Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Daily Routine Can Be A Pain

Ontario Chiropractic Association


Your daily routine can be a pain … literally

We live in a world where we’re constantly in a hurry, juggling multiple tasks and carrying our belongings with us everywhere. And, believe it or not, this can have serious consequences on your back health. In fact, back pain sends more patients to doctors than any condition other than the common cold.1 Here are some common activities that negatively impact Canadian’s back health:
 
ScenarioHow to fix it
Commuting1: just like sitting at your desk, hunching over your steering wheel can cause your muscles to tighten, curving your back.  Over time this can result in long-term lower back problems. This is important for the 15.4 million Canadians who commute to keep in mind2.
How to fix it: be sure to sit at a 90 degree angle and don’t fully extend your legs. Move your seat up to allow yourself to sit up straight. Adjust your lumbar to fit your back, and if it’s not enough support, try rolling up a towel to help decrease stress on your lower back.
Work life: did you know sitting puts 40 per cent more pressure on your spine than standing? It’s important to remember your posture especially when you’ve had a long day at your desk1.
How to fix it: practice ‘active sitting’ with your feet flat on the floor in front of you with your back straight, your shoulders squared and chin parallel with the floor. Also, ensure your workspace is set up to enable frequent breaks from sitting, like getting up to go to the printer and taking phone calls while standing.
Carrying your belongings: when you’re carrying a heavy purse or laptop bag, your shoulders become out of line.  This can cause your muscles to ache and throw your spine out of line1.
How to fix it: reduce the number of items you carry with you. Also consider using a backpack to help distribute the weight of your load evenly across your body.  This will help avoid the stress of isolated muscles overcompensating for unevenly distributed weight.
Improper lifting: you’re not alone if you have strained your back while lifting heavy boxes. Lifting heavy items improperly can put undue pressure on your spine3  and even cause spinal disc injury4.
How to fix it: picture yourself doing the lift before engaging to ensure you’re keeping the object in front of you, your back is straight and you’re lifting with your knees/hips rather than your back.
  1. http://www.prevention.com/health/health-concerns/habits-cause-back-pain
  2. Commuting to work. Statistics Canada – http://www12.statcan.gc.ca/nhs-enm/2011/as-sa/99-012-x/99-012-x2011003_1-eng.cfm
  3. http://backandneck.about.com/od/ergonomics/tp/3badbackmoves.htm
  4. http://www.spine-health.com/conditions/sports-and-spine-injuries/avoid-back-injury-right-lifting-techniques

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Preventing Cold-Related Injuries During The Winter

By Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)

Physical activity during the winter season can place unique demands on the body that can predispose you to injury.  The good news is there are strategies that can be employed to help prevent cold-related injuries.

Below are some of the common injuries that can occur during the winter season:

·       Soft tissue injuries including sprains, strains, and contusions.  Cold weather decreases the elasticity of soft tissues making them more prone to injury during activity.  Ligaments and muscles in the back, upper and lower extremities are commonly injured.  Falls in slippery conditions can also contribute to injury.

·       Exposure injuries include frostbite and hypothermia and occur when individuals do not wear attire that is appropriate for the weather conditions and physical activity performed.

·        Blisters can form due to the friction of wet gloves and/or wet socks with poorly fitting footwear.

·       Sun-related injuries can also occur in the winter months and cause sunburn and snow blindness.

·       Technical injuries can happen when physical activities are performed with:  inadequate technique/training; unsuitable equipment; and/or poor preparation/planning.

Below are some of the strategies that can be used to prevent cold-related injuries:
 
·        Warm up and prepare your body for physical activity by stimulating the joints and muscles, and increasing blood circulation.  Also consider exercise training to help prepare you for winter activity.

·        Dress for the elements by wearing insulated lightweight clothing with multiple layers.  This will allow you to add or subtract layers as needed.  Attire that is waterproof can help keep you dry and reduce the risk of heat loss.  Insulated gloves, footwear, and headgear can also help keep you warm.  Shoes and boots with solid treads and soles can help minimize the risk of awkward twisting, slips and falls.

·        Protect yourself from the sun by applying sunscreen regularly.  Your eyes should also be protected with UV blocking sunglasses.
 
·        Use safe snow shoveling techniques.  Get professional training and advice while learning the skills of a particular activity such as skiing or snowboarding to help minimize the chance of injury.
 
·        Equipment considerations may include using an ergonomic snow shovel, having sporting equipment properly fitted for your body type, or wearing a helmet during activities.
 
