Functional assessment and dynamic, informed treatment. It’s healthcare, for your muscles.

    Three Benefits of Massage Therapy

    Massage can be used as a powerful tool to help you take charge of your health and well-being. At Anatomica, we believe massage to be heath care for your muscles!


    There are many reasons for someone wanting to receive a massage, including soreness, injury or the desire for general relaxation. Here are some benefits you may see when including massage in your health care practice:

    1. Decreased Stress: Massage therapy has been proven to decrease cortisol and increase dopamine and serotonin.Cortisol is thought to be increased during times of stress, and also to prevent the release of substances in the body which cause inflammation. Having a massage will decrease your cortisol levels, while at the same time increasing your dopamine and serotonin. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter associated with the pleasure centers of the brain. It is responsible for feelings related to love, joy, pleasure, reward and motivation. Serotonin is also a neurotransmitter and helps to regulate mood, irritability, impulse, obsession and memory.
    1. Natural pain relief: Massage Therapy may be useful for reducing pain for everything from injuries, muscle strain and even PMS. Massage increases circulation to the treatment area, and also relaxes the tissues, which can decrease the tension of muscles and reduce painful spasms and contractions.
    1. Reduced Depression and Anxiety: A study done over five weeks tested the depression and anxiety levels of two groups – one receiving massage and the second not receiving massage. The group who did receive massage reported lower depression and anxiety scores at the end of the five week period.

    There are many more benefits for Massage Therapy! We offer many different types of Massage Therapy, including Deep Tissue, Hot Stone, Thai Yoga and Prenatal; give us a call and see what is best for your needs!



    Seated Calf Stretch

    The strong muscles of the calf can be quite tight, especially after prolonged standing or walking, and for many athletes whose sport of choice involves running or jumping.  To best stretch these muscles, grab a bolster or pillow and have a seat; start with both feet extended out in front of you with the pillow under your knees so that they’re slightly bent.  Flex your ankle back so that your toes are toward the ceiling.  Using your hand — or a belt if you can’t reach — pull back slowly on the arch or ball of your foot until a stretch is felt in the lower calf.  Hold until the stretch sensation diminishes.  Remove the pillow and repeat the stretch; this time the sensation of pull may travel all the way behind the knee.

    For best results, stretch one calf at a time and repeat the stretch two or three times per leg.  Be patient, as the calf muscles can take a while to relax.  Once the initial stretch sensation lessens, you can deepen the stretch by pulling back a little more on the ball of the foot.

    Work it! Exercises for Computer Users

    If you sit at a desk all day, chances are good that the muscles in the back of your neck and between your shoulder blades are a little achy by the end of your work day.  A lot of the time our inclination is to stretch sore, tired muscles,  but that can do more harm than good in this case. Those achy muscles in your back are the 90-pound weaklings of the shoulder girdle, griping about having to hold up your head against the force of gravity.  Stretching them will only make them weaker — they’re already barely hanging on! As your shoulders shrug up and in, and your head juts forward and down toward your laptop screen, the strong, silent muscles of the chest and anterior neck shorten and pull on the opposing, weaker back muscles.

    The fix: stretch the strong and strengthen the weak!  Try this routine a couple of times a week, doing each exercise in order and completing the full series 3 times.  Rest for 30 seconds to 1 minute between exercises.  Choose weights that are heavy enough that you can JUST finish each set of exercises but not so heavy that your form suffers.  Increase your weights when 12 reps become too easy.


    30 Superman extensions

    30 Airplane extensions

    30 second plank (on hands or forearms)

    12 skull crusher triceps extensions

    12 single-arm bent-over rows

    12 dumbbell reverse flys

    12 dumbbell lateral raises

    12 single-arm external shoulder rotations

    Going Paleo? Start Here

    Congratulations on taking the Whole Food Challenge! You’re on your way to better health through nutrition, fueling your body with the whole, unprocessed foods it was designed to eat!  Making a change to your eating habits always takes some effort, but just like anything else, also gets easier as you go. Within the first week, you’ll probably start to notice some of the benefits.  Your body will thank you, but it’s not called a ‘challenge’ for nothing.  A bit of advance planning can help make the transition go smoothly, so read on for what you need to get you started and keep you going!

    The Basics

    Remember to avoid all grains, legumes, dairy, sugars, sweeteners, processed meats and alcohol.  This includes (but is not limited to) wheat, rice, corn, barley, bulgur, rye, oats, spelt, quinoa, kamut, millet, peanuts, lentils, beans, peas, butter, cheese, milk, cream, all sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, artificial sweeteners and packaged deli meats.   If you have autoimmune or inflammatory illnesses (such as arthritis, Chrohn’s, psoriasis, eczema, asthma, or allergies) you may want to consider eliminating nightshade vegetables as well – eggplant, tomatoes, bell and hot peppers and white potatoes. Visit for a complete list of approved foods.

