Bulletproofing for Runners

Bulletproofing for Runners

As the weather becomes warmer and we start to come out of our winter hibernation, the number of runners hitting the pavement is going to substantially increase. A new outdoor running season may mean breaking in some new gear, setting sights on new PBs and, most importantly, making sure you stay healthy throughout the season. 
This article is for the novice, amateur and experienced runner, so sit back and dive in to learn how to keep yourselves strong and resilient throughout the running season!

Injury Mechanisms
According to the literature, the largest predictor of an injury is a rapid increase in loading over a short period of time.The literature also proposes that 60-80% of injuries are a result of training error, meaning that training load is responsible for causing injury. Interestingly, there is a lack of conclusive evidence in the literature linking running mechanics to injury. Many alterations in mechanics may actually be due to an injury itself, and it’s hard to conclude what came first; the injury or the change in mechanics. Classic chicken and the egg scenario.

Wait…am I saying that the way you train actually can influence your risk of injury? You would think this would be a very common thought, but it is often forgotten that training is a stress on the body that needs to be carefully monitored. Stress is needed to create change but we need an optimal amount to do so; not too little and not too much. We need to find the sweet spot and continue to discover where that sweet spot is as we get bigger, stronger and faster. We will take a closer look at using training variables to mitigate injury risk later on in this article

Load vs. Capacity
Tissue capacity is dependant on multiple factors, including tissue strengthmovement control (i.e., body awareness), mobility (active control of your range of motion) and history of previous injury. It is also influenced by some lesser known factors, including: 
  1. Non-musculoskeletal intrinsic risk profile
    • Diet, age, BMI, genetics, medications (corticosteroids, anticonvulsants), hormonal changes (around menopause), and metabolic issues
  2. Brain and central nervous system changes
    • Central sensitization and response to exercise
  3. Psychosocial factors (the perception of pain)
    • Stress, mood, fears, beliefs, motivation, and rehab behaviours
Training load can be broken down into 3 main subcategories that we can alter: 
  1. Volume: How much (i.e., number of kilometres/miles in a given week)
  2. Frequency: How often (i.e., how many times a week you are running)
  3. Intensity: How hard (i.e., amount of effort of each run)
These are not the only training variables, but these are the ones that we can most easily record and modify to help avoid increasing the risk of injury throughout the running season.

Once a tissue has become injured, it inherently has a decreased ability to handle load, altering the capacity of the tissue. This means that there needs to be a gradual re-introduction of load to the tissue during the rehab process. 
Have you ever taken a week or two off of training due to an injury and then gone back at the same training load only to find that the nagging pain or discomfort came back relatively quickly? That’s because the tissue didn’t have a chance to adapt with an appropriate loading strategy. “Zero to one hundred real quick” is only okay as a lyric in a Drake song, not when it comes to rehab and training. 

Injury Prevention 
Injury prevention during a busy running season can be done by managing training load, while at the same time working to increase the tissue’s ability to manage load with strength training. The literature has recently proposed that one of the best ways to manage training load is to compare acute workload to chronic workload. 

Acute/chronic workload is a measurable indicator that compares the training load over the previous 4 weeks to the current week. By using rate of perceived exertion (RPE) of each run and multiplying it by the duration of each run, we are able to create an arbitrary unit that can be used to measure workload ratios. Rate of perceived exertion is a number out of 10 that is personally associated with the difficulty of that specific training bout.

Calculating training load for a single run would be as follows: 
8.0 RPE x 20 minutes = 160 arbitrary units (this is your training load)

Calculating the acute to chronic workload ratio would be as follows:
160 (average of the previous weeks training load) / 150 (average training load over previous 4 weeks)
= 1.07 (acute:chronic workload ratio)

An increased risk of injury is associated with an acute:chonic workload of greater than 1.25 (with a significant increase in risk of injury when the ratio is greater than 1.5). The proposed “sweet spot” for training is between 0.8 to 1.25.

