“Did You Know?”

Neck Pain - 3

Experiencing Neck Pain? You are not alone

Neck pain is a common ailment, affecting roughly 11% of Canadians every year. Two out of every 20 people affected with neck pain will find the pain disabling, preventing them from being able to carry out all of the necessary tasks of their daily lives. Some studies have found that women are more often affected by neck pain than men, and neck pain typically peaks between the ages of 35 and 49 and then declines. All that being said however, neck pain is something that can affect anyone, at any age.

Common causes of neck pain include working long hours on a computer, studying, reading or writing with your head down. Poor posture, whiplash, or even grinding your teeth in bed can all be common causes of neck pain. Neck pain can be cause by different structures of the body, commonly the joints or muscles in the neck are restricted and tight, leading to neck pain and commonly headaches as well.

The good news is there are things you can do to help prevent and treat your neck pain. Remember pain is a signal from your body telling you something is not right and you need to do something about it. Looking at pain this way makes it seem like less of a negative occurrence and empowers you to find a way to solve the problem. Your body is always giving you signals telling you if it likes how you are treating it (when you feel good, have lots of energy, are sleeping well) or if it does not like how you have been treating it (pain, headaches, fatigue, stress).

When your body keeps giving you the signal of neck pain here are a few things you can do to help:

Watch your posture. As we talked about last week slouching forward puts a lot of extra strain on the muscles of the neck and can cause pain and headaches. Make sure to sit tall, roll your shoulders back and down, and imagine there is a string attached to the crown of your head pulling you upwards.

Don’t let technology be a pain in the neck. When you are on your cell phone or tablet, bring the phone up towards you rather than flexing your head forward to look down at it. On the laptop, use books or pillows to elevate the laptop so that when you are comfortably looking straight ahead you are looking at the top line of the screen.

Take stretch breaks. After sitting for 30 minutes be sure to take a break to stretch. One good stretch is to sit on the edge of your chair, have your feet firmly planted on the floor, extend your arms behind you with your palms facing upwards, and gently look up towards the ceiling. Another good stretch is to gently bend your head to the side brining the left ear toward your left shoulder, so that you feel a gentle stretch in the right side of your neck, hold for 15 to 30 seconds and repeat on the other side.

A few things to avoid. Don’t use pillows that don’t have any support for the neck and try not to fall asleep on the couch or in a chair. Don’t cradle the phone between your neck and shoulder, using a headset or speaker phone can prevent a lot of aches and pains.

If your neck pain is persistent and causing your significant discomfort be sure to get assessed by a regulated health care professional. Don’t let the little aches and pains linger for too long, the sooner you can properly address and treat the underlying cause of your neck pain, the better.

-Dr. Marilyn


 

Neck Pain - it's a monster ad #2

Did you Know?

The average adult in Canada spends 50-70% of their day sitting. Whether it’s in our cars, at our desks or at home, we sit more than we don’t and this can wreak havoc on your health and your neck!

A common seated posture involves having our shoulders rounded forward with the head drooping forward as well. For every inch that your head moves forward, it gains 10 pounds in weight, as far as the muscles in your neck and upper back are concerned. This is because the muscles have to work harder to prevent your chin from falling onto your chest. This common posture often leads to upper cross syndrome, a muscle imbalance problem. The muscles at the base of your skull (the suboccipital muscles) and trapezius muscles along the base of neck, as well as your pectoral (chest) muscles become tight. The muscles in the front of your neck (deep neck flexors) and the rhomboid muscles (the muscles used to pull your shoulder blades together) become weak.

If this posture is maintained over the long term issues can arise such as headaches (from excess strain on the neck and shoulder muscles and subsequent pressure on the suboccipital nerves), an increased thoracic kyphosis (aka. A hunch back posture) and even shoulder pain.

So what can you do about all this? Practice better posture!

To really improve your posture it takes time and consistency. Try using some sort of cue to help you remember to check and correct your posture. For example, every time you see the color red, think ‘how is my posture and do I need to correct it’?

When correcting your posture remember to roll the shoulders back and down and imagine a string attached to the crown of your head that is pulling you upwards.

When sitting, try to vary your posture every 15 minutes. Sitting in any one position for too long can put extra strain on your spine, muscles and joints.  Aim to get up every 30 minutes, even just for a quick stretch of standing up, reaching up to the sky, and then sitting back down.

When working on a laptop or smart phone, bring the device to you rather than hunching forward towards it.

Stretching the tight muscles and strengthening the weak ones will also help correct upper cross syndrome. If you are unsure of proper stretches and strengthening exercises seek advice from a regulated health care professional, a detailed training program will be made based upon your individual needs.