    This is a big undertaking, and you should be proud of yourself! Plan non-food rewards to keep yourself motivated! You may be surprised at how much money is in your wallet at the end of each week that you aren’t buying lunch and lattes every day; likely enough for a special outing, (may I suggest a  therapeutic massage?) to celebrate your accomplishments! Instead of dwelling on the things you can’t have, practice gratefulness and mindfulness to boost your appreciation of the delicious, nutritious foods you have to choose from.  Eat slowly, savour the natural flavours and textures, and share meals with friends and family!  Take pride in the choices and the meals you make: show off your best creations!


    Stock your Larder!

    Load up on produce.  Opt for more veggies than fruit, and organic when available.  A farm-share, CSA or weekly organic basket delivery can help save you time and money.  Farmer’s markets are a great way to buy organic for less, with the added bonus of supporting local growers directly.  If organic isn’t an option, check out this list of the Dirty Dozen fruits and vegetables that you may want to avoid. Tuck a couple bags of “emergency” frozen, organic veggies away for a quick snack or side dish for busy days.

    Introduce yourself to your local butcher. You’ll need meat, and lots of it.  Grass-fed beef, lamb, and wild game are excellent choices for their nutrient-dense meat and naturally healthy fats.  If grass-fed meat is not available, choose lean cuts to limit unhealthy fats. You might also find homemade sausages without fillers, and uncured bacon or sliced meats that are Paleo-friendly!  Buying larger roasts and whole cuts can be cheaper, or consider buying a larger volume farm-direct meat order that will come packaged and frozen for a lower cost per pound.  Your butcher will probably carry local eggs laid by healthy free-range pastured chickens too!

    Meet your fishmonger.  Aim for at least two meals a week that include shellfish or fatty wild fish like trout, salmon, char, herring, halibut, cod and mackerel.  Freeze or buy frozen fish to keep on hand. Fish makes for great portable protein, too: canned light tuna and salmon, herring, sardines & mackerel are awesome choices.

    Stock your shelves.  Buy healthy, cold-pressed (virgin) olive, coconut, avocado, and walnut oils.  Paleo staples  like coconut milk, soup stock, canned tomatoes & paste, mustard, vinegar, olives & sugar-free pickles, fermented sauerkraut & kimchee, and dried herbs and spices will make your meals more interesting. Check labels for hidden sugars, starches, flours, soy and corn products, and any mystery ingredients that you can’t pronounce.

    Deliver yourself from temptation.  This might seem like a no-brainer, but if the first things you see when you open your cupboard are grain-based crunchy snacks, sugary sweet-treats and packaged convenience foods, that’s what you’ll reach for when you’re hungry, angry, lonely or tired.  Move them out of sight and reach, or better yet, get rid of them completely! Take any unopened packages to a local shelter, and leave the rest for the birds and squirrels.

    Your Paleo Plate

    That’s ‘plate’, not glass. If you have teeth, you should be chewing your food, not drinking it.  Digestion starts in the mouth, where chewing releases salivary amylase to break down starches, and prepares the stomach by signalling the release of gastric acid to digest your meal.  Chewing also tells your brain how much you’ve eaten, working with your senses to help regulate satiation and predict satiety.  When calories are taken in liquid form, your body doesn’t register what it has just consumed.  Juicing removes the fibre from fruits and vegetables, and even with added protein powder,  juices are digested more quickly and are less satisfying than their whole-food counterparts.

    More veggies than a vegetarian. Fill about half of your plate with vegetables at every meal.  They’re loaded with fibre, vitamins and antioxidants  to support healthy digestion and immunity.   Veggies should be your main carbohydrate source, supplemented with a bit of fruit.   Paleo eating is naturally lower-carb than the Standard American Diet, but you should eat to meet your goals and lifestyle.    If you’re very active, underweight, pregnant or nursing, you’ll need more carbohydrates from fruit and starchy veggies like beets, carrots, yams, and squash.   If your goal is fat-loss, a lower-carb diet can be beneficial in boosting your fat-burning metabolism. You may want to include more fruit and starchy veggies at the beginning and taper down your intake as you adjust to the whole food diet, to help avoid cravings and carb-withdrawal.

    Don’t go bananas.  Regardless of how many carbs you may need, your fruit intake should not rival your veggie intake. Although loaded with nutrients, fruit contains the sugar fructose, which, in excess, can be inflammatory and damaging to the liver and kidneys.  Aim for no more 1-3 servings of fresh fruit per day.  Dried fruit is called ‘Nature‘s candy“ for a reason, and should be treated as such.  The sugars are concentrated and you’re more likely to overeat dried fruit because it’s so sweet (and shrunken)… when was the last time you ate 14 fresh apricots in one sitting?

