Gastown is widely known as a destination for dining, drinking, and shopping. Perhaps less obvious is that it also offers healing for the body, mind, and soul.
Anyone who’s physically active—whether they’re a marathon runner, a cyclist, or a Grouse Grinder—has likely had the misfortune of getting hurt at one time or another. Most people know to put an ice pack or a bag of frozen peas on a sore spot.
But treating an injury properly can make all the difference for recovery, according to Lina Englund, a physiotherapist and Pilates instructor at Gastown Physio & Pilates. And she says a system called Game Ready Cryotherapy takes injury treatment to a whole new level.
“The first 24 to 48 hours are the most crucial with an acute injury to reduce swelling and bleeding, and that will decrease healing time,” Englund says in an interview at the bright Beatty Street clinic.
The standard treatment protocol involves RICE: rest, ice, compression, and elevation. If you sprained your ankle, you would rest your leg, apply ice as well as gentle pressure, and raise your foot, Englund explains.
“An ice pack is great if that’s all you have on hand,” she says.
However, the Game Ready Cryotherapy system combines the ice and compression aspects of care and does so systematically. “It decreases motor and sensory nerve conduction velocity, which reduces pain and inflammation.”
You wear a formfitting, wrap-around pad through which ice-cold water circulates. The pad’s size and shape depend on which area of the body is injured. The one for ankles wraps snugly all the way around the joint, like an oversize ski-boot lining. You can feel the water running through the pad, but it’s more comfortable than the sensation of something icy cold resting directly on your skin.
Every few seconds the pad fills with air, putting pressure on the joint: it feels a bit like the squeeze of the armband you wear when you have your blood pressure checked, though not quite as intense. Done this way, the application of cold and compression is almost relaxing, at the same time it’s said to be especially effective.
“We find it very beneficial,” Englund says. “Putting an ice pack on just doesn’t compare. The combination of ice and compressions, especially intermittent compressions, typically reduces pain and swelling faster than just throwing an ice pack on there.”
She has clients who do downhill mountain biking, play Ultimate, cycle to work, and run; Englund also sees people who are experiencing pain or discomfort as a result of sitting at a desk all day. Cryotherapy can be used following certain types of surgery to decrease swelling and speed healing and recovery, she says.
It’s not recommended for people who are hypersensitive to cold, or have circulatory “insufficiency”, or those with Raynaud’s syndrome.
Metta Healing, meanwhile, offers everything from massage and aromatherapy to acutonics (sound healing using special tuning forks) and phytobiophysics (which is described as vibrational therapy based on the healing properties of trees and flowers). The centre’s Brian Farlinger, a registered acupuncturist, is also actively involved in the Spiritual Emergence Service as one of its directors. The nondenominational, nonprofit charitable organization aims to help people experiencing any kind of deep spiritual crisis through phone, online, or group support.
“Spiritual emergence is an international movement,” Farlinger explains in an interview at the Water Street centre, noting that there are similar networks throughout the U.S. as well as in Australia and the U.K., among other places. “It’s based on the view that, when a person goes through some life challenge, you can see those challenges as an opportunity for growth on all levels—body, mind, and spirit. You grow spiritually or have the opportunity to grow as a result of those challenges.
“When you’re going through a spiritual emergency or crisis, there’s a feeling of hopelessness,” he adds. “On the other side there’s hope, there’s light. But when you’re going through it, it can be very hard to see.”
Farlinger emphasizes that being spiritual doesn’t necessarily mean believing in a higher power, and that SES’s services are available for free to anyone regardless of whether they identify as religious, atheist, or agnostic. Volunteers who work the SES phone line don’t offer counselling but might refer people going through a psychospiritual or transformational crisis to qualified psychotherapists in their area or to other helpful resources. Most importantly, they listen.
“This is an opportunity for people to share their stories in a confidential way to others who have been in a similar situation,” Farlinger says. “A big part of the healing process is to tell your story to someone who’s empathic, not judging you or diagnosing you or labelling you. It’s about compassionate openness.”
Farlinger says that being a part of SES is one way to give back to the community, which he says is a priority of Metta Healing. Also involved in SES is the centre’s Wendy Akune, who’s a registered holistic nutritionist.
“I feel it's very important to support people on their unique life journeys,” Farlinger says.