How rolling your feet can help with hamstring tightness

Image from Anatomy Trains

Have you ever stretched your hamstrings and lower back as much as you can but still have tightness? This can sometimes be due to a connective tissue structure called fascia.

Fascia is a thin casing of connective tissue that surrounds and holds every organ, blood vessel, bone, nerve fiber and muscle in place. The tissue does more than provide internal structure; fascia has nerves that make it almost as sensitive as skin. Therefore, it plays a major role in our musculoskeletal system.

As shown in the book, Anatomy Trains, there is a fascial line from your skull down to your toes. If the fascia is tight it can tug and pull on the muscle causing it to feel tight. One way you can correct this is by rolling the bottom of your feet to loosen up the fascia at one end.

Give this a try to see if it helps you be able to bend forward to touch your toes easier:

  1. Bend forward to touch your toes, but be sure to keep your knees straight and you bend from your hips not your knees. Measure how far you can reach and remember this length as you will be using it for reference again later.
  2. Roll the bottom of both feet, but be sure that you roll slow and controlled. Rolling fast will not help to release the fascia. Be sure to roll front to back and into the arches of the foot. Roll for 2-5 min per foot. Roll in a triangle position like the picture shows to the right.
  3. Now bend forward and try to touch you toes again. Notice the difference in how far forward you can bend.

Pretty cool eh?

This is how beneficial it can be to roll your muscles first before you stretch. So next time you have a good stretching session, roll out your muscles for a few minutes first and see how you feel!

I have a full video on how to do this on my Instagram account that can be found here.


My Health and Wellness Plan Back to Strong and Happy

There are a lot of blogs out there that are or have shared their wellness journey’s and I realize some of them can be construed as not health and wellness or they don’t need to be doing this journey because from the outside they look healthy and happy. Key phrase here is from the outside, we never know what someone is going through on the inside because we cannot see it. 

This is actually a very vulnerable post for me, but I think if I am up front and honest about how I have been feeling the last few years then maybe it will help someone else have the strength to do the same. For those of you who do not know, I was diagnosed with celiac disease just over 3 years ago from this post date. The first year after being diagnosed I was relieved, and had a great year of feeling better then I have ever felt – I finally knew what it felt to be “normal.” But then I went out to eat one day and long story short I was given the wrong bread and I became ill for 8 months after. Since this incident I have not been able to get myself back on that high feeling, and instead I seem to have hit a plateau of, “things are the way they are and this I just how it is going to be from now on.” It seemed like no matter what I did my symptoms would get a bit better but then come back, for a lack of better words, in a raging shit storm.  I have not been able to get my TTG levels to drop in my blood (antibody test for celiac disease) for over 2 years. This has discouraged me and made me unmotivated because it just seemed like, no matter what I did, my levels were not going to drop any lower and I would always have symptoms appear out of no where. One day I’d be happy go lucky and feeling great and the next it was like I had eaten the wrong bread again.

I guess the best way to describe this is by explaining what I used to be like. I was very active and loved it, I loved going to the gym and playing sports, I never stopped moving. I woke up excited about life and used to get up around 5:30-6:30am on my own without an alarm and never hit the snooze button. I would wake up and think, I’m going for a walk or just excited about what it was I was going to eat that morning.

Now, as I’m sure you can guess, it is the opposite. Over the last 2 and a bit years I have lost motivation and drive, I was always physically and mentally exhausted or not feeling well. It became very hard to get out of bed and I was always hitting the snooze button. I stopped being active and doing the things I used to live for, I became lost. I know having a physically demanding job that I absolutely love did not help with my motivation to be active, but I used to be able to look past this and still get to the gym and do something for me. 

I really feel as though it took the pandemic and being forced to stop working for me to realize where I had brought myself. When I was forced to stop I then started to feel all my aches and pains in my body. My left shoulder keeps going numb with neck pain and my right hip will scream at me if I do too much sitting or moving. The kind of pain that will make you wince and look as though you have aged 50 years over night. As an Athletic Therapist I know and have seen this all too often with my patients and know that I have lost my strength, mobility and flexibility. Once I build these back up and correct my muscle imbalances, I will live up to my last name of Walker and be an unbeatable Jedi again. I have been on again, off again, bloated with mental challenges and brain fog, anxiety, decreased motivation and drive, and decreased focus. If there is anything I have noticed over the last few years it is that the gut brain connection is a true and serious thing.

However, with all of that being said, I am happy to state that as hard as things have been in the past they are improving and from this day forward I will not accept anything but. It is going to be challenging and I will of course still have off days – but I will not let them drive me away from my goal of becoming strong and happy again.

