Saanichton Physical Therapy Blog

Massage Therapy

Massage Therapy right here on the Saanich Peninsula!

Massage Therapy is a hands-on manipulation of the soft tissue and joints of the body. The soft tissues include muscle, skin, tendons and associated fascia, ligaments and joint capsules.

Massage has many diverse physiological effects, which are primarily due to the therapist’s hands moving over the body. The different movements can physically stretch muscles, ligaments, tendons and fascia, encourage the circulation through the tissue, inhibit muscular spasms and be either sedating or stimulating to the nervous system.

Massage Therapy and Stress Reduction

Prolonged periods of stress can subconsciously affect many systems of the body. Stress has been shown to aggravate, or even cause, such problems as heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, memory loss and decreased immune function.

Massage therapy is one of the best antidotes for stress. Massage boosts the body’s immune system, which can become compromised from extended periods of stress. Tension can build up in the muscles, causing a decrease in circulation and nutrient delivery to tissues. Manipulation of the soft tissue decreases muscular tension, increases removal of metabolic waste and promotes nutrient delivery to healing tissue.

With a therapeutic massage, stress can be significantly reduced. This, in turn, will increase energy, improve your outlook on life, and in the process boost your immune system function.

Massage therapy and injury prevention

Massage therapy is also used to help prevent injuries and maintain mobility by keeping the muscle tissues healthy and by utilizing the circulatory system to eliminate wastes and toxins that may accumulate in the muscles. This can be particularly helpful for people who live an active lifestyle or who have had injuries in the past.

Massage Therapy-Therapeutic Effects

Massage Therapy works on both a physiological and psychological level.

Physiological Effects:

  • increased circulation which provides more oxygen and nutrients to the tissues and organs
  • stimulates the lymphatic system which removes waste materials from the tissues
  • reduces muscle spasms and cramping
  • improves muscle and soft tissue range of motion and flexibility
  • reduces recovery time from strenuous workouts
  • releases endorphins which reduce pain perception

Psychological Effects:

  • promotes relaxation
  • helps reduce mental stress
  • reduces anxiety
  • provides a feeling of overall wellbeing
  • creates body awareness
  • increases the awareness of the mind-body connection

Biomechanical Running Analysis

Running Analysis

We are proud to offer Running Assessments to our community on the Saanich Peninsula and runners in Brentwood Bay, Sidney, and Victoria. Our Physiotherapist Scott Simpson has worked with our National Track and Field team internationally and has taken numerous courses in this area. He is also a former Canadian 10k Champion who has spent years learning and enjoying the sport.


Session One: Initial Clinical Evaluation

This session includes:

  • Injury and running history information forms:
    Information pertaining to all the factors that may have an influence on current or possible future injuries.
  • One-on-one interview:
    A detailed and in-depth personal interview to discuss current problems, past injuries, medical history, present running level and goals.
  • Physical assessment:
    To identify your physical alignment and any factors that could limit or contribute to your running biomechanics, including: range of motion, muscular imbalances, skeletal alignment, posture, and flexibility.

Session Two: Running Evaluation

This session includes:

  • Biomechanical and Technical assessment:
    As running is a highly technical sport, your movement patterns and technique will be assessed first and corrections implemented.
    The biomechanical evaluation focuses on assessing joint integrity, balance, strength and flexibility throughout run and stride.
    Following the on track assessment, recommendations are made to maximize your running and minimize your risk of injury or pain. A personalized detailed training plan including training modifications, stretches, exercises and technique drills will be included.

Runner Benefits

  • Eliminate reoccurring hip pain
  • Decrease foot numbness and pain
  • Ensure you’re doing everything you can to have a successful training and/or marathon experience
  • Learn if you’re wearing the correct running shoe
  • Learn strengthening and flexibility exercises to remain injury free
  • Learn exercises to stabilize ankles, knees and hips
  • Get ideas for injury prevention
  • Receive advise and solutions for reoccurring injuries
  • Run longer distances without discomfort
  • Learn about running orthotics and if an orthotic could assist you in remaining injury free
  • Find out if your current orthotic is suitable for running
  • Receive running form analysis to improve your stride
  • Resume running and return to your marathon training program
  • Determine how to proceed running without constant pain/stiffness
  • Learn if your previous knee surgery will cause other problems if you continue to run
  • Biomechanical analysis for your knees to feel better

Running and Osteoarthritis! Good news

Williams, P.T. OSTEOARTHRITIS IN RUNNERS AND WALKERS Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise


The number of runners studied here is larger than any

previous study of physical activity and OA and hip replacement

and exceeds by more than 10 times the number of

runners previously studied in all previous cross-sectional

studies combined. Included among these were 863 runners

who reported running 60 miles/wk. Contrary to many

previous reports (2,3,6,16,23,31,32,37), we find no evidence

than running increases the risk of OA, including participation

in marathon races, and, in fact, subjects that ran

12.9 km/wk were at significantly

lower risk for both OA and hip replacement. The reduction

in risk for running

more than compensates

for the 1.6% per year risk increase for hip replacement

during the first 21 yr. Moreover, there was no particular

advantage to walking rather than running in reducing OA

and hip replacement risk. In fact, runners were more likely to

benefit from less OA and fewer hip replacements because a

greater proportion exceeded

(89.5% vs 52.8%).

Previous studies suggesting a protective role for physical

activity are much fewer than those showing a risk increase or

no effect. In one, joint space loss was observed in nonrunners

but not runners, suggesting that running preserved cartilage

thickness (18). In another, knee replacements decreased with

increasing cumulative hours of recreational physical activity

(24). Our data even showed that marathon frequency, marathon

intensity, and 10-km intensity did not predict any risk

increase for OA or hip replacement, in contrast to the report

of Michaelsson et al. (26) that skiers who repeatedly participated

in a 90-km ski race increased OA risk in proportion

to the number of races run and performance (speed).

The OA-protective effects of running or walking appeared

have already occurred by suggesting the

association may be due primarily to increased OA in the

least active individuals. Articular cartilage thickness is reduced

in animals subject to prolonged immobilization (36).

Cartilage is also thinned in the absence of normal joint

loading in spinal cord injury patients (35). In children, articular

cartilage volume is increased in association with

vigorous physical activity and muscle strength cross sectionally

(13), and those who engaged in more intense sport

gained more cartilage over time (12). Triathletes have

thicker patellae cartilage than inactive subjects, albeit thinner

medial femoral condyle cartilage (28). Some (4), but not

all (8), studies suggest that physical activity may enlarge the

knee joint surface area in adults. Glycosaminoglycans are

used in the synthesis of proteoglycans, which provide

cartilage_s viscoelastic properties (22). Early OA consists of

a focal loss of proteoglycans (5). Running increases the

glycosaminoglycan content of human knee cartilage (34).

Roos and Dahlberg_s (30) randomized trial showed that

exercise produced a healthier distribution of proteoglycans

in cartilage vis-a-vis nonexercising control. Animal studies

also suggest that the patellar cartilage of sedentary hamsters

have a lower proteoglycan content than those that are active

(29). Moderate exercise has also been shown to inhibit the

development of surgically induced OA in the rat (7). In

dogs, however, shifting from moderate to strenuous running

eliminated increases in cartilage thickness and proteoglycan

content produced with moderate running (14).

Our analyses showed that in contrast to running, other

(nonrunning) exercise increased the risks for both OA and

hip replacement. This result is consistent with more than

twofold greater prevalence of tibiofemoral or patellofemoral

OA in soccer players (29%) and weight lifters (31%) than

runners (14%) reported by Kujala et al. (15). Research on

occupational activity shows that OA is more common in

jobs requiring knee bends, kneeling, or squats (25), which

may be more characteristic of exercise performed in gyms,

circuit training, and aerobic classes than running or walking.

Work-related knee bending exposure increases the odds for

knee OA by up to sixfold (21).

Our analyses confirmed the well-established association

between BMI and incident risk of OA and hip replacement

even within the purported healthy weight range, and attributed

45% and 28% of the running associated decrease in OA

and hip replacement to BMI, respectively. In addition to

promoting weight loss directly (39), running attenuates

middle-age weight gain (38), such that higher mileage runners

gain only half as much as low mileage runners. The prevention

of weight gain is an additional mechanism for limiting

risk OA and hip replacement risk. Body weight has a much

weaker association with other exercise than with running

(40), which may explain in part their different associations

with OA and hip replacement, particularly given that adjustment

for BMI did not affect the concordance between baseline

other exercise and both OA and hip replacement.

