn he was in charge of caring for.

 

To learn more about which crops you should always buy organic based on pesticide levels, there is a great resource created annually by EWG, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies that protect global and individual health. The EWG Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides in Produce” ranks the pesticides levels in 47 different fruits and vegetables. Talk about leaving a bad taste in your mouth! Speaking of which….

 

3.    Organic food tastes better! At some point in your life, you’ve likely compared strawberries from the grocer to those fresh from the garden. Even without considering that toxic tidbit above, which would you honestly say tasted better? Odds are it was the berry from the garden.

 

When plants are grown without pesticides, their taste is naturally improved. The higher antioxidant levels found in organic foods also impacts how we detect flavour through organoleptic qualities such as taste, aroma, and mouth-feel. Plus, organic foods carry the distinct flavours of a region’s soil, which further enhances their natural taste.

 

When we look at the long-term effect of toxins in our system, we see an increase in autoimmune disease, hormonal imbalances, and nutrient deficiencies that lead to more significant health issues. We seek to remove the factors affecting the body from healing itself, and in most cases that includes enhancing the body’s own ability to eliminate toxins. The more we know about how pesticides and other chemicals harm us, the more we can stay away from things that are not serving our longevity, our daily health and the health of our families.

 

They say you get what you pay for, and that statement holds true with organic foods. Buying organic might cost a bit more, but consider it an investment towards improved health, greater flavour, and more sustainability!

 

Maybe you can’t afford to buy all organic all the time – most people can’t. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be all or nothing. Throw a few organic items into your cart now and then, or better still, make friends with the farmers at your local market. As with anything in life, small actions add up to make a real difference.

 

So yes, organic food is worth it!

 

If you have other questions about natural ways to improve your health, detoxification from environmental pesticides or other chemicals, please feel free to contact us. We would be happy to help. Just give us a call at 416 2079395. We would love to hear from you.

 stepupphysio

 

References:

https://www.nature.com/articles/nplants2015221

https://news.wsu.edu/2014/07/11/major-study-documents-benefits-of-organic-farming/#.U8AkH41dXA3

https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/107555301750164244

https://www.ewg.org/foodnews/dirty-dozen.php

Should You Try Fasting to Reset Your Metabolism?

Should You Try Fasting to Reset Your Metabolism?

Fasting is one of the oldest therapies in medicine, recognized for its ability to help heal and prevent disease. When done under the proper guidance of a healthcare professional, intermittent fasting can lead to effective weight loss and long-term health benefits.

 

Fasting Versus Starving: A Big Difference

 

So, you might be wondering, what’s the difference between intermittent fasting and starvation diets? Well, for starters, starving yourself is dangerous! This isn’t a competition of “less is more.” Our bodies still need fuel to function.

 

Starvation deprives our body of essential nutrients, so it begins eating itself by burning muscle. Fasting differs from starvation because it can be practiced for 12, 16, 24, 36 or even 48 hours without the body kicking into starvation mode. Fasting flips the metabolic switch safely and effectively by using one fuel source instead of another.

 

Typically, our bodies are fuelled by glucose, which is a simple sugar. However, through diet restriction or intermittent fasting, that energy source gradually becomes unavailable. As a result, the body begins to convert its stored fat into fatty acids that are easily absorbed by the bloodstream. Fatty acids produce molecules called ketones. (This may ring a bell if you are familiar with the ketogenic diet.) After 8 – 12 hours of fasting, our metabolism shifts to replace glucose with ketones as our new source of energy.

 

In a world of fad diets and weight loss gimmicks, studies show that intermittent fasting may be better for you than other dietary strategies. This is because ketones put less stress on our cells compared to the by-products of other dieting methods.

 

Studies also show that intermittent fasting can produce benefits no matter how it’s accomplished!

 

In one study, participants were allowed to fast for any number of hours a day, and then eat whatever they desired during the remaining hours. In another study, dieters alternated fasting and feasting days. On their non-fasting days, dieters either restricted their diet or ate to their hearts’ content. In both cases, results showed significant weight loss, no matter the approach!

 

Furthermore, participants in both studies did not lose any significant amount of lean tissue (which includes bone, muscle and organ tissue). This is in contrast to other dieting strategies which can sometimes cause the loss of both fat and lean tissue, impacting health negatively in the long run.

 

Speaking of the long run, did you know that intermittent fasting helps you to live longer too?

 

It’s true! New research from Harvard shows that intermittent fasting manipulates the mitochondrial networks inside our cells, which may increase lifespan!

 

Sure, that sounds great! But how does it work?

 

Simply put, inside our cells we have energy-producing mitochondria that dynamically change shape in relation to our body’s energy demand. Over time, their ability to produce energy gradually declines, eventually leading to age-related diseases. While fasting is often recommended as a way to promote healthy aging, the connection between metabolism and mitochondria has always been unclear… until now!

 

The Harvard study shows that low-energy conditions, such as periods of intermittent fasting, can help maintain the flexibility and youthfulness of mitochondrial networks. These youthful networks then communicate with other parts of the body (organelles called peroxisomes) that modulate fat metabolism, which as a result, helps to increase lifespan.

 

Fasting does not only help you live a longer life. It improves your overall health too! Further studies suggest that fasting can help:

●      Boost the immune system

●      Enhance physical performance

●      Protect cognitive function

●      Reduce inflammatory disorders

●      Slow the progression of tumours

●      Protect against cardiovascular disease

 

Steps for Effective Fasting

 

As mentioned, there are numerous different ways to fast that are equally effective. Below are a few fasting tips to help you on your way.

  1. Set a fasting schedule and stick to it. If you’re a beginner, meal skipping is an excellent way to introduce yourself to fasting. If you choose to do a 12 or 16 hour fast, arrange your fasting window during sleeping hours to help the time pass by more easily. Fasting for 24 hours once a week or alternating day fasting are other options to try. Be sure to consult your healthcare professional to determine what might work best for you.
  2. Stay hydrated. You might be limiting your intake of food, but you certainly shouldn’t limit your consumption of calorie-free beverages. Be sure to drink plenty of water or switch it up with herbal teas.
  3. Relax your body and your mind. During fasting days, don’t participate in strenuous activities or spend your time obsessing over the food you can’t eat. Go easy on yourself by finding things to keep your body and mind occupied in a productive, gentle way. Take a walk or do light exercise that won’t exhaust you, like yoga. Spend a few hours binge-watching your favourite TV show or catching up on emails. Your next meal will come before you know it!
  4. Make your calories count. Between fasting windows, enjoy nutrient-dense foods that provide protein, fibre, and healthy fats. Learn how to increase flavours without sacrificing calories by adding garlic, herbs, spices, and different types of vinegar to your dishes.

