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Pinpoint and Stretch Your Piriformis

The Piriformis muscle is a tiny muscle located deep in the buttocks, underneath the gluteal muscles. When this muscle becomes tight, it causes pain in the buttock region a.k.a.“Piriformis Syndrome” and/or back pain. It can also refer pain down to the back of the leg similar to Sciatica.

In order to stretch this piriformis muscle, sit in a chair, keep your left foot planted, raise your right leg and rest the ankle on your left knee, then lower your chest to your calf.


seated piriformis stretch

Burrard Massage Therapy at Nursing Week and Mental Health Week 2015

We’d like to start off by saying a big thank you to everyone who participated in both Mental Health Week 2015 and Nursing Week 2015! We know exactly how valuable your contributions are to the health of our community, and we look forward to seeing and meeting you all again next year.

At Burrard Massage Therapy, we’re pleased to have been able to provide our services at no charge during this year’s Mental Health Week. More info on this can be found at this article published by Providence Health Care. We’re also proud to have been a part of Nursing Week 2015, proudly helping out with our massage therapy services.

At Burrard Massage Therapy, we’re proud to support all our local health workers.


Get the Scoop On Mental Health Week at PHC

Providence Health Care recently promoted Mental Health Week through their network of health care providers, and Burrard Massage Therapy was pleased to be a big part of this! With our staff on site to provide free massages, we were happy to play our part in contributing to a better state of both mental and physical health. Read PHC’s full article on mental health week here.

Stretching and Strengthening the Serratus Anterior Muscles

Today, we wanted to share a video with you about a region of the body that our patients often experience pain with. The Serratus Anterior muscles comprise a section along the sides of the body, located below our armpits over our rib cage. Any type of daily activities can aggravate the Serratus Anterior muscles, and to help strengthen them and keep them healthy, the following video will provide you with effective stretching techniques:


Note – this video is courtesy of Chris Fox – thanks Chris for this great resource! 

How to Stay Fit While You Are Pregnant




exercise during pregnancy














As a mom, you are focused on doing everything you can to have a healthy baby. Exercise is a good and healthy way for both you and your little one. Moderate Exercise can ease common discomfort like back pain, trouble with sleeping, gastro digestive and other unwanted problems.

Swimming is one of the best low-impact exercises on joints and will reduce edema around the ankle joint. Swimming also is a good cardiovascular workout. Yoga strengthens the core muscles and will balance and tighten muscles around your pelvic area and lower limbs. Research also shows that practicing yoga can result in a shorter, more comfortable labor. Find a prenatal yoga class around your neighborhood and give it a try. However, avoid hot or more vigorous Yoga that may compromise your and your baby’s health.

Weight training: Light strength training will keep you toned after delivery. Additionally, it makes it easier to get back in shape post-pregnancy. If you are used to going to the gym regularly and use weights, chances are you can continue as long as you go easy. Avoid heavy dead lifts or squats, or routines where you have to lie down flat on your back.  Walking whether on the treadmill or the trail can safely tone your body and improve your mental health. If you have decided to choose walking as you main activity, try to start gradually and increase your distance until you build a good stamina for your speed, time and distance. Low impact Aerobics are good for your cardiovascular system and it also will boost your healthy hormones and balances the  “feel good” brain chemicals. Find an aerobics class with a certified instructor that is suited for women with pregnancy.

Abdominal exercises for your abs can ease an aching back and will improve your posture through your pregnancy period. Two safe options are:

  • Kneeling Pelvic Tilt. On all fours with a flat back, tighten the abs and gently arch your back to the ceiling. Don’t let your belly sag down.
  • Standing Pelvic Tilt. Back up to a wall, with your feet three inches out. Tighten your stomach and buttocks and press your low back to touch the wall.

Please consult with professionals and find out the correct methods, and if this technique suits you.


