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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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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Hockey can be a dangerous sport. It is important for players to know how to prevent and treat injuries that occur during games. Unfortunately, these injuries leave many in the dark with descriptions such as “lower-body” and “upper-body” injuries. These injuries are purposely vague to leave some question as to the exact nature of the injury.

The accompanying guide assists players by listing off some common “upper body injuries.” It features tips and tricks to remain healthy both on and off the ice. The following should ease the minds of players who want to play the game as safely as possible.

Click arrows in the bottom right corner to expand full screen

Upper Body Injuries by Pro Stock Hockey, an online resource for authentic pro stock hockey gear

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Summer is approaching, and with warmer weather comes more physical activity. Getting out and walking is a favorite activity in the summertime. But the hot weather and increased time on your feet can lead to unwanted issues.

If you’re walking around a lot this summer, here are 4 things you need to do to protect your foot health.

  1. Choose the Right Footwear With the Right Fit
    Many people develop problems during the summer as a result of wearing the wrong footwear.

    Many people develop strains of the heels and arches because they overlook the importance of wearing the right shoes. Worse yet, many don’t feel the need to invest in high-quality footwear that can protect them from injuries.

    Choose shoes that provide the proper arch support for your feet. Footwear that features the right heel cup and padding gives your feet the support they need to cover long distances.

  2. Reduce the Risk of Infections
    Summer heat can present risks related to infections. Hot weather can make your feet even hotter inside your shoes. This encourages the overgrowth of bacteria and can lead to a fungal infection.

    You should change your socks regularly when walking in the summer. When socks become moist due to sweat, fungal infections can arise. Walking barefoot in public places can also present a risk for infections and should be avoided whenever possible.

    Keep your feet clean and carry an extra pair of socks when walking for long distances. It’s also important to keep your toenails trimmed and practice basic hygiene for your feet.

  3. Prevent Injuries With Stretching
    Keeping the joints of the feet and ankles flexible is a great way to prevent injuries and chronic aches and pains. Muscle tightness restricts movement of the joints and creates compensations that lead to stress on the knees, hips, and lower back.

    Stretching your calf muscles and using a ball underneath the arches to release tight muscles and fascia are just some of the ways you can maintain mobility in the feet.

  4. Avoid Wearing New Shoes on Long Walks
    A new pair of shoes may give you the support you need to walk long distances in the summer. But they can also cause problems if they aren’t broken in properly.

    When purchasing a new pair of shoes, wear them for a short period of time before gradually increasing the time you spend walking in them.

    New shoes can cause blisters and sores to form. But if you choose the right shoes, ones that provide a comfortable fit that’s right for your feet, you may not need to break them in at all.

    Your physiotherapist can help you choose the right footwear and provide instructions on how to break them in when necessary.

These 4 tips protect your foot health when walking in the summertime. Chronic pain from the wrong footwear and increased risk of infection are just some of the issues you should be aware of.

Putting these steps in place will keep your feet healthy all season long so that you can get the most out of your summer activities.

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Numerous health related articles and resources discuss how vegetables are important in your diet. However, Dr. Alison O’ Brien-Moran takes us through 5 types of vegetables that are essential to your overall health and well-being. Some of these may surprise you!

In the following video, Dr. Alison O’Brien-Moran discusses the 5 best vegetables to use in your diet.

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Teenagers are vulnerable to a wide range of injuries that result from their active lifestyles. Participating in athletic sports and physically demanding hobbies are some of the ways that injuries related to wear and tear can arise.

Muscle strains, bone fractures, and overuse injuries are issues that today’s teenagers often face. Developing bodies must be protected against damage that could lead to lasting pain or loss of function.

Special Considerations for Teenagers

There are many injuries commonly seen in teenagers. These include inflammatory issues such as tendonitis and bursitis as well as an impingement of the shoulders, hips, or ankles.

Plantar fasciitis, labral tears, patellofemoral pain syndrome, spondylolysis, stress fractures, and hypermobility issues can also arise in teenagers and young adults.

Left untreated, these problems can become worse and lead to secondary issues that may require extensive and costly treatments.

Working with a physiotherapist helps teenagers prevent unwanted injuries through the use of exercises, stretches, and joint mobilizations. In addition, lifestyle factors can also support their long-term health and wellbeing.

The following are 4 things you should encourage your teen to do to keep their body healthy.

  1. Exercise Regularly
    Exercise provides many benefits to the muscles, bones, heart, and lungs. It’s been shown to improve energy levels and elevate mood.

    Teenagers who exercise on a regular basis have better sleep and are better able to respond to the demands that are placed on them each day.

    Physiotherapists can prescribe the right exercises, frequency, and intensity levels to support the health of your teenager.

  2. Include Strength Training in Their Exercise Program
    There are many misconceptions around the use of strength training among teenagers. Although the bones and joints are still developing, strength training can be used to safely improve and maintain muscle tone and strength.

    Strength training must be performed using the correct form and intensity levels. A skilled physiotherapist understands the unique needs of teenagers and can prescribe the appropriate program to provide the best results.

