Aug 22

Trust and Fear in an Uncertain World

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By Shannon Stoby

I don’t know if we are generally a distrustful species or if we have just taught each other to be that way. Certainly, there is a survival instinct that may promote distrust. Our long history of feuding on this planet in the name who knows what may also be a contributing factor. Yet this general feeling of unease that we seem to feel toward our fellow man, this fear-based culture that we have created, is only breeding more of that which we fear.

Once again, I feel that some of this is partially an outward projection of our internal environments. While the accessibility of information can be wonderful, it is teaching us that we don’t know. That we have to rely on external sources to tell us what is ‘right’. What follows is a self-doubt and an assumption that these external sources are experts who have our best interests at heart. While this may sound like I am breeding some distrust of my own, at the risk of sounding like a conspiracy theorist, I think the intent of those spreading information is always worth questioning.

Intuition seems to be a bit of a lost art. That innate trust of our bodies and minds that we know what is right for us. ‘Trust your gut’, ‘follow your heart’—these are common sayings, but less common practices as we research what the best answer is, filling our heads with so many possibilities that our bodies can’t be heard.

I’m not saying to reject all external information. Certainly, we can’t each be experts about everything and there is something wonderful and valuable about being willing to learn from one another. To reject everything outside of yourself is just another brand of paranoia. But, at the same time, to disregard that internal knowing in favour of external opinion is a personal disservice.

Like most everything in life, I suppose it is a balance. Perhaps the best you can do is to trust yourself to know where to place your trust, otherwise you end up fearing everything.

By: Shannon Stoby, PT, MScPT
Physiotherapist
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Shannon is a Physical Therapist with an interest in helping her patients achieve holistic healing from whatever ails them and achieve optimum functioning in pursuing their passions.

Shannon graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Physical Education with distinction, and followed with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy. She is licensed with the College of Physical Therapists of Ontario and is a member of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.

Shannon has trained extensively in John F. Barnes Myofascial Release (MFR), and this is the focus of her practice. She has worked with patients with mental illness, has trained in women’s health treatment, and is a sports enthusiast; MFR allows her a means to assist with all of these issues in a meaningful way. She has also worked across the lifespan, with experience addressing the health concerns of older adults. Through her experience in work and in life, she has come to understand that there is more to healing than just the body. While physical health is paramount, the roles of the mind and the soul in health and healing are of equal importance.

Shannon is excited for the opportunity to work with the talented team at IHI, and looks forward to working with you, in wherever the journey may lead.

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Aug 15

Take the Plunge

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By Lauren Berger, MSW, RSW

You trust your doctor. You trust your accountant. You trust your drycleaner. Heck, you even trust your coffeehouse barista with your precious caffeine fix. We trust all kinds of people with the things that are important to us. So, why is it often so hard to trust ourselves? There are many reasons why, but there is typically one common denominator: fear. If things don’t go right, it seems to take the sting out of it if we have someone to blame. I’m a zombie today because they gave me decaf by accident! We blew that project because Joe was slacking again! When the onus is on you and you alone to meet your goal, you may notice yourself shrinking away. The problem with this is that you’ll likely miss out on something that is important to you, and you may notice this goal reemerge at different points in your life if it goes unfulfilled. How many times have you wanted to ditch your career in favour of something that truly excites you? Ask out that special person, but you’re afraid to ruin a friendship? Try a new lifestyle change, but you’re afraid of feeling humiliated if it doesn’t work out?

All of this fear is probably leading to ongoing disappointment. You wish you could do something, but don’t out of fear, and keep returning to the thought of “What if I just go for it?” Ask yourself: What is the worst that could happen? Can I pick myself up if it doesn’t work out? Does the reward not outweigh the risk? Chances are that the answers to these questions suggest that you should go for it, but that bit of fear seeps back in.

You trust so many people with the things that are important to you. No one knows you better than yourself – the time has come to trust yourself. Affirmations can be a big help in alleviating your fears and building that trust. Go to your bathroom mirror and look yourself in the eye. Encourage yourself like you would encourage your best friend. Remind yourself of how capable you are, all the things you’ve already accomplished, and all the tools you have in place to help yourself achieve this goal.

You may be your own worst enemy, but you have the power to be your own best friend. Take advantage of that and go for it! The popular adage may be old but it is usually very true: You have nothing to fear but fear itself.

 

LaurenB

 

Lauren Berger is a Registered Social Worker providing counselling and psychotherapy at IHI. Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at lauren@laurenberger.ca, follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW, or sneak a peek at her Instagram: laurenberger_msw.

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Aug 2

Trust and Fear: Finding Your Comfort Zone in the Therapeutic Relationship

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By Shannon Stoby

There can be a lot of fear associated with illness or injury. Fear of pain. Fear of the prognosis. Fear of the recovery process. Mostly a fear of the unknown. And when faced with a health issue it may feel like your own body has become the unknown.

