Monthly Archives

February 2018

Active Aging Series: Thermotherapy

By | Active Aging

To Ice Or Not to Ice, That Is The Question! 

I am often asked when people present with an injury if they should use ice or heat. Thermotherapy refers to the application of cold or heat to the skin or joint for the purpose of improving the symptoms of certain conditions at a biological level.


Blood flow increases by vasodilation (blood vessels expand) when we apply heat. The metabolic rate and the tissue extensibility will increase. Heat increases oxygen uptake and accelerates tissue healing, it also increases the activity of destructive enzymes. Thus applying heat on a swollen joint or infected area can be counterproductive and prolong healing.  The increase in temperature and blow flow also causes relaxation which makes us feel better.


Superficial tissues can be achieved using hot packs, wax baths, towels, sunlight, saunas, heat wraps, and steam baths/rooms. We can also get the heat in the deeper tissues through electrotherapy (ultrasound, shockwave and infrared radiation).

Activity is also a way to increase the internal temperature of tissues which we often neglect.


Blood flow decreases by vasoconstriction (blood vessels contract) when we apply cold. The tissue metabolism will decrease just along with neuronal excitability, inflammation, conduction rate and tissue extensibility. The decreased metabolic rate limits further injury. So, we feel less pain when we apply ice and potentially slow down swelling in the tissue. However, the question raised is, is inflammation part of the healing process and essential for tissue healing? The application of ice does not need to be longer than approximately 15 minutes, but it is usually prescribed for 20 minutes to ensure the 15-minute mark is achieved.

Examples: ice packs, ice baths, cooling gel packs, cold air and sprays

So, What’s the Answer, Then? 

The question still remains: heat or ice post injury? The evidence is inconclusive. The Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate (RICE) was an acronym developed in the 1970s with little research or evidence to back it up, yet we continue to prescribe it without thought to what is happening. The application of thermotherapy may depend on what phase of tissue healing and the amount of pain a person is in; the inflammatory phase, the proliferation phase and the remodelling phase.

The traditional theory is to use ice during inflammatory phase, then introduce heat during the second and third phase of healing. But, as mentioned if inflammation is required as part of the healing process, do we want to limit it and by icing too quickly, have we disrupted the natural course of healing and can actually prolong the healing timeline?  Should we be icing sideline injuries? As mentioned the evidence is inconclusive. At this point, ice application addresses pain management.

A joint with osteoarthritis, a chronic condition, may benefit from both applications. Ice massage on the joint line for pain reduction, which then allows the patient to be able to participate in activities that then warm the joint up such as exercise and hydrotherapy. So dual application is required throughout the day to manage pain and symptoms to increase participation.

In summary, I tell patients to avoid heat when joints and tissue are swollen hot or infected. Use ice to help modulate pain. Use what makes them feel the best and that may be a contrast application of cold followed by heat which promotes circulation and movement of fluids. You may have other conditions such as Raynaud’s or fibromyalgia that limit your use of thermotherapy.  If injured seek medical attention, use the thermotherapy that meets your needs for pain relief and allows for the most movement and return to activity.

Article Written by Laura Doyle, Registered Physiotherapist BHSc (PT), B.Ed., B. KIN

As a registered physiotherapist, Laura works at McMaster Family Practice. She sees patients while promoting healthy living and aging along acute and chronic health conditions. Laura is a Member of the Momentum community who makes time at lunch to workout. She is passionate about moving every day to maximize function and fitness throughout the lifespan.

Time-Saving Workouts

By | Workout Tips

When you’re short on time, there are plenty of time-saving workouts you can do that bring your heart rate up, build strength, and burn calories. Take HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) workouts, for example. They’re great for when you’re short on time but need to get a workout in. They’re super-efficient and are the ideal workout for a busy schedule – whether you want to squeeze in a workout on your lunch break or get ready for a fast-approaching event. HIIT workouts can be done in as little as 15 minutes and will leave you feeling amazing. Not to mention, they have a ton of benefits, in addition to being a time-saver.

Good Heart Health

Most people aren’t used to pushing into the anaerobic zone (that lovely place where you can’t breathe and you feel like your heart is trying to jump out of your chest). But in this case, extreme training produces extreme results. HIIT improves fitness in heart disease, helps get rid of plaque in heart stents, and is good for the metabolic syndrome.