So you may be thinking, how are you going to do this? Excellent question, here is how:

  1. Fitness: I will be working on my muscle imbalances and correcting my biomechanics. I will be doing this through mobility, flexibility and strength. There needs to be an equal amount of all of these to have a well balanced musculoskeletal system. So I will be making myself a fitness plan that will include all three of these components. 
  1. Nutrition: I have been dabbing into this component for the last 2 months already and I am happy to state that following the diet I have been doing has helped to decrease my TTG antibody levels in my blood and increased my iron. There is still a lot to improve in this department but it is a start! For the first 3 weeks I followed the hypoallergenic diet without consuming any grains. I was to cut out processed foods, dairy, certain meats, eggs, soy, peanuts, corn, tomatoes, artificial butters and sweeteners, refined sugars, and glutinous grains (obviously for me) but the naturopath had me cut out all grains just for the first 3 weeks. I followed this to a T and even continued it past the 3 weeks because of how much better I felt, but then, my digestion started to go wonky again and my energy has dropped. This is why I feel these full on restrictive diets are not meant to be eaten forever (other than the food you have to avoid for health reasons).

    Science actually shows that if you are under eating you will have immune problems and digestion issues. It may seem like you have a food intolerance but in reality your restrictive eating will cause digestive issues because the digestive system is not receiving enough energy, and if it does not get enough energy it cannot properly extract the nutrients your body needs to function. Mind.Blown. Therefore, I have decided that following a very restrictive and paleo diet long term is not the way to go for me. I believe my TTG levels being high is due to cross contamination in food that is processed and made in restaurants that are not careful. Also, having a very restrictive diet has made me very anxious around food, I’m always afraid whatever it is that I am eating will cause food intolerance symptoms. I know I do have some food intolerances because after eating certain things like corn and oats, I instantly have full body autoimmune symptoms. However, I do wonder, if I get my TTG levels to lower to zero, will these intolerances go away? Because technically once I get those levels to zero, that means my gut lining has finally healed and it will be able to digest food properly again. So as long as I stay away from my kryptonite, gluten, I should be okay to eat a variety of food again without feeing sick. That thought actually makes me so excited and pumped to get my gut lining healed.

  2. Mindfulness: This one is HUGE! I have been trained in transcendental meditation and started doing it back when I was in university as I used to have a huge amount of exam anxiety. This technique helped me get through my certification exams, and to be honest, I stopped doing it, and that was a big mistake. I told myself I was way too busy and did not have the time to sit and meditate for 20 minutes twice a day, but this is the exact person that needs to make time for exactly this as they typically need it the most. Since I have started meditating again, I cannot even begin to explain the benefits I have experienced in my everyday life. My thoughts are clearer, I do not snap as much if at all, I’m positive, focused and motivated. Mindfulness does not just have to do with meditation, it also includes living intuitively. If you have a negative thought come into your head, change it right away for a more positive one. If you are overworked, cut your hours. Our bodies need us to start living more intuitively because we all need to start listening to our bodies and giving it what it wants and needs.

These are the three ingredients to not just my wellness journey, but I believe everyone’s. If the health of our mind, nutrition and fitness does not exist, then we are more likely to develop muscle imbalances that will cause injuries. We may have a leaky gut or improperly functioning digestive system because we are not fuelling it properly or moving to help stools pass through your bowels or have a horrible gut brain connection where now the health of your gut effects your mental health and vice versa. All three of these components are absolutely essential for an overall well balanced health and wellness plan, you cannot do one without the other. It only took me siting down and writing this blog for me to truly make this connection. I always tell my patients to include all three but it has really clicked with me as to why.

Regardless if you are on a wellness journey of your own or want to see me through mine, I hope you find what it is you are looking for, because the sun really is brighter on the other side.

Please Keep This Disclaimer in Mind:

Articles are for educational purposes only and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent diseases. We cannot and do not provide medical advice or specific advice on products related to treatments of a disease or illness.

You must not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your doctor or other professional healthcare providers.

You should never delay seeking medical advice, disregard medical advice or discontinue medical treatment because of information on our website.

It is your responsibility to consult with your professional health care providers before starting any diet changes, exercise or supplementation program, and before taking; varying the dosage and / or ceasing to take any medication.

We do not collect any personal information or store cookies.  You can turn off cookies on your web browsers.


Athletic Therapy vs. Physiotherapy: Is there a difference?

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 Therapy

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.”

More information can be found on their website: https://athletictherapy.org/en.

Physiotherapy

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.”

More information can be found at their website: https://physiotherapy.ca/description-physiotherapy. Here you can find a document on the detailed description of Physiotherapy.

Summary

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!