A stigma is a mark of shame that’s associated with a particular circumstance, quality, or person. People who hold stigmas to others, often do so as a result of assumptions or stereotypes they believe to be true. Throughout history, sickness or illness has carried a certain stigma by people. Lung cancer, obesity, diabetes, and HPV are examples of illnesses or ailments that have been stereotyped and stigmatized.

Facts About Stigma Around Mental Illness

In one recent Canadian study, researchers found that:

  • Just under half of Canadians thought that a mental illness was just an excuse for poor behaviour
  • Only about one in three Canadians would continue to be friends with someone with an alcohol use problem
  • Only about one in four would continue to be friends with someone with a drug use problem

Why Do People Have Stigmas Around Mental Illness?

  1. Fear

    Individuals suffering from mental illness have been portrayed as unstable or “crazy” by the media in the past. These labels have often been reinforced. Labeling a person with mental illness as “other” instills fear; fear of violence or fear of one’s own mental health.

  2. Untrue Beliefs

    People hold many untrue beliefs around mental illness. Some people believe that individuals with mental illness can’t recover or believe that people can’t participate in their communities. Education and exposure to people living with mental illness can help to resolve these untrue beliefs.

  3. Blame and Self-Blame

    Often, people don’t take into account the environmental and hereditary circumstances that can facilitate mental illness and substance abuse. People may be blamed for their conditions or problem substance use and viewed as weak.

Why Society Must Fight to End Mental Illness Stigmatization

Stigmas fall into the same category as prejudice and discrimination. Prejudice is when someone holds a negative attitude or belief about someone else because they are different in some way. Discrimination is when someone acts on this belief. Mental illness has had stigma, prejudice, and discrimination attached to it for centuries. Recently, scientific research and attention has been paid to a variety of mental illnesses. Society needs to overhaul their perception of mental illness and here’s why.

  1. Mental Illness is Widespread

    Facts About Mental Illness

    • 1 in 5 Canadians experience a mental illness or substance use problem in their lifetime
    • Six and a half million Canadians experience a mental illness or substance use problem in their lifetime

    Mental illness is widespread and dismissing or shaming the individuals who suffer from mental illness will not make the problem go away. It is only by shedding a light on the reality of the state of mental health that can instill real change.

  2. Shame Aggravates Symptoms of Mental Illness

    Judgement, shame, and isolation only work to aggravate symptoms of mental illness. If people are fearful of those suffering from mental health issues, social distancing can occur. Social distancing, will then isolate the individual living with illness. According to The Lethality of Loneliness loneliness can actually be deadly. The feelings of social rejection and disregard accelerate the deterioration of one’s mental health.

  3. Resources Should Be A Necessity (Not a Privilege)

    If society believes mental illness is a excuse for poor behaviour (one of the leading stigmas identified in Canada), resources like medication and therapy will be less accessible for the mentally ill. In its “Attitudes Towards Mental Illness” report, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) noted that stigma can result in a lower prioritization of public resources and poorer quality of care.

  4. Stigmas Discourage the Mentally Ill from Seeking Help

    Only about 20% of adults with a diagnosable mental disorder or with a self-reported mental health condition saw a mental health provider in the previous year. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) acknowledged that: “Embarrassment associated with accessing mental health services is one of the many barriers that cause people to hide their symptoms and to prevent them from getting necessary treatment for their mental illness symptoms”. If the general public stigmatizes treatment, the individuals that need treatment will be less inclined to seek it.

  5. Stigmas Influence Funding

    Although mental illness is widespread in many countries, the stigmatization of mental illness corresponds with a lack of funding. This discrepancy is evident in the United Kingdom, where mental health accounts for 23 percent of the economic burden, but only receives 13 percent of the funding. Funding is necessary for progress in research and effective treatment.

  6. Mental Illness is Deadly

    Mental illness takes a physical toll on sufferers and even leads to death. The highest mortality rate among psychiatric disorders is anorexia. – Anorexia is the most lethal psychiatric disorder, carrying a sixfold increased risk of death — four times the death risk from major depression. Other deadly disorders include: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major depression.

How Can We Fight the Stigma?

  1. Increased awareness

    Teaching people about mental illness and addiction in school systems will normalize it, help eradicate stigmas, and work toward comprehensive education programs. Other programs like “Bell Let’s Talk” share real stories about well-known figures suffering from mental illness and reveal how widespread mental illness is.

  2. Training in the Medical Field

    Proper training can save lives. Training more people across the medical field in mental health issues creates the possibility of integrating mental health screening in primary care settings. People can also be trained to be aware of biases.

  3. Legislation Changes

    According to Michael Friedman Ph.D., recent legislation holds promise that people with mental health issues will receive care comparable to those with physical health issues. For example, The Affordable Care Act of 2013 expanded upon the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008, providing more possibility that mental health conditions will be covered on par with physical health conditions. This legislation is an essential next step.

  4. Make Mental Health a Public Health Priority

    Transformation doesn’t happen without demand and action. Making mental health and the mental well-being of citizens a priority will create a greater push for legislation changes, training, and the other needs of the mentally ill. Together we can recognize the importance of mental well-being and speak up.

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What Does it Mean to Live a Healthy Life?

Before answering the question, how do I kickstart a healthier life? It’s important to define what it means to live a healthy life. A healthy life was traditionally seen as the maintenance of a physically healthy body. It turns out, health as we define it, has become a lot more complicated. A healthy life involves the balance of the mind, body and spirit. Wisdom and science have come together to create new trends in fostering a holistic approach to living well. This integrative health approach can guide you to a healthier mental and physical state throughout the year, and throughout your life.