 

 

References:

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/321690.php

https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2017/11/intermittent-fasting-may-be-center-of-increasing-lifespan/

https://www.osher.ucsf.edu/patient-care/self-care-resources/cancer-and-nutrition/frequently-asked-questions/cancer-and-fasting-calorie-restriction/

https://news.yale.edu/2015/02/16/anti-inflammatory-mechanism-dieting-and-fasting-revealed

How Your Thoughts Affect Your Health

How Your Thoughts Affect Your Health

Our mind-body connection is far more powerful than we realize. Our thoughts influence our emotions by the way we experience the world around us. Even when we imagine future situations or visualize potential outcomes, our bodies physically respond to our thoughts.

Think of how you react when someone cuts you off in traffic and nearly causes an accident. The incident may only last a moment, and, at that instant, your body immediately prepares for the potential outcome, triggering a surge of adrenaline, which is the body’s hormonal response to a fight or flight situation. This sort of physical reaction isn’t limited to a release of adrenaline. Our thoughts can trigger our bodies to experience all types of physiological responses from changes in blood pressure and heart rate to chemical alterations in the brain. These changes can be harmless, or, over time, they can be detrimental to your health.

The Placebo Phenomenon

In 2013, a study was conducted on 270 patients looking to alleviate severe arm pain. Half of the subjects received acupuncture treatments, and the other half received pain-reducing pills. Some side-effects experienced in both groups, included an increase in pain, sluggishness, swelling, and redness. Both groups found relief with treatment, but those who received acupuncture reported feeling even better than the group that did not receive this treatment. However, the study was not designed to measure the effectiveness of acupuncture versus pain pills -- the needles had retractable shafts and never pierced the skin, and the painkillers were made of cornstarch -- it measured the power of placebos.

Imagine! Even without any actual treatment, the body still reacted according to what each patient expected. Of course, you cannot think yourself better to remove a tumour or cure a virus, but researchers have found that the power of the mind can have a physical impact when it comes to pain, depression, anxiety, fatigue, and even some symptoms of Parkinson’s.

Our brain chemistry is also affected by those around us.

In another study conducted at the University of Turin Medical School, 100 students went on a trip to the Italian Alps with the researcher Fabrizio Benedetti. Shortly before the trip, Benedetti told one individual in the group that the thin air may cause migraines. A few days passed, giving the rumour time to make the rounds to one-quarter of the travellers – all of whom experienced horrible headaches. Saliva tests on the “socially-infected” individuals also revealed low oxygen conditions beyond what was expected.

Now, apply that study to our everyday lives and how gossip and social media snark can poison our minds.  What happens when family and friends fuel your negative expectations, worries, and doubts? It feels horrible, doesn’t it? And what about the opposite – what happens when you’re loved ones surround you with warmth and encouragement? It feels amazing and makes life’s challenges feel more achievable.

Embracing positive social support makes a difference to your health!

Change your thoughts. Change your life.

Play along for a moment and allow yourself to take in a long conscious breath.

Feel how the air moves through your body as you inhale and exhale.

Now take another full deep breath.

And another.

One more.

How do you feel? Did time slow down a little? Did you enjoy a brief moment of peace? Or did you not play along at all, anxious to move on to the next thing?

If only we lived breath by breath instead of task-by-task. Our to-do lists will never be empty, so we must schedule time in our day to reconnect with ourselves. We act like finding time to meditate is beyond our control. It isn’t. And the results are worth it!

Spending a moment in meditation each morning is one of the best things you can do for your health and well-being. Even if only for ten minutes, it is an investment of time you’ll never regret. By starting your day on the right track, it makes it that much easier to get yourself back on track whenever life goes off the rails.

The Benefits of Meditation

·     Meditation deepens your self-connection on a physical, mental and spiritual level.

·     Meditation helps to release suppressed emotions by giving you space to reset.

·     Meditation enhances our overall health and wellbeing by increasing positive emotions and improving immune function.

Studies have also shown that when we work on our emotional awareness and self-compassion, we can experience a healthier response to rejection, improve eating behaviours, and effectively manage weight loss.

 No matter your struggle, success always begins with a positive frame of mind.

Perspective is everything.

A few key points to remember…

1.     Stress is not inherently negative – it all depends on how you look at things. If you perceive something as a threat, then your health will deteriorate. However, if you simply change your mindset from threat to challenge, then you enhance your health! So, ask yourself -- are you running away from a lion or are you embracing the beast?

2.     Emotions are only energy in motion. Instead of thinking of your emotions as a hindrance, consider them the currency required for the motivation to change. Unresolved feelings don’t atrophy or disappear – their dammed-up energies accumulate. Like an untreated health condition, if your emotions are allowed to fester inwardly, they will eventually cause physical conditions and behavioural issues.

3.     Both negative and positive emotions left unresolved will deplete the body’s immune system. Acknowledge your feelings and learn how to manage them effectively. Managing emotions leads to homeostasis in the body, centeredness of mind, and spiritual connection. Remember, if there are no peaks or valleys, you’re flatlining!

Do you find yourself entrenched in negative thought patterns? Do you think some of your health concerns might be related to your outlook on life? Let’s discuss and see if we can uncover the triggers behind your health issues and develop strategies to overcome them together. Contact us, and we’ll start working on bringing you back to your best.

Call at 416 2079395

To your best health!

The stepupphysio Team

 

Research:

https://www.nejm.org/doi/10.1056/NEJMp1504023

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26164587

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12883106 

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/316737540_Stomaching_rejection_Self-compassion_and_self-esteem_moderate_the_impact_of_daily_social_rejection_on_restrictive_eating_behaviours_among_college_women

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/324225709_A_qualitative_analysis_of_the_role_of_emotions_in_different_patterns_of_long-term_weight_loss

 

Dealing with Depression

Dealing with Depression

Have you ever suffered from depression? If so, you’re not alone. The World Health Organization estimates that 350 million people suffer from depression worldwide and that it is a leading cause of disability. Fifteen percent of adults will experience depression at least once in their lifetime.

