Athlete's Care Ottawa Blog 

What should you drink during exercise?

By Athlete's Care on October 20, 2017

What should you drink during exercise?

How to stay hydrated when you work out – and at all times – is one of the questions our Ottawa physiotherapy and sports medicine clients ask about the most. With so much information (and misinformation) out there, it’s a good question and important to know. Most of our bodies, as the saying goes, are made up of water – up to 60 percent, as it happens. When you work out and sweat, you can lose a lot of liquids, and not just that. You can lose electrolytes or salts, and other nutrients. What should you drink to replenish all you need?


Water is still your best and most basic choice for hydration before, during, and after you exercise. It’s easily digested, and replenishes the liquid you are using from sweating. There are a couple of important things to remember:

  • If you plan on exercising for 60 minutes or less, plain water, or water flavoured with a sliced lemon, orange, a handful of strawberries, or other fruit, is ideal and all you should require.
  • If your exercise routine extends beyond 60 minutes, you will also require some calories and electrolytes (salts) to function at your best.

 Here are some other liquids that you’ll find useful in keeping you hydrated during your exercise routine.

  •          Coffee or tea, preferably black – if you drink this pre-run or pre-exercise, it has been shown by clinical studies to improve your endurance.
  •          Coconut water, clear with no preservatives – a good source of potassium and sodium (electrolytes).
  •          Vegetable juices – typically a good source of sodium.
  •          Chocolate milk – some runners swear by the carbohydrate and protein boost chocolate milk provides to aid muscle recovery.

Store Bought

If you don’t care for plain water and you want to use store bought sports drinks, the key is to read the label.

  •          Stay away from added sugars and high calorie preparations;
  •          Avoid coffee-based and high caffeine drinks during your workout;
  •          Avoid excessive use of preservatives.

How Much?

The general guidelines should only be used as a reference.

  •          2-3 hours before exercise, the general guideline is to drink between 17 and 20 ounces of water.
  •          20-30 minutes before exercise – 8 ounces.
  •          8 ounces of water every 30 minutes after you begin to exercise.

There are ways that your body will tell you it needs more hydration, or other nutrients.

  •          Are you thirsty? Drink!! Thirst is your best guide for whether you are hydrated enough.
  •          Cramping – it’s been shown that dehydration seems to play a role in muscle cramping as you exercise.
  •          What are the environmental conditions? If it’s hot and humid, you’ll need more hydration than when it’s cooler.
  •          The bathroom check – what colour is your urine? It should be a transparent, lemony shade. Darker, and more opaque, means you are not sufficiently hydrated.
  •          The sweat test – this involves weighing yourself just before and immediately after your workout with a very accurate measure. If you’ve lost 16 ounces, for example, then you’ll know it’s been lost as sweat, and 16 ounces of water is how much you need to drink.


Just blend all the ingredients, and store in the fridge for up to a week. Here are a couple of ideas for homemade sports refreshers that will provide hydration, carbs for energy, electrolytes, vitamins, and minerals.

Ice Tea Cooler

4 cups herbal tea
2 -4 tablespoons honey or maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Lemon Sports Drink

4 cups water
1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup honey

Let us help you perfect and manage your exercise routine. Our Ottawa physiotherapists and sports medicine professionals can provide expert advice on your hydration needs and any other questions you may have. Call us or come by one of our Ottawa physiotherapy clinics today.

Five Tips On How To Add Physical Activity To Your Day - Everyday

Whether you are training for a marathon or just trying to get through the work week, our Ottawa physiotherapy and chiropractic professionals know we can all benefit from being more physically active. It's a shocking statistic, but almost 70 percent of Canadians spend most of their waking hours sitting down. That alone has been identified as a health risk, and one that contributes to obesity, and chronic disease like type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even cancer.

Finding The Time

You may be used to thinking only in terms of half hour or hour-long workout, but adding a little more exercise to everyday activities does make a difference. Research has shown that as little as 15 minutes a day can make a positive difference in terms of fitness.

