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Why Young Athletes Need Strength Training

By News
Why Young Athletes Need Strength Training by Conor O’Flynn

When you hear the term “strength training”, what do you see? What thoughts and images come to mind? Almost everyone will picture lifting weights, and most likely heavy weights. That’s strength, right?

Strength training is often applied in exactly that way. A new client signs up for training and the trainer makes them lift weights to whatever end. The issue here is this; strength training deserves a much more flexible definition.

As a strength and conditioning coach, my job is to further your ability to pursue whatever goal you have in mind. It might be better performance on the court or the field, a better physique, a better 5K time. It’s all fair game. My job can be described that simply.

You hire a strength and conditioning coach to have a knowledgeable and objective guide to your goal. It’s not my job to get you to lift more and more weights. It’s my job to make you better at the thing you want to improve at. Therefore, strength training should be considered something of a catch-all. It’s an open ended field of methods, tactics and strategies that we use to help you improve. We do this based on you; based on what you need at this point in your development.

This brings us to the crux of the youth-training issue. Many young athletes are trained like small adults. They’re given the same sets, reps, exercises, equipment, instruction. It’s assumed that what makes a strong adult will also make a strong child or teenager.

The adult body and the youth body are very different. If you’re an adult, you know this. You’ve have the benefit of many extra years in your body. You know more or less what it can do, what it can’t do, and how you can affect these abilities with training.

When training youth, you see lots of novel experiences. You may see their first ever squat performed in an exercise context. The same is true for the plank, the push up, jumps, skips, balance drills, agility work. Youth don’t really know what their bodies can do, they don’t really know what training can do for them, and they don’t really know what they don’t know.

Training a 10 year old is very different from training an adult. The adult may pick up the basics of a squat in 15 minutes and feel capable of adding weight that day. The 10 year old has literally never tried to coordinate their movement in that pattern before. They’re experiencing some of their first communication issues between the central nervous system and the body.

This isn’t a problem, it’s great! The adult can get stronger by improving technique, but we’ll only make them so much more efficient before we need to start adding weight. The youth athlete can continue to get stronger, week over week, as their nervous system gets better and better at the movement in question.

Do we need weight to make a youth athlete stronger? No. Do we need more weight? No. We need to understand that making the youth athlete stronger doesn’t mean making muscles bigger. It means making their balance, body awareness, muscle activation, technique and so forth better. There are more factors to work with. We can make them stronger with more diverse tools.

Why should we care about strength training for young athletes in the first place? Many adults grew up without strength and conditioning programs. These adults are arguably surviving fairly well. So why do kids need strength training now?

There’s been a longstanding assumption in sports that the sport itself is all the preparation the body needs. Basketball trains you for basketball. Soccer trains you for soccer. Your body will get conditioned as the sport requires.

This assumption came about for a few reasons. One of the reasons is simple convenience; you don’t need strength coaches in this assumption. The other is lack of knowledge; there’s simply more and better science on injury, rehab and performance now than there ever has been.

A general bootcamp setup may or may not help a young athlete perform better. It may or may not help them live a long and healthy life. A good strength training program is different. A thoughtful, science-based program can set kids up for better performances while building more resilient, healthy bodies for a lifetime.

Basic core drills can teach a kid to control spinal and core muscles. This is among the most important things they can learn for more advanced training as well as preventing back pain, a disturbingly common issue in the modern world.

Basic balance drills, squat technique, jump and landing training can make astounding differences in ACL-tear prevention. Avoiding this incredibly disruptive injury is one thing, enjoying the secondary benefits is another. Better balance, better squatting, jumping, landing, knee, hip and ankle health? Yes, please.

An understanding of what optimal movement looks like, why it’s important, and how we can incorporate it into our lives is something kids need. Many young athletes will become adults without hearing any of this information. Not only does this mean leaving athletic potential on the table, it also means leaving a bigger door open to injury and pain.

Ask your kid to do one of your gym exercises – one that they haven’t done. Maybe it’s a squat, maybe it’s a plank or even a breathing exercise. Watch how they do it. The breathing exercises may be the best example of all.

The first time you ask a young athlete to do some diaphragmatic breathing…nothing. We need to see the stomach moving to know the diaphragm is moving. We need the diaphragm to move to ensure we’re getting truly deep breaths; the ones that refuel us when we’re tired and calm us down when we’re overworked. Ask a young athlete to do this and you’ll rarely see the stomach move.

The athlete will look at their stomach, as though their gaze might convince the muscles to move. It takes time to get this drill down. It takes practice. It’s the simplest drill there is – breathing. But here we are, working on a fundamental skill in isolation. It may seem too gentle for strength training, but it may be the best thing the athlete can do to improve strength, endurance, pain, recovery and attention.

We don’t need our young athletes throwing around barbells, setting gym records or trying max lifts. We need to provide them a path forward that allows them to become stronger bodies, stronger minds, stronger athletes and stronger people. A sound strength training program will work on all of this.

The question isn’t “why do young athletes need strength training?”. The question is “why wouldn’t a young athlete need strength training?”.

Celebrating Osteopathy

By News

“But why?”

This question plagued me for years. As a teen, I had back issues and a number of knees issues. Despite seeing a handful of health professionals in different fields, satisfactory solutions were hard to come by.

I was given a diagnosis. I was given treatment plans. Hands on therapy. Exercise prescriptions. Orthotics. Maybe it was health professionals refusing to humour a kid…but I never got a satisfactory reason for my issues.

Sure, the meniscus was damaged. But why? Why did this happen? What can we do to ease my anxiety over the same thing happening again?

This cycle replayed itself a number of times in different iterations through high school and university. Through that time I studied kinesiology, trained like a professional athlete and worked as a personal trainer and strength coach.

Without realizing it, dots started connecting themselves. Studying biomechanics, psychology, physiology, and applying these concepts in the gym was doing something to me. I was beginning to see the many layers of complexity of the human body. I was beginning to see how they interact.

This is when I discovered osteopathy. Though osteopathy has been around since the 1870’s, I hadn’t heard of it until my fourth year of university. The field used the right keywords to catch my attention: holistic and comprehensive.

