September 12, 2019

**DISCLAIMER!!**

To get the full benefit of this blog, I suggest listening to “Eye of the Tiger”.

Ready? Alright, so this blog is all about POWER!  And the importance of adding power exercises into your training protocol.

We all know what speed is, and we know what strength is, but what exactly is power and why should we care? Power is defined as the ability to exert the maximum force AS FAST AS POSSIBLE. Therefore, we can’t have speed without power. Power is also related to strength.

So why increase the power of our muscles? It’s simple, when training to increase the power of our muscles, we’re training our central nervous system. Just one of the many functions of the central nervous system is to control the movements of the muscles. So, when we are training our central nervous system, say with power exercises, we are training our body to control its own muscles with precision and efficiency. This in turn means, we have better muscle endurance. We end up being able to do more exercises without feeling that muscle fatigue during our workout. This also means there will be less muscle soreness felt after the workout. This might be a hard concept for some people to wrap their head around, as people generally want to feel that muscle soreness after a workout. **As a side note, just because you don’t feel sore, doesn’t mean you didn’t put in the work at the gym, your muscles are just getting more efficient at taking that lactic acid away. **

Will our muscle mass increase and look more muscular when we do power exercises? No, and that is because power exercises use muscle fibers that we already have. Again, power exercises are training the central nervous system, not the actual muscle. Since power exercises don’t “bulk” us up, this makes them ideal to throw into the routine near a race. The increase in power will help with muscle endurance, and the added muscle bulk won’t weigh you down during the race. And if there are no races planned in the near future, power exercises are good to add in anytime.

If you want to add a day of power exercises to a workout routine, all you have to do is drop the weight, increase the amount of repetitions done and do every repetition as quickly as possible. If you find you’re still lagging in the speed, drop the weight some more. Don’t forget to take a break between the sets too! Don’t be afraid to even take a break between each rep if you need to. And if you’re doing a movement quick enough, you may need to take a break.

Here are two categories of power exercises you can try at the gym:

  1. Plyometrics are a group of exercises that promote high movement with a lot of muscle fiber recruitment in a short amount of time. The time when the body comes into contact with the ground needs to be short!

Example: Depth jump

  1. Speed-strength sets: This category of power exercises is when you perform multi-joint, full body lifts as quickly and explosively as possible, but with LIGHTER weight.

Example: Body-weight squat, cable row

There you have it. We now know why power is important (trains your CNS), what power does for our muscles (increases endurance), when do add power into our training protocol (any time or near a race) and different types of power exercises (plyometrics and speed-strength).

 

Now, go try it out and all the power to you! (sorry)

Dylan Crake
Registered Kinesiologist
Registered Massage Therapist

August 15, 2019

What is periodization?

If you’ve ever wondered what periodization was, and why you hear fitness trainers talk about it, then you’ve come to the right place for a little crash course on the wonderful world of periodization!

To begin, periodization is splitting up different training aspects into different cycles to meet different fitness goals.

The four phases of periodization that I’ll talk about include:

  •  Foundational
  • Hypertrophy
  • Strength
  • Endurance

(there are more than just these phases when it comes to periodization, especially if you are a runner or cyclist, but I’ll be focusing on the above phases specifically)

Now, it’s important to start in the foundation phase, and from there you can move between the three other phases, depending on what you believe your body needs.

Foundational Phase: This is where primal movement patterns are observed and re-built. This is the phase where most of the teaching gets done. If you want to perfect your deadlift, hang out in this phase for a while.

Parameters

Load: 60 % of maximum strength
Sets: 2-3
Repetitions: 12-15
Duration: 2 weeks to forever
Exercises: Hip hinge, squat patterns

 

Hypertrophy Phase: This is where muscle tone and muscle mass are created. When completing exercises in this phase, you want to move slow and controlled. When planning out which exercises you want to complete in this phase, focus on having 80% of the exercises compound (push, pull) and 20 % isolated (tricep pulls, bicep curls). If you want to see results, it is important to do 12-16 working sets of a larger muscle group (quadriceps) in a week  and 6-9 working sets for smaller muscle groups (calf muscles).

Parameters

Load: Moderate weight
Sets: 2-3, with positive fail
Repetitions: 8-12
Rest: 1-2 minutes between sets
Duration: 6- 8 weeks
Exercise: Front squat, Romanian deadlift

 

Strength Phase: This is where your body recruits more muscle fibres by adapting to the demand you impose on your body. The heavier the weight, the more demand on the body and the more the body needs to work to recruit all the muscle fibres. Interestingly enough, this is the phase where people see most weight loss.

