How To Be More Active Throughout the Day

Let’s face it, getting to the gym or going for your run is not always easy. Life can get in the way and mess with your usual schedule, or there may be some days you are just not feeling up to the task. However, we all know that staying active is important in maintaining a healthy lifestyle. We’ve made a list of ways to stay active throughout the day. These are short tasks and do not take up much time, so for the days you are feeling off or feeling short on time, try these! Or, if you’re having a great active day, use these tips and tricks to increase your activity level over the day:

1. Take the stairs (or climb the elevator if stairs are not easily accessible).

2. Park farther away from the store so you’ll have a longer walk to the entrance (it’s also usually easier to find a parking spot further away from wherever you’re going!).

3. Use a shopping basket instead of a cart at the grocery store (provided of course you are purchasing a reasonable number of items).

4. When you clean, clean vigorously. We all need to deep clean our surroundings every so often, so when the time comes, make the most of it and really put in some work (you will burn a surprising amount of calories just by scrubbing the toilet!)

5. Set an alarm. We all run the risk of getting tied up in work, or a good book, or the Netflix marathon. Set an alarm at regular increments to get up and walk around, or do something else active as a break. Bonus = walking around while studying has actually been shown to improve memory retention of the material studied!

6. Take a walk. Sometimes a proper full workout is just not something you’re up for. That’s okay. Everyone has these days. Instead of a full workout, try going for a walk. It’s low impact. It can last for a short or long time, and the fresh air is always a good idea!

7. Exercise while watching tv. If you have exercise equipment at home, use it! If you don’t, try stretching while you watch television (this is also a great time to work on your exercises from your physio!). Again, this is a low impact option that can help break up the monotony of just sitting while staring at the screen.

8. If you are needing to pick up only a few items, walk or bike to the store instead of driving.

9. When at the mall or grocery store, take an extra few laps around the store before you start shopping.

10. If you’ve been considering getting a dog, get one! Taking pets for walks is an excellent way to keep your activity level up, and your four-legged friend will love you for it.

11. Play with your kids. If you have kids, or nieces or nephews, join in on their games. Chances are they’ll keep you on your toes and you’ll both get some good laughs.

12. Before you shower, do 10 squats, 10 lunges, 10 pushups and hold a plank for 10 seconds. This mini workout will help you wake up in the morning and get your blood flowing for the day ahead.

13. If you’re not feeling the gym, try doing an exercise video at home. You’ll save time staying at home and there are many fitness apps and videos with varying lengths of time, so you can find one for exactly how much time you have.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

Exercises to Improve Shoulder Mechanics

As you can see from the image above, the shoulder joint is a very complex joint. In fact, each shoulder blade has 19 different muscles that attach to it in some way. And that’s just muscles! That does not include all the ligaments, nerves, blood vessels and bursa that also inhabit the area. Your shoulder has the capacity for many degrees of freedom, and since it can move in all sorts of directions and ways, it can also be pretty unstable, and is susceptible to poor mechanical habits.
Mobility exercises:
First we’ll look at mobility exercises. The muscles in front of the shoulder tend to get tight, but the rotator cuff is also a likely culprit for over-active and unbalanced muscles activity. When we consider mobility, we want to think about freeing up the more tense or over active muscles that may be causing a restriction in the range of motion of the shoulder.
1. Self release of pectoralis minor and major with lacrosse ball, tennis ball or acupressure ball:
Standing near a wall, place a ball between you and the wall (just inside of the point of the shoulder joint). Push into the ball and move it around a bit, focusing on tender areas. This can help to release tension in the front of (or anterior) shoulder.
2. Self release latissimus dorsi/subscapularis:
Using the same technique as above, roll the ball between you and the wall on the side of your body (just below your armpit). If you are using a foam roller, lay on your side on the ground, arm above your head and roller at about the armpit level.
3. Self release rhomboids/trapezius:
Again, using that same ball, place ball between you and the wall, but this time on your upper back in the space between the shoulder blade and the spine. Focus on tight areas. You may wish to bring ball higher on your back to get into the upper trapezius muscle fibers.
4. Chest opening stretches:
These focus on opening the chest, and in particular, the pectoralis muscles. This can be done against a wall or doorway, or on a foam roller (as below).