-Dr. Marilyn


did you know headaches

Did you know?

Your headaches may actually be stemming from a problem in your neck. Headaches can be caused by restricted joints and tight muscles in the neck.

Headaches are a common affliction, affecting roughly 47% of adults. There are many different types of headaches and it would take a long time to go over all of them, so we will limit this article to cover the 3 most common types seen in a chiropractor’s office, which are tension, cervicogenic, and migraine headaches.

Tension headaches are the most common form of headache. They are often described as a band of pressure around the head, and they can last anywhere from a few hours to a week. General stress, muscle tightness, lack of sleep and TMJ syndrome are a few common causes of tension type headaches.

Cervicogenic headaches, as the name implies, come from irritation of the cervical spine. Frequently, this type of headache is cause by tight suboccipital muscles, which are the muscles at the base of the skull, or restricted joints in the cervical spine. The pain tends to be felt in the neck and base of the skull, sometimes radiating into the forehead, around the eyes, ears and temples. This type of headache is often aggravated by movements of the neck and head, or sustained awkward head movements (such as from painting the ceiling or washing the floor).

A third common type of headache that can be helped by chiropractic care are migraine headaches. Migraines can be caused by many different factors, such as changes in hormone levels, rapid changes in blood sugar, certain foods (such as coffee, red wine, preservatives like MSG), or a migraine may develop after a prolonged tension headache. The pain from this type of headache is usually described as pulsatile or throbbing, commonly is felt in the forehead/temporal or ocular area (around the eye).

Chiropractic can help with each of these types of headaches by assessing joint motion and identifying any areas that are restricted, assessing for any areas of increased tension in the muscles, as well as identifying any weak muscles that may be contributing to headaches.

A few tips to help reduce or manage your headaches:

Exercise – exercise helps to reduce stress, relax muscles and it releases beta-endorphines, which are your body’s natural pain relievers! Not only has regular exercise been shown to help with headaches, it is good for your overall health and well-being too. Just 20 minutes a day of physical activity will get you the recommended 150 minutes per week which is recommended for good health.

Stay Hydrated – dehydration can be a common trigger of tension and migraine headaches. Aim to drink 6-8 cups of water per day. Everyone’s water needs vary slightly, and if it’s warm outside or you have been working up a sweat be sure to drink a bit more water. There is some debate if coffee and tea count towards your water intake, for the most part they do count. The problem comes in to play if all you are drinking is coffee, or tea, or worse, pop. The train of thought is that the caffeine has a diuretic effect and actually dehydrates you, however this is only a problem if you are drinking a lot of caffeinated beverages close together in time. (That being said monitoring caffeine intake is a good idea in general, since too much of it can trigger migraines in some people).

Watch you Posture – slouching causes increased stress on the neck and middle back which can lead to headaches. Be sure to sit straight with your shoulders rolled back and down. There will be more posture advice soon in future articles!

If you are having trouble identifying what triggers your headaches, try keeping a headache diary. Notice what you ate, drank and did before your headache began.

If you notice any changes in intensity, frequency or duration of your usual headaches, of if your headaches begin to worry you, consult a health care provider.

-Dr. Marilyn


 

Click here to find out if it’s okay to crack your knuckles

 


 

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Building a strong core for a better back

Your core is a group of muscles including the abdominal, back and hip muscles. These muscles all work together to stabilize your spine, pelvis and shoulder girdle. Having a strong core enables us to stand upright and stabilize the spine while we bend and move. Developing a strong core is a component of “functional fitness”, which is fitness that is essential to both sport specific activities and activities of daily living.
Core strength sometimes get confused with abdominal strengthening alone. Abdominal strength is only part of the equation. Unbalanced core muscles can actually lead to back pain. Developing core fitness is something that takes time, and is part of a well-rounded fitness routine including exercises for the abdominals, back muscles and gluteal muscles.
The following are a few simple exercises to get you started with core strengthening.
Before starting these exercises it is always advisable to consult with a health care provider to ensure they are safe for your specific needs. If you feel any pain or discomfort while performing these exercises, immediately after or with 72 hours of performing these exercises, please stop performing these exercises and consult with your doctor.
Abdominal Brace
•Preform in varying positions: sitting, standing, lying down
•Brace your abdomen by imaging someone is about to punch you in the stomach.
Your reaction would be to “brace” your core
Different from “sucking it in”
•Breathe normal

Kegel Exercise
• Muscles that stop/start the flow of urine
• Hold the contraction for five seconds, and then relax for five seconds.
• Try it four or five times in a row.
• Work up to keeping the muscles contracted for 10 seconds at a time, relaxing for 10 seconds between contractions.

