How to improve your squat (Part 1)

Life on the floor – Part 1

Do you have low back pain? Are your hips tight from sitting all day? Do you know that the biggest obstacle in your way might actually be your chair? Sitting is one of the most common activities that we do on a daily basis. Think about how much time you spend sitting during the day; either in your chair at your desk, driving to and from work, during meals, or on the couch watching TV. Believe it or not, sitting in chairs is not something that we’re designed to do. When primitive humans needed a break, they didn’t pull out a lawn chair and kick their feet up. They squatted or sat on the ground. This ability to get up and down from the ground easily is the key to regaining your lower body strength and mobility, and reducing or eliminating your low back pain. Today we’re going to be focusing on squatting: Why it’s important, how to do it safely, and how to improve it.

Squatting is something that we all do easily and naturally when we’re infants. It’s a natural resting position for our bodies, and also the natural position for us to excrete waste. We’ve all seen children squatting in the corner, and know that a diaper change is moments away (more on that later). I’m willing to bet that very few of us can get in that natural relaxed squat position now. Our joints are too tight, especially in our hips and ankles to allow that full range or motion, and that has consequences for how the rest of our body moves… or doesn’t.

So what does a proper squat look like? A full squat involves bringing your body all the way down so that your hamstrings are fully resting against your calves, while your feet remain flat on the floor. Your feet are pointing forward, with your knees out above your second toe on each foot. Your upper body remains upright and relaxed, much like when we’re sitting with good posture in our chairs. I expect that this will be difficult to impossible for most of you to do right now. Fear not! WIth some basic exercises, you can get your body back to moving like it should.

Bear in mind that this will be a long process, as we’re not just trying to stretch muscles, but loosen joint capsules. They’ve taken many years (decades in most cases) to get this stiff, so they’re not going to loosen up overnight. I promise that the effort will be worth it!

Let’s start by assessing your current squat. Make sure that you’re holding onto a railing or something sturdy to support yourself. Keep your chest up, push your bum back, and try and lower yourself straight down. Make sure to keep your knees pointing forward, and don’t let your heels come off the ground. Don’t worry if you can’t go very far; this is just to get a feel for how your body moves, and what areas are most tight on you.

Now let’s look at a few ways we can improve it. One of the easiest ways to improve hip flexibility is to just repeat the exercise we just did. This time though, allow your heels to come off the ground, and let your bum sink down as far as it can. If your ankles are especially tight, it might be easier to start with your feet pointed out slightly. Just make sure that your knees follow suit. Remember, always keep your knees above your second toe! As you get comfortable, try and get a feel for how your body is balanced on your feet. Hold this position for as long as you feel comfortable, and repeat whenever it is convenient. Heating a pan on the stove? Grab the counter and give your hips a stretch. You don’t need to set aside workout time, just squat where you can.

Another exercise you can try is to start by sitting on the floor with your knees bent and your feet flat. Keep your feet still and use your hands to walk your bum towards your feet, as far as you can, then walk them out to relax. You can try to hold this for a few seconds each time, but just the repetition alone will be beneficial. If you can touch your bum to your feet easily, the next step is to use your hands to push your body up and over your feet. Again, you can try and hold for a few seconds each time if you’d like. Once that starts to become easy, use a railing or a door handle in front of you to pull yourself even further over your feet while keeping your heels on the ground. Remember, our goal is to be able to balance our body comfortably over our feet while keeping them flat on the ground.

I would be remiss if I did not bring back my point from earlier: Squatting makes going to the bathroom easier. Yes, Squatty Potties work (I’ve been using one for over a year now), and really do make a difference. Even having a small step stool to put your feet on while you’re on the toilet, not only will help your plumbing work better, but it’s another opportunity each day to help stretch your joints. That’s all it takes: A little bit of work each day, and you can help your whole body move and function better.

If you have any issues or injuries that are preventing you from being able to squat or move properly, contact the professionals at Action Physiotherapy by calling us at 905-457-7475 or clicking HERE , so we can help you function at your best .

We are here to help

Robert Kappes Registered Physiotherapist Click HERE to view our video on this topic on Facebook

  • Blog Post written by Paul McCrimmon (Osteopath)

Natural Relief For neck pain

Do you suffer from neck and upper back pain? Here are 3 basic exercises to avoid and prevent neck pain and stiffness.

Have you noticed that you are having a lot of tightness on your neck and your upper back? Does your neck feel very heavy and tired while you are sitting or driving? Do you find your headaches are getting worse? If you have experienced any of these symptoms then one of the common reasons would be your neck muscles have been constantly used up and they are at a point where they need help.

Neck pain is a very common problem. Some of your neck pain might be coming from your spine. However, the most common causes of neck pain come from muscles tightness and spasms. These are the muscles that help you move your neck while you are sitting or driving or when you are in front of the device.

Most of the time your neck pain is the result of not moving it properly and using and holding one movement for a prolonged time, not providing any opportunities to get these muscles back to their resting length. Repeated movement and prolonged sustained movements can really make your neck pain worse. Hence let’s look at some of the basic exercises that provide balance on your upper spine to reduce pain and weakness. Your upper spine includes your upper back and your neck, so let’s go through some of these simple exercises that really work. All you need is a sincere effort from your side to help yourself.

