Dr. Jennifer Wise, D.C.
I know it’s been a long time since we’ve thought about many outdoor activities, but the exciting truth is that it’s finally almost time for those “May flowers”! If you’re planning on gardening, keep these tips in mind to avoid injury:
Try going on a short walk to loosen up your muscles and get your blood circulating before beginning gardening.
2. Stretch before and after your gardening session.
The Ontario Chiropractic Association recommends starting with these stretches to avoid injury. Hold all stretches for 15 to 20 seconds. Stop if it is painful.
- Thigh Stretch: With one hand on the wall or a tree, bend your left knee then reach back and hold your ankle with your right hand. Pull your heel toward your buttocks and hold for 30 seconds. Relax and repeat with the other leg. To stretch the back thigh muscles (hamstrings), with one hand on the wall or a tree put one foot on a chair, stump, or step. Slowly bend forward from the waist until you feel the pull at the back of your thigh. Hold for 30 seconds. Relax and repeat with the other leg.
- Back Stretch: Sit on a chair and slowly bend your body forward from your hips, putting your head down and resting your hands on the floor. Hold, then relax.
- Shoulder Rolls:
With your arms hanging loosely at your sides, slowly rotate your shoulders in a circular motion forward, then backward.
- Wrist Extension: Hold one arm straight out as if you were giving a ‘stop’ signal, use your opposite hand to hold this position. Hold. Repeat with the other hand.
- Wrist Flexion: Hold one arm out in front, palm down. Bend your fingers until they point toward the ground. Use your opposite hand to hold this position.
3. Lift with Care.
For any heavy lifting always try to recruit some help. If you must lift alone, please remember these basic rules:
- Stand close to the load to be lifted
- Place your feet shoulder-width apart
- Keep your back straight
- Squat down to the object’s level and test the weight of the load
- Use the strength of your leg and arm muscles to smoothly and slowly lift the load
- Keep the load close to your body
- Pivot to turn and face the intended direction of travel. Proceed with the load
- Avoid twisting your body while carrying the load
- Bend your knees and slowly lower the load to its intended place
Remember to have your spine checked by your chiropractor- you may not always feel a subluxation, but if you are starting with a spine that is misaligned or not moving properly, you will be much more likely to experience an injury. Come in and see Dr. Wise for a Spring tune-up
Back pain, neck pain and shoulder pain are all incredibly common- particularly for those who spend most of their day sitting. While it may seem that you’re more likely to sustain an injury during rigorous activity, the truth is that sitting for extended periods of time produces chronic pain and limits range of motion for many people. There are plenty of ways not to sit. Here are some of the worst- and the most common.
1. Still. Yes that’s right! One of the worst ways to sit is to sit still for hours on end. This causes muscles to stiffen or atrophy from lack of use, slows circulation and can make your energy dip. It’s also easier to feel bored, lethargic and chilly. So take regular breaks to stand, stretch and move around- this will help you feel alert and give your muscles some much-needed action. Do you ever notice that when you’re driving for a long time you don’t feel the stiffness until you finally step out of the car? The same can be true of your desk chair- so get out of your seat regularly, and test out your legs, neck and back.
2. Hunched over a device. We are particularly negligent when it comes to our devices, because we often lose track of how much time we spend on them. While you may not be aware of how often you’re tilting your head downward to text, type, check email or work on a tablet –it adds up. In fact there’s even a term for it: text neck. When you extend your neck forward on a regular basis or for extended periods of time (or both) it can lead to muscle soreness, strain, pinched nerves and herniated discs. You may experience more than a stiff neck –tense, sore shoulders, headaches and even jaw pain are also common results of “device posture.” Save your emailing and extensive work for your desk, or invest in a proper iPad stand.
3. In the wrong seat. Your chair dictates your sitting position- and has everything to do with your comfort while seated. If your chair isn’t the right height, you’ll notice you have to extend your forearms downward or upward to type. The resulting pain will either shoot up to your shoulder blades or sit in your wrists. If your chair doesn’t have your sightline level with your monitor, prepare for a sore neck from craning even at the slightest angle. And lumbar support? It’s critical. Make sure your lower back is properly cushioned to avoid slouching, slumping or twisting around in your seat. These positions can cause pain in your hips and middle back.