  3. Maintain Flexibility
    Stretching is critical to preventing injuries among teenagers and adults. Maintaining normal range of motion in the joints prevents muscle strains while reducing undue stress on the joints and their connective tissues.

    Although many people overlook the importance of flexibility, incorporating stretching in your teen’s exercise program will go a long way in keeping them healthy and injury-free.

  4. Aerobic Exercise and Cardiovascular Health
    Not only does aerobic exercise such as running, cycling, and swimming improve the health of your teen’s cardiovascular system, it can also provide relief from chronic pain.

    Improving cardiovascular health improves daily function while preventing physical fatigue. Research has also shown that aerobic exercise can enhance sleep and improve a person’s sense of wellness.

These are 4 things parents should encourage teens to do to keep their bodies healthy. Understanding the importance of exercise along with strength, flexibility, and cardiovascular training is a long-term investment in their health.

Working with the right physiotherapist ensures that teenagers have the right exercise plans to meet their needs, keep them safe from injury, and maintain lasting health.

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Stamina is one of the most important qualities needed for marathon running and other sports. It consists of a person’s ability to perform a physical activity for an extended period of time.

Increased stamina improves your performance in a marathon and other long-distance events. Knowing how to improve your stamina will improve your running time while supporting your long-term health and wellbeing.

The following are 3 things you can do to improve your stamina safely and successfully.

  1. Non-Running Training for Your Marathon

    It may seem counterintuitive, but activities such as swimming and cycling can improve your stamina when running. These activities reduce the impact forces that are applied to the joints and muscles when running.

    Although the body can adapt to the impact that occurs when running, an amount that overloads the body can lead to injury. Cross-training through the use of other sports is a way to improve your performance while giving you a break from running.

    Cycling and pool running have a high carryover effect, as their movements are similar those used in running.

  2. Increase Your Distance Gradually

    Runners must increase their distance over time as they prepare for a marathon. But increasing your distance too quickly can lead to unwanted issues.

    You need to give your body time to adapt to longer distances. Many runners use the 10 percent rule when training for a marathon. This rule states that the distance shouldn’t be increased by more than 10 percent of the previous week’s distance.

    You can apply this rule in your own program. But you also need to listen to your body. If a smaller increase begins to cause pain or other issues, you may need to reduce your increase for a given week.

    Gradual increases in distance are the best way to prevent injuries and improve your stamina over the long-term.

  3. Strength Training for Stamina

    Many runners avoid strength training out of the fear that it may slow down their performance. But there are many strength exercises that are beneficial to runners and improve their ability to recover from physical activity.

    Exercises such as squats, lunges, deadlifts, and pull-ups can condition the muscles and joints while improving cardiovascular endurance. Multi-joint (compound) exercises like these incorporate large and small muscle groups and improve functional strength and stamina.

    Overlooking the benefits of strength training can cause runners to experience issues related to chronic pain, decreased performance, and slow recovery times.

These 3 things can improve your stamina when preparing for a marathon. Understanding how to increase your running distance, incorporate non-running aerobic exercises, and improving muscle strength will benefit your stamina.

A physiotherapist or other health professional, who understands the unique needs of runners can implement the right program to help you achieve your running goals and improve your time for your next marathon.

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A question to ask yourself is, if you’ve had a great workout, do you take what you’ve learned and applied it to real life situations that occur during your day? Dr. Jason Lemieux shows us that although you may have an excellent workout regime, you may not be using those techniques in day to day situations, such as gardening or taking out the trash.

Dr. Lemieux takes you through the Turkish Get-Up which is one of the best exercises you can perform when transferring skills learned in the gym in your everyday activity.

In the following video, Dr. Jason Lemieux demonstrates the Turkish Get-Up, a great exercise that focuses on mindful movement.

I’m Dr. Jason Lemieux. We’re at Physiomed Oakville, and we’re gonna talk about one of my favorite exercises. In a lot of our videos, I talk about the idea that exercise should transfer into real life. That things you do in the gym should change how you fundamentally move in life. I see tons of patients that they’re exercise technique is really, really good. They’re no good at life. They leave the gym having performed great exercises and they don’t know how to take out the trash well, or they don’t know how to get up and down in their garden well. So we wanna make sure that the exercises that are performed in the gym have transferred into real life. And there may be no better exercise for that than an exercise called the Turkish get-up. I didn’t name it. It’s called a Turkish get-up. You can Google it if you want.

One of the things we are anal about when we work with patients is how they get up and down from the ground. So we’ll see people with knee pain that go full deep squat, getting up and down from the ground, and then when they’re finished, kinda rub their knees a little bit and say, “Ow, my knee hurts.” You think? So yeah, if I’m gonna go max knee flexion with my full body weight, that’s probably gonna start to hurt my knees. We say a lot that our lower body does three main movements: deadlifts, squat, and lunge. And to lunge, that’s how I’m gonna get myself down to the ground so that I can sit, lay down, do whatever I gotta do. So the Turkish get-up is a great exercise because it focuses on mindful movement. People who watch me perform it for the first time, [inaudible 00:01:23] say, “I don’t know if I can memorize all those steps.” Awesome. I don’t want you to memorize the steps. I want you to think between each step to think, “Hey, what’s the most efficient position I can put my body in so I don’t blow out my back, blow out my shoulder, and blow out my knee?” I think those are probably things that the average person should know how to do.

