Going to the chiropractor can help relieve pain and prevent injuries, but being active is also a great way to help keep your spine healthy. Just going for a brisk 10 minute walk each day is enough to help improve your health and prevent conditions of the spine, joints and supporting structures of the body. But there are also a few other recreational activities that you can incorporate into your daily routine to prevent back pain and reduce stress.
Here are a few suggestions and why you may benefit from them:
Yoga and Pilates:
Yoga and Pilates are forms of exercise that typically focus on moving the body while focusing on breathing and body awareness. The poses are purposeful and usually work a few areas of the body at once, including the back and leg muscles to build a stronger foundation for other movements. Also, the poses often focus on balance which can be important to prevent falls and injuries as we age. Compared to higher impact activities that cause added strain to the body, Yoga and Pilates are known to be ‘safe’ for healthy and even injured individuals. Yet, with most practices being keenly aware of your body is important and adapting movement to your skill level. However, regular practice has been shown to decrease back pain1. The great thing about Yoga and Pilates is that there are several types of classes catered to your specific skill and comfort level.
Aquafitness is a dynamic, low impact activity that usually involves the entire body in movement, including the abdominals, gluteal, and leg muscles. Since the movements are done in water, the water adds extra resistance to strengthen muscles but also minimizes impact on your joints. Aquafitness has been shown to be an effective management tool for those suffering from certain MSK injuries allowing them to keep active. Notably, people suffering from low back pain2 may particularly benefit from aquafitness or gently swimming in water. Contact your local community centre or gym to see if aquafitness is part of their regular programming.
This Chinese martial art focuses on meditative, deep breathing combined with methodical practice of slow movement enhancing mobility and balance among those who practice the art. Tai Chi is known to have major health benefits – even for those with back pain. Tai Chi can improve pain and function, while decreasing likelihood of chronic pain. It is a safe and effective activity for those experiencing long-term back pain symptoms3.
Other activities you may want to consider are low-impact cardiovascular exercises such as walking or striding on the elliptical machine. There are always alternatives to staying active, even when you experience pain. Some of these can even help relieve the pain.
If you’re looking for ways to stay active and relieve pain, meet with our team to discuss more options.
Sourced from CCA
1Sherman K, Cherkin D, Wellman R, Cook A, Hawkes R, Delaney K, Deyo R. A Randomized Trial Comparing Yoga, Stretching, and a Self-care Book for Chronic Low Back Pain. Arch Intern Med. 2011 Dec 12; 171(22): 2019–2026.
2Ariyoshi M, Sonoda K, Nagata K, Mashima T, Zenmyo M, Paku C, Takamiya Y, Yoshimatsu H, Hirai Y, Yasunaga H, Akashi H,Imayama H, Shimokobe T, Inoue A, Mutoh Y. Efficacy of aquatic exercises for patients with low-back pain. Kurume Med J. 1999;46(2):91-6.
3Hall AM, Maher CG, Lam P, Ferreira M, Latimer J. Tai chi exercise for treatment of pain and disability in people with persistent low back pain: a randomized controlled trial. Arthritis Care Res (Hoboken). 2011 Nov;63(11):1576-83.More
Acute or short-term low back pain generally lasts from a few days to a few weeks. Most acute back pain is the result of trauma to the lower back or a disorder such as arthritis. Pain from trauma may be caused by a sports injury, work around the house or in the garden, or a sudden jolt such as a car accident or other stress on spinal bones and tissues. Symptoms may range from muscle ache to shooting or stabbing pain, limited flexibility and range of motion, or an inability to stand straight. Chronic back pain is pain that persists for more than 3 months. It is often progressive and the cause can be difficult to determine.