Strength Training
Strength training has been shown to improve running economy and decrease the risk of injury. There is strong evidence that strength training is the only way to expose tissues to the stress that is necessary for positive adaptation - which in this case is an increased capacity of the tissues. A high intensity approach of using 70% of 1RM (1 rep max) is more effective than a low intensity approach, however there need to be a gradual increase to that amount of weight. The main focus of strength training for runners should be on lower body muscular strength and muscular endurance, upper body posterior chain muscular endurance, and core muscular endurance

Points to Remember:
•  Load > tissue capacity = tissue injury
•  Most common cause of injury in runners is due to training error (rapid increase in load over a short period of time)
•  Modifiable training factors are volume (how much), frequency (how often), and intensity (how hard)
•  Once a tissue is injured, it inherently has less ability to handle load
•  To avoid injury in runners, care should be taken to monitor load management and to participate in strength training
•  Use the acute:chronic workload ratio to avoid overtraining

If you have any questions about running training and how to make sure you are mitigating injury, come on in to Catalyst Health and one of our knowledgeable practitioners would be happy to help!

Written By: Dr. Dhanbir (Danny) Dulay, D.C., B.Sc. (Kin), CSCS
Medical Acupuncture Practitioner 
Functional Range Release Practitioner
Strength and Conditioning Specialist
Instagram: @dulaydc
Available for appointments at our Richmond location Monday - Friday

Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions Past January!

Keeping Your New Year's Resolutions Past January!

Congratulations! You have just completed the first month of your New Year’s Resolutions. Now that January is over, how do you maintain your success moving forward? How do you hold yourself accountable for you goals? 
Continue reading for tips on how to turn your resolutions into habits!

Tip #1: Practice!
On average, it takes 66 days to form a habit. That’s TWO months of incorporating your resolution into your daily routine to make it into a habit.
Think of the things you do every morning after waking up. For example: You wash your face, make coffee, brush your teeth, then head out for the day. These things have become so engrained in your daily routine that you don’t even have to consciously think of doing them. What is it that made these tasks into unconscious habits? PRACTICE!
At the beginning of your journey, you’ll have to consciously make an effort to act in line with your resolutions, but after a few months, these behaviours will become second nature.
If you feel like giving up, keep pushing through - you’re on the right track to success!

Tip #2: Recognize your Progress
No matter how big or small your goals are, it’s important to recognize the steps you’ve taken to achieve them.
Try writing down small steps that you can take every day to achieve your ultimate goal. Whether it’s going to bed earlier at night, getting off one subway stop earlier so you can walk a few extra blocks, or packing a healthy lunch at work one day, every step is progress in the right direction. Documenting smaller goals towards your ultimate target is a great way to recognize your progress! Recognize when you’ve taken steps towards your goal, and celebrate these accomplishments!

Tip #3:  Accountability
Writing down your goals is a great way to hold yourself accountable. Try this trick: Take a piece of paper and write down each of your goals, then write when you want to reach them by. Tape this piece of paper somewhere you’ll see them every day. Frequently re-reading your goals will provide you with a reminder of what you're aspiring to do, and motivate you to continue! The more you read your goals and tell yourself that you will succeed, the more likely this will become!
Another way to hold yourself accountable is by telling a friend or family member about your goals. You can even commit to a goal with a friend! Working towards goals with another person can increase your motivation to achieve them, and it's a fun way to to so!

Tip #4:  Support
Talking to family and friends about your goals is not only great for accountability, but it also provides an avenue for support. On the road to success, there are always barriers and hurdles to overcome, so a strong support system can ease this process. Depending on your goal, joining a support group can also be a great help!

Be kind to yourself if you hit a roadblock, or if things aren’t going as quickly as you’d hoped. Achieving goals is a process, and overcoming barriers is part of the journey!

Written by: Niko Mullings, Strength and Conditioning Specialist 
Instagram: @nikomullings

Available for Appointments at our Yorkville location Sunday - Wednesday

How to Have a Happy, Healthy Holiday!

How to Have a Happy, Healthy Holiday!