·        Preparation is critical.  For example, be aware of changes in weather forecasts that can influence safety.  Intermittent thaws and subsequent freezing can give way to ice build-up under foot increasing the risk of back twisting, slips and falls.  Coarse sand or ice salt can help give your walkways and driveways more traction.  Planning for physical activity is also important.  For instance, adequate nutrition and hydration before, during, and after activity can optimize energy levels and improve overall physical functioning.  This will help reduce fatigue and chance of injury.

Recognizing some of the common injuries that occur during the winter months and knowing which precautions to take can ensure that you enjoy physical activities safely in cold weather.  For additional information on health and wellness, visit www.nhwc.ca.

This article is a basic summary for educational purposes only.  It is not intended, and should not be considered, as a replacement for consultation, diagnosis or treatment by a duly licensed health practitioner.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Understanding The Inflammatory Response

By Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)
 
The inflammatory response is a natural phenomenon that enables our bodies to fend off various disease-causing organisms, harmful toxins, and physical injury.  It is a protective and restorative process that helps keep us healthy - most of the time.  Unfortunately, when inflammation becomes excessive or uncontrolled, we begin to see chronic inflammation which can lead to poor physical health.  Learn more about how the inflammatory response can affect your health.
 
When you catch a cold, sprain your ankle, or are exposed to an environmental pollutant such as cigarette smoke, a chain of events are triggered in your body known as the “inflammatory cascade”.  The familiar signs of normal inflammation - local redness, swelling, heat, pain, and loss of function - are the first signals that your immune system is being called into action.  Pro-inflammatory hormones are released at the injury site, which stimulates the release of white blood cells, antibodies, and other chemical compounds that help initiate the healing and repair process.  Inflammation that starts and ends as intended signifies the proper and essential inflammatory response.
 
Chronic inflammation occurs when there is an inflammatory response of prolonged duration (weeks, months, indefinite).  It is accompanied by simultaneous attempts at healing and repair and inevitably causes tissue damage.  Over time, it may become more difficult for the body to heal and repair tissue in areas of chronic inflammation.
 
Symptoms of chronic inflammation can include persistent pain, fever, fatigue, weakness, and irritability.  Chronic inflammation has also been linked to undesirable health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, symptomatic osteoarthritis, and irritable bowel syndrome.  Listed below are some natural ways to manage and avoid chronic inflammation:

 

·     Use the right fuel:  Avoid foods that can be a source of chronic inflammation in the body such as refined sugars, trans fats, and allergens.  In contrast, omega-3 fats which are found in fish oils have an inflammation suppressing effect.  Anti-oxidants, found in most fruits and vegetables are natural compounds that help protect the body from harmful free radicals and inflammation.
 
·     Exercise works like medicine:  Endorphins released by the body during exercise can have anti-inflammatory properties.  Exercise also regulates insulin levels and body weight.  Being overweight increases inflammation in the body.  Fat cells are efficient factories for producing key inflammatory elements, and burning calories through exercise shrinks those cells.
 
·     Sleep and stress management:  Poor sleep quality increases body inflammation.  Regular restful sleep allows for important biological systems to recover and recharge.  Prolonged stress, whether it is emotional or physical, can be a source of chronic inflammation.  Finding an effective outlet for dealing with stress is important for managing this source of inflammation.
 
·     Be mindful of your habits and environment:  Avoiding exposure to pollution and toxic fumes such as cigarette smoke will help minimize inflammation in the body.

·     Treat muscle and joint injuries:  These injuries can be a major source of inflammation.  Many individuals experience the benefits of therapies such as acupuncture, massage therapy, and chiropractic care for these structural causes of pain and inflammation.

For additional information on natural inflammation management and improving your health, visit www.nhwc.ca.

This article is a basic summary for educational purposes only.  It is not intended, and should not be considered, as a replacement for consultation, diagnosis or treatment by a duly licensed health practitioner.

Monday, January 2, 2017

How To Make Exercise A Regular Habit

By Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)

Regular exercise has long been identified as an essential element of good health.  Despite this fact, many struggle to make exercise a regular habit.  Below are some helpful tips that can help individuals stick with an exercise program.
 
Make Exercise Convenient:  Incorporating regular exercise into a busy life necessitates some planning and sacrifice so it becomes a priority.  This may require scheduling exercise into everyday routines and/or making regular exercise as convenient as possible, thereby increasing the likelihood that it remains a priority.  Exercise does not need to be time consuming.  Regular bouts of exercise for as little as 30 minutes a day can have a positive impact on health.
 
Make Exercise Safe:  An exercise that may be considered safe for one individual may not be safe for another due to age, physical limitations, and other health concerns.  If you are not sure where to start, consult with a knowledgeable health care provider who can assist in choosing activities that are appropriate for you.  If you have been inactive for a period of time, gradually ease into activity and take it slow.
 
