Urban Active’s Kaya and puppy Gilley get introduced!

Watch Kaya meet Gilley for the first time at the clinic! Added cuteness is provided by Kaya’s booties, helping protect her feet on escalators!


Visit Kaya and Gilley in person at Urban Active and get your puppy fix while getting your injuries fixed :)

Urban Active

Rainy Rapha100 ride this morning was a success!

Thanks Cynthia Young for leading a fantastic ride this morning. The route had to be cut short because of the weather but it was a great turnout in spite of the rain! Looking forward to more great rides in preparation for the 100 km event on July 20th!!!

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Our ride started at La Bicicletta and took us around Stanley park and around UBC for a   40 km loop.

photo (11)My socks were white when I started!!!


Ladies on road bikes – who’s up for 60 km tomorrow?

In preparation for the 100 km ride on July 20, I’ve signed up for the Rapha Women’s 100 training ride hosted by La Bicicletta. This 60 km ride leaves tomorrow at 9 a.m. and is one of two rides leading up the Women’s 100. Pre-ride fuel and a support vehicle will be included in this FREE event. Over 4000 women participated in last year’s event worldwide, and Rapha hopes to double that number this year. I’ll be in my favourite red Rapha jersey.North shore

Acupuncture: Recover faster from shoulder impingement syndrome

A common ailment seen in the clinic is pain that is experienced over the upper lateral aspect of the shoulder (over the deltoid muscle), particularly while lifting the arm out to the side. There is some debate as to what causes this pain, such as that “pain from the subacromial structures can occur from extrinsic mechanical wear or compression from the coracoacromial arch, but there also may be intrinsic causes such as degenerative changes in the rotator cuff” (Johanssen et al. 2005). In a lecture put on by Physiotherapist Cam Bennett and hosted by the Physiotherapy Association of BC, the subacromial space is described as a region where a lot of sensitivity can develop due presence of the subacromial bursa (Bennett 2013). Please refer to the following images to orient yourself to the structures of the shoulder (glenohumeral) joint.

Rotator Cuff

subacromial bursa


A randomized control trial was conducted in 2005 “to evaluate and compare the efficacy of 2 physical therapy strategies for patients with impingement syndrome: (1) acupuncture applied in addition to home exercises and (2) continuous ultrasound therapy applied in addition to home exercises” over a 12 month period. Their sample size was 85 and they received the same home exercise program as well as one of the above interventions. Three shoulder disability measures were used to track their progress. While both groups demonstrated improvements, the group receiving acupuncture improved to a greater extent.

A full assessment is recommended to pinpoint the cause of your shoulder pain. Consider acupuncture at Urban Active as part of a comprehensive treatment approach!


Hiking poles – I’ve been converted

This past summer has been marked by a number of fantastic hikes – day hikes to Mt. Steele in Tetrahedron Provincial Park on the sunshine coast and Elfin Lakes in Squamish. Overnight hikes included Garibaldi Lakes, Joffre Lakes (see pictures below), and Edwards Lake in Tetrahedon Provincial Park. At the beginning of the summer, I was hiking without hiking/trekking poles. A significant portion of fellow hikers were using poles, and as I ascended and descended, with camping supplies on my back, I suspected they knew something I didn’t. After hiking the Chief earlier this year, my friend Adam had ankle-high hiking boots and hiking poles for the descent, and the rest of us were in running shoes. My quads were feeling it the next day, and he hadn’t even a hint of DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness). I wondered if research had been conducted to support the use of hiking poles, and lo and behold, studies have been done (Schwameder et al., 1999, Beohne et al., 2007).

In the first article, while walking downhill with hiking poles, subjects experienced a 12-25% reduction in the shear and compressive forces through their knees. The decrease was attributed to the force being applied through the poles, enabling the upper body to lean forward at a greater angle. As a result, the knee moment arm was decreased, leading to decreased stress on the knee joint. In the newer article, hiking with trekking poles led to a reduction in the load on the hip, knee, and ankle joints, and this held true whether the subjects had no pack on, or packs weighing up to 15% of their body weight. With many hikers carrying weights far greater than this, hiking poles, particularly during descents, are a wise move.

After speaking with staff at MEC, I settled on these from Komperdell.

As a convert, I now expound the benefits of hiking poles to my patients and hope you’ll consider getting a pair!







Electroacupuncture – yes, it is what you think it is!

Before we get into the technique, profound thanks to my lovely friends, family, and former clients for volunteering to be model patients as I prepared for my exams. I’ve now obtained the Certificate of Anatomical Acupuncture (CAA) and need to get some updated business cards printed with my new designation, CAFCI!

Now for the technical piece. Acupuncture is a treatment modality that can augment the therapeutic effects of other physiotherapy modalities, including manual therapy, electrotherapy, and exercise prescription. Needles can be inserted prior to, after, or even during exercises performed during a physiotherapy treatment session.

Acupuncture can be augmented by transmitting an electric current between the needles, known as electroacupuncture. Multiple randomized controlled trials have shown electrical nerve stimulation to be highly effective for chronic musculoskeletal pain (Weiner et al., 2008 in AFCI, 2013). This technique can provide quicker and longer lasting therapeutic benefits than acupuncture alone, including added circulation and muscle relaxation effects.

View a short clip of this technique on my lower back:

Electroacupuncture for back pain

Ref: AFCI – AA2 manual, 2013

Weiner, D. et al. “Efficacy of percutaneous electrical nerve stimulation and therapeutic exercise for older adults with chronic low back pain: A randomized controlled trial”. Pain, Nov. 2008 (Vol. 140, Issue 2, Pages 344-357).

Physiotherapy and the 4 Balancing Effects of Acupuncture

While practicing acupuncture on my lovely friends, family, and former clients in preparation for my AFCI licensing exam, I was often asked how acupuncture works. Since 1976, research has been published in scientific journals in both China and the west to answer this question.

Dan is one of my gracious volunteers!

Dan Driediger, competitive cyclist, is one of my gracious volunteers!

The 4 Balancing Effects of Acupuncture:


The nervous system has “pain pathways” in the spinal cord and various parts of the brain. Natural pain relievers help prevent the pain signals along the spinal cord and are released through acupuncture. Chronic pain patients also tend to have low levels of naturally occurring endorphins, or “feel good hormones”, and these rise after acupuncture treatment.


Inserting and rotating acupuncture needles causes changes in the chemicals that affect the nerves traveling to the brain. These help to decrease nerve pain, decrease inflammation, and increase range of motion. Acupuncture after injury is key to managing acute pain and avoiding chronic pain syndrome.

Emotional Balancing

The same brain pathways and signals (serotonin and norepinephine) that are involved in pain also lead to depression. Conversely, depression and anxiety can contribute to chronic pain. Acupuncture affects pain pathways to bring both emotional balance and pain relief.

Stimulating Homeostatic Mechanisms

Acupuncture stimulates regulating hormones, such as growth hormone (GH), and regulates blood sugar, blood pressure, and body temperature. It also helps activate the body’s autonomic healing response to restore the body’s natural level of homeostasis. This is a western medicine interpretation of the yin (hypo) and yang (hyper) concept, which Traditional Chinese medicine describes as contributing to illness when imbalanced.

In my next post describing how Acupuncture can get you back from injury faster, I’ll be detailing Electroacupuncture, a technique available at Urban Active Sport Therapy Clinic. It’s currently available through Andrea Martens, BScPT, CAFCI, and soon to be available through yours truly once I hear that I’ve passed my exams!

Ref: AFCI AA1 Manual, 2012