Holistic is among the most misused words in health and fitness. Despite this misuse, osteopathy is an excellent embodiment of the term for one reason; the term guides the practice. The principles that underly the founding of the field are the same ones that drew my interest. These are the same principles that feed this idea of holistic practice. The same principles that guide my work today.

Osteopathy is built around the idea that the human body inherently tends toward health. In the absence of barriers to health, the body will be healthy. The human body is an incredibly complex machine. Far more complex than any technique a human mind can apply through a human hand. The osteopathic goal, then, is to help the body do its thing.

Osteopathy is largely a manual therapy, meaning that the majority of the work is applied through hands-on techniques. We’ve got a vast repertoire of techniques at our disposal; some resembling other therapies like massage and joint mobilization. Some are unique to osteopathy, like cranial-sacral therapy and visceral manipulation.

It’s tempting to look at osteopathy as this collection of hands-on techniques and little else. You come in with back pain and we use the “back pain techniques”. Not so. We’re a patient-focused profession and I work as hard as I can to live up to this terminology.

Patient focused means that this therapeutic effort is about you. When you come in to see me in the clinic, we’re forming a partnership to change your experience. It’s not about applying the right label. It’s not about proving anything or making sure that you fit into the osteopathic system. It’s about using the skills in the room to solve your problem.

When we first meet, we’ll spend some time talking about you. I want to know about you; the way you view your body, your symptoms, your therapy expectations, your work, your life. These may not become major factors, but they all contribute to this holistic picture that helps me understand where you’re coming from.

As it turns out, where you’re coming from is incredibly important. A single mother of three that works full time is in a very different position from a student athlete. It’s not to say that one is better than the other. It simply means that we must take the realities of your life into account when we plan our work together. This is the essence of a patient-centred approach.

I want to know the story of your injury, your pain or your diagnosis. Knowing how events have unfolded and the path you’ve walked so far is incredibly important. Again…the more we know and understand here, the better.

Eventually we’ll come to some conclusions about how to proceed. All of that talk about your views and your perspective come into play in this moment. What do we expect to do with our therapy work? What would an ideal outcome be? How much time and energy can we devote to that? How would life change if we could achieve that goal?

After we’ve decided what we’re shooting for, we can decide how to measure it. How do we know when you’ve hit your goals? When you can sit comfortably? When you can return to sport? When you can walk without pain? These are not only good goalposts, they’re also good criteria to guide us.

Now we can get to the fun part. Another of the fundamental principles behind osteopathy is that structure and function are inherently linked. The structure of your body is inherently linked to how that body functions. This is intuitive and it helps us guide our work.

Among the first things I’ll do is investigate affected areas and the areas I think are likely to contribute heavily to the issue. If you have lower back pain, there’s a very good chance that I’ll palpate your lower back, investigating soft tissue quality, joint movement and your sensitivity. There’s a good chance I’ll look at your hips and your upper back as well. These areas will all give me structural clues to work with.
My work from this point on is about connecting those clues and forming basic ideas about how these clues feed into your issues. For example, your lower back pain may be evident in the tension in your lower back muscles. This doesn’t mean the lower back is the ‘at fault’ area, though. It’s just as likely that there are important factors in your hips, ankles, feet, and upper back all contributing equally to this issue.

As I assess these clues, I’ll work on bring them back to balance. Much of the time that means releasing tight tissues and mobilizing tight joints. This is all done with an intensity we agree upon together; though more pressure may lead to a faster release, a sensitive person may end up more tense as a result of deep work.

These techniques are all hands-on, meaning I’ll use my hands to affect some change in your body. We use a collection of soft tissue release techniques, muscle energy techniques, joint mobilizations, visceral manipulation, whatever is necessary to remove the barrier.

This is where our vast collection of techniques comes in handy; we don’t have to dig deep if it doesn’t work for you. There are other ways. As Dan John would say, “the goal is to keep the goal, the goal”. You aren’t in the clinic to fit into my system. You’re here to benefit from my expertise, and we can only expect that outcome if I fit my expertise to you.

So we investigate contributors and culprits. We order them from biggest to smallest offenders. Then we set about addressing these culprits. Recall; the human body will take care of itself in the absence of barriers. If we can remove these barriers, good things will happen.

Sometimes these changes can be swift and sweeping, taking place over the course of just a couple of visits. Much of the time the issues are chronic by the time they get to me and a little more time together is warranted. It’s a difficult thing to predict off the bat because the process is dependant on tiny factors…like your body and how you live your life.

The goal with all of this work is to help you live the life you envision for yourself. This may mean living pain free, it may mean optimal performance, it may simply mean doing the things you want to do without fear of injury. Whatever the vision is, that’s our goal together.

I won’t beat around the bush with what this goal requires. Though I’m good with my hands, they aren’t entirely magical. It’s very likely that your issue will require homework on your part to maintain. It’s very likely that your issue will require a slight lifestyle shift in order for it to truly be resolved.

This may mean addressing your posture, addressing how you exercise, addressing if you exercise, or any number of movement or lifestyle habits. It’s not my job to sell you on the convenient approach; my work is about helping you find lasting resolution. If there’s a clear way forward, we’ll discuss exactly that.

Due to the relative obscurity of osteopathy in Canada, I tend to see a particular type of person. The majority of people I see in the clinic are those that have suffered through chronic pain and symptoms. They’re often people that have tried a number of other therapies and still have unresolved symptoms. Much of the time these are people that have given up on that vision a few times over.

Though I often work with those that have experienced chronic pain, I see all types. Osteopathy is actually applicable to an incredible number of issues. Musculoskeletal pain and injuries make up the majority of the work we do, which of course encompasses just about any ache or pain you can feel throughout your body. A number of other symptoms are equally well-served; like headaches and digestive issues.

Osteopathic therapy has many similarities to other therapies, but the differences are what really make us manual osteopaths. Any time I work with a new patient, the origins of the field are kept in the forefront of my mind; treat the person holistically, as a person, and seek balance between structure and function. Find the obvious barriers to the body healing and remove them from the equation.

These ideas may seem simplistic but they end up being the guiding lights that keep us on track when looking at the big picture. The big picture, after all, is you. It’s your body. It’s your ability to live your life. Every technique is applied through this lens.

Osteopathy was founded nearly 150 years ago with the same noble principles that drive the field today. Though the field may still remain obscure and the methods somewhat mysterious, the methodology is not.

