What I learned at SWIS 2015

swis weightI was honoured to attend the Society of Weight Training Injury Specialists Symposium here in Toronto, November 13-14. With over 40 sessions scheduled over the weekend in the four categories of training, treatment, rehab and nutrition, there was plenty to learn. I am very thankful for my team at Totum Life Science for inviting me to this event.

I started my Friday in the Treatment stream in a course on “Neurostim”.  This course highlighted the use of light therapy to treat scars that have been turning off muscles since the initial injury, causing dysfunction and often pain. Following this I went on over to the Training stream and settled in to learn about “Strength Correctives, Building Armour for Your Athletes”. This interesting course went over a selection of specific correctives for basic exercises like the squat. Whereas an athlete may not be able to squat right now with full range of motion, there are many ways to get him/her there eventually.

Following an afternoon break, I made my way over to the Rehab stream where SWIS rehab presenter delegates were having an open panel discussion demonstrating their favourite rehab techniques for specific weight training injuries. Not only is a panel discussion like this great for weight training injuries, many of the injuries discussed can be sustained during sport or any other activity like triathlon training. On the panel were Dr. Dale Buchberger, Dr. Rob Rakowski, Dr. David Leaf, and Dr. Jerome Rerucha.

In the late afternoon, Paul Check, a holistic practitioner from California presented on “Athlete Management – The Four Doctors”.  This course was also under the Rehab stream.  The four doctors are “Dr. Happy, Dr. Quiet, Dr. Movement and Dr. Diet”.  According to Paul Chek, these are the last four doctors you’ll ever need.

This course was a great review on the fine art of creating a balanced training schedule for your athlete that addresses items not normally considered but highly important, like sleep, stress and meditation. Interestingly enough, three of the four doctors are in this Chinese Proverb,

“The best doctors are Dr. Diet, Dr. Quiet and Dr. Merryman.”

Just before the first day of SWIS 2015 ended, one of my favourite nutrition experts, Dr. John Berardi spoke about “Nutrition for Injury Recovery”. I have shared this talk before in previous posts and will share it again here . For example, did you know that you should be eating more calories while recovering from an injury?

Saturday, was another fabulous day of learning. I fit in an early morning weight training session before the day began with my super-duper awesome client “J”, who has come along way with her weight training. “J” is a mother of two, age 48 who has chisled here figure down substantially while working with me over the past year. “J” has lost over 3% body fat with heavy weight lifting and proper nutrition. “J”s program includes a quite a reduction in her overall weekly alcohol consumption. If you were able to read “My Top 10 for 2015” article, reducing your overall alcohol intake is number 10 and by reducing your overall alcohol intake, you can significantly improve 1 through 9.

At 7 am on Saturday morning, “J” and I completed a 3-set full body continuous 12 rep circuit that included squats, push ups, stability ball core work, horizontal pull ups, followed by prone posterior chain and related mat-based core work.

Following my morning weight training session with “J”, I started the SWIS sessions in the Treatment stream with Dr. Jerome Rerucha who discussed “Treatment Modalities – Laser Percussor/Adjustor for Weight Training Injuries”. Being trained in Cold Laser Therapy myself, I found this course useful. Treating the main pain centre may not always be best route was the premise here, as treating the area causing the dysfunction may be better a better place to start.

Following Dr. Rerucha, I fit in a lunch session of cycling intervals for 40 minutes followed by the SWIS buffet of chicken breast, veggies and sweet potatoes.

After lunch, Paul Check completed his “Four Doctors Approach” in the Rehab stream, and following this I popped into learn about “Advanced Nutritional and Biochemical Applications for Muscle Hypertrophy and Fat Loss” with Dr. Daryn Willoughby in the nutrition stream.

Did you know that if working out a night puts you to sleep then you most certainly have adrenal fatigue issues and/or high cortisol and should not be working out at this late hour? 

Dr. Daryn highlighted the many mistakes we make when trying to gain muscle and lose fat, when really it can be quite simple.

