It’s that time of year again where the snow starts flying and we need to shovel it off of our driveways and sidewalks. The only difference for this year is we are not going to injure our backs while doing it!
Here are some tips on how to decrease the likelihood of injuring your back while shovelling the snow:
1) Bend through your hips and knees INSTEAD of bending through your back and keeping your knees and hips straight. This is a recipe for disaster even outside of shovelling snow. 2) Engage your core by contracting your belly button towards your spine and remembering to breathe. Hold this engagement throughout the whole movement. 3) Make sure to keep your shoulders back and down with a good chin tuck and keep your chest up rather than pointing towards the ground. 4) As you are in your deep squat, before picking the snow up from the ground, engage your glutes (squeeze your butt muscles together) then power up using your legs instead of your back. 5) Toss the snow to the side using your whole body NOT just your arms. Push through your legs and core to toss that snow off to the side. 6) Above all, have an active lifestyle where you work on your strength, mobility, flexibility and functional movements to prevent any future injuries. This can include a regular yoga or pilates practice, going to the gym, walking outside, hiking, or whichever movement floats your boat. Any movement is better than no movement.
As many of you may know already, I am a Certified Athletic Therapist and Registered Massage Therapist. With the month of June being Athletic Therapy awareness month (I realize it’s July by the time I uploaded this, but the world is a bit different right now), I thought I would make a video explaining what athletic therapy is, the difference between athletic therapy and physiotherapy and how to become an athletic therapist. Enjoy!
I have been asked this a lot in recent years, which is so great to see because our college is still quite small, it’s starting to become larger but more the merrier!
First things first, you need to go to school to become an athletic therapist. Here in Canada, you will need to complete a 4 year Bachelor’s of Applied Health Sciences Degree (BAHSc(AT)) at one of the following colleges and universities:
Camosun College Ms. Connie Klassen Centre for Sport and Exercise Education 4371 Interurban Road Victoria, British Columbia V9E 2C5 Tel. (250) 370-4728 Fax (250) 220-2501 Email: email@example.com Website: camosun.bc.ca
Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières Dr. Philippe Fait Directeur de programme, concentration thérapie du sport Département des sciences de l’activité physique Université du Québec à Trois-Rivières 3351 Boulevard des Forges, Trois-Rivières, QC G9A 5H7 Téléphone : 819 376-5011 Sans frais : 1 800 365-0922 Email : firstname.lastname@example.org Website : https://www.uqtr.ca/
I personally went to Sheridan College in Brampton Ontario and can speak of my personal experiences at this college. It was a fantastic program, and I had the pleasure of having both Kirsty McKenzie and Dr. Loriann Hynes as professors, they are both absolutely lovely if you will be contacting them from the list above. The facility at Sheridan college is one of the best in my opinion, there is a gym and clinic full of some of the best equipment, including an underwater treadmill (mind blown, I know). There is also multiple dedicated spaces for classrooms and labs in the program.
How do I get into the program?
Now keep in mind, I started at Sheridan College in 2008, so things may have changed since then considering that was 12 years ago (holy crumbs). But I have looked up the recent requirements on Sheridan’s website, they go as follows:
English Language Proficiency
Program Eligibility Ontario Secondary School Diploma or equivalent, including the following required courses: • English, Grade 12 (ENG4U) plus • Biology, Grade 12 (U) plus one of: • Physics, Grade 12 (U) or • Mathematics, Grade 12 (U) or • Chemistry, Grade 12 (U) plus • Three additional Grade 12 credits at the U or M level • Minimum 65% in each course Or Two semesters of postsecondary education including required courses with a minimum 65% in each course.
Eligible applicants will be selected on the basis of their previous academic achievement (the average of their six highest senior-level credits, including required courses). Co-op experience related to Athletic Therapy is strongly recommended. Applicants must attend an information session.
All applicants whose first language is not English must meet Sheridan’s English Proficiency Requirements. Refer to the website for full admission requirements.
What do I learn in the program?
Once you are in the program you will have a wide range of classes over the 4 years all progressively becoming a bit more difficult but perfectly piecing it all together.
Your first year is your basic sciences including, biology, psychology, physiology, biomechanics, nutrition, protective equipment and bracing, and exercise physiology. Then for the remainder of years 3-4 you ill be taking multiple levels of all the following classes: anatomy, pathophysiology, emergency care, conditions, therapeutics exercise, modalities, biomechanics, psychology, assessment and rehab, manual techniques along with clinical and field placements. All classes will be in the form of classroom lectures and labs.
