Injury Free Life: The Bridging Exercise

Hi, it’s Rob from New Leaf Physiotherapy in beautiful Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.

Today, I am going to go over the bridging exercise .  It is one of the exercises I personally use to help keep myself injury free.

To start, lie on your back, knees bent up arms across the chest.  Pushing with your heels and squeeze your glutes as you lift you pelvis up off the mat.  Hold to a straight line between shoulders, hips and knees.  Take a deep breath in and slowly lower yourself down as you exhale.

This exercise is used for activating the glutes that help to stabilize the hips, which is needed when running.

Injury Free Life: The Single Leg Deadlift

Hi, it’s Rob from New Leaf Physiotherapy in beautiful Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.  I’m going to go over an exercise that I do when I am in the gym.  It’s called a single leg deadlift and it is a hip hinge movement to activate the leg muscles on the leg that you’re standing on.  This exercise activates the glutes, the hamstrings and in addition, it works on balance and coordination.   You can do the exercise unweighted, like I am in the video or you can use weights.  If you are going to use a weight, hold the weight in the opposite hand to the leg you are standing on.  For example, if I am standing on my right leg, I will hold the weight in my left hand.

I’m going to show you two different angles of this exercise, in the video.

To do the exercise, stand on your right leg and bend forward, from that hip.  Your left leg goes up and stays in line with your torso.  Try to reach down to touch the ground with your left hand and come back up.

This exercise looks fairly easy and it will become easy with practice.  However, initially this exercise can be quite a challenge for your balance.   One way to modify the exercise is to have something to hold onto to help maintain your balance.   You can hold on to a counter top, at home, a machine or a wooden dowel, in the gym.  Please make sure that you don’t fall over and hurt yourself.

I hope you use this exercise to hip injury proof your body!


Canada Games 2017 Part 2…

The room is divided into left and right b a long desk. The doctors are on the left and the physiotherapy treatment area is on the right.
The polyclinic at University of Manitoba. Doctors on the left, physiotherapists on the right.

I am working Saturday night of the change over day, August 5th, at the polyclinic on the University of Manitoba campus.  The changeover day is when the athletes of the first week of the Canada Summer Games leave and the athletes for week 2 arrive.  The polyclinic is a multidisciplinary clinic set up for the athletes/coaches/officials of the Games to get care needed.  There are sports doctors, physiotherapists (my personal fav), athletic therapists, nurses, pharmacists and sports psychologists.  Tonight, as most changeover days, it is slow so I thought I would reflect on my past week at the Canada Games here in Winnipeg.  

When I arrived in Winnipeg, I was brought to the hotel where I was going to be staying for the next 2 weeks.  The Delta in downtown Winnipeg.  SCORE!  It is a very nice hotel, rooms are spacious, bed comfy.  And that is also where I met my roommate for the Games.  

John is sitting in a chair with this left ankle crossed over his right knee. With his left hand he is giving the 'V' sign.
My roommate, John, from Toronto.

John Biggar is my roomie.  He is from Toronto and works a Mend Physiotherapy Clinic in Leslieville is anybody is looking for a great physiotherapist in Toronto.  John really likes baseball, working with baseball athletes and softball athletes.  In addition to being my roomie for the two weeks, we were also scheduled to work softball together for a couple of days.  He stated that he was hoping to go and work/volunteer at the U18 Baseball World Championships.  Which was happening in… of all the places… Thunder Bay, Ontario.  The event is going to continue in September of 2017.  

The past week of softball, was excellent.  I saw a lot of great softball games and minimal injuries.  The last day, when the championship was to be played, a player ran over to the medical tent holding his right hand.  Apparently, the ball hopped and hit him directly on the tip of his finger and bent the nail down and sliced open the tip of his finger under the nail.  That took a little bit to clean him up and get his finger bandaged.  That was the worst injury I saw that week, luckily.  I did have to bandage his finger up 2-3 more times, because as he said “every time I swing the bat or throw the ball, I can feel blood squirt out…”.

There were minor injuries that required some good old taping skills, a few thumbs, wrists and an ankle or two.  I had not taped an ankle in a couple of years but it was amazing.  The skill just returned when called upon.  

The sign that is at the entrance to the Softball Venue.
The entrance sign to the softball diamonds

I met some other great people, other than John.  Val was the medical manager for the softball venue, John Blumberg Softball park.  Very nice venue as well.  Val helped to organize where the equipment would be kept and the medical tent was situated.  She had a very smooth process in place for following the team’s practice/warm up.  