Most patients with back pain recover without residual functional loss, but individuals should contact a doctor if there is not a noticeable reduction in pain and inflammation after 72 hours of self-care. Recurring back pain resulting from improper body mechanics or other nontraumatic causes is often preventable. Engaging in exercises that don’t jolt or strain the back, maintaining correct posture, and lifting objects properly can help prevent injuries. Many work-related injuries are caused or aggravated by stressors such as heavy lifting, vibration, repetitive motion, and awkward posture. Applying ergonomic principles — designing furniture and tools to protect the body from injury — at home and in the workplace can greatly reduce the risk of back injury and help maintain a healthy back.
Sourced from NINDS
Vitamin D, often known as the sunshine vitamin, plays an important role in your bone health.1 It is mostly made by the body through exposure to sunlight. This is unique to vitamin D since most vitamins come from the foods you eat.1 Having too much or too little vitamin D in your body can affect the amount of calcium in your bones and can take a toll on your overall bone health:
- Low levels of vitamin D can lead to decreased bone mass (osteoporosis) which can increase your risk of fractures.1
- Too much vitamin D can lead to calcium deposits in the kidneys (kidney stones), or calcium build-up in other soft tissues like the heart, lungs, and blood vessels.2
More than 90% of a person’s vitamin D requirement tends to come from casual exposure to sunlight.3This poses some unique challenges for those whose environments limit their exposure to the sun.2 For example, in Canada and other countries in the northern hemisphere during the winter months, people are exposed to less ultraviolet light. This means in the winter in Canada our bodies produce little to no vitamin D.1 Statistics Canada reported that, in the winter months, 40% of Canadians had vitamin D levels that were below the recommended range.1 In the summer, that number is much smaller, but still a whopping 25%.1 This means that as a northern country, we often lack the exposure to ultraviolet light that is needed for enough vitamin D to be made in the body year-round.
You can get vitamin D naturally from a few foods, including egg yolks or fatty fish such as salmon or mackerel.1 In Canada, some foods are fortified with vitamin D by law to prevent the risk of vitamin D deficiency in the general population, including milk, soy milk, rice beverages, and margarine.4
This winter, increase your vitamin D intake and keep your bones strong by reading nutritional labels and seeking out products during your regular grocery shop that are fortified with vitamin D. It also never hurts to add a little bit more sunlight to your day!
For questions about keeping your bones (and the rest of your spine, muscle, and nervous system) in good health this winter (and throughout the year), you can ask Dr. Luciano Di Loreto & Associates.
- Vitamin D blood levels of Canadians. Statcangcca. 2015. Available at: http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/82-624-x/2013001/article/11727-eng.htm. Accessed October 17, 2016.
- Vitamin d and calcium: updated dietary reference intakes – nutrition and healthy eating – health Canada. Hc-scgcca. 2016. Available at: http://www.hc-sc.gc.ca/fn-an/nutrition/vitamin/vita-d-eng.php. Accessed October 17, 2016.
- Holick M. Vitamin D: important for prevention of osteoporosis, cardiovascular heart disease, type 1 diabetes, autoimmune diseases, and some cancers. Southern Medical Journal. 2005;98(10):1024-1026. doi:10.1097/01.smj.0000140865.32054.db.
- Food sources of vitamin D. Dietitians of Canada. 2014. Available at: http://www.dietitians.ca/Your-Health/Nutrition-A-Z/Vitamins/Food-Sources-of-Vitamin-D.aspx. Accessed October 17, 2016.
