Client Success Story — Robert Grabel

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March, 2013 was one of the toughest periods I have gone through in my life. Heads up: nothing tragic here — my health, my family and the things that matter most to me were all intact. However, it was during this time I had a meeting with a physical therapist that changed my life — and not for the better. The conversation went something like this:

Physical Therapist: How old are you?
Me: 48 (wondering why he’s asking this)
Physical Therapist: Great, then you’re young enough to find a new sport – now go find it!

My “old sport,” long distance running, was the reason he was examining me. Plantar fasciitis, heel spurs and more….I had the complete list.

I caught the running bug at 41 and became your classic compulsive runner. I completed 11 marathons, 20 half marathons and many others. I typically ran 7 days a week and often twice a day. My work even involved running: Inspired by a program I saw while running the Philadelphia Marathon, I started Teens Run Westchester, a non-profit that utilizes distance running to teach teens about goal setting and healthy lifestyles. But now according to a top sports doctor, my running days were over. I didn’t have a counter-argument. My days alternated between agonizing and miserable pain in both heels. And I had no one to blame but myself. Too much of a good thing is dangerous.

Fast forward to July 2013. I’ve moved from New York to Toronto as part of a work relocation with my wife. I’ve accepted my post-running life and even started to enjoy long bike rides. I had also taken up ice hockey (when in Canada…). And then I had the good fortune to tear my left ligament while playing hockey. Since we lived right across from Totum, I figured what could be easier than doing my recovery work close by? So I started working with Dr. Pete Kissel simply to strengthen my ankle post-injury.

running_shoes_QAWhile working with Pete, I shared my history and sadness over the end of my running. As both my feet started to get stronger from our work, he suggested that maybe my running days weren’t over. After about two months of sessions, which included lots of stretching and strengthening exercises, Dr. Kissel commented that while I might never “win a marathon,” he could definitely see me getting back to it. I was always a runner that enjoyed the scenery (I’m not speedy) so I was thrilled with the prospect.

I started off slowly. During those first few days of running I was fearful that the pain would return. It didn’t return and I was able to return to a much healthier three days per week of running, which I alternated with cycling or spinning. I ran in the Fort Lauderdale Half Marathon in February and in the Yonge Street 10-K this past April.

I’m incredibly thankful to be sharing this story in 2014. Thanks to Dr. Kissel, I am training for my twelfth marathon, which I will be running on my 50th birthday this December. I was lucky to learn so much from him, including the value of stretching and strengthening exercises (still doing it), moderation (something I struggle with!) and the simple appreciation for getting back something I love. I would also extend my thanks to the leaders at Totum. Part of my moderation approach includes trying for improvement in my cycling, and I loved participating in Amy’s Friday morning classes along with Tim Irvine. While we’ve moved back to NYC, I will always appreciate my time and experience at Totum.

Roll Out: Self-Massage Tips

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by Melissa Doldron

In between Massage Therapy treatments, I always offer clients some self-massage tips/techniques that they can do at home to help reduce tight muscles. There are many tools on the market that can help you roll out like a pro at home. Three tools I have in my arsenal that I love to use are a Foam Roller, Yoga Tune Up Balls and Massage Bar.

Self-massage can be great for specific myo-fascial release of Trigger Points or to work with your current stretching program. Rolling out helps increase circulation, restore length and balance to your fascia and muscles to improve your range of motion. Great for recovery days, it can also be used as a warm-up or cool-down to any physical activity.

rollerI love using the Foam Roller for larger areas, like the IT band, thoracic spine, calves and lats. The Massage Bar or Stick is great over sensitive areas, like your quads and adductors, where you can more easily control the pressure. For those that like a little DIY, I’ve seen some runners use an old school rolling pin!

Another fantastic self-massage tool is the Yoga Tune Up Ball. This little dynamo is fantastic for releasing tension from your feet (hello runners!) and hard to reach areas like your hip rotators and glutes. You can roll on it while on a yoga mat, or standing against the wall. It’s small and easy to travel with! Roll the ball between your shoulder blades for a great release after a long day on the computer!

