Category Archives for "Blog"

How to Protect Your Knees for Skiing This Season

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?

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)

Staying Active During the Holidays in Calgary

How to stay active and be social through the holidays.

My core group of friends and I are all very busy. Each of us working or raising young families, all the while trying to maintain our friendships. We make an effort of getting together as often as we can, however our schedules often conflict. When we do arrange a time to get together we inevitably surround ourselves with food and drinks while sitting around playing board games or watching sports. tree-hunt1 We do however have our favorite day of the year where we all go out Christmas Tree Hunting. The 8 of us adults and 4 small children get together to head out to the Sibbald Lake area to hunt down our perfect Christmas tree. Hunting for the tree is something that allows all of us to catch up, while accomplishing a holiday task. We are able to enjoy the outdoors together while hiking through the foothills to find the perfect tree. This year’s hunt lead us through some frozen marsh and thick bush, but overall pleasurable conditions. We are all able to get a workout in, socialize, and accomplish a task that all of us needed to check off our list. tree-hunt2 If you are having a hard time trying to find ways to keep active through the holidays try some of these tips:

  • Try something new. We have the mountains in our backyard. Get out and try snowshoeing/skiing/snowboarding/skating. Not many people have the access that we do to all these outdoor winter wonderland activities. Take advantage of it.
  • Cold weather? Get out and get some of that holiday shopping done. Many of us have progressed to buying gifts online and having them delivered right to our door, but every step counts. Head out to the mall!
  • Are you competitive? Start a holiday challenge with your friends or family.


Christine Dixon, Osteopathic Manual Therapist, Athletic Therapist