Parameters 

Load: Heavy weight
Sets: 3
Repetitions: 2-6
Rest: 2-3 minutes between sets
Duration: 6-8 weeks
Exercises: Bench press, deadlift, front squat

 

Endurance Phase: This is the phase where you will complete as many repetitions as you can in 30 seconds OR you will increase time under tension by holding a position. The endurance phase can help build up cardiovascular strength, allowing your heart to pump more blood out to the body, when needed most.

Parameters

Load: Light weight or body weight
Sets: 3
Time: 20- 30 seconds
Rest: 15-60 seconds This increases time under tension
Duration: 6-8 weeks
Exercises: Burpees, squat hold

 

It’s important to remember that periodization does not have to be linear! You can travel back-and-forth between the phases, allowing your fitness planning to match your life and goals.

Which phase do you want to work in?

Dylan Crake
R. Kin,
Registered Massage Therapist

February 20, 2019

 

What is IT Band Syndrome? Glad you asked!

The iliotibial (IT) band is a thick band of fascia that runs from your pelvis to the outside of your knee. Repetitive bending and straightening of the knee while running can cause constant rubbing of the IT band over the bony parts of your knee. This constant friction can cause the IT band to become irritated and eventually inflamed resulting in pain. The pain is often described as sharp. It’s typically outside the knee but can sometimes can radiate into the outer thigh or calf. Runners will usually notice more pain running downhill or during longer distance runs.

 

 

 

How do you treat IT Band Syndrome?

 

REST! The most important treatment tip is to modify your activity levels. IT band pain will not settle if you continue to run. The tissue needs a break from the friction caused by bending and extending activities in order to settle the irritation and inflammation along the outside of the knee. While resting you can cross train but you need to avoid similar activities. For example swimming is usually fine but cycling will likely just irritate the band.

Trail Run: When you’re ready, try trail running as opposed to treadmill or road running. Running on flat surfaces causes your leg to bend and extend the exact same way over and over again. Running on a varied surface mixes things up decreasing the repetitive movements at the knee.

Glute Strengthening: Make sure your glutes are strong! If your glutes are not functioning properly, your IT band may be compensating. (See my previous running blog on how to know if your glutes are weak and how to strengthen them 🙂

Foam Rolling: Try foam rolling the lateral aspect of your thigh. The IT band is not actually a muscle. It’s fascia which means it does not contract and relax. Therefore foam rolling and trying to stretch the IT band itself doesn’t actually “lengthen” the band of tissue. But rolling the outside of the thigh can get the lateral quad muscles which can definitely be tight.

TFL Release: Your tensor fascia lata is a muscle on the outside of your hip that helps stabilize your hip and knee. You can release your TFL either in lying as shown below or (if this exercise is too intense) against a wall.

 

If after attempting these tips you still have pain, you may need to book an appointment with a physiotherapist (Hi!) who can do a one on one assessment searching for and addressing any muscle imbalances you may have. You should also have your running form assessed! Modalities such as acupuncture, cupping and taping can also speed healing along nicely.

As always, if you have any questions at all make sure you send me an email at richelle.wholetherapy@gmail.com. I am always happy to help other runners run faster and be pain free!

November 30, 2018

Trying to motivate yourself to run throughout the winter months can be a struggle, but trying to stay injury free while you run throughout the winter months can be even more of a challenge! Check out these winter running tips that should help keep you running consistently all year long without pesky injuries slowing you down!

 

Temporarily reduce your weekly mileage with the first snowfall.

When you are running on snow as opposed to a hard, slip free surface you are using stabilizing muscles you haven’t used in a long time. This places you at increased risk of injury. Week 1 run 50% of your normal weekly mileage. Week 2 increase to 75%. By week 3 you should be able to return to your normal weekly mileage.

Avoid switching to the treadmill for 100% of your winter running.

First of all running on a flat uniform surface involves repeating the exact same movement over and over again which increases your risk of repetitive strain injuries like achilles tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.  Second of all when the snow melts and you switch back to running outdoors you will have to drastically decrease your mileage or you’ll risk injury. Running on the treadmill does not mimic running outside! The impact force from running outside is much greater than on the treadmill. Also on the treadmill you are trying to keep up with the track as it glides under your feet, whereas outside you actually have to propel yourself forward. It’s very different therefore your body needs to be allowed the time to adjust!