Using your body weight roll slowly over those areas and feel for any tight spots. You can press your body weight into those areas or roll over them a few times for a nice release.


  • Be patient and relaxed and practice some quality breathing when rolling, do not hold your breath!
  • You should not feel any sharp pain, but more of a deep pressure that relaxes as your tissue releases.
  • Explore each area that you are rolling, paying attention to restrictions in your tissue.
  • Speed determines intensity. The more slowly you roll, the more intense the sensation.


The Benefits of Acuball

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Acuball, by Lindsay Scott

acuballMost people, myself included, wish that they could have their massage therapist, physiotherapist, or chiropractor on call throughout the day. If you are one of us, the acuball could be a versatile and cost effective solution for you. While the acuball certainly can’t compare to the skills of your therapist, it can certainly go a long way with respect to maintenance between sessions.

We are often asked why the acuball, or other tools such as the foam roller, are so good for you? Do they actually help? Though there are a number of theories as to what is likely happening that creates that oh-so-good feeling when you are done, truthfully, the scientific research in the area is limited. That being said, most clinicians agree, based on clinical experience and several theories that have been proposed, that these tools are essential components of maintaining a healthy active lifestyle that is injury free.

Here’s what happens: The acuball is a form of self myofascial release, which works to improve performance by restoring muscle elasticity and allowing tissues to rebound to their natural state by increasing blood flow, improving oxygen usage and decreasing muscle adhesions, or knots.

Most tissues, when healthy, should glide in relation to other nearby tissues and bones. Most tissues should also be somewhat elastic, like a bungee cord, where they can be stretched and then return to their original shape as you move. Inelastic tissues are more like a rope; the muscle loses its ability to lengthen and recoil with movement. Inactivity, overtraining, poor hydration, and even the demands of daily life (hello, hours sitting at a computer or crawling through traffic) can all lead to adhesions, or knots, in the muscle and surrounding tissues so that they no longer glide smoothly relative to one another. When this happens, you lose the ability to function efficiently.

Like any other form of massage or soft tissue mobilization, self myofascial release is also believed to create a chemical input. Initially, this may create discomfort, but the ultimate response is a healing one. When the tissue is disrupted, it produces the substances that facilitate healing.

Self myofascial release before exercise is believed to:

  • increase tissue tolerance to movement
  • increase blood flow
  • restore elasticity
  • increase efficiency of movement
  • increase force output of muscle contraction
  • decrease heart rate
  • prepare muscles to tolerate the upcoming demands of exercise


Self myofascial release after exercise is believed to:

  • increase blood flow, which theoretically flushes out toxins
  • re-establish elasticity
  • relieve muscle tension
  • speed up the recovery process and decrease DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), that sore feeling that causes you to cringe as you get out of bed the day after a really good workout
  • restore range of motion


Keys to self myofascial release:

  1. Don’t forget to breathe! Take deep slow breaths through the nose to relax your muscles, increase oxygen uptake and improve circulation.
  2. Slow down. We recommend 1-3 minutes on each muscle group that you are working in order to be effective.
  3. Stay Relaxed. It’s hard – we know! The muscle group being released must stay relaxed to get the most out of rolling. At first, you might experience mild to moderate discomfort. As you continue to work at those knots in your muscles, that discomfort should decrease.
  4. Movement. After working a specific muscle group, walk around or move that muscle group gently through it’s full range of motion to circulate more blood to the area.
  5. Regularity is key!


Who’s training your brain?

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by Rob Peach, MSW RSW

We don’t think twice about investing our time and energy into developing workouts designed to optimize our physical health and wellbeing, but it often doesn’t occur to most us to make the same sort of investment in our mental and emotional health.

Traditionally, while mental health professionals recognized the psychological benefits of physical activity, there hasn’t been a lot of attention paid to the relationship between exercise and our capacity for emotional regulation. The good news, however, is that is changing!

For myself, I know that after I hit a huge back squat during an early morning workout, nothing I encounter during my day seems as overwhelming or unmanageable as it might have otherwise felt.

