Category Archives for "Blog"

Do Osteopaths Help With Foot Pain?

Osteopaths Treat Foot Pain

Did you know that Osteopaths can help find the cause of foot pain? Feet are our foundation. Did you know that 30% of our body’s awareness of space come from our feet? Our feet are responsible for the vertical balance of our body, continuous weight-bearing in standing and walking and responsible for our body’s ability to move. When our feet are in pain, not only do we struggle to walk around, but it can also have a huge impact on the rest of your body.

Causes of Foot Pain

So, what causes foot pain? Here are some common causes of pain in the feet or ankles that we see and treat at the clinic are:

  • Planter-fasciitis
  • Achilles Heel or Achilles Tendinopathy
  • Ankle Sprains
  • Gout
  • Shin Splints

Osteopaths and Your Feet

With this in mind, an Osteopathic assessment of the foot should not be overlooked as this can have significant implications on the function of the entire body. Osteopaths consider the lines of gravity (anterior and posterior lines create the resultant central line of gravity), the myofascial chain, and if it is primarily a “foot issue” (ascending lesion of the foot that creates dysfunction elsewhere in the body), or a primary issue elsewhere that creates a descending lesion where the foot must compensate.

The curves of the spine, along with the arches of the foot are important for shock absorption. In the presence of a lesion or rigidity of the arches of the foot, there will be a reduction in the flexibility of the spinal curves through the synergy of the springs and vice versa. This may present as back pain, neck pain, stiffness or may influence the digestive system. Our sympathetic nervous system for most of the digestive organs is found at the thoracic levels T5-T9. In the foot, it may present as plantar fasciitis, general foot pain, changes in gait or shin splints. 


Further up the chain, there is also a relationship between the foot and cranial sphere:

  • Cubo-navicular joint with the sphenobasilar symphesis (SBS) of the cranium.
  • Tarsal sinus and vestibular system
  • Talus and atlas (first cervical vertebrae C1)
  • Lines of gravity
  • Diaphragms (tentorium of the SBS and plantar fascia)

A dysfunction between the foot and cranial sphere may present with neck pain, stiffness, headaches, changes in posture and of course poor proprioception.

The fibula is found in on the lateral side of the lower leg. In contrast to the tibia, which is much stronger for weight-bearing, the fibula is adaptive to external forces. It can adjust, compensate, stabilize, balance and regulate the tensions of the lower extremity. The fibula has a direct relationship through the fascial system from the foot to the ilium (pelvis). Because of this, a lesion found in the fibula may present as pain or dysfunction in the ankle/foot, knee, hip joint or pelvis.

Our bodies are incredible when compensating around these changes or dysfunctions. However, we can only sustain this for so long until we are no longer able to compensate further.  Osteopathy looks past the area of pain to identify the cause rather than chasing symptoms! Start with the feet!

Jackie Caione- D.O.M.P, CAT (C)
Osteopathic Manual Therapist

To learn more about how Osteopathic Manual Therapy can help with your feet, click here

Physiotherapy Rehabilitation and neuroplasticity

Neuroplasticity is the ability for the brain to make changes.  It is what allows us to grow and to learn: intellectually, physically, and emotionally. 
In physiotherapy rehabilitation, the goal is to help you recover as much function as possible.

What is neuroplasticity?

With respect to injury and disease, neuroplasticity is often used with stroke and dementia.  From a Physiotherapy perspective, there are two ways to heal from stroke and to slow the progress of the effects of dementia.  They are through remediation and compensation.  In remediation, parts of the brain can heal.  In compensation parts of the brain that previously did not do a task can be trained to take on a new task that they previously didn’t do.  This is accomplished by building new synapses: connections in the brain, somewhat like new railway lines.  It is important to provide rehabilitation opportunities that target both remediation and compensation during Physiotherapy appointments.

Treatment techniques require practice and repetition.  From a movement perspective, it is important to consider open kinetic chain activities as well as closed kinetic chain activities as they stimulate joints and their neural receptors differently.  Another treatment technique is to ask a person to perform a task that is currently too hard for them but that is a related, higher level task to what they want to achieve.

How Does It Work?

In sport, we tend to use the term neuromuscular training.  It is not possible to train just the nervous system or just the muscular system in isolation.  When physiotherapists say that they focus on neuromuscular training they usually mean that they are considering the most functional and optimal movement patterns that the body needs to use to accomplish a task.  The more patterns that a person can develop, the more choice they have.  In sport, this often translates to the subconscious, natural movement selection.  When you see a highly skilled athlete perform an amazing catch, or leap, or defensive dodge, it is because stored somewhere in their brain, they have practiced some type of task related to it.