Depression knows no bounds. It can impact anyone at any point in their life, regardless of age, gender, medical history, or socioeconomic status. While depression may seem like an invisible condition, there are warning signs to look for.

Signs of Depression

So, how can you tell if you or someone you know might be experiencing a major depressive episode?

A major depressive episode is defined as a depressed mood lasting at least two weeks or more. Life seems filled with darkness or heaviness, and there is a loss of interest or pleasure in almost all activities. Depression also comes with the baggage of other symptoms that can interfere with your work, school or social life. These symptoms include:

●      Sleep issues -- either sleeping too much or having difficulty falling asleep

●      Low energy or feeling fatigued almost every day for no reason

●      Inability to focus, make decisions or think clearly

●      Moving slower than usual or making unintentional motions to a degree that is noticeable by others

●      Changes in weight and appetite, with an increase or decrease of more than five percent in body weight a month

●      Recurring thoughts about death or suicide, a suicide attempt, or a specific plan in place for suicide

If you are or someone you know is experiencing these symptoms, it’s important to start a conversation right away, get professional help to identify the cause, and find some appropriate solutions.

What Causes Depression?

What makes depression so elusive is that there is no one single cause. Hormones, brain chemistry, family genetics, life experiences and physical health are all possible factors that can trigger a depressive episode. While some types of depression can be attributed to conditions such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or postpartum depression, for many the source might not be immediately apparent.

Unfortunately, in many situations, doctors prefer to medicate rather than investigate, prescribing antidepressants instead of exploring the cause of the condition. Antidepressants may have their time and place, but with a myriad of possible side-effects, they are not always an option for everyone. Also, a lifetime prescription to antidepressants is only a Band-aid solution that never really addresses the underlying problem.

Research shows that high levels of C-reactive protein (CRP), a marker of inflammatory disease, have been documented in subjects with depression. In fact, results from a national health and nutrition examination survey showed that subjects with depressive symptoms had CRP levels that were 46 percent higher than those of non-depressed subjects. Studies also suggest that subjects with a depressed mood have low levels of fractional exhaled nitric oxide (FeNO), which is an indication of airway inflammation.

Over time, depression can also lead to significantly more inflammation in the brain. Inflammation is our body’s response to injury or illness, and when left untreated, it can cause chronic illnesses like heart disease and potentially even neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. So not only is identifying the cause of depression early on important for your mental health; it's also for your long-term physical health!

This is why visiting a physiotherapist can be so crucial. Not only is depression a serious condition not to be taken lightly, but there are so many possible influences, that it requires a 360-degree assessment to determine what might be the cause. The first thing you need to ask yourself is "Why am I feeling depressed?" Then take it from there.

Ways to Treat Depression

For those with mild to moderate depression, there are a variety of natural options that can help fight the blues effectively, without pharmaceuticals.

1. Sunshine & Exercise

It may sound trite to suggest a little fresh air and exercise; however, you can never underestimate the value of a brisk walk in the sunshine. Activity pumps up serotonin, dopamine and endorphins, which are our feel-good happy chemicals. Go for a run to experience a true natural high.

And don’t forget, the sun doesn’t just light up the sky. It can also lighten up your mood with feel-good rays of vitamin D. Invest in a therapeutic light box for those cloudy days and winter months.

2. Create a Regular Bedtime Routine

Depression and sleep issues are intimately connected. For those who have trouble falling asleep, a nighttime routine can help ease you into a more restful slumber.

Set a regular bedtime and unplug from all devices at least two hours beforehand. Use that digital downtime time to take a bath, read a book, listen to music, meditate or unwind in any other low key way. By eliminating sources of constant stimulation and slowing down your evening habits, you will foster a better mental environment for sleep. If you’ve been dealing with insomnia for a while, melatonin is also a helpful natural supplement to reset your internal clock.

Keep yourself on a consistent schedule by setting your alarm to go off after 8 hours. If you need a nap later in the day, then, by all means, take one, but try to resist the urge to sleep your life away. 

3. Natural Supplements

Serotonin is a vital chemical and neurotransmitter. It regulates our moods, behaviour, libido, sleep, and memory. Keep your serotonin levels elevated by getting your fill of healthy omega-3 fatty acids ─ the kind you find in fish, walnuts, chia seeds, flax seeds, and more.

Cut down on coffee, which can reduce serotonin levels. Instead, try green tea which has L-theanine, an amino acid that has a relaxing effect. L-Theanine boosts neurotransmitters and helps to alleviate stress and anxiety.

Rhodiola rosea and St. John’s wort are other natural supplements that many individuals have had success with for treating depression. That said, St. John’s wort may interfere with birth control or other medications. This is why it is always important to get professional guidance on which supplements and what dose might work best for you.

4. Get Your Hormones Balanced

Our hormones have an impact on our entire bodies. They can be the reason behind depression, chronic fatigue, weight gain, and more. Think of your adrenal, sex and thyroid hormones as Jenga blocks. When certain blocks become imbalanced, it can send our whole life tumbling out of control. The longer you take to correct the imbalance, the more difficult it will be to heal. Getting your hormones tested is an easy and effective way to assess the issues so that you can effectively identify what your options are to get back into balance.

5. Talk to someone

While you may feel vulnerable or uncomfortable at first, opening up to friends and family may be the relief you need to get through dark times without feeling so alone. If you don’t feel comfortable sharing your burdens with the people you know, then seek professional counselling, whether a therapist, life coach or trusted doctor. They are there to help and can offer you a new perspective on things. 

If you think you are dealing with depression or can’t shake the blues, I invite you to reach out to our clinic. Please feel free to book an appointment with us by calling 416 2079395 You don’t have to battle depression alone. We can help you get your life back!

The stepupphysio Team

References:

https://www.thelancet.com/pdfs/journals/lanpsy/PIIS2215-0366(18)30087-7.pdf

http://www.psychiatrist.com/JCP/article/Pages/2016/v77n12/v77n1221.aspx

http://ndnr.com/mindbody/case-study-herbal-treatment-of-depression/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0005791617300629#sec4

 

Sitting is the New Smoking

Sitting is the New Smoking

On average, how many hours a day do you spend sitting, uninterrupted? One hour? Two hours? Three…or more?

