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Homework counts!

Many of my clients are used to me telling them to do their homework. However, it’s more than just doing what your therapist tell you to do. We all know that we are supposed to do our exercises and it will help.  The truth of the matter is that we are working with our motor control system. Here is how it works:

Imagine you decide “I want _____ (ice cream, cookie, cake etc)”. That desire is rooted in your limbic system and is the “fill my needs” part of the brain.  The cerebral cortex of the brain is the strategist. It decides which route to take.  Then we get into the good stuff. The motor control centre coordinates the pattern of movement ie.  “do it this way”.  The message is sent to the spine which is the “do it” command.  The muscles are where the doing it action occurs.

When I am testing your muscle and it doesn’t work, I am getting the brain to fail. Because the brain learns from failure, if we don’t find a reason for the failure, the pattern remains. Testing the muscle lights up the Motor Control Centre and makes it available for learning. we can either do the same old thing (reinforce the failure) or give it something new (create a new neural pattern).  Giving you a corrective exercise that pairs the failing muscle with the compensating muscle (in the correct order) makes a greater impact because we are re-grooving the neuromuscular pattern.

How many repetitions does this take? There is some debate on the timing and I find it’s quite individual. A minimum of 700 good repetitions upwards to 3000 good repetitions.  What does a “good” repetition mean? We do not want to fatigue the muscle. This isn’t strength training. We need to get to the point where we feel the muscle activate but not tire it out. With proper form. And in the proper order.

The point is, if you do your homework diligently 3 x day, 15sec or 15 reps (activation portion of your homework) for a minimum of 2-3 weeks, you will reinforce the proper pattern.


Time to take a step back

It can be a challenge at times for me to always “practice what I preach”. What I mean by that is, we are all human! The key to what I teach though is to enable individuals to have the skills necessary to “flip” the negative emotion that is dragging them down. We can do that in various way and certainly it is going to be a different strategy from person to person. I am not immune to this process. There will always come a time where I have to do a flip.

Here’s how it happens for me. An event happens (either real life or latching on to a negative thought pattern that goes wildly out of control), then I literally can FEEL myself stepping from one emotion to the next DOWN the ladder of emotions (recall, we are all human, to live in bliss ALL the time is EXHAUSTING!). Then I wallow! Woe is me! Waaaa! A full on PITY PARTY and I am the STAR!! Then I get really annoyed with myself because it isn’t any fun to hang out in that space for very long.  My mood spreads to my kids because as you know Moods are Contagious then it goes from a party of one to a full on disaster. Ever host a party in high school and then the whole town seems to show up and goes out of control?  Ya, that!

And then I take a step back, take a few breaths, teach a dance class. I do SOMETHING, ANYTHING that boosts my mood even a little bit.

This time around I decided to check in with my kids (post dance class) and asked them this question.

“What do YOU need t0 feel less stressed?” And their answers were not at all what I expected they would be.

My son was the first to answer and this is what he said…

“Having a Dad”

“More family dinners”

“Weight training”

Let me point out here that my son is 10 years old. 10. And he wants to weight train? How cool is that? I wish there was a Bull Dog Gym for kids here in Victoria because I would love that for him. The personal trainer in me will come up with something though.

And here is what my daughter said…

“More family dinners”

“More family time on the weekends (with compromises from each of us in relation to what we do).


Do I have great kids or what? It was a clear reminder that despite my misgivings and flaws, my ups and my downs, that I am doing pretty OK by my kids. My stepping back this time and focusing on my children and what their needs are was what we needed as a family.  We had a great family meeting, we all feel better and I am back up that ladder of emotions (and my kids too for that matter).  My point here is that we all have points where things don’t go the way we want and we get get stressed out, angry, depressed – whatever emotion you tend to get addicted to but it doesn’t mean you have to STAY there. Here is a quick and easy way to make the step to feeling better.

1) Recognize where you are at right now

2) Honor your feelings – they are there, no point in avoiding them!

3) Do something. ANYTHING that gives you the HAPPY feeling. We aren’t talking skipping on clouds and jumping rainbows here. Just find something that makes you smile. Visit a chip truck (although not here on Vancouver Island!), turn on your fav song and ROCK IT OUT, walk out side and spend 5 min soaking in the sun. You will FEEL your energy and mood start to shift.

Once you feel better, even if just a little bit, you will be able to step back and take a different perspective on your situation.

It works!


Until next time,



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Managing a “Healing Crisis”

A healing crisis is when an individual that is going through some kind of therapy – be it physical or emotional comes a point where is a certain level of discomfort or pain that is associated with the healing process. As you peel back layers, new issues become exposed and it can be nerve wracking! In most cases, it goes away and you move on to the next layer. And not every healing process is painful, and not every layer will be met with a ‘healing crisis’.

Chronic pain and injury  is built over time and creates layers of ‘stuff’ that needs to cleared and moved through. I am not saying it’s easy, because it can be painful. It can make you want to quit the process. It can create anger and frustration.

So what do you do?

Take a step back and take a deep breath. Honor where your body is at in this process and have an honest discussion with your practitioner. Sometime we just need a little time and some compassion before we can move to the next phase of healing.

All the best in your healing journey,



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