At this point we seek medical advise. We look to the experts to tell us what is wrong with us and what we should do about it. Someone who can make the unknown known again and provide us with the answers to our problems.

It is important to be able to trust your health care practitioner; to have faith that they know what they’re doing and can guide you through. But, there are a couple of things that it is not reasonable to expect anyone to be able to tell you:

1. What this ‘should’ feel like. Whether it be physically or emotionally, no one can tell you how to feel. What you actually feel is what is important, and being able to honestly communicate that with your practitioner is part of building that relationship and helping your health care team help you the best they can.
2. How long until you are better. I understand that we all want to be able to plan our lives, and certainly we don’t want to be strung along. But, no one actually has the capacity to accurately predict how long it will take you to feel better. No matter what research or statistics we apply to understanding your health, every person is unique. I have had clients get better much sooner than expected and some that take longer than anticipated.

Everyone’s healing journey is different. Each person brings their own medical history, attitudes, traumas, fears, and expectations to the rehabilitation process. All of these things factor into what their recovery may look like. People with the ‘same’ ailments, even when they occur under similar conditions, can have very different processes and outcomes. There may be guidelines, but there is no ‘one-size fits all’ protocol or script that works in the same way for everyone, and learning to trust your own body is part of the process.

There is a saying that applies to healing as well as to so many other things in life: Expectation is the thief of joy. Celebrate the days that you feel better, have faith that there are more of those days coming, and recognize that temporarily feeling worse does not always equate to actually being worse—sometimes it’s just part of the healing.

My goal as a clinician is not to be able to map out exactly what your journey will look like. Despite the fact that we would all like those reassurances, I’m afraid it’s not possible. My goal is to be able to apply individualized care to my clients and to find out together what works best for each one. My fondest wish for each person I treat is that my expertise and experiences on both sides of a healing journey can help them to become more aware of themselves and to become their own expert. The healing and mastery of self is, after all, part of why we’re here.

By: Shannon Stoby, PT, MScPT
Physiotherapist
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Shannon is a Physical Therapist with an interest in helping her patients achieve holistic healing from whatever ails them and achieve optimum functioning in pursuing their passions.

Shannon graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Physical Education with distinction, and followed with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy. She is licensed with the College of Physical Therapists of Ontario and is a member of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.

Shannon has trained extensively in John F. Barnes Myofascial Release (MFR), and this is the focus of her practice. She has worked with patients with mental illness, has trained in women’s health treatment, and is a sports enthusiast; MFR allows her a means to assist with all of these issues in a meaningful way. She has also worked across the lifespan, with experience addressing the health concerns of older adults. Through her experience in work and in life, she has come to understand that there is more to healing than just the body. While physical health is paramount, the roles of the mind and the soul in health and healing are of equal importance.

Shannon is excited for the opportunity to work with the talented team at IHI, and looks forward to working with you, in wherever the journey may lead.

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Jul 25

The Endometriosis Diet

The Endometriosis Diet

By Lisa Watson

As a Naturopathic Doctor, I believe that health is built on a foundation of a nutritious diet and healthy lifestyle. As an expert in women’s health I see this to be true in most women’s health concerns, from uterine fibroids, polycystic ovarian syndrome, premenstrual syndrome to endometriosis.

The purpose of the Endometriosis Diet is multiple:

  • Balance the immune system
  • Decrease inflammation
  • Support hormone regulation
  • Improve detoxification

You can start the Endometriosis Diet soon after diagnosis, or at any time. This diet can help control the growth of endometriosis that has already appeared, decrease pain and other symptoms and in some cases prevent endometriosis from occurring at all.

Endometriosis Diet: Foods to Avoid

  1. Avoid alcohol

Alcohol depletes B vitamins that are necessary for hormone detoxification. It also has estrogen-like effects on the body and can worsen endometriosis symptoms.

  1. Avoid refined sugar

Sugar is another culprit that can increase estrogen levels. It is also known to negatively impact immune function. Fruit is fine, but avoid all sources of refined sugars.

  1. Avoid caffeine

Women consuming two cups of coffee per day have twice the risk of developing endometriosis.

  1. Avoid red meat, especially grain-fed

Red meat is a rich source of arachidonic acid – which promotes production of inflammatory prostaglandins and increases inflammation and pain. Additionally, cattle and pigs fed grains treated with pesticides tend to concentrate these hormone-disrupting chemicals in their fat and muscle tissues. Consumption of these meats is a leading source of human exposure to organochlorines.

  1. Avoid dairy products

Dairy products are another potential source of hormone-disrupting chemicals, like the organochlorines. Organochlorines also impact the function of the immune system, weakening natural killer (NK) cell activity. Additionally, high fat dairy products may promote estrogen dominance, accelerating the growth of endometriosis.