  1. Chin Tucks
    Chin Tucks are very basic exercises. This helps to move the spinal bones that are located higher on your neck. We usually don’t use this movement and use more of the lower bones of the spine during a regular routine like screen time or driving. This movement helps to bring the muscle balance back thereby reducing overworking of the lower spine.

    This exercise can be done either by sitting or lying down face up on a flat pillow.

    Sit or stand tall and nice, chest forward with your chin pointing straight. This means you are not bending your neck down or up, rather keep your neck straight. To get the correct movement, Imagine there is thread tied back in your neck which is pulling your Chin straight back without bending your neck. Once you are ready and upright gently pull your chin straight back creating that smooth backward movement. This exercise can be explained and taught correctly by your physiotherapist to be more accurate and precise.

  2. Pinching Your Shoulder Blades
    This exercise targets the muscle segment just below your neck. These muscles are a strong foundation that helps to support and move your neck easily. If these muscles are weak and sore your neck does feel tired. The consequence is you cannot hold your neck anymore, feeling tired and exhausted every time. So let’s see how we can do this amazing exercise at home. Again you could sit or stand whatever makes you feel comfortable. Stand tall, keep your chest forward, and avoid slouching on your upper back. Once you get this correct position, bring the knuckles of your elbow close to your body almost leaning at your lateral chest wall. Bend your elbow so that your forearm is parallel with the floors. Once you are in this starting position gradually move your forearm out and away from your body. As you do this, your both shoulder blades start squeezing together. Keep repeating this for 8 to 10 repetitions before you stop Your physiotherapist would be the best person to help you teach these exercises correctly.
  3. Neck Stretching Sideways
    These muscles are present between your shoulder joint and the base of your neck. These are some of those muscles that help to bend your neck sideways.

    These muscles if not used correctly can get into spasms and tension very quickly.

    It’s important to release them often to avoid building that tightness to an extent that it becomes very uncomfortable for you to sit and work.

    Find a comfortable spot and be seated. Keep your chest forward. Now Gently bring one hand behind your back and let that shoulder rest down. Once you are ready with the starting position, bend your neck to the opposite side by dropping your ear lobe down to the opposite shoulder. Hold this position for 5-6 secs and repeat 2-3 times. This stretch helps to maintain the optimal muscle length of the neck and shoulder, especially your upper fibers of the Trapezius muscle. Make a good routine of doing this exercise at least 3-4 times a week. Consult your physiotherapist should you need more clarity on these steps. Remember it’s always good to have yourself assessed by your physiotherapist should you have any pain or discomfort.

NOTE: If you are experiencing pain along with numbness and tingling sensation travelling down from your neck to hands or forearm then, it’s very IMPORTANT you get examined first by your physiotherapist before you try out these exercises.

As a physiotherapist I have had great success treating neck pain. My patients are mostly teachers, Nurses, computer / software professionals and drivers who are now out of this painful cycle of headache and persistent stiffness/ pain. It’s never too late to take care of yourself. We are here to help you with an effective treatment plan with better results.

If you need further help for your ongoing pain then click HERE. If you have underlying issues that make these exercises and steps difficult, be sure to contact us at Action Physiotherapy at 905-457-7475, and let us help you.

We are here to help.

Robert Kappes, Registered Physiotherapist

Click HERE to view our video on this topic on Facebook

  • Blog Post written by Bimala Odari (Registered Physiotherapist)

Natural Relief For Fibromyalgia

Do you suffer from chronic aches and pains? Have you been diagnosed with fibromyalgia? Do you wish to know more about this disease? Read on to educate yourself more about this surprisingly common and frequently misunderstood condition.


What exactly is fibromyalgia? 

The Mayo Clinic defines it as “a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues”.  The clinical diagnosis used to involve testing 18 tender points in the body, and if more than 11 were painful, a diagnosis of fibromyalgia was determined.  Doctors now use a Widespread Pain Index (WPI) to determine the diagnostic criteria.  

So what does that mean for you? 

A diagnosis of fibromyalgia is essentially your doctor telling you: “You have chronic pain and we don’t know why”. There are some differing theories about what causes fibromyalgia, but no definitive cause has been found. About ⅓ of sufferers have had previous trauma, ⅓ viral infection, and ⅓ have no obvious history.

Does that mean that the pain is all in your head? 

That’s a bit of a loaded question since ALL pain is in your head.  That’s the definition of pain, your brain’s interpretation of a painful experience.  Just because the pain is in your head does not mean it’s in your imagination though.  It is as real and as present as any other pain, even if the cause is not obvious to outside observers.

Is there anything that can be done about it? 

Yes, and no. There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but treatment and management can be quite effective. Because fibromyalgia affects the whole body, whole-body therapies like osteopathy can give a lot of benefits to fibromyalgia sufferers. Particularly in downregulating the nervous system (calming pain nerves), and treating common issues associated with fibromyalgia-like migraines and irritable bowel syndrome.

While fibromyalgia can be debilitating, there is hope for improvement.  Hopefully you’ve learned some useful information, but if you’d like an in depth analysis of your condition, click HERE  to book an appointment with one of our professionals or give us a call at 905-457-7475, and let us help you.