Which of these three are you most guilty of?
For more workplace health tips, check out this article: “Is Your Job Killing You?”
We were recently invited to share this awesome infographic about back pain (scroll to the bottom of the article to see). It highlights many common lifestyle factors that contribute to poor posture and chronic pain. The graphic speaks for itself, but we thought we’d just reiterate some of the considerations presented.
The importance of standing posture: While we’re often reminded of the importance of sitting up straight and applying ergonomic principles to our workspace, it’s also vital that we stay mindful of our standing posture too. What’s your “go-to” stance? Do you tend to stand with one hip cocked to the side? Do you cross one foot over the other, or balance your weight unevenly? These seemingly insignificant physical adjustments can cause accumulated damage over time.
The costs of a poorly aligned spine: The cost of investing in care for your spine is nothing compared to the financial and physical toll of living with spinal degeneration, misalignment and chronic pain. We’re major advocates for investing in your health in the preventative, maintenance phase –rather than seeking treatment when you’re desperate for relief. By investing in your health while you’re young and relatively healthy, you may offset damage that accumulates over your lifetime as a result of injury or aging.
Staggering statistics: Although these are American stats, when 80% of the population is experiencing pain, there’s a problem! It’s true that back pain is one of the most pervasive and persistent health symptoms experienced in our society. Part of the problem is in thinking that your back pain isn’t severe enough to warrant attention. If you have a consistently sore neck and upper back, you may not classify yourself as someone with “back problems.” But pain, stiffness, and a reduced range of motion are always deserving of attention and treatment.
Have a look at the infographic: What postures and habits do you feel need improvement in your life?
Thanks to Top Nursing Programs for sharing!
Source: Top Nursing Programs
There are many seemingly insignificant, overlooked lifestyle factors that can affect your alignment and physiological wellness. We’ve already mentioned the potential outcomes of practicing poor pillow posture, but what about poor purse posture?
Many of us are guilty of it: we wear a purse, bag or computer case without giving proper consideration to its weight and positioning on the body. Over time, an overpacked bag can affect your gait, posture and comfort. A heavy purse could also be the root cause of ongoing unidentified neck and shoulder pain.
This helpful article from Prevention.com offers some advice about what your purse could be doing for your posture and muscle health- and how you can correct it. Read on for some simple strategies to avoid shoulder bag strain.
1. Switch sides: Chances are you habitually sling your purse over the same arm (likely your dominant side). This is part of the problem- by only wearing your purse on one shoulder, you’re constantly overworking those muscles. Depending on how heavy your bag is, you’re also forcing one side of your upper body to be the load-bearing side, which can affect your gait and mobility.
2. Avoid the crook of your arm: You’ve probably done this one too –stuck your purse strap right in the inside of your elbow. This can cause injury, including tendonitis. It also forces you to hold your arm at a right angle, resulting in more muscle strain and poor circulation.
For more information check out this article: “Are you hurting your health in the name of fashion?” http://ow.ly/lr8UW
3. Wear your strap diagonally. Rather than pulling your laptop carrier, bag or purse over one arm, pull it over your head so that the strap is stretched diagonally across your chest. This will distribute the weight of the bag more effectively and result in less of a heavy downward pull on one side- sparing your shoulder and lower back and engaging more of your torso muscles instead.
4. Choose an appropriate carrier or bag. This is an important consideration we’d add to the list. Consider what accessory might better suit you and save you from neck, shoulder and back strain. If you have a lot to pack for a walk to the gym, try a backpack and be sure to wear both straps. For your computer, consider a briefcase or bag on wheels. For an evening out, swap your carry-all for a small clutch.
5. Lighten your load! The last and most obvious solution we offer is to simply take stock of your purse before leaving the house- particularly if you plan to be walking with it for any extended period of time. What can you reasonably leave behind? Remove spare change and roll it at home to exchange for bills. Take out chargers, extra keys and any other heavy objects that you can do without for a few hours. And every few days clean out your purse – you’d be surprised at how much weight accumulates from simple garbage, junk and forgotten items that could be left at home.
Fess up: How heavy is your purse?
