Tuesday, 31 January 2017


Running requires your muscles to repetitively contract and relax, the greater the contraction the greater the force generated and the more muscle fibres involved. Whether you are increasing your speed, distance or changing your running terrain your muscles need to adapt. To adapt the muscle fibres need to tear. When micro-tearing (small tearing) occurs your body lays down scare tissue at the tear site. Scare tissue can also occur in cases of acute trauma, such as a strain, sprain or pulled muscle. Regardless of the method, the body must go through a healing cycle. If the cycle is interrupted (by another run or a cross training work out) before completion, your body has not completely healed and these micro-tears in your muscle fibres will tear again. The tears will occur at the previous scar tissue site as it is vulnerable and not as elastic as healthy muscle fibres. Often you do not realize scar tissue is building up until it is too late and the pain begins. This can translate into surrounding muscle fibres and surrounding muscles shortening or tightening to ‘protect’ the scar tissue/ injured area. The scar tissue build up, or knot, can impact the muscle’s range of motion, decrease circulation, irritate nerve roots and decrease strength. This can potentially cause compensation, which will change your running gait, and put additional strain on surrounding muscles.



A compensation pattern is the body’s attempt to make up for the lack of movement in one area by adding a new movement to another area. More specifically, a compensation pattern is the body’s way of using a new firing sequence or utilizing structural reliance to supplement or avoid another firing sequence or structural reliance that is not working properly. Many compensation patterns are subtle or hardly noticeable and grow over time to a larger scaled compensation, this can occur through different types of exercise or poor postural habits.
Having the ability to recognize patterns of compensation will provide you with the opportunity to correct and neutralize the associated risk and damage.
For more information on different compensation patterns visit http://www.prehabexercises.com/compensation-patterns/.

  PreHab Exercise eBook - Alignment - Compensation Patterns - Valgus Knee with Direction Lines

http://www.runningwritings.com/2012/02/injury-series-biomechanical-solutions.html     http://www.prehabexercises.com/compensation-patterns/

Therapeutic massage targets the injured area(s) to break down the scar tissue build up and release tight muscles (which can compress circulation, compress nerves, or decrease range of motion). These effects are significant for everyone, however particularly important for a runner who is looking for an injury free season, a speedy recovery and/or improved performance.
Massage is ideally a preventative program. Massage can reduce compensation patterns from becoming an increasing problem, or one that will be very difficult to reverse. If a runner waits until pain sets in, the recovery time increases. This is because there is an increasing amount of scar tissue build up and there is increased stress on surrounding muscles and tissues. A proactive athlete, who incorporates massage as a maintenance program, will catch tightness and scar tissue before it becomes an issue and addresses the area before it becomes a problem.
When your muscles are healthy they will work at optimal capacity. When you can move properly you will run more efficiently.

You should schedule your massage approximately once a month, or once every few weeks, depending on your running goals and budget. Take into consideration if you are increasing your training in any way. The change in training results in the change in your muscle composition. Therefore, as your training increases your duration between massage treatments should decrease. If possible, book your massage on your rest day. With deep massage you may feel like you just had a work out afterwards. You need time to recover from a massage just like you do from a work out.
If you are competing, a post-race massage is ideally done approximately 3 days after the race. This allows your body to begin the inflammatory phase of the healing process before you go for a massage. Initially after the race you would want to focus on icing, increase fluid intake, resting, gentle rolling and stretching. Around the 3rd day, your massage therapist can get a little deeper and more specifically on stubborn areas without the acute sensitivity you may experience right after the race. Massage is a good way to ‘clean up’ the muscles by removing any initial scar tissue and relaxing tightened muscle segments.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Proteins and Extras