Arm/Leg Raise (Dead Bug)
Starting
• Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and arms raised straight up in front of you
Move
• Lift one knee up toward 90°and extend the opposite arm over your head to the floor
• Keep the rest of your body stable; hold for 2-3 seconds
• Return to starting position and switch sides
Reps
• Repeat 6-8 times, work up to 3 sets, rest for 30-60 in-between

Arm extension
• On all fours, brace your Abdomen to maintain a neutral spine
• Extend your arm so that it is parallel to the floor
• Hold for 6-8 seconds
• Return to start position and repeat on other side. Perform 5-10 reps on eachside

Leg extension
• Same position as above, except extend Leg at the hip this time.
• Be careful not to over extend leg or back
• 5-10 reps on each side

 


 

Associate Chiropractic_SittingStay Fit, Sit Less

The average adult in Canada spends 50-70% of their day sitting. Whether it’s in our cars, at our desks or at home, we sit more than we don’t and this can wreak havoc on your health! Strong evidence has been found showing the negative effects of too much sitting. In short, research has found the more time you spend sitting, the more likely you are to have health issues.
One study found that women who sat for more than 7 hours per day had a 47% higher risk of depression then those who sat for only 4 hours per day. This study also found that women who didn’t engage in any physical activity had a 99% higher risk of developing depression, compared to women who were active for at least some portion of the day.
To some extent, we can’t avoid a certain amount of sitting during the day. If you have a sedentary job, your job still has to be done. If you have to drive to work, it’s not an option for everyone to swap out a drive for a bike ride or walk. However, there are things we can do to help counteract some of the negative effects of chronic sitting.
And fortunately, at least part of the solution is pretty simple: Move More. Move in any ways you can, in small (or big) doses, on a regular basis. We can’t all ditch our desk jobs, but we can make more movement a priority.
One study found that a simple 5 minute walk, for every hour spent sitting, can help significantly reduce the risk of heart disease associated with chronic sitting. Even something as simple as just standing up, ideally every 15 minutes, can help activate the muscles in your legs and get the blood flowing.
Other things you can do include:
• Getting the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week during your leisure time. (150 minutes is only 1.5% of your week, it’s an attainable goal to get 150 active minutes per week.)
• Take the stairs
• Park farther away
• Get off the bus a stop early
• Incorporate a mini-stretch and strength routine to do at your desk every hour.
• Get creative, there are lots of ways you can get a little bit more movement into your daily routine!

 


 

Associate Chiropractic_High Heels

Putting Your Best Foot Forward for Back Health

When wearing high heels it pushes the center of mass of the body forward, and throws the hips and spine out of their normal neutral positions. This puts excess strain through the lower back, knees and hips. This forward center of mass also puts more pressure on the forefoot, and the higher the heel, the more pressure on the feet and back.
Ideally, we would wear flat shoes with good arch support all the time, however there are times when you’ve just gotta wear heels! Here are some tips to help make those times as painless as possible.
• When shopping for shoes, whether it be heels, sneakers or other footwear, it is best to go in the afternoon or evening when your feet have accumulated fluid throughout the day, this will ensure you don’t pick a shoe that feels too tight by the end of the day.
• It’s not uncommon to be wearing the wrong size shoe, so be sure to measure what shoe size you really are. Always do this standing up, as your foot expands when you are weight bearing.
• Try keeping your heel height to no more than 2 inches. As heel height increases, so does the pressure on your feet, knees, hips and lower back; the lower the heel the better. And always make sure you pick a heel height you can walk gracefully in, if you aren’t able to walk comfortably you are more likely to trip and injure yourself.
• Opt for a wedge heel instead of a stiletto, the wedge offers more support and stability.
• The fabric of the shoe can make a big difference too. Try to go for shoes that are leather or nylon mesh, these allow for more breathability and flexibility for the feet.
• Avoid the “break in period” myth. A shoe should fit comfortably from day one, if you need to break it in, it isn’t fitting right. (Yes, with some shoes that are nylon mesh or leather they will stretch over time, and likely that will make them even more comfortable, but they shouldn’t hurt to wear right from the beginning.)
• Place a cushion under the ball of your foot to help reduce some of the pressure on the forefoot.
• When you get a chance, take your shoes off! If you are sitting for a little while, slip your shoes off and wiggle and stretch your toes and feet.