The last presentation I attended at SWIS 2015 was Charles Poloquin’s “Individualization of Strength Training through Neurotransmitter Dominance Profile”. This was also in the Nutrition stream. Poloquin is most widely known for his BioSignature Modulation. He has now gone on to develop training methods that correspond best with our individual neurotransmitter prototypes. Poloquin believes “the greatest determining factor of an athlete’s physiology is their Neurotransmitter Profile”

This was particularly convincing to me when Poloquin touched upon the fine balance of the Acetyl-Choline athlete, which I  most closely resemble. As an Acetyl-Choline athlete I am witty, highly creative and quick thinking. I respond best to a variety of training intensity and volume and have a tendency to over train very easily if volume is excessive.  I feel there is some sense here, so I’m going to look into these neurotransmitter training methods into further detail.

It’s a wrap. Once again, thank you to my team at Totum Life Science, without whom I would not have been introduced to the SWIS 2015. And of course a huge thank you to Dr. Kinakin for bringing all of the experts together under one roof and putting on such a great event.

Please feel free to contact me regarding any of the new learning I have discussed above.  I am always happy to share!




Race Reports: Gravenhurst Olympic, Dublin Ironman 70.3

arrrr braveheart

arrrr Braveheart!

With my new coach  Lesley Paterson and her racing team Braveheart, I continue to reach new limits in my triathlon adventures.


That’s me second from the left. Third place finish – Gravenhurst Olympic.

At the Gravenhurst Olympic Triathlon, I had another super smooth swim leg, followed by a speedy bike leg and a hang tough run, altogether placing me third out of twenty-seven in my age category and sixth place overall out of 118 women.

Swim ready

Ready to be dropped off the Muskoka Segwun into Big Lake M!

It was a hot and humid day that reached 29 degrees Celsius which certainly affected my asthma on the run.  But the humidity wasn’t the only thing that affected my breathing and my slower than expected run for the 10k hilly distance.

I had had my iron levels checked on July 2, two weeks before the race, as my asthma had begun to worsen. My gut instinct was that my ongoing struggle with breathlessness is not 100% asthma related and that in large part it is being caused by low iron stores. My gut proved me right.

When I received the results of my blood tests from July 2, my iron levels had dropped quite far from the baseline results I had from October the year previous.

Here is the breakdown:

Hemoglobin 134 down to 128

Ferritin 51 down to 19

Iron 23 down to 17

Iron Saturation .44 down to .31

I received the results July 9th and on Friday, July 10th my “Project Iron” was instated.  I put myself on a daily diet of red meat once a day, everyday and, I doubled up the iron supplement I was already taking once daily – Platinum Naturals Easy Iron Soft Gels. All of this in preparation for the season’s biggest event, the one I have put all of my strength and energy into, the Dublin Ironman 70.3.

With only thirty days until race day, most research would see it as impossible to make any great changes to one’s iron status in such little time. Although, there were a few hopeful articles mixed in that stated one could bring the levels up to a considerate level within two to three weeks time.  With my aggressive “Project Iron” approach of eating red meat daily along with doubling up my supplement, I felt I could make some headway.

I was retested on July 24.

Here are the results:

Hemoglobin 129 up from 128 (Baseline 134)

Ferritin 27 up from 19 (Baseline 51)

Iron 23 up from 17 (Baseline 23)

Iron Saturation .43 up from .41 (Baseline .44)

I made some great gains bringing both my iron and iron saturation back up to baselines or near baselines.  With my training at close to 20 hours per week, I did not expect to make any gains on my hemoglobin, and am happy to have made any gains at all with my ferritin. All said and done, let’s move on to my race report for the Dublin Ironman 70.3.  This is where we see the boost in iron levels shine their light!

My goal for the Dublin Ironman 70.3 was to complete the race in 5 hours and 15 minutes for a tribute to one of my favourite bands, The Who and their song 5:15. However, as the spectators roared at me whilst coming up the final steep hill of the 90 km bike leg into Phoenix Park, “first female, first female, you’re one of the first females”, I looked down at my timer and quickly put two and two together that even if I walked the 21 km half marathon off the bike leg, I would still have plenty of time to reach my goal of 5:15! Hello, iron stores!

I would finish the inaugural  Dublin Ironman 70.3 event 3 minutes and 50 seconds ahead of schedule for a final time of 5:11:10. This time would place me 5th in my extremely competitive age category out of 87 others, 21st overall female of the day out of 435, and 312th overall out of 2480 male and female competitors altogether.

ironman dublin finish

Running down the red carpet to my faster than plan 5:11:10 finish.