Wellness Wednesday: Proteins and Extras

Protein Powder Breakdown

Adding a protein powder is a great way to improve the nutrition of foods/meals that would generally be lacking and higher in carbohydrate. It can quickly change the nutritional profile of a food shifting it from a high carbohydrate, blood sugar spiking meal to a more balanced, blood sugar stabilizing meal. (Smoothies are a GREAT example- Check out more info on that here). However, now a days there are so many protein options it can be hard to choose which one is best for you. I always recommend speaking to your Naturopathic Doctor or health care provider to help determine which protein is best for you and for your goals as all have pros and cons.
  • Whey Protein
    • This protein powder does tend to be the most researched and does have the highest leucine content.
    • Leucine is the amino acid that triggers muscle protein synthesis aka bulks up muscles- this makes it a great option for after work outs.
    • It is also quickly absorbed which again, makes is a good choice for after workouts/sports when quick replenishment is wanted.
    • However, it is a dairy based protein and because of this can make it a poor choice for any one who has dairy sensitivities, though lactose is often removed, lactose is not the only cause of sensitivity to dairy.
  • Vegan Protein
    • Vegan proteins include soy, hemp, brown rice, pea, cranberry, etc.
    • Most vegan sourced proteins will not be a complete protein meaning they do not contain all of the necessary amino acids, because of this, these proteins are often blends ie) brown rice and pea.
    • These proteins do tend to be lower in leucine and slower absorbed.
    • Vegan protein powders can also have other benefits, for example, soy protein contains phytoestrogens which can benefit menopausal symptoms.
    • Vegan sources protein can also contain anti-nutrients which can impede some absorption- for example hemp and it's hull.
  • Beef Protein
    • This is one of the newest proteins on the market and the only true Paleo protein.
    • It does tend to be lower in leucine but also contains high levels of collagen which provides joint support.
With all protein powders you do want to look for high quality- avoid fillers and long lists of ingredients. Higher quality powders often tend to use stevia as a sweetener vs sugar. When it comes to the dairy and beef based proteins you do want to make sure they are using grass-fed organic animal sources as this can increase your exposure to pesticides and other chemicals. The same goes for vegan sourced with regards to organically grown. Also, brown rice does tend to contain higher levels of arsenic so making sure this is something the manufacturer tests for is important.

Bumping up the Nutrition

These are some easy 'extras' you can add to your foods to help increase their nutritional value.
  • Chia Seeds
    • These are one of my favourite things to add as they are a nutritional powerhouse.
    • These little seeds are packed full of nutrients- just 2 tbsp will provide 18% of your recommended Calcium intake
    • They are not only high in Calcium, but also Manganese, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Zinc, Potassium, Vitamin B1, B2 and B3 and antioxidants
    • They provide a huge amount of fibre- actually out of the 12 grams of carbohydrates (in 2 tbsp), 11 grams are fibre. Because that fibre isn't digested, they are actually lower in calories than may be on the label.
    • Chia seeds also provide a decent amount of fibre and are a source of healthy omega-3 fats.
    • You can read more about chia seeds' health benefits here.
  • Flaxseeds
    • Flaxseeds are another great addition that are pretty much all fibre- out of the 3 grams of carbohydrates 1 tbsp will provide, 2.8 grams is fibre- both soluble and insoluble.
    • They provide a great source of protein- flaxseeds are made up of 18%, though not a complete protein source; and are a good source of healthy omega-3 fats as well.
    • They are also nutrient dense providing Vitamin B1, Copper, Molybdenum, Magnesium, Phosphorus and are high in antioxidants.
    • You can read more about flaxseeds' health benefits here.
  • Greens Powder and Berry Powder
    • Greens and Berry powders are whole food extracts that are high in nutrients.
    • Greens powder is generally made from a variety of veggies and provide 'natural', bioavailable nutrients.
    • Berry powder is generally made from fruits/berries and are very high in antioxidants.
    • However, because berry powders are made from fruit sources they can be high in sugar so you do have to be mindful.
    • This is another area where quality and sourcing matters.
    • Also, you do want to speak to a health care provider if you are pregnant as some of the ingredients may not be safe during pregnancy especially if they do have estrogenic actions.

Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor or your primary care provider for individualized health recommendations.

Deciphering Breakfast

Deciphering Breakfast

With the New Year, many of you may be refocusing on healthier meal options. However, it may surprise you to learn that many breakfast options that are often thought to be 'healthy,' really aren't. So in this edition of Wellness Wednesday we compare some commonly thought of "healthy options" with well known not healthy options.