Physiotherapy Rehabilitation Exercises

Let us take the hamstrings.  People will ask, can I do a prone leg curl to strengthen my hamstrings (laying on your tummy and pulling your knees toward your bum against resistance)?  The answer is, you can.  And it will strengthen your hamstrings.  However, I would encourage you to consider if your hamstrings ever act that way in function.  In function (weight bearing positions & natural movement positions), the hamstrings control hip flexion and knee extension.  If you wanted to practice a movement that will both strengthen your hamstring, but also teach your brain how to use that strength in natural movement patterns consider using a squat or a lunge.  These specific exercises look more like what the hamstring does in a functional task like getting on and off the toilet, or like walking and running.

Another example is crawling.  Did you know that crawling is the fundamental building block of throwing?  That’s right, one needs to be able to reciprocal crawl (monkey crawl) in order to develop the cross pattern for throwing a ball.

3-D Movement Patterns

We typically think of jumping jacks in the frontal plane (side to side), but consider doing them in the sagittal and in the transverse planes.  Furthermore, consider dissociating the upper extremity from the lower extremity and mixing and matching the planes that they are moving in.  When you think of it this way, you have just created an exponential number of combinations and permutations as compared to just the typical jumping jack.  The creation of these diverse movement patterns will add to your brain’s “library” of movement patterns when it comes to activity selection.  To bring this back to pathology and disease, or even to ageing, these patterns can also be applied to something like a slip and fall.  For those of us who live in Alberta, we know how icy roads and parking lots can sometimes call for a unique pattern of reaction to stabilize us from a fall.

To learn more about remediation, compensation, crawling, squatting, lunging, and jumping please join Zenia at Prairie Therapy for an assessment and treatment plan.

What is Tri-planar movement and why do we use it in rehabilitation?

Tri-planar movement means moving in 3 Dimensions.  Those include the sagittal (Forward and backward), Frontal (Side to side) and Transverse (turning/ rotational) planes of motion.

Why do it?  For optimal joint health and muscle development, both from the perspective of strength and flexibility.

We were created to move in many directions.  The more evenly we can ask our musculoskeletal system to move (bones, joints and muscles) the more successful we will be in our movement patterns and our activity goals.

Lets take some examples.  With respect to joints: if someone has an arthritic joint, or better yet, is trying to prevent arthritis, one wants to make sure that they are using the full range of motion (ROM) available to that joint.  If you ask the joint to move in the three planes, you are not only distributing force and load over the joint but you are also helping keep the joint lubricated by helping move around the synovial fluid in the joint (for those joints that contain synovial fluid).  For example, take walking.  You can walk forwards, backwards, sideways, with your toes pointed straight, pointed in, and pointed out.

Using the similar example, what about muscle strength and activation.  A good way to change the load on a muscle is to change the degree of the plane of motion it is working in.  For example, If you move from toed-in to toed-out you will move between using the outer ROM of your Gluteus Maximus muscle to the inner range.  If you are hiking a long trail for example, this is one way that you can continue to hike but to give the muscle an active break as you go.

Stretching the muscle in 3 planes of motion will also ensure that you have optimal length of the muscle.  This is one way to consider injury prevention as you will get ROM in 3 planes, instead of only asking more and more of the muscle in just one plane.  Increasing your ROM through flexibility will also help you to become stronger as now you have more muscle length to strengthen, train, and use in your activities.

If you are interested in learning how to stretch and strengthen in 3D please book a physiotherapy appointment with Zenia at Prairie Therapy and I will be happy to teach you!

Zenia Martynkiw

How to Protect Your Knees for Skiing This Season

Protect Your Knees Skiing

As ski and snowboard season is now in full effect, it’s important to make sure you’re properly protected on the hill. Of course wearing a helmet for head safety is key; however there is one area of your body that you may be overlooking, your knees.

Knee stability is critical for all activities, but it becomes far more prevalent for skiing and snowboarding. Your knees act as your shock absorbers. They allow you to adjust to changes that occur on the hill from an unexpected mogul to changes in snow from hard packed to slush. Being able to compensate for these changes is necessary for anyone on the hill; but what happens when your body can’t compensate? In most cases you will fall and depending on the speed and obstacles around you, it can lead to injuries.