5. Roll the ball up the wall:
Exactly what it sounds like, grab an exercise ball and roll it up the wall as far as you can. You can do this on one side at a time or both arms together.
Stability and Motor Control Exercises
The other piece to our shoulder puzzle involves stability of the joint as well as motor control of the surrounding muscle tissue.
1. ITYW:
Resting your hips/abdomen on a stability ball, raise your arms in an I pattern (arms above shoulders), a T (arms level with shoulders), Y (similar to I, but arms slightly outspread from head) and W (with elbows bent and hands around shoulder level). Move slowly and use gravity as your resistance.
2. Supine Arm Bar:
This may not look like much at first, but it challenges all the small muscles around the shoulder joint to work together to stabilize the shoulder joint. Laying your back, lift a somewhat heavy for you (you want it to be challenging, but not feel like your arm will buckle under its weight) dumbell or kettlebell straight up  to the ceiling. Try not to lock your elbow in place too hard. Hold this position and try to keep the weight right over the shoulder joint. Not as easy as it looks hey?
3. Down Dog:
Yogis are all too familiar with this one. Done properly and with good technique, the downward dog yoga pose can be an excellent means to build shoulder stability. This will require that you already have adequate mobility in the shoulder joint. In this position, keep fingers wide and do not lock your elbows. Think about sliding shoulder blades down your back, but not sinking into the shoulders (you should feel like you’re pushing the ground away). Hold this position.
4. Plank:
Oh yes. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again – physios love planks! They challenge so many muscles at once; they are an excellent tool. In your plank, make sure your spine and head are in natural alignment (do not collapse in your head or low back). Do not collapse into your shoulders. You want to feel like you are pushing the ground away. Then push it all the way away (this is the plus position). The plus position pushes your shoulders blades away from one another and engages your serratus muscles which help hold the shoulder blade (or scapula) in place. For an added challenge, try alternating bringing a hand to touch the opposite shoulder.

These are of course just a small selection of available exercises. For more ideas and for an individualized shoulder performance plan, please see your physio!

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

Plantar Fasciitis

Causes
Plantar fasciitis may be the most common cause of heel or bottom of foot pain. It is common among runners and athletes due to the repetitive stress on the feet with running, sprinting and jumping. It may also occur after wearing footwear with inadequate support, or when you have a change in daily tasks (e.g. starting a new job where you’re on your feet most of the day when you were previously at a desk job with mostly sitting). It may also be a side effect of tight calf muscles or Achilles tendon as this would create greater pull on the heel bone. Wearing high heel shoes can be a factor in the development of plantar fasciitis. Those with either particularly high arches or particularly flat feet may also be at greater risk for developing plantar fasciitis. Whatever the case may be, the repeated stress and strain on the plantar fascia causes an inflammation of the fascia itself.