 

Back Pain is a Monster_Kid Backpack

Did You Know?
Nearly 40% of children report back pain at one point or another and many of them attribute this pain to backpack use. You can help by ensuring the backpack weighs no more than 10-15% of your child’s body weight. Read on for more about backpack safety…
Improper use of backpacks can lead to back ache, numbness and even headaches. And it’s not just school aged children that carry backpacks, many adults use them too and are just as likely to develop back pain from them. The good news is that there are a lot of things you can do to help decrease the chance of developing pain from whichever type of bag you carry.
The following are some tips to help you avoid a backpack related injury. There tips are not only useful for backpacks, they also apply to the use of purses, briefcases, luggage, or anything else you use to carry your belongings.
Buying the Right Bag
Whichever type of bag you are buying, use these tips to help pick a good one:
• When purchasing a bag with shoulder straps, make sure they are thick and well padded. This will help distribute the weight more evenly.
• Shoulder straps should be adjustable so that they can be fitted to your body.
• Opt of lighter weight fabrics, like canvas or cotton, rather than leather which tends to be heavier.
• Get a bag with multiple pockets. This will help distribute the weight more evenly within the bag. It also gives you more places to put things so that you don’t have to twist, bend and fidget as much to find what you are looking for.
• Purchase a backpack or bag that is proportionate to your body size. One size does not fit all when it comes to backpacks and bags.
• Purchase bags that are small to medium in size to help prevent putting too much weight in it. The bigger the bag the more likely you are to over stuff it.
• When buying luggage, look for bags that have wheels. This will save your back when you have to walk with it for any distance.
The Contents – Pack it right
When packing your bag keep these back-friendly tips in mind:
• Weigh your bag. Once the bag is loaded and ready to go, weigh it. It should not weigh more than 5-10% of a child’s body weight or 10-15% of an adult’s body weight.
• When packing the bag, put the heaviest items closest to the body and/or at the bottom of the bag.
• Try to minimize bringing heavy books back and forth to school and home whenever possible.
• It is better to pack your items into several bags, rather than overstuff one.

Wearing the Bag
Keep these tips in mind for carrying your bag:
• If wearing a purse or one shoulder bag, be sure to alternate which shoulder it is worn on. Also, if possible, lift the strap over your head and wear it on the opposite shoulder. Wearing or holding a purse or bag on one side can cause you to bend and lean one way more than the other. This can throw off the alignment of the spine.
• To put on a backpack safely, place it on a table or chair, bend at the knees and lift with the legs while putting one shoulder strap on at a time.
• Wear backpacks with both shoulder straps. If the book bag has shoulder and hip buckles, use them, especially if the back pack is heavy. This will help redistribute some of the weight of the bag onto your pelvis.
• When wearing a backpack position it so that it is resting between the shoulders and waist. It should not be sagging more than 4 inches below the waist line and should not rise above the shoulders.
• If you notice you or your child is hunched forward and/or has rounded shoulders while wearing the backpack, these are signs that it is too heavy. Try to lighten the load.
If you follow all these tips you will greatly reduce your risk of developing pain related to the bags you are carrying around. If you do experience any pain or discomfort however, consult your chiropractor. Whether it’s offering suggestions about the bags you are carrying or treatment for your body to be at its best, we are here to help.


 

Associate Chiropractic_Sleeping on Stomach

Sleep Well

A good night’s sleep is essential to good health, but it is hard to get a good sleep if you don’t have good sleep posture. The following are a few things to keep in mind to help ensure a good, healthy night’s sleep.

Find the right mattress:

Finding the right mattress can be a challenge. What is comfortable for one person, may cause many uncomfortable, restless nights for someone else. Ideally, your mattress should be firm enough to support the natural curves of the spine, and flexible enough to adapt to your body’s individual shape. If you share a bed it can be hard to find one mattress that is right for both people, but fortunately now there are many mattresses on the market that offer dual support, one side can be firmer or softer than the other so both people get the best support (and sleep) possible.

 

 

Invest in a good Pillow:

A good pillow will support the natural space between your shoulder and head, if you are lying on your side. If you are lying on your back, it will support the natural C-curve of the neck. Your head should not be propped up or stretching to reach the pillow. Imagine good standing posture, this is how your body should be supported by your pillow and mattress when you are lying down.

Don’t Sleep on your Stomach:

Notice there were no tips about a good pillow for sleeping on your stomach? That’s because it is the worst position you can sleep in. It puts a lot of extra stress through your neck and lower back, avoid this position. Need help trying to break the habit? Wear pajamas with a pocket and put a tennis ball in one of the front pockets, it will be uncomfortable to lay on it and prompt you to roll over should you try to sleep on your belly.