Moreover, the same cognitive skills I use to hit that back squat, including being present in the moment, being aware of my thoughts and carefully monitoring my body’s response to the stress of the lift, are the same skills I apply to the challenges I encounter trying to balance an often hectic schedule.

By being mindful, or focusing on our thoughts, emotions and sensations as they occur, we are better able to be both intentional and purposeful in our actions and better able to understand and manage our emotions, rather than feel controlled by them.

Relationship issues, problems with mood and anxiety and difficulties with the use of alcohol or other substances can get in the way of you developing the capacity to achieve a sense of wellbeing in your life.

While we know that these issues can negatively impact our ability to perform optimally at work, at home and in the context of meaningful relationships, we often forget how damaging they can be on our levels of activity and health.

Having a trusted therapist can help you to feel less alone with your feelings, to develop the capacity to control and regulate emotions and to feel more confident in talking with others about your struggles.

Moreover, in therapy you can further develop your ability to diffuse difficult emotions, to manage thoughts, urges and feelings that are not consistent with your goals and values and increase your capacity to be fully present to experience each moment of your life.

Intentional, purposeful and mindful approaches to emotional wellness can translate into increased satisfaction with your physical activity. Improved physical wellness can result in an increase in your ability to manage stress, more satisfying relationships and your ability to connect with what you value most in life.

Have you been struggling with difficult emotional issues? Have they been affecting your motivation or ability to engage with others in a meaningful and authentic way? Do you feel ‘trapped’ by your thoughts and emotions, rather than able to manage their impact on your life?

If you find yourself saying ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then therapy might be right for you. Contact me today to talk about setting up an individualized treatment plan to support your capacity to achieve your optimal levels of physical, mental and emotional wellness.

Rob Peach, MSW RSW
416 795-7299

Soccer Cross-Training

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The World Cup may be over for another few years, but we have the rest of the summer to get out on the field and enjoy ourselves. Below, sport specialist chiropractor Dr. Jaclyn Kissel outlines the benefits and how-tos of cross-training for soccer players and other athletes.



  • Two or more types of exercise are performed in one workout or alternated in successive workouts
  • Engaging in an activity that is different from the main sport you participate in
  • Example:
    • A marathon runner who does upper body weights 2 times per week to prevent upper body fatigue during a run
    • A soccer player who does yoga weekly to keep leg flexibility to help prevent injury



1)     Avoid Overuse Injuries

  • Repetition = GOOD   Too much repetition = BAD (INJURY)
  • Athletes get injured due to overuse of the same muscles without allowing sufficient healing time
  • Cross training distributes the force to many areas of the body, therefore one specific area does not get too much abuse


2)      Develop your entire body (muscle balance = less injury)

  • Many sports or activities actually need more than 1 physical attribute
  • Soccer provides little development of muscle size (due to constant running)
  • Muscle strength important for:
    • i. bone strength
    • ii. balance
    • iii. protection against injury
    • iv. speed development
    • v. power development


3)      Can keep training while injured

  • If have a soccer injury, many athletes will stay fit through cross training by cycling, swimming, aerobic machines (elliptical), strength training (weights),  Pilates, yoga etc. to prevent worsening of the problem


4)      Adds variety to your workouts

  • Avoids over-training
  • Keeps training interesting
  • Well-rounded athlete



  1. Start slowly:  Start 15-20 min of the new activity
  2. Don’t just add another training day to your soccer schedule (must be integrated)
  3. Avoid exercises that aggravate existing injuries
  4. Try to match the length and intensity of the new workout with what you are used to with a soccer practice
  5. If you are feeling tired or fatigued while cross training, STOP!

Pick activities that will help enhance your soccer performance:

  • Cycling: builds your endurance and quad endurance without the load experienced during running
  • Resistance Training: decreases muscle fatigue, prevents injury, decreases HR, increase power and speed
  • Deep Water Running: mimics running stride, less body abuse, good if can’t run
  • Cross Country Skiing/Rollerblading/Snow Shoeing: great cardiovascular workout, less body abuse, works glutes (helpful for kicking)
  • Swimming: good for heart, increases flexibility, and gives running muscles a rest



Why I love running…and I think YOU should try it!

