Tag: chiropractor

Healthy Swellness: Don’t let pursuing your fitness goals give you back pain

davWith the warmer spring weather on its way, a lot of us are scrambling to get started on getting our beach bods back in time for summer. And while we may be considering how toned we want our arms to get, or of that six-pack of abs, the health of our back is not something we typically consider, but really should not be overlooked.

Ironically, as I write this, it was almost a year to the date that I discovered how important back health is in the most painful way. It’s hard to say for certain what caused me to throw out my back, but long flights and running both possibly contributed to the issue. What I can say for sure is that it is the most physical pain I have experienced ever. I couldn’t sit down, lie down, pull open a door, or move in any way without incredible pain. My pride kept me from crying actual tears, but there was much whimpering and crying on the inside. And the only way I found relief and got my back to health? Regular appointments with a chiropractor.

If you’ve never seen a chiro, I think they’re a health pro we could all use in our lives. For example, if you’ve thrown yourself into a new workout regimen this spring, remember how important proper form is. Improper form can cause injury to your spine, knees, and shoulders, says the Ontario Chiropractic Association. Three popular exercises, when done with bad form, that can and often do lead to back injuries are squats, deadlifts and kettlebell swings.

First off, for these exercises, remember to maintain a neutral spine (to discover your neutral spine, stand backed up to a wall, with your head, upper back and tailbone touching the wall, with enough space for your fingers between the wall and your lower back). Next, keep these pointers in mind for each exercise:

Squats

Keep your chest up, and as you bend your knees, engage those glutes by lowering your body as though you were taking a seat. This form will help you maintain a neutral spine.

Deadlifts

As you hinge at the hip to perform your deadlift, envision a wall two feet behind you and imagine you are touching your glutes to this wall. This little tactic helps ensure you hinge at the hips instead of overusing your knees,

Kettlebell swings

Maintain that neutral spine as you swing so that you hinge at the hip and avoid straining the back. Swing the kettlebell only up to shoulder level (if you swing higher, you may compromise your neutral spine form.

Whether you’re just getting back into fitness or are a regular at working out, make sure you can continue your exercise routine by caring for your back, bones, muscles, joints and central  nervous system. You can find more essential info on keeping your back health in check at www.chiropractic.on.ca. And while you’re at it, on the site, you can find a local chiropractor who can help you learn about and maintain your back health.

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Leave a Comment May 1, 2017

Healthy Swellness: Straighten Up app review

Straighten Up app

 

I cringe whenever I see photos taken of me that I haven’t posed for. Because I’m always slouching. In fact, if you go on my Instagram, there are few examples of my poor posture.

Sigh.

Besides being unsightly, poor posture is the cause of many musculoskeletal problems. So many of us sit for ours, hunched over our desks. And all of this sitting puts 30 percent more stress on your back than standing does. And lower back pain accounts for one-third of missed work days (second only to the common cold). Each year, more than 11 million (11 million!) Canadians will suffer from at least one muscuskeletal condition, yikes.

With my poor posture in mind (and honestly, these stats about musculoskeletal issues frightened me!), I  put the new Straighten Up app to use for a few days. Launched last month, the app includes exercises aimed to improve posture and reduce the risk of a musculoskeletal disorder. I’ve only tried it for a couple of days so far, but in a study, participants who practiced Straighten Up daily for at least five weeks reported improved posture, strengthened core muscles, and less back pain when sitting.

The app’s easy to navigate. And I love that the exercises only take three minutes to complete; I found completing them once I get up in the morning is a nice, gentle way to wake up my body. In terms of production value, it’s not the slickest, but you really only need to watch the video once or twice to learn the proper form, and then just a quick glance at the home page of the exercises is enough to jog your memory as you do the exercises to your favourite song. (Oh, btw, there’s a Youth series of exercises, too).

Also in the app is a handy “Find a Chiro” feature, along with a blog of articles about spine health, sports injuries and more. You can also log your exercises in the app, which is always satisfying, don’t you find, watching your good fitness work adding up over time?

The exercises only take three minutes to complete, so in theory, you could easily complete them in cubicle or office. You might feel a little silly doing ones like Bending Circles (a little bit like waving your hands in the air like you just don’t care), though. But when you consider the benefits of doing exercises that improve your posture, that might be incentive enough to looking a little silly. Five reasons why good posture is so important:

1.       Reduces wear and tear: Having a balanced spine decreases the amount of stress and pressure on your joints, reducing the risk of wear and tear that can result in a limited range of motion or arthritis.