Make sure your important stabilizing muscles are strong!

Running on the snow and ice demands more muscle effort than running on the treadmill or outdoors on dry pavement. Especially from the glutes and core. (See previous glute strengthening blog!)

Wear the proper footwear!

Yaktrax

Either wear sneakers that are meant for winter running and have soles with studs or spikes, or purchase an ice traction device such as Yaktrax that fit over your sneakers.

Warm up!

Warming up is more important during the cold winter months. If you are standing in a parking lot waiting for others in your group to show and you are shivering and chilly, your muscles are tight and cold as you start to run which can put you at increased risk of injury. Jog on the spot, do high knees or bum kicks, or wait in your car with your heat blasting!

Ignore the pace on your watch!

Focus on effort level as opposed to pace if you are used to running with a running watch. You will run slower in the winter months. If you try to maintain the same pace you did on the clear dry pavement you could end up with an injury. Use the rate of perceived exertion scale. Perceived exertion is how hard you feel your body is working. These feelings are not objective like monitoring your heart rate, but they can give an estimate of your heart rate and your exercise intensity zone.

 

 

 

Try snowshoe running!

It’s a great way to get outdoors and enjoy the snow covered trails. You have to make some small technique adjustments such as running with a slightly wider stance and lifting your feet higher. This will challenge your hip abductors such as your glute med and min and your hip flexors so make sure you ease into snowshoe running gradually. It is much slower than road/trail running so don’t focus on pace. Again use the rate of perceived exertion scale above! Also, purchasing snowshoes that are designed for running such as the Atlas snowshoes shown below can definitely improve your comfort level and speed while snowshoe running.

 

April 7, 2016

Mel’s Meandering: Getting Started

It’s that time of year again. Runners are pounding the pavement, fair-weather sports are starting up, and everyone is peeking outside their windows and doors to see if it’s nice enough to just be outside. It’s glorious.

Spring, with it’s promise of change and renewal, is a great time of year to start a new exercising  regime. I was recently inspired by a friend doing just that, and I wanted to share her story.

“I was athletic in high school and was on several school sports teams, but when I went to university, I stopped almost all physical activity and predictably gained the Freshman Fifteen (more like twenty).

“Two years ago I stepped on the scale and seeing how close I was to 200lbs hit me like a ton of bricks. I decided that I needed to make a change and I started going to the gym. I would do some random combination of strength training and cardio exercises and clearly I didn’t know what I was doing or have a plan; I just moved some weights around for a while and then jogged on the treadmill.  I found I didn’t exercise regularly and couldn’t stay in the gym for longer than 30 minutes without becoming anxious and so bored that I had to leave.

“Recently, I went to a gym with a group of friends, and challenged myself to set a new Personal Best for deadlift. I ended up lifting three times more than I had ever lifted before! I felt so alive. I wanted to start being dedicated to training and getting stronger.

“Not long after that, my husband started training with his friend; after seeing how quickly he was making gains and how happy he was with the progress, I decided to do the same.

“I have been training for five weeks and I have seen such amazingly satisfying improvement. I feel stronger, I don’t have any back pain (for the first time in nearly ten years), and I have so much fun doing it.

“In a month I get to test my Personal Bests again and I cannot wait to see what happens.

 

IMG_0706

“I would recommend strength training to anyone because I have never felt so strong and fit. It can be intimidating to start a strength training program but if you have the right trainer (like I do) it is accessible, exciting and instantly gratifying!”

Knowing this woman is amazing; she inspires me with her tenacity and drive. I know that she has days where she doesn’t want to go to the gym, but she shows up anyway. After each time this happens, she always says “Man that was great, I’m really glad I came even when I didn’t feel like it.”

So what drives you? What will push you this spring to get yourself moving again? Are you going to join a league? Get a personal trainer? Find a friend who will join you for weekly trips to the gym, or even evening walks? Whatever it is, get out there and MOVE, your body will love it.

 

Melissa Beals is an RMT with Whole Therapy. Melissa works extensively with athletes of all levels with a goal in mind to increase their athletic performance through education and understanding of their bodies. See more about Melissa here.

Melissa

September 4, 2015

Dictionary.com defines change as the following:

CHANGE
verb (used with object), changed, changing.