Your core muscles are essential for supporting your back, stabilizing nearby joints, and reducing the risk of injury.1 A stable core helps to maintain the integrity of the spinal column and if it isn’t stable, you may experience low back pain.2 The good news is that there are a few exercises you can do to help reduce or even prevent low back pain.3,4
Below are three core exercises developed by Dr. Stuart McGill designed to increase your endurance, support your core, and, ultimately, protect your back5:
- Modified Curl-up: Lie on your back with one knee bent and the other straight. Place your hands under the arch of the low back and maintain the arch during the modified curl-up. Start by bracing your abdomen by bearing down through your belly and focus your gaze at one point in the ceiling. Lift your shoulder blades off the ground about 30° while keeping your neck and spine in line. Make sure your chin remains tucked, rather than pointing at the ceiling during the movement. Complete 3 sets of 10 to 12 curl-ups.5
- Side Bridge: Lie on your side and prop yourself up on your elbow, which should be placed directly under your shoulder. Keep your legs straight, and put your top foot on the ground in front of your bottom foot. Place your top hand on your bottom shoulder. Maintain the natural curve of your spine, brace your abdomen, squeeze your gluteal muscles, and lift your hips off the ground. Hold for 8 to 10 seconds and repeat 3 times on each side. If that’s too easy, increase the number of repetitions rather than the length of time.5
- Bird Dog: Begin on your hands and knees with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Brace your abdomen and squeeze your gluteal muscles. Lift your right arm straight in front of you until it is level with your shoulder and squeeze your muscles between your shoulder blades. At the same time, straighten your left leg straight back until it is level with your hips, keeping your hips square to the floor. Return to the starting position in a slow and controlled manner and switch sides. That is one repetition. Do 3 sets of 8 to 10 repetitions.5
Core exercises are just one of many ways to support your back and to help with back pain. Dr. Luciano Di Loreto & Associates at Fit for Life Wellness & Rehabilitation Centre are is trained to offer a range of treatments which includes guidance on strengthening exercises.
- Abdelraouf OR, Abdel-aziem AA. The relationship between core endurance and back dysfunction in collegiate male athletes with and without nonspecific low back pain. Int J Sports Phys Ther. 2016; 11(3): 337-44.
- Gordon R, Bloxham S. A systematic review of the effects of exercise and physical activity on non-specific chronic low back pain. Healthcare. 2016; 4(2): 22.
- Willson JD, Dougherty CP, Ireland ML, Davis IM. Core stability and its relationship to lower extremity function and injury. J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2005; 13(5): 316-25.
- Chang WD, Lin HY, Lai PT. Core strength training for patients with chronic low back pain. J Phys Ther Sci. 2015; 27(3): 619-22. doi: 10.1589/jpts.27.619.
- Callaghan J. ‘THE BIG 3’ EXERCISES FOR YOUR CORE – RunWaterloo [Internet]. RunWaterloo. 2014 [cited 8 September 2016]. Available from: http://runwaterloo.com/the-big-3-exercises-for-your-core/. Accessed November 18, 2016.
Sourced from the CCA Blog
There’s no sugar-coating it: North Americans sit a lot. Two-thirds of the North American workforce sits for all or part of their workday.1 When you don’t adjust your posture frequently enough, you’re more likely to experience discomfort while sitting—and you’re inviting a whole host of other musculoskeletal problems along with it.1
Today, on average, sitting takes up more than half of an adult’s waking hours.2 What’s worse is that, according to Mayo Clinic cardiologist Martha Grogan, “for people who sit most of the day, their risk of heart attack is about the same as smoking.”3 Based on current trends, researchers predict the number of hours we spend sedentary will likely increase.2
There are other health risks that come from being more sedentary: prolonged time spent while sitting or reclining can tamper with your glucose levels and your metabolism.4 It’s also a risk factor for type 2 diabetes.4 The good news is that if you break up those long periods of sitting, you can reduce your risk of having diabetes, heart disease, or stroke.4
The Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada5 recommends at least thirty minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity—such as brisk walking or bike riding—at least five days out of the week. If you work Monday to Friday, consider adding a few steps to your commute, or taking two 15 minute walk breaks each workday.
Here are some more helpful tips to help break up your sitting time6,7:
- Create a schedule to remind you to stand up and move. Programming your day can help you stick to something you may otherwise forget to do. A good goal is 5–10 minutes of activity per hour. For example, if you have a job that involves sitting most of the day, plan to spend five minutes every hour up from your chair and moving around the office (like getting coffee, walking around the building, or taking a restroom break) and spend the other five minutes doing stretches.