Symptoms
Pain in the heel or bottom of the foot is the major symptom of plantar fasciitis. It is pain that is usually localized to one spot and is tender to the touch. Pain is likely worse in the morning after the first few steps out bed and eases up as the day goes on. It is important to note here that if the pain is excruciating and you cannot put weight on your foot, it is a good idea to seek out an x-ray or doctor’s assessment to rule out stress fracture. If you are able to bear weight and walking makes it better, it may be more likely that are you are dealing with plantar fasciitis. 
Treatment
Treatment is likely to include exercises to loosen the calf muscle and stretch out the plantar fascia. Something simple such as flexing and pointing the feet a number of times before getting out of bed can help.
In the image above, the patient is shown stretching the bottom of the foot. This is done by flexing the foot (and stretching the Achilles tendon) and also flexing the toes. By flexing the toes, this creates a deeper stretch along the bottom of the foot. Anything that stretches out the calf muscles is also a good idea. If stretching alone is just not cutting it, try using a foam roller to roll out your calf muscles and a golf ball or foot roller (which can be found at many dance shops) to help ease the tension on the heel bone (i.e. the calcaneous). You can also see your massage therapist to have them work on that tension.
If you usually wear high heels, try wearing ballet flats or a lower heel until pain subsides. If your shoes are worn out, invest in a more supportive pair. Or if new shoes aren’t in the budget, try using an arch support from the drugstore in your old shoes and see if it makes a difference. Use ice on your heels at the end of the day to try to decrease inflammation. And as usual, come see your physio or RMT for more specific recommendations because being on aching feet all day is not fun.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

Fueling Your Body for Performance and Recovery

After looking at some diet trends last week, you may still be wondering what you’re supposed to eat before, during and after a workout. Though this can vary greatly if you are training for higher level events (e.g. Ironman triathlon or body building prep – much more specific eating plans needed for these types of events), you can apply the same general principles to most common workouts for yourself. Recovery is such an important part of a workout, and nutrition is incredibly important in making sure recovery is happening

Before exercise
Carbs are your friends. Your body needs glucose, which is the broken down form of carbohydrate, for fuel. If you are wanting your body to perform, it makes sense to fill it with fuel. You can’t get far on an empty tank! Timing-wise, you can eat more about 4 hours or more prior to an event or workout. For example, a bowl of oatmeal with some fresh fruit, a glass of milk and maybe an egg or two can be a great option for breakfast before a big game. Oatmeal provides fibre, protein and carbohydrates in slowly-digesting package (meaning that it will break down slower and therefore provide you with energy over a longer time frame). Fruit also provides carbohydrates with the added benefit of being delicious. Milk has some protein, and also lactose (which breaks down into glucose!). Eggs are great to add more protein if you have a day of heavy lifting ahead of you. 
As the workout or event time approaches, you’ll want to lessen your intake. It’s going to be tough to perform your best when your body is busy trying to digest. And nobody wants to have to make a run for the toilet during an important match. Have a small snack, maybe a piece of fruit with a bit of peanut butter for dipping or a granola bar or a small bowl of cereal to give yourself a small but quick boost of fuel. 
During exercise
Similar to how you don’t want to eat too heavy immediately before the event, you don’t want to be eating a ton during a workout either. You may be fine with just water, but if your workout is feeling particularly intense, choose a quick-digesting carbohydrate as a boost. A sport drink could provide this. If you’re feeling like you need something, but don’t want to be guzzling sugary sport drink, take a sip and swish it around in your mouth before spitting it out. Your body will absorb some of the glucose just by swishing and you’ll still get that added boost. 
After exercise
Protein generally becomes more important post-workout. No, you do not have to sit down to a steak dinner (unless that’s your thing, then go for it!). After a workout, you have depleted your body of fuel. It needs more fuel to recover. Glucose (from carbohydrates) gives your muscles energy to do what they do. It also gives your brain energy to remember to keep breathing. By replenishing this glucose store, you are helping your body to recover. You’ll feel better, and there is less chance you’ll experience delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) the next day. You also need to give your body protein. No matter what the workout was, your muscles just did a whole lot of contracting. They need protein to help rebuild and repair any muscle tissue that may be inflamed post-workout. It is best to eat something within 30 minutes following the end of activity for optimal recovery.
Post workout snacks might include the following:
– Greek yogurt with fruit and granola (Greek yogurt is higher in protein than other yogurts)
– Peanut (or other nut) butter and banana on toast
– Protein smoothie
– Hummus and vegetables
Again, this is only a simple breakdown. If you are looking for more ideas for snacks, head over to google or pinterest and start searching. There are a on of great recipes and ideas on the internet these days! Or if you’re looking for a more personalized approach, make an appointment with a dietician or nutritionist.
InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

Diet Trends Decoded

Today I’m wanting to talk diet trends. There are so many different kinds out there right now, I wanted to break it all down for you.