The medical tent was situated between both the two ball diamonds where the games were played.  Behind the ball diamonds there were two practice fields, side-by-side.  There was a shelter close to the practice fields.  There was a medical bag, AED and ice set up under the shelter and that is where the therapist stayed so he/she could keep an eye on both teams.  The teams would arrive about an hour before their game to warm up and practice.  When both teams left for their game, they would play each other, the therapist would follow but leave the medical equipment at the shelter for the next therapist.  The therapist would follow the teams to their ball diamond and be the therapist for their game and treat any injuries that occurred during that game.  It was a pretty slick system.  

Right next to the medical tent was the volunteer tent.  That is important because that is where all the food for the volunteers were kept.  And if you know me, you know that I like food! 🙂

Not only food at the ball diamond but Winnipeg is a Foodie mecca!  There are a lot of food spots aka restaurants in Winnipeg.  It was unfortunate that I seemed to work just about every evening for these Games, I had to miss out on the medical team dinners.  🙁  I did make it out to some restaurants though.  Hermano’s is an Argentinian Steak house, great place to eat.  The Original Pancake House at the Forks Market.  Tall Grass Bakery, also at the Forks Market, which tries to locally source their flour and ingredients.  To name only a few.

This has been a great Games so far and I am looking forward to week 2!

Injury Free Life: Calf Stretches

Hi, it’s Rob from New Leaf Physiotherapy in beautiful Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada.  Today Iam going to go over calf stretching and two different calf stretches.  The reason I am going to give you two different calf stretches is because you a two different calf muscles!  One calf muscles it starts above the knee attaches into the Achilles tendon, the gastrocnemius, and the other one starts below the knee and attaches into the Achilles tendon, the soleus.  If you have tight calves either those muscles can be causing the tightness.

The first stretch I like to do is a kneeling stretch.  You can use a yoga mat or a carpet to knee on.  I’m going to stretch my right leg, first on the video, I am kneeling on my left.  I’m bringing my right foot back as far as I can, making sure to keep the right heel on the ground.  I put my bodyweight on the right leg.  The stretch is felt in the right Achilles area and it is a subtle stretch.  I’ll hold it 15 to 20 seconds and then I will switch and do it same on the left leg.  This is stretching the deeper, shorter muscle called the soleus.

The next stretch stretch the longer muscle the gastrocnemius, or gastroc for short.  I use is downward dog.  Walk you hands out, bum up in the air and try keep the heels on the ground with the knees being straight.  You are stretching both calves at the same time.  Hold for 15 to 20 seconds.

That’s cash stretching thanks for watching.

Canada Summer Games, Part 1

Well, I made it to Winnipeg.  It was a wonderful 2 hour fight from Kelowna.  I thought that I would let you know what a day in the life of a Canada Games volunteer looks like.

The sign that is at the entrance to the Softball Venue.
The entrance sign to the softball diamonds

Yesterday, Sunday July 30th, was my first day, on the job.  It was a long day, I left the hotel at 10 am and I did not get back until 930 pm.   My shift started at 11 am out at John Blumberg Softball Field.  It is a very nice facility.  There was a medical tent, among all the other upgrades for the Games.  I met Val, she is the medical lead for softball for week 1, then Andrew is for week 2.  Week 1 is Men’s Softball or Fastball.  Week 2 is Women’s Softball/ Fastball.  Val gave me a tour and showed me around the outdoor stadium.  I asked lots of questions and she answered them.  She was very knowledgeable about softball, sounds like she plays and umps.  She is the manager/coach of the Manitoba Women’s Fastball team for week 2.

The medical tent is set up between the two ball diamonds.  Then off to the back, there are two practice diamonds.  How the procedure works is like this.  The two teams have the practice diamonds an hour before their scheduled game time.  They practice and there is a physiotherapist present in case someone gets injured.  The teams move to the ball diamond about 15-20 minutes before their scheduled game to practice on the field.  the physiotherapist moves with the teams from the practice diamond to the playing field.

I like to go around and meet the coaches and managers, as well as the umpires, because if something happens, they know who they are looking for.

A panoramic view of both the practice softball fields with bright blue sky.
A panoramic shot of the practice fields for softball

I got to watch 3 games yesterday, the first game was over quick, a blowout of Ontario over New Brunswick.  Then I saw Nova Scotia beat Alberta.  The final game of the day was a nail biter, Nova Scotia vs. Newfoundland.  Newfoundland tied it up in the bottom of the 7th inning, they only play seven innings.  So we went to extra innings and in the 8th Nova Scotia won it but Newfoundland played really hard right to the end.  Nova Scotia scored a couple of runs in the top of the 8th and when Newfoundland scored their first in the bottom of the 8th, I actually thought they were going to win.  It was a great game to watch!