Whereas two out of the top five in my 40-44 age category placed within the mostly pro ranked top 10 overall group of females, I am very impressed with my official finish time and 21st overall placement. Onward and upward to continuing to work on the swim and run!

As for my overall Dublin triathlon racing experience? I enjoyed it very much! In particular, I found swimming in the Irish Sea a brilliant experience, especially the wavy part where I felt like we were all in a big washing machine. All I could think about during the swim was fish and chips, mostly because every now and again I would take a breath and swallow a bit of salty water. The bike went very well.  I did feel it was a bit technical with lots of tight turns and a few speedy downhills, but nothing my skill level couldn’t handle. Lastly, the run was a three lap course within Phoenix Park and I did find the second lap a bit of a downer as I wished we were out in the city with some varying scenery to pass the time. The finish was indeed “grand” as they say all over Ireland though!  I just wish I could have found my relatives at the finish line as I was in need of a big hug! Nonetheless, we met up later on for a little celebratory dinner!

My trip to Dublin and the race was a direct tribute to my deceased brother Terrance (Terence) MacCarthy, who would have turned 44 on race day, August 9, 2015 should a dark turn with drug and alcohol addiction not have taken his life.

A big thank goes out to all of you who supported my tribute and the start of my new sport therapy company in Terrance’s memory.

With your help I was able to raise $3,336 toward the race event that started it all and the company’s trademark and website. I will continue to fundraise through various local events leading up to the official start of the company, whereas the goal is to take a select team of very special people struggling with drug and alcohol addiction to Ireland every year for the Ironman event, in addition to many other exciting public speaking and sporting events across the globe in the years to come.

Click here to learn more about Tri for Terrance.

#triathlon #ironman #imdublin703 #iron #athlete #swim #bike #run #triforterrance #addiction #mentalhealth #sportsaveslives #kinesiology

Registered Kinesiology and Regulated Healthcare in Ontario – Part One


If you have had a chance to read my most recent post, you would know that I am a graduate of kinesiology and health science studies and, that I am a registered health professional practicing kinesiology in Toronto, Ontario, Canada – the first governing province in the entire world to regulate the profession of kinesiology. By regulating kinesiology, the public is in a safer position to use kinesiology services as they are bound to a governing college with strict guidelines, policies and ethics. Kinesiology services in Ontario, in this regard, are also a tax deductible service as a medical expense in the province of Ontario and, are covered by several health plans including Manulife, DesJardins and Great West Life.

As “exercise is medicine” is becoming a household phrase, so too is “kinesiology”.

Kinesiology by definition, is the study of human movement, or in other words “exercise” or “physical activity”.  Because of this simple definition many may still understand a degree in kinesiology as just that – a degree in physical activity, exercise, recreation and sport — and not as a science degree. The title of the degree which I achieved from Toronto’s York University in 2005 includes not only “kinesiology”, but “kinesiology and health science” and, for good reason.  What I studied goes beyond physical activity, fitness, recreation and sport. My degree includes the study of science, physiology, nutrition, anatomy, skilled performance and motor learning, statistics, research and data collection, biomechanics, chronic disease, neuroscience, endocrinology, epidemiology, bone and joint health, psychology, behaviour, counselling , and more.

Is exercise without the science easy, nonetheless? 

One may think so.

Is physical activity simple provided one is motivated to get active?

Even still, if plain old exercise were so easy, everyone would be doing it and not only that, doing it properly (dose, intensity, time, type) so that they were reaching all of their goals without hitting any obstacles or getting sick or injured along the way.

What if you have a chronic condition or disease? How about an eating disorder? What if your child is diagnosed with diabetes? Would you be curious as to whether or not he/she still be allowed to play soccer? Whom would you trust to send your child to see about this besides your family doctor?

The more physical activity and similar studies have evolved over the years, the more closely the relationship has become to not just limit the department of kinesiology and health science studies to sport and recreation, but to branch out into studying health and chronic disease as they relate to exercise. In fact, kinesiology and health science studies have been focusing on heart disease, diabetes, acquired brain injury, stroke and spinal injury as they relate to exercise and movement for many years now.

