Pain in your butt?

The gluteal muscles of your buttocks are among the largest and strongest in the body. They are responsible for moving your leg at the hip joint. More specifically, they extend your thigh, help with rotation, and help keep your pelvis stabilized and strong. For example, every time you climb the stairs, get out of your car, or get out of bed in the morning, your glutes kick into action. You rely on them every day.

When you do activities such as running, climbing, or squats, your glutes are loaded even more. These muscles can get tight and painful from overuse or strain and massage therapy can provide relief. Under the glutes lie the lateral rotators of the hip.

The most clinically notable of these is the piriformis muscle. It is really important to address when a person is experiencing sciatica type symptoms. The sciatic nerve can be compressed by the piriformis muscle and cause pain in the hip area and down the back of your leg, often making it painful to sit or to get up from sitting. Thankfully, massage therapy is very good at addressing this “piriformis syndrome“.

As you can see, the gluteal region of the body is an important one for day to day life as well as for more athletic pursuits. Keeping it strong is important to your overall health as it plays a big role in keeping you active and mobile. If you are experiencing discomfort or limited movement because of tightness in this area, it is wise to get it treated to prevent any further muscle or nerve involvement

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Bring on Christmas – Hold the Stress

Some people refer this time of year as the “Holiday Season”. To me, a holiday is kicking it back on beach, or road trip. I love Christmas time, the sights, the sounds, time with family and friends, as well as the food. Planning and preparing for Christmas does not really feel like a holiday. We all know too well, there’s plenty of work involved in preparing for the Christmas. Take the stress of shopping, deadlines, putting in extra hours at work, over-indulging, over extending the credit card, and the mother-in-law visiting. Add all that to the rest of the stress that’s been accumulating over time and you’ve got the perfect recipe for burnout.

If you could change one aspect of your life that would give you the greatest chance of living a very long and healthy life, what do you think it would be? The answer is – reduce your stress. Research shows that the people who live the longest are at their ideal body weight and have the ability to handle stress well.

Our adrenal glands are our stress helpers. Their role is to help our bodies cope with all kinds of stress by releasing hormones like adrenalin and cortisol into the blood stream. Stress can be physical, emotional, psychological, environmental, or a combination of these.

What is adrenal fatigue?

Adrenal fatigue is when the adrenal glands fail to carry out their normal function. This happens when stress overextends the capacity of the body to compensate and recover. Consequently, the adrenals become fatigued and are unable to continue responding adequately to further stress and ultimately, we lose our ability to cope.

Many people get into a vicious cycle of relying on coffee, and other stimulants to keep them going throughout the day. Stimulants actually weaken the adrenal glands making it harder for us to get going in the morning, so we drink more caffeine, perpetuating the cycle. High sugar intake can deplete adrenal function, so be careful with the sweet stuff.

Supplements of B Vitamins and Magnesium can be helpful in times of stress. The good news is that dark chocolate is a source of magnesium. Try to eat lots of dark leafy greens to stay strong.

If you are stressed to the max, I can help you with specific dietary and lifestyle recommendations, to assist you on your journey to optimal wellness.

To un-stress during the Christmas season, find joy in your life; delegate some of your responsibilities to others in your family. Cut back on holiday season expectations. Eat well; find time for fresh air, meditation, yoga. At the end of the day, your family and friends want you healthy. The dinner feasts, decorating and numbers of gifts under the tree are not so important……

This smoothie will have you feeling better in no time due to the high antioxidant content, magnesium and B vitamins.



  • 1 1/2 cup coconut water
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder
  • handfuls of baby spinach


  1. Place all ingredients in a high-speed blender and blend until smooth.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!!!

Kathy Shackleton RHN Nutritionist

About the author ...

Kathy Shackleton, is a Holistic Nutritionist and Health Educator practicing in Dufferin County Ontario. She is passionate about using food as medicine and medicine as food. In her spare time Kathy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, yoga and volunteering with local groups and events such as Savour Fair which raises funds for students of agriculture and creates community awareness for local, clean food.