You have made it through the jam packed 4 years of awesome education, congratulations! Now you have to prepare for the national exams. The exams will test your knowledge in CATA’s scope of practice and competencies in athletic therapy. This process ensures that successful certification candidates have demonstrated basic competence in athletic therapy and ensures the safety and care of the public when providing athletic therapy services to Canadians.
Now, when I was completing my national exams, we were required to do a 200 multiple choice question written exam and the next day we would complete practical exams in both field and clinical. If my memory serves me correct, the field practical exams had 2 taping, one emergency, one non-emergency and I think an on field assessment. The clinical exams included an assessment and an acute treatment and chronic treatment (return to play) of the condition you assessed.
However! Times have change and now the exam is just a 200 multiple choice question written exam. I personally think the association should have kept the practicals in there, but that is just my input.
Then once you pass everything, you are now a Certified Athletic Therapist, CAT(C). Yay!
What is the difference between Canadian and American Athletic Therapy?
Here in Canada we are referred as certified athletic therapists (CAT(C)) under the Canadian Athletic Therapist Association (CATA) and in the states they are known as athletic trainer certified (ATC) under the National Athletic Trainers Association (NATA).
This targets the mid traps, lower traps and rhomboids. Great for shoulder stabilization and strength. It is also fantastic for re-education of the muscle firing patterns within the body and decrease the upper traps from doing everything and causing neck and shoulder pain.
Thumbs up and in a T position = Mid Trap
Thumbs down and in a T position = Rhomboids
Thumbs up and in a Y position = Lower Traps
Laying on the ground roll up a towel and place it under your forehead so you can breathe without having to turn your head to one side, this will help prevent a strain in your neck. Arms at shoulder height and thumbs up – lift your arms up and squeeze your shoulder blades together (you should feel this in your mid back). Then in the same ’T’ position, put your thumbs down and lift your arms up off the ground (you should feel this in your mid back). The last position is in a ‘Y’ position, put your thumbs up and lift your arms off the ground (you should feel this in your mid to lower back).
Once you become really good at this exercise you can then add tension from a resistance band and do this exercise standing up (such as what you can see in the attached video below).
IMPORTANT: Be sure you are contracting your shoulders back and down with a chin tuck before each repetition, it is important to be firing the right muscles with this exercise. Squeeze your shoulder blades together as you go into the resistance, this may help to decrease over firing of the upper traps. You should not feel this exercise in your upper neck or into your head, if you do, reset your shoulder blades and chin tuck and try again.
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How To: Squat down by bending your hips back, as if you are sitting in a chair, while allowing knees to bend forward being sure to not extend them too far past the toes, keeping your back straight and knees pointed same direction as feet (towards the 2nd and 3rd toes). Descend until thighs are just past parallel to floor. Extend knees and hips until legs are straight. Return and repeat.
Important to keep in mind:Keep your head facing forward, back straight and feet flat on floor; equal distribution of weight throughout forefoot and heel. Knees should point same direction as feet throughout movement. Core engaged, shoulders back and down with chin tucked and squeeze your glutes on the way back up. Once you add a bar, DO NOT place the bar on the back of your neck, be sure it is placed on the top of your shoulders (feel for the ‘shelf’).
What do I do with my hands? Well, this depends on how you are doing the squat.
If you are doing a body weight squat, you can put them out in front of you or cross your arms over your chest. If you are doing the exercise with a dowel or the squat bar, place the dowel behind you placed on your shoulders, NOT your neck, and have your hands equally on both sides holding the bar in place.
Once you start to become a natural at this exercise then you can start switching it up by changing how and where you hold the squat bar (i.e. front squat vs. back squat), you can bring in different gym equipment like a barbell or kettlebell, or change the positioning of your feet and legs. There is just so much you can do, isn’t it so exciting?!
This is a great all around exercise to become comfortable and familiar with. Give it a try today with your body weight alone, then add in a dowel, and finally progress to a squat bar as your biomechanics improve.
In the world of healthcare professionals, it can get confusing as to what each one specializes in and what kind of treatment you may receive from them. The two most common distinct healthcare professions that are confused with each other are Athletic Therapy and Physiotherapy. Both are trained in musculoskeletal rehabilitation and assessment, and have a few differences.