  • Tailor stretches target the pelvic, hip and tight muscles in the core region and will help with lower back pain.
  •  Tailor sit. Sit with your knees bent and ankles crossed. Lean forward a little, keeping your back straight.
  • Tailor press. Sit with your knees bent and the bottoms of your feet together. Place your hands under your knees. Press the knees down against your hands and your hands up against the knees. Hold a few seconds and release.

Consult with professional to make sure you don’t have hyper mobile joints to avoid subluxation.


The benefits of kegels exercise is that you can practice them anytime and anywhere without interruption. Kegels will strengthen and improve a health tone for your pelvic floor muscles which will help hold up the uterus, bladder and bowels in place which helps with an easier delivery during labor. How to do this: Squeeze the pelvic muscles as if you are trying to stop urinating or stop passing gas. Hold for 5 seconds and relax. Repeat 10 times and try them 5 times a day.

Percussions: when you are pregnant changes in your body and weight can make it easier for you to become susceptible to injuries. Move slowly and avoid jerking, bouncing and high impact movements. You should also avoid quick movements or quick position changing that can  alter your balance and cause dizziness. Remember your centre of gravity changes when your belly grows bigger and becomes heavier. While you are pregnant your body temperature tends to become hotter. Avoid over heating by drinking lots of water and avoid exercise that causes you to sweat and overheat, especially during the first trimester which can be harmful to your baby’s health. (Stay out of saunas and hot tubs.)

Benefits of exercise: it will improve your mood, lift your spirits, release good hormones like endorphins and calming ones like dopamine and serotonin which may help to lower the risk of depression during pregnancy. Other benefits of exercising during pregnancy are during pregnancy are that it will reduce the risk of gestational diabetes, reduce hormones that change the body which can lead to high blood sugar levels. In addition exercise will ease aches and pains, keep you regular, and prepare your body for labor. Research shows that healthy pregnant women who exercise during pregnancy may have less risk of preterm delivery and  experience shorter labor,  are less likely to need pain relief, and recover from childbirth faster.

Make sure to drink lots of water during and after exercise and avoid dehydration. If your urine is a darker shade of yellow, it means you are not getting enough liquid.

Know When to Stop

If you have any of the following symptoms, stop exercising and call your doctor right away:

  • Contractions
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Calf pain or swelling
  • Less movement by the baby
  • Headache
  • Muscle weakness

Massage Therapy During Pregnancy

Sometimes an afterthought, massage therapy during pregnancy and help relax both you and your baby and ease the pregnancy process. Some Registered Massage Therapists have specific training in massage therapy for pregnant women.

If you are pregnant and would like us to customize a massage therapy regimen for you, contact us today!

Piriformis Stretch – Thread the Needle Stretch

We at Burrard Massage Therapy are committed to helping you stay healthy and prevent injury. We have a variety of tips to help you do so, as we not only provide unparalleled massage therapy but knowledge to help you maintain a healthy lifestyle. In the short video below, we’ll show you how to do a proper piriformis stretch, to ensure runners and athletes prevent injury. This stretch is colloquially referred to as the “Thread the Needle Stretch”, so follow along with the video, and as always, let us know if you have any questions on how we can help you maintain a healthy lifestyle!


Wall Hamstring Stretch

We at Burrard Massage Therapy are pleased to provide you with helpful stretching tips to help prepare you for exercise and help prevent injury. Here you will find a short video on how to stretch the hamstrings against a wall – a helpful stretch for runners and athletes. Remember, don’t push this stretch too hard or you could be doing more harm than good. If you have any questions about this stretch or if you’re interested in learning how we can help tailor a stretching and injury-prevention routine for you, give us a call today!


Upper Back Pain Between the Shoulder Blades

massage therapy for pain in the shoulder blades

The Anatomy of the shoulder blades in our upper body is a complex structure and they are known as peripheral joints that make them more susceptible to injuries, and since they are bilateral joints they share muscles between them to create a similar synchronized action like pulling or pushing. Because of the way the shoulder blades share action between each other in the upper body, they have attachments to our upper spinal vertebrae, thoracic and cervical spine. There are also some postural muscles which are in charge of holding the spine erect and other actions like rotation, flexion and extension of the upper back.