 We are here to help

Robert Kappes, Registered Physiotherapist

Click HERE to view our video on this topic on Facebook

  • Blog Post written by Paul McCrimmon (Osteopath)

3 Tips To Improve Your Running Mechanics

Does your back hurt after a long walk or run?  Are you prone to shin splints? Do you rely on supportive shoes and orthotics to get through the day?  How you walk and run may be the problem.  Be sure to read this blog to find out if mistakes in how you move are causing you pain.  At Action Physiotherapy, we’ve helped many people correct their walking and running mechanics, to help them move about pain free.  

The biggest problem that I see with most people in regards to their gait, is how they use their heels.  If you look at your dog or cat, you’ll notice that their heels are half way up their leg, almost where our knees are.  Why the difference?  Since we only have 2 legs, stability and support when we are standing are much more important than for our 4-legged friends. That is the essential role that our heels provide: stability and support.  Let’s look at what happens to our feet mechanically when we stand.

When we put weight and pressure on our heels, the arch of your foot relaxes and your toes naturally splay a little.  This is the classic ‘flat foot’ position.  Your feet want to cover a wide area to give you balance and stability.  When weight goes through our toes, our arch stiffens and creates a high arch.  This does 2 important things:  First, it creates a strong lever for our muscles to act on, allowing us to propel ourselves forward when walking or running.  Second, it absorbs and transfers force.  When weight through our toes have created a stiff arch, our heels are still being driven towards the ground by gravity.  What’s resisting that force is your calves.  They have effectively become shock absorbers for your body.  More on that in a bit.

Remember that flat feet and high arches are not bad things.  Your feet need to be able to do both.  It’s only when your feet lose the ability to transition between the two that problems arise.  You can even demonstrate this effect yourself with your hands!  Stand up and place a relaxed hand flat on a table.  Lean on it and put your weight through the heel.  Notice that your palm flattens and your fingers slightly spread.  Now lift the heel of your hand slightly and put your weight through your finger tips.  Your hand now creates a tight arch.  Now that we understand a little more about how our feet work, let’s see how we can use this to our advantage.

When our bodies are in motion, there is always a balance or trade off between mobility and stability.  Since our heels are responsible for stability, the faster we move, the less we want to heel-strike.  When we are running or jogging, we should never be heel striking.  In case that wasn’t clear:  


If you take nothing else out of this blog, please remember that.  Not only are you less efficient if you heel strike while running, you are actually hurting yourself while you do.  Let’s look at those two points in greater detail.

First let’s talk about efficiency.  We know now what our feet want to do when there’s weight through your heel; they want to spread and flatten to provide stability.  So, if we heel strike while running, our arch is ‘loose’ and the front part of our foot almost slaps the ground.  This almost acts as a small brake pedal being applied to every stride.  Then to propel ourselves forward, all of the muscles in your foot need to re-engage and tighten up to create a fixed arch so we can push off the ground.  Your body needs to exert more energy to re-engage these muscles and to overcome the small amount of momentum that was lost.  While the amount of energy is small, when you think of that amount applying to every stride over 5 or 10 Km, it doesn’t seem so small anymore.

Now when we strike with the balls of our feet, things change drastically.  First, our arch remains fixed.  This maintains an efficient lever for force transfer for the duration of the stride.  Next we load our calf muscle to prevent our body weight from driving our heel into the ground.  Since muscles are elastic in nature, this actually stores kinetic energy during the load that we can use to propel ourselves forward.  This dramatically increases the mechanical efficiency of our stride when running.

One side note here: The degree to which you toe strike is very dependent on how fast you’re running.  When we’re sprinting, the toes and balls of our feet are the only thing that will be touching the ground, as our momentum will keep our bodies quite still in the air.  However, the slower we run, the closer we want to strike the ground towards the mid foot to minimize ‘bouncing’.  This will take some time to get a feel for, but just make sure you aren’t striking with your heel first.



The other big advantage of not heel striking is the absorption of force.  Earlier, we talked about how our calves act as shock absorbers when we strike with the balls of our feet.  Most people are not aware of how important of a function this is, due to our shoes.  If you try jogging barefoot, you’ll discover it’s importance very quickly,  especially if you’re on asphalt or concrete.  The shock of each impact is driven straight up your legs to your hips and your back causing damage with each stride.  

Running shoe advertisements always focus on how well they absorb force and cushion our heels when we run.  Unfortunately all that does is promote poor running mechanics.  If you’ve ever seen a distance running event on TV, you’ll notice all of the top runners have very minimal shoes with very thin soles.  With that type of footwear, it’s impossible to run the amount they do with poor heel striking mechanics.  If you’ve ever seen the osteopath in our office, you’ll notice that he wears toe shoes for everyday use to help promote good foot mechanics.  This brings us back to walking mechanics.

If you’ve ever heard someone with a really heavy step stomping around, this is someone with poor walking mechanics.  Just like with running, if we stomp with our heels when we walk, that creates shock waves up the legs that can harm our hips and back.  A gentle heel strike while walking is not a bad thing at all, and is often preferred as we need more stability in our feet walking than we do while running.  