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by Dr. Brittany Moran, Chiropractor

I love running, it is a huge part of my life. I have been a runner for as long as I can remember. It all started when I was about 11 years old. Practicing for the cross country team in elementary school it became apparent that this was the one sport that I could beat the boys in. I took quite a liking to this new found ability, so I kept up with it. I learned quickly that running took time and commitment. I learned this first lesson after running a race without training for it. After the race, I promised my dad that I would never be unprepared for a race again. I have kept that promise.

In high school and university I fell even further in love with running. I competed on the cross country and track teams all the way through school. Some of my best memories of my school days are through running.

Running is still a huge part of my life and I hope that never has to change. I do not compete as intensely as I used to. But I still have a passion for the sport as well as many goals that I hope to accomplish. I cannot envision my life without running.

I think we all know that running can be good for our health but I thought I would give you some reasons why I find it so enjoyable:

  • It gets you outdoors, to enjoy nature and your surroundings that you may not otherwise experience
  • You can do it anywhere, even on Vacation. All you need is your runners and 30 minutes
  • You can do it anytime of the year, depending on how brave you are
  • You can use it as a short get away. Sometimes you need some time to be alone and think or zone out and forget daily stressors
  • Opposite to that it can also be social, getting out in a run group can be very motivating and fun as well
  • You will feel a great level of satisfaction and relaxation after finishing a successful run
  • There are so many ways to change it up and challenge yourself, it never has to be boring. Hills, intervals and tempos to name some examples
  • Itʼs Inexpensive. It does not require much gear or equipment
  • It improves your mood, while you run endorphins are released and these are shown to increase your mood aka runnerʼs high
  • It is a full body workout and you may even shed a couple pounds
  • It may help to prevent some diseases such as stroke, diabetes and cardiovascular disease
  • And lastly it is great contrast to other forms of physical activity

So if running can serve as a mood enhancer, sight seeing vehicle, stress reliever, disease preventer, cardiovascular fitness and weight loss why not give it a shot? But be reminded that the key to running is easing into so take it slow and easy off the start.

Challenge: Get out there and try a run/walk, even if it is just 5 or 10 minutes and see how you like it! My bet is you will find it easier than expected… you may even like it! Tweet me @DrBMoran about how it went!

Winter Running: Hibernation is Not an Option

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Lindsay Scott By Lindsay Scott, Physiotherapist

Our top five strategies to keep your winter running on track and injury free

In the last few months, we’ve persevered through holiday ice storms and power outages, shoveled snow endlessly, and become more familiar with the term “polar vortex” than we ever wanted. All of this, and it’s only the first week of February. Winter months certainly don’t make it easy to keep your running and fitness routine on track, but we’re not ready to give up just yet! Here are our top five strategies to keep your winter running plan fun, safe and on track through this home stretch of winter:

1.       Get Motivated

It isn’t easy to drag yourself out the door during cold winter months, but being active outside in the winter can be a lot of fun. Find some way to motivate yourself to get those first few minutes of activity under your belt, and you’ll likely find yourself happily working up a sweat in no time. A few tricks to consider:

  • Buddy up – It is a lot tougher to hit the snooze button for the third time if someone is waiting for you. Running with a friend or group has the added bonus of being safer, especially when running in the dark or in icy conditions, and of having someone push you to work harder.
  • Set those fitness goals – Look ahead to your spring and summer fitness goals and think of your winter activities as a head start. Consider signing up for a local race and remember that all that time that you log in the cold will pay huge dividends when the warm weather finally rolls around and you’re lining up at that start line.
  • Slow down and enjoy – Enjoy the peaceful feeling of running during a light snowfall, embrace those rosy winter cheeks and fresh winter air, and get excited about the fact that you are doing your body a lot of good.

