Our Blog

Tuesday, May 27, 2014 - 12:12

What is pain and why does it happen?

Pain is a unpleasant sensory and emotional experience that occurs in response to damage, or threat of damage to the body.  For threat of damage, think of when you hold your hand under running water that starts to become too hot, you feel mild pain BEFORE you have actually burned your hand.  In this respect, we have pain because it is a useful protective mechanism that helps to warn us and prevent injury.

How does pain work?

Every sensation that we feel throughout our life comes from the brain's interpretation of electrical signals from our nervous system.  Tiny receptors in the skin send the brain information about touch, temperature, sight, smell, (etc.), through nerves that travel all the way from the fingers and toes up to the spinal cord in the back and from there up to the brain.  Contrary to poplular belief, there is no such thing as a "pain receptor".  Instead, there are receptors that pick up damage (or threat of damage) called Nociceptors.

These receptors send information through our nerves to the spinal cord, and up to the brain.  It is the brain itself that decides based upon all incoming information whether what is happening to the body should be felt as painful or not.

The decision of the brain to classify incoming informtion as painful or not painful is not black and white.  It is a very complex process that involves cross-talk between our memory centers, emotional centers, sensation centers, planning centers, etc. 

For example, if you're out running and sprain your ankle the brain will likely decide that it should be a painful experience because you've caused damage to your tissues.  If you were to get the same ankle sprain while running away from a bear, the brain will keep you in shock long enough to get you away from the bigger threat of the bear before it allows you to feel any pain in the ankle.  In each case, the injury is the same but the amount of pain you would feel in each scenario would be very different.

What is chronic pain?

In the short-term, pain helps tell you how much you can move your injured ankle without making the injury worse while it heals.  Normally, once the injury heals the pain should start to go away.

However, when the normal process goes awry the brain can decide that all incoming signals from your ankle should be painful long after the injury has healed.  When this pain persists for longer than 3 to 6 months it becomes classified as chronic.  At this point pain stops being thought of as a helpful protective mechanism.

How is chronic pain treated?

There are countless approaches for the treatment of chronic pain.  In most cases, effective management requires a combination of different treatments like those listed below:

  • Graded Motor Imagery
  • Mirror Therapy
  • Meditation and Mindfulness
  • Acupuncture
  • Manual hands-on therapy
  • Cranio-sacral therapy
  • Osteopathy
  • Massage
  • Exercise
  • Shockwave therapy
  • Graston
  • Ultrasound
  • TENS or IFC (electrical stimulation)
  • Etc.

Current evidence has led to a new approach towards chronic pain that involves a gradual, guided program to re-introduce the injured area to proper movement patterns step-by-step.  This is done to re-train the brain to stop interpreting all incoming signals as painful.

What to do if you have chronic pain?

If chronic pain is something that you have been suffering from and you are interested in trying some of the approaches mentioned above, please do not hesitate to contact our office and speak with reception staff or directly with one of our therapists.

Oliver McKay, M.Sc.(PT)

Registered Physiotherapist




Categorized in:
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 12:42


Rhonda Avery,one of our massage therapists is embarking on a journey to run for "Achilles Canada." She will be running the Bruce Trail in August 2014.  You can support her online or in the clinic.  Postings of how you can support her will be put up in the clinic in the near future. You can see an article that was posted online by the Barrie Advance on February 26,2014.  We will be posting her daily achievements in the clinic.  Watch our website for updates!!


Categorized in:
Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 11:02


What is shockwave therapy?
Shockwave therapy is a type of treatment that uses shockwaves, or acoustic pulses to initiate a healing response in the body. It is similar to ultrasound treatment in that it uses sound waves generated by a machine to go into the body's tissue to kickstart a physiological response. Shockwave therapy differs from ultrasound because it uses high intensity, acoustic pulse waves to penetrate into the tissues as opposed to ultrasound's gentle waves.

How does it work?
Shockwave therapy aims to create a controlled irritation in the body. This will increase circulation to the area and increase cellular metabolism therefore initiating the body's internal repair. In short, shockwave therapy activates the body's self healing mechanisms.

What conditions does it treat?
- Calcification tendinitis (mostly in the rotator cuff tendons)
- Lateral or medial epicondylitis (tennis or golfer's elbow)
- Plantar fasciitis
- Achilles tendinitis or achillodynia (pain from dorsal heel spurs)
- Shin splints
- Patellar tendinitis (Jumper's knee)
- Greater trochanteric pain syndrome (gluteal tendinitis)
- Can also be effective in trigger point therapy and other tendon irritations (ie. ITB friction syndrome)

What to expect in a Shockwave therapy session?
You and the therapist will sit down and the therapist will fully explain what you should feel and what to expect during, as well as after, treatment. The therapist will then address any questions or concerns you may have regarding the treatment. Most people describe the feeling of the Shockwave therapy as discomfort, but the treatment is generally tolerated well. There are generally 3-8 treatment sessions and a session itself lasts approximately 10-15 minutes, depending on the condition.