This is where the Donjoy Defiance 3 knee brace comes in. The Donjoy Defiance 3 is Donjoy’s premier custom product for all ligament instabilities in the knee. It can also be configured to provide off-loading for individuals with osteoarthritis who are looking to stay active. The brace contains stainless steel hinges with a light-weight, high-strength carbon fiber framework. Its unique design and strapping method keep the brace in position to handle any activity.

Defiance Custom Don Joy Knee Brace

The Donjoy Defiance 3 has been popular amongst skiers, snowboarders for a variety of reasons. The first is that it can be easily adjusted to allow a thermal layer to be worn under the brace. The second is the fourcepoint hinge that creates a dampening effect on the knee and helps to stop hyperextension. The third reason is the biggest; the Donjoy Defiance 3 can be measured with a short-calf option greater than other braces on the market. This way there will be no impact between the brace and the top of your ski or snowboard boot.

Protect Your Knees Skiing

Canada’s top alpine skiers are using Donjoy and so are our clients. Of all the custom defiance braces sold at Prairie Therapy, over 70% of clients mentioned that their primary use was to return to skiing or snowboarding.

Whether you need the brace for support or are looking for injury prevention the Defiance 3 is a great option. It has numerous accessories and colour options to make it your own. Custom Donjoy Defiance braces can be manufactured in one week so you don’t miss any time on the slopes this winter.


Matt de Gooijer BKin, CAT(C), Certified Athletic Therapist.  Click here to see Matt’s bio.

How is Cupping Done?

To perform cupping, acupuncturists place glass, bamboo, or silicone cups on the skin, creating a vacuum-like seal. There are different techniques for creating this vacuum, including lighting an alcohol-soaked cotton ball inside the cup or attaching suction pumps to the end of the cups. When the cups are placed on the skin, the superficial muscle layer is drawn up into the cup, which stimulates the circulation of blood, breaks up adhesions, and creates a pathway for toxins to be drawn out of the body through the lymphatic system.

Cupping Treatment Calgary

Cupping impacts blood vessels, fascia, muscles, and scar tissue. Cupping decompresses adhesions and scar tissue, relaxes muscles in spasm, decreases trigger-point pain, and decreases tissue changes and inflammation following trauma. Cumulative treatments increase muscle endurance, circulation, and lymphatic drainage. They enhance athletes’ overall ability to recover from workouts and strenuous activity.

Most pictures of cupping show it being done on the back, and that is a common place to receive cupping. However, cupping can be done on any part of the body where there’s enough skin to support the cups. For a list of different conditions that cupping can help with, see the last post titled ‘How can Cupping benefit my treatment?’.

There are two types of popular cupping techniques, stationary and gliding cups. Stationary cups are where one or several cups are placed in the treatment zone for 5-10 minutes. Gliding cups are when a topical ointment or liniment is placed on the skin and then the cups are gently moved across the skin, usually along meridians or fascia/muscle planes.

Stay tuned for next week’s post on, ‘Why does Cupping leave marks on the skin?’

Lani Pickering, Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Registered Acupuncturist, Registered Massage Therapist.  Click here to see Lani’s bio.

How can Cupping help with my treatment?

Cupping is a Chinese medicine technique that has been used for centuries for many different conditions. Acupuncturists commonly use cupping as a compliment therapy to acupuncture. For people with needle fears, cupping on its own can offer a great alternative treatment.  Some treatments are done with stationary cups (not moving), while more intense treatments can do done with gliding cups (moving).

Flame Cupping Calgary Chinese Medicine

Michael Phelps is not the only famous person to discover the benefits of cupping. Celebrities such as Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow have been photographed with distinctive cupping marks on their backs and shoulders. Once considered a mysterious, almost scary-looking treatment in the West, cupping is now hitting the mainstream due to its numerous health benefits.

Benefits of Cupping include:
-Stimulating whole-body relaxation response (parasympathetic response)
-Stimulating oxygenation and detoxification of blood while promoting a feeling of lightness and tension relief
-Detoxifies metabolic debris in muscle tissue, fascia, and skin
-Increases range of motion, breaks up adhesions, and promotes healing in scar tissue and chronic injury sites
-Increases lymphatic drainage and promotes circulation


Given these benefits, here are some of the conditions for which cupping can be really helpful:
-Tight and stiff muscles
-Back pain and sciatica
-Piriformis syndrome and IT band pain
-Rotator cuff injuries
-Plantar fasciitis
-Respiratory conditions, including asthma and bronchitis
-Anxiety, depression, and stress
-High blood pressure (by calming the nervous system)

See next weeks article about, How is Cupping done?