  1. Set Yearly, Monthly, and Daily Intentions

    The first step to a kickstart is some serious planning. Open up a blank journal, or better yet, a large blank board and break out the markers. Think about where you want to grow this year in terms of the following:

    • Personal growth
    • Career growth
    • Health & wellness growth
    • Social & community growth

    Jot down the big picture stuff. By 2019 where do you want to see yourself in each category? After dreaming big on your annual goals, move on to the month-by-month changes you want to make. You can revisit these each month. Finally, make a list of daily changes you will make to ensure these goals are on track. Make sure to check back and read these intentions every morning before starting the day. Setting intentions can be fun, inspiring, and motivating.

  2. Take the Minimalism Challenge

    Minimalism is gaining momentum. People are recognizing that they feel better with less. Take on the 30-day minimalism challenge. On day one, throw away or donate one thing you own. On day two, throw away two things. Continue throwing away or donating consecutively as the month goes on. By day 30, you will seriously feel the struggle to cleanse your stuff, but just wait and see how much better you feel without that cluttered drawer or overflowing closet. See more on the minimalism game here: 30-Day Minimalism Game.

  3. Refresh Your Gut Health

    Gut health became one of the biggest trends in holistic health for 2017. The microbiome is an intricate system that can manage a variety of body mechanisms including:

    • Nutrient absorption
    • Immune system regulation
    • Mental health and brain function
    • Body weight

    The gut lining can entirely replace itself and regenerate in two to three week’s time. The actual bacteria in the gut can change significantly after only three days of change to the diet. This is good news for your healthy living ambitions! Here are a few things you can do to kickstart a better gut:

    • Eat probiotics like yogurt, kefir, kimchi, sauerkraut, miso, kombucha, and other cultured and fermented food
    • Eat prebiotics, the food for your gut flora, like onions, garlic, legumes, oatmeal, bananas, apples, berries, leeks, leafy greens, and whole-wheat grains
    • Avoid antibiotics that impair a healthy gut balance
    • Take a probiotic supplement
  4. Reset Your Diet

    People are beginning to clue in to the fact that short-term, extreme, or restrictive diets don’t produce long-term results. Fasting can result in bingeing and the end-result can be more weight gain than weight loss. A reset cleanse is different than a diet in both its purpose and approach. A reset cleanse has a goal to support your body’s elimination system to remove toxins and prepare for dietary change.

    The One-Week Kitchari Meal Plan

    Dr. Premal Patel details a cleanse that is simple, home-based, and involves eating real whole foods. The Kitchari Diet involves eating a complete meal, made with rice, yellow mung dal, spices, clarified butter and vegetables. Eat this for every meal, every day, for seven days. Although you may grow tired of the same old thing, find comfort in knowing that your system is being reset and toxins are being removed.

  5. Take the 5-Step Diet Overhaul

    After you’ve completed your kitchari meal plan cleanse, your gut health will be more balanced and your palate for taste will be refreshed. This is the perfect opportunity to transform your diet long-term. These are five important changes you should make:

    1. Triple Your Vegetable Intake.

      It sounds simple but most people do not reach their recommended 5-13 servings of vegetables a day. Aim to add vegetables to every meal you eat. Look at your plate and review the percentage of veggies. Vegetables should account for at least 50% of your meal.

    2. Slash the Sugar.

      Sugar is the silent killer that leaves us with acne, energy depletion, weight gain, and other nasty symptoms. Sugar lurks in things like condiments, dressings, drinks, and the obvious desserts. Track your sugar intake and try to cut down substantially this year.

    3. Drink Way More Water.

      You’re not drinking enough water. You should be drinking about 2.7-3.7 L a day. That’s 11.5-15.5 cups! This requirement increases if you’re consuming dehydrating liquids like coffee or alcohol. Keep a large reusable water bottle with you at all times and drink throughout the day.

    4. Protest the Processed.

      Take an oath to swear off the boxed, the bagged, and the take-out meals that are convenient, yet crippling to the digestive system. Foods that last a long time without refrigeration are generally filled with preservatives (apart from beans, lentils, and rice). Commit to eating perishable foods that are nutrient-dense.

    5. Stick to the Grocery Store Perimeter and the Fridge.

      A trick to buying real, whole, nutritious foods is skipping the aisle foods and shopping the produce on the perimeter. When you unpack your groceries, the majority of foods should take up fridge space (not pantry shelves).

  6. Try to Move Your Body Every Day.

    Logging in an hour a day at the gym is hard for even the most forgiving schedules. This year, give yourself a manageable resolution: you’re going to get up and move every day. This can range from low-intensity to high-intensity activity. It’s helpful to find an activity you physically and mentally enjoy participating in and act as though you are rewarding yourself with this leisure movement. Here are a few suggestions:

    • Go for a nature walk
    • Engage in a morning yoga routine
    • Try a kickboxing class
    • Visit the community centre for a swim
    • Read a book while running on the treadmill
    • Take mini walks between work

Make 2018 a Year of Health and Happiness!

Happy New Year from everyone at Physiomed! We wish you and your loved ones a 2018 filled with inspiring resolutions that reflect what it means to live a healthy life for you. Enjoy the opportunity to seize this fresh start and begin materializing the health and wellness goals you have been excited about.

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  In 2018 it is unlikely that you will ditch all your bad habits in month one. Why? Because 2018 is about setting small and manageable goals that have a greater long term impact toward a lifestyle change. These goals may appear simple and even too easy, but when put into practice, they can reset bad habits, boost energy, help you lose weight, and feel your best for the entire year. Discover the top nine health goals for the new year.