The biggest issue I tend to notice is where people’s centre of gravity is in relation to they’re feet.  Most people tend to take a long stride forward, then pull their body toward their feet.  The heel becomes the anchor for that pull, and leads to much heavier impact on the ground.  If you watch people walk barefoot, or watch old videos from the first half of the last century, people’s strides were much shorter.  This is due to them not having footwear to absorb force driven into their heels.  Their strides were shorter, but tended to have a longer follow through.  Their centre of gravity was much further forward in their stride, allowing them to strike gently with their feet.

As you can see heel striking and foot mechanics are a deep and complex issue.  Hopefully you’ve learned some useful information, but if you’d like an in depth analysis of your gait, click HERE  to book an appointment with one of our professionals or give us a call at 905-457-7475 , and let us help you.

 We are here to help

Robert Kappes, Registered Physiotherapist

Click HERE to view our video on this topic on Facebook

  • Blog Post written by Paul McCrimmon (Osteopath)

3 Tips To Reduce Elbow and Wrist Pain

Are you one of those who have just developed pain on your hands and your elbow . Does your pain make you feel frustrated while at work? If you are working from home ,if you are a housewife, someone with a construction job or even in a warehouse doing repetitive activity using your hands and wrist, then make sure you don’t miss this out .

 This pandemic has forced us to work from home and sit  long hours in front of the screen. Being static in one position has a huge secondary issue , some of them are extreme fatigue, overuse of muscle and ligaments , decreased blood flow , shoulder ,upper back and neck pain. Most commonly the elbow and forearm pain .

Elbow pain and wrist pain are very common problems . Muscle soreness at the forearm and pain while bending your wrist . You may also feel that your pain could easily be triggered during regular chores  such as lifting a frying pan or lifting a heavy box of screwdrivers or sudden forceful bending . I see most of my patients complain about “ I am not able to stir the pot while cooking , I feel completely exhausted at the end of the day after using the computer keyboard.” Well I am not able to lift my grocery bag ‘’ if you can relate to this make sure you hang on until the end of this blog .


  1. Positioning your wrist : 

Your wrist position plays a significant role in managing your pain . Constantly using the wrist on a bending position , bending either up or down , both have significant impact on your pain . 90 % of the muscles that help you bend your wrist actually come from your elbow. Using your wrist in static positions during repetitive activity directly affects your elbow and wrist pain . Position your wrist in a way so that your wrist joint stays straight in what we call ‘ A Neutral Position‘. Repetitively using this muscle in a static position with wrist bend in one direction causes inflammation of your muscle tendon which in turn increases the pressure within your forearm . If neglected , this pressure does compress the nerve in your forearm causing carpal tunnel syndrome .


  1.     Avoid static position for too long (desensitize)

    Sometimes I hear from my patient  that it’s not practical to keep moving while you are at your desk ,it gets so busy that you get caught up in it and you forget to move and take care of your body . Well exactly  ! The solution is so simpler than the consequence of avoiding your regular stretch . Every hour desensitize your wrist and hand by moving it in the opposite direction . For example  if you are doing repetitive activity with a slight wrist bending down  , take a break and move the wrist in the opposite direction which is slightly bending up . Our muscles in our body work in a very coordinated fashion , they love to be in balance and we need to be mindful about giving that balance to those muscles.


  1.   Stretch and release the muscle in between and take a break .

The other important thing to take care of is releasing muscle tension . Working these small muscles of your forearm  all day you definitely create a lot of muscle guarding and tension around your wrist and elbow . As you know  after any regular workout like running or Zumba dance work out you always stretch those big muscles of your leg. Similarly , every 2-4 hrs it’s very important to release this muscle tension . You can stretch the muscle on both sides of the forearm . Your therapist can guide you much better on this . Just stretching is not enough , it’s also equally important to maintain a good blood flow around this muscle and the best way is to manually  release the muscles with your other hand . All this stretches and muscle release technique can be best taught to you by your therapist .


You Don’t have to put up with your pain.  We hear from our patients that they have put up with the pain , changed their lives and relied on medication and injections for nothing more than short term relief if they are lucky.  We have been successfully helping our patients out with elbow and wrist pain and we get great results .Our patients feel confident and happy to get back into enjoying  their recreational routines .

If you need further help for your ongoing pain and stiffness click HERE. If you have underlying issues that makes these steps difficult for you, click HERE  to book an appointment with one of our professionals or give us a call at 905-457-7475 , and let us help you.

 We are here to help

Robert Kappes, Registered Physiotherapist

Click HERE to view our video on this topic on Facebook

  • Blog Post written by Bimala Odari, Registered Physiotherapist

3 Positions To Relieve Back Pain

Have you recently hurt your back and are having trouble finding a comfortable, pain free position? Well keep reading as i’m going to share with you three positions you can do today to help you relieve the pressure on your back.

Now, back pain is one of those things that we will eventually experience at some point in our lives.  Usually this pain appears to come on out of nowhere, but is likely due to years of poor mechanics, muscle imbalances and sometimes just regular day to day living.

So the problem is when back pain hits suddenly it can stop us in our tracks, you can find yourself shuffling around. Maybe you’re stuck in events, forward position or at times even unable to put weight through your legs at all. This happens now because your muscles go into spasm as it’s trying to protect your back from further pain or irritation.