When people experience pain and discomfort, they will often first assume a muscle-related problem such as strain, tightness or micro-tears is responsible. As the Chiropractic Blog points out however, soreness and numbness are also often caused by a nerve-related problem. Without a proper diagnosis and treatment from a chiropractor, the root cause of your pain can go overlooked.
What causes nerve irritation and pain?
From SpineUniverse: “Why Pinched Nerves Cause Neck and Back Pain” http://ow.ly/kNgAN
You’re most likely experiencing trapped or pinched nerve fibres. This is one of the most common nerve-related conditions that clients present with. Essentially a nerve in the spine becomes compressed between two bones or discs, resulting in the pinched, tingling or numb sensation you may be familiar with. A chiropractor will locate the trapped nerve and make careful manual adjustments to ease the pressure, realign the discs and free the nerve.
Another common condition is a trapped nerve. This occurs when a nerve has adhered itself to surrounding soft tissue, likely as the result of a certain repetitive movement. The motion causes friction between the nerve and nearby muscles or ligaments, creating sticky scar tissue. Consistent muscle contractions can also deprive the nerve of oxygen.
Although this could be taking place in your own body for a long time, you might not notice symptoms until the condition has worsened significantly. At the onset of symptoms you don’t want to further delay treatment by mistaking the problem for something else- so don’t assume anything. It’s always best to see a specialized practitioner who can properly identify whether your pain can be traced to a muscle problem, a pinched or trapped nerve, or both.
Your chiropractor will use gentle chiropractic adjustments to restore motion to the joints, which will relieve pressure from the nerves and allow muscles to function more effectively and without nerve-related discomfort. It may take several treatments to fully treat the problem, to eliminate pain, and to regain full mobility. Since the site of a compressed nerve is often very sensitive, a chiropractic treatment may be slightly uncomfortable at first. Your practitioner will be gentle however, and you’ll soon find that accurately diagnosing and treating the problem site results in major pain relief.
Regardless of whether you have a muscle or nerve problem, it’s important that you seek the right treatment to see lasting results and avoid long-term adverse effects.
People often make reference to their sleeping habits as the culprit for different aches, pains and ailments. Whether it’s a stiff neck, a headache, or back pain, chances are you’ve heard people chalk up various discomforts with a vague, “Oh I must have slept funny.”
So how much truth is there to this widely used explanation? Can the way we sleep noticeably impact our comfort and alignment? And what can we be doing to avoid the pains of “funny” sleeping?
Dr. Adam Tanase, a U.S-based chiropractor and blogger offers some answers. We liked his blog post “How’s Your Pillow Posture?” which does a great job of outlining some of the consequences of poor sleep posture for your spine. The questions addressed in his article are commonly asked by chiropractic patients who suffer chronic back and neck pain. So take note, and if you’re experiencing consistent discomfort when you wake up, consider adjusting your sleep posture.
How many pillows should I sleep on? The number of pillows isn’t as important as the alignment of your body. Dr. Tanase is right to emphasize the importance of sleeping with your forehead, nose and chin lined up with your spine. Need a visual? He provides a helpful link here. Usually the optimal neck angle (which is none at all) can be achieved with a single thick pillow.
What’s the best sleep position? Similar to his pillow guidelines, Dr. Tanase stresses the importance of sleeping in a position that supports a straight and balanced spine. Sleeping on your stomach is the worst choice, as it puts stress on the supportive structures of the spine, and forces you to twist your head at an extreme angle in order to sleep and breathe freely.
If you can help it, opt to sleep on your side or your back instead and remember to keep your body as straight as possible.
What damage can I do to my back by sleeping incorrectly? Poor sleep posture can worsen existing irritations and misalignments and can produce noticeable damage over time. Some of the conditions you might suffer include muscle spasm, postural distortion and thinning of your vertebral discs. The side effects will be chronic pain in the back, neck and arms. That sounds like a pretty good reason to adjust your posture to us!
On a grim note, Dr. Tanase reminds us these types of spinal decay are irreversible- so don’t delay. Take sleep posture as seriously as you do office ergonomics- just think of how many hours a week you spend positioned for sleep. This gives you an indication of how seriously sleep posture can impact your chiropractic health.