  1. Avoid gluten

A 2012 study started 200 women with endometriosis on a gluten-free diet. 75% of the women reported an improvement in pain and none reported an increase in pain. All patients reported improved vitality and general health as well.

  1. Avoid refined and hydrogenated oils

Refined and hydrogenated vegetable oils contain omega 6 fatty acids that compete for absorption with anti-inflammatory omega 3s. Avoid canola, safflower, sunflower and so-called “vegetable” oils.

  1. Limit eggs

Eggs are a source of arachidonic acid and their consumption should be minimized.

  1. Limit peanuts

Another rich source of arachidonic acid. Healthier nuts include almonds, hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts and cashews.

     10. Avoid food sensitivities

Food sensitivities can contribute to inflammation, intestinal permeability and immune system disturbances. Food sensitivities are very individual – blood testing is generally recommended to identify what foods may causing negative effects in your body.

Endometriosis Diet: Foods to Enjoy

  1. Organic fruits and vegetables

Fruits and vegetables provide fiber that support healthy digestive function as well as nutrients to support immune function, detoxification and decrease inflammation. Women who consume two servings of fruit per day have a 20% decreased risk of endometriosis. Selecting organic fruits and vegetables will minimize intake of pesticides that disrupt hormone function.

  1. Vegetarian proteins

Women who eat a vegetarian diet excrete 2-3 times more estrogen in their feces and have half as much estrogen in their blood as meat-eaters. Focusing on eating soy, almonds and other nuts and nut butters, beans, lentils and legumes.

  1. Fish

Fish, especially cold-water fish like salmon and mackerel, are a rich source of anti-inflammatory omega 3 fatty acids. Two servings per week is the ideal recommendation – more than this can result in undesirable exposure to PCBs and other environmental contaminants.

  1. Flax seeds

Another rich source of omega 3s, ground flax seeds also contain lignans that provide an ideal source of fiber to support digestion and healthy bacteria balance.

  1. Cabbage family vegetables

The Brassica (cabbage) family of vegetables support detoxification and encourage a healthy estrogen balance by favouring production of the less active form of estrogen. Consume broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, kohl rabi and cauliflower regularly to reap these benefits.

  1. Leafy green vegetables

Leafy green vegetables provide key minerals for detoxification and support liver function. Frequent consumption of leafy greens (two servings per day) has been shown to significantly decrease the incidence of endometriosis.

  1. Onions, garlic and leeks

These vegetables contain organosulfur compounds that enhance immune function and induce enzymes that detoxify the liver. They are also rich sources of quercetin, a bioflavonoid that stimulates the immune system and decreases inflammation.

  1. High fiber foods

High fiber foods are incredibly important for endometriosis because they support the optimal balance of friendly bacteria in the digestive tract. Friendly bacteria support the elimination of estrogen in the feces. Focus on fiber in the form of vegetables, fruits and whole grains such as barley, quinoa, millet, brown and wild rice.

  1. Fermented foods

Fermented foods support estrogen balance by providing a food source of friendly bacteria. Olives, pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, tempeh and kombucha are excellent, delicious options.

      10. Spices

Spices such as ginger and turmeric are powerful anti-inflammatories and also support liver detoxification. Use them liberally throughout the day.

The endometriosis diet can be an important part of regaining your health and decreasing the pain and discomfort of this condition. For a more comprehensive approach, book an appointment with your Naturopathic Doctor today.

 

 

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Jul 21

Bodily Connections and the Patterns of Pain

 

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By: Shannon Stoby

Nothing that happens in the body happens in isolation. Any injury, illness, or event creates a chain of reactions. Despite the fact that there is a specialist for every organ, system, and body part these days, it is ultimately all connected.

Ever sprained your ankle and wound up with a knee problem? A hip problem? A back problem? As your gait and weight-bearing change to compensate, things go out of whack up the chain. If you dislocate your shoulder, the protective posturing and disuse of the arm can cause other issues. Or maybe an initial posture or prior injury made you more prone to the dislocation in the first place. We develop all kinds of movement patterns and postures over time to compensate for our injuries and avoid pain. Once the immediate threat of the injury is gone, however, those patterns can remain and make us more predisposed to other pain. And have you ever noticed those old injuries that seem to have healed—except for the nagging pain that resurfaces when you get sick or stressed?

When you consider the fascial system, any number of ‘random’ symptoms become connected. The fascia is a type of connective tissue that runs continuously throughout the body from head to toe in a three-dimensional web, and it covers every system. When healthy, the fascia is fluid and dynamic, yet through injuries, surgeries, traumas, inflammation, or stressors restrictions form in the tissue. These restrictions cause pressure on the delicate structures that lie beneath and tension throughout the system, causing pain that goes unseen in diagnostic imaging. Aside from the pain, structural malalignments and compensatory movement patterns are perpetuated through the restrictions as well.