To make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something)
different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone:
To change one’s name; to change one’s opinion;
To change the course of history. 

trapped

Not sure if this office setup has the lumbar support I need..

What a simple, easy to understand, straight to the point definition.  And yet, as simple as it is to understand, why then do we humans have so much trouble implementing change into our own lives?
I’m not talking about changing the tires on your car, or, the vacuum bag, or your little human’s diapers; although some of these things are dull, taxing, or unpleasant.  I’m talking about real change.  Meaningful life-altering change.

Four years ago I found myself in a terrible position.  I was stuck in a dead end job with no further room for growth.  I wasn’t learning any new skills or even really developing my current skill set.  The monetary compensation was less than adequate, and I was oh, so very bored.  I can look at that time now and easily identify these symptoms for what they were:  I was stuck.  I needed a career transplant.

I was trapped in this Grand Canyon-sized rut where it became easier to do nothing than to fix my situation. I had absolutely no idea how to get out of it.  I was walled in and (thought) I didn’t have the tools to get myself out.

But everyone has a boiling point, don’t they?  Everyone will eventually find themselves in a position where change becomes inevitable.  And sometimes, all it takes to initiate that change is a little luck, a little timing, and a little pro-activity.   Jamie, a co-worker of mine at the time, knew of my struggles with the daily grind and had often been a sounding board for me when I had to let off steam.  Jamie turned out to be the husband of my current employer, the incomparable Jen Wright.

Taking action, finally

Combine the fact I had recently returned to high school to obtain my diploma after a 17 year hiatus (that’s a change story for another time) with an increasing difference of opinion on certain matters with some of my co-workers led to me investigate a suggested employment agency here in the city. I set up the appointment to meet with someone in a fancy downtown office; I took their online office skills test, and went for the follow up meeting on a Friday after work.  I was told that they would be in touch with me and that was that.

It was the following Monday when Jamie stepped into my office and said to me.  “Jenny is looking to hire an office manager, are you interested?”  Boom.  All of a sudden, I had a lifeline.  It was like Regis had just given me an extra phone a friend and I was about to become a millionaire.

The next week when the employment agency called, I happily told them I had found what I was looking for and that their services would not be needed.

I don’t normally put a lot of stock in Karma or that kind of thing, but I can honestly tell you that I believe the only reason that the offer came my way was because I had taken the first step and had unknowingly asked the universe to give me the change I needed.

sea creature

“Try the Human, it’s delicious”

The reason people have trouble with change is because, not surprisingly, it’s really hard.

It’s like jumping into a lake you’ve never swam in before.

You know that moment when you’re standing on the dock, imagining all the hideous and murderous monsters that are right now swimming just below the surface?  That’s how change can feel.  Scary.  Scary, slimy and covered  in murder-y scales.

Change is difficult for me because I like things to be consistent.

Everything in their place and all that. The big win for me was learning to realize that things were broken and out of place.  It took me a long time, but I did it.

When I finally realized that I couldn’t keep doing things the way I’d been doing them, the universe responded with a giant “Well it’s about time.  Here, take this happiness and meaning.  Have a good day” and vaporized all the sea mutants waiting below the surface.

So yes, change is difficult.  But is it essential to survival?  Yes.  Is it one of the keys to happiness?  Probably.  Have and will I continue to look for opportunities to evolve?  Certainly.

 

We at Whole Therapy want to hear from YOU! Take a picture or write a post about your #ChangeOneThing experience. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #WholeTherapy as well. 

 

Pat Moore is the office manager at Whole Therapy.  Pat works alongside a team of dedicated professionals and is here to help ensure that your visit at Whole Therapy is as pleasant as possible.  For more about Pat, click here!

Pat

August 24, 2015

Husband Jamie and I took the kids wilderness camping at Algonquin Park a few weekends ago; it was their first time, and they loved it.

Gorgeous weather as we set out. What's not to love?

Gorgeous weather as we set out. What’s not to love?

When camping, one has a singular purpose: to survive.  There’s no luxury to camping in the wilderness, save for a decadent square of dark chocolate at the end of the evening, or a luxuriously dry pair of socks when your body is damp to the bone.

We pushed on, canoed until our arms and shoulders ached, carried our canoes and packs on our tired backs, found a place to rest, set up camp and made food to fuel us.  We slept when it darkened.  Then we woke up and did it again.  In between, we swam and laughed, interacted with each other (without the distraction of electronic devices), made up stories, sang songs, and observed the wonder of nature.  It was amazing.