The other volunteers have been great.  the drivers that pick me up from the hotel and take me out the ball park have been amazing.  The driver last night, Andy, let me stop at Sergeant Sundae in Winnipeg.  I had never heard about it but it was lined up outside the door at 930 pm on a Sunday night, so I figured it must be good… and it was.

The sign for Sargent Sundae is seen over a line up of people.
The delightful Sargent Sundae

Injury Free Life: Eccentric Calf Exercise

Hi, it’s Rob from New Leaf Physiotherapy and we are here in beautiful Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Today, I’m going to go over the eccentric calf exercise. I give this exercise to a lot of people with pain around their Achilles tendon/ heel area.

I personally find that this is one of the best exercises that people can do to help with pain in the Achilles tendon area.

What is eccentric exercise?  It is when the muscle lengthens under tension.  This means that when you are doing a calf exercise it’s not the going up onto the toes, it’s the action of coming back down off the toes to having your foot flat on the ground, that is helpful.

When you’re doing an eccentric exercise I always get my people to only do the down phase of the calf on the injured leg,  How do I do that?  Let’s say that it is my right calf/Achilles that’s bothering me.  I’m going to go up on my left toes, then transfer my weight onto my right toes, taking my left foot off the ground, only standing on my right foot.  I slowly lower my right heel down to the ground.   You can hold on to a wall or kitchen countertop for balance.  Try not to put any weight through the hand, only balance.

So up on the left foot, and slow, controlled lowering on the right foot.

In my practice, this is one of my go to exercises for helping my clients with pain in the Achilles area.  I find that it helps to reduce their pain and get them back into action quickly.

Turning Over a New Leaf 2017, Part 1

Giving back to someone that has worked really hard to succeed is a wonderful feeling.  New Leaf Physiotherapy is very glad to support our community and Kelowna (who knows this year, possibly beyond).

Sharlet has her new Garmin Forerunner 35 on her wrist and she is in running clothing
Sharlet testing out her new watch at The Next Step

If you recall last year, we did a three part series of blog posts about how NLP gives back to the community.  You can find Part 1 here, Part 2 here and Part 3 here.

Up to speed in 2017, we have already helped out a couple of people in the New Leaf community.

The first person that we helped out was a sponsorship to Linda.  Linda had a total joint replacement surgery.  She was determined to get the most out of her surgery, that is where NLP comes into the picture.  She was very motivated but needed a guiding hand.  She did marvelous!  In May of 2017, Linda wanted to do a fundraiser with the YMCA, Cycle for Strong Kids Okanagan 2017.  Linda contacted NLP asking if we would help her raise money for this great cause… And we did!

The second half of Part 1 is this young lady, Sharlet.  Sharlet is a lady that I have known for a few years in Kelowna.  Over the last year, she had a very tough struggle/ battle.  She is a single Mother of 3 children 7, 5, and 3 years of age.  A lot of her paycheck goes to rent and necessities and does not have much room for extras.  Earlier this year, Sharlet started asking me about running.  She wondered if I thought she would be able to run a half marathon, as she has not run any distance longer than 10 km in her life.  My answer was an obvious, “Yes”!  We sat down and had some discussions about training for the half marathon but she was not sure if she would do it.

One day, a few of months ago, Sharlet had a big smile on her face and said that she got into the SeaWheeze Half Marathon in Vancouver.  It was a lottery race, there are only so many spots and a lot of people want to run it.   So the date was set, August 12, 2017!

Sharlet got enough money together to buy herself a new pair of running shoes (I think she told me it was her first new pair of running shoes ever!) and started more focused training.

She has done some crazy training runs to get herself ready for this half marathon.  Here is the craziest training run, that I have heard, you will know it is crazy if you live in Kelowna!  She started at the Rails to Trails on on Clifton and ran up Clifton to High Road.  High Road turned into Summit Drive as she went over Dilworth Mountain!  After she got to the bottom of Dilworth Drive, she turned around and went back up Dilworth Drive, turn back onto Summit Drive and went over Dilworth Mountain a second time!  Then down High Road, down Clifton and then down Clement to Okanagan Lake and then back to her starting point.  I usually do not use a lot of exclamation points but that running route is CRAZY!!  I was so impressed (I have never tried to summit Dilworth Mountain twice in one run and I have done a lot of running).