  1. First, Ditch the Diet
    Diets typically don’t work. Making short-term changes to your eating habits will not reap long-term benefits. Participating in restrictive dieting is more likely to encourage binge eating and eventual weight gain. Weight cycling can also lead to adverse health effects. Choosing to take on long-term eating changes in your diet will be more likely to show positive results down the line. Try to avoid restrictive dieting in 2018.
  2. Eat More, But Eat Clean
    Instead of trying to eat less in 2018, try to eat more. Eat more dark leafy greens, more fibrous fruits, more lentils and beans, more fiber, more calcium, more protein, more iron, and so on. Don’t finish a meal with the question, “did I eat too much?” finish it with “did I eat enough nutrients?”. This dramatic shift in your thinking will allow you to see your plate differently. This isn’t to say you should eat more empty calories or more fast-foods. Eating more should be about eating the foods that nourish and energize you throughout your day.
  3. Drop the Sugar Addiction
    Are you addicted to sugar? Most Americans consume approximately 94 grams of added sugar a day. The recommended intake is around 50 grams a day (for someone on a 2000 calorie diet). Cutting down on the amount of processed or refined sugars in your diet will bring nothing but benefits. After several days without processed sugar, the natural sweetness of fruits will become a treat to your taste buds. You may find yourself with more energy, less cravings, and even weight loss.
  4. Go to Sleep Earlier

    Are you sleeping 7-9 hours a night? Most people dip below their recommended nightly rest and can have serious symptoms as a result. Not only does sleep deprivation cause you to be moody and foggy, it can also drive you to sickness with a weakened immune system, it can lead to high blood pressure, weight gain, and lower brain function. In fact, a review of 16 separate studies found that those who sleep less than 6-8 hours a night increase the risk of early death by about 12 percent.

    Sleep is seriously important. Try to get more shut eye by cutting down phone time before bed, skipping the TV shows to unwind early, and even set an alarm notifying you when to hit the pillow. Make going to bed earlier a part of your new routine and feel energized instantly.

  5. Wake Up Earlier
    Establishing a morning routine can change your entire year. Challenge yourself to wake up one hour earlier than you normally do. Rolling out of bed and heading straight to work can leave you feeling lethargic and sleepy throughout the day. Waking up early to make an adequate breakfast, stretch, or meditate can improve your entire day. If you want to really challenge yourself, aim to get in a workout before you start your to-do list for the day. A morning workout boosts your energy levels in a more sustainable way than that espresso shot.
  6. Meditate for Five Minutes a Day
    You’ve probably heard a lot about mindfulness lately. If you’re new to meditating, start with five minutes every morning. We can spend hours scrolling through our phones and yet five minutes sitting quietly can feel painful at first. Set a timer and sit in an upright position in a chair or on the floor. Be mindful of your breathing and count each deep breath until you reach ten. Start again at one. When thoughts come into your head simply watch them come and go and let them pass. Slowly extend the amount of time you meditate weekly.

    Meditative practices cultivate a greater sense of awareness in your everyday life and allow you to calm neurotic thoughts and let go of negative thinking patterns. The end result is a healthier mind and greater well-being. Don’t believe us? Try it.

  7. Put Down the Phone

    A study recently released by Deloitte found that Americans check their smartphones upwards of 8 billion times per day collectively. That’s an aggregate number that refers to the number of times all Americans throughout the country look at their mobile devices on a daily basis, stemming from the average number of each American checking their phone 46 times a day. That’s a lot of phone time, and potentially a lot of wasted time.

    This year get the app Moment to track your phone usage. See how many times you pick up your phone in a day, which apps occupy the most of your time, and how to set daily goals to cut down on phone usage. Swapping phone time for a healthier activity could change 2018 for the better.

  8. Hydrate All Day
    People don’t often forget to have their morning cup of coffee, and yet water consumption can fall by the wayside. Make an active effort in the new year to fill a large water bottle, keep it close by, and finish 11.5 cups a day (for women) and 15.5 cups a day (for men). Drinking water can help flush out waste, regulate your body temperature, lubricate joints, and more. Sometimes we may feel hungry when our body is actually thirsty for water. Drink a cup of water before every meal and snack to ensure you don’t overeat.
  9. Make Workouts Fun
    A large deterrent to working out, is often the overcrowded gym in the month of January. If you’re forcing yourself to get up and run a few miles, but hate running, this can end up being a short-lived aspiration.

    This year, try a new activity or workout that is designed to be healthy yet fun. A kickboxing class, a yoga studio, a daily swim, a zumba dance, skipping as cardio, or biking through a beautiful park. Finding a workout you’re excited to participate in will make staying fit so much easier in 2018.

Live Your Best Life, A Healthy Life

2018 is your year of self-care and self-love. Take care of your physical and mental health by applying these simple habits to your life. When you find yourself falling into old, unwanted habits, tell yourself that just this one time you’re going to try things differently. Try to workout before work and see how you feel. Try to meditate, try to sleep 8 hours one night, and try to drink 3 litres of water a day. When you give these changes a try you’ll realize how amazing you feel and not want to give them up.

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What Does Smoking Do to Your Body?

Nicotine is poison. In fact, nicotine is a very strong poison that is capable of killing a human in less than an hour when a small amount is injected into the bloodstream. Tobacco smoke contains traces of this poison in just the right quantity to cause dependence without immediate death. As if one poison is not enough, tobacco smoke contains another 4,000 chemicals that mix together into a sticky tar that not only clings to your clothing and skin, but clings to the inside of your lungs.

The inside of the lungs have tiny cilia that are responsible for cleaning out bacteria and dirt. When you’re a regular smoker, these cilia become coated in tar and fail to work properly. This means your lungs become dirty and prone to disease. The chemicals also contribute to various diseases like throat cancer, mouth cancer, bladder cancer, lung cancer, chronic bronchitis, and more.