We become very focused on specific symptoms as the ‘problem’ or a specific event as the ’cause’, but it is not always that simple. Pain is often more about patterns than isolated incidents. Holding patterns or postures. Movement patterns. Behavioural patterns. Thought patterns. So looking at the totality of your body and how your patterns are affecting it is an important aspect to healing.

Even the emotional and the physical go together. Ever had an injury or illness that you were completely ambivalent about? Maybe you were scared by the incident, the pain, or the prognosis. Or maybe frustrated by the disruption to your life, or the fact that your recovery didn’t seem to be going as quickly or smoothly as your friend who had the ‘same’ injury. Maybe you blamed yourself for being so careless, or were angry at someone else for having caused you pain. These are all perfectly normal reactions and dealing with the emotional aspect becomes part of the process.

Pay attention to all the patterns of your life. Sometimes they are so subtle they are hard to notice, or so ingrained they are difficult to navigate on your own. Your own awareness is key to healing, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. You don’t have to be isolated to manage your pain—connect with a health care practitioner that can help you through.

By: Shannon Stoby, PT, MScPT
Physiotherapist
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Shannon is a Physical Therapist with an interest in helping her patients achieve holistic healing from whatever ails them and achieve optimum functioning in pursuing their passions.

Shannon graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Physical Education with distinction, and followed with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy. She is licensed with the College of Physical Therapists of Ontario and is a member of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.

Shannon has trained extensively in John F. Barnes Myofascial Release (MFR), and this is the focus of her practice. She has worked with patients with mental illness, has trained in women’s health treatment, and is a sports enthusiast; MFR allows her a means to assist with all of these issues in a meaningful way. She has also worked across the lifespan, with experience addressing the health concerns of older adults. Through her experience in work and in life, she has come to understand that there is more to healing than just the body. While physical health is paramount, the roles of the mind and the soul in health and healing are of equal importance.

Shannon is excited for the opportunity to work with the talented team at IHI, and looks forward to working with you, in wherever the journey may lead.

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Jul 18

Top 5 Reasons to get Acupuncture while Pregnant

pregnant_girl_standingBy Jonathan Handel

Acupuncture is a proven tool that can help mothers navigate their various pregnancy-related health issues, and maintain a high quality of life from conception to the birth, and beyond!

Here are the TOP 5 reasons to come in for acupuncture when pregnant:

1) Nausea

Nausea is experienced in approximately half of all pregnancies. It is usually felt in the first trimester, but sometimes continues well past then. Nausea can lead to vomiting, as well as food and smell sensitivity. This is very disruptive as it can not only lead to unpleasant trips to the bathroom throughout the day, but can also wake nauseous mothers up at night, leading to disturbed sleep, fatigue and irritability.

Western medicine understands nausea in pregnancy to be due to hormonal shifts. High stress and fatigue are also considered to be contributing factors. Chinese Medicine is well suited to help mothers manage these symptoms by regulating hormones and keeping the stress and energy levels in check.

A 2002 study by Smith et al, looked at the effectiveness and safety of using acupuncture in early pregnancy to treat nausea. They found that compared to the control groups, the women that received traditional acupuncture had the fastest results. Furthermore, the women who received traditional acupuncture reported better overall feelings of health.

2) Body pain or discomfort

Musculoskeletal issues are something that all people deal with. In pregnancy, however, there are some added factors that can lead to discomfort for the mother. In early pregnancy, the body releases progesterone, which acts on the ligaments of the body to prepare them to shift as needed to accommodate the growing fetus. As the pregnancy continues, this will be compounded by the added weight load, and the change in centre of gravity. The most common body pain complaints of expectant mothers are pelvic, back, shoulder and neck pain. Much like nausea, these pains can be disruptive to daily life, affecting sleep, energy and mood. Acupuncture is a proven and safe treatment for pregnant women seeking to manage their pain.

A 2005 study by Elden et al, compared acupuncture treatment to other standard physiotherapy treatments of stability exercises for pelvic pain during pregnancy. The study found that acupuncture was superior to stabilising exercisers in managing the pain.

3) Breech Position

Breech presentation is when the baby is still positioned with its head upwards later the 34th to 36th week. The ideal position for labour is with the baby’s head down, chin tucked in, and the body positioned to face away from the mother’s abdomen. While delivery is possible in other positions, it does make a natural delivery more tricky, and can lead to other complications.

Acupuncture with moxibustion (herbal heat therapy) has a great success rate at encouraging the baby to turn on their own. This can also be combined with exercise and other manual therapies with great success.

Cardini et al in 1998 performed a study of acupuncture and moxibustion treatment for breech position. They found that after two weeks of treatment 75.4% of the acupuncture/moxibustion group were correctly positioned (compared to only 47.7% in the control group).