Athletic therapists are focused solely on musculoskeletal disorders and injuries, and can be found working in a clinic setting or with a team. Meanwhile, physiotherapists have a wider scope of practice which encompasses neurological and cardiovascular health issues as well as musculoskeletal, and can be found working both the hospital setting and in outpatient clinics. Both professions will complete a thorough assessment of your injury, and provide education, complete manual therapy techniques and provide therapeutic exercises for you to complete at home. They will help manage both acute and chronic injuries, all the while maintaining a high professional standard of care for all of their patients.
You do not need a referral from a doctor to see either an AT or physio, however you should always check with your extended healthcare provider to see if you are covered, as different providers cover different therapies.
Shared skills and knowledge of each profession:
Shared treatment approaches of each profession:
1) Assessment and diagnosis of injuries 2) Treat sport injuries, work injuries, MVA’s, and life injuries 3) Rehabilitation and exercise programs are included with the treatment plan of all injuries 4) Educate patients in management of acute and chronic injuries
1) Soft tissue manipulation and joint mobilizations 2) Preventative taping and Electrotherapy training (NMES, TENS, IFC, ultrasound, heat and ice, etc) 3) Exercise prescription (strength, flexibility, mobility, and proprioception) 4) Biomechanics analysis 5) Patient Education
Athletic Therapists are experts in musculoskeletal disorders and injuries. This is accomplished after a highly demanding 4 year program, at an applicable university, to achieve a degree of Bachelor of Applied Health Sciences. This program focuses primarily on rehabilitation, assessment, prevention and restoring of the musculoskeletal system through maintaining and maximizing the bodies movement to relieve pain and increase your quality of life. Following this program there is an intense national certification exam of a written and practical that must be passed in order to work in Canada as a Certified Athletic Therapist. They are typically found working in a clinical setting or with a sports team in a field setting providing emergency care.
It is very common to have the name give a false representation of who they can treat. They do specialize in athletes as the name provides, but they are also trained in MVA’s (motor vehicle accidents), work injuries (the industrial athlete), post-operation, and everyday aches and pains.
The regulating body of the profession is the Canadian Athletic Therapists Association (CATA) and each province across Canada has a provincial chapter as well.
The definition of the profession provided by the national association is as follows:
“Certified Athletic Therapists are best known for their quick-thinking on-field emergency care of professional and elite athletes. The first to respond when someone gets hurt, they are experts at injury assessment and rehabilitation. It’s that same mix of on-site care and active rehabilitation skills that makes Athletic Therapists so effective in treating the musculoskeletal (muscles, bones, and joints) injuries of all Canadians, whether on the field or in the clinic.
Athletic therapists adhere to the Sports Medicine Model of care. They treat a wide range of patients, from kids with concussions to seniors recovering from hip replacement surgery, using various manual therapies, modalities, exercise prescription and even bracing and taping. The treatment varies but the objective doesn’t: an Athletic Therapist’s goal is to help clients return to their usual activities, whether that means playing competitive sports or walking to the mailbox and back.”
Physiotherapists help restore movement and function when someone is affected by injury, illness or disability. They accomplish this through movement and exercise, manual therapy, and patient education. Physiotherapist’s in Canada complete a 4 year undergrad and then proceed into a 2 year masters of Physiotherapy, followed by an intense certification exam. Their formal education focuses on the study of neurology, cardiorespiratory and orthopaedics.
They are typically found working in private clinics, hospitals, retirement residences and child development centres. Physiotherapists in Canada work with clients of all ages and with a wide range of health conditions. Physiotherapists tend to specialize in a certain area of practice, which can include working with patients who have had strokes or other neurological injuries, paediatrics, women’s health, oncology rehab, in intensive care units and other inpatient settings as well as common musculoskeletal injuries.
The definition of Physiotherapy from the Canadian Physiotherapy Association:
“The heart of the physiotherapy profession is understanding how and why movement and function take place. Physiotherapists are highly skilled and autonomous health professionals who provide safe, quality client-centred physiotherapy through a commitment to service availability, accessibility and excellence. The profession is shaped by scientific evidence and the education and competencies of the physiotherapists delivering the services. Physiotherapy is grounded in the belief that, to be effective, its services must respond to the changing needs of populations and our health system.”
With a few small differences in the two professions, both are a great resource for injury prevention, treatment and education. The largest difference is the scope of practice of a physiotherapist includes cardiovascular and neurological training along with the ability to pierce the skin through extra training in IMS (intermuscular stimulation) and acupuncture, which is not included in the scope of practice of an Athletic Therapist. However, both are experts in helping you recover from your injuries and getting you back to doing what you love!