Pressing Pause on 7+ healthcare businesses in Vancouver during COVID-19

My name is Brent Stevenson, I am the founder and co-owner of Envision Physiotherapy in Vancouver, Canada.  I, like everyone else in the world right now, am hiding out at home watching society shut down around me while we all try to endure the impacts of a novel virus on an overly connected world.  Some of my friends are front line workers in the hospitals, others are simply working from home on their laptops until further notice, but I am in the complicated position of running a small business that functions as the umbrella for over seven other health related small businesses in Vancouver.  People in Canada don’t naturally think of healthcare and business in the same framework, but most of our allied health services are private businesses with leases and employees to pay.

The business owner in me is worried about our bottom line, the healthcare professional in me just wants to help, the entrepreneur in me twirls with the current strange opportunity of time, and the father in me just wants to protect my family.  It is a strange time, but I am determined to make the most out of it and hopefully help as many people as I can by providing something interesting to read or watch other than COVID-19 related news stories.  I will start with the story of Envision Physiotherapy, but I will transition to Why Things Hurt, mental health, posture and the stories that have filled my days as a physiotherapist for the past twenty years.  My goal is to post a new story or video each day and start an active conversation in the comments below to give readers the opportunity to Ask Me Anything.

The Story of Envision Physiotherapy:

March 1st, 2020 was a big day for Envision Physiotherapy, we had officially acquired Dayan Physiotherapy & Pelvic Floor Clinic and initiated the process of merging the business and its five physiotherapists into our existing clinics.  It positioned us as one of the biggest and most well-rounded multidisciplinary clinics in Vancouver with sixteen physiotherapists providing a wide range of services in conjunction with a strong multidisciplinary team.  Less than two weeks later, our big step as a business started being overshadowed day by day by the increasing reality that we were actually going to have to shut the clinics down to help slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community.

March 16th, 2020 was the day most clinics in Vancouver started closing their doors for an optimistic two-week period in response to our local health authorities’ recommendations.  I quickly realized that shutting down the entity that I had spent the past fourteen years creating was going to take at least a few days because Envision functions as an umbrella business for numerous other integrated healthcare services.  I called the business owners one by one and discussed the realities of closing our doors.  Dr. Adam Davidson of Mainline Wellness convinced me to stay open until at least March 19th so he could accommodate his patients that needed IV Iron infusions.  He spent his week going back and forth from his role as an emergency physician at Lions Gate Hospital to our clinic running his outpatient services.

My next call was to Nick Christofides and Cale Dougans who run The Studio at Envision False Creek and manage a team of personal trainers and Kinesiologists all running their own businesses within our space.  They worked overtime cleaning and sanitizing the space all week in order to keep the doors open, but the inevitable reality hit when closing just became the socially responsible thing to do.  Tara Keller and Clare Beary of Essential Kinetics literally cleaned the walls every day at our South Granville office in order to protect their clients, but they too realized that no amount of cleaning was going to allow us to stay open.

Our Clinical Pilates program in conjunction with The Movement Studio pressed pause, our massage therapist John Tai moved back to his farm in Boston Bar and our dietitians shifted to online only consults.  Our large team has dispersed to their homes and is trying its best to provide online telehealth services when possible.  The Envision Physiotherapy team is a collection of thriving businesses that unfortunately are all on hold with the rest of the world right now.  We need you as much as you need us right now and we all hope that we can get through this together and create some normalcy again.

When able, we will be adding two Registered Clinical Counsellors to our team from Nightingale Counselling in order to help address the mental health needs of our clients in this difficult time.

Since publishing my book Why Things Hurt: Life Lessons from an Injury Prone Physical Therapist, I have spent most of my time growing Envision Physiotherapy in Vancouver and have not had the time to return to writing.  I am taking this opportunity to return to the pastime that I love, interact with people in a different way and hopefully write a second book in the process.  If you have any questions or topics that you would like me to write about please ask me a question or suggest a topic in the comments below.  If it is a simple answer, I will try my best to answer in the comments, but if it requires more explanation, it may turn into its own blog post or book chapter.  I currently have the time so ask away….