1. Paleo Diet
Paleo has grown in popularity by leaps and bounds. Supposedly it is based on hunting and gathering like in the good old days. So, anything you could hunt (meat and seafood) and gather (fruits and vegetables) are open to consumption. Dairy, grains, legumes, starchy vegetables (like potatoes – but aren’t potatoes a vegetable?), sweets and juices are not allowed. This diet may help you to increase consumption of fresh produce, but ultimately cuts out a lot of different foods (some that might help you better balance your micronutrient (i.e. minerals and vitamins) intake. You may need to look into taking supplements to help maintain optimal nutrient balance.

2. Juice Cleanses
Juicing refers to consuming only fruit and vegetable juices. The thinking is that with no pulpy goodness around, nutrients will absorb more quickly into the body. Juices may be a nice addition to an already healthy diet, but is very restrictive. Juice cleanses can cause a lack of macro nutrient intake (such as protein and fat – yes your body needs some fats to stay healthy!).

3. Mediterranean Diet
This is the only diet to include elements of holistic well-being. It recommends daily exercise, and sharing meals with friends and family. The diet part encourages high intake of breads and unrefined cereals, fruits, vegetables, fish, cheese and olive oil. It allows a moderate intake of wine (oh yes!), and little meat. There are no major restrictions to the Mediterranean Diet, and has actually been backed by science to help with long-term weight control and management. We like that it includes exercise and social well-being!

4. Ketogenic Diet
This diet was developed in the 1920s as a means to treat seizures (prior to anti-seizure medication becoming readily available). It is based on high fat and protein intake and eliminates carbohydrates. Without carbs, your body needs energy from somewhere and create ketone bodies in response to a lack of glucose (aka broken down carbs). Side note – glucose is your body’s main source of energy; your brain relies almost exclusively on glucose to function. Weight loss happens fast, but it is not sustainable. Without carbs, you are losing out on essential nutrients and fiber. This diet may be beneficial for those with a seizure disorder, but of course should only be recommended and monitored by your doctor.

So there we have it, 4 popular diet trends broken down. It is important to note that diets are not a “one-size-fits-all.” What works for one person, may not work for the next. Diets are usually based on trends, but maybe shifting our definition is the answer. The dictionary definition of “diet” is “the kinds of food that a person, animal or community habitually eats.” The key word here is habitually. A diet should not be a quick solution for weight loss. A diet should be all the foods we eat on a regular basis. Eating healthy and balanced meals is best. Lots of fruits and vegetables and a variety of other nutritious, healthy foods that complement them. Less processed sugars, such as soda pop and pastries.

If you are looking to make a change in your diet, it is best to contact a dietician, doctor or nutritionist so that they may monitor your eating habits. They can make recommendations based on your individual needs, and help you find supplements that work for you if there is a particular food or food group you can’t eat due to allergies.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

Concussion

Concussions are the most common type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). They can occur as a result of a motor vehicle accident as well as various sports. Symptoms can vary greatly from person to person and not everyone may be aware that they have experienced a concussion when in fact they have.

Causes
As mentioned above, the causes of concussion can be varied. Most often, people relate a concussion to loss of consciousness. However, this is not necessarily the case. Concussions are often the result of a direct blow to the head, but can also be caused by a violent force or shaking in the upper body. For example, whiplash of the neck may result in concussion because the excess force applied to the body. Concussions may also be experienced after a large tackle that causes an unnatural jolt of the upper body. The brain sits in a pool of cerebrospinal fluid. It can move within your skull (cool, huh?). So, basically anything that projects a strong force onto the skull or nearby structures (e.g. the spine) can cause a concussion.