2.       Dress for Success

People are often uncertain about how to gear up for a winter run. It has certainly been a tough go this year given how cold it has been. One tried and true approach to cold weather running gear is the three layer system:

  1. Base layer – a thin layer that will sit next to your skin. This one should be moisture wicking to make sure that you stay dry.
  2. Mid layer – this layer is all about warmth. It should still be light enough that you are a bit cool as you start out, as you will generate heat once you get going.
  3.  Outer layer – this one should protect you from the wind, snow, slush and rain. Having some sort of venting system is also key to allow moisture to escape. This layer should keep you warm without being too bulky, and should allow you to peel off layers as you start to heat up.

A few other things to think about:

  • Gloves and headbands can go a long way to keeping you comfortable on a run, and are easy to peel off if you get too warm.
  • Safety first! While the days are thankfully getting longer now, fewer daylight hours are a reality of cold weather running. Make sure that you have gear with reflectivity so that you remain visible while logging miles in the dark.

3.       Don’t Forget to Fuel and Hydrate

It’s easy to overlook your hydration and fuel needs, but even when it’s cold outside, you still lose water through sweating. Take those water bottles with you the same way as you would on a hot summer day, and remember to slow down in order to drink if it’s at all icy.

4.       Adjust your style

Ice, slush, snow and wind are certainly added challenges that make your usual routine a little trickier through the winter months. A few small adjustments to your style and routine can go a long way to keeping you safe and healthy.

  • If conditions are slippery, shorten your stride slightly and pay attention to your footing to avoid a slip. Your foot plant should always be underneath your centre of gravity to provide solid footing.
  • Consider traction devices that slip over your running shoes to give you better footing.
  • Don’t worry about how fast you’re going. You’re out there to stay healthy, enjoy the outdoors, and perhaps build a base for your upcoming race season. Slow down, pay attention and make the run fun!

5.       Mix it up and have fun!

Embrace the weather! Take this opportunity to try a new winter sport or revisit those dusty cross country skis in your basement. Be flexible and adjust your workouts as necessary in order to make them safe and enjoyable. Take care of your body and don’t push through if something doesn’t feel right. Congratulate yourself on a job well done, and above all else, enjoy! Before long, we’ll all be complaining that it’s too hot!


Detoxification? Do I need that?

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Aisling head shot_webby Dr. Aisling Lanigan, ND

I think of detoxing the body like a good spring-cleaning. You open up the closet, stir things up a bit to get to those clothes at the back that are wasting space and dump them into a box for goodwill. You replace that light bulb, clean out the dust and dirt that has accumulated over the winter and vow to “never let things get like this again.”

Inevitably for most, life gets in the way to mess things up. One forgotten lunch here leads to fast food there, a green tea a day slowly becomes multiple double lattes, a glass of wine on a Saturday turns into many patio beers and so on. But what would happen if we never had the big spring-cleaning? All of that junk in our homes would build up until they became uninhabitable due to clutter and dirt causing illness and disease. Our bodies work the same way and to function optimally they need detoxification.

But how do I know if I’m due for a detox?

Some common symptoms of an increased toxic burden and need for detox are:

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Skin Problems
  • Digestive concerns
  • Food cravings
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Chronic congestion
  • Anxiety or irritability
  • Bad breath
  • Body pain


There are so many different detoxes out there! How do I know which is right for me?

It is important to meet with a Health Care Professional, such as a Naturopathic Doctor, to discuss your health history and symptoms before starting any detox program. A detox is hard work for the body and it is essential to efficiently excrete the toxins you have mobilized in the body. If done improperly, a detox can be harmful so it is not recommended to start any detox program without consulting an ND or other certified health professional. That being said, the basic principles that all detoxes should follow are referred to as the 4 R’s:

  1. Remove: This is done through diet and lifestyle modification to eliminate chemicals and foods, which could be causing inflammation. Specific botanicals and supplements are used to encourage elimination of these wastes.
  2. Replace: After toxins have been removed, support the body with digestive enzymes.
  3. Reinocculate: With a good quality probiotic to replenish the body with optimal bacterial for digestion.
  4. Repair: Your ND will prescribe specific supplements, which will heal the digestive tract and promote other benefits of the detox.


What sort of results can I expect after a detox?

