By Dr. Kristin Heins
Summer weather allows us all to spend more time outdoors. We are encouraged to increase outdoor activity and many of us prefer to take in some time outdoors while being active anyway. With increased walking, running, hiking or swimming you may end up with new injuries or even aggravating old injuries or conditions.
It is always best to see a licensed health care practitioner to attend to your case specifics and format an individualized plan; but, below are some quick tips to help you make the most of the increased activity potential that summer affords while reducing the chance of injury or body strain.
Dr. Jennifer Wise, D.C.
- Know your limits: gradually increase endurance activities and take rest days after increased exertion.
- Stretch: Be sure to follow a stretching routine that addresses targeted areas to help prevent strain injuries.
- Attend to your symptoms: If your body is sending you messages it is hurt – listen. See your doctor, naturopath, physiotherapist or chiropractor to have an assessment to see what needs to be done to best heal and resolve the issue.
- Stay hydrated: Lactic acid builds in muscles after exertion and causes stiffness and soreness. It requires proper hydration to be best eliminated so make sure to drink before and after activity.
- Supplementation: If you have inflammatory conditions it may be useful to get on a supplementation regime to assist in optimizing you management of it. This way you can stay as active as possible in a non detrimental way.
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
By Dr. Elisa Petricca
A healthy mom translates into a healthy baby. So why not do everything you can to have a safe, healthy and natural pregnancy!?
This post focuses on educating pregnant mum’s on how to prepare for the birthing process and the value of chiropractic care during pregnancy. A pregnant woman who trusts her body to do what it is naturally designed to do is much more likely to experience a healthy, natural birth than someone who is stressed and fearful. The brain responds to fearful emotions negatively during pregnancy, releasing hormones that can slow labour and dilation.
How to Prepare for Birth
Scientific research strongly suggests the following principles for a natural and healthy pregnancy and birth:
- A fully functional nervous system: This is essential to assist the body in adapting to stressors associated with pregnancy and support development to the baby.
- Proper dietary intake: This is required for optimal fetal development.
- Movement and exercise: This will encourage optimal brain and cell function, hormonal balance, strength and mobility.
- Positive thoughts and emotions.
- A nurturing environment: It is important to be surrounded by loving and supportive relationships to help minimize stress and create an optimal environment fir a relaxed birth.
- A birth support team: Comprised of loved ones and health professionals to assist in a natural birth.
The Value of Chiropractic Care
Chiropractic care during pregnancy is vital in supporting normal and physiological function of mom and baby. Chiropractic care can help with pregnancy and birth by:
- Reducing interference to the mother’s nervous system, allowing for optimal function.
- Helping to create balance in the pelvis, allowing for an easier birth.
- Removing tension on the ligaments that support the uterus.
- Decreasing the potential for interventions and increasing the potential for a natural birth.
How does chiropractic care support the developing infant?
- Encourages optimal infant development by removing interference from the mother’s nervous system.
- Helps to create more room in the uterus, allowing baby to move and develop without restriction. This allows the baby to move into the best possible position for birth.
- Regular adjustments greatly reduce the possibility of dystocia (delayed birth) as well as birth trauma that can be caused by intervention.
What are the main things you should take away from this whole article?
By Dr. Elisa Petricca
- Chiropractic provides structural balance and stability (specifically in the pelvis) for the mother, resulting in a more comfortable pregnancy.
- Research has shown that pregnant mothers who receive regular chiropractic care throughout their pregnancy generally have a shorter labour with less medical intervention.
- Chiropractic care throughout pregnancy can help to create a healthier and more comfortable in-utero environment for the infant.
Contemporary Medical Acupuncture is a nerve stimulation technique, which involves the painless insertion of extra fine needles into specific areas of the body in order to regulate abnormal activity of the nervous system and to release certain substances in the brain, altering the body’s pain pathways.
Medical Acupuncture is a very low risk treatment intervention. However, as with any conservative approach to care, potential side effects and/or risks should be discussed with the patient prior to treatment.
How Does Medical Acupuncture Work?
- Normalizes the nervous system and alters pain sensation via stimulation of the central nervous system.
- Improves blood flow to local areas of pain as well as the rest of the body resulting in tissue repair and facilitation of the healing process.