Our ancient ancestors spent much of their time on the move, hunting and gathering to serve their basic needs. Obviously, the balance between movement and fuel has shifted dramatically over time, most notably since the technological revolution.

Unlike our ancestors, we no longer search for food. Instead, we are now on a quest for time, as hours fly by while we’re hunched over a keyboard. On an average day, many of us are likely sitting more than we are moving and consuming more calories than we are burning. Many of us regularly put in eight-hour workdays seated at a desk – sometimes even more. We then go home and unwind on the couch, binge-watching our favourite shows. The hours begin to add up.

Maybe we make a little time to fit in some exercise each day; however, with more conveniences at our fingertips, we can do a lot more while moving a lot less. The longer we sit, the more our bodies begin to feel tight, tired and sore. It’s clear that too much sitting isn’t good for us. But did you know that it can even lead to earlier mortality?

Sitting and Premature Death

That’s right…too much sitting can kill you! In fact, some are saying that “sitting is the new smoking” because its impact is so significant. According to recent research from the Journal of the American Heart Association, prolonged sitting presents similar health risks as smoking, such as heart disease, lung cancer, and diabetes. It also increases premature death by about 50 percent! Even more surprising, too much sitting increases your risk for an early death regardless of your fitness level or other lifestyle habits.

But sitting isn’t just bad for your heart or metabolism; it is also bad for your brain! Researchers at the University of California have discovered a connection between sedentary behaviour and thinning regions in the brain that is critical to new memory formation.

So, what if your job requires you to be at a desk, all day, every day? Are you supposed to quit? Well, of course, that’s not practical. However, there are a few simple things you can do to ensure that you keep your body regularly moving for a longer, healthier life.

Tips to Sit Less & Live Longer

1. Fit in Exercise Whenever Possible

Bottom line, the more frequently you work out, the more you reduce your risk of premature death. Adults should get at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity per week. While exercising 10 minutes or more at a time is ideal, shorter but frequent bursts of exercise, like taking the stairs, can also be an excellent way to keep active.

 

2. Move Every 30 Minutes

Research shows that people who sit for less than 30 minutes at a time have the lowest risk of early death. Meetings and deadlines don’t always offer the freedom to move, but ideally, you don’t want to be sitting for any longer than three hours at a time. Setting a timer on your phone can be a helpful reminder to take regular moments for movement.

 

3. Use a Fitness Tracker

Fitness trackers are an effective way to ensure you’re getting enough activity in your day. As health and fitness wearables grow in popularity, there is an increasing number of options available for every budget and lifestyle. There are also a wide variety of exercise apps out there to track your progress and monitor your success with motivational milestones to keep you moving.

 

4. Try a Standing Desk

As awareness grows about the health concerns associated with chronic and prolonged sitting, more companies have already begun re-examining ways they can improve employee wellness. In some environments, adjustable desks are offered to provide workers with opportunities to stand instead of sitting if they so choose. If a standing desk is not an option for you, try moving your laptop to a tall counter or table as a means to squeeze in more standing. 

 

5. Opt for Less Convenience

We live in a world of many technological conveniences, and yet, we take so many of them for granted -- and in some cases to our detriment. Turn back time and reverse the mortal clock by opting for “less convenient” choices in your day. Walk over and have a conversation with your colleague instead of sending an email. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Bike to work instead of drive. Small activities can make a significant impact!

Do you spend excessive amounts of time sitting? Do you experience any health problems that you think could be related to a sedentary lifestyle? Let’s chat and get to the root of your health issues. Book an appointment with our clinic, and together we will find ways to improve your overall health and well-being so that you can live your life to its fullest.

Call or email us at 416 2079395.

To your best health!

The Stepupphysio Team.

References

http://jaha.ahajournals.org/content/7/6/e007678

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180412141014.htm

http://annals.org/aim/article-abstract/2653704/patterns-sedentary-behavior-mortality-u-s-middle-aged-older-adults

 

The Benefits of Good Posture

The Benefits of Good Posture

“Sit up straight”, “Keep your shoulders down and back”, “Stack your ribs over your pelvis”, are common cues you will hear when referring to improving your posture.  There are many benefits to having good posture other than just looking better. Good posture leads to less pain and better function. 

Good posture involves keeping your centre of gravity over your base of support, which encourages a more efficient movement pattern with less fatigue and muscle strain. It also helps improve your balance.

Having good posture reduces strain on your ligaments, muscles and bones. For example, if your shoulders are down and back rather than forward, you will have less strain on the anterior ligaments/tendons of the shoulder joint. As a result you are preventing injuries such as tears, tendonitis or bursitis. Similarly, bringing your chin back so your ear is in line with your shoulder, you will have less wear and tear on your cervical spine, preventing conditions such as osteoarthritis or stenosis. You will also have less strain on the muscles of the head and neck, which can reduce headaches and dizziness.

Good posture can also optimize the activation of your muscles. With a proper skeletal alignment, muscles are in their optimal length, which produces the most power and function. This is evident when activating your core strength. Keeping your ribs stacked over your pelvis and keeping a neutral spine will help to activate inner core muscles. 

Breathing and your cardio-respiratory function improves as your posture improves because you are creating more space in your thorax, allowing for optimal performance of the muscles of respiration such as your diaphragm, intercostals, and pelvic floor, enabling deep breaths and better lung capacity.

Having a postural assessment can help identify areas you need to improve with simple exercises and education surrounding your environment to promote better posture. 

Are You Wave Aware?

Are You Wave Aware?

Understanding the effects of Electromagnetic Radiation (EMF)  and Radiofrequency Radiation (RF) on Your Health

Our health is directly affected by a variety of things we cannot see but know to be true. We don’t see the air, but we are sensitive to air quality on a smoggy day. We cannot see UV rays, but we can certainly feel their effects while baking at the beach. And while we cannot see electromagnetic radiation (EMF), a growing number of people are reporting symptoms that directly correlate to electrical hypersensitivity (EHS) and radiofrequency radiation (RF).

Over the last 20 years, physicians with the American Academy of Environmental Medicine have been seeing patients whose symptoms appeared to be triggered by “dirty electricity” – which is when high frequencies travel along electric wires between the power source and electric grid. This includes power lines, televisions, computers, and other electrical devices. Those suffering from EHS might experience varying symptoms including headaches, dizziness, chronic fatigue, depression, memory loss and confusion.