Lani Pickering, Doctor of Traditional Chinese Medicine, Registered Acupuncturist, Registered Massage Therapist.  Click here to see Lani’s bio.

My Shoulder Hurts and I Don’t Know Why

My Shoulder Hurts and I Don’t Know Why

Both chronic and acute shoulder injuries stem from one main concept, the fact that at the shoulder joint we sacrifice stability for mobility. In comparison to the ball and socket joint of the hip (which is our prime example having extra stability in the place of reduced mobility), think of the shoulder as more of a “ball-on-a-tee.” Our humerus acts as the “ball” and the glenoid fossa of the scapula (or shoulder blade) acts as the “tee.” While it may grant us the ability to style our hair, it leaves us susceptible to injury, nature’s way of saying you can’t have your cake and eat it too.

Shoulder Injury

Down the acute path, many injuries result from an inability of our surrounding musculature to accept the force of an external load such as wall, or the ground. We slip and fall, and instinctively use our arm to brace ourselves against an immovable ground (as the alternative of landing directly on our butt or face isn’t appealing to most). Sometimes we play sports that present unexpected collisions; sometimes we straddle an 1800 pound bull and hope that the arm we strapped to it will be hold for 8 seconds. In all cases, the force is transmitted up our arm towards the shoulder joint where our surrounding musculature will either succeed in dissipating those forces, or be overmatched and rely on our passive support structures (ligaments, capsules, bone) to accept the force. In these cases, prevention is a difficult, and recovery is more about managing pain and finding ways to maintain strength, promote tissue recovery, and reduce the amount of compensation we will instinctively do as we allow the damaged tissue to heal. Injuries that typically fall into this place would be glenohumeral dislocations (“popped your shoulder out”), AC sprains (“separated shoulders”), and rotator cuff strains.

Chronically, however, many injuries we encounter in this stream are preventable, and have long term solutions. If we are required to throw baseballs as hard as we can repeatedly, or reach up to hold and hammer nails on a day to day basis, pain and discomfort can occur as a result of irritation, compression, and distraction forces created by our own biomechanics.   Think back to our “ball-on-a-tee” concept, good quality shoulder movement and strength will be the result of good congruency between the ball and the tee not only at rest, but throughout our entire range of motion.   If our ball starts to sit too far forward on our tee (from hunching over a desk or repeated movements), we begin to demand more stability out of structures on that side as they struggle to keep the ball in place. In these cases we start to see injuries such as biceps tendinopathies and labral lesions. Sometimes we develop the movement pattern of trying to move our arm without securing it against scapula. Our rotator cuff, which is a collection of muscles responsible for securing that ball on the tee, now has to work harder to keep up and eventually fatigues and starts to become damaged. The challenge for recovery in chronic injury lies in determining what structures are causing the irritation, and why.

Keep an eye out for future blog posts as I dive into all things shoulder related.

Jeff Peach CAT (C), CSCS, Absolute Baseball Academy and Junior Dinos Baseball Coach

Will a Custom Knee Brace Help Me to Heal Faster?

Defiance Custom Don Joy Knee Brace

No. A Custom Knee Brace will NOT help you heal faster.

This is one of the biggest presumptions that most people have with custom knee braces. They come in after recently hurting their knee, and ask about getting a brace. They want to go skiing this weekend, and just do not quite feel like they are ready.

If you cannot do it without the brace, you cannot do it with the brace.

Example of a Custom Knee Brace

Custom Knee Brace

I’m going to say this again later for emphasis, but a knee brace is NOT a shortcut for proper rehab. It does not make you stronger, it does not increase your range of motion, and it does not increase your balance. All of those things can only be gained through proper rehab, and time.

A custom knee brace does provide other benefits. It increases the stability of your knee joint. This will help to ensure that you do not injure the same thing more, or injure something else in the knee. It provides stability to the actual knee joint, but does not make your leg any stronger. Having the brace on your knee will also help with proprioception, and knowing where your knee is. It reminds you not to put it into a bad position. It also gives you confidence in knowing that if you are not strong enough to protect your knee on your own, you have a bit of back up with the knee brace. Just make sure that the brace does not make you over-confident, making you try something that you would not do without it.