4) Labour Induction

While the due date is usually considered at 40 weeks, full term pregnancy can be anywhere from 38-42 weeks. This range is still considered healthy if there are no extenuating health factors. However, there are some cases where there is a medically imposed limit by OBGYNs to limit potential risks. Also, in some cases pregnancies can last beyond 42 weeks. When this is the case, doctors will often try to medically induce labour. This is done by using prostaglandins and oxytocin to stimulate the cervix to ripen and induce contractions. While this is very effective, it can also lead to other complications and does increase the possibility of needing a c-section delivery if the labour progresses too slowly.

The mechanisms at play when using acupuncture to induce labour, however, while having similar goals in mind, works with the body to encourage labour to begin, rather than imposing labour upon it. This means that the acupuncture points used will help the cervix ripen and begin contractions through encouraging the movement of energy and blood flow to the uterus and cervix. Furthermore, as the end of term arrives, often mothers experience added stress. Sometimes this is due to worries about the delivery, or pressure from balancing the pregnancy and the rest of her life. This stress decreases the natural release of oxytocin and can therefore cause labour to be delayed. Acupuncture can, along with the strategies discussed above, help the mother manage the stress and emotions in a healthy way, allowing the body to be open and ready.

5) Pre-Birth treatments

Being proactive is truly a mother’s best reason to use acupuncture. As she reaches the end of her pregnancy, regular acupuncture treatments can help encourage the natural progression and greatly diminish the potential need for other interventions. As I mentioned in my previous blog about this topic, acupuncture has been shown in studies to to promote a natural birth and even reduce labour times. In 1974, a study by researchers Kubista and Kucera calculated that women who had acupuncture starting in the final weeks of pregnancy on average took 4 hours and 57 minutes between when they were 3-4 cm dilated to when they delivered. This is compared to 5 hours and 54 minutes in the control (non-acupuncture) group. They also measured the time between the onset of 10-15 minute contraction and delivery, and by that measure the acupuncture group averaged 6 hours 36 minutes, versus 8 hours and 2 minutes in the control group. In 2004, acupuncturist Debra Betts and midwife Sue Lennox conducted an observational study of 169 women who received pre-birth acupuncture and compared their births statistics to those of the local population. They found that there was a 35% reduction in medical inductions (up to 44% for women having their first baby) for the women that received pre-birth acupuncture. Comparing to regular midwife care, they found a 32% reduction in emergency caesarean delivery and a 9% increase in normal vaginal births. Those are pretty amazing results!

These are five great reasons why mothers should consider acupuncture as they navigate their pregnancy.

And, the list above is by no means complete. Other pregnancy-related conditions acupuncture can help manage include:

  • Threatened miscarriage,
  • heartburn,
  • constipation,
  • UTI,
  • varicose veins and other vinous issues,
  • fatigue and exhaustion,
  • insomnia,
  • anxiety and depression,
  • itching,
  • sinusitis,
  • hypertension,
  • edema, and
  • much more!

If you would like to learn more about acupuncture and pregnancy, come join me for a free seminar on July 21st, 6:30pm at IHI. Click here to register

Jonathan Handel, R.Ac R.TCMP

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Jonathan is a acupuncturist and practitioner of traditional Chinese medicine. He values a holistic approach, and seeks to treat the root causes of illness and provide symptomatic relief for people seeking to better their health and quality of life. As a practitioner, Jonathan seeks to create a positive healing environment, where patients can step away from their daily stresses. Through creating a safe and comfortable space, patients can look forward to coming in for treatment as an opportunity to seek relief and get the support they need.

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Jul 11

Core Connections: What’s the Pelvic Floor got to do with it?

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By Shannon Stoby

Core strengthening is a big thing in exercise nowadays—and rightfully so. It is important to have a stable base from which to initiate your movement. But are planks and crunches really the cornerstone to core strength?

No.

There are other pieces to the core which should not be ignored. While the rippin’ six-pack is aesthetically pleasing, it is not all there is to core stability. In fact, when it comes to stability, the key abdominal muscle is the one that you do not even see on the surface. It is called the transversus abdominis and it acts as your inner girdle—a key in preventing or recovering from back pain.

The muscles of your back are also key in your core. You can’t rely totally on your abs to keep you stable. To have a good balance of musculature from the front and back is posturally important also, as if you are too tight in some areas, you become pulled out of alignment. Being very tight through the chest or abs or hip flexors pulls you forward into that hunched position which is not optimal for your spine. Conversely, if you habitually sit in that hunched position, it can cause those muscles in the front to become shortened. It is important to work on releasing the front as well as strengthening the back to correct such malalignments.