Yes, the pack IS as heavy as it looks.

Yes, the pack IS as heavy as it looks.

The rhythm of camping and portaging is simple, satisfying.  I felt better about myself camping (dirty, calloused and aching) than usual, and I didn’t touch a phone or look into a mirror in over 72 hours.

That’s not an accident.

I was able to really feel my body on our trip. I felt the strength in my legs and back as I hefted my 65-pound pack (and added Little One’s pack to it as well, when she tired).  I felt my hunger rise up as we finished setting up tents: a natural reminder to eat for fuel rather than out of habit or boredom.  And I sank into sleep each night, sardined in with Middle and Oldest, I felt heavy and worked, and grateful to be lying down, and even though a thermarest is hardly a plush mattress, I slept like the dead.

If only life were so simple, I thought as we travelled – a clear purpose, a drive and need to succeed.

Reflecting on life in my journal.

Reflecting on life in my journal.

But life is so many shades of camping – not quite urgent, or so much more so, not quite survival, but living “to the fullest” – whatever that means.

Everything in nature does its best to adapt.  Not like humans, who try and shape the world around us to fit our own needs.  In nature, even an acorn blown by mistake to the edge of a cliff will grow sideways and thrive as it reaches for the sun.

img_0198school

We need to learn to grow sideways.

 

In this way, the simplicity of the wild is so much more advanced than our technologically brilliant society; we, in the acorn’s position, would look for a better, more advantageous spot to grow, and though we may grow straighter, taller, we would miss out on that amazing view. Not to mention, we would miss finding out what we are made of.

I thought about that acorn, and survival, a lot on our trip.  Obviously we were close enough to civilization that most emergencies could be easily rectified.  But most of our creature comforts were taken away: no couch to laze on. No phone to surf Facebook.  No coffee maker, no takeout, nothing quick. If I wanted a meal I had to work for it. If I wanted to be entertained I had to use my imagination.

Little One hams it up in the tent.

Little One hams it up in the tent.

There was no passivity, no boredom.  Only a deep sense of appreciation for the skills and strength I possess, my family, and all the beauty nature has to offer.

And now that we’re home, and continuing our journey here, I’m more than content with some wine, some good conversation, and a sunset.  More rolling with the punches, less trying to shape the world to my whims.

I want to see the view from the side of the cliff.

 

About the Author: Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

July 22, 2015

Got my red belt in karate this weekend. My first coloured belt; I’m no longer the lowest on the totem pole! My gi has pizzazz now: and I’m proud fit to burst.

Celebrate!

Celebrate!

So often, in the dojo and out in the world, I see people brushing off their achievements.

“Yeah, I just ran a 10k, but it’s not like it’s a marathon or anything.”

“I did just work for 5 years to lose that weight, but it’s no big deal; I really shouldn’t have been fat in the first place.”

“I got my red belt, but it’s just red – I have a long way to go before my black belt.”

Seriously. Can we cut out the false modesty?

Seriously.

Seriously. Cut it out.

Achieving things makes me happy and fulfilled.  As it should.  I work deliberately to get things done. I’m not the kind of person to whom things come naturally.

My fitness level? Worked my ass off (literally) to get here. I still work extremely hard; if I didn’t, I would be much weaker and flabbier.  My pear-shaped body likes to be softer; I was never the skinny kid, and I never will be able to just eat whatever and not gain weight.

So I take pride in completed workouts in which I did my best.

My business? I went through a lot of change and learning to open it.  Then a lot more to transition it to something I truly believed in.  It’s been tough – rewarding, but really tough.  Some days it stresses me out, and other days I revel in the smoothness of operations. But it’s never easy.

So I take pride in the new things I learn and the firm decisions I make.

And now, my red belt. In March, I had never done karate before. 4 months later and I’m committed to weekly (or more) classes in the dojo, and practice with Sensei Jamie outside of that. You’ll often find me brushing my teeth in shiko dachi, a wide-legged stance.  I have to repeat movements about a million times before I’m even serviceable at them (choreography of any kind is not my friend). I love every minute of each comfort-zone-pushing class.

karate red belt

It’s NOT just a red belt! It’s the culmination of my hard work so far. 🙂

So you’d better believe I’m not brushing these successes off.  You shouldn’t brush yours off, either!