It’s that time of year again. The winter holidays. You know what that means: Time for parties, shopping, vacations, celebrations, family, friends, good tidings to all….and goodbye health and fitness lifestyle. The winter holidays are the hardest time of year to maintain your fitness. Between all of the cookies, the pumpkin pie, the turkey, the eggnog (or whatever drink you’ve selected to be your holiday choice this year), not only do we find it hard to make time for the gym, but we also have a plethora of delicious unhealthy options to eat. Fear not friends, for I have a solution. A way you can maintain your gains during the remaining December days: Sleep till January.
Okay, I’m kidding. Below however are some real tips that you can use to stay strong and not ruin 11 1/2 months of hard work in 2 weeks. Behold the Catalyst Health How to Have a Happy Healthy Holiday...blog. Here we go.

Step 1 : Don’t Avoid Meals 
One thing people try to do is pack all their calories into one meal. The old ‘I’m gonna save all my calories until dinner’ strategy is not a good one. It can lead to binge eating and may make you take in more calories then you normally would. Eat as regularly as possible throughout the day. Having frequent small meals before dinner is always a better option when it comes to holiday eating. It’s the healthiest way to train yourself to eat the right portions when dinner comes around.

Step 2: Drink Lots of Water! 
Regular rule of thumb: Drink one glass of water right when you wake up. Holiday rule of thumb: Drink a full glass of water before every meal. Our bodies have a hard time differentiating between hunger and thirst. That is amplified even more when your diet consists of high fat and high sugar foods, which is basically what we are fed throughout the holidays. The goal should be to stay consistently well hydrated, with non sugary beverages. Try your best to curb your hunger by quenching your thirst. 

Step 3: Don’t Forget to Work Out! 
A lot of families have holiday traditions: Christmas movie watching, singing Christmas carols, the annual Yeboah family dance off (it’s a real thing) etc. One thing most families don’t have: Holiday gym session. Because of all that is going this time of year, our workout schedule gets messed up and we tend to sacrifice our fitness for our fun. I’m here to let you know you can have both! Make your holiday workouts a priority! If time is an issue, shorten your workouts, but don’t skip them. Change it from one hour of weights to 30 minutes of HIIT work. Shorter workouts will help you stay consistent and keep you in track. Also, find a holiday workout friend. Having someone join you over the next few weeks is a great way to be held accountable and can be the most fun way to burn fat during the holidays. 

Step 4:  Eat Holiday Treats! 
It’s almost inevitable that we’ll be eating some type of holiday desert this month. Totally cool. I get it. I do it (lots), BUT if your goal is to keep the holiday pounds down, try limiting yourself to only seasonal treats. Eat the things that you only have during the holiday season, instead of things you can get all the time. Christmas treats, Hanukkah eats, or Kwanza snacks get a big YES from me. Regular chocolate bars or candies you can get all year: NO. Also, try to just have a little bit. A good way to do that is to eat a holiday treat only after having had a full (healthy) meal. 

Step 5: Don’t Stress
As busy and fun a time of year it is, it can also be a more stressful time for some. Stress leads to raised levels of the hormone cortisol, which has been shown to increase your appetite, and make you crave foods with more sugar and fat. Everyone deals with stress differently, but seeking out ‘comfort food’ is a definite deterrent to sticking with those holiday health and fitness goals. Instead of seeking comfort in food, do things or be with people that help put you at ease. Take a nice walk outside in the daytime. Make a schedule for your activities and stick to it. Leave the party early. Prioritize sleep (it’s important). Do things that make you laugh uncontrollably. Go phone free for a few hours one day. Listen to your favourite holiday music. Think positive and know that everything doesn’t have to be perfect for it to turn out perfectly. :D

Written by: Kevin Yeboah, Strength & Conditioning Specialist
Instagram: @theyeboah

Available for appointments at our Yorkville location Monday - Saturday

Neck Pain at Work

Neck Pain at Work

Extended periods of sitting at work can lead to many different painful symptoms in
the body. A common area of complaint is the neck. Neck pain can be due to several
different mechanisms, the most common being postural related. In this blog post we
will discuss general neck anatomy, what structures may be contributing to pain, and
some simple strategies to help combat these symptoms.