Find the barriers to health. Remove them. Live a good life.

It was through my first osteopathic study that I learned to connect the dots in my own life. After almost a decade of injuries, pain and unsatisfactory answers, I was able to look at the bigger picture and understand the origins of my own issues.

If you find yourself asking, “but why?”, it may be time to book in to see me. If you want to understand why your body is doing what it’s doing, it may be a good time to book in. If you want to understand your circumstances and find a viable path to walk towards health, you know what to do.

Check me out at Body Balance Health & Physiotherapy!

Conor O’Flynn

Welcome Conor O’Flynn to the Body Balance Health & Physiotherapy Team

By News

In other Body Balance Health & Physiotherapy news we would like to welcome Conor O’Flynn to the team!


About Conor

Conor is a manual osteopath who was born and raised in Wallaceburg, Ontario. He studied Kinesiology at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, earning a Bachelor of Arts. While studying at Laurier, Conor developed worked as a personal trainer and varsity strength coach for the university, discovering the need for an integrated fitness and therapy model.

After university, Conor earned a diploma in manual osteopathic practice (DOMP) from the National Academy of Osteopathy in North York. He returned to Waterloo and provided osteopathic therapy in both physiotherapy and alternative medicine clinics.

Conor’s therapeutic work focuses on musculoskeletal issues of all kinds. He uses manual (hands on) therapy techniques to restore balance and integrity to the body, removing the barriers to healing and recovery. He works hard to keep his techniques and practice up to date with current pain science and manual methods.

Conor is passionate about exercise, and bridging the gap between therapy and fitness. He prefers to gear his therapy towards an active recovery, placing the patient in control of their recovery process and transitioning to a healthy, vibrant life.

A lifelong athlete, Conor is a nationally qualified powerlifter. He’s competed at the national level in both muay thai kickboxing and grappling competitions. He is a prolific writer and is always looking to improve his fitness and therapy services.

Osteopathy and Chronic Pain

Osteopathy is an old therapy, going into its 144th year as a health practice in 2018. Though this might be viewed as a drawback – deeper roots to keep the profession stuck in the mud – it can actually work the opposite way. The long history provides perspective and allows for the old to be viewed on a spectrum with the new.

In the case of osteopathy, this means that the field has changed and will change dramatically. As it should. The original practice still makes up a large amount of what is considered osteopathic work today; manual therapy applied in an effort to achieve favourable outcomes and avoid more invasive interventions.

Viewed in this broad lens, the field is wide open to adapting to pain science as it changes and new evidence emerges. A 2016 article by Williams and Craig – titled “Updating the definition of pain” – provides many insights to apply as we move forward with manual practice.

Williams and Craig provide the following definition of pain, “Pain is a distressing experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage with sensory, emotional, cognitive and social components”(Williams and Craig, 2016). The incredibly important assertion that pain is an experience is a good start. That this experience may involve actual OR potential tissue damage is equally important.

In the case that actual tissue damage has triggered a nociceptive experience, osteopathy can provide manual care that seeks to parse, relieve, and re-integrate the areas in question. The goal is to remove obstructions to recovery and factors that feed into nociception, allowing the individual to once again feel like an integrated and functional unit.

In the case that there is only potential damage or perceived damage, osteopathic therapy can still be useful. A manual approach can be used to begin to restore confidence in an area of the body, provide novel stimuli which may interfere with nociception, and lay the groundwork for changing perception of the area through more active means, like exercise.

Through manual work and simultaneous discussion and education of the patient, the therapist can change both the objective expressions and the subjective perceptions which may contribute to the sensation of pain. We can guide the patient through the common narratives that often contribute to pain becoming or remaining chronic.

My own osteopathic work has been largely directed at realigning a patient’s focus as they navigate a painful experience. Often the instinct is to focus on the painful sensation and the things that one cannot do as a result of the pain. In my interactions with patients, I can help direct their attention toward doing what is necessary to improve toward a more functional state.

As pain experiences become chronic, the link between actual tissue damage and perceived pain weakens (Juch et Al, 2017). It’s important that the patient is able to form a therapeutic alliance with a practitioner they can trust. It’s more important that this practitioner helps to guide perception towards function and acceptance of pain itself rather than suggesting that a simple hands-on technique can “fix” the pain.

Manual Osteopaths are not among the professions allowed to perform diagnostics in Ontario. While at first this seems like a shortcoming, it does in fact put Manual Osteopaths in an interesting and unique position.

Rather than focusing on the diagnosis process and finding a label for the painful input, osteopathy is free to parse out the connection between tissue and pain that so many patients can get stuck on. Moreover, we can work on accepting conditions however they may currently present and set specific and meaningful goals with the patient.

This goal setting may not fit any other criteria beyond the patient, but that won’t matter. We can choose tasks that are meaningful to the patient, or on changing experiences currently affected by pain. This may be something personal and difficult to quantify in the clinic,but it may provide the patient with a tangible goal that they truly desire. This allows for the patient to feel a little empowerment, and in doing so removes reliance on the practitioner in question.

Osteopathic therapy is manual therapy. Manual Osteopaths work with their hands. Among the guiding principles of the practice, though, is removing obstacles that prevent healing. My hands may not be able to stimulate healing themselves, but they are more than capable of helping a patient feel better and liberating tissues to allow for better movement and experiences.

Through manual work, shared goals, working with acceptance and perspective, and forming an empowering therapeutic relationship with the patient, manual osteopathy is a useful tool in the treatment of chronic pain.

Williams AC, Craig KD. Updating the definition of pain. Pain. 2016; 157(11):2420-2423.

Juch JNS, Maas ET, Ostelo RWJG. Effect of Radiofrequency Denervation on Pain Intensity Among Patients With Chronic Low Back Pain: The Mint Randomized Clinical Trials. JAMA. 2017; 318(1):68-81.