Now, more than ever, we are living in a world of convenient luxuries that depend heavily on electrical pollutants. We have phones in our pockets, microwaves in our homes, and satellite systems in our cars. As science attempts to catch pace with the exponential race of technology, we are only beginning to comprehend the effects RF waves have on our health.

What is Radiofrequency Radiation?

The electromagnetic wave spectrum is composed of two parts: ionizing radiation and nonionizing radiation. Ionization radiation includes X-rays and ultraviolet rays, whereas non-ionizing radiation includes radiofrequency (RF). For years we have focused on the negative impact of ionizing radiation, but now we are starting to understand the impact of non-ionizing radiation or radiofrequency. 

RF is what allows you to borrow your neighbour’s WiFi while you’re waiting for the service guy to come. Without the need for wires, RF has the power to pass through walls and go just about anywhere it pleases – and that includes inside our body. In this digital age, almost anything we can imagine can be a source of radiofrequency radiation. Our cell phones might seem obvious, but what about our Smart Meters, our children’s gaming systems, the baby monitor? They all use wireless communication, surrounding us in a constant invisible fog of electrosmog.

Our society encourages us to keep up or fall behind. Have you ever passed the Apple store the day a new iPhone hits the market? So many of us are willing to stand in lengthy lines, just to be early adopters of the latest technology. Our priorities are placed on technology as a way to make our lives better. And no doubt, it does. However, most of us never consider how our addiction to technology also impacts our health by inundating our bodies with a constant barrage of radio frequencies.

How Can EMF & RF Affect Your Health?

While EMF and RF radiation is considered biologically safe according to safety data provided by Health Canada and other organizations, the reality is that the level of our constant low-grade exposure is not reflected in their guidelines.

Some scientists have been researching the impacts of electrosmog on our bodies long before our world became so highly digitized. In 1987, one study proved that exposure to electrosmog at levels considerably lower than those observed in urban areas created changes in human brain waves and behaviour.

Further to that, EMF may also affect the mitochondria -- our cellular energy factories, which are fundamental to every energy-dependent process in our body, most notably our nervous system. As a result, EMF-induced disruption of our mitochondria may effectively bolster neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, as well as playing a part in other diseases and health issues where mitochondrial dysfunction is implicated. These include psychiatric disorders, autoimmune diseases, headaches and migraines, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, stroke, diabetes, heart disease, reproductive disorders, cancers… the list goes on and on!

So, the question needs asking: If EMF and RF are already having an impact our lives, what are the long-term effects for our children raised in a world choked by electrosmog? Only time will tell.

Minimize Your EMF & RF Exposure

While more data is required, the science that’s already in, warrants taking precautionary measures in minimizing EMF exposure.

1.    Get rid of your cordless phones.

2.    Turn off your WiFi- Internet can be hard wired into your home to prevent WiFi exposure, as can your television “box” and any other things that are wireless and transmitting and receiving signals.

3.    Switch your cell phone to airplane mode or turn it off at night.

4.    EMF-reducing sleep sanctuary or canopies may help block EMF according to renowned doctor Dietrich Klinghardt, from the Academy for the Healing Arts and Neural Therapy and Biology.

5.    Finally, there is one other thing you can do to neutralize the toxic effects of EMF and RF exposure, and that is to GET OUTSIDE!

By simply spending time in nature and grounding yourself so you have direct contact with the earth, you are opening the gateway for an influx of electrons to be absorbed and distributed throughout your body. This transfer of electrons can help to neutralize oxidative stress and minimize any derangements in the electrical activities of your body.  So put down your phone and open the door to a healthier future!

Let’s put together an exercise program and activity schedule that will keep you outside.  We want to help you take control of your health! Call or email us at 416-207-9395.

To your best health!

The stepupphysio Team

 

References:

https://www.aaemonline.org/emf_rf_position.php

Marshall, T.G., & Heil, T.J.R. (2017). Electrosmog and autoimmune disease. Immunology Research.

Conquer Inflammation Naturally

Conquer Inflammation Naturally

Pain, swelling, redness, immobility and heat -- these are all common signs of inflammation, and these signals only go skin deep. Chronic inflammation also occurs on the inside of our bodies and can present itself in other ways. When inflammation triggers sensory nerve endings, it can result in symptoms such as fatigue, rashes, and chest, abdominal and joint pain.

What is Inflammation?

Inflammation is a natural function with a bad reputation. It’s a word most of us associate with pain, discomfort and poor health -- yet its ultimate purpose is actually to help us. Without inflammation, injuries could fester and infections could become deadly.

When the body is injured, inflammation is a signal to the immune system to send white blood cells so the healing process may begin.  Unfortunately, when inflammation continues on for too long, it can potentially trigger numerous other chronic health issues in the body including cancers, depression and asthma. In fact, some say inflammation is the “new cholesterol” due to its direct link to heart disease.

In some cases, inflammation occurs when the immune systems revolts against us and attacks our own bodies. Autoimmune diseases include rheumatoid arthritis, type 1 diabetes, IBD, among dozens of others. There are over 80 different autoimmune diseases.

Top Tips to Reduce Inflammation

First, let’s take a quick look at inflammatory foods that you definitely don’t want to put into your body.  You probably already know all the usual suspects by name – sugar and artificial sweeteners, fried foods and saturated fats, processed meats and grains, dairy, caffeine and alcohol. These foods can disrupt gut bacteria, spike insulin levels, and bolster inflammation.

Wondering what those anti-inflammatory foods are? The good news is they are delicious.

1.    Eat Raw, Organic Fruits & Veggies

Organic foods are a great place to start when looking to adhere to a more anti-inflammatory diet. Grown in mineral-dense soil, organic foods tend to be more alkalizing and have a higher vitamin and mineral content.

In order to keep those vitamin and mineral levels high, it’s also helpful to eat raw fruits and veggies, which are also known as life-giving foods. Cooking can deplete minerals, which is why it’s important to take every opportunity you can to get eat fresh and raw so you get to enjoy the full nutritional benefits. For example, Vitamin K is found in dark leafy greens like broccoli and spinach, and is excellent for reducing inflammation.