One main focus of such studies often pertains to “dose”.  Similar to pharmacology the “dose” of exercise is different for each individual. Both the type and the intensity may be varied depending on the physical pharmacondition of the person. The timing can be precise depending on not only the current medical condition, but it can also be customized to work with a person’s current medical prescriptions, chronic ailments and adjoining side-effects from one or the other. The duration of the exercise session can also be curtailed to elicit a precise response in order to treat a condition and to potentially heal it. This all requires expertise and years of study to properly define, prescribe and monitor.

Thus, a kinesiologist knows the ins and outs of the body and how it functions and dysfunctions. With regard to myself, I have both a strong knowledge and broad background of chronic disease and psychology and the various medications that go with such disease and how they may be affected by movement. I also understand various common ailments and of course, injuries related to sport, physical activity and work.

During my four year course of study, along with the 48 credits of core courses that focused on the study of the basic ins and outs of the body and mind as it relates to physical activity and health, 52 of my other credits were electives.  Some examples of the electives I chose to were exercise and addictive behaviours, which focused on disordered eating and physical activity habits and their relationship with correlative mental health conditions. I chose to learn more about phyiscal actvitiy and chronic disease which delved into post traumatic stress disorder and using exercise as an adjunct to cancer and stem cell therapy in order to improve symptoms of depression.  I also very much enjoyed my practical course in African and Caribbean Dance, in addition to the specialized Coaching Certificate Program I enrolled in, where I received my National Coaching Certification Program Level 3 Therory designation in my favourite sport, triathlon.

Historically speaking, kinesiology and health science degrees are relatively new.  The University of Toronto only changed the name of their program from Physical Education and Health to Kinesiology and Physical Education in 2012.  Previous to the 1990’s most schools were offering only physical activity or physical education degrees, not kinesiology and health science degrees.

As the study of sport science and physical activity continues to evolve, many schools have come to the realization that they are no longer studying just sport and physical activity, but that they are on to something much broader and more encompassing.

As a result, the popular title “kinesiology and health science” was born and continues to grow today. In fact, most – if not all – Canadian universities (and many more around the world) have changed or, are in the process of changing their outdated undergraduate “sport and physical activity” programs to “kinesiology and health science” studies or similar.

So, if you’ve reached this point you know a bit more about me and a lot more about kinesiology. But, I need to help you understand one more thing.  That is how one practices kinesiology and how the practice of kinesiology fits into the regulated healthcare model in Ontario, Canada.

First of all, I will inform you of the scope of Registered Kinesiology in Ontario:

The practice of kinesiology is the assessment of human movement and performance and its rehabilitation and management to maintain, rehabilitate or enhance movement and performance. 2007, c. 10, Sched. O, s. 3.

In layman’s terms as redefined by the Ontario Kinesiology Association, the scope is as follows:

 The practice of Kinesiology is the assessment of movement, performance and function and the rehabilitation, prevention and management of disorders to maintain, rehabilitate or enhance movement, performance and function, in the areas of sport, recreation, work, exercise, and activities of daily living.

This is where things may get confusing, or how I more like to explain it in terms of “overlapping” scopes of practice. Whereas, no single health profession has exclusive ownership of a specific skill or health service, different professions may provide the same health services. A Kinesiologist in this way may seem similar to a Physiothersapist or a Chiropractor. Let me explain the differences.

Chiropractors and Physiotherapists are classified as Health Practitioners and can diagnose disease.  As a Kinesiologist, I am classified as a Health Professional and can make a clinical impression.  

A clinical impression is not to be confused with communicating a diagnosis of a disease.

To further explain,

Chiropractors are authorized to (Chiropractic Act, 1991):

  • Communicate a diagnosis identifying, as the cause of a person’s symptoms,
    • a disorder arising from the structures or functions of the spine and their effects on the nervous system, or
    • a disorder arising from the structures or functions of the joints of the extremities.
  • Move the joints of the spine beyond a person’s usual physiological range of motion using a fast, low amplitude thrust.
    • Put a finger beyond the anal verge for the purpose of manipulating the tailbone.

Physiotherapists are authorized to:

  • Communicate a diagnosis identifying a physical dysfunction, disease or disorder as the cause of a person’s symptoms.
  •  Treat a wound including by cleansing, soaking, irrigating, probing, debriding, packing or dressing the wound.
  • Administer, by inhalation:
    • i. oxygen, or
    • ii. a drug or substance that has been ordered by person who is authorized to do so by the Chiropody Act 1991, the Dentistry Act, 1991, the Medicine Act, 1991 the Nursing Act, 1991 or the Midwifery Act, 1991.
  • Putting an instrument, hand or finger beyond the labia majora or the anal verge for the purpose of assessment or treatment.