And when this happens, we try to lie down but have trouble finding a position to help with the pain. Eventually take some meds and repeat the process of trying to find a comfortable position until the meds kick in.

So now that we know the problems we face when our back goes out, let’s focus on the fix. So i’m going to present to you three positions that you can try immediately that will allow your muscles and your back to relax and let go with that spasm. Now before you try any of these positions it is important to note that you should never stay in any of these positions if it ends up increasing your pain.

These positions are designed to help you decrease that pain. So if not and you’re having trouble, just send me a message. I’m happy to help.

  1. lay in a z-laying position.

So one of the best ways to relax your muscles is laying down what is called a z-laying position.

This is where you lay on the floor with your feet up on the couch cushions and your bum push right up to the edge of the couch to form a z- shape, and once in this position, I want you to take a few deep breaths in and let go all that tension in your back and your legs by having your legs on the couch.

It will provide a small, a little tiny bit of a distraction your back, and it will allow the muscles and your back to relax.


      2. Lay with a pillow under your hips and legs.

Now this position is best obtain by laying on a firm surface, so if you have a soft mattress, you will not get the support your back needs. So first place two pillows on the floor or bend next, make your way to the ground or the bed.

Now for this position, you will be on your stomach, so try to position your pillow so it sits just under your hips and just under your ankles.

It’s important to make sure that the pillow is more under your hips than under your stomach. Now, once in position again, take a couple of deep breaths to allow your muscles and body to relax into this position.

Now, if this position is still uncomfortable, you may need to increase the number of pillows under your hips and ankles. So feel free to try this out until you find the right number of pillows to keep your back. Relax.

     3. Lay on your side with a pillow between your knees.

Now this position requires you lay on your side and again, you want to try to lay on a firm surface. So if your bed is too soft, this might not work for you.

So to get in this position, roll on your side, hold your pillow in half and place it between your knees. You may find one side more comfortable than the other, so try both sides to see which is the most comfortable for you again. Once in this position, you’re gonna take a couple of deep breaths to allow your muscles to relax. Now, with all the positions that i’ve mentioned above, it is important that you not stay in any of these positions longer than 20 to 30 minutes.

Get up, walk around the room and then go back into one of the above positions and repeat until you are more comfortable and mobile enough to make it in to see your health professional.

Listen, back pain is the most common condition that we treat here at our clinic in Brampton, and we help our patients identify why they are getting their back pain and come up with a detailed plan on how we’re going to eliminate this pain for them.

We work with our patients personal goal. So once their pain is gone, we don’t stop until we get them back to where they want to be. So you don’t have to suffer in silence. We have a proven method to help you reach your goals and get back to the activities you enjoy doing.

You Don’t have to put up with your pain.  We hear from our patients that they have put up with the pain , changed their lives and relied on medication and injections for nothing more than short term relief if they are lucky .I have been successfully helping my patient out with  hip and low back pain and we get great results .Our patients feel confident and happy to get back into enjoying  their recreational routines .

If you need further help for your ongoing pain and stiffness click HERE. If you have underlying issues that makes these steps difficult for you, click HERE  to book an appointment with one of our professionals or give us a call at 905-457-7475 , and let us help you.

 We are here to help

Robert Kappes, Registered Physiotherapist

Click HERE to view our video on this topic on Facebook

How To Use A Foam Roller

What exactly is Foam rolling ? and why should you roll ? 3 tips on how to use foam rolling correctly to avoid muscle stiffness.

Does your back hurt and gets tight and stiff very easily. Do you feel sore on your hips and back every time you go for a little walking or jogging .Do you feel achy and heavy on your whole back and thighs. If you are one of those active people and if your muscle soreness is limiting you from continuing your recreational  routines then make sure you do not miss these valuable tips that I will be talking today .

Before we begin , let’s get to know how we get muscle pain.

Our muscles continuously contract and shorten while we are moving . When you are actually moving your joints you are continuously getting those muscles to shorten. We get muscle soreness because  we do not spend enough time for their recovery after we use them  . Our muscle starts getting stiff and tight with time and presents as pain and discomfort. Not just the muscle tissue it also releases other soft tissues and fascia  that cover the muscles . It’s very important to release these muscles so that they can function optimally . Our body is designed to move and we should always move it appropriately to avoid muscle tension . Our body is not designed to sustain and hold certain positions for a long time. Prolong sustain positions sensitize that particular area of the body and that’s when you start feeling pain and soreness .If you have had previous injury on your back and hips , this stiffness can become much worse. Are you one of those who is sitting and working all day in front of your computer? Your upper back and lower back will be very stiff and tight. If so, you definitely need to understand how important it is to release this muscle to maintain their function .

There are different ways to release these  muscles . One of the approaches is definitely stretching. However , stretching is not always enough .  The difference is, stretching helps to elongate the muscle to some extent.  However, foam rolling uses your own body weight as a pressure and gently rolls  over the muscle tissue and fascia  like deep massage . It helps by breaking the muscle knots and scar tissue and this helps improve blood flow. Research suggests most of our muscle pain comes due to lack of enough blood circulation in the muscles  . Once the muscle comes back to its comfortable resting length, pain decreases and  their performance increases . You will notice that after  using  foam rolling correctly your muscles feel relaxed  and you will instantly feel lighter  . The best approach is to combine both the stretch and foam rolling for maximum relief . Foam rolling is best for releasing your entire upper and lower back and also your hips and thigh muscles . You do need fairly strong core muscles to do this as you activate your core muscles while you use them. Your therapist can guide you on this .