Lower Back Pain?

If you suffer with lower back pain, try putting a small pillow between your legs while sleeping on your side. This will help to maintain optimal alignment of the hips and lower back while you are sleeping. Even if you move around a lot in your sleep and are likely to kick the pillow out of the way during the night, having it there for at least a little while will be helpful.

 

Give these tips a try and enjoy a good night’s sleep, without a visit from the back pain monster!


 

Associate Chiropractic_Wallet

Is your wallet a pain in the back?

Back pain truly is a monster, it can strike at any time and take you out of your normal routine for days or weeks. Sometimes the monster seems to come on unprovoked, other times we can pin point exactly what we did to bring on that pesky little monster. Either way, it’s not fun! But have you ever realized something as ordinary as your wallet could be causing repeated attacks of the back pain monster? This weeks tip is short and sweet, but this small change can have a big impact!

Sitting with your wallet in your back pocket is like walking around with a pebble in your shoe. You may not notice it at first, but after a while it becomes irritating and after long enough it will start to hurt! When you sit on your wallet it puts extra pressure on that side of the glutes, throws you pelvis out of alignment and puts excess strain on your lower back. You may not feel the effect right away, but over the years this can lead to an imbalance and be a big factor causing repeated episodes of lower back pain, as well as sciatica (from the pressure of the wallet putting pressure on the sciatic nerve in the area of the glutes).

Your back will thank you if you start carrying your wallet in your front pocket rather than the back. Experts even say that it is safer from theft to carry your wallet in the front, so it’s a win-win all around!

 


 

Associate Chiropractic_Slouching Pain

Sitting Pretty and Standing Tall

 

Good posture not only helps you look better, it helps you feel better too. The benefits of good posture range from improved circulation and breathing easier, to less strain and pressure on your muscles and joints.

The key to good posture is maintaining the natural curves of the spine (see picture below). When the spine is not in its natural position it puts extra pressure on the muscles, ligaments and joints; which over time can lead to degenerative changes, and aches and pains.

 

A great way to assess your posture is to grab a friend and do this quick posture assessment on each other.

 

 

  1. Look at each other front on. Is one ear higher than the other? Is one shoulder higher than the other? Look at their belt line, is one hip higher than the other?
  2. Look at each other from the side. Does the head slump forward so that the ears are coming in front of the shoulders? Are their shoulders rounding forward? Is the curve of the lower back increased causing the belly to bulge forward?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, these are signs your posture is out of optimal alignment and you would benefit from working to improve it.

 

Tips to Improve your Posture

To really improve your posture it takes time and consistency. Try using some sort of cue to help you remember to check and correct your posture. For example, every time you see the color red, think ‘how is my posture and do I need to correct it’?

When standing try to stand like the picture above: shoulders back, slight curve in the neck and lower back, shoulder and hips level, core muscles engaged.

When sitting, try to vary your posture every 15 minutes. Sitting in any one position for too long can put extra strain on your spine, muscles and joints. As well, aim to get up every 30 minutes, even just for a quick stretch of standing up, reaching up to the sky, and then sitting back down.

When working on a laptop or smart phone, bring the device to you rather than hunching forward towards it.

If you use a backpack, use both straps, letting it sit on one shoulder will cause you to lean one way or the other and put extra strain on your spine.

When using a purse of briefcase, opt for one with a long enough strap that you can sling it over one shoulder and have it rest on the opposite hip. This will minimize the strain on your shoulders and spine.

Least, but not least, working on your core stability will be a big help in maintaining good posture.


 

Plant and Rake without the Ache

Gardening injuries are a common cause of spring and summer aches and pains. All that bending, kneeling, raking, and lifting can create repetitive strain injuries to the elbows, arms, shoulders, knees, hips and back. The good news is that there are things you can do to help prevent these types of injuries.

Follow these simple tips to stay healthy while working in the garden and yard this spring!

1. Warm up and Cool Down. Treat gardening like you would any sport or workout. Take the time to warm up your muscles and joints before heading out with some dynamic stretches like arm circles and leg swings. And when you are done for the day, take the time to do some static stretches to help prevent muscle injuries. Be sure to stretch your arms, wrists, chest, back, gluts, quads and hamstrings. It sounds like a lot, but you can put together a quick little stretching routine in no time! Here are some example of stretches to incorporate into your routine:

For Your Sides

  1. Extend your right arm over your head.
  2. Bend toward the left from the waist.
  3. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat on the other side.

