After a large snowfall, we often see patients in our clinic. From Physio to Massage, to Yoga, our practitioners are helping people with injuries and aches and pains.
We have shared blog posts in the past with snow shovelling tips (Click Here) to help prevent injuries.
While the advise still stands, it is often a surprise to people how challenging clearing the drive and sidewalk can be. People are often surprised by how they feel afterwards as well. The snow we got in North Oakville and the surrounding areas of Burlington and Milton was A LOT at one time on January 17, 2022. The Halton School Boards have their schools closed for a second day now.
It is a good opportunity to be honest regarding how robust and resilient you are. Is there any activity you do in your week that helps to increase your robustness and resilience for tasks like this MASSIVE snow fall?
While going for walks and doing steady state cardio is fine. It is good for your heart, lungs, brain etc. It is NOT strength training. Including exercise that challenges your muscles in your week is what will prepare you for these types of tasks.
Whether you lift large amounts of snow all at once or do repeated smaller shovels, the net amount of snow is still the same.
If there is one thing our North Oakville Physiotherapists, Massage Therapists and Yoga Therapists can encourage people to do, it is to add global strengthening activities to your week.
If you are new to these types of activities, are recovering from a surgery or health issue, or recovering from a surgery or are post part, our Physiotherapists are here to help get you started safely.
If you are injured from this past snowfall our Oakville RMT’s and Physio’s are here to hep you recover with the goal of preventing the same thing from happening in the future.
Contact us to book in at our North Oakville Clinic serving Oakville, Milton and Burlington in person. We also treat physiotherapy patients virtually all over Ontario!
Many of our Oakville Massage Therapy patients first come to see one of our Massage Therapists for pain. When they are finished their RMT appointment they comment on how related they feel and sometimes are a little sleepy!
There are many reasons having regular Massage Therapy can help with stress.
First we need to acknowledge our nervous system. Our sympathetic nervous system (SNS) is our fight or flight system. It is the system that responds with physical or mental stressors. It is helpful for us, but stops being helpful if we stay in the system longer then we really need. Our sleep may be affected as well as our general health when stress hormones stay circulating in the body.
Our parasympathetic nervous system (PNS) is our rest and digest system. This is the system we (should) revert to when at rest. One of our Oakville Physiotherapists does an excellent job exploring how these systems affect our pain experience in this blog post.
Massage Therapy can help with stress as it allows us to switch from our sympathetic nervous system to more of our parasympathetic nervous system. The whole experience can do this in many ways:
Unplugging – setting aside specific time for ourselves where we unplug from work, home and other distractions allows us to focus on ourselves.
Room Setting – having the lights lowered and non-stimulating music playing also calms the nervous system down.
Touch – non-invasive human touch helps tap into the parasympathetic nervous system.
Many of our patients identify this positive side effect of massage therapy. They then choose to book more consistent and regular massages with our registered massage therapists as well.
Contact us to book your next massage therapy session, whether it be for pain, injury recovery, or stress / relaxation. We are able to provide direct billing to most insurance companies.
Ever since we re-opened our physical doors on June 1st, 2020 (during the initial lockdown, we were only available for virtual therapy!) some cases have stood out more than others…
A lot of neck / upper back / shoulder / arm pain as people are working exclusively from home
Injuries resulting from people taking advantage of being home to exercise more, specifically by running (e.g. Achilles issues)
Chronic issues resurfacing because people have not being able to work out regularly at the gym (e.g. back pain)
1. Neck / upper back / shoulder / arm pain
The first issue has been directly as a result of the change in ergonomics and working longer hours! Think about it. If you didn’t have a home office, you probably ended up working at the kitchen table, or from the couch. Sitting for eight hours in a kitchen chair, or sinking into the couch the whole time, can get quite uncomfortable.
Plus, at home we don’t have meetings in conference rooms… we don’t drive to see clients… we don’t get up to go talk to someone at another desk… There are lot less breaks from sitting and a greater opportunity to work longer, especially when there is no commute back home!
So… we end up spending longer time in positions that are less than ideal, and end up putting stress on certain muscles or joints.
Not to mention the stress associated with a pandemic! You don’t know how long it’s going to last and it affects your life in so many ways both work and non-work related… And stress causes us to tense up, raises our heart rate and blood pressure, reduces our adaptability and immune system…
It’s no wonder we start having pain!