Kinesiologists are not currently authorized to perform any of the controlled acts outlined (above) and in section 27 of the Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991.

While most of these controlled acts are relatively easy to recognize and are clearly defined, the first controlled act, referred to commonly as “communicating a diagnosis” is an area that often causes confusion for regulated health professionals.

Let me explain.

In a comprehensive and consistent process, kinesiologists assess their patients’/clients’ movement and performance for the purposes of rehabilitation and enhancement. Kinesiologists base their clinical decisions on this assessment, and may offer professional opinions, appropriate interventions and recommendations. In this way, they are making a chartingclinical impression. This clinical impression can help the kinesiologist treat you right away provided it is appropriate, and it may also help to serve any other health professional involved with your treatment, either to enhance their own clinical impression or to assist them with making a diagnosis should they be authorized to do so.

The kinesiologist may also discuss findings with the patient/client, inculding a plan for follow-up with the appropriate diagnosing professional. In this process, it is essential that the kinesiologist provide the patient/client with an explanation of the nature of the problem that includes providing a label or name for the identified dysfunction (e.g. Hyperlordosis, reduced proprioception, Trendelenburg gait, etc.). This is considered by the College to be communicating a dysfunction, not a disease or disorder, and therefore does not fall within the definition of the controlled act of communicating a diagnosis.

Let me recap.

Outside of a communicating a complete diagnosis, the administration of oxygen, treating an open wound, moving joints beyond their normal range of motion and lastly, internal pelvic examinations – the many services that are provided by your various health care professionals may overlap.  This is to your benefit, as it only gives you more options to choose from during your Ontario healthcare service journey.

Below is a list of services your Registered Kinesiologist is authorized to provide in Ontario:



  • Gait Assessment
  • Musculoskeletal Assessment
  • Biomechanical Assessment
  • Postural Assessment
  • Ergonomic Assessments/Work Station Analysis


  • Therapeutic/Remedial Exercise
  • EducationFascial Stretch
  • Cardiac/Stroke Rehabilitation
  • Work Hardening
  • Work Conditioning
  • Modalities including, ultrasound, TENS (Biofeedback, Surface EMG), laserhttp://kine.info.yorku.ca/
  • Assisted Devices UtilizationManual Therapy
  • Corporate wellness programs
  • Work Design/Re-Design/Adaptation
  • Treatment Coordination/Communication
  • Manual Therapy
  • Myofascial Trigger Point Therapy
  • Soft Tissue Therapy
  • Sport Massage
  • Injury prevention and rehabilitation, including taping
  • Exercise with Special Populations
  • Chronic digeriatricsease prevention and management (e.g. Cancer, Diabetes, Arthritis, Heart Disease, MS, Fibromyalgia)
  • Acute illness recuperation
  • Exercise and fitness programs for weight loss, cardiovascular training and muscular conditioning/development
  • HydrotherapyRock Tape
  • Cryotherapy
  • Movement disorder therapies
  • High performance training
  • Occupational Health and Safety
  • Personal Fitness Training
  • Fitness and health related mental health and addiction programming

So, how does all this relate to how Registered Kinesiology fits into the current regulated healthcare model?

A Registered Kinesiologist is your healthcare expert on exercise. Although many other health care professions prescribe and monitor exercise and may even involve themselves in exercise programming, this is secondary to what their profession is primarily trained to do.  On the flip side, if your Registered Kinesiologist is providing manual therapy, or using modalities such as laser or ultrasound for a few examples, this is secondary to what they are primarily educated to do. Neither scenarios are wrong, or better or worse that the other. Getting the two to work together in order to get you moving better faster is key.

So how do we do this? How do we all fit into the regulated healthcare model in Ontario?  And, by all  – I mean not just the health professionals themselves, but YOU – the patient!

Stay tuned for Pahealth professionalsrt 2 of Registered Kinesiology and Regulated Healthcare in Ontario.

#kinesiology #regulated #ontario #registered #rehabilitation #sport #medicine #physiotherapy #chiropractor #manual #therapy #therapist #health #fitness #healthcare