Little triumphs can make the difference between a fulfilled life and an unfulfilled one.  If I work hard, I celebrate. I don’t need to win a gold medal in the Olympics to be proud of myself.

It’s not, contrary to popular opinion, arrogant or overconfident to celebrate your achievements, rather it’s a necessary component of living a happy life.

Did you exercise today? Pat yourself on the back.  Did you check any items off your to-do list? High five! Notice I didn’t ask you if you’ve hit your goal weight or completed your to-do list; those are bigger celebrations.  The little ones count too, though, and should be recognized.

Whether it’s a belt in karate, getting my shopping done, eating well today, or something else, I’m going to continue to live deliberately, working towards and celebrating the milestones, whether they are big or small.

Life’s too short: celebrate every bit of this journey.

 

About the Author: Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

June 18, 2015

In April I had the opportunity to speak at a Women’s Business Network breakfast, and I spoke about a topic that I deem extremely important.  Read on to find out how to start listening to the language of your body.

Your body is great.  I’ve said this before in another blog post, and I mean it.

Listening to the language your body speaks enables you to give it what it needs.  When you respect your body’s needs, you can nourish it in the right ways, and be healthier, more functional, and overall happier with life.

Too often we ignore the little signals our bodies give us.  Headache?  Just pop a pill.  Tired?  Just one more hour on the computer.  Stiff?  Ignore the discomfort, it’ll eventually go away, right?

Nope.  The body has the amazing ability to speak to you louder and louder until you get the message.  Eventually, it will make you pay attention, even if it has to shut you down with extreme pain or limitation.
outoforderWhen learning to listen, it’s vital that we deem ourselves important enough.  If we don’t, we’ll never understand our body’s language because that would mean we’d have to listen!  Many people get by on “good enough” but is that really okay?  Would “good enough” be an adequate health status for our children?  Our significant others?  No way!  Would you drive a vehicle every day that was only “good enough?”  Probably not.

And yet we “drive” our bodies around in that state all too often.  You are important.  Make sure you know that.  Because “good enough” within our own selves does not lead to greatness in our family lives, our relationships, or our businesses.

So how do I know what my body has to say?  Here are the steps to follow:

Tune In.dog-food-meditating-dog-medium-18624

What is your body saying?  Start simple.  How is your temperature right now?  I ask my clients this before every massage, and it tunes them in right away.  Too warm? Sweaty?  Chilly under a vent?  Just perfect?  Take a second and tune in to what your body feels about temperature.

Then, move on to discomfort.  Start from your head and work down to your toes.  Are you uncomfortable anywhere?  Are you extra aware of one side of your neck versus the other?  Are you sitting in a way that’s making your back hurt?  Are your knees creaky?  Discomfort and pain are often ignored because we feel we don’t have the time for them.  However, to paraphrase an oft-used quote, Those who think they have no time to deal with discomfort will sooner or later have to find time to deal with injury.

Once you have tuned in to your body’s sensations like cold/hot, hunger/satisfaction, or discomfort/pain, you’re on the right track.  Sensations are important because they connect you to what your body needs right now.

 

For use elsewhere.00_01_35_02.Still021

Honest assessments to get to the root of the issue.

Assess.  Why am I feeling this way?  It’s important that you assess without judging too much (it’s hard, I know).  Judging can lead to runaway emotions and turn small problems into big ones.

For example: The sensation of being too hot can lead to annoyance – I hate having these hot flashes! Stupid body!  Instead of judging, ASSESS: do you notice that they happen more often when you’re stressed?  More often in the morning? Can you see a pattern?  If you can, you’re closer to understanding your body’s language, and it can help with your emotional response.

The sensation of pain or discomfort can lead to anxiety – what’s wrong with me? Is this serious? Is it just a headache or something worse? Instead of judging, ASSESS: Why is my head hurting?  Am I dehydrated?  Have I been staring at this screen too long?  Did I sleep funny?  Asking simple questions can sometimes reassure you when it comes to pain.

 

takeaction

“Action always beats intention”

Take Action:  Now that you’ve discerned what your body is trying to tell you (or you’re on track), you need to take action.  It’s important not to tell your body to “shut up.”  Eventually, your body will make you listen, even if it has to shut you down in the process.

If you don’t know what action to take, that’s okay.  Asking for help is perfectly fine.  My colleagues and I help people learn to interpret their body’s language every day.  It’s a process of trial and error.  But you have to take some action, or nothing will happen at all.