The Opioid Crisis Leads Canadians to Seek Alternative Approaches for the Management of Chronic Pain

By Body Balance Quarterly

Body Balance Quarterly (The BBQ)

The Opioid Crisis Leads Canadians to Seek Alternative Approaches for the Management of Chronic Pain

The Opioid Crisis

In December 2017, a Canadian news report released by CBC news made citizens aware of the rising number of opioid related deaths over the past year. Rising from 2,861 opioid related fatalities in 2016, based on the information reported to the Public Health Agency of Canada, it was projected that Canada was on track to see over 4000 deaths from opioid toxicity at the closing of 2017 (The Canadian Press, 2017). With the rising number of opioid fatalities each calendar year this has caused significant controversy among the Canadian Government, health care professionals, and citizens over the prescription of opioids and the use of these substances in the management of chronic pain.

In light of the unfolding opioid crisis, and the unveiling of the topic of ‘Chronic Pain’ among the recent news headlines in this edition of the Body Balance Quarterly we would like to offer our perspective on chronic pain. We will also discuss the latest evidence in support of alternative methods for chronic pain management.

What is Chronic Pain?

Pain is a complex phenomenon that extends far beyond a standardized feeling of discomfort and soreness. Pain is a subjective and emotional experience, which is characterized differently in every individual. In cases of Acute Pain that is felt following an injury, a signal of tissue damage is sent to the brain. In acute pain cases, the pain felt is typically proportional to the amount of tissue that has been damaged. When people experience pain after an injury, pain is believed to be a useful stage of the healing process as it promotes rest, which ultimately promotes healing. However, in cases of chronic pain the link between the presence of tissue damage and one’s pain levels becomes disconnected.

Until recently, the topic of ‘Chronic Pain’ has not been a hot topic of conversation among the general population. However, even with its increased prevalence in the news today with the current opioid crisis, the concept of chronic pain is still an idea that is not well understood by many. Chronic pain conditions include fibromyalgia, chronic regional pain syndrome (CRPS), spinal pain, and chronic low back pain (among many others). In cases of chronic pain, the pain experienced by an individual extends beyond the typical healing time of newly damaged tissue. In individuals with chronic pain the nervous system becomes hypersensitive to incoming signals causing the pain system to be ‘Turned up’, which reduces an individual’s pain threshold. This ultimately causes an individual to experience pain with tasks or sensations that would not normally be perceived as painful. This can have significant impacts on daily life as it causes increased attention to painful regions, reduced activity levels and subsequently activity tolerance, heightened stress response, poor concentration as well as sleep disturbances. Without intervention this can lead to a cumulative and chronic pain cycle leading to overall deconditioning which further amplifies the effects of chronic pain conditions (WRIISC, 2014).

So what can be done to break this pain cycle? Over the course of the past 5 years, an increased volume of literature has been devoted to the benefits of low – moderate intensity exercise, in the management of chronic pain symptoms. In a recent literature review Geenen et al. (2017) concluded that a general exercise and strengthening program has proven to be effective among individuals with chronic pain conditions in improving both pain severity and overall quality of life. However, self-initiated exercise programs were found to be less effective among this same population (Geenen et al. 2017). Numerous exercise interventions were included among this review from aerobic exercise, strength training and flexibility, to range of motion exercises, balance training, core strengthening, tai chi, yoga and pilates, which displays the wide variety of successful exercise options available (Geenen et al. 2017).

Mechanism of How Exercise Aids in Managing Chronic Pain Symptoms

‘Exercise is medicine’ has been a popular phrase among health care professionals and health advocates among recent years. In cases of chronic pain, exercise has proven to display many benefits in helping to manage chronic pain symptoms. Above we talked about how individuals living with chronic pain have a hypersensitive nervous system causing the pain system to be ‘Turned up’. The goal of exercise is to help retrain the pain system to be ‘Turned down’ by calming the nervous system and reducing its sensitivity to incoming signals. The human body is designed to move, and by introducing graded exercise and daily pacing strategies this can play a substantial role in the management of you or your loved one’s chronic pain symptoms.

Exercise helps to increase your energy stores, giving you a longer charge or battery life. This will help reduce your fatigue levels and make it easier for you to perform your daily activities. Aside from the benefits of pain reduction alone, there are numerous other health benefits that exercise has to offer, including but not limited to; decreased blood pressure and resting heart rate—ultimately lowering one’s risk of developing heart disease or stroke—improved sleep, weight loss, increased muscle mass, as well as improved psychological well being.

Among individuals living with chronic pain conditions, a common misconception is that exercise attempts will cause a flare up of pain symptoms, and therefore these individuals often rely on rest and relaxation to avoid worsening of pain symptoms (WRIISC, 2014). However, for successful long-term management of chronic pain conditions, a low to moderate intensity exercise program should be introduced. Here are some tips to consider with regards to exercising if you or a loved one has been experiencing chronic pain. Remember, although opioids may not be the answer for managing chronic pain, today’s evidence supports that exercise is!

Tips On Exercising Safely and Effectively for Chronic Pain Management

1) Contact your doctor first to determine whether or not you are ready for exercise and to begin exercising safely. It is very important to exercise with proper form and technique in order to prevent injury and training the wrong muscle patterns. If you are unsure about how to exercise safely follow up with a health care professional to get you started on a safe and individualized exercise routine.

2) Gradual exposure to exercise is very important to not ‘flare up’ the pain system. It is important to remember that in the beginning stage of exercise you may experience some worsened symptoms during or after exercising, however, if the pain is too severe that you feel you cause a ‘flare up’ you have likely done too much (Geenen et al. 2017). If you feel abnormally fatigued or have pain symptoms that are more significant than usual, take a break from exercising and return to exercise when your symptoms have decreased.

3) The effects of exercise often may take longer to display in individuals who are dealing with chronic pain (Geenen et al. 2017). Remember to be patient, by choosing a form of exercise you enjoy it will make exercise seem less daunting.

4) Gradually increase the exercise volume before you increase the overall exercise intensity. Once you are able to exercise daily, then slowly increase the difficulty of your exercise routine.

5) Include exercises that target all areas of the body, and all large muscle groups.

If you have a chronic pain condition and are ready to begin an exercise routine but are not sure where to start we can help! Body Balance Health offers numerous Health and Wellness programs to help develop an individualized exercise program for you to begin exercising safely. Check out our website or give us a call to see if Body Balance Health’s programs are right for you!