- Walk around on your lunch break. Invite coworkers from your office to go for a walk with you at lunch. You can check out a nearby park or take a new route around the neighbourhood.
- Park further away and walk. Whether you’re running errands or parking at work, you can choose to park further away and walk those extra few steps to your destination.
- Walk around the house while talking on the phone or during commercial breaks of your favourite show. You might find other opportunities throughout the day too!
Little changes can go a long way to improve your posture and decrease a number of health risks. Whatever method you choose, you can also use the Straighten Up Canada app and Fit-in 15 program to find small exercises you can do during the day.
- Fenety A, Walker JM. Short-term effects of workstation exercises on musculoskeletal discomfort and postural changes in seated video display unit workers. J Am Phys Ther Assoc. 2002; 82(6): 578-89.
- Healy GN, Eakin EG, Owen N, et al. A cluster randomized controlled trial to reduce office workers’ sitting time. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2016; 48(9): 1787-97. doi:10.1249/mss.0000000000000972.
- Winslow, R. The guide to beating a heart attack: first line defense is lowering risk, even when genetics isn’t on your side. The Wall Street Journal. April 16, 2012. http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10001424052702304818404577347982400815676. Accessed November 25, 2016.
- Benatti FB, Ried-Larsen M. The effects of breaking up prolonged sitting time. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2015; 47(10): 2053-61. doi:10.1249/mss.0000000000000654.
- Stay active. Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. 2016. Available at: http://www.heartandstroke.ca/get-healthy/stay-active#How-much-activity-do-I-need. Accessed November 22, 2016.
- Storrs C. Stand up, sit less and move more, researchers say; here’s how to do it. CNN. August 6, 2015. Available at: http://www.cnn.com/2015/08/06/health/how-to-move-more/. Accessed October 14, 2016.
- Sit less. The Heart Foundation. Available at: https://heartfoundation.org.au/active-living/sit-less. Accessed October 14, 2016.
Sourced from CCA Blog.
Children have another month before they’re back to school and summertime is a great season to get kids outdoors and active. It can sometimes be a struggle to get children away from technology to spend more time outdoors practicing activities and sports, however it is so important to keep them physically active and set themselves up for success in the future, including good MSK health.
Children aged 5–11 should participate in at least one hour of physical activity each day to help build strong bones and muscles. But sometimes getting children interested and motivated to go out and play is easier said than done.
Here are some tips to help get children up and moving:
- Encourage frequent walks or even biking adventures around the neighbourhood
- Get active as a family
- Ask them to help you carry the groceries
- Have them help with garden work
- Play some tunes and host a dance party outdoors
- Join community, recreational sports team(s)
- Take kids to the playground or to the park to play
There are numerous benefits to active living for the young and old: it improves self-esteem, the health of the cardiovascular system, bones and muscles, as well as posture; it also encourages healthy growth and development. Outdoor activities are also a great way to get children to socialize and meet new friends.
To meet the suggested daily requirements, children aged 5–11 years should minimize the time they spend being sedentary each day. This may be achieved by limiting recreational screen time to no more than two hours per day; being less sedentary is associated with additional health benefits. Also, consider limiting sedentary (motorized) transport, extended sitting, and time spent indoors throughout the day.
Consider signing children up for summer programs that involve physical activity and get them involved in summer team sports. Another great way to teach children the importance of physical activity is to do something active as a family as often as possible—whether you go for a bike ride or play a game of soccer together. Setting an example is the best way to show children to the importance of physical activity.
You can also download the Straighten Up Canada app for easy-to-follow videos that demonstrate simple activities and exercises that can be done anywhere.
1Public Health Agency of Canada. Physical Activity Tips for Children (5–11 Years)L Tips to Get Active. Modified April 25, 2012. Accessed May 30, 2016. http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca/hp-ps/hl-mvs/pa-ap/05paap-eng.phpMore
Summer weather is here! This means there are more opportunities to go outdoors and have fun. One activity that many of us look forward to in the summer months is camping. The fresh air, a well-lit campfire and a dip in the lake are difficult to resist. But preparing for camping is just as important as enjoying it. Be ready for the unexpected.