If you are someone who likes to stay active and loves running, jogging , hiking or participating in online group workout programmes , make sure you don’t miss the following three ways to release your entire back and your hips .

  1. upper back pain and foam rolling : 

If you are spending a lot of time working at your computer screen , or if you are someone busy at home as a housewife , you might notice heaviness on your neck and your upper back .Some other thing you might notice is that your neck and back  feels so  heavy that  you just need to lie down . So let’s learn how to release these upper back muscles . 

Make sure you select the good size and length of the foam roller .

Place the foam roll on the floor and lie on it so that the foam roll is under your mid back. Next , bend your knee, keep your foot flat on the floor and gently lift your hips up in the air . Keep your arms straight and bring them up towards your head while your both hands are clasped together .Now gently move the  foam roller up all the way upto the base of your neck and down at the mid back ( mid rib cage ). Your  point of contact with the floor is your both  feet to move the roller along with your mid back . You can continue rolling  in back and forth motion .As you feel the muscle tension is slightly comfortable you can stop at that point . You can use it for 5 to 15 mins depending on how much you can tolerate.

2.  lower back pain and  foam roller: 

Now the lower back consists of larger muscles and they are more easy to work on.These muscles run at either side of your spine all the way down  and the foam roller works best on it .  Place the foam roller either  just above the tailbone at the upper end of the pelvic area of the lower back  or you can place it just where your rib cage ends at your back .you will follow the similar step bending your knees and keeping your arms forward just above your tummy while your hands are clasped . The direction of rolling for the first phase is back and forth and up and down . In the second phase you will tilt your both arms to one side of your tummy  and continue the rhythmic movement . This movement exposes your deep muscles and there is more deeper pressure directly on the muscles than the spine .You  repeat the same on both the sides for 5-15 mins based on your tolerance level .

3. Hip and anterior thigh pain release 

Hip muscles and thighs get sore usually if you suddenly do activities like running and walking or those intense cardio workouts . If these are the activities that you enjoy regularly , then you definitely  need to make sure you are releasing these muscles to avoid secondary pain on your hips and thighs .

Position yourself over the foam roll so that the side of your hip is in contact with the foam roll, knee straight ,while the side of your foot is gently rested on the floor.Your other foot is placed at mid point area exactly in front of the contralateral knee . Once you get this starting  position you can start rolling your IT- bands on the side. Remember you are going to use your foot that is placed in mid position to propel up and down while you release those tissues .You  will now  turn yourself 90 deg  down so that your body  is facing parallel with  the floor. Allow the front foot to shift the support over into the inner side of your  same side knee, this knee will now become the new  point of contact with the floor as you release the anterior thigh muscles .You  can move along the entire length of the thigh to release the tension.The duration would be the same 5-15 mins .

You Don’t have to put up with your pain , Lower back pain and hip pain are very common problem and mist of those pain come from muscle stiffness, trigger bands and muscle knots that develop due to lack of sufficient blood flow .

We hear from our patients that they have put up with the pain , changed their lives and relied on medication and injections for nothing more than short term relief if they are lucky .I have been successfully helping my patient out with  hip and low back pain and we get great results .Our patients feel confident and happy to get back into enjoying  their recreational routines .

If you need further help for your ongoing pain and stiffness click HERE. If you have underlying issues that makes these steps difficult for you, click HERE  to book an appointment with one of our professionals or give us a call at 905-457-7475 , and let us help you.

 We are here to help

Robert Kappes, Registered Physiotherapist

Click HERE to view our video on this topic on Facebook

  • Article written by Bimala Odari Registered Physiotherapist

How To Find The Correct Pillow For You

Do you have trouble sleeping?  Do you wake up with a stiff neck in the morning?  Do you wonder if your pillow is part of the problem?  Read on to find out if your pillow is right for you, and if it’s not, how to find one that is.  At Action Physiotherapy, we’ve helped may people deal with issues that are preventing them from getting a good night’s sleep.  Contact us HERE  to find out if one of our professionals can help you.

We all use pillows, but how do we know if we’re using the right one?  From water pillows to cube pillows, memory form to old fashioned down filled, it seems there’s always a new ad for the latest and greatest in sleep technology.  Given that some of these pillows can cost well over $100 (and that you can’t return them), it can be a little intimidating to figure out if you’re making a good investment.  Today we’re going to talk about some theories about pillows, and answer some of the questions we get in our clinic about them.

One of the most common questions we get is: “How do I know that my pillow is the right size/shape for me?”.  My first question is then always: “How do you sleep?”.  Your body position in bed goes a long way to finding the right pillow for you.  Other than being comfortable, your pillow’s job is to try and keep your spine in a neutral position while you rest.  This will take the pressure of the joints of your spine while you sleep, letting them recuperate after a long day of keeping you vertical.