For Your Thighs

  1. Steady yourself against a tree, wall or railing.
  2. Bend your right knee and grasp the ankle with your left hand.
  3. Hold for 15 seconds and repeat with your left knee.

For Your Back

  1. In a seated position, bend forward from the hips, keeping your head down.
  2. Touch your fingers to the ground.

For Your Wrists

  1. Hold one arm out in front of you, palm down. Bend your wrist until the fingers point to the ground. Use your opposite hand to hold this position.
  2. Hold one arm in front of you and place your palm in the “stop” position. Use your opposite hand to hold this position.
  3. Place your hands in “prayer” position, and press your palms together.

For Your Arms & Shoulders

  1. Let your arms hang loosely at your sides; rotate your shoulders back and forth.
  2. Hug yourself snugly and slowly rotate at the waist to the left and the right.

 

 2. Stay hydrated. Keep a bottle of water near you at all times and be sure to take a water break at least once an hour. Our bodies are 70% water; some of that water helps to keep our joints lubricated. When you are dehydrated the body can’t do all of its essential functions optimally, this will leave you feeling tired and make you more susceptible to injury.

3. Use the right tools. Select tools that are a comfortable weight and size for you. Before buying gardening tools hold them and try the movements you’ll be doing with them. Make sure the handles are the right size and comfortable for you to grip. Consider investing in a light-weight wheelbarrow if it is something you use a lot. Use a cushion to put under your knees while kneeling. Opt to use the hose rather than carrying around a large, heavy watering can. Use tools that are light weight and have long handles to minimize bending.

4. Use the right moves. Alternate tasks. Try not to spend the whole day doing one task, in one position, change it up! Take turns alternating between heavy tasks, like digging, and lighter tasks like planting. Try to vary your position, every 10 to 15 minutes, as well as changing hands when doing repetitive tasks like digging or raking. It might feel awkward at first, using your non-dominant hand to do some of these jobs, but by switching sides every so often it will help decrease the risk of repetitive strain injuries.

5. Regular Activity to stay in Shape. It’s important to stay active and get regular exercise all year round. If you have been fairly inactive over the winter and suddenly spend a day in the yard/garden, without spending some time to get in shape before hand, you will be more prone to injuries. Stay healthy year round and feel the health benefits for yourself!

By following these guidelines you can help minimize the risk of developing an injury while working in the garden and yard. Remember to pace yourself, it’s recommended to take a break at least once an hour, if not a little more frequently. Take a few moments to move around, stretch, get a drink, or simply sit and relax! Spread the work out over a few days or weeks, you will still achieve the same great results in the end and your back and body will thank you!


associate chiro5

 

Safe Lifting Tips

A friends needs help moving, so you volunteer to help. He’s got lots of heavy boxes, not to mention an old and very heavy couch, that he insists is still worth the trouble to move. As you hoist up your end of the couch, you feel a searing pain spreading across your lower back. “Sorry buddy, you’re on your own for the rest of the move. I’ve gotta get to my chiropractor!”

This situation is all too common, but it doesn’t need to be. It is estimated that as many as 89% of lifting injuries are preventable. The following are tips to help decrease the risk of the above scenario happening to you!

Tips for Safe Lifting:

Warm Up:

  • Never go directly from sitting to lifting without taking at least a few minutes to warm up the body.
  • Take a brisk 5 minute walk to get your heart pumping and warm up the lower body.
  • Dynamic stretches such as arm circles and leg kicks will help get the muscles and joints warmed up and ready for lifting.

How to Lift:

  • Maintain a Neutral Spine – This means that the natural curves of the neck, mid and lower back all remain relatively unchanged while lifting. If you round your lower back while lifting this puts excess pressure on the discs of the lumbar spine and makes them more susceptible to injury.
  • Lift with your legs and bend at the hips when possible
  • When lifting an object that is at roughly hip height or above the hip hinge (pictured above) is a great way to lift. This will spare your back as well as your knees. Make sure the movement is coming from the hips, and not from the back, this can be a tough one to get the hang of, so practicing is a good idea.
  • Keep the external load Close to your Body – the closer to your body, the less strain it will put on your spine
  • Remember to Breathe – holding your breath while lifting increases your risk of injury
  • Avoid lifting after prolonged flexion of the spine (ie. After sitting for a long time, don’t get up and immediately start lifting heavy objects, take some time to move around and warm up properly)
  • Ask for help if the load is too heavy or awkward to carry alone
  • Never twist your body while turning and carrying an object, instead pivot your whole body
  • Build a strong core with core exercises – keeping your core strong and healthy is essential to being able to lift with proper form.