But, the most often neglected component to core stability is the pelvic floor. It’s role usually only becomes evident when it is not pulling it’s weight—an example of this being in pregnancy. There are many factors that contribute to back pain in pregnancy. Weight gain, a change in your centre of mass, the ligamentous laxity that comes with hormonal changes. However, the condition of your pelvic floor is important in helping to stabilize. If you had menstrual or other gynaecological issues prior to pregnancy, it is likely that your pelvic floor was not functioning properly to begin with and now, since your overstretched abdominals are not contributing as much to your stability, your back is left to literally do all the heavy lifting. And, like everything that is over-worked and under-paid, it is going to complain.

Now, this may make everyone rush to do kegels. Don’t. Not all pelvic floor issues stem from weakness. Just as I mentioned that tightness and weakness both need to be addressed elsewhere in the body, so is true for the pelvic floor. In fact, tightness needs to be addressed before weakness in the pelvic floor. When you think of a muscle that is already shortened, it is not in an optimal position to have contractile strength. And when you think of fascia that is restricted, it is not in it’s optimal state of fluidity and is causing pressure on the structures beneath. You may assume that if you are having issues with bladder leakage, for example, that you must need to strengthen, but this may not be the case.

Really, this is not just an issue for pregnant or postpartum women. Anyone with issues relating to incontinence, fertility, pelvic pain or injury, menstrual pain or menopause in women, or erectile dysfunction in men, should have their pelvic floor assessed by a qualified pelvic floor physiotherapist.

While it undeniably a personal matter, it is important to have a proper assessment to know whether you need to release or strengthen, or some combination of the two, to restore your pelvic floor health. Whether you have had a baby or not, if you are having any such issues, you owe it to yourself to get it addressed.

Join Shannon and Mehran this Thursday, July 14th 6:30-7:30pm for their complimentary seminar
The Pelvic Floor: Stability. Fitness. Performance. Register Here

By: Shannon Stoby, PT, MScPT
Physiotherapist
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Shannon is a Physical Therapist with an interest in helping her patients achieve holistic healing from whatever ails them and achieve optimum functioning in pursuing their passions.

Shannon graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Physical Education with distinction, and followed with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy. She is licensed with the College of Physical Therapists of Ontario and is a member of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.

Shannon has trained extensively in John F. Barnes Myofascial Release (MFR), and this is the focus of her practice. She has worked with patients with mental illness, has trained in women’s health treatment, and is a sports enthusiast; MFR allows her a means to assist with all of these issues in a meaningful way. She has also worked across the lifespan, with experience addressing the health concerns of older adults. Through her experience in work and in life, she has come to understand that there is more to healing than just the body. While physical health is paramount, the roles of the mind and the soul in health and healing are of equal importance.

Shannon is excited for the opportunity to work with the talented team at IHI, and looks forward to working with you, in wherever the journey may lead.

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Jul 4

Assessing Your Summer Mood

 

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By Lauren Berger, MSW, RSW

It’s finally here! Patio Season! So you’re gonna round up a group of friends and do margaritas this Friday at five o’clock on the dot, right? Right?!

Well, maybe not. What happens when Spring has sprung but you still don’t feel like getting out with pals, preferring instead to get under the covers with cookies? When isolation seems much more appealing than connecting with others, it may be important to begin assessing yourself for signs of depression. Depression isn’t strictly a Winter-related situation, despite what we may have been led to believe. If you find that you’re suffering from depression symptoms, prioritize yourself and your mental health so you can get back to the things you love most, whether they take place on a patio or anywhere else. Here are my Top Tips for beginning to assess yourself for symptoms of depression. Do you notice yourself:

  • Hiding out. If you find yourself sending all your calls to voicemail and breaking plans with friends, you may be isolating yourself from loved ones. If you are typically a social person and are noticing a change in your social behavior, this may be a sign that something is off.
  • Spending the weekend in bed. Everyone loves a little Sunday sleep-in, but if you find that you’d rather be in bed than anywhere else, take notice. Changes in sleep behaviour, whether you’re oversleeping or experiencing symptoms of insomnia, are one sign of depression.
  • Eating the whole tub of ice cream. We’ve all heard the expression “eating our feelings” in relation to sadness, and there’s a good reason for it. When our mood is low, we often crave sweets, snacks, or comfort foods. If you notice yourself over indulging, perhaps to the point of regret, take note. Alternatively, if you find your appetite has taken a hit, this may, too, be a factor to consider. If it’s not your usual behaviour, it is something to note.
  • Swinging moods like Tarzan on a vine. If you’re chill one minute and livid the next (without reasonable provocation), this is something to be aware of. Frequent changes in mood, especially if you’re typically stable, is a common symptom of depression.
  • Pulling the ol’ “I have a headache.” Reduced sexual drive is another common depression symptom. If you or your partner has noticed a change in your desire to get down, take note of it. This applies to solo sex, too.