She also started coming out to the Next Step.  The Next Step is a Tuesday night running group put on by the Kelowna Running Club.  It is a free workout done at the Apple Bowl in Kelowna.  The group meets every Tuesday night at 6 pm.  We do a warm up run and some warm up exercises and then do a harder running workout.  There are two groups,  the main group and the advanced group.  Each group gets their own workout.  Sharlet has done a great job in coming out and running on the Tuesday nights.

A couple of weeks ago, after a Tuesday night Next Step workout, she stated it would be really cool to get a GPS watch for her running to see how far she had actually been running on her long runs.  However, the prices of the GPS watches were simply too expensive.

I listened to our conversation, as did my girlfriend, Charlene.  We got in the car to drive home, we both agreed it would be a great gift, as she has really turned over a New Leaf in her life, in any different aspects.

So after one treatment earlier this week, this happened… (sorry about the bad video, I really wanted to surprise her and it is hard to surprise someone while pointing your phone, while recording them)

She was so happy and appreciative.  I am very glad to help out this wonderful woman!  If you simply hang out around her will know it!  Use your new Garmin watch lots, Sharlet!

Sharlet holding her new Garmin Forerunner 35!
Sharlet and her new running buddy!


Injury Free Life: How to Lunge Properly

Hi, it’s Rob from New Leaf Physiotherapy in beautiful Kelowna British Columbia Canada. Today I’m going to go over the proper lunging technique. The most common mistake I see with people lunging is they keep their back leg straight, which then forces their front knee way over their toes. Normally knees going over the toes is not necessarily an issue unless you’re having knee pain and this can really flare up the knee pain.

I’m first going to discuss what bad technique is and then I’ll demonstrate a good technique.

A bad technique is going into a lunge and keeping the back leg straight or barely bending and then really going forward. If you look at my front knee, in the video, it is way past my toes.  That can put a lot of extra pressure on the back of the knee cap which can aggravate knee pain.

Good technique is to going into a nice easy stride, bending that back leg almost as much, if not more than the front knee.  The back leg almost drives the exercise, so as I bend the back knee I fall into the lunge.

When you’re pushing yourself up there’s two ways you can do it. You can push off the back leg to bring yourself up, stepping forward. Or you can push off the front leg and stay in that lunge stance or step backwards.

The difference is that when you’re coming up and you are pushing with your front leg, try pushing with your heel, you will activate more of the glutes on the front leg.  If you push off the back leg to come up to standing, you are going to use little bit more of the quads, thigh muscles and calf.

Injury Free Life: Hip Abduction Exercise

I use this Hip Abduction exercise myself and it’s one of my favourite exercises to keep myself injury free.  To begin, use a Thera-band or Thera-tubing with one end secured to something that’s not going to move.  I attach one end of the tubing to my therapy table leg and the other end goes on my foot, the foot furthest away from the therapy table.  You want to stand perpendicular to the direction of the tubing, i.e. the tubing should go across the top of your feet.

Stand up nice and tall, this activates the core, and abduct, take the leg away from the midline. When we’re doing this exercise we’re not looking at getting height of the leg. You’re looking at trying to take your foot as far away from your body, to the side.

The reason I like this exercise is that it works so many aspects.  It works balance, standing on one leg.  Also, the leg that is moving is working the glutes concentrically, away from the body, and eccentrically, slowly letting the leg return to beside the body.  In addition, you are working the glutes on the leg you are standing on, in an isometric contraction.

After I am finished working one hip, I turn around 180 degrees and hook the tubing on my other foot and do the exercises on the other side.

Injury Free Life: Hip Flexion Exercise

This hip flexion exercise is one of the exercises I personally use to keep myself injury free.  What you need is a Thera-Band or Thera-Band® Tubing.  Secure the tubing onto something that’s not going to move.  We’re going to use my therapy table leg and you attach the Thera-Band to one foot, see below.  The path of the band goes between your legs.

Now, hook the band onto the front of the foot.  Stand, facing away from the therapy table, nice and tall, keep the knee of the leg with the band attached to the foot that you are going to be moving locked.  Bring it up as high as you can, without breaking form, and lower it back down, slow and controlled.

This exercise is not about getting the foot as high as you can.  It is about strengthening the hip flexors in the range of motion your hips have.  If you have to use momentum to get your leg up higher, you are lifting the leg up too high.  The other thing is, you stand up nice and tall, as it activates the core and works on your balance.

The most common mistake I see when doing this exercise, people do not stand tall and they try to get their leg up high.  This leads to them tucking their bum underneath and rounding their low back.

So just remember:

  • stand nice and tall
  • keep the knee of the moving leg ‘locked’ straight
  • no swinging of the leg up or down