Cool Down:

  • After lifting be sure to take the time to properly cool down. Doing some gentle stretches will help relax the muscles you have been working. Include stretches of the back, neck, shoulders, arms and legs. Hold each stretch for 15 to 30 seconds before moving on to the next one.

And remember, if you do get injured while lifting, chiropractors are here to help!

 


 

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Work Injuries and Chiropractic

Works injuries are common. Of the over 6000 injuries reported to workers compensation is Nova Scotia in 2011, more than 30% were related to the back. Low back pain affects up to 85% of the working population and 50% of those people report their back pain affects their quality of life and limits their ability to participate in recreational activities.

Other common work related injuries include injuries of the shoulders and knees, though any area of the body is susceptible to a work related injury.

Common Risk Factors for Developing Back Pain:
 Lifting with your back
 Not maintaining a neutral spine
 Long hours of sitting or standing in one position
 Slouched sitting
 Twisting or jerking movements
 Lack of proper rest
 Obesity and poor nutrition
 Stressful work and living habits

No matter what type of job you have, there are steps you can take to protect your back at work.

If your job involves physical labour:

Warm Up Before Starting Work
o A brisk 5 minute walk and some dynamic stretches will help prepare the body for a physically demanding job.

Use Proper Lifting Technique
o Maintain a Neutral Spine – natural curves of the neck, mid and low back
o Remember this saying while lifting: “keep your nose between your toes and lift with your legs.”
o Lift with your legs and bend at the hips when possible
o Keep the external load Close to your Body
o Remember to Breathe – holding your breath while lifting increases your risk of injury
o Avoid lifting after prolonged flexion of the spine (ie. after sitting for a long time, don’t get up and immediately start lifting heavy objects)

Use Your Breaks Wisely
o If you stand during your shift, sit during your break.

If your job involves standing most of the day:
Take Mini-Breaks
o When you have a few short moments to spare, move around. Walk a few steps, do some dynamic stretches such as arm circles and leg swings.
Sneak in some Stretches
o While working do some gentle stretches like bending your neck side to side and briefly doing a few stretches for your lower body.
Use your Breaks Wisely
o If you are standing most of the day, use breaks to give your legs a rest and sit down for a little while.
If your job involves being behind the wheel most of the day:
Proper Seat Position
o More the seat forward until you can comfortably depress the break pedal and accelerator pedal
 Raise your seat adequately to give yourself proper vision of the road
 Reduce pressure on the back of the knees by raising the seat cushion to a comfortable level where the backs of the legs are fully supported.
 Adjust the backrest to fully support the spine, from the buttocks all the way up to the shoulders.
o Avoid reclining too much, this can cause added pressure on the lower back and neck.
o Adjust the lumber support to give proper support for the natural lumbar curve in the lower back.
 Adjust the steering wheel so it can be easily reached with a slight bend in the elbows.
 Adjust the headrest so that the top of the head is level with or above the top of the headrest and as close to the body as possible.
o This will offer maximum protection in the event of a whiplash type injury situation
If your job involves sitting most of the day:
 Never cradle the phone between your neck and shoulder
o This is a common cause of neck pain and headaches at work. Instead use a headset or speaker phone when possible.
 Avoid sitting with your legs crossed at the knees
o Prolonged cross legged sitting can cause extra strain and tension in the lower back and hips.
 Change positions every 15 minutes
o The most important thing to remember about posture if you are sitting most of the day at work, is to vary your posture frequently, even with perfect posture (hips and knees bent to 90 degrees, feet flat on floor) holding that position for too long can create extra strain on the body.
 Try to arrange your desk so items are within arms reach
o Keep items frequently needed close by, within an arms reach. Items that don’t need to be used as frequently can sit a little farther away.
 Centre your computer monitor so the first line of text is eye level
 Use all of a chairs special feature to position the chair in the most comfortable position for you. Ensure your back is supported in the lumbar area, and make sure the chair is the proper height to reduce the pressure at the back of the knees. Use the arm rests to reduce the stress on the upper body and neck.
 Avoid repetitive bending, twisting and reaching.
 Be sure to get up from your chair at least every hour! If you can, get up and take a short walk, do a few lunges, or even just stand up and sit back down if that is all you have time for. Just be sure to move every hour.