Make Exercise Fun:  Individuals should choose a range of exercise activities that they enjoy.  Performing these activities with a workout buddy, friend, or family member also results in the exercise being more satisfying.  Those individuals who choose fitness and recreational activities they enjoy are more likely to be consistent with those activities.  Having another individual to share this with also increases the likelihood that you will continue with the exercise activity.
 
Make Exercise Feel Good:  Not only does exercise make you physically stronger; it also has the benefits of releasing excess tension, building self-esteem, and stimulating the body’s natural “feel good” chemicals called endorphins.  Although there may be some initial physical discomfort when beginning a new exercise program, this may be your body’s normal response when starting a new activity and should not last more than one to two weeks.  If discomfort or pain persists beyond this point, seek advice from an experienced individual to make sure the exercise you are performing is appropriate and being done correctly.
 
Make Exercise Practical:  Individuals beginning an exercise program need to have realistic expectations about the amount of time they can invest, the activities they will enjoy engaging in, and the physical and psychological benefits they expect to experience.
 
Regular exercise leads to tremendous health benefits that can be initiated by individuals of any age or shape.  For more information on health, wellness, and exercise, visit  www.nhwc.ca.
 
This article is a basic summary for educational purposes only.  It is not intended, and should not be considered, as a replacement for consultation, diagnosis or treatment by a duly licensed health practitioner.

Friday, December 30, 2016

Your Health Checklist For The New Year

By:  Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)

The New Year is quickly approaching and it is time to start thinking about all the changes or "resolutions" we would like to commit to.  The purpose of this article is to give you a head start on planning to act on those resolutions that pertain to health and wellness.
 
GETTING MORE EXERCISE:  Always a popular promise many individuals make to themselves going into the New Year.  Unfortunately, many fail to engage in or sustain a meaningful exercise program.  Several keys to making exercise work for you include scheduling exercise into daily activities to make it as convenient as possible and choosing exercise activities that you enjoy.  Health benefits can be realized in as little as 45 minutes, three times per week.  Starting off slowly and easing into activity will help prevent injuries.  Be sure to incorporate components of aerobic, resistance, and flexibility training to ensure you are getting the full benefits of exercise.

NUTRITIONAL BALANCE:  Sensible eating should consist of nutritional balance with the correct proportion of quality carbohydrates, proteins, and healthy fats.  Significant and positive changes can be made to your eating habits by cutting down serving sizes, eliminating unhealthy snacking, and minimizing foods that can be detrimental to your health.  Your body only functions as well as the fuel you put into it.

STRESS MANAGEMENT:  Unresolved stresses can lead to many health problems if left unchecked.   Changing the way we think about stress can be the first step toward better health.  Some stresses can be avoided while others can be confronted and resolved.  There are certain stresses that we cannot do anything about, so don’t fret about things beyond your control.  Rely on close family and friends to help you through times of stress.  The New Year is a time of starting fresh, and letting go of things that prevent you from enjoying life.

SLEEP:  Important biological mechanisms function during sleep hours to help our bodies recharge, recover, and recuperate.  The average adult requires six to eight hours of restful sleep each night.  As little as three days of sleep deprivation has been shown to significantly compromise productivity, create problems in relationships, and contribute to numerous health problems.  Restful sleep is essential for good health and its importance should not be underestimated.

ELIMINATING BAD HABITS:  From a health perspective, some of these may include quitting smoking, limiting alcohol or caffeine intake, watching less TV, not brushing or flossing our teeth regularly, or being ornery towards others.  In reality, a list of bad health habits may be longer for some than others.  Commit to eliminating three of your worst health habits and see how much better this makes you feel.
 
For additional information on how you can improve your health and wellness, visit our website at www.nhwc.ca.   From all of us at the New Hamburg Wellness Centre, good luck and Season’s Greetings!

This article is a basic summary for educational purposes only.  It is not intended, and should not be considered, as a replacement for consultation, diagnosis or treatment by a duly licensed health practitioner.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

MSK Health Tips for the Holiday Season

Canadian Chiropractic Association

 
This is the season to enjoy time with family and friends, mingle at holiday parties, or to simply relax at home. It surely is a bustling time of year where we need to be mindful of our health and wellbeing. In particular, your musculoskeletal (MSK) health shouldn’t be ignored even when you’re enjoying the holiday festivities.
 