What does it cost?
At D. Freer & Associates we charge the cost of a regular physiotherapy session plus $40 (for use and maintenance of the Shockwave machine). Please check with your extended health insurance to see if Shockwave therapy is covered under your plan and if a doctor's referral is required. We provide an official receipt which can be submitted to your insurance for re-imbursement.

Does Shockwave therapy really work?
Provided you have a clear diagnosis, clinical studies suggest that this type of treatment has an 80 - 85% chance of improving your condition.

For further review of the evidence and research on Shockwave therapy, please visit the following link:

If you are interested in Shockwave therapy, you think you may be a candidate, or you have any questions regarding Shockwave therapy please feel free to contact our office and speak with our reception staff or directly with one of our therapists.

KC Fieldhouse,                                                                                                                                           Physiotherapist                                                                                                                                           B.PhysEd., MPT





Categorized in: Did You Know
Monday, April 21, 2014 - 16:37


DFreer and Associates are cheering on our Massage Therapist, Rhonda as she runs the Boston Marathon today!!!

Categorized in: Did You Know
Monday, March 17, 2014 - 11:02

What is Craniosacral Therapy?


Craniosacral therapy is a gentle hands-on technique that can be applied to the entire body but focuses specifically on releasing restrictions in the cranial bones and cranial membranes (Dura) surrounding the brain and spinal cord. This gentle touch; no more than the weight of a nickel, can detect subtle rhythms in the body (Craniosacral rhythm) created by the slight widening and narrowing of the cranial bones in response to changes in the cerebral spinal fluid. Essentially, the techniques used can help to detect abnormal rhythms and localize areas of concern within the body. Treatment with Craniosacral Therapy techniques is important because everyday our bodies absorb stress and strain. If we do not regularly release these tensions, our bodies can only endure so much before it will begin to tighten and potentially affect the brain and spinal cord.


What to Expect from a Session?


Treatment will take place lying fully clothed on a comfortable padded bed in a private and quiet atmosphere. The therapist will begin to monitor your Craniosacral rhythm by gently touching different parts of the body, however, the most emphasis is generally placed at the base of the skull. By quietly listening and feeling with their hands, the therapist can locate areas of weak cerebral spinal fluid flow or Dural movement which can lead to discovering the initial source of dysfunction in the body.  Gentle techniques are then used to help release these problem areas to improve the function of your central nervous system. This self-correction of the central nervous system will help to naturally eliminate pain and stress, enhancing your health and well-being. Each treatment can last anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour. Depending on the nature of your condition, the therapist may decide to use Craniosacral Therapy in isolation or integrate it with other therapies.


How was Craniosacral Therapy Developed?


Craniosacral Therapy is an osteopathic tool that was initially discovered by William Sutherland in 1899. In the past, it was believed that the sutures of the skull fuse to become one solid bone incapable of movement. Sutherland questioned the validity of this theory. He developed a helmet that could be altered to put pressure on certain parts of the skull; he then recorded the cranial bone shifts and resulting symptoms. His research that followed addressing how to reverse these symptoms is what eventually transpired into what is now known as Craniosacral Therapy. He describes this therapy as helping to facilitate the body’s natural healing mechanism in order to improve the operation of the central nervous system.

In the 1970’s, John Upledger also noticed the Craniosacral Rhythm causing movement of the spinal Dura when assisting with neuro-surgery.  Sparking interest, he then began to study Sutherland’s findings and expanded on them to create the techniques that all Craniosacral Therapists use to this day.


What conditions can Craniosacral Therapy help with?


Craniosacral Therapy is used to treat a full spectrum of pain, illness and dysfunction in all age groups, including:

·         Chronic neck and back pain

·         Migraines and headaches

·         Whiplash

·         Stress/Tension related disorders

·         Brain and spinal cord injuries

·         Infant and childhood disorders

·         Chronic fatigue

·         Fibromyalgia

·         TMJ syndrome (Jaw problems)

·         Scoliosis

·         Central Nervous system disorders

·         ADD/ADHD

·         Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

·         Orthopedic problems/ Sports injuries

·         Tinnitus (Ringing in the ears)

·         Vertigo (Dizziness)



Further Readings:


·         “Your Inner Physician and You” by John Upledger

·         “Craniosacral Therapy” by John Upledger & Jon Vredevoogd


Where can I find a therapist who preforms Craniosacral Therapy?


More and more physiotherapists across Canada are performing Craniosacral Therapy, with a couple residing right here at D. Freer & Associates.


Christina Tirone (Reg. PT)

 “I would love to meet with you and help guide you through a variety of Crainiosacral Therapy techniques in order to relieve the pain and dysfunction in your body and holistically improve your health and well-being.”

Categorized in:
Tuesday, January 21, 2014 - 11:24

All of us at Dfreer and Associates are sending you the best for 2014!