So the Turkish get-up is essentially laying on the ground with a weight overhead. And that weight can be light, that weight can be heavy. I don’t care. You can you do it with just your body weight. It doesn’t matter. But from there, you’re gonna make decisions on how you get yourself up from the floor. So I’ve got a kettlebell here that I’m gonna use to hopefully talk my way through a Turkish get-up. So as I lay on the ground, I’m gonna grab the Turkish get-up with both hands as I lay on my side, and I’m gonna roll onto my back as I press the kettlebell overhead. So now I’m gonna stand up. So the first question is, “Well, okay, what’s the first thing I do?” We’re gonna see a lotta people want to sit straight up, flexing their spine. Can you do that? One hundred percent. You can do it if you want. And there’s gonna be some people that have the muscle, coordination, and strength to do that. You are not one of them. Very few people can do that. So what we’re gonna think about is bracing our core and using our hips to roll to our side as I pull through my arm to get onto my elbow. From there, I’m gonna press myself up onto my hand. I’m now stabilizing my top arm and grabbing the ground to stabilize my bottom arm. I’m gonna get my shin vertical, rather than letting my knee dump to the side, I’m gonna get my knee over top of my foot so I can use my hips to bridge myself up. A bridge, a glute bridge is an exercise we do a lot. From here, I’m gonna translate my leg underneath me to get into a lunge position. Hey, wait a minute. We said lunging was the way that I get up and down from the floor. So now that I’m in a lunge position, I can just lunge my way up to stand. And now to come back down, I’m just gonna reverse it. I’m gonna lunge to the floor. I’m gonna use my hip, not my knee, my hip to bring myself down to the ground so I can go back into that modified bridge to lower my hip to the ground, to slide to my elbow, to roll myself back down to the ground. I lower the weight, and then I can perform the same thing on the other side. The biggest task of the Turkish get-up is once you’re done, how do you stand? I see people perform a great Turkish get-up and then do some weird knocked-kneed thing to stand up. No, the whole point of the get-up was to teach you how to efficiently get up.

So let’s start making better choices with our exercises. Let’s start making the decision to do exercises that are gonna change the way that you move in real life, because even if you’re working out an hour a day, everyday, that’s more than the average person, that still leaves you 23 hours to screw yourself up. So let’s make better decisions during those 23 hours, and it starts by making better decisions during your workout.

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Are you prone to pain in your shoulder blades? Dr. Baronette from Physiomed Yorkdale discusses a very common complaint that encompasses all ages and body types.

In addition, Dr. Baronette takes us through why these pain points occur and 3 tips to best resolve shoulder blade issues.

In the following video, Dr. Baronette shows us 3 tips for alleviating soreness in shoulder blades.

Hi, I’m Dr. Jasmine Baronette. I’m the chiropractor at Physiomed, Yorkdale, and today we’re going to do a little video addressing a common complaint I get from a lot of patients, which is pain inside of the shoulder blade, right on the inside. All types of patients, all ages, all body types, I hear this complaint pretty often. So more often than not, these are painful trigger points that are developed over time by postural strain.

So, there’s a common postural dysfunctional pattern called Upper Cross Syndrome that develops over time with the slouched posture. So as your shoulders kind of start to roll forward and your head juts outwards, there’s a crossed kind of opposing tightening of muscles and weakening of muscles. So in the front of the chest, the pec muscles become very tight as do the muscles on the back of the neck and into the shoulder. And the muscles on the front of the neck become really weak and the inside of the shoulder blade, in between, they become weak as well.

So in some cases that becomes pain generating. So today we’re gonna demonstrate three treatment techniques that I would typically do in that treatment plan. So first thing I’m gonna show is a thoracic spine manipulation, and then a myofascial release of one of the tight muscles, the levator, in the upper neck and shoulder, and then lastly an exercise to strengthen the area between the shoulder blades. Okay.

So, I’m gonna use our lovely product manager, Sylvia, today as our treatment example. So could you face down? Okay, we’ll do a big breath in, and all the way out. Okay. Have a seat. And we’ll do evolution today and we won’t go [inaudible 00:02:13]. Okay, so turn your head to the upper right and then as I tension, slowly bring your head down to the left. Okay, and angle down. And we’ll do it four times altogether. So come back and angle back. Then back again. Then one more time. And back again. It’s a lot different with evolution, right? Okay, good. Got to five.

Last thing, I’ll get you to stand up here against the wall. And, so, you’re gonna bring your arms up on a 90-degree angle like that, and feel your shoulder blades squeeze together. Good. And then try to bring your back a little bit more flat. You should still have a normal arch. Perfect. And then from here, it’s our starting position, slowly keeping the shoulder blades together, raise up as high as you can. Good. Okay.

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