None of us are immune, at some point or another we will all find ourselves overwhelmed by what is being asked of us in our lives. Stress comes in many forms and will affect all of us differently. Our ability to cope with stress has been key to our survival as a species, but as our current lifestyle evolves, so does the way we perceive and deal with the stressors in it. These stressors have both mental and physical components. They might include raising children, caring for ailing parents, living with an illness or injury ourselves, working one or more jobs, volunteering, helping friends, maintaining our homes and all the stuff we accumulate. As the “to do” list grows and the amount of time or emotional ability to handle it does not, our stress level increases and we find ourselves living in a constant state of “fight or flight”. Over time, if we do nothing to counteract high levels of on-going stress, we enter a state of chronic stress. This can lead to negative, even life-threatening effects on our health including; soft tissue dysfunction, hypertension, depression and suppression of hormone glands.
Good news! There is a way to manage the physical affects of stress on our bodies. When we hold stress in our muscles, this is referred to as “tension holding”. Some common areas we hold tension are, in our neck, face, jaw and scalp which manifest commonly as headaches. Some other areas can be our shoulders, chest, abdominal and hip muscles. Holding stress in these places will change the way we stand, manifesting in postural changes which can negatively affect the spinal column, spinal cord and peripheral nerves of the arms, legs, and neck. Tension holding can also lead to painful muscle spasms and trigger points. In short, tension holding leads to dysfunction andmore physical strain. Therapy through soft tissue massage has long been recognized as an effective way to reduce ‘tension holding’ and eliminate its negative effects. This is true not only during treatment but, thanks to muscle memory, for days or even weeks to come.
Therapeutic massage with a Registered Massage Therapist (RMT) positively softens the contractile tissues of the body but it goes beyond that, helping to heal and restore the psychological, immunological and neurological systems. The benefit is to such a degree that massage therapy is now included in many workplace health insurance benefits and motor vehicle accident treatment plans.
Depending on the type of physical manifestations of stress, massage can be effective with more frequent treatments for a week or two, tapering as the individual reaches their treatment goals. As a preventive, maintenance or wellness measure, massage is recommended in appropriate cases once per month for one hour.
Cranial Sacral Therapy (CST) is a method of light, hands-on manual therapy that focuses on releasing harmful and restrictive tensions deep in your body. Complementing your body’s natural healing processes, CST techniques gently guide the Central Nervous System in clearing the causes of pain, dysfunction, imbalances in your body’s natural rhythms and improving both brain/spinal cord and hormone/immune system functioning.
The cranial sacral system is comprised of the membranes and fluid that surround, protect and nourish the brain and spinal cord. By relieving excess tensions and restrictions that get anchored along these continuous membranes, impairments in related nervous tissue and hormone function are restored.
This happens because the pathway for movement of essential fluids through your body’s structures is cleared. These fluids help remove wastes, deliver nutrients and antibodies, and carry essential salts, minerals and hormones needed for daily bodily function.
How does Cranial Sacral Therapy Relate to Healing Injuries?
Every day your body endures stresses and strains that cause compensation in other structures. Like several hours of desk work; constant bending, reaching or lifting; high stress situations. Over time, this will cause your body tissues to tighten and distort the cranial sacral system. These distortions can then cause tension around the brain and spinal cord resulting in restricted function. This creates a barrier to the healthy performance of the central nervous system, and potentially every other system it interacts with.
Fortunately, such restrictions can be detected and corrected. With a light touch, the CST practitioner evaluates the cranial sacral system by gently feeling various locations along the body to test for the ease of motion and rhythm of the cerebrospinal fluid pulsing around the brain and spinal cord. Soft-touch techniques are then used to release restrictions in any tissues and joints influencing the cranial sacral system.
By normalizing the environment around the brain and spinal cord and enhancing your body’s ability to self-correct, Cranial Sacral Therapy is able to alleviate a wide variety of dysfunctions. These can range from chronic pain and sports injuries to stroke and neurological impairment.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Stress and Tension
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Dysfunction
Registered Massage Therapist Catherine Macdonald has advanced training in Cranial Sacral Therapy through the Upledger Institute. Contact Catherine at Maximum Physiotherapy in Collingwood (705) 444-3600 to discuss whether CST may be able to help you.
Otherwise known as intramuscular stimulation (IMS) or trigger point dry needling, dry needling is a skilled intervention that helps relieve neuromuscular pain and increase muscular function. This practice should not be confused with acupuncture, which is based in the traditions of ancient Chinese medicine; dry needling is unique to western medicine.
When executing this technique, the therapist will use a very thin needle to penetrate the skin and stimulate myofascial trigger points. These trigger points are also referred to as muscle knots, or a motor point (the most excitable area of a muscle). The needle stays below the skins surface throughout treatment, threading in and out of the muscle knot. When the needle is inserted into the trigger point it aids in the release of the shortened muscle, allowing it to relax through a twitch response or ‘reflexive spasm’.