    Eat your meat.  Our bodies need protein, and lots of it, to build and maintain healthy muscle and perform just about every function in your body.   Take a tip from pro trainers and double your protein intake.  Protein cannot be stored by the body to use for energy later,  so each meal should include a generous portion of meat, fish, or eggs to ensure you get enough.

    Stop fearing fat.  Fat has gotten a bad rap over the years, but the research behind the low-fat craze has been both misrepresented and  misunderstood by scientists and health professionals.   Fat is an essential nutrient, helping turn protein into usable amino acids for energy and tissue repair.  The lower your carbohydrate intake, the higher your fat intake should be, to ensure enough non-protein calories are eaten.  The good news is that not only will fat keep you full, the more fat you eat, the better your body becomes at burning it for fuel, promoting  fat loss while preserving lean tissue. Load up on avocado, grass-fed meats and wild fish, raw nuts, coconut milk, and healthy virgin olive, avocado, coconut and walnut oils to meet your daily needs.

     Keep it simple. Not every meal has to be a work of art or an experiment in food substitutions.  Whole foods need little more than a bit of seasoning to bring out their natural flavour. Try roasting, braising or grilling your meats and veggies in large batches; leftovers can be combined into soups, added to salads, or packed as lunch for the following day.   Stash some healthy snacks where you’ll face the most temptation: the break room at work, your car, or front and centre in your fridge and pantry.  Eat when you’re hungry, and stop when you’re full.  If you don’t make it difficult, it’s easy to get the hang of it!

    Good luck to you, and good health!

    Take The 30 Day Whole Food Challenge!


    You! Anyone who wants more energy, less body fat, more muscle, better sleep, and an improved mood! Get your friends, family, colleagues, gym buddy, and neighbours involved — they’ll thank you for it (and your body will too!)





    30 days of eating only delicious, nutritious, Paleo-approved whole foods.  This is not a diet, it’s a system reboot! You can eat as much as you want, with no calorie counting, weighing or measuring, just stick to the enourmous list of acceptable foods.


    Everywhere! At home, work, school, social events and even restaurants. There’s nowhere that you can’t eat Paleo!


    Optimize your health by eating the way our ancestors did, and eliminating foods that cause inflammation and contain little, if any, nutritional value. Most people will experience improved sleep, energy, and mood, lose body fat and gain muscle.  People who suffer from auto-immune and inflammatory illnesses, such as asthma, allergies,  irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s disease, eczema and psoriasis, often notice lessened symptoms. Diabetics (Type 2) often see lower, more stable blood sugar readings.  Everyone I have ever met who took the challenge felt better & healthier at the end!


    You’ll spend the next 30 days fueling your body with fresh meats, fish & seafood, vegetable, nuts and fruit! You’ll avoid all grains, legumes, dairy, sugars, sweeteners, processed meats and alcohol.  This includes (but may not be limited to) wheat, rice, corn, barley, bulgur, rye, oats, spelt, quinoa, kamut, millet, peanuts, lentils, beans, peas, butter, cheese, milk, yoghurt, cream, all sugar, honey, maple syrup, agave, all artificial sweeteners and packaged deli meats.  For a complete list of approved foods, (and answers to your ‘Can I Have…?’ questions), check out


    NOW! Don’t wait, or psych yourself out. Start now. It’s not hard to follow this plan for 30 days. It will be harder to quit eating this way when you’re done the challenge, once you realize how good you can feel, you’ll never want to go back!

    Standing Calf Stretch

    Tight calf muscles are prone to cramping: the dreaded “charlie horse” that wakes you up in the middle of the night or attacks as you move from sitting to standing.  The large muscles in the back of the lower leg are the soleus and gastrocnemius, both of which attach into the Achilles tendon and run vertically along the back of the lower leg. The soleus attaches to the lower leg bones, and the ‘gastrocs’ attach just above the knee on either side of the femur.  Because only one of these two muscles (collectively referred to as the Triceps Surae) passes the knee, to effectively stretch them both, you must stretch twice: with the knee bent to stretch the soleus, and with it flexed to stretch the gastrocs.

    Stand facing a wall, close enough that you can rest the ball of your foot against it while your heel stays on the ground.  Your opposite leg should be a step behind you for balance.  Place your hands against the wall and lean forward toward the wall, keeping your knee straight, until you feel a gentle stretch in the back of your leg.  Hold this position for about 30 seconds or until the stretch sensation lessens.  Slowly bend the knee by lowering your body a bit toward the ground, until a stretch is felt.  This time, the stretch sensation will be closer to the Achilles.  Hold until the sensation lessens, and then repeat on the opposite leg.