These are just a few of the common symptoms of depression. If you are noticing a few of these in combination, don’t panic. Self-diagnosis is not the goal here, but rather paying attention to changes in your usual mood or behaviour to give you valuable information into your mental health state. Remember: The key is to notice changes from your typical state. Everyone gets a little down at times, but if these symptoms have been persisting for six months or more, it is likely time for help. If you are concerned that you may be depressed, consult a professional to assess and get yourself back on track. No one wants to spend these precious Summer months alone with the TV. (Netflix and chill notwithstanding.)

**Disclaimer: The advice in this article is for informational purposes only and does not replace the diagnosis/treatment of a licensed medical or mental health professional.**

 

 

LaurenB

 

Lauren Berger is a Registered Social Worker providing counselling and psychotherapy at IHI. Check her out at www.laurenberger.ca, drop her a line at lauren@laurenberger.ca, follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBergerMSW, or sneak a peek at her Instagram: laurenberger_msw.

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Jun 27

The PCOS Diet

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By Dr. Lisa Watson

A nutritious diet is the cornerstone of health – a foundation on which we can build healthy choices and behaviours. This is true for most health concerns, and certainly for women who have polycystic ovarian syndrome. Choosing the right foods for PCOS and avoiding others is necessary for women who want to balance their hormones and decrease symptoms of PCOS. And there are no harmful side effects – just the benefits of a healthy, nutritious diet!

The PCOS Diet – What to Avoid

  1. Refined grains

Breads, bagels, muffins, crackers, pasta – all the many forms of refined grains that are common in the western diet, should be avoided in women with PCOS. These high glycemic-index foods quickly raise blood sugar levels and can lead to insulin resistance – a condition where your cells no longer respond to insulin. This is thought to be one of the underlying hormonal imbalances in PCOS.

  1. Refined sugars

Sugars found in cookies, cakes, candies, sodas and sweetened beverages can wreak havoc on your hormones in a similar way to refined grains. Best to leave these foods out of your diet entirely and instead opt for naturally sweet fruits to nourish your sweet tooth.

  1. Alcohol

Alcohol is one of the most hormonally devastating things we can put in our body. Not only is it made of mostly sugar (and in PCOS we know what sugar can do to our insulin response!) it also prevents the liver from being able to effectively process and eliminate excess hormones. Women with PCOS also have an increased risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Limit alcohol consumption to red wine, have no more than one serving per day and don’t have it every day.

  1. Red meat

Red meats are high in saturated fats and contribute to inflammation. Saturated fats can also lead to increased estrogen levels. I recommend limiting red meat to lean cuts of grass-fed, hormone free meat and consuming it no more often than 1-2 times per week.

  1. Dairy

Dairy is a significant source of inflammation, unhealthy saturated fats and should be avoided by women with PCOS. Additionally, dairy increases the production of insulin-like growth factor (IGF) which is known to negatively impact ovulation in PCOS. Rather than reducing dairy, you should consider avoiding it all together to help manage your PCOS.

The PCOS Diet – What to Enjoy

  1. Vegetables and fruits

The foundation of the PCOS diet are plants. Vegetables, fruits, beans and legumes, nuts and seeds are provide the body with essential nutrients and fiber. Soluble fiber such as that found in apples, carrots, cabbage, whole grains such as oatmeal, and beans and legumes, can lower insulin production and support hormone balance in PCOS.

  1. Proteins

Healthy proteins are an absolute necessity for women with PCOS. While dairy and red meat are not recommended, plant based proteins like nuts, seeds, beans, lentils and legumes are encouraged. Other healthy proteins like turkey, chicken breast, eggs and fish should also be emphasized. For most women with PCOS, a daily intake of 60-80g of protein per day is recommended.

  1. Wild salmon

An excellent source of protein, wild salmon is also rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Omega 3s improve insulin response and blood sugar metabolism and studies have shown lower circulating testosterone levels in women who supplement with omega 3s. Choose wild caught salmon and other cold water fish two to three times per week and incorporate other healthy sources of omega 3s such as walnuts and flax seeds into your diet.

  1. Cinnamon

Spices (link to article) are an amazing way to increase antioxidants in your diet, and cinnamon is especially useful for women with PCOS because it can help to regulate blood sugar. Sprinkle it on apples, oats or quinoa in the morning, add it to teas and use it in flavourful stews or curries.

  1. Pumpkin seedsThese zinc-rich seeds help to lower testosterone levels and are an easy, high protein snack to enjoy every day!
  1. Green tea

Studies have shown that green tea extract helps to improve the response of cells to insulin, as well as lower insulin levels. Consider drinking a few cups of green tea daily – or better yet, have some matcha to get a big nutritional benefit!

  1. Spearmint tea

As little as two cups of spearmint tea per day for a month can lower testosterone levels and improve symptoms of abnormal hair growth (hirsutism) in women with PCOS. A must for all women with polycystic ovarian syndrome!