- Reduce tension in the body by helping with the breakdown of excess fascia and tissue.
- Helps to calm the body and mind, assisting in overall well-being.
The duration of acupuncture treatments can vary from several seconds to 30 minutes. Acupuncture treatments involve the insertion of acupuncture needles into appropriate areas of the body. Once the needles are inserted and secure in the body, they may be stimulated manually or with electricity to enhance nerve stimulation.
Acupuncture has been shown as an effective treatment for many conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes the use of acupuncture in the treatment of neurological and muscular disorders including:
- Neck and back pain
- Sports injuries (sprains, strains)
- Neuritis (inflammation of nerves)
- Facial pain
For more information or if you have any questions, feel free to contact the office and we will be happy to help you!
1. Canadian Contemporary Acupuncture Association, 2010-2016.
2. McMaster University Medical Contemporary Acupuncture Program, 2016.
Did you know that there are many different types of headaches? The most common types of headaches include:
- Tension-type headaches
- Cluster headaches
- Cervicogenic headaches
This post will focus on tension-type headaches, as they are one of the most common types of headaches suffered by adults. These headaches are often described as “band-like pressure” or “tightness around the head”.
Some common signs and symptoms associated with tension-type headaches include:
- Chronic fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Mild sensitivity to light or sound
- General muscle aches and pain
What Causes Tension-type Headaches?
There are many factors that may contribute to the onset of tension-type headaches. How many of the following factors apply to you?
- Eye strain
- Cold/sinus infection
- Muscle tension around the head and neck
Most of these triggers are lifestyle factors, which we are able to modify on our own. However, chiropractic care has also been shown to be an effective approach to help battle these nasty headaches!
Research has shown that chiropractic adjustments are effective in reducing the intensity and frequency of tension-type headaches, as well as reducing the usage of over-the-counter medication.
If you are suffering from tension-type headaches, the following 5 steps can help:
- Manage your stress: One way to manage your stress is to plan ahead and organize your day.
- Relaxation Techniques: This may include deep breathing exercises, listening to music, or yoga.
- Diet and Exercise: Eating healthy and exercising often. Quitting smoking is also very important to help reduce the onset of headaches.
- Heat or Cold: The application of a heat or cold pack around the head may provide some relief.
- Chiropractic Care: Chiropractic treatment can assist with muscle tension and postural correction to help re-align the body for optimal functioning!
Boline PD, Kassak K, Bronfort G, Nelson C, Anderson AV. Spinal manipulation vs. amitriptyline for the treatment of chronic tension headache: a randomized clinical trial. J Manipulative Physiol Ther. 1995 Mar-Apr;18(3):148-54.
Fumal A, et al. Tension-type headache: Current research and clinical management. Lancet Neurology. 2008;7:70.
Pluta RM. JAMA patient page: Tension-type headache. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2011;306:450.
To read more about tension headaches, click on the link below.
We’ve all heard it since childhood- “straighten up!”, “stop slouching!” When we’re kids, we think our parents and teachers are just picking on us, but as adults we start to see the effects of many years of slouching and the chronic issues that follow. Although most people are concerned with the physical appearance of slouching, the consequences are much more profound than a rounded upper back.
If you sit at a computer all day, chances are that you already know that poor posture can cause pain in your joints and muscles. Poor posture can also be responsible for numbness and tingling or weakness in the extremities and can certainly lead to body aches and headaches. What most people don’t consider is what is going on in the inside. Slouching and slumping can actually cause compression of organs, making it more difficult to breathe, digest our food, eliminate toxins from our bodies and can cause a number of symptoms including fatigue and digestive disorders.
Taking care of your spine today, means better health tomorrow. Take the time and make the effort to care for your spine so that you will be strong, healthy and pain-free later on in life! Follow these six steps to straighten up:
1. Get up:
Take breaks from your desk every 30 minutes. Even if you just stand up and walk around for a minute or do some light stretching, this gives your body a chance to relieve the tired muscles that work so hard while you’re sedentary.
2. Invest in a good chair:
Because we all come in different shapes and sizes, an adjustable chair is a great investment to be sure that it will fit your body perfectly. Get something with good lumbar support to be sure that your low back is protected.
