Monday, August 19, 2013

Choosing The Right Backpack For Your Children

By:  Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)

Carrying a poorly designed or overloaded backpack can place excessive weight on a child’s growing spinal column.  This type of daily physical stress can lead to potential irritation and injury of the spine, joints, and muscles resulting in postural changes, back pain, and headaches.
Parents and children can avoid injury by following these simple rules with respect to choosing, packing, and carrying a backpack.
1.    Pick the correct size:  Choose a backpack that is proportionate to body size and not larger than needed.  The top of the backpack should not extend higher than the top of the shoulder, and the bottom should not fall below the top of the hipbone.
2.    Choose lightweight material:  Select a backpack made of light material.  For example, vinyl or canvas instead of leather.
3.    Strap it up:  The shoulder straps should be at least two inches wide, adjustable, and padded.  Ensure that they do not cut into or fit too snugly around and under the arms.  A hip strap or waist belt helps to effectively redistribute as much as 50 to 70 percent of the weight off the shoulders and spine onto the pelvis, balancing the backpack weight more evenly.
4.    Padding goes a long way:  A backpack should have a padded back for added protection and comfort.  Pack odd-shaped items on the  outside so they do not dig into the back.
5.    Pack it right:  Contents should be evenly distributed, with the heaviest items packed closest to the body.  This reduces the strain, as the weight is closer to the body’s centre of gravity.
6.    More pockets are better:  Choose a backpack that has several individual pockets instead of one large compartment.  This will help to distribute the weight evenly and keep contents from shifting.
7.    Wheels and handles:  Explore other backpack options such as a backpack with wheels and a pull handle for easy rolling.
8.    Weight is everything:  Backpacks should never exceed 15 percent of a secondary school child’s body weight or 10 percent of an elementary school child’s body weight.
9.    Handle with care:  Children should learn to squat or kneel to pick up their backpacks, and use their legs by bending at the knees and not twisting the back when lifting.  Backpacks can be placed on a counter, chair or table before they are put on.  Slinging backpacks on one side of the body may place excessive stress on the joints and muscles of the mid and lower back.
Parents should ask their kids to report any pain or other problems resulting from carrying a backpack.  If the pain is severe or persistent, seek care from a qualified health professional.  For more information, visit  The author credits the OCA in the preparation of this educational information for use by its members and the public.
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, August 16, 2013


Ontario Chiropractic Association (OCA)
Most people know that keeping active is important to good health and something experts recommend you do regularly! But life is busy and sometimes it seems impossible to find the time, never mind the motivation, to be more active. The good news is all you need to find is 15 minutes a day. ‘Fit-in 15’ is a new – and realistic – online program that can help you make active living a lifestyle by doing something fitness-related for just 15 minutes a day.

Getting started

One of the first things you’ll need to think about is where you can fit 15 minutes of activity into your daily schedule. It depends on your personality and lifestyle. Consider that ‘morning people’ often like to get their 15 minutes in before they go to work. Other personality types prefer to take time during the lunch hour. Of course, there are also people who prefer to fit their 15 minutes of activity in after dinner – and that will work too.

No-cost activities

The Fit-in 15 program consists of three types of simple, no-cost activities: cardio activities, strength exercises and flexibility stretches. It’s important to vary these activities (take a walk and/or choose from the stretches and strength exercises that the program provides), and the only requirement is that you do something for 15 minutes every day.

Why cardio, strength and flexibility activities?

Cardio activities are good for your heart, lungs and circulatory system. And, moving your body feels great! To get started, walking is the simplest cardio activity you can do.
Strength exercises, such as biceps curls and pelvic lifts, focus on your muscles. Muscles help support all the joints in your body and are important for do-ability.
For example, without them you can’t open lids, or carry luggage, pets or young children!
Flexibility stretches are all about keeping you limber… for bending, reaching and turning with ease. Most people don’t stretch their muscles enough and wonder why they feel stiff and sore.

Your own personal coach

A little encouragement can go a long way, and Fit-in 15 also provides regular e-mail reminders, encouragement and praise for fitting in 15 minutes of activity a day. You go girl!