What’s actually happening?
During the initial blow, the brain bumps into the bony skull. This may not sound like much, but considering how many complex and intricate structures are in your brain (and there are a lot!), damage can be done. Concussions are a hot topic for research these days, and there is still much to learn. It is believed that the bumping of the brain against the skull disrupts important neural connections (kind of like your brain is short-circuiting).

Symptoms
Symptoms of concussion are many and varied, ranging from complete loss of consciousness to a mild headache. Symptoms may also include: drowsiness, insomnia, difficulty concentrating or remembering, an abrupt change in personality/character, feeling more emotional, dizziness, nausea/vomiting, feeling like you’re in a fog, sensitivity to light and noise and loss of balance or coordination. These may be very mild, or very severe. The SCAT tool nicely outlines these symptoms as well as testing that can be done for concussion (read here).

I think I have a concussion, now what?
If you’ve recently experienced a force to the head or upper body and are feeling any of the above symptoms, you should go to the doctor to have these assessed and properly diagnosed. Early intervention is important so you can start the recovery process. Typically, it is recommended that you are at complete mental and physical rest for 24 hours (no exercise, no physical activity, no reading and definitely no screen time). The blue light from your phone or computer screen can aggravate your symptoms if you have a concussion. It is also recommended that you avoid caffeine and alcohol and that you have somebody check in on you every few hours while you are sleeping to make sure other more serious conditions are not present (e.g. brain bleeding). After this first 24 hours, you may introduce light activity (such as walking or slow pedaling on a stationary bike). You must experience no symptoms for another 24 hours. If symptoms are still present, you will need to return to the previous stage. Each stage is outlined below. There is a minimum of 5 days to return to play, with a doctor’s assessment required prior to returning to contact sports.

Treatment
There is no specific treatment to treat a concussion. Instead, focus is on alleviating the symptoms felt by the patient, and make sure to track progress to report back to the doctor. Both physiotherapy and massage therapy are excellent options to help relax the muscles around the head and calm the body. Acupuncture may also be effective in calming the nervous system. Together, these treatments may aid in a quicker recovery. Recovery from concussion symptoms can occur within a few days or several months. Again, the span is huge as concussions will affect every person in a different way.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

Yoga for Better Sleep

If you’re anything like what seems like most of the North American population these days, chances are you have trouble falling asleep. We are very busy beings and sometimes when it’s time to end the day and crawl into bed to rest, our brains turn up the hyperdrive and do everything except relax. If this sounds like you, maybe you’d like to try a little yoga before bedtime. It may help you to relax and fall asleep sooner which means you’ll get a much needed longer and better quality sleep. Follow through the following sequence and see what you think. These poses were chosen because most can be done in bed so you can just curl right up when you’re done.

Breathing
Yoga has a strong foundation in breathing, or pranayama. Studies have also shown that taking deep, drawn out breaths helps to calm the mind and relax the body, both of which are essential pieces to getting a good night’s sleep. Start this sequence by concentrating your breathing. Take big, long, heavy drawn out breaths and try to concentrate your mind on your breathing rather than all of the other things that may come to cloud your mind at night time. For a more in depth section on breathing and for a few different breathing techniques, go here.

Standing Forward Fold
Still focusing on your breathing, stand up tall and lift your arms high up above you. Bend at the hip and slowly lower your head down to the ground while keep your back straight. Reach towards the ground with your hands and the crown of your head. You may or may not bend your knees. It’s really up to you and what feels comfortable. Remember, you are trying to relax! Hold for 10 nice long breaths.

Head to Knee
Seated now, bring one foot into the centre of your body with knee bent and bring one foot out to the side and straightened. You may also know this as the runner’s stretch. Bending again at the hip, slowly lean forward (again, to wherever is comfortable for you!) Hold for 10 long breaths on each side.