Now, that 15 minutes is a minimum, but more physical activity doesn't have to involve large blocks of time you just can't seem to fit into your schedule. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has advised that according to its own examination of the research data, several short workouts spread across the day can provide just as much benefit as one longer one.

Get Started

If you are limiting yourself to walking and stair climbing, and you’re in good health and shape already, there’s nothing to worry about. But, if you are concerned about pre-existing conditions like arthritis or a prior knee surgery, or if the stairs involve more than three or four stories, then you’ll want to consult one of our Ottawa physiotherapy and sports medicine specialists for advice on how to proceed.

Here are some ideas you can incorporate into any day:

  1. Walk whenever you can. Ditch the elevator or escalator and take the stairs whenever it’s possible. If your destination is 20 floors up, take the elevator to the 16th or 17th floor and walk the last 3 or 4 stories.
  1. In bad weather, find an indoor area like a large shopping mall where you can walk easily and have ready access.
  1. Speaking of shopping malls – they often have huge parking lots. It’s an opportunity to park as far away as you can, walking briskly enough back and forth to count as moderate exercise. If your shopping spree is fruitful, you can add a little weight training on the way back!
  1. Are you a soccer mom or dad? Got your kids in baseball? Instead of sitting down the entire game, take the opportunity to walk up and down the sidelines while you watch your little ones play.
  1. If you take the subway, bus or other public transportation, get off a stop or two early and make it a quick 10 minute or more walk to add to your day. If you take it to work, you’re adding 20 minutes exercise to your day, five days a week.

Make it enjoyable by taking along music, or choosing winding routes through pleasant streets – whatever your strategy, the more you enjoy it, the more motivation you’ll maintain.

For any advice on physical activity and how it can benefit you, or specific suggestions on what types of exercise would be best in your case, don’t hesitate to call or come by one of our Ottawa physiotherapy and sports medicine clinics to make an appointment.



Can I get Golfer's Elbow Even if I Don't Golf? (Yes!)

By Athlete's Care on July 11, 2017

Can I get Golfer's Elbow Even if I Don't Golf? (Yes!)

Our Ottawa physiotherapy and sports medicine specialists see a lot of clients who experience issues with their forearms and elbows. The anatomy in that area is complex and specialized, and used constantly in everything from everyday activities to sports. Golfer's elbow is one of the more common complaints we treat in our clinics.  But wait a minute, you're thinking. I don't golf, so that’s one injury I won’t have to worry about. Not necessarily...

Does this sound familiar?

  • You're experiencing pain along the inside of your elbow, on the bony side, whenever you grip something with your hand and fingers.
  • Your wrist feels weak, and it's tender to the touch.
  • It hurts when you rotate your wrist inwards.

It sounds like you've got golfer's elbow. You don't have to golf to get golfer's elbow, as it turns out.

What is Golfer's Elbow?

Golfer's elbow, also known as Little League elbow or thrower's elbow in the world of baseball, is called medial epicondylitis in medical terms. It's an injury caused by over using the tendons and muscles of the forearm.

The fingers and thumb are controlled by a series of small muscles that come together in the forearm in something called a tendinous sheath which then attaches to the bone at the elbow.

When the fingers are used repeatedly to grip an object - like a golf club - it can eventually cause inflammation along the wrist up to the elbow. Any activity that involves gripping an object and flexing the wrist can cause medial epicondylitis. Other possible objects may include,

  • Gardening equipment;
  • Hammers and other tools;
  • Any precision equipment.

What Can I Do?

If symptoms have just started, then the first rule is: stop doing the activity that is causing the strain. Resting the area is the best way to help promote healing and reduce the inflammation. Here are some other ideas.

  • Ice packs – use them for about 15 minutes, 3-4 times a day to help reduce swelling and pain.
  • Medications – Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDs can provide temporary relief of pain and inflammation, including aspririn, ibuprofen, and naproxen.

If those measures, along with complete rest of the affected area, haven’t relieved any of your symptoms within a few days, your Ottawa physiotherapist or other sports medicine specialist is available to help you fully assess and then devise a treatment plan for your condition.