Whether you are sitting patiently, walking the streets, dancing into the night, or hauling gifts – don’t get carried away by the excitement; stay mindful of your activities. Here are some strategies to help you remain healthy over the holidays1:
  1. Exercise Regularly: Regular exercise, including strengthening, can help build muscular endurance of your back muscles, enhancing function and stability. Check with a healthcare provider before starting a new exercise program or routine.
  2. Eat Well: We make hundreds of decisions about how we feed our bodies every day. Instead of striving to meet ambitious goals over the holiday, try to focus on making better decisions each day. Nourishing your body will help support tissue repair. Moreover, making healthier decisions every day can lead to better long-term health by improving bone density, muscle strength and much more.
  3. Straighten Up: To reduce the risk of developing pain or injury, ensure that you change posture frequently when sitting or standing. Check out our free app Straighten Up Canada, which can help you improve posture through unique exercises that can be practised almost anywhere.
  4. Be Mobile: Exercise and moving is important to your MSK health. Ensure that you work regularly on your mobility and flexibility as well. Warm-up and try regular stretching
  5. Avoid Prolonged Sitting: Time flies by if you are surrounded by loved ones. Consider taking breaks in between courses or drinks to stand up and move about. Invite your friends to join along.
  6. Rest: Late nights and early mornings can take a toll on your mind and body. Commit to a sleep ritual, even during the Holidays, to make sure you get quality rest. Getting enough sleep promotes the body to repair from the stress of your day. Other strategies can help you sleep more soundly, while caring for your MSK system. For example, when sleeping on your side, place a pillow between knees which will reduce the rotation of the lower back.
  7. Lift Right: Between the snow, decorations, gifts and more, the heavy loads can take a toll on your body and your back. Using proper lifting techniques will reduce the risk of injury. Try to avoid twisting while lifting. Also, when possible try to push rather than pull objects.
Don’t let pain or injury put a damper on the holidays so make sure to care of yourself this Season!
 
1 Edward Benzel, George Dohrmann, et. al. “30 Tips for Better Spine Health,” The American Academy of Spine Physicians. https://www.spinephysicians.org/cd/brochures/brochures/Brochure%2030%20Spine%20Tips%20Logo%20IBI-B3-0108-1.pdf

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Protecting Your Back During The Winter Season

By Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)

The winter season is upon us and extra precaution must be taken as snow removal and icy walking surfaces can contribute to an increased risk of back injuries.  Included below are some useful tips that can be followed to help keep your back healthy and injury free this winter season.
 
1.    Warm up:  Prepare your body for physical activity by stimulating the joints and muscles, and increasing blood circulation.  Climbing stairs, marching on the spot, or going for a quick walk around the block can serve as excellent warm-up activities in five to ten minutes.  Follow this with some gentle stretches and exercises for the back.
 
2.    Push, don’t lift:  Push the snow to one side and avoid lifting.  If you must lift, keep the shovel close to your body and avoid twisting and turning by positioning yourself to lift and throw straight at the snow pile.  Be sure to lift slowly and smoothly and do not jerk with your lifts.
 
3.    Hinge the hips, bend the knees, keep the back straight and brace:  Use your hips, knees, legs and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting while keeping your back straight.  Maintaining the natural and neutral curves of your back is important, as this is its strongest and most secure position.  Contracting and bracing your abdominal muscles during lifting improves spinal stability and decreases the chance of injury.
 
4.    Use the right shovel:  Use a lightweight, non-stick, push-style shovel.  Separate your hands as much as possible on the shovel handle for better leverage against the weight of the snow.
 
5.    Dress for the job:  Wear warm clothing to protect yourself against the elements.  Shoes and boots with solid treads and soles can help minimize the risk of awkward twisting, slips and falls.
 
6.    Don’t let the snow pile up:  Removing small amounts of snow on a frequent basis is less strenuous in the long run.
 
7.    Watch the ice:  Caution should be exercised around icy walkways and slippery surfaces.  Intermittent thaws and subsequent freezing can give way to ice build-up under foot increasing the risk of back twisting, slips and falls.  Coarse sand or ice salt can help give your walkways and driveways more traction.
 
8.    Take a break:  Know your physical limits.  If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest.  Make a habit to rest for a moment every 10 or 15 minutes during shoveling.  This is especially important if the snow is wet and heavy.  Stop shoveling immediately if you feel chest or back pain.
 
In the event that you suffer a back injury that does not subside, you should contact a licensed health professional who deals in the diagnosis and treatment of back pain.  For more information, visit www.nhwc.ca.

This article is a basic summary for educational purposes only.  It is not intended, and should not be considered, as a replacement for consultation, diagnosis or treatment by a duly licensed health practitioner.