Health and Wellness Programs

Body Balance Health & Physiotherapy News

In other Body Balance Health & Physiotherapy News, we would like to welcome Conor O’Flynn to the Body Balance team! Conor is a manual osteopath who will be joining the clinic twice weekly (Tuesday’s & Thursday’s). Conor’s therapeutic work focuses on musculoskeletal issues of all kinds. Conor also has experience working with individuals who have been experiencing chronic pain. Osteopathy uses manual (hands on) therapeutic techniques to restore balance and integrity to the body by removing the barriers to healing and recovery.


Works Cited

Geneen LJ, Moore RA, Clarke C, Martin D, Colvin LA, Smith BH.
Physical activity and exercise for chronic pain in adults: an overview of Cochrane Reviews. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2017, Issue 4. Art. No.: CD011279.
DOI: 10.1002/14651858.CD011279.pub3

The Canadian Press. (December 18, 2017). Opioid deaths in Canada expected to hit 4,000 by end of 2017. CBC News.

The Government of Canada. (August 29, 2017). Apparent Opioid-Related Deaths in Canada in 2016*. Public Health Agency of Canada.

War Related Illness & Injury Study Centre. (March, 2014). Exercise to help manage chronic pain and/or fatigue. Veterans Health Administration: Office of Public Health.

Community Christmas Donations

By Uncategorized

The Holidays are approaching!

In the spirit of the Holiday Season Body Balance Health is teaming up with PURE Powered by On Edge Fitness to sponsor two families through the Inn of the Good Shepard. Our two families include 4 Kids total, a 2 month old boy, a 6 year old boy, a 7 year old girl and a 15 year old girl.

Over the course of the next week we will be collecting donations to help these two families celebrate Christmas.

With your donation of an unwrapped gift or a $20 monetary donation you will receive a ballot to be entered into a draw to win a gift basket valued at over $400 of goods from local vendors including Top Shelf, PURE Powered by On Edge Fitness, IC Design, Huron Glass, Isagenix, Rodan and Fields and many more!

Drop by Body Balance Health so we can work together to help make a difference in our community!

Paediatric Lower Back Pain

By Body Balance Quarterly

The Body Balance Quarterly

A newsletter designed for the patients of Body Balance Health & Physiotherapy Inc. that addresses current rehabilitative methods and addresses the current questions people may have regarding Physiotherapy related “HOT TOPICS”.


Paediatric Lower Back Pain

It’s that time of year! The kids are back in school and the scheduling of homework, sports and other activities are in full mode. Lower back pain is one of the most common ailments/disabilities that people suffer from and its not just an injury faced by adults. The incidence of lower back pain in the paediatric population and the effects of lower back issues early in life can have resounding impacts later in life.

In this issue of the BBQ we will look at some recent studies to investigate the incidence, causes and recommendations to help parents deal with lower back pain in children and adolescents.

 Potential Risk Factors

Currently, one of the most common talked about risk factors for Paediatric lower back pain is a sedentary lifestyle. Part of the reason for this trend may be due to the increasingly sedentary lifestyle choices young people make. Below are four explanations of how your children’s decisions can contribute to their lower back pain.

  1. Weaker Supporting Muscles

A general lack of regular exercise gradually weakens muscles that support the spine, including the abdominal and iliopsoas muscles and the obliques, or side muscles. Weaker supporting muscles can place added strain on the joints and bones of the spine and affect posture.

  1. Increased Susceptibility to Injury

Children are more likely to sustain an injury when muscles aren’t conditioned to absorb the impact. A study of more than 300 children with lower back pain found those who had some type of physical therapy reported a greater reduction in pain than those who did not receive therapy.

  1. Excess Weight

A sedentary lifestyle often means an increase in weight beyond what’s ideal for a child’s height. Excess weight also means added pressure on the spine, which can throw off posture and affect bone growth. As a result, some children may develop hyper-lordosis, a condition where a slight spinal arch forms.

  1. Unhealthy Eating Habits

Being consistently inactive tends to translate into making unhealthy eating choices. Children need to maintain an optimal balance of essential nutrients to promote muscle strength and spine health.

Most instances of back-related aches in younger patients are related to muscle strain. However, it is always important to seek the advice of a Medical practioner when concerns arise regarding pain in the lower back. Knowing what to do and how to exercise is very important for children as preventative measures can be as simple as encouraging kids to participate in some type of physical activity for at least an hour a day.


Those Heavy Backpacks!!

“Students carrying heavier backpacks relative to their body weight were more likely to report back pain,” write the researchers in the March/April 2004 issue of the Journal of Pediatric Orthopedics.

How much is too much? Pain was associated with wearing a backpack weighing more than 20% of the student’s body weight, write the researchers.

How Kids’ Backs Respond to Backpacks

A backpack is a great way for children to carry schoolbooks and other items in a practical way by distributing the heavy load across the strong back and shoulder muscles. However, when the back pack is overloaded the risk is injury to the neck, shoulders and lower back.

By overloading a backpack, the following compensations in the back can occur:

  • Distort the natural curves in the middle and lower back, causing muscle strain and irritation to the spine joints and the rib cage
  • Lead to rounding of the shoulders
  • Cause a person to lean forward, reducing balance and making it easier to fall
  • Habitually carrying backpacks over one shoulder will make muscles strain to compensate for the uneven weight distribution. The spine leans to the opposite side, stressing the middle back, ribs, and lower back more on one side than the other. This type of muscle imbalance can cause muscle strain, muscle spasm, and back pain in the short term and speed the development of back problems later in life if not corrected.
  • A heavy backpack can pull on the neck muscles, contributing to headache, shoulder pain, lower back pain and/or neck and arm pain.

“Although there are very few studies and the medical literature does not agree on specific guidelines for backpack safety to avoid back pain, parents can use common sense to reduce the chance that their child or teen will suffer back pain due to carrying a backpack.”

The following back pack features may help in the prevention of back stress and strain.