Why Did You Start Smoking?

If someone told you they would take money from you everyday so that they could feed you poison that would eventually lead to your premature death by disease, would you agree? Probably not. So why did you start smoking? Most people start smoking when they are young, often before the age of 19. People often pick up their first cigarette for social reasons or to deal with stress. Soon the addictive components of nicotine make smokers dependent and desperate for a fix.

How to Quit Smoking This Year

It’s possible for you to quit smoking. If you’ve tried many times to kick this bad habit only to relapse, you may begin to feel like you’re simply incapable of quitting nicotine and have accepted your fate. Never accept a fate of premature death and disease if you can fight to control your own circumstance.

Think about the efforts each cell in your body go through everyday to keep your system working. Your heart pumps blood throughout your body, your lungs fill with air to keep you breathing, your cells split, your digestive system breaks down food and fuels you; there is an interconnected system working every moment to sustain you. Make a choice to stop poisoning it. You are capable of quitting smoking and the efforts that it will take to do so, are worth it. Your life and health are worth it.

  1. Decide Why It’s Worth It
    Quitting smoking is not easy. You will have moments of weakness, cravings, and mood swings. You will find yourself making excuses as to why quitting isn’t worth the effort. Before you decide to start this recovery, you have to decide why it’s worth it to quit. When you’re feeling inspired, write down a detailed explanation of why you want to stop poisoning yourself. Is it for your family, so that you can live a long life and see your kids grow up? Is it out of respect for your body, do you want to change your lifestyle and be a healthier individual? Search for a reason that is bigger than just yourself and your temporary cravings.
  2. Make a Plan
    Going cold turkey very rarely works without a set plan of rules and guidelines in place. This restrictive method can make you feel like you’re drowning without any support system or assistance. You need to prepare your mind and body for withdrawal. Meet with your doctor and discuss your goals, get an app that tracks the numbers of days without a cigarette for motivation, tell friends and family so you are held accountable, and rid your home of all cigarettes. Your brain is hooked on smoking and will not go out without a fight.
  3. Explore Nicotine Replacement Therapy

    Studies have shown that nicotine gum, lozenges, and patches can improve your chances for success. Ingesting trace amounts of nicotine without all of the other chemicals, can relieve your body of some of the physical withdrawal symptoms.

  4. Talk to Your Doctor About Medication
    Taking medication temporarily to help quit smoking is not the best option for everyone, but has been shown to work for many. There are drugs that can help alleviate nasty withdrawal symptoms like difficulty concentrating, depression, mood swings, or headaches. There are medications that interfere with nicotine receptors in the brain. This means it not only reduces symptoms of withdrawal, it also reduces the pleasure associated with smoking.
  5. Create an Accountability and Support System
    Tell the people around you that you are taking a serious effort to quit smoking. Have a friend or family member available to talk to or call if you feel a severe craving. It’s also important to explain to the people closest to you that your irritability and patience may change over the course of your recovery from addiction.
  6. Treat Yourself in Other Ways
    Participating in distractions that you enjoy can help take the attention off the cravings. If smoking was a major source of stress relief for you, find other activities to alleviate stress. Spend the money you would have spent on a pack of cigarettes, and save up for a deep tissue massage. Join a gym or workout class that helps you release built up stress and tension. Book an event like a hockey game or concert that you can look forward to. Bringing more joy and less stress into your life will help you stay positive throughout your recovery.
  7. Make a Lifestyle Change Not Just a Habit Change
    Curbing unhealthy habits becomes a lot easier when it’s part of an overall lifestyle change. This may sound like a lot to take on, but it actually makes recovery from cravings easier. You can make smoking incompatible with your way of living so that going out for a drag is no longer an option. Create a meal and exercise plan that involves nutrient-rich meals and strength training workouts. When you start physically feeling better you will be less inclined to poison your body and more motivated to continue living healthy. Never follow a strict diet when you’re quitting smoking, too much restriction can backfire into rebellion.
  8. Don’t Drink Alcohol Early On
    Drinking alcohol can lower inhibitions and make caving into cravings easier. After indulging in a few drinks, your temptations to have a smoke increase. Going to bars also promote smoking culture and social influence. It’s hard to pass up on your nicotine addiction if you’re walking through clouds of smoke and being offered a spare cigarette at every turn. Skip the bar for the first little while to make things easier on yourself.
  9. Progress, Not Perfection
    Very few people quit smoking on their first try. Try and try again when it comes to quitting. Don’t look at attempts as failures, look at them as learning experiences. Observe what makes you cave and how you can prevent it next time. Build a more detailed knowledge on you and your bad habit with relapses.
  10. Have Hope
    You are capable of quitting smoking. Don’t just be hopeful, be confident that you are capable of quitting. You are working toward a future that is attainable. More good news? Your body is miraculous at recovering from the damage caused with each cigarette. Your heart rate can go back to normal, within a day your blood’s carbon monoxide levels equalize, in 2-3 weeks you lessen your chance of a heart attack, and eventually the chance of contracting lung cancer and other diseases becomes significantly reduced.

You Only Have One Body, Treat It Well

In the end, smoking is just a bad habit you picked up. You don’t need to smoke to survive, in fact, you need to stop smoking to survive. Make a commitment to quit a destructive habit and trade it for one that is healthy and nourishing to your body. Use these simple steps to get motivated and get started on your smoke-free life.

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The first symptom of overtraining is that if you suspect that you are overtraining, you probably are. All joking aside, overtraining has very serious long and short-term health implications that you should be aware of.

Decreased performance and stunted progress

Decreased performance levels can be the result of being psychologically and/or physiologically burnt out. If you are feeling burnt out and you are not progressing, take a step back and take a break for a couple of days.