3. Take a look at yourself:
When sitting in your chair, your hips, knees and elbows should be at least at 90 angles and your feet should be flat on the floor.
4. Practice awareness:
Making and breaking habits is a tough thing to do. Place a post-it on your computer screen to remind you to straighten up (you don’t even have to write anything on it, you’ll know why it’s there). You should be trying to keep your ears over your shoulders and your shoulders over your hips.
5. Get moving:
Joining a yoga or pilates class can be a great way to support your spine through both strengthening and stretching.
6. Get your spine checked:
After major traumas (car accidents, serious falls and sports injuries) and minor traumas (repetitive stress, prolonged improper sleeping, sitting or standing positions), spinal bones can become misaligned and stuck, which can also affect posture. A chiropractic examination will allow your chiropractor to see if there is something biomechanical that may be interfering with your ability to achieve proper posture.
From the moment your child enters the world their cranium, spine and nervous system undergo trauma, starting with the birth process. A baby goes through much exertion when travelling through the birth canal and even during a C-section they are removed from their environment suddenly which can cause trauma as well. As your child matures and engages in various activities of life they will continue to experience spinal and cranial subluxations, which put massive pressure on the nervous system and the body’s ability to function properly. Early in life, these subluxations, or misalignments in the spine, can lead to a host of symptoms ranging from minor discomfort, trouble with feeding and digestion, ear infections, colic and decreased immune system function. When left untreated, these can become chronic pain and headaches and much more in adults.
Many chiropractors and other medical professionals believe that the trauma of birth can contribute to infant issues such as colic and acid reflux. An article published in “Paediatric, Maternal and Family Health” in 2009 written by Dr. Erin Ulster found that symptoms of colic and acid reflux could be resolved with chiropractic treatment. Dr Ulster notes: “These results suggest a causal link between birth trauma, upper cervical injury, and colic / acid reflux onset. Correcting the injury to the upper cervical spine (with chiropractic adjustments) appears to eliminate colic and acid reflux.”
If your infant is suffering from symptoms of colic and acid reflux a Chiropractor will assess your baby and ascertain if subluxations are causing issue for your baby. A Chiropractor focuses on misalignments in your baby’s spine that can impair your baby’s overall nervous system. Chiropractic adjustments can help to restore proper function to the nervous system allowing the body to work properly again.
Symptoms of Subluxations
Because an infant is unable to express its issues verbally, you can watch for a few signs that may indicate necessity of a chiropractic examination to determine whether a subluxation is responsible:
- If your baby is constantly tilting their head to one side
- If they seem to have restricted head movement favouring one side
- If your baby cannot sleep without disturbance every hour or two
- If your infant is unable to breastfeed or has difficulty doing so
- If your infant has difficulty breastfeeding at one breast or the other
- If your baby often arches back
- If your baby tugs on one ear lobe often
- If your baby is very gassy or difficult to soothe
- If your baby has flat spots or very prominent bumps on the skull
As your child matures there are many symptoms that can point to spinal subluxation and nervous system stress, such as:
- Recurring earaches
- Recurring sore throats
- Complaints of headaches
- Complaints of growing pains
- Clumsiness or frequent falls
- Trouble with gait
Your baby will continue to exert themselves as they progress and learn to lift their heads, sit and crawl and of course toddlers undergo daily challenges as they learn to walk falling roughly several times a day. Learning to skate, playing sports, wearing heavy back packs, and falls during play can all cause spinal subluxations or misalignments. Even normal growth and development can be an adjustment to the body. As such, it is important that children continue to have regular care throughout childhood to improve the body’s ability to deal with these stresses and develop to their greatest potential.
A visit to your Chiropractor will allow your child to undergo an assessment early in life and any misalignments can be corrected before they can cause issues into adulthood.
The hands on approach to healing uses touch to assist in the relief of pain as well as to alleviate the symptoms and causes of many conditions and illnesses. This age old approach to healing has been used for centuries and encompasses many different disciplines and techniques. Although some have changed in scope and technique, modern science has discovered that touch does in fact provide a medically viable treatment for many conditions.