As you can see, no matter what type of job you have there are lots of things you can do to help decrease your risk of developing a work related injury, and these tips are just the beginning.
However, if you do develop a work injury, chiropractors are here at help! Chiropractic gives you more timely access to health care services. You can go directly to a chiropractor for an assessment.
You can choose to see your family doctor, but your assessment with the chiropractor should not be delayed because you are waiting for an appointment with your family doctor. The priority is early assessment – to assess your injury and your capacity for returning to work in a safe and timely manner. Your chiropractor will share the results of your assessment with your family doctor. Once the injury has been assessed, the chiropractor will determine if chiropractic treatment is necessary.
For more information about the WCB process visit the WCB tab on your website: http://bridgewaterchiropractor.com/workers-compensation-board/


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Golf Injury Prevention
By now golf season is in full swing, and with that can come many aches and pains. Low back pain accounts for 26-52% of golf related injuries! Fortunately there are steps you can take to decrease the chance of suffering from a golf related injury.
One of the main ways to help reduce your chance of injury is to Warm Up. It might seem obvious but properly warming up before golf (and many other activities) is commonly over looked. A great way to warm up before a round of golf includes doing some dynamic stretches, such as arm circles and leg swings (helping to warm up the shoulders and hips); followed by a quick series of static stretches.
Try adding the following 4 stretches to your pre-game routine.

 

1. Hip Flexor Lunge
Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Step one foot forward into a lunge position. Keep your body upright and back straight. Bend both knees so that you feel the stretch. Do not let your forward knee pass over the ankle of your front foot. Use a golf club to keep your balance. Hold 15 seconds. Repeat twice on each side.

2. Seated Twist
Sit on a bench or golf cart with your knees together and feet flat, pointing forward. Reach across the front of your body and grasp the back of the bench or cart. You should experience a stretch in your spinal muscles. Hold 15 seconds. Repeat twice on each side.

3. Seated Forward Bend
Sit on a bench or golf cart, knees bent and feet flat. Place one ankle onto your opposite knee, and relax this leg so that your knee falls out to the side. Slowly bend forward, keeping your back straight. You may gently pull on your bent knee to generate a deeper stretch. You should feel a stretch in your buttock area. Hold 15 seconds. Repeat twice on each side.

4. Side Bending Stretch
Stand with feet shoulder width apart. Hold the golf club above your head with your arms straight. Slowly bend to one side, without rotating, until you feel a stretch along the side of your back. Hold 15 seconds. Repeat twice on each side.

If you feel any pain during or shortly after performing these stretches stop and consult your health care provider.

 

 

 


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Did You Know?

At least 50% of pregnant women experience back pain. The good news is that there are steps you can take to baby your back during pregnancy; such as:
• Avoid one sided positions
Be careful getting in and out of the car, swing the whole body around, rather than exiting one leg at a time. Sitting on a garbage bag can help make swinging the whole body at once easier and will help keep the back and pelvis safe.
• Try to avoid one leg positions
If you are exercising that is great, however avoid exercises such as 1 legged squats. As hormonal changes take place your ligaments will become loser and one legged positions can put too much strain on the pelvis.
• Avoid repetitive motions
Repetitive strain injuries happen at any time of life, not just during pregnancy, but you will be more likely to be affected by them now.
• Avoid/Minimize carrying siblings and carriers
This is a tough one, but carrying siblings or carriers around will take an extra toll on the body. It’s easy to carry a baby or toddler on one hip, but that can be really bad for spinal and pelvic alignment. We want to keep the spine and pelvis as aligned and optimally positioned as possible during this very important time of changes occurring in the pelvis.
• Practice Good Sleep Posture
If you are sleeping on your side, place a pillow between your knees to help maintain good alignment of the spine. Also, try sleeping on your left side, this will help to decrease the pressure of the uterus on the large blood vessels in the abdomen and allow for optimal blood flow for both Mom and baby.
If you sleep on your back, try placing a pillow under your knees. This will help take some of the pressure off of your lower back.
• Support your Feet and your Back
Wearing good footwear is especially important during pregnancy. Having a shoe with good arch support will help decrease foot fatigue. And avoid wearing high heels, they place extra strain on the joints of the low back, hips and knees.
When sitting use a lumbar cushion to support your lower back. If you have to sit for long periods at work, be sure to take a break at least once an hour to get up and stretch.
Try following these tips to help protect your back during pregnancy. If you are still experiencing pain, consider giving chiropractic care a try. Chiropractors are trained to identify and gently correct spinal dysfunctions and muscle imbalances caused by pregnancy. Ideally, chiropractic care will begin early in the pregnancy, or even before pregnancy, to help identify and address issues before they become major problems. However, any time is a good time to start care!


 

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