Insomnia & disturbed sleep

The optimal amount of sleep per night, for decent recovery, is 7-8 hours (or more). Overtraining interferes with the body’s circadian rhythms. Symptoms include waking up earlier than normal, trouble in getting to sleep or trouble in staying asleep. Also pay attention to other symptoms including restlessness and inability to focus.

Chronic fatigue

If you are too tired to even raise your heart rate for a proper warm up before your training session. There should be no training session.

It is also a big red flag if you start to notice that you are unable to complete your everyday tasks, like your job, because you are always knackered.

Ongoing muscle soreness

If you experience muscle soreness pretty much all the time, you need to take a break, before you actually break something.

Symptoms Of Overtraining

Increased incidence of injury

Musculoskeletal injuries due to overuse are very common in the ‘overtrained’. These injuries include muscle strains, sprains, tears, bursitis and contusions among many others.

Elevated resting heart rate

If you notice your heart rate is steadily increasing over a two or three-week period, it’s quite possible that you are overtraining and not scheduling enough recovery time between sessions.

Depression, Irritability, moodiness and general personality changes

Chronically elevated cortisol levels caused by overtraining not only eat away at your muscles, lead to fat storage and impair brain functioning. They also make you a moody pain in everyone’s arse.

Increased incidence of colds or other illnesses

Your elevated cortisol levels, caused by overtraining, lead to suppressed immune system function. Once again, overtraining leading to bad performance and no reward.

I hope you found this useful. Need more help? Go to your doctor/dietician/physio and take a break.

Find out more on http://www.verticalwise.com/en/overtraining-signs/

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Hi, my name is Liz Pollock. I’m here today to talk to you a little about arthritis, some prevention, some therapies, and just different ways to approach it.

So, if you’re ever looking at major arthritis within the feet, knees, or hips, you always wanna make sure that you’re doing some lower extremity stretching and some stability work. So here, I’ve got a dowel stick just in case your balance is a little bit of an issue. So, the first one is you’re gonna step one foot forward, alternating or staggering the feet. The weight’s gonna be on the back hip. You can prop the foot slightly. Make sure there’s a soft bend to the knees and the stick is there just for a little support. Keeping the chest tall, you’re gonna hinge forward at the hips, just bringing a gentle stretch to that hamstring and then you can pull the chest back up, and alternate between the two movements. Pausing here, take a few deep breaths, and then lifting the chest again.

Second thing. We wanna look at the IT band on the lateral side of the leg. So, you’re just gonna take the leg that you wanna stretch and you’re gonna bring it behind the opposite one. Make sure you could grab the foot to the back just bringing a soft bend into the front knee. Two options here, you can the right arm up towards the ceiling and reach over towards the left, just lengthening through the right side of the body. Option two, you can hinge forward at the hip a little bit, just integrating that hamstring and that IT band into a little bit more of a stretch.

Third thing, you wanna look at a little bit of stability training. So, here you wanna try to use the dowel as little as possible. So if you can take it right out of the picture, that’s the best situation. We’re gonna bring the foot forward, making sure that the knee stacks between the second and third toe. You’re just gonna lift the back leg. Try to find that stability and strength, holding there. Good. Try squeezing the glute if you need. Bring your hand on towards the hip, just kind of aid the muscles in activation. Good. Keep the core tight. If you need, you can always bring that back foot down, and just look for a little bit of shifting of the weight forward, and rocking back. If there’s too much pain in towards the knee. So, always modify, try to stay below that pain level, and enjoy.

Whenever we’re dealing with any lower back or SI arthritis or even in towards the hips, the morning can be a difficult time in terms of stiffness and soreness. What I always suggest is that before you get up in the morning, do a few stretches and try to increase blood flow, decrease pain levels before you really get out of bed. That can help a lot with those first few steps out of bed. So, whenever you wake up lying on your back, first thing is just bring the feet a little bit wider. Here, I say mat-width, but in your bed you’ll have to estimate. And then you’re just gonna bring the knees over to one side, just gently letting them drop externally and internally rotating. And then alternating sides, use your arms to push down if you need a little help activating the core. Good. Just finding a few rotations to each side.

Second thing, bring the feet together and just bring a little bit more rotation in towards the lumbar. At this point, you can bring the arms to the side just helping find that stretch and rotation, yet again doing a few rotations to each side.

Third, we’re gonna finish with another strengthening one. So arms coming back in towards the side. You wanna tuck the heel in with line with the sit bumps. From here, you’re gonna activate the core. So, you’re drawing the belly towards the spine, you’re not decreasing any space into that mat. So, no tilting into the mat just staying neutral here. You’re gonna think of squeezing your glutes. If you need a little assistance, bring the hands on towards the glutes and just help your body find those muscles. If you can, you’re gonna lift off the mat. You can either pause here, neutral, just keeping that core and glute engaged or you can lift right in towards the neutral bridge. Yet again, hold for a little bit of endurance and then as you lower, find that spinal ability. So, nice and slowly, let one vertebrae fall on towards the mat at a time. Good. Repeat a few time until you feel a little less stiffness and a little bit more pain relief.