Gluten …

Have we talked enough about gluten and gluten-free?  Maybe not!

Not all gluten free foods are “health giving”

Just a few thoughts to share. Gluten free is trendy to some; and a necessary lifestyle to others.

Anyone can benefit from a break from gluten.

For certain people, gluten free is not an option. Those with Celiac Disease or serious Gluten Intolerance must live gluten free or their   well-being is severely compromised.

The word “gluten” from latin translates as glue. This is the key point. Gluten holds baked goods together and thickens soups and sauces. When gluten is removed, other methods of ways of “gluing” are required.  This could mean adding more sugar or gluten free white pasty flours that provide no nutritional value.                                                                  

With a little work and knowledge, gluten free baking and cooking can be delicious, nutrient rich and have a perfect texture.  Some of the “gluten free” products on the grocer’s shelves are not good for you. Fiber is often lacking, and sugar and sodium content is high.  If you are interested in healthy, nutrient dense gluten free baking, cooking, and store bought choices; I can help.

Please read labels carefully and make wise choices.   For breads and crackers, I like to see per serving: 3 grams of fiber and 0 grams sugar. 

Read more on how to understand our nutritional labels here:

About the author ...

Kathy Shackleton, is a Holistic Nutritionist and Health Educator practicing in Dufferin County Ontario. She is passionate about using food as medicine and medicine as food. In her spare time Kathy enjoys hiking, cooking, reading, yoga and volunteering with local groups and events such as Savour Fair which raises funds for students of agriculture and creates community awareness for local, clean food.

Are you doing your stretches?

We can sound like a broken record at times (and believe me, we know it), but taking care of your body is essential to living a healthy and active lifestyle.  Most people place the care and maintenance of their bodies in the hands of healthcare professionals. In some cases this is required, but just doing self care at home can substantially increase quality of living.  One example of self care is stretching.  Many people don’t take the time to stretch when it is an essential part to everyday life.  They might not see the effects as fast as if lifting weights, or might not have the time to stretch but investing time into simple everyday stretching will yield high returns in the future.  Remember, like all body healing techniques, it takes time

Our day to day tasks are demanding on our bodies, despite what type of movements we are doing.  Heavy lifting or pencil pushing, each repetitive task we do affects a different muscle group in its own way.  This overuse causes the muscle to become shortened or tight which can result in trigger points in the muscle and fascial adhesions (fascia is connective tissue which binds together muscles, organs, and other soft structures of the body). Stretching allows you to lengthen muscles and fascia to prevent Fascial Adhesions from occurring.

What are the Benefits of Stretching?

  1. Stretching can help with lengthening any shortened tight muscles & connective tissues.
  2. Will prevent future injuries.
  3. Increase range of motion at a joint.

Things to keep in mind while Stretching…

  1. There shouldn’t be any pain with stretching.
  2. Always being aware of your posture while stretching.  
  3. Making sure you’re breathing during your stretches.
  4. No ballistic movements (bouncing into the stretch).

HOLD – stretches should be held for at least 30 seconds to be effective.
For now, keep your head up, and keep smiling!

Your pro-active, pro-health care team,
Ashley Coelho RMT and the Better Health Clinic

About the author ...

Ashley Coelho is a graduate of the reputable Sutherland-Chan Massage Therapy School and is a member of the College of Massage Therapist of Ontario as well as the Registered Massage Therapist Association of Ontario.

‘Tis the Season to give

The holidays are upon us, a time of traditions, celebrations, and giving.  Giving and helping others can take countless forms; from giving money to charity, to helping a stranger dig his car out of the snow, to simply sharing your company with someone. No matter how or what you give, the result is the same – happiness. Researchers have found that giving makes people happier, and that happier people give more. 