  1. Broccoli

Cabbage, cauliflower, bok choy, broccoli, kohl rabi, kale – these brassica vegetables are a source of indole-3-carbinole, a compound thought to support the detoxification and breakdown of hormones in the liver.

  1. Walnuts

Researchers have found that consuming 1/3 cup of walnuts per day for six weeks can reduce testosterone levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and improve fatty acid status in the body. Combine these with your pumpkin seeds for a satisfying afternoon snack!

  1. Leafy greens

Spinach, kale, arugula and all the amazing variety of leafy greens are good sources of vitamin B6 – a nutrient necessary for balancing prolactin levels – a hormone that is often elevated in PCOS. Greens are also high in calcium, a mineral necessary for healthy ovulation. One more great reason to get those greens!

I hope you will embrace the PCOS diet – you really can heal your body through food medicine. If you need more support or guidance, contact me to book a free 15 minute consultation and together we can find your vibrant balance.

 

Lwatson

Dr. Lisa Watson delivers health care that supports balanced and attainable health at all ages and stages of life. Of primary importance is health care that nurtures the body, mind, spirit, family and community.  As a Naturopathic Doctor and mother, Lisa believes that health care and a healthy lifestyle are intrinsically linked and that each serves to support the other. Dr. Watson practices at the Integrative Health Institute in Downtown Toronto.

Follow Dr. Watson on Twitter
Check out Dr Watson’s blog: www.drlisawatson.com

Select References

Kaur, Sat Dharam. The complete natural medicine guide to women’s health. Toronto. Robert Rose Inc. 2005.

Hudson, Tori. Women’s encyclopedia of natural medicine. Los Angeles. Keats publishing. 2007.

 

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Jun 20

The Benefit of Empathy

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By Shannon Stoby

I think apathy is one of the greatest threats to our society and to our planet. We see large-scale examples of it at election time in voter turn-outs, smaller examples in our day-to-day life: litter on the sidewalk, neglect of the homeless person on the corner.

In general, I think we have become a society that feels too little. We value thoughts over feelings. We pride ourselves on being able to ‘keep it together’. We can get so caught up in the busy-ness that is expected of us that we become apathetic about our own lives. Even the medical model reflects an expected lack of feeling, as much of health care is based on numbing out. Take a pill for that. Get on with things. Feeling is inconvenient; it gets in the way of all the things we have to do. But, often as we tune out of our bodies, we also tune out of who we really are and our connection to one another.

Being one who feels a lot is not always an easy road. It can make life confusing, overwhelming, and downright frightening on any given day. This world can be a scary place in which to feel. There is a lot of chaos going on. There are so many places for the empathy to go that the thought of caring for everyone seems nearly impossible.

But it is when we feel that we are most united. In the face of disaster or tragedy, we come together. As we feel that empathy for one another, it brings out the best in us. As we are all moved, we each do our part, and are able to make a huge collective difference. The response to the fires in Fort McMurray is a recent example. As people from across the country and around the world express their love and offer what help they can, we see the best of humanity. As people escape the flames with their lives and their loved ones, expressing in the face of loss that they have all they need, we gain perspective.

I think we underestimate the power we have to affect change. In as much as it takes a large-scale problem to spur us into action, we seem to think that unless we have a large-scale solution it isn’t worth doing. Smile at the person on the corner asking for change; give if you can. Plant a tree. Recycle. Do what you are passionate about and bring that gift to the world, whatever it may be. Heal yourself.

I think we are slowly learning that, counter-intuitive though it may be, self-love is the key to caring for one another. Without the love of self, you can run that well dry and burn yourself out trying to care for others. The things we learn to feel for ourselves, we can then extend more easily to others: compassion, respect, love. If everyone saved themselves, we might just save the world.

By: Shannon Stoby, PT, MScPT
Physiotherapist
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Shannon is a Physical Therapist with an interest in helping her patients achieve holistic healing from whatever ails them and achieve optimum functioning in pursuing their passions.

Shannon graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor of Physical Education with distinction, and followed with a Master of Science in Physical Therapy. She is licensed with the College of Physical Therapists of Ontario and is a member of the Canadian Physiotherapy Association.

Shannon has trained extensively in John F. Barnes Myofascial Release (MFR), and this is the focus of her practice. She has worked with patients with mental illness, has trained in women’s health treatment, and is a sports enthusiast; MFR allows her a means to assist with all of these issues in a meaningful way. She has also worked across the lifespan, with experience addressing the health concerns of older adults. Through her experience in work and in life, she has come to understand that there is more to healing than just the body. While physical health is paramount, the roles of the mind and the soul in health and healing are of equal importance.

Shannon is excited for the opportunity to work with the talented team at IHI, and looks forward to working with you, in wherever the journey may lead.

 

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