Very often in therapy, we talk about preventative exercise and preventative measures. So here is just a really basic, but in my opinion what everyone could benefit from doing everyday in terms of just overall feeling better, moving better, and total core and spinal strength. So, first one is just a simple cat-camel. You get to see flexion and extension in every aspect to the spine and really just break down those movements. So, on your hands and knees. Make sure if there is any pain into the wrist you can always find a fist position or you can use an aid like the sort of hand rest or even yoga gloves if necessary. So here, in neutral position make sure that the knees are under the hips. You’re just gonna curl the toes, rotate the hips, legs into the chest. Use the strength of the shoulders to lift the neck. If there’s any pain into the neck you can always keep the spine neutral, the cervical spine neutral. If there’s no pain, you can find that range of motion. Going the other way, tops of the feet turn, tailbone tucks, shoulders push through, and the head relaxes. Good. Move between those two positions nice and safely, just finding that range of motion. Another nice, neutral position is just child pose. Knees go wide, toes together. Here, this is the joker version. So, we stack the fist and rest the forehead on top of the fist, just helping keep that cervical spine neutral. Good. Take a few deep breaths. It’s great decompression in towards the lower spine and then towards the hips.

Third thing is your strengthener. So here, just Bird Dog. Great. Keeping the spine neutral, drawing the belly in, the rib cage in, and the neck nice and long, we just lengthen through one side of the body, reaching through the other. Good. Just creating that cross curl pattern, lots of strength in towards the spine.

Whenever you’re dealing with arthritis into the shoulders, first thing in the morning, again, can be pretty difficult to move. So, I always suggest having a nice hot shower can help increase blood flow, and help sort of loosen those tissues and be able to move a little bit more freely. So, whenever you are in the shower is a good time to sort of check some of that range of motion. So, whether you need this side of the shower to help with crawling up the wall, or you can just gently bring your arms up through flexion. Good. Circling them right overhead, standing nice and tall, and then rotating back down. Good. If you want, you can bring the arms to the side as well, just opening the palms up towards the ceiling, circling them overhead. Good. And then pushing them away as you rotate back towards the ground. Good. Forward coming up, scooping the palms up, and then exhale, pushing them back down.

A great shoulder strengthener and neutral spine strengthener, as well as always helps out with the neck, is just a W. So, making a W with the arms, I like to spread the fingers to help kind of activate the muscles. And then here, you’re gonna tuck the chin in towards the chest and just squeeze the shoulders blades together. Don’t let the ribs flare out. Keep the belly pulled in and the ribs pulled down and squeeze the shoulder blades together. You can also do this just lying on your tummy, just kind of lifting the head and squeezing the shoulder blades as well.

When it comes down to it, arthritis isn’t always a fun thing to deal with. But here at Physiomed, we do believe that we can find the right treatment technique which includes again, looking at all those aspects of nutrition, movement and therapy that can help you lead a pain-free lifestyle and continue doing the things that you enjoy.

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Crisp air, colourful foliage and early sunsets. Autumn is the time of year to hike rural trails, walk your nearest apple orchard, and enjoy a s’more by the fire.

It’s these activities that keep us fit during the colder months (well, maybe not the s’mores). But, often, whether you’re laser-focused on your new workout routine or simply enjoy a leisurely walk on those brisk, Fall afternoons, it’s likely you’ve neglected one of the most critical components of fitness: stretching.

Even the simplest of stretches can improve posture, aid in balance and muscle coordination, increase blood flow, and alleviate muscle tension. Most importantly: the more you stretch, the more flexible you become.

But, which stretches will take you from wooden plank to pretzel?

Never fear: We’ve got you covered from Thanksgiving to Halloween – four weeks of stretches to keep you at your bendiest. Novice or pro, each stretch takes less time to complete than a pumpkin-flavoured beverage by your favourite barista.

Before you dive in, remember to stay in good form. Move with your breath and don’t over-do it. Go slow until you get the hang of each stretch. It’s best to perform these stretches after some light exercise – like walking, gardening or even cleaning the house.

Are you up for it? Make sure you share your photos with us on Instagram or Twitter with the hashtag: #FallFlexibilityChallenge.

Week One:

Let’s kick off this challenge with two stretches that will open your chest, stretch your obliques, and strengthen your back and hips. Take five minutes each day to work through these, and notice your chest feels stronger and lifted.

  • Front Body Stretch: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. Place your hands on the base of your back – your fingers should be pointed towards the floor and grace the tops of your glutes. Your elbows can gently move towards each other. Use that placement of your hands as leverage to open your chest up towards the sky. On an inhale, lift your arms overhead to create a half-moon shape with your upper body.

  • Full Body Twist: Lay on your side. Bend your knees softly and stack one on top of the other. Extend your arms out in front of your torso, palms together. Use your top hand to trace a large circle along the floor across the top of your head, until that top arm is stretched out in the opposite direction of the bottom arm. Make sure both shoulder blades are firmly planted on the ground. Breathe deeply and relax here. Repeat on the other side.

Week Two:

It’s time to move a little further down. This week’s stretches will target your hamstrings, calves, achilles tendon and back.

  • Forward Fold: Start this classic but powerful stretch in a standing position with your feet shoulder-width apart. On an inhale, reach your arms overhead while keeping a long, straight spine and with your shoulders away from your ears. On an exhale, bend your knees slightly, and slowly fold at the hips keeping your spine long. You can let your knees bend even more and hang like a rag doll with your opposite hand holding onto your opposite elbow, or start to gently straighten your knees and stretch your hamstrings.Try holding onto the back of your shins with the palms of your hands.

  • Downward Dog: This is possibly the most famous yoga pose. But if you’re not familiar, start with your hands and knees planted firmly on the floor, shoulder- and hip-width apart. Your palms should be facing down with your fingers splayed and extended forward. Move your shoulders away from your ears and reach your tailbone up to the ceiling. Hug your belly muscles in towards your spine and let your head hang with your ears between your biceps. Your body should look like an upside-down “V.”

Week Three:

You’re almost there. To celebrate, these stretches will keep you low to the ground. We’ll be stretching your latissimus dorsi and abdomen, and strengthening your spine.

  • Child’s Pose: Start with your hands and knees on the floor. The soles of your feet should face upward. Gently move your rear back onto your heels. With your torso comfortably rested on your thighs, extend your arms out in front of you.