So what can you do about this?
The pandemic is not going away any time soon. If you haven’t already, it might be a good time to invest in your workspace at home. Here are some suggestions about how to optimize your workspace:
Desk and chair height should allow for your forearms to be parallel to the ground while keyboarding and mousing
Ideally, chair height should allow your feet to comfortably rest on the ground
Seat depth and distance from desk should allow for you to sit as far back as you can, so that you are taking advantage of the backrest
Backrests for the full back are preferable to backrests that only go up halfway
Backrests with adjustable lumbar support are preferable
Screen(s) should be at eye level so you are not constantly looking down
If you use a laptop only consider getting a riser table so that the screen is at eye level, and a wireless keyboard so that your forearms can still be parallel to the ground
Consider setting up reminders on your phone to get up to move and stretch, or get a drink of water
If possible, consider switching for half an hour to the kitchen island with your laptop so you spend some time standing instead of sitting. Or, when you have conference calls, taking them standing.
These ergonomic modifications can make a difference over time. But if your pain has been worsening, let us know so we can help! We are considered an essential service and remain open during lockdown for all of our services: physiotherapy, massage therapy, yoga therapy, chiropody, and acupuncture!
2. Injuries from exercising more
A lot of people have been walking more, especially in the past Spring and Summer. There have also been a lot more runners and cyclists. This is great news! These are activities that don’t require much (or any) fancy equipment and can be done alone, or with family.
However, when you are adding a new activity for exercise, overdoing it is a concern.
Here are some tips when adding in new exercises to your routine:
Do not go from 0 to 100! If you never used to run, start with 2-3x week, not every day.
Do not push yourself right off the bat! Start with light jogs, or a run-to-walk ratio. Think more about endurance (pacing yourself) rather than speed. Same goes for biking.
Fit bits and 30-day challenges are great motivators. However, pushing yourself to the limit for the sake of hitting a mark can cause more issues than it’s worth. If you are getting pain, do NOT push through it! If you really don’t want to skip the day, replace or modify the activity.
Recovery days are just as important as workout days. Whether it’s a full day of rest, or a lighter activity like yoga, recovery days are important to let your tissues recuperate and adapt. What’s more, exercise normally increases your heart rate, blood pressure, and muscle tension. Recovery activities are meant to reduce these metrics so your system is in more balance. This reduces the risk of injury.
If you’ve taken up running have you been having any foot, ankle, knee, hip, or back pain? If you’ve been cycling, any wrist or elbow or shoulder pain?
Let us know so we can help! If you’re not comfortable coming in due to COVID-19 concerns, we continue to offer Telehealth services (video calls).Click here for more information.
3. Chronic issue resurfacing because we are not going to the gym
Do you have any chronic neck or back issues? Did you have a regular workout routine prior to the pandemic? Was this routine interrupted as a result and you’ve been noticing your old issues creeping back in?
If so, you are not the only one!
A lot of people manage certain conditions with regular exercise. They usually notice that if they are not as diligent about their exercises, their pain and mobility may worsen.
Unfortunately, access to gyms has been spotty. Even when lockdown restrictions were lifted in Summer and Fall, gyms were operating at limited capacity and by appointment-only. Unless you have all or most of your workout equipment at home, you were likely affected.
While investing in a new desk or office chair is cheaper and more pressing, investing in workout equipment is not. You may buy some free weights, or splurge on a stationary bike, but you likely are not replacing all the equipment you used to use at the gym.
Or perhaps it’s not the equipment that you miss, but the dynamic and instruction of group exercise classes.
So what can you do?
Even if you don’t have chronic pain but would like to get back to being active, here are some ideas:
Accept that your workouts do not have to look like what they used to be. A lot of shoulder, core, and leg exercises have equipment-free alternatives that rely on body-weight resistance only!
If you have some free-weights but you used to use machines, the free-weights are still better than nothing!
If you miss the group classes, a lot of places have online classes. It may not be the same but it’s still better than nothing! Sometimes, it just takes a while to get into a new routine.
Take the opportunity to try a new form of exercise that doesn’t require gym equipment (just make sure you follow the tips outlined in the previous section!)