    Biceps Floss Stretch

    This stretch targets the biceps muscles of the upper arm that bend the elbow and flex the arm forward at the shoulder joint.  These strong muscles run alongside  nerves that stem from the neck and run into the arm, and when tight or swollen, they can restrict the nerves and cause pain, weakness, or pins and needles.   The biceps also play a strong role in posture; short biceps roll the shoulders forward and down, increasing strain on the triceps and upper back muscles.

    Stand with one arm against a wall, extending it back behind you at shoulder height, fingers spread wide.  Maintaining contact with the your hand and the wall, turn your body away until a gentle stretch is felt along the upper arm or inside surface of the elbow.  Slowly side-bend your neck away from the side you’re stretching to increase the stretch further.  Hold for 30 seconds, then slowly relax your neck back to neutral and release your arm. Repeat on the opposite side.

    Banded Tricep & Shoulder Stretch

    This is an advanced mobility technique that uses an exercise band to increase the intensity of the triceps stretch, and helps release restrictions in the shoulder capsule – a collection of fibrous ligaments, tendons and connective tissues that form the shoulder joint.  This stretch is excellent to increase or regain range of motion following a shoulder injury, and can help combat the internal (forward) rotation of the shoulders that often accompanies a rounded upper back (hyperkyphotic) posture.

    To stretch the right side: attach one end of a heavyweight exercise band to the door knob of a closed door.  Take the other end in your right hand, wrapping the band around your hand/wrist as need to avoid slipping and increase the resistance.  Turn your body 180′ COUNTER-clockwise, fully bending your elbow so that it points toward the ceiling.  Your wrist should be behind your right ear and your back  facing the door, as if you were dragging it behind you.    To increase the stretch, take a lunge step forward, allowing the band to pull your arm back a little bit.  Keep your elbow pointed straight to the ceiling and tucked as close to your head as possible. To increase the stretch in the shoulder capsule, gently turn your palm up toward the ceiling.  Hold for 1 minute before releasing.

    To stretch the left side: Wrap the free end of the band around your left hand/wrist, turn your body 180′  CLOCKWISE and repeat as above.

    Advanced Lunging Hip Stretch

    Chronic tension in the muscles at the front and sides of the hips can contribute to low back pain and poor posture.  This stretch is particularly helpful for hip flexor contracture and ITB syndrome when combined with glute strengthening exercises.  Changing toe positions of the back foot helps target different muscle fibers for a more complete stretch!

    Stand in front of a chair, take a small step back with the leg you want to stretch, then place the opposite foot onto the chair so that you are standing in a lunge position with the forward leg elevated.  The toes of both feet should be facing forward.  Press your hips forward and tuck your tailbone under, increasing the stretch felt in the front of the hip of the back leg.  Hold for thirty seconds, then return to standing.

    Repeat the stretch again, this time with the toes of the back foot pointed out away from your midline. The stretch should be felt along the bikini line and into the inner thigh.  After 30 seconds, return to standing again and reposition the toes of the back foot pointing in toward your midline . Being careful not to lock the knee, once again place the opposite foot on the chair in front of you and press your hips forward, tucking the tailbone.  This time the stretch will be felt along the front and outside of the hip.  Release after 30 seconds and repeat all three stages on the opposite hip.

    Forearm Flexor Stretch

    If you spend long hours at a computer, this stretch is for you! The muscles in the forearm cross the wrist via the carpal tunnel; when tight, they can cause pain in the wrist and hand.  Stretch them by holding your arm out in front of you, palm facing up.  Keeping your elbow straight, bend your wrist back so that your fingers point toward the floor.  Use your other hand to increase the stretch by pulling back on your palm.  Hold the stretch for at 30 seconds or until a release is felt, then repeat on the other side.

    Alycia Duff-Bergeron, Founder and Clinic Director

    When I opened Anatomica in 2013 as my private practice, I was committed to offering an unsurpassed level of service and care to every client.  Today I have the pleasure of working with a skillful team of therapists and administrative staff that are equally committed to raising the bar in their fields and providing exceptional treatment. Our therapists are dedicated, professional, and focused on your health. Anatomica proudly offers some of the most effective manual therapy and functional assessment techniques, performed by therapists with several years of practical experience, all of whom demonstrate a considerable effort to further their educations and understanding of current treatment protocols. We invite you to visit Anatomica to experience effective, personalized healthcare in an inclusive space, staffed by practitioners that are setting a new standard of professionalism. We are Anatomica. Welcome.