Some Basic Anatomy Explained..
Our spine is made up of 3 sections: the cervical spine (neck), the thoracic spine (mid
back) and lumbar spine (low back). Each section has various structures (muscles,
ligaments, etc.) attached to it and various nerves/vessels exiting the spinal cord at
each level. The natural curve of the cervical and lumbar spine is called lordosis and
the curve of the thoracic spine is called kyphosis. When sitting with poor posture for
extended periods, the thoracic spine can become stiff and rounded forward. This
results in a greater resting cervical lordosis, forward head posture and forward
rounding of the shoulders, known as “Upper-Crossed Syndrome”.

Upper-Crossed Syndrome is defined as alternating groups of tight/weak muscles in
a crossing pattern (see image). This posture can also lead to other injuries with
certain activities (such as weight training). Certain muscles become weak, including
the deep neck flexors, rhomboids, and lower trapezius. The muscles that are tight
tend to be the pain generating structures. These include the levator scapulae, upper
trapezius, and pectoralis major/minor. Stretching these specific muscle groups can
help alleviate some symptoms at work, but they may not be the only aspect that
needs to be addressed in the system. Seeking care from a health professional may be
warranted to create a treatment plan specific to your individual needs (e.g. doing an
ergonomic assessment of your work station).


How to Fight Back!
Frequent breaks from sitting should be taken throughout the day to give your body
a break from static sitting posture. This can be implemented several ways to make
sure your posture breaks are met, but productivity does not suffer. One simple way
is to drink more water (preferably out of a small to medium sized water bottle). This
way you will have to get up to fill up the water bottle more frequently, creating
posture breaks. Some people prefer to just stand up and move around every 30-50
minutes. There are always new ideas and strategies to help with this.
The ergonomics of your workspace should also be looked at to determine if there is
anything that can be improved upon. The image below is taken from the Ontario
Chiropractic Association website and shows some general guidelines to follow with
regards to ergonomics in the workplace (in regards to sitting).


Standing desks have become popular because they allow you to go from sitting to
standing while still continuing to work. However, this option is not for everyone and
is not always feasible.

Don’t Forget to Stretch!
As mentioned above, stretching can be beneficial to help alleviate symptoms while
at work. Below are stretches for the 3 major tight muscles involved in neck pain
related to upper-crossed syndrome. I have also included one drill for thoracic spine
mobility. All of these can easily be done at the office. The stretches should all be held
for 20-30 seconds and can be performed as needed throughout the day.

Upper Trapezius
The upper portion of the trapezius can become dominant over the lower portion
with upper-crossed syndrome. The main functions of the upper portion of the
trapezius muscle are to elevate the scapulae (shoulder blades), bend the head to the
side (when only one side activates) and extend the neck (when both sides activate).

1. Bend the head to the opposite side of trap you wish to stretch (stretching left
trap, bend head to the right).
2. Use the hand on the same side to pull the head further into the stretch
3. The above may be enough, but to increase the stretch, put the arm on same
side as the stretch behind your back

Levator Scapulae
This muscle is often very tight with upper-crossed syndrome and can feel like a
painful knot deep in the middle of the upper trapezius. The muscle actually begins at
the transverse processes of the first 4 cervical vertebrae (directly related to cervical
spine function) and inserts on the scapula (shoulder blade) on the inside top corner.

The major function is to not only extend (working together) and bend the neck (only
one side activating), but also to elevate the scapula.

1. Bend head to the side and rotate towards opposite armpit of the side you
wish to stretch (bend and rotate to the right if you wish to stretch the left)
2. Use hand on the same side to pull further into the stretch
3. This may be enough, but to increase the stretch, lift up the arm on the side of
the stretch and place hand behind neck

Pectoralis Minor
This muscle is underneath the larger pectoralis major. This muscle stabilizes the
scapula as well as contributes to its movement. With upper-crossed syndrome, this
muscle will shorten and pull the shoulders forward.

