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 herehttp://prairietherapy.ca/osteopathic-therapy-calgary/

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. http://prairietherapy.ca/physiotherapy-calgary-sw/

Will a Custom Knee Brace Help Me to Heal Faster?

Defiance Custom Don Joy Knee Brace

Will a Custom Knee Brace Help me Heal Faster?

Custom Knee Braces

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.

Knee Brace benefits

A 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 it 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 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)

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