There are important limitations to these analyses that

warrant acknowledgment. The results are based on self reported

physician-diagnosed OA and hip replacement

rather than medical chart review or imaging. However, reviews

suggest stronger associations have been reported for

clinically assessed hip OA than its radiographic assessment

(20). Patient self-report of physician-diagnosed arthritis has

been found by others to be the best predictor of radiologically

ascertained OA, showing 64% specificity, a 57%

positive predictive value, and 71% negative predictive value

(33). We do not believe that the declining incidence of OA

and hip replacement with greater MET-hour per day walked

or run was due to fewer opportunities for diagnosis in the

more athletic men. The Health Professional Study reported

that their more vigorously active participants had more

routine medical checkups than less active men (19). It is

possible that there is a higher pain threshold in longer distance

runners, but it is unclear why this would not also be

true for other exercise as well. It is unclear whether the exclusion

of preexisting injury would be warranted in

assessing the OA risk in runners, if such injuries were the

consequence of the exercise per se. Finally, we acknowledge

that the analyses would have benefited from the complete

follow-up of NRHS-II and NWHS. Heretofore, we have

been unable to secure funding for their follow-up, and there

is no evidence that the NRHS-I (80% follow-up) and NRHSII

(51.7% follow-up) show different relationships between

MET-hour per day run and the risks for OA (P = 0.45 for

difference) or hip replacement (P = 0.89 for difference). The

lower follow-up of the walkers (33.2%) than NRHS-II

(51.7) reflected our recruitment priorities rather than differences

in the responsiveness of the walkers and runners;

however, we do not believe that this affected the comparison

of walkers and runners given that comparable results were

obtained when the analyses were restricted to the initial

33.2% of the NRHS-II runners recruited.

In conclusion, these results may not apply to truly elite

athletes, but for recreational runners who even substantially

exceed current guideline activity levels and participate in

multiple marathons annually, running does not appear to

increase OA and hip replacement risk and may, in fact, be

preferable to other exercise.


Back Pain and Neck Pain

Back Pain and Neck Pain

Back and neck pain are among the most widespread reasons patients seek physiotherapy.  And back pain is one of the most common medical problems, affecting 80% of people at some point during their lives. Back pain can range from a dull, constant ache to a sudden, sharp pain, and can be acute or chronic. Neck pain, which is closely associated with back pain, occurs when muscles are strained from poor posture or injury, or when joints are worn or nerves are compressed. Both conditions can be debilitating and effect a patient’s physical and mental wellbeing.

Early access to physiotherapy (within 14 days of occurrence) has a significant long-term impact on the health of patients as it helps to prevent chronic disability and decreases the proportion of cases that become chronic.

So, if you suffer from back or neck pain, seeking the guidance of a physiotherapist is a great first step towards finding pain relief and keeping you moving for life.

  1. Vary your position. Sitting at computers and desks all day puts increased pressured on your spine. After 30 minutes of sitting make sure you walk around to keep the flow of blood and fluids to your spine. Set up a standing workstation to vary your position while working at your computer. Make sure your work desk and computer are set up properly for sitting or standing to encourage optimal posture. Your physiotherapist will prescribe suitable and safe stretches or “pause exercises” and provide tips on how to correctly position yourself in front of your computer.

  1. Stay flexible. Optimal spinal health means having flexibility in all directions. If your thorax (upper-mid back and ribcage) has limited rotation movement, more load and stress can be transferred to your low back, neck or other body parts. Check your rotation by sitting in a chair with your arms crossed across your stomach; you should be able to turn equally to the right and left and see behind you easily. If you have an asymmetry between the right and left directions, or reduced motion, your physiotherapist can assess the reason why, mobilize your spinal joints, and give you exercises to maintain your thoracic mobility – essential for a healthy low back and neck.

  1. Keep your core in check. Regain optimal control of your deep spinal muscles (core) following an episode of neck or back pain. Your physiotherapist will provide a thorough examination of your spine, provide manual therapy and other treatment techniques, and help you regain any lost mobility by instructing you on how to achieve ideal postural alignment and prescribing exercises that will support your spine.

  1. Correct postural habits. Be aware of habitual postures and positions (such as always sitting on one side of the couch, slouching with your feet on the coffee table, carrying your bag/purse always over the same shoulder, sitting cross legged, leaning usually on the same elbow etc.) Habitually poor postures may indicate weaknesses in certain muscle groups or stiffness within the body. Your physiotherapist can assess reasons why you may adopt these positions and how to correct them.

Physiotherapists are the rehabilitation specialists recommended most by physicians. They are university-educated health professionals who work with patients of all ages to diagnose and treat virtually any mobility issue. Physiotherapists provide care for orthopedic issues such as sport and workplace injuries, as well as cardiorespiratory and neurological conditions. As Canada’s most physically active health professionals, BC’s physiotherapists know how to keep British Columbians moving for life.