A Reiki Practitioner is trained in sensing changes to body heat throughout your body. By positioning their hands in different areas of your body they can detect changes in heat and identify areas in need of attention. Reiki helps to clear blocks in your body’s energy field and is a very relaxing process performed on a massage table. Reiki can actually be performed in a hands off approach as well but the healing powers of touch improve the outcome of Reiki. Reiki can alleviate emotional stress as well as old wounds and trauma by opening up the flow of energy and encouraging your body to follow its natural impulses to heal itself. We all could use a little healing now and then and Reiki “tune-ups” are perfect to keep your body balanced.
Chiropractic treatments focus on your nervous system to identify issues. Your chiropractor looks for subluxations in the spine by examining surrounding tissue, muscle and ligaments. Subluxations will cause improper communication throughout the nervous system. Chiropractic adjustments help to realign the spine and clear your body of subluxations allowing for proper communication between your nervous system and other parts of your body. A series of tests will allow your Chiropractor to discover what treatments will work best to improve range of motion, alleviate back pain and improve mobility. It is often used for sports injuries, rehabilitation from motor vehicle or work related injuries as well as to alleviate pressure and discomfort during pregnancy. Lower and upper back pain are common complaints addressed by your Chiropractor which means you can find relief for your aching back. Treatment plans usually require several appointments to achieve success and improvements can often be seen following your first appointment.
Massage therapy applies pressure and manipulation to soft tissue, muscles, ligaments and joints to alleviate pain and improve physical function. It can be used for rehabilitative purposes following injury as well as to relieve stress or pain resulting from continuous use of certain muscles. There are many different techniques of massage therapy including:
- Deep Tissue Massage
- Myofascial Therapy (connective tissue)
- Trigger Point Therapy
- Rhythmic Mobilizations
- Remedial Exercise
- Stress relief, anxiety and depression
The healing art of touch can be combined to provide a more complete treatment plan. Often your chiropractor will recommend their treatment be combined with massage therapy and vice versa. Reiki can complement any health care regime and add to the success of many health care treatments.
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?”
The connection between how you carry yourself and how you feel
We’re always advocating for good posture –whether sitting, standing, and sleeping. Posture is so important for a variety of health reasons that we’ve mentioned here on the blog before. You’ll likely recall that bad posture can result in chronic pain, poor circulation, headaches, and damage to your spine.
But what about your mood? Many studies suggest that everything from our body language, to our carriage, to our posture can have a direct impact on how we feel –not just physically but emotionally. Here are some of the ways in which the positioning and use of your body can affect your mood or mind.
Feel more energized: When we optimize our posture, it helps us to feel more alert and awake. When you slouch, slump or recline, your body may relax but also understand it’s time to rest or shut down. When you consciously sit up straighter and hold your head up, you’re sending a signal within yourself that it’s time to be alert and productive. Certain postures also allow for freer, faster movement which can get more of your muscles working, elevate your heart rate and help you feel a sustained energy. Think of slumping down a hall with your head down, versus striding with a straight back and eyes forward. The second posture allows for much more efficient and energized movement- and much happier muscles and spines!
Feel happier: Studies also show that people may feel less depressed when their body language conveys traits like enthusiasm, joy, and energy. In addition to the psychological connection that may exist between how we present our bodies and how we feel, there are obvious physical reasons why good posture may keep your mood elevated. Optimized movements and positioning can reduce stress to your body like muscle pain, strain in your joints, or headaches. Eliminating those physical symptoms can help to prevent irritability and roadblocks to productivity that result from discomfort. Just think about how difficult it is to concentrate and sit still when you have a sore back. In this way practicing good posture can help keep you feeling comfortable, capable and calm.
Feel more confident: Another study had subjects place bets while sitting in two different postures. Those in a more open, expansive posture took more risks, while those who kept their limbs tight and body closed off were more conservative. As these studies remind us, we instinctively position our bodies to reflect our mood and mindset. Amy Cuddy’s incredible TED talk discusses the connection between our body language and behaviour in detail, suggesting that we can manipulate our body language to reflect (and help achieve) our desired mental state. We highly recommend you check out her compelling talk.
When we consider argument’s like Cuddy’s, we start to see that slumping, slouching, and closing our bodies off is doing twofold damage- not just to our chiropractic health and wellbeing, but also to our confidence, happiness, and success.
Now if that isn’t a reason to stand a little straighter and walk a little taller, I don’t know what is!