2.  Add in lots of Alkaline foods

In addition to fruits and vegetables, nuts and legumes are also alkaline foods that can help balance your pH and reduce acidity. While being mindful of your body’s pH, you might be wonder about the impact of acidic foods, like tomatoes or citrus, and how they affect inflammation. Surprisingly these foods don’t create acidity in the body. Instead they may actually help to restore your pH balance. Even apple cider vinegar is alkaline-forming (however, other vinegars are not).

3.  Fish & Plant Proteins

Believe it or not, most high protein foods, like meat, can actually be acid forming. In this case, plant proteins, such as almonds and beans, are great alternatives to reduce acidity and inflammation.

Need your meat? Then eat more fish. Fish oils, as well as other foods rich in healthy fats like omega 3, are proven to have a variety of health benefits, including significant anti-inflammatory effects.

Fish is also a great source of Vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency has been associated with a wide range of inflammatory conditions.

4.  Antioxidant-Rich Foods

Those susceptible to chronic inflammation may also benefit from supplementing their diets with food sources that contain bioactive molecules. For example, curcumin is the compound found in turmeric root that gives curry its bright yellow color. A powerful antioxidant, curcumin’s ability to reduce brain inflammation has been shown to be beneficial on both Alzheimer’s disease and major depression. Curcumin has been shown to not only prevent memory problems from worsening, but also to improve them.

Complement your curry with a little watercress salad on the side, including pears, dill weed, onion and chives – all sources of the antioxidant known as isorhamnetin.

Add a little red wine and some berries for dessert, which are rich in resveratrol, and you’ve got yourself an anti-inflammatory party. Resveratrol is an antioxidant produced by certain plants in response to injury or when under attack by bacteria or fungi. This is what makes dark-coloured grapes and berries such excellent health boosters for your body.

And of course, you can’t forget the dark chocolate! The flavonoids found in cacao are extremely potent antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents, which are great for your brain and your heart. New research also shows that consuming dark chocolate with a high concentration of cacao (minimum 70% with 30% organic cane sugar) has a positive effect on stress levels and inflammation, while also improving your memory, immunity and mood. You read that right – chocolate really is good for you (but make sure it’s good quality and that you are not over doing it).

5.  Going Beyond Diet- get your stress in check!

While diet definitely plays a role, stress is also a major contributor to inflammation in the body. Stress can be triggered by lack of sleep, lifestyle changes, or any other number of factors. Getting a good night’s rest and making time to meditate or practice other stress-reducing activities, like yoga or Tai chi, are also very effective ways to promote good health and reduce inflammation.

All it takes is a few conscious decisions about your diet and lifestyle and you are on your way to a healthier you.

Are you dealing with chronic health issues triggered by inflammation? Do you still have more questions about how you can make greater changes towards a pain-free life? Do you want a customized approach to managing inflammation and preventing disease? Please feel free to contact us, and we can find your best solutions together. Call or email us at 416-207-9395.

To your best health!

The stepupphysio Team

 

References:

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/02/120223103920.htm

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/04/060404085719.htm

https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2018/04/180424133628.htm

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4836295/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3715939/

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12148098

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4036413/

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1064748117305110?via%3Dihub#bib0015

 

 

Are orthotics a medical gimmick?

Are orthotics a medical gimmick?

Our philosophy is that there is a time and a place for orthotic prescription.  An orthotic is a medical device that looks like an insole, but that has a greater purpose than simply providing comfort. An orthotic aligns the foot and the ankle into the most anatomically efficient position, resulting in less stress and strain on the joints and ligaments. Also, orthotics can reduce or redirect some of the unwanted motion during the gait cycle, which will decrease wear and tear of the joints.  Orthotics can be used for the relief of foot pain, heel pain, shin pain, knee pain, and back pain. 

When it comes to who should have orthotics, we use the analogy of balancing the air pressure in the tires of your car - you do not have to have the air pressure perfectly balanced for your car to function but the more you drive with the tire pressure unbalanced, the more wear and tear you will have. The decision to get orthotics, or not, comes down to the degree in which your feet are ‘out of balance’ and how active you are.  Please take time to book an appointment with us to understand your risk of premature wear and tear of your joints.

To your best health!

The stepupphysio Team

5 Ways to Rev Up Your Energy!

5 Ways to Rev Up Your Energy!

One of the best indicators that you’re having a great day is the feeling that your energy is high, steady, and that overall you feel good and can enjoy accomplishing the tasks at hand.

Maybe it’s that you bounced out of bed that morning, or sang in the shower. It could be that you didn’t need that extra cup of coffee at 3pm, or that you were able to sustain a solid conversation or play games with the kids after dinner.

 

Now, how often do you have that feeling? Or more importantly, do you remember the last time you felt that way? It’s normal to have periods of time where life gets so busy that our energy has to be directed into specific tasks, or that we might be overtaxed and tired as a result. But if you’ve been feeling lackluster, or low energy for a long period of time and can’t seem to get out of that funk, it could be time to address your energy levels more proactively. Try exploring these tried and true methods of protecting and bolstering your energy levels.

Breathe for Energy

While it is a common reaction to stress, shallow breathing prevents the body from receiving enough oxygen and, in a short period of time, depletes the body of energy. Often, we don’t even notice that our breathing has become quick or shallow until we’re already anxious and exhausted. The trick is to be proactive and mindful about your breathing every day so that you can recognize and respond appropriately when you need to.

One powerful and simple breathing technique we recommend is:

Sit down with both feet on the floor. Close your eyes, and press the tip of your tongue against the ridge behind your upper teeth. Exhale completely through your mouth, making a soft sighing sound. Inhale slowly and deeply through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for a count of seven, and then exhale through your mouth for a count of eight.

Repeat for a total of four breaths.

Short High Intensity Exercise

Ideally about a half hour of exercise, three times a week can help you increase your energy and motivation. And some of the best kinds of activity for revving up your energy come in short bursts of high intensity movement. Whether you choose to take a HIIT class that focuses on interspersing bursts of cardio and strength training, or you decide to get outside on your lunch break for a brisk walk, swinging your arms and moving vigorously, those bursts of exertion will help you rev up your engine and keep you going for the rest of the day. Extra points if these activities happen outside, where you get the additional energy boosting effects of being in nature and getting healthy doses of sunshine!