The Muffin

Breakfast meetings, break rooms and quick breakfasts picked up on the run are often filled with donuts and sweets. You may be reaching for that muffin thinking you are resisting temptation and making a healthy choice- Hey, it's raisin bran after all! But the nutritional break down may shock you. When it comes to a standard purchased raisin bran muffin; it is actually comparable to eating not just one icing donut but TWO. Yes, eating two donuts is comparable to that one 'healthy' muffin.

Chocolate Donut (For one donut)

The craziest part, even if you ate TWO chocolate donuts, you would still get 10 grams MORE sugar in the muffin! However, it should be noted that the carbohydrate is essentially the same in 2 donuts as in 1 muffin, so whatever you are 'saving' in straight sugar in the donut, you are making up for in starch- which to your body is pretty much the same thing.

The Yogurt and Granola

Oh, the yogurt parfait- touted as a healthy option compared to the typical 'greasy' breakfast. Check out any restaurant menu and it will list a yogurt option under the 'Light' or 'Healthy' section of the menu. So would it shock you to learn 1/2 cup of Vanilla yogurt with 1/8 cup of granola serves up the same amount of carbohydrates as vanilla pudding?

Vanilla Yogurt (1/2 cup) + Granola (1/8 cup)                                                                                                  Jello Vanilla Pudding (with 2% Milk)

Now you might be saying "Hey, wait a minute- there IS more sugar in the pudding compared to the yogurt. But here's the thing- carbohydrates represent ALL sugar- both added and naturally occurring, fibre and starch. Both sugar and starch (like flour) will be absorbed in very similar ways- they are just chains of sugar (glucose) molecules. The only difference between sugar and starch is how many glucose molecules are on a chain- sugar is 2, starch is more than 2. But, it's only fibre that isn't absorbed or helps to slow sugar absorption. So, when you look at a label- check out the carbohydrates, subtract the fibre and what you are left with is starch and sugar- both of which are absorbed quickly and increase blood sugar. For a bit more context, the glycemic index of food tells us how quickly that food will be absorbed into the blood stream and increase blood sugar compared to straight glucose (100), the glycemic index of sugar is 60, while the glycemic index of bread (white flour/essentially starch) is 70. This is why considering total sugar AND starch of a food is important when determining whether or not it's a healthy option.

The Cereal

This is another favourite breakfast for many because of how quick and convenient it is. But, like the yogurt and granola above, this options packs a huge amount of carbohydrates with very little else. Even that seemingly healthy 'Multigrain Cheerios' is not a great option. Here's how it stacks up against Fruit Loops.

MultiGrain Cheerios                                                                                       Fruit Loops

Now, it should be noted that this comparison is ONLY looking at the nutritional breakdown, not the other things that make Fruit Loops a terrible choice- ie) the artificial colours and flavours. But strictly looking at the nutrition, neither of these provide any real amount of protein or fat. They have the exact same amount of fibre and almost identical amounts of carbohydrates- yes, the Fruit Loops have more added sugar but again, the Cheerios make up for that in starch. Just because the flour is reconstituted into an "o" doesn't change the fact that it's absorbed just as fast (if not faster) than the added sugar. Taking a look at the percentage breakdown, you'll see both of these breakfasts are made up of over 80% carbohydrates which will lead to that blood sugar spike and 10 am crash craving.

It's interesting that here in North America, we need specific 'breakfast' foods and unfortunately those 'breakfast foods' share more in common nutritionally to dessert than a healthy balanced meal. Many other countries consume breakfasts that resemble that of dinner. When deciding what to eat for breakfast, it's important to focus on protein and fat- both of which help stabilize blood sugars, sustain energy and fuel you for your day. Don't be fooled by those healthy claims, learn to read labels and always check out the nutritional break down of your choices.

Disclaimer: The information contained in these topics is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, it is provided for educational purposes only. This information shouldn’t take the place of seeing a Naturopathic Doctor or your primary care provider for individualized health recommendations.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Tasty Water Recipes to Stay Hydrated During the Winter Months

With the cold winter months now upon us and heaters in homes, offices and cars running at full blast, some of you may be noticing anything from 'dry, winter skin' to more headaches: these are signs of dehydration! If your New Year's resolution was to drink more water or you just need a gentle nudge to 'up' your water intake, we're here to help. 