Treatment and Prevention

The treatment plan your Ottawa physiotherapist or other will draw up will be based on a detailed evaluation of your condition. The cause, your current physical condition, lifestyle, and activities may all play a role. Possible treatments include,

  • Corticosteroid injections for temporary relief of pain;
  • PRP – platelet-rich plasma – a procedure that involves enriching your own blood with extra healing platelet cells to promote healing and repair.
  • Surgery in some, rare cases may be required.

Prevention involves taking measures that anyone can do to prevent the kind of repetitive strain injury that results in golfer’s elbow. These include,

  • Strengthening the muscles of the forearm with specifically targeted exercises. Your Ottawa physiotherapy or sports medicine specialist can advise you what exercises would be appropriate for your situation.
  • Lightening the load – you may have inherited those cast iron gardening tools from grandma, but despite their sentimental value, they could be harming your wrist and forearm. When it comes to gripping tools, bats, racquets, or golf clubs, lighter is better.
  • No matter what the activity, practice to ensure proper form, which means keeping the wrist at a natural angle, and avoiding undue straining and twisting.

Whether it is advice or treatment, call our Ottawa physiotherapy and sports medicine clinics for your consultation today.

Tips for Safe Snow Shoveling

By Athlete's Care on February 16, 2017

Tips for Safe Snow Shoveling

Winter is often a busy time in our Ottawa physiotherapy and sports medicine clinics. In general, people may be more active outdoors during the rest of the year for obvious reasons, but those reasons – namely, the weather conditions – create their own set of hazards. Going out in your car can mean 20 minutes of scraping off ice and snow.

Getting down the sidewalk means shoveling snow,  an activity that can cause a number of strains, sprains, and other stresses and injuries. Here's a look at how to get the job done safely.

Are You Fit?

Your first consideration should Are you in good shape, and able to perform the repetitive, back straining actions that shoveling snow requires? If you're not sure, the best idea is to book a consultation with one of our Ottawa physiotherapy or chiropractic specialists for an assessment. You should definitely get a medical assessment if:

  • You've had a recent injury, especially to the back or spine;
  • You have a chronic condition like high blood pressure or lipidemia;
  • You have heart disease;
  • You haven't exercised very much lately.

Before You Start

  • The best time to begin shoveling is about 1 or 2 hours after you've eaten.
  • Warm up first, just as you would before a workout. That can mean something as simple as walking for 10 to 15 minutes before you begin.
  • Stretching before you head outside is also a good idea.
  • A lightweight shovel is better than a heavier one, and look for one with an ergonomically designed handle with a curve that accommodates your grip
  • Wear multiple layers. As you warm up, you can remove one or two.
  • Be sure to wear boots with non-slip soles.


Using proper technique is just as important shoveling snow as it is when you are exercising or practicing your sport. Making the wrong moves can mean injury.

  • Begin slowly and work in intervals. Shovel for about 10 minutes at first, and then rest for another 2 or 3 minutes. Continue as you build up stamina.
  • Remember to stay hydrated by drinking enough water.
  • Shovel early, soon after the snow starts, even if it seems like it will be a long haul. It's better to shovel a lighter load two or three times separated by intervals of rest, than to try and leave it as long as you can and then struggle with heavy shovelfuls of snow.
  • Push the snow rather than trying to lift it onto the shovel.

Your Stance:

  • Try to stand with your feet slightly apart for balance and stability and hold the shovel close to your body to avoid back strain.
  • Bend from the knees and avoid using your back to lift.
  • Use your abdominal muscles when lifting rather than your back.
  • Try shovel with a straight up and down motion, and avoid twisting.
  • If you're feeling muscle pain and fatigue, you should stop, and if you have any symptoms such as dizziness, excessive sweating, or shortness of breath, stop immediately and call 911.

If you have any questions or concerns about shoveling snow or any other physical activity, or you've been injured by shoveling snow, then don't hesitate to contact our Ottawa physiotherapy clinics for an appointment with a specialist.



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