While receiving this treatment; clients can expect to feel a dull to moderate aching sensation referred to as “deqi”. Effective dry needling requires the client to experience “deqi” as well as a local twitch response. Physiotherapists use dry needling to release trigger points, restore efficient muscle contraction (decrease muscle tension), increase range of motion, and decrease pain by releasing opioids (the body’s natural pain killers).
Dry needling has been proven to be a widely effective choice of treatment for many clients, particularly for low back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee osteoarthritis (OA), hip OA, as well as headaches, piriformis syndrome, and whiplash.
All of our physiotherapists at Maximum perform both dry needling and acupuncture.
Acoustic Wave Therapy (AWT) is an innovative treatment for musculoskeletal conditions. AWT is a series of high-energy percussions or radial pressure waves to the affected area using a transmitter head on the skin. The mechanical pressure of the acoustic waves provokes a response in the tissue that stimulates the formation of new blood vessels. This increase in blood supply/circulation accelerates the healing process. The radial pressure waves also stimulate the body’s natural self-healing processes by promoting a positive inflammatory response at the site, then assisting with regeneration and repair. AWT appears to be able to reset the healing process especially in stubborn chronic injuries where other conventional treatment and modalities have not been successful. The evidence for the use of AWT is overwhelming! In the last 10 years, over 300 articles and abstracts have been published regarding the efficacy of AWT. Of special note, many randomized controlled trials showed that AWT is safe and effective for treating plantar fasciitis (Gerdesmeyer et al. 2008) hamstring tendinitis (Cacchio et al. 2010), Achilles tendinopathy and jumper’s knee (Rompe et al. 2007), and calcific shoulder tendinitis (Bannuru et al, 2014). There has also been exponential growth in AWT use for trigger point therapy.
The most striking aspect of AWT is that it has a 75-85 percent success rate when combined with exercise.
For many injuries, AWT is a great non-invasive alternative to surgical procedures. For best results it is recommended that treatment be performed at one week intervals for a minimum of three treatments.
“regular exercise is really important to me and I have had a chronic high hamstring injury that was not improving with routine stretching, strengthening, and acupuncture! I took the plunge, trying Acoustic Wave Therapy and was surprised to see that after 7 treatments (with my home stretching and strengthening program), I am finding significant improvement. I am able to walk (even run!) up stairs without difficulty, bend forward on one foot, and have resumed jogging and biking.” Dr. Jennifer Young
Sue Underhill is a Registered Physiotherapist at Maximum Physiotherapy, and is trained in administering Acoustic Wave Therapy. Give us a call (705)444-3600 to find how Acoustic Wave Therapy can help you.
Today, many of us sit in front of the computer working all day, chasing that next promotion. You may find yourself in back-to-back meetings — or at your desk — straight through lunch hour. When was the last time you really paid attention to your posture? How is your lower back? How is your neck feeling?
According to the National Institutes of Health, back pain affects eight out of ten people. Our bodies were designed for walking and other movements throughout the day. We were not designed to sit in chairs for long periods of time with little movement. All that sitting puts our bodies at risk of having bad posture.
Bad posture can:
Cause some muscles to work harder than others, creating muscular imbalances.
Decrease the range of motion in your joints.
Interfere with breathing and damage your heart and lungs (due to a bent spine restricting the expansion of the rib cage).
Leave you tired (due to muscles working extra hard just to hold you up).
Lead to rounded shoulders, headaches, back pain, and all kinds of body aches.
Good posture means the muscles in your body align properly. That allows you to move efficiently in your daily activities. Does good posture seem out of your reach? Try these four easy steps:
1. Strengthen your core muscles.
Plank hold (15-30 seconds)
Partial crunches (8-12 times)
Side planks (15-30 seconds on each side)
Floor back extensions (8-12 times)
2. Strengthen and stretch your upper body to fix rounded shoulders.
Reverse dumbbell flies (8-12 times)
Rows with dumbbell (8-12 times)
Chest stretch (hold 10-15 seconds)
Upper back stretch (hold 10-15 seconds)
3. Strengthen and stretch your neck muscles.
Chin tuck (8-12 times)
Isometric holds from the left, right, front, and back of the head (15-30 seconds)
Chin to chest stretch (10-15 seconds)
Ear to shoulder stretch (10-15 seconds)
4. Strengthen and stretch your hip joints.
Bridges (8-12 times)
Laying side leg raises (8-12 times)
Standing quad stretch (10-15 times)
Laying hamstring stretch (10-15 times)
Perform these exercises two to three times a week, depending on your fitness level. Also, you can start with just one set of each exercise. As you get stronger, you’ll be able to add more sets without compromising form. It’s a good idea to check with your doctor before starting any new fitness routine.