If you find it hard to get motivated at home, consider what puts you in the right state of mind… what kind of music do you like working out to? Is there a time of day that works best? Do you like having the motivation of peers? Then ask if some friends want to join you in a remote challenge! Are they free 2-3x week to attend an online class with you? Do they want to check in at the end of each week or each day to make sure everybody is meeting their activity goals?
If you need 30-60 minutes on your own 3x week for your health and well-being, have this conversation upfront with family members about helping you do this and how it’s going to work! You don’t have to do this alone!
If your chronic issue has flared up because of the lack of maintenance, let us know! We are here for you whether it’s an in-person appointment or virtually!
It is easy to mistake the symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome (TOS) for other things.
TOS is a complex issue that can take time to diagnose. This is because the symptoms can be seemingly diffuse and difficult to pinpoint.
Thoraoc Outlet Syndrome is a condition affecting the upper extremities. There are a number of arm symptoms.
TOS is caused by the compression of structures in what is called the neurovascular bundle. The name is just what you think. This bundle contains nerves and vasculature (veins and arteries) that move together. They are responsible for sending messages to and from the brain and spinal cord, and blood to and from the heart.
The area of compression of these structures is in the thoracic outlet. The thoracic outlet is made of the area above the first rib, at the side of the neck, between the collarbone and rib and between the top ribs and the muscle of the pectorals minor.
TOS is more common in women
Structural anomalies, can contribute to the development of TOS. This includes having an extra rib, or differences where some neck muscles attach.
Types of TOS:
Vascular – Is less common. It affects the blood supply in the thoracic region.
Neurological – Is broken into true neurological and symptomatic subgroups.
True Neurological – is called true, because it can be confirmed using imaging.
Symptomatic TOS – is the presence of symptoms without finding anything in the imaging. This is the most common type of TOS by far. Because of this many people are lead on a “wild goose chase” of tests and imaging, even before being sent to Physio, Massage, or Acupuncture.
Signs and Symptoms of Thoracic Outlet Syndrome:
The signs and symptoms can vary between people. They can fluctuate and range from an annoyance to very painful.
Pain – in the neck, shoulder, arm or chest.
Tingling and Numbness – in the arm and / or hand
Swelling, coolness, visible discolouration of the arm / hand are more rare symptoms.
Tension or thickening in the side neck muscles (called the scalenes).
Yes we Treat TOS at our North Oakville Clinic:
We benefit form working in a multidisciplinary clinic where we can work together to help the same person. We are able to collaborate and bounce ideas off of one another (with a patients permission of course).
Our Oakville Physiotherapists, Massage Therapists, and Acupuncturist are able to work within their scope of practice. This allows us to help a person with TOS manage their symptoms as well as improve.
TOS is generally treated conservatively. This means through the use of medications prescribed by your physician, exercises, and some hands-on treatment. Most cases do improve over time with consistent treatment including a home program.
Exercises for TOS focus on postures, nerve mobilizations, muscle strength and control of the shoulder blade muscles. Physiotherapists may provide some stretching, soft tissue techniques of tight muscles and mobilizations of the ribs and neck. Your Massage Therapist will offer gentle stretching, and massage of areas of tension. Your acupuncturist may provide acupuncture along the course of the nerves affected. This may help decrease the numbness and tingling, relax muscles, help with pain and help with inflammation.
If you have been having pain, tingling, and numbness in the arm, we are here to help.
Your hand and fingers are a complex system of muscles and pulleys. These pulleys act as anchors for the tendons that pass under them and allows you to use your fingers in different positions. With these systems, your hand is able to make different shapes. These shapes and different fists allow for hand function in a variety of ways!
Trigger finger is also known as stenosing tenosynovitis. The finger or thumb when you open and close your fist may click or catch. The finger or thumb may close and get “stuck” in that position or open and be unable to close.
When trigger finger happens, the flexor tendons of the finger , or pulley may be thickened or enlarged and become “stuck” during movement. The area may have local pain and a thickening or bump may be felt.
Most commonly this will happen where the finger attached to the palm. Many may recognize this as the palm side of the knuckle. It can happen less commonly further up the finger at the palm side of the joint, or where the finger bends.
If it is left untreated, the locking and catching may worsen and increase in frequency. It can also affect the range of motion and function of the hands and fingers.