  • Upward Dog: Lay with your stomach on your floor. The soles of your feet should face up. Press into your hands and gently peel your chest off the floor. Engage your abs. Slide your shoulders away from your ears to open your chest.

Week Four:

This last week will test your flexibility. These stretches focus on your deep abdominal muscles, hamstrings and hips.

  • Saw Stretch: Start in a seated position with both legs extended in front of you. Your toes should be pointed upwards. Stretch out both arms at shoulder level, broadening your wingspan. Move your left hand towards your right foot by gently twisting your torso. Extend your right hand towards your back. Repeat on the other side.

  • Lunge: Start in a standing position with feet hip-width apart. Keep your right foot firmly planted while lifting your left leg, reaching it two-to-three feet behind you, and placing the ball of your foot on the floor. Bend into your front knee and lower your hips until your front knee is at a 90 degree angle. Keep that front knee stacked over the ankle to protect both joints. Gently reach your back heel towards the wall behind you while strengthening and straightening that back leg. Keep your low spine long and strong, with your belly reaching away from your front thigh. You can keep your hands on your hips.

Easy, right?

You might have missed a day or two, but simply participating in this challenge puts you one step – or stretch – closer to your health, fitness and flexibility goals.

At Physiomed, we’re here to guide you at every step of the way on your fitness journey. Let us know how you did with this year’s #FallFlexibilityChallenge on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

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Osteopathy treatment can alleviate pain and improve mobility, particularly for arthritis patients. In this latest post, we chat with Elizabeth Pollock, Manual Osteopath and Clinic Director at Physiomed Nobleton.

Pollock is a Kinesiologist with a background in active therapy. She has worked with both professional and amateur athletes to reduce pain and improve performance – and with a background in competitive sports, she’s experienced in developing effective, interdisciplinary treatment plans for a diversity of ailments and injuries.

In this latest interview, Pollock talks arthritis prevention and treatment, as well as exercise tips to improve bone health, and the benefits of Joga – the latest trend in strength and stability training.   

Q: Can you tell me a little bit about what it means to work as a Manual Osteopath?

A: Manual osteopathy is just another realm in which I feel like I can help people lead a pain-free and healthy lifestyle. It’s something I’ve always been passionate about. In every aspect, movement and manual osteopathy just kind of brings everything together – the movement, the manual therapy, and the overall knowledge of the body.

Q: What techniques and treatments are available for arthritis patients?

A: There’s a lot of different treatments that are very effective for arthritis. I think it just comes down to finding the technique that works best for you. Here at Physiomed, we use every different aspect – from chiropractic, where there’s mobilizations or manipulative therapy, as well as acupuncture, [which] is an extremely effective treatment modality that many patients find immense relief in, to TENS therapy to ultrasound, as well as maintenance massage therapy. It really comes down to what’s the best mix for you and what you find most effective.

Q: “The foundation of Osteopathy is built on the premise that the role of the practitioner is to facilitate the body’s inherent ability to heal itself (Lesho, 1999).” How is this applied to bone health and arthritis treatment? Is medication the only answer?

A: Absolutely not. For a long time, people relied on meds. And then they started to realize that, again, something as simple as acupuncture can be even more effective and have much less negative consequences in terms of liver health [and] stomach health… There’s even natural supplements out there for people. Changing diet is a huge thing people have found effective with arthritis. It’s really important to take a step back and look at all avenues.

Q: The term “arthritis” is often applied to numerous conditions affecting the joints. Is arthritis always treated the same?

A: Absolutely not. There are different forms of arthritis – osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis. We know that movement is huge when it comes to bone health. If we stop moving, then bone health is one of the biggest consequences. [At Physiomed], we just want to make sure we can keep you pain free so you can continue to do that thing that your body is already utilizing to keep itself healthy. Sometimes pain just gets in the way of that.

Q: What are some of the biggest misconceptions about arthritis and bone health? Which resources would you recommend to someone looking to stay educated on bone health and arthritis?

A: Here at Physiomed, we do a great job of trying to educate our patients… [The Arthritis Society] have great pointers on their website. They have a lot of great information because they’re there to help as well.

The biggest misconception is that you have to live in pain. When it comes down to it, there are so many things out there that can help people. I think it’s just going out and educating yourself and equipping yourself to understand it the best way. Surgery isn’t always the right option. A lot of times, people will come in and say, “I have arthritis in this aspect of my knee, I want a knee replacement.” And we say, “Well, if you have a hole in your tire, you don’t get a whole new car.” It doesn’t always work that way. If surgery is eventually an option, it’s about prolonging that because there is an expiry on joint replacements. Not to discourage [a joint replacement], but I think [it’s] more of a last-choice.

Q: Is it possible to prevent arthritis? Or, is it possible to slow the onset of arthritis?

A: Absolutely… stability training helps decrease wear and tear on our joints. It’s never too early, or too late, to start introducing preventative treatment for arthritis. That can help you. Again, it’s not a sentence to lifelong pain. It’s just a condition that we can manage like any other.

Q: At what age do you start recommending to your patients that they should be focussing on arthritis prevention?

A: Any age. I think the whole movement of yoga in schools is great. Not only from a mental aspect, but from a physical aspect it’s teaching [students] that that type of training is beneficial – just like going and lifting weights… [or] doing cardio. They all provide a different positive to your health. Getting a good mix of everything is really a great approach to exercise.

Q: How do our dietary and nutritional choices factor into our bone health and arthritis prevention?

