Blog Archives

Case Study #1: How a 34-year-old physiotherapist overcame his foot, back, hip & knee issues

I get asked by my clients all the time: ‘what made you want to be a physio?’ So I figured I would make myself Case Study #1 in a series that I am writing to help you relate to pain, injury and rehabilitation in a realistic and practical way.  My short answer to clients is usually ‘I’ve been an active athlete my whole life and have always been very good at hurting myself so I spent my fair share of time in physio.  I was quite familiar with it and always had a fascination with the human body so it was a natural progression for me after my Human Kinetics degree to go into Physiotherapy.

This article will summarize the lessons I have learned from both hurting myself repeatedly and working with people in pain every day.  I will outline the path I took to overcome some chronic issues that are very common to people of all ages and the things I try to teach to both my parents and my kids.

Brief Background …

I tend to refer to your teens and twenties as your invincible years.  You can punish your body without experiencing that much consequence because the pain, stiffness and soreness doesn’t last long enough to deter you from doing the activity again, or to change your behaviour significantly.  I was a long, lanky kid that played a lot of soccer, rugby, baseball, track & field, water-skiing, wake-boarding, basketball and volleyball.  I sprained ankles, broke my wrist, and dislocated my shoulder many times, but I kept on going.  Now at 34, after being a physiotherapist for ten years, starting a business and having three kids in three years, I have come to realize that I am the cumulative product of everything I have done up to this point and that I better take care of my body because it’s the only one I’ve got for the next 60 years (Click here for related article). Read More

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Why Hips Hurt- An illustrated explanation

hip

Why does your hip hurt if you didn’t do anything to injure it?

The short answer…you probably did a whole bunch of things to it, every day, for years and had no idea that you were doing something wrong.

The full answer…..read below…

Your hips are the centre of your universe.  They are the connection of your upper and lower bodies and most people have no idea where they are or how to use them properly.  It is a strange thing to suggest that someone doesn’t know where their own hips are, but take it from a guy that teaches people to move all day….most people have trouble distinguishing their hips from their pelvis or how to move in a strong, coordinated way through their mid-section.

There are way more moving parts to your body than you have the capacity to focus on at any given time so the best way to explain this to you is to simplify your body down to two pieces and then add on layers as you understand.  Start by thinking of your body as two wooden blocks with a round hinge connecting them in the middle.  Now remember that gravity pulls everything downward and imagine trying to balance the upper piece on the round hinge by holding onto the lower piece.  There are three likely scenarios:

To give these pictures some life, let’s add a head and neck onto them and see what happens.  You also need to understand that your brain has a head righting reflex that wants to keep your head and face looking straight forward, so if one part of your body is persistently leaning one direction your head and neck will accommodate for it.

So far we have block men with hips and necks; an upper body, a lower body and a head.  Read More

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What does it mean to be hypermobile? A gift & a curse wrapped into one


I grew up as a long and lanky kid playing every sport that was available to me.  I loved team sports and got deeply into soccer and rugby.  If I knew then, what I know now about my body, I would have stuck to volleyball and swimming.  Don’t get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed the sports I played, but I routinely felt like I had been hit by a truck afterwards and still have two wonky shoulders to show for it.

I am what you would call hypermobile.  That means that the soft tissues that help hold my skeleton and joints together are relatively looser and more flexible than the average person.  It is a genetic trait that a large number of people have, but most have no concept that the way they are put together is not “normal,” or the same way everyone else is put together.  It does go both ways, some people would be deemed hypomobile, implying that their spine and joints are relatively stiffer than the average population.

My estimation of the incidence of pain and injury as they correlate to genetic joint mobility:

Being loose jointed may sound like a positive genetic attribute, but let me assure you it can pose a lot of problems for people.  Gravity can become particularly annoying when you are hypermobile, especially if you have a job that requires you to sit or stand still for any length of time.  We are the only creatures on Earth that are built to stand and walk upright on two feet- that biomechanical feat requires a skeleton that provides both structural stability to vertically stack your body, and functional mobility so that you can move freely.  Hypermobile people are built to move and have to work a lot harder than everyone else to stack everything up and stay still.  Read More

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