Monday, November 21, 2016

To “Bee” Busy, Or not to “Bee” Busy

How do you think a bee sleeps at night? I’d like to think pretty darn well. They work hard from the moment they get up to the moment they sleep at night. We can all learn a thing or two from honey bees – one thing being they do what they are designed to do and they are healthier as a result of it.

Just like bees, humans are designed to work (or MOVE) in various ways, are designed to live in a social community (to INTERACT and have RELATIONSHIPS) with other humans, we are meant to fuel ourselves with good foods (NATURAL and UNPROCESSED) that nourish, energize and heal us, and we humans –just like bees – are designed to rest (RELAX, REFLECT and SLEEP)

In the midst of a busy lifestyle, we can get caught up in the daily grind of going through the motions. Bees, in contrast to humans, are designed to go through the motions – their existence depends on it! An optimal human existence on the other hand is to change physical and mental tasks every now and then to keep our body and mind sharp. There are reasons why we experience pain in response to movement; one being that we have done the same thing too many times in a row, and two being that we are performing that movement inefficiently. Evolution has left us with the need to move often, and change our movement behaviours regularly. Movement itself is stress on the body, but to perceive all stress as bad is an unhealthy thought process that you do not want to get stung by! To improve physical function, we have to introduce new activity and movement patterns gradually but regularly. What will eventually sting you is going through the same motions day in and day out. 

Being “as busy as a bee” is a very healthy existence. Our complex human brain is both and gift and curse when we are busy.  During times filled with family, friends, pets, extracurricular activities and work commitments, we tend to waste energy on over analyzing why and how we got ourselves into certain situations instead of 100% of our energy going into the tasks at hand. Bees on the other hand just put their heads down and plough through the work. As humans, there are times when we have to put our heads down to complete a taskperforming the job is actually a better way to handle the overwhelming feelings than trying to figure a way out of it. Use the gift of your brain and keep critically analyzing your situation because there is often a more creative or efficient way to get something done. But also, be aware of the curse of the brain that leaves us over analyzing to the point of counter productivity. Work hard, stay on task and take breaks (both active and quiet reflective breaks are necessary) when needed.  

Quiet time and rest is essential. No matter how much work honey bees have to get done, they know how to rest and they do so every night in the hive. Rest and recovery is likely the most over looked element when approaching any activity – the most mental activities to the most physical tasks can become tedious and futile when our body is fatigued. Just as our ability to stay on task improves with practice, it also improves with stepping away from the situation to allow our body and brain to recover and recharge.  

Having a busy life is a fulfilling way to live. To thrive as a human, it important to do different activities, try new things, move in different ways, be present in a socially and nutritionallysupportive environment, and to rest. Choose exercises and activities you enjoy, find people you click with who enjoy the same activities, be spontaneous with your activity choices, work hard, eat well, rest, reflect, ask questions, sleep and repeat.

Scott Dunne – Physiotherapist 

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Balancing Act

If there was one word to describe optimal health, it would be “balance”.  Balance, in every sense of the word, can define the relationship between the systems of any living organism that is experiencing optimal health.  Even an inanimate object will lose its ability to function efficiently if it’s not built or used in a balanced fashion. A system in balance is a system that is resistant to environmental changes (some may describe “change” as “stress”).
Take a tall building for example; the foundation and walls have to be positioned in the right balance in order for the building to be free-standing and functional. All the materials like steel, cement, concrete, wood and brick have to be performing in their own way but also help support the materials around them. This same building must have the resiliency to withstand the forces of nature – floods, high winds and earth quakes. Because this building is balanced at it’s very foundation to withstand environmental changes (an inevitable occurrence), it may move and bend a little bit in response to the “stress” but will bounce back into a proper balanced alignment. Buildings that are not built in a balanced fashion will be affected by the environment in one of three ways: 1) the building may remain distorted after the stress is gone which would affect all efficiency, function and safety in the future. 2) The building may crumble. 3) The building may find its way back to its original balanced state.
Now take a living organism – a human being for example. We as humans, have the resiliency to be able to bounce back in response to environmental changes or stressors. We also have to ability to be controlled by the environment around us – but let’s not go there. Let us focus on how we can become balanced individuals and in turn become beings of optimal health.  Just as the tall balanced building has various materials working together to support its function, the body has numerous systems working individually but all these systems have the greater task of working together with all other systems around it. If just one system is off, all systems and the body as whole can be affected.
Are we lost causes if we think our bodies have been forever distorted by environmental stressors over the years? Absolutely not – Humans are incredibly adaptable animals.
YOUR body is amazing and YOU are the most important factor in your road to recovery. Achieving a balance is multifaceted and consists of physical, mental, nutritional, spiritual, and interpersonal elements to name a few. Under the physical umbrella are the skeletal, muscular and nervous systems. As mentioned above, all these facets are interlinked - Improvement in one will overflow and lead to improvement in others. The journey of achieving and maintaining balance should be an ongoing educational, enjoyable and enlightening experience. There are many great avenues we can take as humans to help stimulate our bodies to heal and be well – One way is to integrate physiotherapy into our lives.