Even in the case of a sedentary lifestyle, hands are always involved in some kind of physical activity, creating strain on shoulders. You lift grocery bags, carry children, or rush to catch a bus or a train with your extended hand which may be pulled by an opposing force. Thus, most of the time, your hands along with shoulders are under pressure, leading to pain in shoulder blades. In today’s world of fast paced life, upper back pain can be the result of improper habits, which have their origin in modern lifestyles. Excessive stress which is an outcome of the modern lifestyle can lead to pain under the shoulder blades. Here are some causes of back and shoulder pain:

Wrong Posture: Simple causes like incorrect posture during sleeping, sitting, playing, working or standing can cause shoulder pain.
Injured Rotator Cuff: Rotator cuff muscles control and stabilize the motion of the shoulder. A torn rotator cuff or any injury to the rotator cuff can lead to upper back pain, especially while lifting the arm overhead.
Tendonitis: Tendonitis (sometimes, an outcome of chronic arthritis) can lead to shoulder pain. The inflamed tendons in the shoulder, which join the muscles to the bone, can cause upper back pain.
Muscle Cramps: Muscle cramps while exercising; or strains, pulls while busy in daily activities, can lead to severe pain in shoulder.

Excessive Stress: Excessive physical as well as psychological stress can lead to upper back pain.

Treatment Suggestions:

To prevent pain between the shoulder blades we have to find out what is causing pain in the region. Sometimes basic range of motion and stretching the shoulder blades and neck muscle will alleviate the pain if we keep up with self care routine like mentioned earlier.

Massage therapy has been used and suggested by physicians and professional therapists, and is and effective way to reduce pain. Massage Therapists are able to use techniques like joint mobilization and active and passive stretches to improve movement and blood flow, helping to alleviate pain..

Massage Therapists are trained to give specific exercises and stretches to prevent further pain and improve tissue health and joint integrity in the upper back and mid shoulder region.


Shem RMT

Pain in the Buttock

The Piriformis muscle is a tiny muscle located deep in the buttocks, underneath the gluteal muscles. When this muscle becomes tight, it causes butt pain a.k.a.“Piriformis Syndrome”.  A group of muscles (“Hip Rotator Cuff”) pinch our sciatic nerve, and it is a major cause of sciatica (leg pain, numbness, tingling, or weakness), hip pain, and buttock pain.

The Sciatic nerve runs all the way to the foot, as you can see in the below diagram:

sciatic nerve














To help alleviate such pain, the Pigeon Pose is a yoga technique and can be used for anyone with tight buttock. Simply find a comfortable position and sit yourself on the floor. Fold one leg in front of you (that is the leg you should be feeling the stretch in your gluteal muscles and ITB) and extend your other leg towards the back which also stretches your quad muscles and hip flexors. Using this technique basically helps to loosen up your hip rotator including your Piriformis and reduces the pressure on the sciatic nerve which is commonly located beneath the muscle.













How Can I Survive Long Office Hours WITHOUT Neck and Shoulder PAIN?

Sitting in front of a computer all day restricts your blood flow and results in muscle contraction and knots.  This can be prevented by following these easy steps:

 Posture – Lower your chair so you are looking up at your screen, not sitting like a turtle.  Keep your screen at least 30-50cm away from your eyes.

 Stretch – Every 2 hours or so, do these stretches. Try to hold for 20 seconds each:


1. Neck – tilt, Rotate your head right & left.  Bring chin to chest and hold, and then look up.


neck stretch for office workers









2. Arms and Back – clasp hands, push up and hold. Stand up, arms up, bend at waist to right & left.

arm and back stretch for office workers











3. Chest – put you hand behind your back on your hips, pull your arms back & up, hold.

pectoral stretch for office workers