Common benefits of a detox are:

  • Weight loss
  • Increased energy levels
  • Improved digestion
  • Reduced nasal congestion
  • Clearer skin
  • Increased mental clarity
  • Improved emotional stability
  • Less food cravings
  • Resolution of migraines and headaches
  • Better quality sleep
  • Permanent positive changes to health



OK, I’m interested. How and when can I start?

The Naturopathic Yoga Detox is a 4-week, medically supervised, food based
detox program, which includes:

  • Initial Naturopathic visit with myself, Dr. Aisling Lanigan, ND
  • Hypoallergenic diet with full menu plan and option to include initial 3-day juice cleanse
  • Four 60min long yoga classes designed to stimulate detoxification led by Rachelle (following group meetings)
  • Four 30min group detox meetings
  • Individualized supplement recommendations
  • Post-detox ND follow-up visit
  • Group Meeting and Yoga Schedule:
    • King (445 King St. W): Thursdays 7:45pm to 9:15pm, on February 13, 20, 27, and March 6
    • Rox (2 Roxborough St. E): Mondays 6:00pm to 7:30pm, on February 10, 17, 24, and March 3
    • North (1184 Mt Pleasant Rd):
      • Mondays 7:30 to 9:00pm, on February 7, 10, 17, and 24
      • Fridays (daytime program) 1:15pm to 2:45pm, on February 7, 10, 17, and 24

The Naturopathic Yoga Detox Program investment is $350 (the program value is over $700), billed as Naturopathic Medicine and covered under applicable health plans.

We keep groups to an intimate number of 4 to 12 participants, depending on the location.This way, our meetings can be as interactive as possible, ad Rachelle can be very hands-on during yoga classes. Please register early, as our program will fill up!


Stretching; How, When And Why.

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by Dr. Jaclyn Kissel, CSCS, DC, FRCCSS (C)
Sport Specialist Chiropractor

Stretching has been a subject of controversy for the last few years, especially regarding the appropriate time frame to stretch and the type of stretch to use. The research has since proven that stretching does improve running performance when done correctly.

Types of Stretches:

  1. Ballistic Stretching: This type of stretching is NOT considered useful and comes with an increased risk of injury. It involves ‘bouncing’ into the stretch, using momentum of the body or limb to force a joint beyond its normal range of motion. This type increases the risk of muscle strains.
  2. Dynamic Stretching: This type of stretching is considered to be the safest and most effective method of stretching PRE-ACTIVITY because it primes the muscles for the exercise that is about to occur. It involves controlled movements through a joints range of motion, with a gradual increase in range of motion, speed of movement or both. 8-12 repetitions are useful. These stretches should be sport-specific. For example: walking low lunge to stretch the hip flexors.
  3. Static Stretching: Usually what we tend to think of first when we think of the word “stretching”. It involves using an apparatus (your own body or external device) to help take and hold a joint at its end range of motion. These stretches are held in one position for 20-30s. This method of stretching is great for POST-ACTIVITY when the tissues are warm. The reason for this is due to the fact that research has shown that static stretching can temporarily decrease the force that can be generated by that muscle (inhibits the muscle), which can lead to a increased risk of injury.
  4. Proprioceptive Neuromuscular Facilitation (PNF) Stretching: It combines passive stretching with isometric contractions of the muscle group being stretched. It has been shown to be one of the fastest and most effective methods of increasing static flexibility. First a muscle group is passively stretched followed by contracting the muscle for 5 seconds while a partner resists this contraction. After the 5 seconds the limb is then passively stretched for 10-15 seconds. POST-ACTIVITY
  5. Active Isolated Stretches: This form is great PRE & POST-ACTIVITY. The goal is to increase mobility of the muscle and joint. Using a rope to assist the movement of the stretch, hold for 3seconds and repeat 10 times trying to gain a bit more mobility each time. This should be done in a Pain free range of motion.