Improving your posture and office ergonomics isn’t difficult. With a few minor adjustments and daily habits, you can prevent regular, ongoing mild to severe back pain and muscle strain. Since these are such seemingly minor tweaks to our routine though, often we underestimate their significance and the positive effect they can have on our health. Dr. Sara Solomon’s blog does a good job of quickly summarizing the importance of making posture a priority in the workplace, emphasizing that when sitting at a desk for several hours a day, you should pay special attention to your lumbar lordosis.
Lumbar lordosis is a fancy word for the small of your back. You may have heard the term “lumbar support” before, particularly when shopping for a desk chair. Your lumbar lordosis naturally curves inward, unless you’re sitting and slouched forward –in which case that curve is lost. As Dr. Solomon advises, it’s important that you sit up straight to maintain the curve of your lumbar lordosis and avoid lower back pain. Supporting your lower back with the right chair or pillow can help you stay upright and comfortable without much conscious effort.
When we slouch –especially for long, uninterrupted work days- it increases the work that our muscles are doing while we’re relatively immobile. Slouching puts a much higher strain on the joints, discs and muscles of the upper body. So when you pull your shoulders forward and move away from the upright support that the lumbar lordosis requires, remember that those lower back muscles are using up more energy to take on the work of supporting themselves. In other words: sore muscles aren’t only a pain; they’re also a drain on your much-needed energy supply.
Here’s what you can do to support your lumbar lordosis and avoid lower back pain.
- Check out Dr. Solomon’s posture correction guideline.
- Adjust your backrest so that it cradles your lower back.
- Purchase a lumbar roll or use a rolled towel to offer additional support.
- Exercise your core to strengthen the muscles of your back.
- Stretch muscles that get tight, cramped or sore throughout the day.
- Have a chiropractic assessment to ensure that there are no mechanical issues with your spine that may be contributing to poor posture.
As we always advise, remember to take frequent short breaks to stand up, stretch and move around. When you pair poor posture with immobility you’re almost guaranteeing yourself back pain. With these small changes implemented in your daily work life, you can keep yourself upright, supported and content. And remember- a more comfortable employee is a more productive one!
In a recent blog post, Chiropractic Wellness Care pointed out that even though older adults and seniors are likely to experience back pain, they are less likely to seek chiropractic care than younger adults. This means that older generations are resigning themselves to chronic discomfort and pain that could be gently and effectively treated.
So what’s preventing older adults from seeking treatment? We have a few ideas.
Fear of the unknown: Since therapies such as massage and chiropractic have grown in popularity and become more mainstream relatively recently, elderly patients may not be familiar with these treatments at all. Even if they’ve heard of chiropractic, they may simply not think it’s appropriate for them, or may have some distrust for a treatment that sounds too new or experimental for their taste. In truth, chiropractic is a great option for older adults, as it optimizes the immune system and can help to ward off illness, in addition to soothing and realigning the spine and other joints.
Skepticism about chiropractic’s effectiveness: As the article points out, to optimize the results of chiropractic, regular adjustments should be paired with healthy lifestyle habits. For some seniors, nutrition and moderate exercise are not the priority that they should be. With a holistic approach to health, older patients can see improvements not only in their pain levels, but also in their gait, posture and balance. All of these factors can help improve their mobility and comfort, and by extension, their quality of life.
Failure to see chiropractic as a treatment for various conditions: Many may not realize the breadth of health conditions that chiropractic targets. The article makes a point of noting chiropractic’s effectiveness at improving symptoms of many conditions suffered by aging patients. These include osteoarthritis, a weakened immune system, and spinal degeneration. As we’ve mentioned on the blog before, many acute conditions can be improved by chiropractic as well- including headaches and dizziness.
Fear that adjustments will be too rough: Older and more fragile patients have a common fear that chiropractic will hurt or even harm them. In fact every gentle adjustment is tailored to the patient’s needs and current physical state. A good chiropractor will also talk in detail with a patient and address any concerns prior to manual adjustments, so there is always time and willingness to put any lingering fears at rest.
One of chiropractic’s major goals is to optimize wellness and help patients simply feel better on a daily basis. In advanced age, this is particularly important for enhancing quality of life and helping senior patients to stay active and well. Although this article begins by mentioning back pain, in truth chiropractic can help to improve everything from energy to mobility to sleep quality. And above all –the overall health goals of chiropractic care do not discriminate based on age!