Most of us have heard the classic '8 glasses of water a day', but do you really know why? Fluid helps you stay healthy and energized. It also:
  • controls your body temperature
  • aids digestion
  • carries nutrients around your body
  • cushions organs and joints
  • gets rid of waste
  • keeps your bowels regular
Your body loses water by sweating, breathing and getting rid of waste (urine and stool). If you lose more fluid than you take in you can get dehydrated.

Signs and symptoms of mild hydration include:
  • thirst
  • dry lips and mouth
  • flushed skin
  • tiredness
  • irritability
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • low blood pressure
  • increase in heart rate
  • dark, strong smelling urine
Signs of severe dehydration include:

  • blue lips
  • blotchy skin
  • confusion
  • lack of energy
  • cold hands and feet
  • rapid breathing
  • high fever
  • unconsciousness
How Much is Enough? 

How much fluid you need every day depends on your age, sex and activity level.  Hot and humid weather can increase your needs.

According to the The Dieticians of Canada to keep your body hydrated, aim for a fluid intake of about:

  • 3 L (12 cups) for men 19 years old and over each day
  • 2.2 L (9 cups) for women 19 years old and over each day.
This sounds like a lot but remember this is cups NOT glasses like we have all heard before. Water is one of the best fluid choices. Herbal teas are fine as long as there is no added sugar i.e. brew your own tea and drink it, don't buy pre-bought options.

Follow these tips to stay hydrated:
  • Drink a glass of water when you wake up each morning or before you go to bed.
  • Keep a fresh glass of water by your desk or on hand where you work.
  • Carry a container of water with you throughout the day.
  • Drink a glass of water before eating your meals (ensure you don't drink too much as this can dilute your stomach acid and digestive enzymes).
  • Make sure you have a drink with each meal such as a glass of low fat milk, soy beverage or water.
  • Don’t ignore thirst. Drink water or another healthy drink when you feel thirsty. 

Keeping Water Healthy and FUN!

The next thing we hear a lot is "Water is SO boring" or "I hate the taste of water" and unfortunately some companies out there have taken advantage of this by marketing and selling water additives such as powders and liquid flavourings but beware: these are filled with numerous chemicals like aspartame and are chock full of sugar! These essentially negate any positives the water is doing for you and can actually be detrimental by causing a "sugar crash".

Keep it simple. Think of flavor combos you like in other recipes and build from there. Here are some ideas to get you started:
  • Cucumber + lime + strawberry + mint
  • Lemon + raspberry + rosemary
  • Orange + blueberry + basil
  • Lime + ginger root + basil
  • Watermelon + honeydew + mint
  • Cucumber + mint + jalapeno
  • Lemon + thyme
  • Orange + hibiscus + star anise
  • Orange + cinnamon + cardamom + cloves
  • Pear + fennel
Below is a GREAT chart of combinations to help keep your taste buds happy and your system hydrated which we utilize at the clinic ourselves:

Choose organic ingredients when you can. Wash produce and rinse herbs to remove chemicals, pesticides, and other residues.

The Vessel

Glass, plain and simple. Tune in to our social media (Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) tomorrow for a great read from our naturopathic doctor Jessica Gurske on why your new year should be plastic and BPH free! 

Stay hydrated my friends! 

Friday, 6 January 2017

Homemade Anti-Bacterial Mouthwash

Need a quick and simple mouthwash? Tired of your mouth burning when you rinse your teeth? Homemade mouth wash is the answer for you!

This homemade anti-bacterial mouthwash helps to cleanse and freshen the breath while naturally killing germs and alkalizing the mouth! With these few simple ingredients you can make your own mouthwash in seconds and it's chemical free:

  • Baking Soda: Helps to neutralize acids, eliminate odours causing bad breath, and fight germs, it may even help reduce stains on teeth. Can be purchased from any grocery store.