The primary role of a Custom Knee Brace is prevention. There are other braces that help with issues like arthritis, patella-femoral tracking, pre and post surgery etc. But a Custom Knee Brace is to keep you from getting hurt again. Or, it can be to keep you from getting hurt in the first place. Many people will get a custom knee brace before getting hurt to avoid injury. The last thing that we want is for people to think that getting a custom knee brace is a shortcut for good rehab. It is not.

If you cannot do it without the brace, you cannot do it with the brace.


John Reinbolt, CAT(C)

What are the best Foods for Winter?

Creating balance in your body with food during the Winter months

Chinese medicine teaches to live in harmony with the seasons, and according to TCM theory there are five seasons – winter, spring, summer, late summer, and fall.  Each season has many associations which help us to change our habits as the seasons change so that we may create more balance between our bodies and the external environment.
Even though it seems like winter started 3 weeks ago in Calgary, December 21st is the official first day of winter, also known as the winter solstice.  As the dry cold moves in we need to modify our diets to accommodate the changes. Boiling, steaming, or poaching your food will help nourish you from the inside out. 

In Chinese medicine, winter belongs to the Kidneys.  All salty foods and dark foods, foods that are purple, black or blue will benefit this organ.  A list of foods to incorporate into your diet during the winter include:

– Fresh fish and salted fish

– Salted meat

– Caviar, any other fish eggs

– Shellfish of all kinds

– Pork

– Eggs

– Beans of all kinds

– Seaweed and sea vegetables

Asparagus, alfalfa, celery
– Chicory root and Burdock root

– Soy sauce and Tamari

– Hearty soups, bone broths

– Miso

– Figs

– Blueberries and blackberries

– Eggplant

– Kale

– Micro-algae (chlorella, spirulina, wild blue-green)

– Wild rice

– Walnuts

– Sesame seeds (specifically black sesame seeds), sunflower seeds and pumpkin seeds

All of these foods have a softening effect and promote moisture and calming of the body.  They most benefit thin, dry and nervous people. As with all things in life, balance is key. So start incorporating some of these foods into an already well balanced diet to achieve optimal health and wellness.

Dr. Lani Pickering DTCM RAc RMT

What happens if you eat to much turkey?

What happens if you eat too much turkey?

Eating too much of anything isn’t great for you! When you eat too much:

  • Your stomach can expand to the volume of a litre (that’s the size of a large turkey leg)
  • Can cause undue heartburn. The stomach produces hydrochloric acid to break down food. More food to breakdown means more acid, which can creep into the esophogus, leading to that burning feeling.
  • Your body signals when you’ve had enough fat, releasing a hormone called leptin.
  • When you eat a high calorie meal, like in a turkey dinner at Christmas, cells in your intestines secrete a hormone called PYY. When PYY reaches your brain it binds with receptors that make you feel full.
  • When you don’t listen to the signal you over eat!!!

Over the holidays I always struggle to maintain a healthy weight and stay away from the bad for you food. Here are a few tips and tricks that I have found that can help with this.

Realize that maintaining your weight over the holidays is a victory! The balance of exercise and diet can help with this, if you start to feel like maybe you are snacking more or eating more large meals, maybe mix in an extra workout. With lots of family around our house during the holidays, we like to do partner workouts, which make them go faster and a lot more fun.

I used to think that not eating breakfast or lunch meant that I could gorge on supper that night. Boy was I wrong, as I got into the health industry I quickly started to learn that this was completely backwards. A better idea would be to eat small meals throughout the day. Showing up famished, it can be difficult to avoid eating too much.

Go into the meal knowing what you want to eat. We all have our favourites during festive meals, you know those ones that mom makes better than anyone else, the ones that she only makes on holidays. Try eating only the things that you can get on the holidays, the marshmallow covered sweet potatoes, the broccoli cheese casserole! If you can’t last until the meal, try snacking on the veggies!!

The last tip is one that is very hard to uphold especially if you grew up with older brothers. When the dessert tray gets put out, try and be the last one to get your dessert. Have a cup of coffee or tea while everyone else grabs their goodies. By the time you are done your dessert, everyone else should be done and may have already moved on to do something else. In my house it will be an epic ping pong tournament or napping. This means that it won’t be as convenient to go back for seconds. Make sure when you are choosing your dessert to choose your favourite. You know the one that is totally worth the calories!!

Most importantly, over the holidays make sure to enjoy the time with family and friends. From the family at Prairie Therapy to yours! Merry Christmas everyone!!

Brandon Thome, CAT(C)