1. Set up in a classic pectoral stretch, with the side you wish to stretch by the
2. Move in closer to the wall so that your armpit is 3-4 inches from the wall
3. Slowly slide the hand up the wall and hold (stretch should be felt deep under
the pectoralis major).

Thoracic Spine Mobility
How well the thoracic spine moves needs to be addressed when your occupation
involves sitting for extended periods of time. There are many different drills that
can be done to work on this, but the below drill can be performed sitting at your
desk at work. You are going to fully round the shoulders and mid back into full
flexion, bending the head forward. Then slowly extend through the spine (pull the
chest forward), extend the head back and bring the arms back with your hands
turned out. This can be repeated for 5-6 slow repetitions. This is similar to the pose
in yoga cat-cow.

I hope you find these strategies useful to help with neck pain you may be
experiencing at work! For more information or to learn more about the treatment
options offered at Catalyst Health, feel free to contact any of the practitioners or
myself for more information. Thanks for reading!

Dr. Jonathon Perry DC
Functional Integrated Acupuncture 
Athletic Movement Assessment 
Fascial Abrasion Technique 
Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization - Exercise 1/Weightlifting 

1. Muscolino, J. (2015). Upper crossed syndrome. Journal of the Australian Traditional-
Medicine Society, 21(2), 80.
2. Silva, A. G., Punt, T. D., Sharples, P., Vilas-Boas, J. P., & Johnson, M. I. (2009). Head posture
and neck pain of chronic nontraumatic origin: a comparison between patients and pain-free
persons. Archives of physical medicine and rehabilitation,90(4), 669-674.
3. Cunha, A. C. V., Burke, T. N., França, F. J. R., & Marques, A. P. (2008). Effect of global
posture reeducation and of static stretching on pain, range of motion, and quality of life in
women with chronic neck pain: a randomized clinical trial.Clinics, 63(6), 763-770.


How do we prevent injuries?

With the arrival of summer, we are all grinding out our fitness routines. Catalyst workouts, outdoor runs, classes, golf...you name it. Then BOOM! We get injured. 

Nothing pumps the brakes on your fitness progress (and that summer body) like being hit with an injury. So then the question is… how do we best prevent injuries? 

Is it warming up? Is it cooling down? Is it stretching?

What’s interesting is that you don’t see other species having to stretch before performing an explosive task in order to avoid injury. Imagine watching Discovery Channel and then you see this:

“Here we have the cheetah hunting its prey in the open savannah planes…wait, there he goes chasing the wild gazelle, the cheetah’s hot on his tail, he’s closing in…and oh no…he’s pulled up…he’s pulled a hamstring!”

We don't hear that because it's not all about stretching.  It’s not all about this idea that we need to warm up and cool down. Those are definitely components that we can take advantage of to help keep our body safe, but it's really about how we live our day-to-day lives. It’s about how we stay ready.

Do you know the difference between Mobility and Flexibility? 

As a simple test, try to accumulate ten minutes at the bottom of a squat. Feet just inside hip width apart and flat on the floor, neutral spine and chest proud. Now stay there for 10-min. If you are unable to get into this position, or have trouble staying there…then your body is not functioning optimally.  And for the record, holding this position while white-knuckled and red-faced doesn’t mean you have completed the test successfully. If you’re not relaxed and breathing normally – then you don’t own the position. 

Flexibilityis the passive ability of your soft tissue (muscles) to stretch. 

Mobility, on the other hand is much more important. It can be called one’s “ACTIVE usable range of motion”. Mobility contains many elements that contribute to movement with full range of motion - including muscle tissue, joint capsules, and motor control. Flexibility merely is a component of mobility.

Remember This!
Flexibility:length of your muscle
Mobility:how your joint actually moves

Therefore, a person with great mobility is able to perform functional movement patterns with no restrictions in the range of motion (ROM). A flexible person may or may not have the core strength, balance, or coordination to perform the same functional movements as the person with great mobility. It’s basically useless to have a high level of flexibility if your mobility is constricted by other factors.