A: Huge… Your diet can be one of the biggest things – right from not having energy to increasing pain if you have something if your diet that you are either highly intolerant to or is just creating a lot of inflammation. it’s like adding gas to the fire. Not saying that without that condition the inflammation wouldn’t be there, but I think it definitely affects pain levels. Everyone should always be mindful of what they’re consuming and how that’s affecting their body in the long run.

Q: You’re an ambassador for Joga, a new form of yoga that’s attracting a lot of high profile athletes like Jose Bautista. For those of us who aren’t in the pro leagues, what can we get out of Joga, and what specific benefits does it have for our bone health?

A: Joga really focuses on strength and stability… I think, for everybody, life is movement. Not just for athletes who are constantly on the field, but for those of us who are constantly moving in life. It’s tailored around that competitive edge. We all could benefit from challenging ourselves in that way and, again, any stability training is great for our health.

Q: You have a background in competitive sports like hockey and soccer – did you see a lot of arthritis among that community?

A: For sure. And I see it now a lot with hockey players. Their hips tend to be a big point of issue and strain. But every sport has it’s wear and tear… That’s one thing that I do love [about] working with youth athletes as well because I did go through a lot of pain, and treatment wasn’t as common then… Even when you are developing and going through those youth aspects, there’s always something you can do to help decrease long term strain on [the] body.

Q: We all know exercise improves muscle health – but can it improve bone health? Are there any particular exercise techniques that improve bone health?

A: Strength and stability training is huge because we want to make sure those intrinsic, deep muscles are firing around a joint. As well, when we do things like cardio and we get that impact, even within your strengthening, that’s affecting bone health in a positive manner. Sometimes walking or hiking can be too much, but if you’re able to do that we always encourage it.

This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.

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Professional hockey players are elite athletes that train hard whether they are at the minor league level or in the NHL. The exercise regimes for these athletes is often a combination of cardio, reactive drills, and muscle development to give their entire bodies a full workout. If you want to keep fit and train like a professional hockey player, here are six exercises that they do daily to stay in shape and improve their game.

  1. Jumping rope:
    Hockey requires major hand-eye coordination, foot-eye coordination, and quick feet. Jumping rope combines all three and improves cardio. When you skip rope, you are strengthening the lower legs, improving your agility and increasing endurance. Many players jump rope as a pre-game warmup because it gets their heart rate up.
  2. Medicine balls:
    Using a medicine ball to play catch with a team member, hockey players are able to work on their reaction time and arm muscles. Medicine balls can also be used as weights by lifting them over your head and extending your arms. You can do the same by extending your arms forward while holding the ball.
  3. Push ups, planks and sit ups:
    Hockey players do these three core exercises daily because they work the arms and keep the core strong.
  4. Weighted shooting:
    Hockey players need their wrists to be strong when they shoot. To keep their wrists in great shape, they’ll shoot weighted pucks at a screen. However, if you do not have a special screen and weighted pucks lying around, you can improvise by shooting other weighted objects at a brick wall.
  5. Swimmers:
    You are not a professional hockey player, so it’s best to start with a small amount of weight – like five or 10 pounds. This exercise strengthens the legs and core by stretching and working the hamstrings and glutes. To do swimmers, lie facedown on a bench with a weight placed between your legs. Lift the legs up and down without touching the floor. This exercise also helps players with their skating as it helps develop the muscles in the legs.
  6. Reactive drills:
    These drills deal with hand-eye coordination and helping with a player’s reaction time. The game of hockey moves so fast and the trajectory of the puck can be hard to predict, so players hone their skills by responding to movements, sounds, or visual prompts as quickly as they can.

To truly workout like a hockey player, don’t forget to stretch when you’re done exercising. Stretching helps with flexibility and keeps muscle fatigue at bay.

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For many people, playing golf is a hobby – but that doesn’t mean you have to have a lousy game and risk injuries every time you hit the links. There are certain workouts you can do to stay in shape and improve your game next season. The workouts below are offer the best way to strengthen your core.

Mini-Band Walks: One set of 10 steps

Your glutes are what give you a stable base when you swing, and the resistance of the mini band against your legs as you stretch strengthens them. Put a mini-band around your legs above your knee. Place another one around your ankles. Walk forward using small steps while keeping your knees bent, moving your elbows back in alternating fashion as you make each step.

Lat Squats: One set of six reps in each direction

This exercise helps build up the lower part of your core by strengthening and stretching the glutes, groin, hamstrings, and quads – all of which are important factors needed for a powerful swing. Standing with your feet spread slightly wider than your shoulders, move your hips to the right while bending your right knee. Keep your left leg straight and ensure that your feet are flat and pointing straight ahead. Then, push your right hip to return to the starting position before repeating with the left.

Knee Hugs: One set of six reps per knee

Knee hugs help you in maintaining your posture throughout your swing by stretching the glutes, hamstrings, and hip flexors. To do this exercise, stand with your arms at your sides and your back straight. Then, lift your right foot while squatting down with your leg. Grab the area below your knee with your hands and pull it as close to your chest as possible while contracting your left glute for a total of two seconds. Return to the start and do the same with the other leg.

The World’s Greatest Stretch (according to Golf Digest): One set of three reps in each direction

This one stretch is able to lengthen every muscle in the core plus the muscles attached to it, including the hamstrings and upper back. When you do this stretch correctly you’ll be able to increase the amount you can turn while swinging. With your back straight and arms to your sides, step forward with your right foot into a lunge. Then, put your left hand on the ground and your right elbow near the inside of your right foot. Hold this position for two sections before moving your elbow back and down towards your instep. Reach through to the opposite side before placing your right hand outside your foot and repeating the movements.

If you are able to complete these exercises 3-5 times weekly, you’ll notice a change in your golf game. But, if you feel any pain or discomfort while performing these exercises, stop and take a breather.

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