Stay Hydrated

Think of it this way: your body is about 60% water so if you’re dehydrated your body won’t be able to function as well as it should - and it will tell you so. Headaches, lethargy, dry mouth, irritability, these are all signs that you need to hydrate. When your body is hydrated, your blood can more easily carry oxygen and nutrients to where they need to be and that results in a lift of energy!

Increase Your B12

B-vitamins are also known as the ‘happy vitamins’ for their ability to convert dietary nutrients into chemicals that the body can use for energy. While the body needs a few different varieties of B vitamins, one that is especially tied to good energy is vitamin B12. Exhaustion, pallor, feeling low and tired can all indicate low levels of vitamin B12 in the body. B12 is primarily found in animal-based foods like meat, dairy, and eggs, but is also available in much smaller amounts in plant foods like dark leafy greens, whole grains, legumes, and mushrooms, so be sure that you’re eating a diet rich in this wide variety of fresh foods! For those with severe B12 deficiency, vitamin B12 injections could be helpful because they deliver the vitamin into the muscle tissue and bypass the digestive system which, if compromised, may not absorb the nutrient effectively.

Increase Blood Oxygen

Bet you didn’t realize that all of the previous four suggestions have one thing in common! They all positively affect your energy by pumping more oxygen into your bloodstream. Well-oxygenated blood is better able to carry nutrients, can eliminate toxins efficiently, help us think more clearly, and can greatly diminish fatigue and exhaustion. Want another way to help your body get the oxygen it needs? Add fresh greenery to your home and office. Plants feed off of the carbon dioxide we exhale, and replace it with fresh oxygen in the air. So, while you’re taking time to smell the flowers, take some time to sniff the plants as well. You just might find you’re breathing easier and feeling more lively too!

Maintaining healthy energy levels can be challenging when faced with the stresses of everyday life, but these tips can help you rev up your engine and keep you humming a happy tune all day long. If you still find that your energy levels seem lower than usual, or you are having difficulty sustaining your energy levels over time, you may need a closer look at what is going on and we want to be there to help. Book an appointment to visit us and let’s help you get back to your energetic self. Call or email us at 416 2079395 / info@stepupphysio.com

The stepupphysio Team

5 Myths about Low Back Pain

5 Myths about Low Back Pain

Low back pain is one of the most debilitating and common conditions that Canadians experience.  In fact, up to 85% of working people can expect to experience low back pain in their lifetime!  Many individuals with lower back pain do not manage it well because of poor advice or misinformation.  There are several unhealthy myths about lower back pain and what you should do about it.  Let’s set the record straight!

1.    “Moving will make my back pain worse”

Many individuals adopt a robotic like pattern of movement when they are experiencing back pain – namely, they are trying to avoid bending or twisting.  Yes, there are certain situations that warrant a temporary avoidance of these movements or positions but then the gradual resumption is important. Muscles that are in spasm will relax when you move gently.  Increase your movement as tolerated and stay on the move!

2.    “I should avoid exercising when I have back pain”

Back pain should not prevent you from enjoying exercise or your regular activities. In fact, studies have found that continuing with light aerobic and even weight training exercises can help you get better sooner!

3.    “Diagnostic imaging will show me exactly what is wrong with my back”

There is actually very poor correlation between the findings on a scan and pain or disability.  The imaging of most adults will show normal signs of age-related adaptations or changes in the spine – named “degenerative disc disease!”  Diagnostic imaging like MRI’s and CT scans are warranted to rule out serious pathology but these instances are rare – less than 1%!

4.    “Pain equals damage”

The amount of pain an individual is in actually has very little relationship to damage in the spine. Consciously and unconsciously, we can influence our pain with our thoughts and emotions. Cultural influences, work, stress, past experience and duration of symptoms have a stronger relationship with pain than the amount of age-related changes you have on your scan.

5.    “I will have back pain for the rest of my life”

Even if you have been suffering with low back pain for many years, it does not mean this pain will persist for the rest of your life.  Chronic pain is a complicated phenomenon and often related to psychosocial factors.  It is never too late to take control of your health and make positive changes to your lifestyle to promote improved quality of life.   Physiotherapy can be a great starting point to get your pain under control and provide you with tools to live your best life!

If you have any questions about these myths or want to speak to a physiotherapist about your back, feel free to contact us and set up an appointment!

The Fit Bit...

The Fit Bit...

FitBits have been grabbing the attention of many of us since their release in 2013 with the “FitBit Flex”. Now, they come in a variety of styles and colours and will monitor different aspects of our health like steps taken, flights of stairs climbed, calories burned, calories consumed, heart rate and sleep patterns. FitBits have the power to reinforce, motivate and reward us for our hard work. The devices sync goals with an encouraging app displays that show you how close you are to your daily goal and provide positive reinforcement when you ultimately reach it. It even connects us with friends and family members who can provide additional encouragement or a healthy competitive aspect.  It’s a fitness miracle – something so effortless can help us reach our goals just by bringing awareness to our activity levels or diet! It is amazing to us how motivated people are by their daily step count.  At least 50% of our clients wear FitBits and seem to check it frequently through the day to monitor their count for the day. Something that motivates people to be active is definitely a good thing but are there aspects of such gadgets that need further consideration?

Yes! In fact there are three distinct aspects that are worth considering: (1) the psychological impact (2) the security and privacy concerns and (3) the medical appropriateness of a universal step count target.  We have identified above the positive psychological and behavioral aspects but it is also worth looking at how people feel if they don’t reach their goals.  An online article stated that 79% of women using the FitBit technology felt pressure to meet their daily goals and 30% of them reported it made them feel guilty when they didn’t.   We have certainly noticed clients who enthusiastically wore and monitored their FitBit initially and then slowly over time “forget to put it on” or “find it irritating to wear” or “found it getting in the way of their daily tasks”.  Maybe these are acceptable reasons to avoid being ‘measured’ when we are not measuring up!  According to that same study, 98% of women reported feelings of happiness, self-satisfaction, pride and motivation when using the FitBit.  Maybe FitBits are a great tool when you are already committed to achieving your goal. 