  • Essential Oils: Peppermint oil gives you with that cool, minty flavour and Tea Tree oil has beneficial cleaning properties. Both of these oils are anti-bacterial to help knock out bad breath. Can be purchased from many grocery stores or any health food store.

  • Xylitol: Prevents bacteria from sticking to teeth which reduces plaque build-up, lowers the acidity in the mouth and helps to repair enamel. Also provides a little sweetness to the mix. Can be purchased from some grocery stores or in smaller quantities from Bulk Barn.

  • Glass container
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp xylitol
  • 5-10 drops each of peppermint and tea tree essential oils (depending on your taste preference, start with less and adjust as needed)
  • Use a funnel to add the dry ingredients and then the wet ingredients to your container. Shake a few times to ensure everything has dissolved. Use both morning and night after brushing and flossing by taking a sip and swishing around your mouth for 15-30 seconds. As with any mouthwash, don't swallow! Voila, you have your own homemade mouthwash without any added chemicals!

~The Coach House Team~

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Smoothies 101

No Fail Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

Happy 2017 (!!) and welcome to our first Wellness Wednesday of the New Year! I don't know about you but I am not sure where 2016 went. The arrival of a new year is often marked by plans and resolutions for change. 

Health related resolutions are often a common theme. For a lot of reasons (including the pressure), I am on the fence about 'resolutions', especially the full 'upheaval' type resolutions, instead leaning towards just small, realistic changes to move towards your goals. So, we at the Coach House, have decided to focus our next few Wellness Wednesdays on easy tips that you can start incorporating into your life right now to move towards those health goals you may have set. To get the ball rolling, I am going to share my no fail chocolate cherry smoothie recipe. 

Smoothies can be a GREAT breakfast option however, often times the basic recipes you find lack fat and protein and are simply loaded with sugar and carbohydrates. This type of smoothie will not keep you satisfied long, and you will still fall prey to the dreaded 10am 'hangry'.

Here's the example, I typed basic smoothie recipe into google and what came up:

So let's look at the nutrition of the basic smoothie recipe from food.com.

Note: The recipe does say serving size is 2, so, we'll divide everything.

This 'basic smoothie' will serve you up just 1 gram of fat; 5 grams of protein and a whopping 34 grams of carbohydrates almost all of which is sugar- 27.5 grams of it to be exact with 5 grams of fibre less than a quarter of the carbohydrate content. This smoothie will taste delicious for sure, because it is pretty much just sugar. It will spike your blood sugar and then let it plummet leaving you feeling hungry, tired and probably cranky.

Smoothies are only good breakfast (or meal) options when they contain fat and protein to level out the carbohydrates provided by the fruit.

Chocolate Cherry Smoothie

(serves 2)

1 1/2 cups of water (adjust this to desired consistency)
1/2 chocolate almond milk
1-2 tbsp chia seeds (can pre-grind if not using a high powered blender)
1-2 tbsp flaxseeds (pre-ground if not using a high powered blender)
1 generous tbsp nut butter (almond butter, mixed nut, etc)
1 generous tbsp cocoa powder
1 1/2 scoops protein powder (I generally recommend Vegan)
1/4-1/3 cup frozen raspberries
1/4-1/3 cup frozen cherries
4 ice cubes

Add to the blender starting with liquids, then solids/powders and ending with frozen ingredients. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!

And for the nutritional break down:

 Again, serving size is for 2, so we'll divide.

With the reduction in juice and fruit and addition of protein and healthy fat, this makes for a very healthy breakfast option. Loading you with 20 grams of protein (vs 5 grams), 9 grams of fat (vs 1 gram) and reducing your sugar to 8.5 grams from a whopping 27.5 grams! Your carbs in general drop from the 34 grams to almost half at 20 grams a large majority of which (almost half) from fibre in this smoothie recipe. You can adjust it even more by adding extra seeds or a scoop of coconut oil.

Smoothies can be a quick, easy and delicious meal option- not just for breakfast, but it's important to do it the right way or it quickly becomes just a glass of sugars. We hope you enjoy this easy smoothie recipe and it helps to revitalize your breakfast routine!

~The Coach House Team~