Proposed Benefits of Stretching (when implemented appropriately):

  1. Increased mobility
  2. Injury prevention
  3. Pain relief
  4. Improved performance


Pre-ACTIVITY Stretching:
It is important that muscles are properly warmed up prior to their stretching. Stretching cold muscles can in fact lead to muscle injury if it done too aggressively. After a warm up, dynamic stretches should be done. Below are some examples specific to soccer:

  1. Walking lunges
  2. Lateral leg swings
  3. Bum kicks while running
  4. High knees
  5. Toy soldier
  6. Hacky sack
  7. Hip rotations (in and out)


Post-ACTIVITY Stretching:
This is when static, active isolated, and PNF stretching is most useful. Some examples of static stretches most beneficial for most soccer players include:

  1. Lunge stretch for hip flexors
  2. Calf stretches (straight and bent knee positions)
  3. Hamstring stretch (seated, lying on back with a band or standing using a bench)
  4. Quadriceps stretch (lying on stomach, standing, or seated)
  5. TFL Stretch (lean to the side with one leg over the other)
  6. Glute Stretch


Shrier I. Does stretching improve performance: a systematic and critical review of the literature. Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. 2004; 14(5): 267-273.
Anderson JC. Stretching before and after exercise: effect on muscle soreness and injury. Journal of Athletic training. 2005; 40 (3):2218-220
Weerapong PN, Hume PA, and Kolt GS. Stretching: mechanisms and benefits for sport performance and injury prevention. Physical Therapy Reviews. 2004; 9: 189-206.
Fradkin AJ, Gabbe BJ, and Cameron PA. Does warming up prevent injury in sport? The evidence from randomized controlled trials? Journal of Science and Medicine in Spory. 2006; 9: 214-220

Sarah Maughan, RHN

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Interview with a clinician – Get to know Sarah Maughan, Registered Holistic Nutritionist

Tell me about your education.

My official nutrition schooling is with the Canadian School of Natural Nutrition, in Toronto. I completed 1 year certification full-time, following my university degree in Psychology. I decided to move towards a degree in nutrition after I experienced some health concerns of my own. My education included class hours, practice sessions, and real-life, hands-on experience.

I decided to complete an additional certification, and became board-certified in practical holistic nutrition. This was more hands-on hours, and included hours working with people with diabetes, and working with new mothers and their children aged 0-6 months. I had a mentor throughout the whole process, who helped review my case studies and manage my research questions. This additional certification took 2 years to complete. It was really valuable in terms of increasing my professional knowledge, my confidence, and my skill set.

Can you explain the difference between a nutritionist, a holistic nutritionist, and a dietician?

Technically, we do the same thing: we consult people based on their diets. But we have different approaches, and we come from different schools of thought. Although my nutrition schooling was 1 year, I had an undergrad degree before I started – though this actually isn’t mandatory for my schooling. With dietetics, 4 of their years of school are also to complete an undergraduate degree, and 1 year is focused on apprenticeship.

The dietetics program is government regulated, which means that they have to follow the Canada Food Guide, which is a document that shows how many servings of each category of food (grains, dairy, proteins, vegetables and fruits) is recommended for average Canadians. They don’t necessarily teach the quality of the food; for example they would recommend how many servings of grain. We also focus on servings of foods when necessary but from a different perspective. They wouldn’t necessarily explain the importance of absence of preservatives, chemicals, or how to decide which type of beef (corn-fed vs. grass-fed) is healthiest. The average Canadian actually cannot handle the amount of grain on the Canada Food Guide – and some can’t have certain grains made from wheat. The importance is more so on calories from a Dietetic standpoint rather than food quality, individualization (like allergies/sensitivies). They tend to work closely with medical physicians and can work in hospitals providing tube feedings.

We teach how to incorporate real and whole foods into the diet, how to read labels so that you know to avoid artificial ingredients in your foods, and we empower the consumer to make informed decisions. We are considered “cutting edge” in terms of our food philosphies, however it actually is about teaching everyone how to eat the way we were meant to before mega companies came into grocery stores – unprocessed and real food. We are able to design a whole foods based eating plan taking allergies and food sensitivities into account while pairing it to a personal goal, if necessary. We tend to work more closely with naturopathic physicians.

Is there a push right now to regulate the term ‘nutritionist’?