What Causes Trigger Finger?
The cause of trigger finger isn’t always known. This is called idiopathic. It has been linked with diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, previous trauma, and carpal tunnel syndrome.
How can Physiotherapy and Massage help with Trigger Finger?
Our Oakville Physiotherapists will be able to assess your trigger finger for its stage of “triggering”. They’ll also discuss a plan of action with you.
Many people leave a trigger finger until it starts becoming more stuck and they have more functional problems with it. As with most things, early intervention and treatment are important.
Physiotherapists are direct access. This means you can book an assessment with one of our Oakville Physio’s without requiring a prescription from your doctor. Your private insurance may require one, so it is best to check.
Treatment may include activity modification, using a splint / brace, self massage, heat, and exercises that promote mobility of the fingers.
Your massage therapist will massage that area, the forearm musculature and may provide stretching as well.
You should avoid letting the finger lock or click, as best you can.
Please do not be discouraged if your trigger finger is slow to change and improve. It takes time for the tissues to adapt in such a way where it triggers. It takes time and consistency for the tissues to adapt and tigger less / stop triggering. We generally believe it is best to begin conservative measures and if this is ineffective over the
If you suspect that you have trigger finger of are developing trigger finger,contact us at our North Oakville clinic. Our Physiotherapists will be happy to assess you and discuss a treatment plan with you.
Please take extra care of yourselves over the next few weeks as any schedule changes can be challenging, especially in these time.
Some ways to manage stress as a family:
Stick to a schedule. Get started with a schedule in advance. This lets you know who should be where and when. This cuts down on brain energy as well as decreases the chances of missing important things.
Go for walks. Going for a walk as a family is a great way to get some stress relieving exercise. It also is a perfect opportunity to unplug and actually communicate about your lives.
Everyone chips in. Delegate tasks as part of your schedule. Everyone should be able to chip in, big or small.
Bed time routine. Unplugging an hour before bedtime and getting started with your bedtime routine is vital to flying and staying asleep. Think sleep training but for children and adults. You may all spend time reading, doing some yoga stretches or even having a shower or bath. This is a time to wind down. Remember, sleep is important for your functioning during the day, your recovery from physical and mental work, and definitely to help bolster your immune system.
To book in for Massage Therapy or Yoga Therapy with our Oakville RMTs and Yoga Therapist, contact us.
The team at North Oakville’s Palermo Physio and Wellness is acutely aware of what a stressful time it has been for many of our patients (ourselves included!).
Setting aside time for yourself is always advised, and even more so now. Taking time to participate in self care such as exercise, journalling, meditation is helpful for sleep, general health and mental health.
We know that many of our patients deliberately schedule massages to help manage stress. This is an appointment that is set aside in the calendar. It is a time to unplug and relax.
There are many people that have massages primarily for pain management or sports recovery reasons who recognize how relaxed they feel after their massage therapy treatment. People will often comment on how well they sleep the night after a massage therapy session with on of our Registered Oakville Massage Therapists.
Physiological Benefits of Massage Therapy
Psychology Today compiles excellent information on how massage therapy benefits the body and aids in stress relief.
Changes in EEG activity
Decrease in cortisol levels (stress hormone)
Increased activity of the PNS (parasympathetic nervous system or the rest and digest aspect of the envois system)
Increasing the activity of natural killer cells (purported enhancement in the body’s immune response)
Changes in the areas of the brain that are known to be involved in the regulation of emotions and stress responses.
Over the next couple of weeks as your children return to school of whatever sort, our registered massage therapists are here for you.
You are able to claim massage therapy through your private insurance benefits, should you have them. We do provide direct billing. Please contact our Oakville Massage clinic to book or for more information.
Ever since social distancing has been enacted to prevent the spread of COVID-19, our Palermo team has been adapting to the “new normal” along with everybody else…
Everything we post is also our own way of coping 😊 Whether it’s making sure we keep moving, setting up our own workstations from home in order to begin Telehealth, prioritizing our sleep and stress management, meditating to ease our own stress and anxiety, or delving into other interests, such as yoga or gardening or writing or crafts!
There are things within and things outside of our control, so we are focusing on what we can control and accepting what we cannot.
That is, accepting the situation for what it is (and seeing the opportunities that may inadvertently have opened up as a result)
→ so wecan move forward with life.