Side Sleeper

If you are a side sleeper, the thickness of your pillow will determine how flat your head is lying.  Too thick, or too thin, will leave your head on an angle relative to the rest of your body, causing your spine to bend at night, and can often leads to kinks or soreness in the morning.  To get a good estimation of how thick your pillow should be, measure the horizontal distance from your neck to your shoulder.  This is much easier with someone else, but if no one is available, you can tape a ruler to the wall and look in a mirror to get the distance.  This will give you a good idea of how thick your pillow should be.  Keep in mind that if you prefer a softer pillow, the weight of your head will compress it more, so you may want it a little thicker than what you measured.

Back Sleeper

If you are a back sleeper, you ideally don’t want much of a pillow at all.  Some people in fact just prefer a towel roll or a small tube pillow under their neck.  Compared to a side sleeper, the curve of your neck requires much more support if you’re sleeping on your back, so a contoured pillow can really help.  How thick your pillow should be as a back sleeper is entirely dependent on your posture.  Stand up comfortably straight with your back against a wall, and have someone measure the distance from the back of your head to the wall.  This will give you your pillow thickness guideline.  You can get a pillow with a contour for additional neck support, or even roll a small towel inside your pillow case to help out with neck support as well.  Just like before, start thicker with a softer pillow.

All of this theory aside, the ideal pillow for you is the one that gives you the best night’s sleep!  My starting advice for anyone looking to change up their pillow is always the same:  First of all get whatever pillow you currently find the most comfortable.  Next we’re going to use the towel trick I mentioned earlier.  You can roll it up and stick it inside your pillow case, and fine tune it to see what works best for you.  Roll it tight, or roll it looser.  Fold one or two flat under the pillow for extra height, or lay one or two flat on top for extra firmness.  It is a trial and error process, but it doesn’t cost you anything, and by the end of it you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for when you go to purchase your next pillow.

Having good support for your neck will go a long way to getting a better night’s sleep, but if you have underlying neck or back issues, it may not be enough.  If you have concerns about the quality of your sleep, click HERE  to book an appointment with one of our professionals or give us a call at 905-457-7475 , and let us help you get the sleep your body needs.

 We are here to help

Robert Kappes, Registered Physiotherapist

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Common mistakes to avoid back pain while handling your baby.

Are you one of those new mom and dad with back pain which does not seem to go away . Everyday you cuddle with your newborn , hold them and move around, and day by day you get to notice that your back pain is increasing and becoming frustrating .

If you are one of those new parents being burdened with back  pain each day , then make sure you read this important blog to ensure you aren’t making it worse .


Low back pain is a very common problem . We all go through this pain and we do tend to avoid it until it becomes really worse . Also someone with no history of back pain, can also  easily get a back pain if you are doing repetitive bending and lifting.

 This can be easily related to new parents who have developed back pain until they notice that lifting and holding their newborn became  very challenging and uncomfortable .Well if you are a new parent ! Then this is for you . You don’t want to miss this.

When your baby is a few days old you may not even notice the pain . However , as they start growing you will notice that your pain is more obvious than you can imagine .Interestingly, new born babies are somewhere between 7-10 lb and can easily  weigh  upto 15 to 30 lbs just within less than a year . You may not even imagine you would get a back pain holding them . The fact is yes ! You can easily get back pain if you don’t have correct biomechanics and enough strength and endurance on your back and core .

Now let’s see what are the common mistakes we make and how we can correct our body mechanics and enjoy parenthood and have fun at the same time.


Avoid bending your back while Holding and lifting 

Your baby is the most precious thing and you are constantly around them. Feeding and nursing them, lifting and changing diapers are some constant routines you will be doing . Firstly , avoid bending forward and sustaining that forward bend position for long . Instead of using your spine to bend forward use your hip and knees to off load your spine . Gently bend your hips and knees , tighten your tummy to build that little corset around and see for yourself how easy this can be .Also while handling the stroller , make sure you are not pushing it leaning forward .Make sure you are standing not too close and not to far while pushing the stroller to find that balance on your spine to avoid exertion and pain .


Stay close while lifting and avoid twisting your supine.

It’s so exciting to be a new mom and dad ,and forget about how you are maintaining your body mechanics while holding your bundle of joy. Position yourself as close as possible while lifting them so that you avoid exerting your back muscles from over working and getting sore and tight. Stay close and avoid lifting while standing if your baby is resting on the lower levels like on the floor . You can choose to kneel and sit on your legs allowing your hip to bend while you are lifting them on your arms .  Now another important thing is while holding the car seat, be mindful if you are leaning more on one side and over compensating for weak and sore muscles . This will trigger more pain if not right away may be at the end of the day .

Remember when you are transporting your baby in and out of the car make sure you are not bending and leaning way forward , avoid twisting and again use your hips and knees to avoid loading your spine . 


Avoid holding your baby’s on your waist /hip 

Sometimes, we like multitasking , say you are in a kitchen and need an extra hand , or say you have to answer a phone and you do not want your baby or toddler on the floor . What is the most easy thing to do ?. Hold them on your hips ! This habit might actually create a huge muscle imbalance of those deep muscles just above your pelvis  and can trigger muscle spasm and tightness. These deep muscles are very responsive and  are constantly working to hold your spine upright . Instead, try using the  body strap that holds your baby on the front .