Another consideration with such devices relates to privacy, security and targeted advertising. As with any new technology, it is important to consider how the FitBit is and will affect our lives. Most of us are not fully aware of the totality of the information being recorded, who can access such information or how it can be used today or in the future.   Likely we have all noticed how searching a particular topic on the internet leads to related ads being sent your way the next time you open your browser.  If you are seeing ads for chips and comfortable couches, it may be that your FitBit thinks you are dedicated to inactivity!!

The FitBit target of 10,000 steps a day is not necessarily appropriate for everyone depending on the condition of their health. The FitBit does not guide us into specific exercise programs or progress us at a pace that is individual to us. Even if you exceed the target of 10,000 steps a day, it doesn’t mean that you should consider yourself to be healthy or fit.  Please, if you’re going to use the FitBit, use it as an adjunct to a health and fitness plan that has been designed for you by a heath professional.

Nordic Poles

Nordic Poles

We’ve had several clients ask us about the benefits of Nordic Poles, and when used correctly Nordic Poles can be an excellent aid to your exercise routine. These specially designed poles have wrist straps or half gloves that allow you to release the pole at each stride, executing the proper Nordic walking technique.  The benefits of Nordic walking are immense. The activation of the arms helps tone the upper body while relieving strain on the knees, hips and ankles. The poles assist with working the arms, shoulders, upper chest and back muscles through a full range of motion, stretching and lengthening the muscles to loosen up the tightness. The poles also create stability on rocky or uneven surfaces allowing a steady and well-paced walk to occur (and are a lot less aging than a cane!).  In addition to stability, the motion from the poles corrects the “hunching forward” position that many people adopt while working at desks or through leisurely activities.  One note of caution: we have treated a number of people for shoulder tendonitis associated with using Nordic poles.  Mechanically we believe such aggravation is caused by raising the arm and pole too high in front in preparation for planting it.  Don’t go too high and happy walking!

What is metabolic balance®?

What is metabolic balance®?

Are you tired of losing weight just to gain it all back again? There is a scientific solution based on your individual blood chemistry values that is whole foods based!
 

Metabolic Balance uses your unique blood lab values, your health history, food preferences and your goals to design a customized holistic nutrition program.
 
Balance your metabolism, your hormones and your weight – NATURALLY AND SUSTAINABLY with whole foods that you can buy at the grocery store.


NO PROTEIN POWDERS or SHAKES, NO PILLS , NO PROPRIETARY FOODS, NO CRAVINGS

What is included in your program?

  • Comprehensive Medical Blood Lab Testing
  • Individualized Metabolic Balance Food Plan
  • Plan set up with discussion of food preferences, health history, measurements and goals
  • Plan presentation and discussion of foods and program preparation
  • One on One private consultations -  2 one hour follow up consultations,  in person, by phone or facetime
  • Unlimited email support

Find out more by booking a free Q and A session with us here at stepupphysio and see if this program could be a fit for you

Sleep is vital...so, here's some tips to improve the quality of your sleep

Sleep is vital...so, here's some tips to improve the quality of your sleep

Lack of sleep has been linked to being a contributory cause to obesity and diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and depression. In addition, when you’re sleep-deprived, you tend to make poor decisions throughout the day and take lazy options such as poor food choices.

In order to ensure that your health doesn't suffer, you should maintain a good night’s sleep as part of your daily health regime. Try these tips to ensure that you do just that: 

  • Eat healthy food. Combining not eating enough vegetables throughout the day with excessive snacking on less than ideal food choices has been shown to have a negative impact on sleep — just another reason to eat healthy.
  • Watch what you eat and the time you eat. Some foods may cause indigestion, so be sure to avoid these foods at your last meal of the day. Certain food types may also help you sleep, such as fiber. Studies have found that a dinner high in fiber, and low in saturated fat and sugar, can lead to a more restful night’s sleep. Regarding the time to eat, it's best to allow at least four hours between dinnertime and bedtime.
  • Avoid electronic devices. Instead of checking Facebook or twitter in bed before you sleep, try reading a book. The glow from electronic devices replicates daylight to your brain and so can impact you when you turn it off and try to sleep. Consider reducing the amount of time spent on your cell or other electronic device before you retire to bed.
  • Exercise. Not only is exercise good for you for many reasons, there is nothing better than exercise to ensure that you arrive at bedtime completely spent. The sleep you have after a day that includes exercise will be restful and restorative  
  • Practice slowing your mind down. Practicing yoga, meditating, mindfulness or completing breathing exercises are all fantastic ways to slow your mind in advance of turning the lights out.

Shhhhhhh....sleep now!

Exercise for your body and mind

Exercise for your body and mind

Regular exercise is beneficial to our physical health but is also of significant benefit to our mental-emotional well-being. Twenty percent of Canadians will personally experience a mental health issue in their lifetime.  When we talk about mental-emotional health issues in general many of us don’t consider feeling overwhelmed, stressed, anxious or depressed as mental-emotional issues.  We are fast to downplay such conditions as being part of life but this is equivalent to ignoring a sinus infection, the flu, chest pain or running a fever.  Most of us have learnt appropriate treatments or strategies to deal with basic physical health issues and have a reasonable awareness of our physical health status.   We tend to more easily ignore our mental-emotional health....until we experience a mental-emotional crisis.  Even in mental health, prevention is better than cure.  It is equally critical to invest in your physical and your mental-emotional health.  The good news is that there are ways to look after both concurrently:

  • Getting sufficient, good quality sleep
  • Knowing your limits (physically in term of weights you lift: knowing when to take breaks: gradually becoming more active and inactivity while mentally-emotionally it is about knowing and avoiding sources of stress, being strategic about the business of your schedule: finding work-play balance)
  • Eating well, supports your physical systems as well as your brain function

Exercising

By exercising for any length of time and with any form of movement, you will likely feel better, think more clearly, and improve your mood and outlook on life around you.

According to the Canadian Society for Exercise, to achieve health benefits, adults aged 18-64 years should:

  • Accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.
  • It is also beneficial to add muscle and bone strengthening activities using major muscle groups, at least 2 days per week.

Invest in your total health: mentally, physically, emotionally.

When your commute becomes your exercise...

When your commute becomes your exercise...

You definitely need a helmet, may need a change of clothing and could probably postpone the phone call but otherwise this works well.

Walking to the subway: getting off the subway a few stops before yours and walking the balance of your trip: taking stairs instead of escalators are just a few ways to be more active while going about your day.  Live in exercise.