The Equipment

All you need is a little open space. HIIT workouts use your own body weight, so any workout that gets your heart rate up quickly such as plyometrics, high knees and jumping jacks can be added to a HIIT workout. A Momentum Fitness Coach can send you HIIT workouts to do in the gym, using our programming app.

Building Endurance

High-intensity training adapts to the cellular structure of muscles, which helps you to increase your endurance while exercising. Recently, the Journal of Psychology posted a study where people participated in HIIT workouts for eight weeks. The results showed that the participants were able to double the length of time they could ride a bike at the same pace.

Increase Your Metabolism

When you’re doing HIIT workouts, your body’s repair cycle goes into hyperdrive. This means that within 24 hours after this high-intensity workout, your body is still burning calories and fat, whereas, in steady-pace workouts, you may not. This is because it increases production of your human growth hormone (HGH or metabolism) by up to 450 percent during the 24 hours after you finish your workout.

Serious Results

This is not a workout you can do while reading a magazine or chatting with your friend. Because it’s so short, you will be working hard the whole time. The trade-off is that this style of workout offers seasoned exercisers a new challenge and new exercisers a quick way to see results. It’s the best of both worlds!

If you’re thinking, “Hells yes! Count me in!” then look no further than a HIIT program designed by a Momentum Fitness Coach.

Get in touch with a Coach today.

Tandem Workouts To Get Your Partner Involved

By | Workout Tips

There are plenty of benefits to working out with a partner rather than working out alone. Let’s face it, workouts with someone can be more enjoyable, and make the gym feel like less of a chore. Things like getting that extra needed motivation to get to the gym or talking through workouts can take your gym experience to the next level. Don’t have anyone in mind right now? Personal Trainers are a perfect go to for a gym partner (and hey, they’re always ready to help you out, even with a workout).

It always helps to get that extra rep out when someone is there cheering you on, or that feeling of support when you’re encouraging someone through an exercise. Having someone to share workouts with makes that time in the gym all the more enjoyable. And let’s not forget, a little friendly competition is an added bonus to hitting the gym together.

Having a partner at the gym will have you coming back for more. Things like talking about your day while you work out will help you to know your not alone at the gym and build that relationship through getting to know each other a little more. Sharing things that are working for your diet, or sharing workouts that get the juices flowing will be beneficial for both you and your partner.

Here are a couple of workouts that you can try with your gym buddy the next time the two of you are exercising together:

Reach-and-Touch Plank

Consider this your go-to partner move. Partners will hold a high plank, head-to-head with about one foot between them throughout. From high plank, both partners lift right hand and reach toward the opposite shoulder on their partner. Replace right hand, and as quickly as possible, repeat on the left side. Repeat as quickly as possible for 8 to 12 reps, or 30 seconds.


Medicine Ball Squat with Rotational Pass

Stand back-to-back and drop into a low squat so thighs are parallel to the floor. Hold this position throughout the exercise. Partner A should hold the medicine ball at chest and rotate from the upper torso. Hand the ball to Partner B over the left side. Partner B should then rotate right to take the ball and then quickly pass it over their left side, so Partner A can accept the ball once again at his right side. Repeat for 8 to 12 reps in one direction, then change directions.

Sit-Up Pass

Both partners lie faceup, knees bent, feet flat on the floor with ankles overlapping. Partner A holds the ball with extended arms overhead. Contract abs and sit up, bringing up arms and medicine ball to face partner. At the same time, Partner B also performs a sit-up without the ball. A hands B the medicine ball. As both partners lower, B takes the ball overhead to lightly tap it on the ground behind head before sitting up and passing the ball back to A.

Push-Up with Shoulder Tap

Face your partner and come into a high plank position. In unison, you’ll each perform a push-up, dropping chest to the ground while keeping core tight and legs straight. Push back up and at the top of your push-up position, lift right hand and tap your partner’s left shoulder (so you’ll be tapping the shoulder of the non-lifted hand, straight across from you). Repeat, alternating the shoulder that you tap after each push-up. Perform 8 to 12 reps.

Triceps Kickbacks

Stand to face each other with knees slightly bent, hips back, core engaged. Each partner should hold one side of a resistance band on the same side (so right hand for one partner, left hand for the other). Hinge slightly toward each other from the waist. Both partners should bend elbows 90 degrees and hug elbow and biceps to their sides. Now extend the arm, using triceps to push the band away from your partner, keeping elbow hugged into side throughout the movement. Slowly re-bend the arm and return to the 90-degree angle and repeat.