Stiff upper back while driving? Tight hips?
So, why should you care? Beyond just working out in the gym, both mobility and flexibility affect your joint health in everyday life as well. Think about it this way: if you have a general mobility problem that affects how you move, your body isn’t going to be functioning in the way that it’s supposed to. Over time you can suffer more wear-and-tear and general discomfort. Also, when you’re exercising you are essentially performing these faulty movements under higher intensity and greater stress, so painful injuries can accumulate over time. 

Mobility is an indication of how well we can actually move as humans. 

The most common areas of reduced mobility occur in the hips, shoulders, ankles and upper back. 

“Practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes it permanent”
- author unknown (about a thousand people take credit for this quote…I am not one of them). 

True mobility requires actual movement in order to train the joints, musculature and even the central nervous system. To fix an issue of mobility, you need motion and consistency. Adding in mobility work on a daily basis is the key to being in a state of readiness. 

To find out more on this topic, and how to address your specific concerns, feel free to reach out to one of the mobility specialists at Catalyst Health.

Dr. Craig McNamee 
BSc. Hon (Kin), DC, ART, CSCS.
Active Release Techniques Provider
Medical Acupuncture Provider
Conditioning Specialist

How To Overcome Catalyst Health Challenge Anxiety

How To Overcome Catalyst Health Challenge Anxiety
By: Niko Mullings
Inspirational quotes by: Yoda
Today is the day you are to perform the Catalyst Health “Challenge” - that is until you feel anxiety creep up behind you…

Is it because you know the infamous white board is about to display your score to your peers? Or is it your mind questioning whether you have the mental and physical tolerance needed to complete the task ahead? Regardless, your legs begin to shake, your stomach starts to turn, and you begin searching for reasons why you are going to tell your Catalyst trainer today is not the day.

If this all sounds too familiar, here are some key insights and tips to help guide you through the next Catalyst challenge.

“Named must your fear be before banish it you can."
- Yoda

PREPARATION“Perfect practice” makes perfect. Your trainers know your strengths, weaknesses, and how to get the best out of you. The first step is recognizing the benefits of competition. Associate the challenge as another stepping-stone towards your growth in fitness. From that positive insight your team will include exercise progressions and technical tips specific to the challenge at hand. In addition add proper nutrition, mobility, flexibility, with strength endurance to the preparation phase. 

“Patience, you must learn patience!”
- Yoda

The battle is won before the first move is made. This is where your trainer will learn the key objectives to your success by modifying warm-ups and adding specific exercises to your session. Achieving the best possible score for you involves pushing the boundaries of your strengths. Whether you prefer to max out from the start of a challenge and hold on with conditioning or control a steady pace and empty the tank on the last movement - you will succeed. 

“If no mistake have you made, yet losing you are… a different game you should play.”
- Yoda

Positive insight on numbers, movement, and feelings during exertion will develop consistency. Decreasing the chance of errors by being specific to visualizing the goal you desire to achieve. See your movements with as many details as possible. Keep the visualizations simple with a clear direction. 

“Feel the force.”
- Yoda

Drive is the source that influences the need to be motivated towards a goal. This will go hand in hand with the priority factor to obtaining that achievement. Setting a date and time to complete the challenge will reduce anxiety and increase intention. Motivation is mainly grouped by intrinsic and extrinsic factors. Intrinsic rewards are personal with a clear association to the emotional value of the goal. While, extrinsic rewards can be measured or received as a gift to completing the goal, for an example points on the board and recognition from the team!
“Many of the truths that we cling to depend on our point of view.”
- Yoda

The day has arrived for you to complete the challenge. You have prepared, strategized, and visualized the task. With your clear and direct drive, you will have a positive result. As you warm-up repeat the visualization techniques and strategy with your trainer. Once you start, clear all thoughts and focus on exercises to hit those target goals. Pain will come, fatigue will join but that won’t stop your movement. Accept it. Conquer it. 

Looking forward to seeing your results on the board.

“Do or do not. There is no try.”
- Yoda