2.       Breathe easy: By avoiding slouching and sitting up straight you are helping to open your airways and increase oxygen flow throughout your body.

3.       Decreases stress: Since stress causes your muscles to contract and become tense, stretching those muscles reverses the tension and the related stress.

4.       Increases energy: Slouching puts many of your muscles into overdrive as they work to hold you up, wearing your body out. Proper posture enables the body’s most efficient position, saving energy.

5.       Be better: Standing up straight with your shoulders back gives you the appearance of being taller and slimmer, making you feel more confident.

Just three minutes a day of the Straighten Up app’s exercises can help prevent you from experiencing lower back pain–think about it, you can complete it in the time of a commercial break as you watch The Good Wife. 

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Leave a Comment November 19, 2014

Fitness Swellness: Tips on using SpiderTech kinesiology tape for aches and pains

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So I’ve been lucky enough to have never been injured since I started running in 2007. Some minor incidents with piriformis syndrome (that my RMT was able to help me out with, and I did some stretching to help ease it as well). So in March, when my ankle wasn’t feeling quite right before running the 2014 Around the Bay 30k, I was at a loss as to what to do, and then my sister (a runner herself) suggested taping it. I didn’t go to the race expo (so I didn’t have the chance to get it taped there), so I instead picked up some tape and fumbled my way through taping it by after watching a few YouTube videos on how to do it.

But I had all sorts of questions about using kinesiology tape and took the opp recently to chat with Dr. Nick Tsaggarelis; he’s a licensed chiropractor who specializes in soft tissue and sports injuries on how to best use SpiderTech pre-cut kinesiology tape.

What types of aches and pains would you use this tape for? And how does the taping help?

Nick Tsaggeralis: Lower back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain, knee pain, hip pain, calf pain. 

Take, for example, lower back pain. This can be the result of many many different structures and conditions, however a few commonalities that most lower back pain sufferers experience is that the lower back muscles are being over-worked because the abdominal and gluteal muscles (which are very important for walking, sitting/standing and supporting the trunk) are not working well enough. When someone has lower back pain that has been present for some time, the brain may have a “memory” of some issue that is no longer present. When this happens, the person experiences the sensation of pain that is not really present because there no longer is any damage to any tissues. This is why you go see a therapist, in an attempt to “re-boot” your system and make your body function better. When left untreated, faulty information coming from and going to the area of discomfort results in making you “feel pain”.

In this situation, where there is lower back pain due to excessive work, I would apply kinesiology tape to the lower back in a manner that would cause a rippling of the skin in order to maximally affect the little receptors located over the area of pain. This rippling tells the body that there isn’t much wrong with it because it is moving a lot and because of this the body needs to send more blood flow to the region. When we make the brain think that there is nothing wrong with this area, the “feeling” of pain diminishes and makes the muscles work better. When combining this with the application of tape over the abdominal muscles and gluteus maximus muscles you star to get the whole support system working better. When combining this with a proper exercise program, you area able to relieve the body of dysfunctional movements and poor support mechanisms and you achieve pain relief and improved strength and endurance naturally.

Advice/tips on how to apply kinesiology tape?

NT: The simplest way to describe how to use kinesiology tape is as follows:

 If you want to bend a particular body part without pain or discomfort, or if you want that body part to function at its best, say for example the knee, you should place it in the maximal stretch, and place the tape on it without any stretch.

 If you would like to have better posture, or prevent a body part from moving in a poor manner, place it in the ideal posture, for example, shoulder pulled back and place the tape down over the area with minimal stretch.

Is it best if you apply it as close to your event/race as possible?

NT: I do not recommend applying the tape close to an event or race if it is the first time you are applying it and a healthcare provider is not doing it. You just don’t know how you will respond. However, if you are familiar with your body’s response to tape, you can apply it moments before high-performance activity.

Is there a risk of applying it incorrectly — could you make your injury worse? 

 NT: There is always a risk performing something incorrectly. That being said, if you do put the tape on inappropriately, you will either feel nothing or you may hurt and even blister your skin if there is too much stretch placed in the tape.

 That being said, I always recommend that you have a qualified health care provider show you how to apply the tape if you have a specific condition that is not responding to self-care. For example, if you attempt to apply tape after an ankle injury, if you do not feel any improvement within a few days of applying the tape, it is best to contact the tape manufacturer and they can provide you with specific instructions, or see a qualified healthcare provider in order to identify if you have injured your body to the point that placing tape over the area may not be the only care your require.

Leave a Comment November 4, 2014

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