Child’s Pose
This might be one of the more common poses. It is generally a comfortable pose, especially when on your bed as the mattress will feel nice under your knees. However, if it is painful having your knees bent, please bring the hips up higher or bring the knees out wider, or opt to hold another pose for longer in it’s place. For child’s pose you will be on your knees, sitting back on your heels. Reach your arms and body forward, bending at the hip joint. Or keep your arms beside you as shown in the second photo. Hold for 10 long breaths at your point of comfort.

Legs Up the Wall
Bring your buttocks as close to the all as possible or up against your headboard if your bed is situated in the centre of your bedroom. Bring your legs up the wall with heels facing the ceiling. You may wish to prop your hips and low back up on a pillow or two as shown, or you may be more comfortable without. Hold for the usual 10 long breaths.
Lying Spinal Twist
This may be one of my favourites. Lying on your side, bring the top leg up and over the bottom leg, bending the knee. The bottom leg will stay straight or the knee may bend slightly. It is important that your top knee is connected to either the bed, or you may want to put a pillow or two under the knee. As long as it is connected to either a pillow or to the bed itself, you’re in good shape. Use your bottom hand to rest on you top knee, and open the top arm away from your top knee, opening the chest. Hold for 10 long breaths on each side.
Savasana
Arguably one of the best parts of yoga class is savasana. Lay down on your back with limbs open and straight. Close your eyes. Re-focus again on your breathing. Think about your body becoming heavy and sinking in to your mattress, getting ready for bed time. If you have a tough time willing your body to just relax on its own, try contracting one muscle group at a time for 2 seconds then relaxing it. Start from your trunk and work your way out to your fingers and toes. At this point, hopefully you’re feeling a little more calm. Get cozy in bed and drift off to dreamland.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

What is whiplash?

Whiplash of the cervical spine or neck is common among patients who have been involved in rear-end motor vehicle collisions, and also can also affect those who participate in contact sports such as rugby and football, or those who have experienced other physical trauma affecting the neck.

Biomechanics
The most common cause of whiplash injury happens in response to a rear-end vechicle collision. As such, most studies that have been conducted have simulated a rear-end vehicle collision. During the collision, the spine of the person(s) being hit behave much like a cracking whip in the way that the spine moves in response to the sudden force. At impact, the torso continues to travel forward towards the steering wheel. The chin tucks downward and the skull travels backwards, causing an almost ripple-like motion through the spine, towards the head. That is a lot of different directions for your body to be trying to go all at one time. This movement causes the normal curvature of the cervical spine or neck, which is usually slightly convex to become more concave in shape. The sudden force pushes the spinal vertebrae into a sudden and unnatural alignment. This in turn causes surrounding muscles to tense up to try to stabilize the neck, which can cause muscle strain. The ligaments and discs in the neck can also be affected from the force.

Symptoms
Symptoms of whiplash may be delayed. Generally, you may experience the following as a result of a whiplash injury:

* Neck pain and stiffness
* Headaches
* Pain in and around the shoulder joint or between the shoulder blades
* Low back pain
* Pain or numbness in the arms/hands
* Dizziness
* Difficulty concentrating or remembering or irritability or sleep disturbances (concussion symptoms)

Whiplash injuries are assessed and graded due to the severity of symptoms. Further information regarding severity and the grading scale can be found here on our website.

Treatment
Since whiplash injuries can involve a variety of tissues and can differ greatly from one person to the next based on the exact mechanisms (e.g. amount of force, direction of force, pre-existing conditions, speed of the vehicle or vehicles in question, etc.), there is no single way to treat a whiplash injury. The best thing you can do is visit your doctor or physiotherapist to assess the injury and work with you to build a treatment plan that is specific to you. We treat many whiplash injuries at Insync Physiotherapy and do accept ICBC claims. We would love to meet you and work with you to get you back to feeling your best.

InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

Managing and Decreasing Your Stress

Nobody can escape stress 100% of the time, (and if you’ve figured out to do this, please share your magical secrets!). It is something that can get the better of us sometimes, and can have a negative effect on our health and well-being. Stress can increase the release of cortisol which can increase the risk of cardiac issues. It can toil with our emotional well-being making us more irritable or reactive to something that would otherwise not bother us. Stress is a sneaky devil that can creep up on us. It is important to learn to manage our stress to try to decrease these negative effects that it can have on our bodies and minds. 

Here are some ideas to help decrease the effect of stress on our lives:
1. Get active: go on a hike, walk the dog, hop on a bike, hit the gym, practice yoga. Whatever it is you enjoy, do it! Physical activity has repeated been linked to better mood. Yay endorphins!
2. Eat something healthy: when we are stressed, we tend to reach for the chips or the chocolates or junk foods because these can stimulate reward centres in the brain. If we grab something healthy though, we are giving our bodies the nutrition needed to decrease stress effects.
3. Write down 10 things you’re grateful for: practicing gratitude can help to decrease the stress response. It also forces you to re-frame things, so instead of focusing on the negative things that can bring on stress, you are focusing on the positive.
4. Practice some deep breathing: big breath in, expand the ribcage and the diaphragm, then let it all go. Let each inhale/exhale last for 5 seconds or so. This is a simple one, but it has proven effects on decreasing stress.
5. Call a friend or make a coffee date: just vent. Saying it out loud can help decrease the pressure you’re feeling.
6. Hang out with kids: your kids, your nieces or nephews, grandkids. Kids can be hilarious, and the innocence they show can help you forget about whatever is stressing you out. 
7. Hang out with a pet: animals are wonderful stress-relievers. I’m pretty sure they’re magic. If you don’t have a pet of your own, volunteer to take a friend’s dog for a walk or visit a local shelter for animal cuddles. 
8. Look through old photo albums: go through old albums (either on paper or on the computer) that have some happy times in them. Nostalgia can be a great tool in feeling less stress as you sit and remember fun times with wonderful people. 
9. Read some inspirational quotes: sometimes they’re cliche, but sometimes you find one that strikes a chord with you. Start a pinterest board of quote you like so you can quickly refer to them when you’re having an off-day.
10. Write it down: write down what’s stressing you out. Getting it down on paper can help to reduce the stressful feelings. If you need something extra after writing it down, burn that piece of paper with all of the stressful things on it. 
11. Read for pleasure: reading can be a wonderful way to escape. And I don’t know about you, but that musty book smell really calms me down too!
12. Do something nice for somebody else: bring flowers to a friend, buy a stranger’s cup of coffee, show up to your partner’s office to take them to lunch, it can be anything. Making somebody else smile will make you smile too.
13. Listen to music: jam out to your favourite playlist, whatever that is. Music can make you feel emotions, and it can demonstrate such a wide array. Listen to something that reflects the way you are feeling now, or go the opposite and listen to something that makes you feel how you want to feel.
14. Laugh it off: watch a funny movie, or go see a stand up comic. Laughter can reduce the physical effects of stress on the body (e.g. fatigue)
15. Take a nap: stress might be due to lack of sleep, and the effects of sleep deprivation are many. Take a nap, or resolve to go to bed earlier to get a good night’s sleep.
16. Get outside: no you don’t have to go on some epic hike to get the stress-reducing benefits of the natural world around us. Go have a picnic in a nearby park, or just sit out on your patio. Being outside can do wonders for you, especially in this day and age of screens (tv, phone, tablet, computer, etc.)
Of course you may have some ideas of your own and that’s cool too! Whatever way you prefer to cope with your stress, learning to take care of yourself is a very useful and health-promoting skill.
InSync Physiotherapy is a multi-award winning health clinic helping you in Sports Injuries, Physiotherapy, Exercise Rehabilitation, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture & IMS.