  • Lightweight material (canvas as opposed to leather)
  • Two padded, wide (2-inches), adjustable shoulder straps on the backpack
  • Padded back
  • Individualized compartments
  • Hip strap, waist belt, or frame to redistribute the weight of the backpack from the shoulders and back to the pelvis
  • Wheels so that the backpack can be pulled rather than carried
  • Consider using a separate bag for the child’s laptop or other heavier electronic items

Habits are important as well so it becomes just as important to teach your child how to properly load and wear the backpack to avoid back pain:

  • Always use both shoulder straps and wear the backpack on the back rather than over one shoulder
  • Pack heaviest objects into the backpack first so they are carried lower and closest to the body
  • Fill compartments so that the load is evenly distributed throughout the backpack and items do not shift during movement
  • Pack sharp or bulky objects in the backpack so they do not contact the back
  • Adjust the straps to fit the backpack snugly to the child’s body, holding the bottom of the backpack 2 inches above the waist and keeping the top just below the base of the skull; do not carry the backpack low near the buttocks
  • Lift the backpack by using the leg muscles and keeping it close to the body, not by bending over with arms extended and arching through the back.
  • Do not lean forward when walking; if this is necessary, there is too much weight in the backpack


Less Common Causes of Back Pain in Children

Recent reviews of common causes of lower back pain in children found that the common causes of pain most often included postural related muscle strain and acute occurrences of sport/activity related muscle strain and less commonly included mechanical pain from pre-existing conditions. However, pre-existing conditions may not be as common but they typically involve more specific care and follow-up. One condition that we would like to review in this edition of the BBQ is Idiopathic Scoliosis in children and adolescents. The following information was obtained from an article that was an overview of articles from the Pediatric Orthopaedic Association of North America and the Scoliosis Research Society.

What is Scoliosis

Scoliosis is a condition that causes the spine to curve sideways. There are several different types of scoliosis that affect children and adolescents. By far, the most common type is “idiopathic,” which means the exact cause is not known.

Most cases of idiopathic scoliosis occur between age 10 and the time a child is fully grown. Scoliosis is rarely painful—small curves often go unnoticed by children and their parents, and are first detected during a school screening or at a regular check-up with the pediatrician.

In many cases, scoliosis curves are small and do not require treatment. Children with larger curves may need to wear a brace or have surgery to restore normal posture.


Scoliosis causes the bones of the spine to twist or rotate so that instead of a straight line down the middle of the back, the spine looks more like the letter “C” or “S.” Scoliosis curves most commonly occur in the upper and middle back (thoracic spine). They can also develop in the lower back, and occasionally, will occur in both the upper and lower parts of the spine.

Idiopathic scoliosis curves vary in size, and mild curves are more common than larger curves. If a child is still growing, a scoliosis curve can worsen rapidly during a growth spurt. Although it can develop in toddlers and young children, idiopathic scoliosis most often begins during puberty. Both boys and girls can be affected, however, girls are more likely to develop larger curves that require medical care.

Other less common types of scoliosis include:

  • Congenital scoliosis. Problems in the spine sometimes develop before a baby is born. Babies with congenital scoliosis may have spinal bones that are not fully formed or are fused together.
  • Neuromuscular scoliosis. Medical conditions that affect the nerves and muscles, such as muscular dystrophy or cerebral palsy, can lead to scoliosis. These types of neuromuscular conditions can cause imbalance and weakness in the muscles that support the spine.


Although doctors do not know the exact cause of idiopathic scoliosis, they do know that it is not related to specific behaviors or activities — like carrying a heavy backpack or having poor posture. Research shows that in some cases genetics plays a role in the development of scoliosis. Approximately 30% of patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis have a family history of the condition.


Small curves often go unnoticed until a child hits a growth spurt during puberty and there are more obvious signs, such as:

  • Tilted, uneven shoulders, with one shoulder blade protruding more than the other
  • Prominence of the ribs on one side
  • Uneven waistline
  • One hip higher than the other

If your Health Care Provider suspects scoliosis, he or she may refer you to a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon for a full evaluation and treatment plan.

Health & Wellness Edition

By Body Balance Quarterly





Health and Wellness are at the forefront of most of our lives. Nobody wants to have aches and pains, or lack the energy and stamina that get in the way of us doing what we want to do.

I think we all can agree that staying active leads to better health; but we thought we would take this opportunity to update you on some of the most recent research about the benefits of exercise that you might not even know about.

What does the research say about: Exercise and…..


Research shows that exercise helps to build bone density and prevent fractures. The other benefits of exercising with this diagnosis is that it improves strength and flexibility to help with balance to prevent falls and subsequent bone fractures. You must remember that weight bearing exercises are recommended (this means that the activity must include some form of ground reaction force) instead of something like swimming, where there is no contact from the feet and the ground. It is important to avoid high impact activities or sports that involve quick accelerations or ballistic movements such as running, jumping, golf and tennis as these activities predispose you to a greater risk of having a fracture.


With Parkinsons being a progressive disease, the goal of exercise in this population is to maintain independence and overall physical performance. Recent research supports that people with Parkinsons disease who exercise consistently have improved performance and ability to fulfill their normal activities of daily living. It is believed that this is due to improved signalling efficiency of the affected brain areas and other neuroprotective effects that exercise has for people with Parkinsons. Structured exercise programs where individuals are challenged beyond their own pace (to work at a more intense level) have been shown to be more effective than self-paced or lower intensity exercise efforts. Spin classes have recently been directed toward the younger Parkinson population as offering an appropriate challenge for these individuals. Following vigorous intensity cycling programs improvements in balance, gait and resting tremor have been seen among individuals in this population.


Physical activity has beneficial effects across all phases of cancer. Exercise plays a significant role in risk reduction and prevention of developing cancer in the first place. This is especially true for breast cancer, and colon cancer as exercise reduces your risk of developing these types of cancer by 20-40%. Recent research also shows that physical activity may have a similar effect in up to 10 other types of cancer including lung cancer, and prostate cancer! Exercising at a moderate intensity (able to carry a conversation while exercising) for 30 minutes each day is enough to achieve the benefits of exercise which will reduce your risk of developing cancer. Exercising for longer durations each day is shown to have even greater cancer risk reduction effects. While the specific percentage of risk reduction varies amongst sources, one thing is clear: By exercising regularly you can significantly reduce your risk of developing this life altering condition!