Part of that is establishing a “new normal” routine. Humans are creatures of habit and do well with a well-established routine (even if it needs shaking up once in a while). You may have already found your new routine amidst self-isolation and that’s great!
A question to ask yourself is whether or not this routine is incorporating stress-management and self-care so that you emerge from quarantine happy, healthy, and thriving?
For a lot of people this is a unique opportunity to start integrating more self-care into their lives precisely because while we are adapting to a new normal, our routine is already in a state of change and more flexible. Plus, for some there is a lot more free time!
What is self-care?
The official definition of self-care is: “the practice of taking action to preserve or improve one’s own health.” Specifically, “taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.”
This will look different from one person to another. We have different interests, different stressors, different jobs and schedules… there is no one-size-fits-all.
Self-care is something that refuels rather than drains you. It is something you enjoy doing, rather than something you feel you should do.
For example, you know exercise is good for you and you know you “should” exercise, but every minute spent on that stationary bike is torture! Every time you force yourself to do it, it’s a struggle.
Sure, sometimes we also procrastinate on doing the things we enjoy either because we don’t think they are a productive use of our time, or because we are too focused on the outcome rather than the process. But if you don’t even enjoy the process, then that particular thing is not refueling you.
Isn’t self-care selfish?
Short answer, no.
Long answer? Ever heard of the expression, “you can’t pour from an empty cup?”
All the human beings you take care of have emotional, mental, and physical needs. So do you.
If you’re always busy tending to theirs and never to yours, you become fatigued, unhappy, resentful. You are less present in their joy and accomplishments because your mind is running a mile a minute thinking of everything else that needs to get done.
But the problem is, that list will never end. So waiting until you “have” more free time is pointless. The moments with your family and friends are now, not tomorrow or next summer or next year.
The thing about time is you don’t “find” it or “create” it – you “prioritize” it. Yes, that means some other things have to fall off the list, or take a backseat. And that’s okay. Sometimes that priority list has to be reshuffled throughout different times of the year, and that’s okay too.
One of those things to prioritize is your self-care. When you come from a happier, healthier and more energized place, your actions carry more impact. You accomplish more and the people around you feel that you are happy, healthy, and energized. Mood is transmissible. Ever notice how when someone snaps at you because they’re in a bad mood, your good mood drains away and you snap back? And what’s an easy way to be in a bad mood? Feeling fatigued, unhappy, resentful.
So what does self-care look like?
Determine what you need. What would self-care look like for you? What do you enjoy doing? What do you find relaxing? What do you find helps you feel happy, healthy, or energized? It can be taking a long bath, going for a walk or a run, knitting, gardening, reading, meeting up (virtually) with certain friends, etc.
How will this look? Is 1x week enough? Or 1x day? For how long? Is it going to work better in the morning or the evening?
Self-care has to be planned. If you are to prioritize that time for yourself, you have to plan ahead and then protect that time when other things sneak up to say they’re important (“Oh, I need a ride.” “Oh, are you available at this time for a meeting?”). Work, family, and even friends will always have requests. Depending on the urgency of those requests, sometimes you have to reschedule. But when you plan ahead, unless something is an emergency, it would have also been planned ahead. At first, others may be annoyed with you saying “I am not available right now” but it’s because they’re not used to it! Give them time to adjust by letting them know in advance when you’re not available and then enforcing your protected time for yourself.
Make sure you are also addressing other factors: enough sleep (and no, catching up on your sleep on weekends doesn’t count), a healthy diet, some form of exercise or movement (let it be something you actually enjoy!), and looking after your health (is there something you’ve been ignoring?)
Nutrition: make it a goal that you get at least thee servings of fruits & vegetables throughout the day and drink at least two full glasses of water. Look up a new recipe to try 1x week, bonus points if it is plant-based!
Sleep: the average adult needs 7-9 hours of sleep. Do you feel refreshed enough not to have to hit snooze in the morning after 7 hours? Great. If not, then maybe experiment by going to bed half an hour earlier or waking up half an hour later.
Movement: commit to a daily walk. Or a twenty-minute yoga practice in the morning before you start your day. Or doing your favourite exercise video three times per week.