How to Strengthen the Ankle to Improve Performance

Building on what we discussed last week, today we will be looking at how to strengthen the ankle joint to help prevent painful sprains from happening. Strengthening the muscles surrounding the ankle joint can also help to improve performance in a variety of activities because many land-based activities will require that you are upright, on your feet and putting a great deal of stress on the ankle joint.

Strength, Mobility and Proprioception
Three big components of ankle performance program are strength, mobility and proprioception. Strength is fairly self-explanatory: increasing the strength in the muscles themselves by adding load to the ankle joints. Mobility refers to the range of motion available to the ankle joint; restrictions can cause issues and muscle imbalances. Proprioception is the ability of the body to recognize where it is in space and in relation to other joints in the body. Proprioception has a lot to do with balance as your body needs to be aware of where, say, the torso is, in relation to the ankle joint. If it is in good alignment, you will be able to balance for a longer duration. If it is not in good alignment and leaning too far in one direction, this can cause you to lose balance, and possibly to roll over your ankle joint which is what we are trying to avoid.

Mobility Exercises
1. Ankle range of motion: with foot elevated, alternate pointing the toes, flexing the foot, and rolling the foot in a circular motion in both directions.

2. Achilles stretch: with both toes pointed towards the wall, place one foot forward and one foot back in a staggered stance. Keep the back knee straight and you’ll feel the stretch more in your calf (gastrocnemeus muscle – the bulky part of your calf). If you bend the knee of the back leg, you’ll feel the stretch closer to the ankle joint itself (soleus muscle). See photo below.

Proprioception Exercises
1. Single leg balance: proprioceptive exercises can start as simply as practicing balancing for a period of time on one leg. If this feels easy, try standing on a balance disc, pillow or other unstable surface. Try adding some hand-eye coordination practice by tossing a tennis ball either at a wall or to a partner with one hand – harder than it sounds, but will help add the hand-eye coordination needed for many ball sports.

2. Lateral hops: when you’re feeling really comfortable on one leg, give these a try. You can place a piece of tape on the ground as a marker if you’d like. Practice taking off and landing on only one leg. Move your hops back and forth (lateral motion) and complete sets on each of your legs. These double as a strengthening exercise, but also mimic the quick direction changes found in many sports while cutting in ball sports like soccer or ultimate, or changing directions in raquet sports like tennis.

Strengthening Exercises
1. Heel walks: often times the calf muscles and the muscles of the back of the lower leg get so much attention that we neglect the muscles around the shin, such as the tibialis anterior. For heel walks, lift all the toes off the ground so you are supporting yourself on your heels. Walk forward about 20 paces, rest, then repeat.

2. Calf raises: everyone loves a good calf raise, right? Standing flat, slowly bring your heels up off the ground as far as you can so you are supporting yourself on the balls of your feet, hold for a few seconds at the top then slowly lower down. For an added challenge, try rising on both feet, transferring your weight to only one foot at the top, then lowering only on that one leg. You can also try rising and lowering on only one leg at a time or try a different stance (wide legs, or with one leg in front of the other).

3. Resisted eversion: you can do this one with either a band or a wall/table/other stable vertical surface. If you’re using the wall, sit on a chair right next to the wall, with the outside edge of your foot touching the wall. Push outward against the wall and hold for a few seconds, then rest and repeat. See photo below.

If you’re using a band, you can tie one end of the band around a stable surface, such as a table leg, or have somebody hold one end of the band with the other end looped around your forefoot. Push outward against the band, hold, then rest and repeat. For each of these eversion exercises, you should feel the muscles along the outside of your ankle and on the outer edge of your calf working.
So there we have it, some ideas of exercises to improve your ankle strength and sport performance. We rely on our ankles a great deal, as we are on our feet much of the day. These are of course only some ideas. If you’re looking for more exercises, we suggest making an appointment with your physiotherapist who can give you a more individualized program.

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For the next article in the series: click here >>Exercises While in Bed From a Broken Ankle

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