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  • arif

    Hi Brent! You’ve helped me in the past, and I hope you and your family are well.

    It’s almost embarassing how long I’ve let this condition go with little treatment but I’m a active 40 yr old who has been suffering from achilles tendon pain, in both feet/legs for a couple years now at least.

    It gets worse after activity, to the point where the tendon is very sensitive to the touch and I limp around.

    I’m able to self-manage it with a bit of yoga but I’m wondering if you have thoughts around what I should be concentrating on when trying to practice self-care. My theory was that my legs are tight (hammies, calves) and that is pulling on the tendon but I really don’t know. I find it strange that both tendons are in pain.

    As you’ve shown me in the past, everything is interconnected, so I suspect it’s not the achilles itself that needs solving. Also suffer from some sciatica/nerve pain down the right upper leg, that may factor in, who knows.

    Thanks Brent! Take care and I hope life returns to a semblance of normal soon with a minimal of worldwide suffering.


    • Hi Arif, thanks for the question. Most persistent tendon pain like you are describing is rooted from tension in your hips and the small of your back, particularly when you are getting it on both sides. Your Achilles tendons are sore because you are developing a tendonitis, but the inflammation that is being created around your heels is likely the symptom more than the cause.

      The nerves that come out of your low back, specifically your L4/5/S1 nerve roots join together in your pelvis and turn into your sciatic nerve then extend through the deep muscles of your hip, down the back of your leg and function as the electrical wiring to your calfs and feet.

      Muscles are attached to bones by tendons and receive their electrical input from nerves. The input that muscles receive from nerves such as the sciatic nerve will dictate their resting tone. Ideally muscles aren’t limp and flaccid, or full of knots and tight bands, but calves and hamstrings tend to be the dumping ground for nerve tension in the body, specifically the nerves from your low back.

      When your low back and hips are compressed, tight or subtly irritated it can manifest more as calf tension than low back pain. When your calves are persistently tight due to a nerve irritation coming from higher up, it puts a lot more stress on your Achilles tendons that attach these muscles to your heels.

      I have found that the best way to treat it is start with IMS dry needling on your low back, hips and calves then get you working on ball rolling the muscles of your hips and using a stick myofascial roller on your calves. You are best to spend more of your time stretching and moving your hips and low back in order to calm your calves down. If that is still not working start watching my posture videos and practice things like kneeling squats, squats and one leg stand + hip flexion.

      Hope that makes sense and is helpful!


      • arif

        Super helpful Brent, I really appreciate it! I’ll see you soon for some needling once you’re back.

  • JCfromVI

    Brent, I have read your book (and got my library to acquire it) and I visit your site regularly. My improved awareness of posture (esp. while sitting) has helped my back tremendously. The exercise videos are great; my arthritic knees have benefited from stronger legs and better balance. Questions:
    1. Do you see any benefits in infrared saunas? I do it once a week and it helps me mentally but am not sure whether there’s any physical benefit. I just have to make sure to drink a lot of water and take an extra magnesium capsule to avoid cramping at night.
    2. What’s your take on inversion? I do a Teeter first thing every morning and I believe it sets me up for my morning exercises/stretches.
    Wishing you the best during these wild times,
    Jon (Victoria)

    • Hi Jon! I was wondering how my book got in so many libraries! Thanks for that!

      As for infrared saunas, I can’t say I have a lot of experience with them to give you a truly informed opinion. I have had some clients swear by them, but I don’t have anything very helpful to add on the subject sorry.

      I think inversion tables are quite helpful especially for people with osteoarthritis; degenerated joints appreciate it when you pull them apart and create some space. Gravity is an unrelenting force so it can be helpful to give the body a break for periods of time and stretch things out in a different way.

      All the best,

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