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with cancer, you are likely aware of the impact it has on an individual’s overall energy levels. This can in part be related to the disease process itself, however, fatigue is also a side effect of common treatment methods such as chemotherapy. Exercise has recently been discovered as an effective fatigue reduction strategy in the cancer population. Exercise releases hormones which help to stimulate the appetite, improve mood, and improve sleep patterns. These all ultimately work together to improve an individuals energy stores. While in the past doctors directed patients towards rest and medication to battle fatigue, today research shows that exercising is more effective than any of these past strategies! How much exercise is required? The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommends 150 minutes of moderate (see above paragraph) to vigorous physical activity each week, which is an adequate amount of activity to reduce fatigue levels in the cancer population. Cancer survivors have had good success with activities such as walking, cycling and yoga in helping to manage post chemotherapy fatigue. If you would like to read a bit more about this topic, take a look at these two articles below from the NBC News! n728241 analysis-suggests-888941123688


Exercise is one of the most effective treatment methods among people with diabetes. One of the more obvious benefits in this population is the role exercise plays in promoting weight loss. With obesity being a significant risk factor among those diagnosed with diabetes, controlling body weight is a relatively simple and important step for treating this condition. Another benefit that exercise has for individuals with diabetes is that it helps to regulate blood sugar levels by increasing its ability to be transported into the muscle cells and used. These benefits persist for hours after exercising! This prevents the spikes and valleys in one’s blood sugar levels and associated symptoms that arise from these large fluctuations.

The Canadian Diabetes Association recommends a minimum of 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity each week, with no more than two consecutive days without exercise. Examples of aerobic exercise that you may enjoy include brisk walking, cycling or swimming. At least two sessions of resistance exercise should be performed each week. If you are exercising with diabetes, here are some other tips that you should consider: Exercise at a consistent time each day. Pay attention to warning signs for low blood sugar such as dizziness, clumsiness, fatigue, and excessive hunger and sweating. Keep sugar rich snacks (such as granola bars and juices) on hand in case your sugar drops during or after exercise. If you require self insulin injections you should do this at least one hour before exercising.


Exercise plays a role in both stroke prevention and rehabilitation. Exercise improves blood circulation throughout the body preventing plaque buildup within the vessels. This reduces the risk of this build-up being dislodged to the brain, causing a stroke. Generally, any type of exercise is beneficial in reducing an individual’s risk of having a stroke, whether it be playing your favourite sport, enjoying a yoga class, or going for a long bike ride.

Following a stroke, because of the many different areas that may be impacted, it is often difficult for people to do a rehabilitation program independently and may require assistance. Exercise and rehabilitation varies based on the location of the stroke. Exercises will likely involve core strengthening, sitting and standing balance and mobility training but will highly vary based on the body structures that were impacted. Lifestyle changes to accommodate safety considerations are very important as you may lack the balance or strength to do things safely that you did in the past. Many people have heard that the greatest recovery occurs within the first few months following a stroke. However, it is very important to know that individuals can continue to see life-long changes and improved function with continued exercise. Be persistent and continue to challenge yourself appropriately as you are able to do knew things to ensure you are getting all of the benefits that exercise can offer you!

Multiple Sclerosis (MS)

Staying active is an important part of healthy living with MS. People with MS often battle from chronic fatigue. Exercising helps to increase your “battery life” to allow you to do more throughout your day and also helps you to “re-charge” your daily energy stores. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines recommends two 30 minute bouts of cardiovascular activity each week for people with MS. Remember that you should be exercising at an intensity so that you can talk during exercise, while not exceeding this as you should not feel over heated or exhausted following exercise. These guidelines also recommend that low resistance strengthening should be done for all major muscle groups twice weekly. Exercise should focus on balance, core strengthening, and upper and lower body strengthening. Exercise should be performed in the morning, or times of the day when you have higher energy stores. Fatigue is generally worsened by heat among the MS population, so it is very important for you to avoid extreme temperatures and warm environments such as hot tubs, saunas, or sitting in the direct sunlight on hot summer days.

Other MS related complications have also been shown to improve with exercise including bowel and bladder function, levels of anxiety and depression, and improved function and mobility with daily tasks. Researchers have recently discovered a new “neurological factor” that is released by exercise. Although research has not confirmed this to date, it is believed that the presence of this in the body may have disease modifying affects among individuals with MS. To date this neurological factor has shown to improve nerve cell growth, increase the connections among nerves and may result in delayed or even decreased symptoms among this population. This is yet another reason why exercise is so important!

All of these above recommendations are general precautions for the above specific conditions. It is always important to make sure you check with your Doctor or Health Care Practitioner about your individual safety before starting any exercise program, especially if you have pre-existing conditions or a new medical diagnosis.

The take home message is that exercise and physical activity have a positive influence on many aspects of our lives. Unfortunately, some of us aren’t getting on board the activity train because of time, motivation, pain, etc.

If you are nervous about starting a program because of your pre-existing physical or health issues or just don’t know where to start, Body Balance Health has created some “starter programs” that may be right for you!

Programs include: Exercise for Beginners, Exercise and Osteoporosis (a 4 week program teaching you the basics about how to live with osteoporosis – the do’s and don’ts in day to day life, proper exercises to promote health and prevent injury, etc.), Corporate wellness programs, Weekend warrior, and more!!

For more information, visit our website or call our office at 519-541-9899 Remember: TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR HEALTH! BE ACTIVE! STAY HEALTHY!

“Find Your Path to Health and Wellness”

Running and Osteoarthritis: Does Recreational or Competitive Running Increase the Risk?

By News

Published: Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 2017 Volume:47 Issue:6 Pages:391–391 DOI: 10.2519/jospt.2017.0505

Recreational runners had less chance of developing knee and hip arthritis compared to nonrunners/sedentary individuals and competitive runners. The researchers concluded that running at a recreational level for many years—up to 15 years and possibly more—may be safely recommended as a general health exercise, and benefits hip and knee joint health. Their findings indicate that remaining sedentary and forgoing exercise increases your rate of knee and hip arthritis, compared with regular recreational running. However, high-volume and high-intensity training also may increase your risk for arthritis. Other researchers who found a link between high-volume and -intensity runners with knee and hip arthritis defined high-volume running as running more than 57 miles (92 km) per week. The benefits of running are numerous. This study allows you to be confident that recreational running will not harm, and may improve, your hip or knee joint health.


New Location, Hydrotherapy & Keeping Children Active

By Body Balance Quarterly


The Body Balance Quarterly

A newsletter designed for the patients of Body Balance Health & Physiotherapy Inc. that addresses current rehabilitative methods and addresses the current questions people may have regarding Physiotherapy related “HOT TOPICS”.