We as a profession have eschewed government regulation in favour of having more independence with our food recommendations. For example, we would be pushed to recommend margarine, which has 10 different manipulated ingredients, compared to butter, which has only cream and potentially salt added. We are covered more and more by insurance and extended health care plans, particularly under the ‘alternative’ section. Our goal is to be as recognized as dieticians, and subsequently as funded. This is why there are currently numerous studies occurring to prove our enormous benefit to the healthfulness of society, and reduce the burden of illness on the health care system.

How would you describe your own personal approach to nutrition?

In a word – relaxed. I never judge anyone coming into my office for their current food choices. It took me years to apply the information that I acquired into my own eating habits. I always look at where that person is, where can we make some changes, and how can I inspire them to adopt those changes. Each individual has their own goal and reason for coming to see me. Are they so close to a heart attack that we need to go at this aggressively? Or is someone simply looking to eat in a more balanced way? This would help determine the timing needed and how closely we have to work together.

I approach each situation with a lot of humour – no one wants to feel chastised for their choices. The emphasis is on what you CAN eat, as opposed to what you shouldn’t.

So your psychology degree has come in handy?!

Yes! LOL! I never used to think that the two were related, but reading a person’s body language during a nutrition session really helps me to see how open they are, or how much support and inspiration someone might need. It helps me to tap in to their reasons for visiting me, and how to best determine what type of approach will work best with them. Some people are very self-motivated, and need very little support. Others need daily support in the form of emails or quick telephone calls to check-in and provide guidance.

My first question in a follow-up is always ‘How are you feeling?’ If someone has lost pounds but they feel bloated, and uncomfortable, or have a heavy fatigue, we need to fix their food choices based on that because no weight loss is worth it if you feel bad. Once they are well, then we can focus on the secondary goals of weight loss or whatever their goal might be. Feeling well is the only way someone can have a good relationship with food and achieve personal goals.

What would you say are the most common reasons that someone comes to see you at Totum?

Here at Totum, the most common reasons are to improve general fitness, and for weight-loss. People are interested in learning how they can improve their strength and endurance by making better food choices.

What would you say are the main reasons you would LIKE people to come in to see you, but most people don’t realize that you could help them with it?

I would like more people to come in who are having physical health problems. For example, if you are getting chronically injured, or you feel like you are in chronic pain, or if you have high cholesterol or high blood pressure, nutrition can really help in these instances. I’ve seen it numerous times, that clients come in and their doctors were dumb-founded to see the improvements in their blood work subsequent to making positive changes to their diets. Food can be medicine!

Is it really possible to fit healthy eating into a busy professional’s lifestyle? I mean, really?

Yes! It can be done! It simply involves good planning. You want structure, and planning, and routine as much as possible. Often the most structured you can be is with your morning routine. So before an unexpected business meeting comes up and you miss your lunch, be sure that you’ve left the house with a healthy breakfast under your belt, and that you’ve got healthy food items in your bag or car or desk, that don’t require refrigeration. The better planned you are, the less you need to think about your food choices, and the more you can focus on your job at hand. The busy folks are the ones who will benefit the most from planning and routine with food because the rest of their life is often spontaneous and unpredictable.

If there was one thing that you would like people to change, what would it be?

I would love people to know how to properly read a label, to be able to identify what is actually good for them, and what is a marketing gimmick. This is a big part of what I do, to empower people to learn to make their own healthy decisions. I will actually do this as a separate session with someone, without them having to come in for an assessment because it’s one of the most valuable tools you can have so you don’t need to rely on experts product pushing all the time – empower yourself in the grocery store!

What is one good habit that we should all incorporate daily?

Eat a vegetable before you leave the house in the morning! Add them to your eggs in the morning, to your smoothie, as a snack on the way to work, in your breakfast sandwich. Pre-chop them, and freeze them so that they are ready to go at short notice. The better you eat at breakfast, the better you’ll feel all day! Very cliché for a nutritionist to say but it won’t hurt to give it a try!

To book an appointment with Sarah Maughan please email us at or call our front desk 416-979-2449.