Scott Dunne - Physiotherapist

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Importance of PhysiotherapyExercise Rehab, and Performance Care

How long would a 4-cylinder car engine last if it was constantly driven using only two cylinders? It wouldn’t last long in such an inefficient situation. The demands placed on the engine will cause it to be overworked leading to an inevitable mechanical breakdown. A car engine is made up of many parts working together to produce movement of the vehicle and your human body works in a similar way.  Efficient body movement is only produced when the muscles and joints work in synergy. In many ways humans are complicated creatures, for this article let us consider humans as a biomechanical machine.

When certain muscles dominate a movement pattern and do more than their fair share of worka biomechanical “breakdown” occurs. Furthermore, other muscles can stop working (become neurally inhibited) in response to pain or disuse which perpetuates this problem. For example, a quadriceps and hip flexor (muscles in the front of you thigh and hip) dominated movement pattern could cause strain and discomfort in those muscles over time. After those muscles in the front of the thigh have been dominating for a while, the brain doesn’t waste energy communicating with other key muscles like the gluteal muscles and other posterior hip muscles. Basically, if you are constantly over using the muscles in the front of the hip, the muscles in the back of the hip go on vacation. This relative loss of function of the gluteus musclecan lead to a long list of injuries; leading to more pain and muscle inhibition and the nasty cycle continues. 

The importance of physiotherapy lies in the identification of overactive and underactive muscles, physical habits and compensations, and restricted joint mobility. From there you learn how to address those physical shortcomings and help yourself transform your body into an efficient movement machine. As an active person, it is important to realize that most injuries occur over time due to repetitive inefficient movement patterns. The gradual onset of pain creeps up inconspicuously until it one day disrupts function. The other popular way to get injured is to have one traumatic event like a fall or collision. No matter what route is taken to injury, pain is still encountered –This is a good thing! Pain is a very useful tool as it lets you know when it’s time to stop and change your behaviour. It’s important to communicate with a physiotherapist regarding the type of pains you’re experiencing (i.e. dull ache, sharp, stabbing, burning) and when it occurs. Knowing what phase of healing you are in and how to change your behaviour accordingly is important for returning to efficient movement patterns as quickly as possible. Just remember the saying “NO PAIN, NO GAIN” is NOT true in many cases. 

Adopting an active lifestyle can transform your life in many positive ways and you may even feel “super human” compared to your old self. Even though you may feel super human, the likelihood of you being a “super human healer” is very unlikely. When an injury occurs, respect the pain and listen to it – if you don’t know what it’s telling you ask someone who would know! More than likely the pain is telling you to stop and change your behaviour. Depending on the severity of injury or “tweak”, normal healthy human physiology needs up to 1-2 weeks just to process the inflammatory phase of healing – the first of three essential phases of healing towards a full recovery. The entire healing process can take months!

A very useful component of a physiotherapy session is to learn what you can do and when you can do it. Just because you are in the middle of a healing process does not mean you can’t be active. In fact, key rehab exercises are an integral part of the road to recovery. Often, you may not even need to physiologically “strengthen” a muscle but simply re-educate particular muscles that you haven’t been using to their full potential. This can be done initially with manual prompting by the physiotherapist but nothing re-educates movement better than physical practice on your part (i.e. your rehab exercises)

If you have a nagging injury or think you may not be moving as efficiently as possible, get your engine checked! Talk to a physiotherapist.

Scott Dunne – BScHKMScPT
Physiotherapist, Pilates Instructor, Owner
ATHLETIFY – Physio, Pilates, Fitness, Golf
15105 Yonge Street, Unit 105 
Aurora, Ontario