Well the weather in 2017 hasn’t been active but at Body Balance Health we have gone through many active changes including our name, logo and location. We are now located at 1315 Michigan Ave, next to the Goodwill. The changes have been positive and we are excited to present our new location during an open house on February 10th, 2017 from 2pm until 7pm. Our new location on Michigan Ave. is shared with Pure Powered by On Edge Fitness and because of this we are now in the process of developing new Integrated Health Programs. One of the programs we have initiated because of our new partnership is a hydrotherapy directed Physiotherapy treatment session. The benefits of Hydrotherapy are discussed further in this issue of the BBQ along with the rising concerns of reduced activity in the Paediatric population.

 The Benefits of Hydrotherapy

  1. Stimulating the immune system
  2. Improving circulation and digestion
  3. Encouraging the flow of blood
  4. Lessening the body’s sensitivity to pain.
  5. Patients can start rehabilitation earlier and recover faster
  6. Decreases joint stress
  7. Increases strength and range of movement
  8. Improves balance and coordination
  9. Reduces muscle spasms
  10. Increases the patient’s feeling of achievement even in the acute stages of rehabilitation

“Generally speaking, heat is used to quiet and soothe the body, and to slow down the activity of internal organs. Cold is used to stimulate and invigorate, increasing internal activity within the body. If you are experiencing tense muscles or anxiety, heat is recommended.”

“When submerged in a body of water such as a bath or a pool, there is a kind of weightlessness, as the water relieves your body of much of the effects of gravity. Water also has a hydrostatic effect and has a massage-like feeling as the water gently kneads your body. Water, when it is moving, stimulates the touch receptors on the skin, increasing blood circulation and releasing tight muscles.”

Who Benefits from Hydrotherapy

Conditions that may Benefit from Hydrotherapy

  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Sports Injuries/Rehabilitation
  • Post Orthopaedic surgery
  • Back pain and shoulder pain
  • Hip, knee, or ankle pain
  • Brain or spinal cord injuries
  • Fatigue/ Weakness or Prolonged inactivity/immobility
  • Fibromyalgia and other rheumatoid conditions
  • Neurological disorders, including stroke, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s disease

A review on the effects of Hydrotherapy on various systems of the body is referenced below. The studies conclusion was basically that Hydrotherapy works but the science behind how it works needs to be further investigated. The literature review concluded that “Based on the available literature”, “hydrotherapy has a scientific evidence-based effect on various systems of the body.” These systems included; the cardiovascular system, the respiratory system, the musculoskeletal system, the nervous system and the gastrointestinal system. “Based on available literature, this review suggests that hydrotherapy was widely used to improve immunity and for the management of pain, asthma, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Osteoarthritis, Fibromyalgia, fatigue, anxiety, and obesity. It produces different effects on various systems of the body depending on the temperature of water.”

N Am J Med Sci. 2014 May; 6(5): 199–209.

Scientific Evidence-Based Effects of Hydrotherapy on Various Systems of the Body

A Mooventhan and L Nivethitha1

Potential Risks and Side Effects of Hydrotherapy

All forms of therapy can have both positive and negative impacts and Hydrotherapy is no different. It is recommended that you discuss Hydrotherapy as an option with your Health Care Provider prior to initiating a program. Along with the fact that some people have a fear of water here are some of the potential risks and side effects of Hydrotherapy:

  • Allergic reactions
  • Skin irritations
  • Overheating


Topic of interest – Keeping Children Active

“Can I play on the Wii?” “Can I watch Netflix?” “Can I play on the Ipad?”

These questions, along with many other similar questions are frequently asked by today’s children. While the use of some devices offers many opportunities to work on academic programs and the downtime of watching a program or reading a book is often necessary to slow the pace of constant day to day happenings; it is important to remember not to replace activity by answering yes to these questions all the time.

Obesity and physical activity in children

 Mia Pradinuk, MDJean-Pierre Chanoine, MD PhD and 

Ran D. Goldman, MD FRCPC


“Obesity has become a leading public health concern, particularly for Canadian youth, for whom rates of obesity have tripled during the past 25 years. Statistics Canada now estimates that 26% of our children and youth aged 2 to 17 years are overweight or obese”

“Interventions aimed at improving diet, increasing physical activity, and decreasing sedentary behaviour form the foundation of childhood obesity prevention and management.”

The article reports that “the beneficial role of physical activity in delaying or preventing metabolic complications such as type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension is well recognized.” It also states that “Physical activity has also been shown to improve bone mineral density, increase school performance, and have a positive effect on mental health.”

The article states that “The Canadian Paediatrics Society (CPS) released a position statement in 2002 providing recommendations on healthy living for children and youth. Physicians and health care professionals are advised to encourage “children and adolescents to increase the time that they spend on physical activities and sports by at least 30 min/day, with at least 10 min involving vigorous activities.” The goal being the achievement of 90 minutes of Physical activity in total.

 A recent report from Active Healthy Kids Canada suggests that 87% of children and youth are not meeting Canada’s physical activity guidelines of 90 minutes per day. Given the known health benefits of physical activity, current levels of inactivity are of concern.”

The article made the following conclusions regarding the promotion of Physical Activity. Worth noting in this article is the fact that Physical Activity does not have to come with a cost (dollar value). Physical activity can purely be the direct result of more time engaging with our children in the great outdoors.

 Excerpt from Article:

 Tackling barriers to physical activity

Recommendations to overcome barriers to physical activity

  • Recognize the problem. Measure height and weight, and plot body mass index on growth charts at each visit
  • Ask children and their families about physical activity patterns. Encourage the whole family to become involved in daily activity
  • Support progressive and well-defined steps. Limit sedentary behaviour
  • Encourage adherence to daily physical activity programs in schools
  • Support local community initiatives aimed at increasing activity
  • Advocate for safer and more accessible communities that are more conducive to increased activity

Please feel free to follow the link below which was written in May of 2014. Canada was given a grade of  D for overall activity in children.



Merry Christmas from Body Balance

By News


Wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and a safe and happy New Year. We will be closed after Dec.23rd and will re-open in our new location starting January 2nd, 2017 at 1315 Michigan Ave. See you there!