We are currently looking to add to our staff.  Please find below the positions we are wanting to fill.  

Personal trainer needed for Barrie clinic.  Candidate must be willing to work flexible hours. You will be working in conjunction with our therapists in support of clients treatment plans.  If you are looking to be part of an established and motivated clinic this could be the position for you.  Please email your resume to info@dfreer.com.

Pilates Instructor

We are looking for a candidate to offer pilates classes in our clinic in  Barrie. If you want to be part of an energetic, health oriented group please email your resume to info@dfreer.com.

We look forward to seeing all of you in the clinic very soon!



Categorized in: Clinic Updates
Tuesday, December 10, 2013 - 14:42

We want to welcome some new members to our clinic team:

  • Oliver to our physiotherapists;
  • Rhonda to our massage therapists;
  • April to our administration staff.


It is that time of year when we are all busy!  Please take time to enjoy those special moments!

Categorized in:
Wednesday, June 26, 2013 - 15:51

Look Better - Feel Better - Move Easier- Breathe Easier....

Postural Tips :

  • Avoid staying in one position too long
  • Avoid carrying heavy bags on one side of the body
  • Protect your back with good body mechanics
  • Wear supportive shoes and limit use of high heels
  • Walk with good posture, keep head erect
  • Always practice good posture when sitting, standing and moving
  • Make sure your computer workstation is ergonomically designed to help you maintain good posture while sitting .

The first step to improve posture is to learn the correct exercises for your body.  It is important to find out the reasons why good posture may be difficult for you to achieve.  For example, tight pectoral muscles that pull the shoulder forward will make it difficult for you to straighten your upper back.  Weakness in the upper back muscles or lower abdominal muscles, will make it difficult for you to sit or stand tall, especially for long periods of time.  Learning proper "core" strengthening exercises from a health professional , is a major key to improving posture.  It is wise to perform daily stretches to maintain flexibility and learn exercises that will target the correct postural muscles.


Physiotherapists are trained to instruct you in effective postural stretches and core strengthening exercises.  Despite the changes that occur naturally with aging , posture can be improved.  Good posture helps your body function at top speed and is worth the effort!  With practice , good posture will become second nature !

Categorized in: Rehab Info, Physical Fitness
Friday, June 14, 2013 - 11:19

No medicine matches the body's own ability to revitalize itself.



Research indicates that physical activity increases the blood flow, frees the body of toxins and stimulates the body's natural healing process.  Aim for 20-30 minutes of activity each day.  Swim , walk, garden, bike.  Focus on what you can do, not what you can't .  When recovering from an injury a combination of rest and activity will help facilitate your recovery.


Adequate sleep is very important, especially following injury.  Night time is when your body goes to work helping to repair damaged tissues.  Make sure your bed is giving you proper support.  Discuss the best sleeping postures and recommended mattress types with a physiotherapist.


Eat nutritious foods that will assist your body to heal.  Aim for 5-9 servings of fruit and vegetables a day.  Drinking water helps to flush the waste products from your body.  8 glasses of water a day is recommended.  Avoid foods or drinks such as caffeine, alcohol and tobacco that increase pain sensitivity and increase body toxins.


Posture plays a major role in the healing of muscles and joints following injury.  Improving your posture will decrease strain on your spine and ease the pain on your injured tissues.  Practice good posture when sitting and standing during work and play.  A physiotherapist will provide you with tips in good postural habits.


Bending and lifting properly will help reduce strain on your back .  Incorrect lifting, reaching and bending during everyday tasks can aggravate already injured areas.  It pays to take the extra time to perform a lift correctly.


Total fitness means you have a body that moves freely and muscles that have the strength required by your everyday activities.  Stretching and strengthening exercises should always be a part of your wellness and recovery plan .  Physiotherapists will teach you safe exercises appropriate for your condition .


your wellness and recovery following an injury or chronic disability ultimately rests in your hands .  Learn all you can about your condition.  Take an active role and seek professional help to learn ways to control your pain and reduce stress.


Healing takes time - be patient !


( this information is not intended to replace the advice of a health professional)


Categorized in: Rehab Info, Physical Fitness
Wednesday, April 17, 2013 - 13:34

Pole Walking can maximize your health and improve your mobility !

  • 25-46% more calories burned than regular walking
  • 90% of the body muscles are used
  • Increased Cardiovascular workout
  • Up to 26% reduced stress on Hips and Knees
  • Improves your posture and balance
  • Known benefits for Diabetes and High Blood Pressure
  • Suitable for any age and fitness level

Pole Walking can benefit:

  • People suffering from back pain and/or bad posture
  • People with joint problems ( ankle, knee, hip) or joint disease
  • People who are recovering from orthopedic surgery
  • People with mobility,stability and balance problems
  • People who want to lose weight
  • People with high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol issues
  • People with neck and shoulder tension

Group or Individual classes are available - please contact the Barrie office for details