Camp grounds and parks allow us to enjoy a large variety of recreational activities, which is what makes it a summer favorite. Preparing and organizing packing ahead of time can help you manage the unexpected and tackle challenges as they arise. We want to help out all our campers this summer with some useful tips to follow before you load up the tent and strap your canoe on the roof of the car1:
- Test your gear to ensure it works. Before packing materials in your vehicle, test your equipment to ensure it works and do so safely.
- Plan for activities. Plan your activities in advance to ensure that you have the right equipment and are physically ready for the challenge.
- Familiarize yourself with your upcoming campsite. Learning about the facility and what is available to you helps you prepare in advance for what to bring.
- Make a list and check it twice. Preparation is key! Make a list of the items that you may need, but consider what is truly essential. Packing extra weight can put a strain on your body, so be discerning and keep things light.
Like many other events in your life, camping can pose a number of risks to your MSK health. Preparing for the challenges ahead can also help prevent potential injuries. If you plan on doing any activities during your camping trip such as hiking, biking, or running, it is a good idea to see your chiropractor in advance for tips and advice on how to physically prepare yourself when outdoors. Here are some tips to consider:
- Support your back. From packing to pitching the tent or while on a hike, keep neutral curves in your spine while keeping your core engaged and active. (See our blog on how to maintain good posture.)
- Mind the lift. Remember to bend from the hips and knees while using your legs to lift. Keep a neutral spine and use your entire body to turn. Pivot from your feet to move your body.
- Pack light. Carry only what you need, and avoid excess. This can help prevent fatigue and strain from packing, hiking, or even canoeing. Being a minimalist can help prevent injuries.
References 1Woodbury, Shari. “How to prepare for a family camping trip.” Family Share. https://familyshare.com/1926/family/how-to-prepare-for-a-family-camping-trip
The human body is pretty amazing. It can convert food into energy and sunshine into vitamins. And, when everything is working as it should, the human body also has the ability to heal itself. When you get injured, a protective response is triggered that dilates blood vessels to improve blood flow to the injured area. You might experience immobility, heat, pain, redness and swelling, and this is normal. Acute inflammation is the body’s natural response to a threat. White blood cells move in and are then replaced by anti-inflammatory compounds to begin the healing process. Common examples of the normal process of acute inflammation include a sore throat, a sun burn or sinusitis.
Sometimes, however, when the negative stimulus continues, the inflammation “on” switch gets stuck and there is a persistent activation of inflammatory molecules. This is referred to as chronic inflammation, and can last for days, months, or even years, often with no visible signs. Chronic inflammation can result from a viral or microbial infection or environmental factors, including common allergens such as pollen. The condition can cause damage to the body’s tissues, replacing healthy cells with fibrous tissue. Chronic inflammation is abnormal and does not benefit the body – it signals a failure to eliminate whatever caused the initial acute inflammation. If your medical practitioner suspects that you may be suffering chronic inflammation, he or she can test for biomarkers that indicate inflammation, such as white blood cell count or albumin levels.
Inflammation and MSK Conditions
Chronic inflammation can lead to or complicate a number of diseases and conditions, such as asthma, Crohn’s disease and arthritis. Some cells in the body, such as neurons, cardiac cells and skeletal muscle cells are especially vulnerable to the effects of inflammation. Particularly, some systemic inflammatory MSK conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis can leave individuals susceptible to chronic pain and even signs of inflammation.
In some cases, biomechanical issues, trauma or injury can also lead to chronic inflammation and pain if left untreated. For example, an injury to the knee may cause additional weight loading on the joint and alter the gait. With time, the knee is more and more susceptible to injury and inflammation, and if left untreated, that condition can become chronic or recurrent.