Nature: It has been shown that nature has a calming and even therapeutic effect. If a daily walk outside near greenery is not always feasible, then commit to getting at least some fresh air daily. Set a timer and sit on your balcony or in your backyard for 10-15 minutes.
Relaxation: there are many different forms of meditation. There are breathing exercises. Journaling can also be a great tool. Or as mentioned above, even sitting in nature.
Social connection: depending on your situation right now, this may not be easy. Maybe you are self-isolating alone. Maybe the people you live with are sometimes your biggest stressors. Maybe there are people you miss but cannot see right now. If you are alone, consider a daily phone-call with a friend or loved one, or a virtual hangout every Friday night for 1-2 hours. Maybe make every Saturday afternoon an activity day for the whole family. Make sure these are interactive rather than something like a movie night when no one is talking.
Try a new hobby: something you’ve always been curious about but never had a time to try. Start small with no expectations of outcomes. It’s not about how good you get at it; it’s about enjoying it. It can be learning a language or an instrument. It can be drawing or crafting. Even if it’s one hour a week! Yes, finances may be tight right now and most businesses closed. But the internet has so much free content!
Tip: Don’t try too many things at once. Even one or two at a time is enough. Often, trying to add several things to our routine becomes stressful to integrate and balance. Just like everything else in life, it takes practice and tweaking until you find what works best for you. And remember, self-care is a routine, not a treat a few times per year!
In the meantime, if you are experiencing pain or have had an injury for a while that has been sitting on the backburner, let us know how we can help. Virtual sessions are now available! Most private insurance (benefits) companies now cover theses types of sessions.
We see many patients at our Oakville Physiotherapy, Massage and Chiropody clinic with muscle strains. Some people will call a strained muscle a “pulled muscle” or even a “torn muscle”.
After a big snow fall and heavy shovelling like we had yesterday in Halton, there are many people walking around with sore back, hips, shoulders and forearms.
Does that mean they have a muscle strain?
Not necessarily. With a new activity, or a more difficult activity. We can experience DOMS or delayed onset muscle soreness. This can be a normal result of challenging your muscles and some repair time. This should not be extreme or create a challenge in the way you move or experience your following days. DOMS can last for a few days but really should be dissipating after 2-3 days. DOMS is usually experienced as a generalized muscle tenderness and stiffness.
DOMS can be treated with gentle stretching, movement, heat, epsom salt baths, and massage. Our Oakville Registered Massage Therapists work with athletes and gym goers on rest days or after training cycles when they are experiencing DOMS or as a recovery and relaxation support.
In most cases of a muscle strain there will be sharp pain with the strain and afterwards with challenge or use of the muscle. It may occur immediately or progress once inflammation has set in and adrenaline has worn off.
With a strained muscle you may notice swelling and bruising to various levels. This may not be visible right away and may settle in, in the following days. There will be isolated tenderness and pain focally at the site of the tear. Initially it may spread to a wider area as well.
If there is significant pain and signs of bruising and swelling, as well as a significant difficulty in function, it is important to see a health care professional. Our Oakville Physiotherapists are often able to provide light treatment and education to help you transition to the next stages of healing more efficiently. Another sign to access Physiotherapy is if your pain is not improving after a few days, or worsening. It is important to see a medical professional such as a Physio to help diagnose your problem and perhaps point you in the right direction.
In cases like an acute muscle strains, our Oakville Physiotherapists are able to help you at all stages of healing. From the very beginning, teaching you how to tensor and start getting moving, to returning to your sport, activity or work.
December is one of the busiest times of year for our Oakville Registered Massage Therapists. Many people take time off and would like massage, but others have their private insurance end of the year and realize they haven’t used their massage therapy benefits.
It is understandable to stave some benefits for “emergency” reasons, however, Massage Therapy at regular intervals during the year can be wonderful self care. People often report that they feel that they sleep better and feel more relaxed after massage therapy. Areas of self-reported tension and muscle soreness also can feel better after a massage therapy session
If you are someone who types, uses a mouse or has a repetitive gripping task, massage for the hands and forearms can feel wonderful. If you are stationary, do a lot of sitting and driving during the day, massage therapy focussing on the low back, neck and legs may be where you would like to focus.
You massage therapist, bed on your occupation, hobbies and goals will discuss with you an optimal schedule for self care to access massage therapy.