  Avoid  repetitive handling and give yourself a break .

As a new parent , the most important factor that triggers your back pain is repetitive and sustained  routines you do. Pace yourself and give your muscles enough time to relax before you get into another  routine . I know it’s difficult to even think about all this while you are in front of them , however this is important that you are aware of this fact.

Your muscles are in constant strain during repetitive tasks and may not even heal back enough repeating the cycle of never ending on going cycle of pain.


Start exercising and avoid being sedentary 

When I say start exercising , I am referring to specific exercises that help strengthen your back and core.  In terms of exercise, It’s always recommended  to have an expert assess you as we all are different in terms of our strength and endurance . Some of the exercises can be categorized as core stability exercises which is recommended mostly for 8 weeks. Sitting and not finding time for a walk also triggers back pain . Our body is designed to move and if we move them correctly we can always avoid back pain .There might be few things that cannot be avoided at times but having a  regular strengthening Exs does balance it out and makes a great difference 


 You don’t have to put up with low back pain . We hear from our patients that they have put up with the pain , changed their lives and relied on medication and injections for nothing more than short term relief if they are lucky.  We have been successfully helping our patients with low back pain and we get great results. Our patients feel confident and happy to get back into enjoying  time with their newborn babies and toddlers by avoiding few simple mistakes they do .

If you need further help for your ongoing back pain then click HERE to book an appointment or give us a call at 905-457-7475 so we can get you back to doing what you want to do and what you love. 

I honestly want you to get rid of this pain and back to doing the things you love.

Robert Kappes, Registered Physiotherapist

Click HERE to view our video on this topic on Facebook

*Blog written by Bimala Odari

5 Quick tips for your home workstation setup

Have you been working from home and feeling you are gradually getting more stiff and sore, is it affecting your ability to concentrate and making you irritable?  Are you suffering from more headaches than usual and difficulty sleeping?  If so then keep reading as I will be going over my top 5 tips to help you avoid pain when working from home.


So working from home is not a new challenge it just seems to be now the majority of people are doing so.  I have seen unimaginable setups from people laying in their bed to those sitting on their couch to a full out ergonomic setup with adjustable chair and desk.  What I have learned is that home workstation setups are unique to the individual.  


So the problem with a poor workstation setup is that over time your muscles will begin to complain.  It usually starts slowly and progressively gets worse.  It will eventually get to the point where you can’t ignore it anymore and you start to question why you are getting this pain.  Pain rarely comes out of the blue and it is usually due to using poor body mechanics day in and day out.  A poor workstation setup can result in using the body incorrectly for a long period of time and is a recipe for pain.  This pain is not only annoying but it can take over your day to day life, causing you to lose focus and concentration and be more irritable. So now we know the problem with workstation setup but how can we fix it?  Read on to learn about my top 5 tips to help you avoid this pain when working from home. 


Tip #1 Don’t sit too close to your screen 

Sitting too close to your screen causes you to slouch and poke your head/chin forward.  What this does is causes immense tension in the muscles beneath your skull.  These muscles when held under tension will eventually lead to your tension headaches.  So if you ever feel pressure behind your eyes or at the front of your head, this is likely due to these muscles being tight.  To make sure you are sitting at the proper height, reach your arm straight out in front of you and the tips of the fingers should reach the screen.  Any closer and you will eventually start feeling the strain. 


Tip #2 Sit at 90 degree angles

Picture the able Lincoln memorial.  You essentially want to position yourself like Abe.  You want to be sitting at the back of your chair, feet flat on the floor with your arms and legs at 90degress.  Make sure that you check your posture every hour so that you can readjust if needed


Tip #3 Use a back roll

Here is a secret that I teach my clients when using a back roll.  Traditionally most people put the back roll across their low back.  What I have found with our testing is that by placing the roll vertically up and down your spine and sitting at the back of the seat this allows you to maintain a proper pelvis position and provide more support to your spine. 


Tip # 4 Use a standing desk/tray 

We know that changing positions is necessary to avoid strains in our muscles.  Moving is our medicine.  Now not many people have adjustable desks but on amazon,you can purchase an adjustable table top that you can put your computer on.  It has hydrolics that lets you easily lift your entire workstation up so that you can alternate between sitting and standing helping reduce joint stiffness. 


Tip #5 Be mindful of your lighting

Screen brightness when exposed to it for prolonged periods actually can cause eye strain.  This eye strain can lead to the tightening of those muscles beneath your skull and lead to tension headaches.  Check your computer settings and set your screen brightness to a lower setting. Some displays even allow you to adjust to a warmer display.  This is more favourable for long term viewing.


We understand and have experienced first hand the challenges and the pain associated with working from home.  Here at Action Physiotherapy, we are proud to say we have helped many people take control of their workstations.  After implementing our recommendations, patients are working from home pain free and feeling less tension at the end of the day and an increase in their energy levels.  


If you would like us to evaluate your home workstation setup and achieve similar results to our patients, click HERE to book an appointment or give us a call at 905-457-7475 so we can get you back to doing what you want to do and what you love. 

I honestly want you to get rid of this pain and back to doing the things you love.

Robert Kappes, Registered Physiotherapist

Click HERE to view our video on this topic on Facebook