If, while practicing, frustration creeps in, remember that’s normal.  We all want instant gratification:  I want my body to just be good! I want there to be no pain or discomfort!

Well I want my business to make a million dollars this year, and I want my kids to pick up their clothes without me asking a million times… but it doesn’t just happen!

You have to learn how to ask if you want results.  Learning to speak back to your body is as important as listening to it speak to you.  We’re not going to live healthy into our eighties by eating crappy food and being sedentary.  When we eat crappy food, we’re telling our bodies “Here, this is your fuel.”  When we exercise, we’re telling our bodies, “Get used to this; adapt; be stronger.”  By comparison, if you tell your body, “this computer posture is normal” eight hours a day, your body will adapt to that!

Remember that you are speaking to your body as much as it is speaking to you.  You can get help learning to listen to your body’s language, but for the most part, it just takes practice and perseverance, and an intuition that I know we all have (we are women after all!).

To recap: In order to be better at listening to the language of your body, first, TUNE IN to the physical sensations and the emotions that your body is presenting to you.  Tune in often.  Scan your body often.

Second, ASSESS why your body is speaking to you.  Why am I feeling this way?  If you can’t figure it out, ask for help.

And third, TAKE ACTION when your body speaks to you.  Take action in a timely manner, and use intuition as your guide.

Remember: even though it might not always feel like it, your body is great.  It’s great.  And it’s talking to you.  Make sure you listen.

Jen Wright is an RMT and the owner of Whole Therapy. She is an avid gym-goer and loves to lift heavy stuff.  She sees clients of all ages and stages, especially those who are engaged in bettering themselves.  She believes that pain-free is possible.  For more about Jen, click here.

Jen

June 11, 2015

MEL’S MEANDERING MASSAGE MIND: HOW DRY NEEDLING “SAVED MY LIFE…”

For most of my life I have noticed that my range of motion with my right shoulder isn’t quite up to par with my left. My right anterior deltoid has been in contraction for what seems like forever and I get headaches due to muscular tightness in my upper traps.

For relief in the past, I have gone to massage therapists, chiropractors and physiotherapists, seeking help for ailments that limit my training. Thus far, it has usually been focused on my shoulders and upper back, and the everything has worked temporarily, but I wanted a more permanent solution.

So I asked Bailey (our brilliant physio) to dry needle my upper traps a few times. For those of you who aren’t in the know, dry needling (also know as intramuscular stimulation -IMS) is similar to acupuncture but also completely different. It uses needles to go into trigger points in the muscle belly to try to alleviate the cause of the pain rather than using specific acupuncture points to achieve the same result.

So Bailey dry needled my traps, and lo and behold, my headaches have gone away. What’s more, the contraction in my anterior deltoid also disappeared without her even touching it.

dry needling

Not only has the pain relief been liberating, but the release of my traps has elevated the quality of my workouts; now when I bench press, my right shoulder no longer comes out of position (which used to throw off my bench press constantly). This means I’m now able to begin fixing muscle imbalances that have been creeping up; which means I’m going to be able to ultimately bench more weight! Getting my shoulder fixed has been amazing and is getting me back into lifting with more confidence.

Benching

If this doesn’t have you convinced already: a couple of weeks ago, I hurt myself in the gym. It’s not something that happens often, but when it does, it can be debilitating. On this particular occasion, I couldn’t move due to a rib which had decided it didn’t like its current position and moved slightly out of place. Ouch.

Although seeing Bailey with an acute injury is not always recommended (in most cases, there is nothing that can be done right away), I truly believe that if I didn’t get in to see her, I wouldn’t have recovered so quickly. As it was, I had to cancel my day of massaging; had I not seen her, I’m sure I would have been out for the rest of the week. And believe me, no one wants me to cancel my day; it means you don’t get the treatment that you want and we have to scramble to find another time to get you in quickly!

Now, I don’t want to say that dry needling is for every body, because it’s not. But I have found that this modality works wonders for me that other modalities (massage, chiropractic, and general physiotherapy) haven’t been able to touch. I am grateful for Bailey helping me out with all this, and I couldn’t ask for a better physio to work with!

 

Melissa Beals is an RMT with Whole Therapy. Melissa works extensively with athletes of all levels with a goal in mind to increase their athletic performance through education and understanding of their bodies. See more about Melissa here.

Melissa