Need some more ideas for partner exercises, or just want an entire partner workout routine? Make an appointment with a Personal Trainer, who is able to help you through the whole process!

Sign Up With Moment Here!

Out Of A Rut & Into A Routine

By | Workout Tips

Exercise ruts are a real thing! If you don’t love your workout, you aren’t as likely to…

1. Do it.
2. Stick with it.

At Momentum, we want you to see you achieve your fitness goals. Not give up on them because you aren’t loving what you’re doing!

No one jumps out of bed in the morning, throws off the covers, and dashes off with excitement to do something they dread. If you want to be a regular exerciser, you need to find exercises that you love. You won’t have to drag yourself to do something you love. But there’s one other secret to committing to exercise and loving your workouts long-term. You have to make sure you that you establish a good routine and avoid getting into an exercise rut.

Motivation is what gets you started. Commitment is what keeps you going. Being flexible in your approach is what will get you there. 

So what’s the difference between a rut and a routine?

A routine is all about established habits. A rut is about feeling stuck. And yes, you can have a routine without being stuck in a rut. Let’s take a deeper look at some of the differences between being stuck in a rut, or having a routine:

What Does an Exercise Rut Look Like?

If you do the same form of exercise all the time, you might get bored. And worse, you might not see any results. Remember the famous Albert Einstein quote? “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Love that. Your body gets used to the same old workout if you do it all the time (and especially if you do it the same way all the time). You don’t have to give up on your favourite exercise, just mix it up.

A rut means your workout has become easy for your body and no longer challenges your body. In order to see weight loss, improve muscle tone, or increase your cardiovascular endurance, you’ve got to change things up.

How To Get Out of an Exercise Rut 

If you are only doing steady state cardio, add weight training. Alternatively, you can vary your intensity. You can mix up your intensity in multiple ways. If you typically run a 10-minute mile, try running a nine-minute mile. Push yourself a little bit. If you take group fitness classes, focus more on your technique, put more effort into the class, or use heavier hand weights. When you change, it will lead to change in your body.

Add Intervals

Alternate bursts of intense activity with intervals of lighter activity. You can add intervals to any activity. If you wanted to add intervals to a walk, you could mix up walking at a leisurely pace by two to three minutes of full-on power walking. You will burn more calories and surprise your body too.

Crush Your Comfort Zone

Venture out of your comfort zone and try a new form of exercise. Even if you love what you currently do, chances are there’s another form of exercise you will love too. If you love more than one form of exercise, it will be easier to keep your weekly routine mixed up.

Extra Motivation 

Add some time to your workout. If you are used to working out for 30 minutes, try 45 minutes. Alternatively, you can add a group fitness class that focuses on muscle building, or use your own body weight to do some muscle-building moves. If you are in a sedentary rut, go on a quest to find one form of exercise that appeals to you. Devote one month to trying different forms until you find a workout you can’t live without. You can also grab a friend or family member to exercise with you for accountability and the social time.

What does an exercise routine look like?

If you’ve always wanted to be one of those regular exercisers who commit to working out, the key is establishing a healthy routine. View routine as an outline or plan for your healthy lifestyle, but what you choose to do each day to meet that plan can change. A routine doesn’t mean every week looks the same, it just means you have healthy habits that are automatic.

How to Establish an Exercise Routine

Each day the question isn’t whether you are going to exercise, the question is: What exercise am I going to do? It’s exercise on auto-pilot. Make exercise part of your day. Take a form of exercise you love and keep it fresh by varying up the intensity, the duration or adding some intervals. Vary the exercise you do from day to day. Maybe you jog, walk, take yoga, do some body weight exercises and a HIIT class all in one week. Prevent yourself from getting stuck on just one form of exercise.

Ultimately, you want to come up with a system or framework for the amount of exercise you get each week, but what you do may vary. This could include devoting time to cardio and strength training or being open to change and new ideas. (Hint: Ask fitness friends what they do for exercise. You might stumble upon a new idea you love.)

At the end of the day, set some rules for yourself. Whether that means you commit to coming in every other day, or never missing a workout – like it’s an important meeting with yourself – set those rules, and commit to them. Say goodbye to that dreadful rut and love your fitness routine with these strategies. No longer will you have to devote so much time to wishing you could feel healthier because you will feel healthier!