Tips for Reducing Chronic Inflammation
Avoid foods that are high in saturated fats and trans fats, as well as foods with a high glycemic index. A Mediterranean-style diet that incorporates olive oil, fruits and vegetables, nuts, beans and whole grains is thought to act as a natural anti-inflammatory. A good diet also helps to maintain a healthy body weight. Also, it is recommended to avoid or limit alcohol, tobacco, sugar and refined carbs among others.1
Regular exercise keeps your body moving and joints lubricated, your muscles toned and your energy level high. Those who exercise regularly are more likely to heal faster from injuries and less likely to develop chronic inflammation.
Several studies have shown that sleep deprivation can have an impact on inflammation and even increase it. For example, a 2006 study concluded that sleep loss alters molecular processes that drive cellular immune activation and induce inflammatory cytokines,2 which in turn can increase pain.3
4. Drink water
Water is an essential element to maintaining the body’s proper function. In fact, there are many benefits associated with drinking water aside from the basic need to stay hydrated. Water can help optimize energy throughout the day by nourishing your cells, keep the discs of the spine hydrated and even help modulate your calorie intake. It is also thought to help reduce chronic inflammation by reducing acidosis and keeping the body’s PH level in balance.
5. Quit smoking
We have already discussed the negative impacts of smoking on the musculoskeletal system, and it is well known that the toxic minerals contained in cigarette smoke are associated with premature death. Smoking triggers an immunologic response and can increase the level of inflammatory markers.
Sourced from the Canadian Chiropractic Association
1. Leo Galland, MD. Diet and Inflammation. Nutr Clin Pract December 2010 vol. 25no. 6.
2. Irwin MR, Wang M, Campomayor CO, Collado-Hidalgo A, Cole S. Sleep deprivation and activation of morning levels of cellular and genomic markers of inflammation. Arch Intern Med. 2006 Sep 18;166(16):1756-62.
3. Jun-Ming Zhang, MSc, MD1 and Jianxiong An, MSc, MD. Cytokines, Inflammation and Pain. Int Anesthesiol Clin. 2007 Spring; 45(2): 27–37.More
Many Canadians continue to have questions about the role that chiropractors play in the healthcare team, and what benefit care may have to their health. To find out what chiropractic can do for you, find a chiropractor in your community. However, there are commonly shared myths that can be easily explained by your chiropractor.
We took three of the most common myths around chiropractic treatment and explained them:
1. Once you see a chiropractor you have to keep going back
This is false. When seeking care from a chiropractor, the chiropractor will perform an assessment including a history and physical examination to determine the cause of the pain or dysfunction. From these observations, a diagnosis will be made and the treatment plan developed in collaboration with the patient – according to their needs and goals. The treatment plan will recommend a number of initial visits to see if the patient responds to care and scheduled re-evaluations. Depending on the patient and the condition, the recommended course of care may vary. Ultimately, the decision to continue care is yours. As a patient, if you have questions or concerns about care, you should feel comfortable to ask the chiropractor for more information on the recommendations made and address any concerns. The care plan should be part of a shared decision-making between the patient and practitioner.
2. Chiropractors are not ‘real’ doctors
Chiropractors are regulated in all 10 Canadian provinces, and are designated to use the title “doctor” similar to physicians, optometrists and dentists after completing the extensive Doctor of Chiropractic degree program. Those professions who are recognized to use the “doctor” title have extensive training in their area of expertise that allows them to be diagnosticians – to provide a diagnosis.
3. Adjustments are painful
In general, adjustments or joint manipulations do not hurt. In fact, many patients report immediate pain relief. Patients may be nervous about the ‘cracking’ or popping sound that may occur during an adjustment. The sound is believed to result from the release of gas bubbles from the joint.
Learning more about chiropractic care can help you access and determine if chiropractic care is right for you. To learn more, contact your chiropractor and ask questions about how chiropractic care could work for you. To learn more about what to expect at your first chiropractic treatment, you can take a look at our online videos.
Sourced from the Canadian Chiropractic Association