At the most basic level, brain images from MRI scans show that people who give to charity lead to similar brain activity in the pleasure and reward circuitry, activating the neurotransmitter dopamine, a rewarding stimuli similar to using drugs or seeing an attractive face.  And since pleasure is a central motivator in our lives, when we discover something that gives us pleasure, it is a natural reaction to want to make it happen again.  These results suggest then, that giving is inherently rewarding. 

Numerous studies over the last 40 years have similarly concluded that happiness increases charitable behaviour and this behaviour is fuelled by positive emotions. In 1972 Isen and Levin found that the participants who experienced positive events, like receiving cookies or finding a dime in a payphone, were more likely to help others in return.  Additionally and consistent with other studies, researchers found that higher levels of volunteer work were associated with higher levels of overall life satisfaction. Finally, a study looking at those who gave money to charity versus those who did not, found that individuals who devoted more money to charity reported greater happiness, whereas personal spending was unrelated to happiness. Interestingly, the amount of money people were given in the study, did not influence how happy they were, which suggests that how people spent their money was more important than how much they received. In fact, it was found that as little as five dollars was plenty to boost happiness levels.  

Let us all add to the findings of the studies; go out today and give. Buy someone their coffee, donate to a local charity, sit and talk to a stranger. How would it feel to receive the same back?

In the spirit of the holidays and in light of this research, I hope a new sense of giving will enter your life – filling your life with a lot of love, and whole lot of happiness.

About the author ...

Stacey Ayres, Osteopath Manual Practitioner, Registered Massage Therapist, is the owner of Better Health Clinic, She is a member of the Canadian College of Massage Therapists of Ontario as well as the Ontario Association of Osteopathic Manual Practitioners. Stacey has a particular interest in pediatrics, chronic pain, post trauma and surgery rehabilitation, and fertility.

The Mind-Body Connection

The mind is a powerful thing, and the body is a powerful vessel.  Knowing the fierce connection between the two, they are truly powerful allies. The mind-body connection relates to how our health problems can affect our emotions, and how our psychological state can affect how well we treat, manage, or cope with our physical issues. Even simpler, how we think can effect how we feel, and how we feel can effect how we think.

As a social worker in the addictions and mental health field, I easily recognized and concluded very early on in my career that addiction and mental health issues are symptoms of something deeper. I have never met someone who has “just an addiction,” nor have I met someone who is depressed “just because,” it simply does not work that way. I have worked with hundreds of client’s suffering from depression and anxiety while also struggling with chronic pain and fatigue.  In turn, I have worked with client’s who suffered from debilitating migraines and misused alcohol in order to deal with flashbacks from childhood abuse.  Although their stories are different, the commonality of their underlying symptoms not related to their presenting issues, is truly remarkable.

With new research circulating through the medical field, many physicians are beginning to understand how their patient’s psychological state can influence their physical well-being. We know that depression and stress significantly reduces one’s immune system, particularly during difficult times of the year, like winter. Speaking to your doctor about your mental and physical health is vitally important, as well as to your Better Health Clinic practitioner. Evidence also supports that talking to a trained counselling professional about your issues and concerns, all within a non-judgemental and supportive environment, is conducive to a healthier you; improved psychological functioning equals improved quality of life.
In joining the Better Health Clinic team, a new pathway has been created, a holistic and integrated approach to your care. Our hope is that by introducing psychotherapy into our repertoire of services, if you suffer from chronic illnesses, pain, depressive or anxiety symptoms, you can now easily reach out for help and find the support you need. The mind-body connection is real, and we must start listening to what it’s trying to tell us.

The next time you have a stress head ache, a new and on-going pain, or you notice that you are spending more time in bed than usual, stop and ask yourself, what else could be going on?  Visit the Better Health Clinic to support and nurture your whole-self.

About the author ...

Jordan Smith received her Masters of Social work from the University of Toronto, specializing in both mental health and addictions. Jordan is focused on compassionate, strength-based, and client-centred care all while using a motivational and recovery-orientated approach.