Change your life in 15 minutes a day

Keeping active will help improve your physical health, increase energy and put a smile on your face! And once Fit-in 15 activities become a habit – and they will in almost no time – you may want to schedule even more move-your-body time into your day.
Visit for more information.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Sitting Down On The Job

Does your job find you sitting most of the day?
While sitting can seem restful, keep in mind that staying in any one position for long periods of time can cause strain and injury to your muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments. Sustained sitting can take a toll on your neck and lower back – steady compression on the spinal discs hinders their nutrition and can contribute to premature degeneration.
So, if you have to sit at work, what can you do to stay pain-free? Help take the load off your back with these tips:

Take frequent breaks

First, ensure that you take regular breaks from sitting. Get up, take a short walk outside or around the office, and stretch.

Posture perfect

Next, pay attention to your posture. Sitting incorrectly puts strain on your lower back, decreases blood flow to your working muscles and accelerates fatigue. Practise “active sitting” with your feet flat on the ground in front of you, your back straight, your shoulders squared and your chin parallel with the floor. This posture will strengthen the “core” muscles of your abdomen, sides and back to reduce the strain on other areas. The stronger your core muscles, the easier it will be to maintain good posture.

Choose a good office chair

What’s most important in preventing injury and strain is to be able to easily vary your sitting positions throughout the day. An investment in a good office chair can help a lot. The right chair for you should:
  • Be easily adjustable to suit your size
  • Adapt to support your spine in various working positions
  • Have a backrest that supports your lower back
  • Have armrests, if they are appropriate to your work
  • Have a front edge that curves downward to promote proper posture

Stability balls

One recent trend is to use a stability ball at the office. While a ball is a great tool to help you tone your abs at home or at the gym, it should not replace a good chair at your work station. If you do bring the ball to work:
  • Use the ball only for short periods
  • Use your abdominal, back and side muscles to maintain straight posture
  • Stop when your muscles feel tired
Sitting on a ball instead of a chair can actually increase the pressure on your back, especially if your core muscles aren’t strong. So, sitting a long time on the ball may lead to greater discomfort in your lower back. Do not use a ball if you have osteoporosis, balance or low back problems.
Remember, stability balls are not for everyone; consult a chiropractor if you have any pre-existing injury or health problems that could impact your balance or stability.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Energy Boosters

Ontario Chiropractic Association (OCA)

Everyone is familiar with all-out energy drain, those times when no matter how enticing that new movie, fabulous shoe sale, or friendly barbecue, you just can’t psych yourself up to go. What can be harder to recognize is chronic energy drain. In this case, you may not necessarily feel the classic signs of exhaustion – like aching muscles or that all-over tired feeling. What you do experience is an increasing lack of get-up-and-go for many of the activities you used to love.
If this sounds familiar, take heart. Try these tips and strategies to help increase your energy while avoiding that extra cup of coffee.

Keep moving

Increasing physical activity actually increases energy. The key is to focus on daily physical activity and not just “exercise!” Scrub, dig, shovel, walk, play, ride or wheel through your day. Small steps like turning off the TV after dinner to go for a walk with your partner, children or dog can make a big difference.

Sleep tight

Making time for sleep is essential to feeling alert and ready to take on the day. Most people need at least eight to nine hours every night. To help create a restful atmosphere, fully darken your bedroom (turn your alarm clock away if the display gives off too much light), regulate room temperature (too hot or too cold, and you’ll wake up), and use “white noise” (a fan or quiet music) to help induce sleepiness.

Nourish yourself

Meal timing is another important factor in maintaining energy levels. People often skip meals, and wonder why they are tired in the afternoon. Skipping meals can cause blood sugar swings, often resulting in fatigue. You should eat at least three nutritious meals each day, with the last meal well before bedtime.


One of the biggest energy zappers is stress. Stressors like worry or fear can leave you mentally and physically exhausted. Counter these energy killers by programming more relaxation activities into your day. For many folks, increasing exercise burns off the chemical effects of stress and anger, while others find relief in quiet pursuits such as listening to music, reading a great book, or even just talking on the phone.

Get some sun

The body makes vitamin D after exposure to sun, which can help with higher physical performance and improved mood. Try to get 10 minutes of unprotected exposure to the sun at least three times a week.
Pain-free movement is also an important energy booster. If headache, back, neck or shoulder pain is slowing you down, consider visiting a chiropractor for treatment recommendations to reduce your aches and pains, and energize your day.