Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Five Ways to Reduce Low Back Pain While Cycling

Canadian Chiropractic Association

Cycling competitively, to work or just for the enjoyment of it is an excellent way to keep in shape and enjoy the outdoors, but it’s no fun at all if your back hurts. Back pain or discomfort while riding a bicycle can result from various factors, such as poor riding posture, a poorly fit bicycle, the wrong-sized bicycle or even from a pre-existing injury. Like any other physical activity, cycling requires some conditioning and adaptation, and if you’re just starting out in this sport, you may want to seek out more information before strapping on your helmet.
Importantly, if you experience recurrent or prolonged back pain while cycling or even afterwards, make sure to seek prompt assessment and treatment. There are also some simple adjustments you can make to keep riding easy, prevent injury or prevent an existing injury from progressing to a more serious problem. Often, simple fixes like adjusting your seat or correcting your posture could help. Read on for helpful tips!
1. Take it easy
Whether you are training for a race or simply working towards your personal best, be careful not to overdo it. On long rides, make sure to take breaks as needed, hydrate and do some stretches or move about. Check out our Resources section for excellent stretches for athletes.
2. The right fit for your needs
Touring, road racing or all-terrain – there is a bike for every rider. Make sure you have the bike that suits your needs. What terrain will you be riding on? How long will your trips be? Are you looking for comfort or speed? When you buy a new bike, or take yours for maintenance, ask to have your bike properly fitted for your individual frame.
3. Posture
While riding, keep a neutral spine by bending at the hips and avoiding the “hunch” in your mid-back. If possible, avoid excessive movement from your upper body and use your back as a fulcrum instead.
4. Core Strength
Having well-conditioned abdominal and back muscles will help to support your upper body while riding and minimize excessive swaying. Your chiropractor can help to guide you and recommend exercises that are targeted to your core, as well as exercises to enhance your overall conditioning.
5. Adjust your bike to your frame
Minor adjustments can make a huge difference. Different styles of bikes require different riding postures, however, this infographic provides a quick reference for general adjustments that can help ensure a relaxed, comfortable posture while riding your bicycle.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Repetitive Strain Injuries

Ontario Chiropractic Association

As your workload at the office increases, so do repetitive actions, such as typing, using your computer mouse and talking on the phone. These routine tasks seem simple, but they can add a level of physical stress to the emotional and mental stress of getting the job done. In fact, repetitive strain injuries have skyrocketed in the last 20 years due to the increasing reliance on workplace technology.

Try these tips to reduce the strain:

Computer Monitor
Position your computer screen directly in front of you. Allow the muscles in your eyes to relax by following the 20/20/20 rule: Take a 20-second break every 20 minutes and focus on an object that is at least 20 feet away from you.

Use your hand to support the telephone against your ear and alternate sides regularly. Do not cradle the phone between your ear and your shoulder. Consider using a headset or speaker.

Sit upright and all the way to the back. Place a support cushion or roll against the arch of your low back for lumbar spine support. Here are some tips to help you adjust your chair:
  • Stand in front of the chair and adjust the height so that the highest point of the seat is just below your knee.
  • Sit on the chair and make sure that your knees are bent at approximately a 90-degree angle when your feet are flat on the floor.
  • Adjust the backrest forwards and backwards as well as up and down until it fits the hollow in your lower back.
  • Sit upright with your arms hanging by your sides. Bend your elbows at about a right angle and adjust the armrest height until they barely touch the undersides of the elbows. Remove the armrest from the chair if the right level cannot be achieved.
Lastly, don’t forget to take a quick stretch break or change position every 30 to 45 minutes. Your back, neck and shoulders will thank you for it!

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Prevention And Management Of Neck Pain

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

Most adults can expect to experience some neck pain in their lifetime.  The cause of neck pain is often multi-factorial, meaning that there is usually no single cause.  Once an episode of neck pain happens, some individuals will find it is a persistent or recurrent condition.  However, there are management strategies that can be employed to minimize the negative impact of neck pain.
Below are some tips on prevention and management of neck pain.
·        Protect your neck while you sleep by choosing a pillow that will help support the head, neck, and shoulders.  This will keep them in alignment and minimize stress and strain.
·        Be smart when working at a workstation/desk.  The workstation/desk should be at elbow height.  Use of an adjustable chair can help meet this need.  Computer monitors should be at eye level for easy viewing.  Do not cradle the phone between your head and shoulder.  Use of a headset or the speakerphone feature will keep your hands free and allow you to multi-task in a safe manner.  Be sure to take regular breaks every 20 to 40 minutes that allow you to stand, walk around, and stretch your neck and upper back.
·        Avoiding cigarette smoke can be helpful.  The reduced blood circulation found in smokers deprives spinal discs of vital nutrients which can lead to premature degeneration.  Smoking may also provoke disc herniation with coughing, and cause general damage to the musculoskeletal system through direct chemical irritation and chronic inflammation.  Exposure to secondhand smoke during childhood may also increase the risk of developing neck problems later in life.
·        Drinking water brings vital nutrients to neck muscles and decreases the risk of cramps and strains.  Water also helps to protect neck joints by providing lubrication and cushioning.
·        Eliminate poor posture which can strain the muscles and joints in the neck.  While sitting, make sure that your weight is evenly distributed on your seat, your shoulders are not rounding forward, and you are not slouching.  Your head should be resting on your torso and not poking forward.
·        Engaging in regular physical activity and exercise will help keep your neck strong.  This can include general cardiovascular conditioning, along with postural, stretching and strengthening exercises for the neck and upper back.
·        Get professional help for your neck pain.  The following treatments have been identified as being helpful for most cases of neck pain:  education, exercise, mobilization, manipulation, acupuncture, and soft tissue therapy.  The scientific literature does not identify any “best” treatment that is effective for everyone.  Trying a variety of therapies or combination of therapies may be required to find relief and help manage neck pain.
If you are having difficulty managing neck pain symptoms, contact a qualified health professional who can prescribe appropriate therapy, rehabilitation and self-management strategies specifically for your circumstance.  For more information, visit
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.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Gardening Advice to Prevent Injury

By Dr. Greg Lusk, DC

After a colder than average February, reminiscent of my formative years in Timmins, Ontario, I think we'd all agree that it's time to move life outside!
For those new to gardening it may hardly seem like a demanding activity; however, seasoned veterans know there’s plenty of hard work involved.  Raking, lifting, hauling, digging, aerating, and planting are all good exercise, but they can also lead to injury if the gardener isn’t prepared.  If fact, 88% of Ontario's chiropractors report that gardening is the most common source of back and neck pain during the warm weather season.  Like any new activity that hasn't been performed in a while, your body needs to be gradually re-conditioned to the demands.
Improper gardening techniques may cause repetitive strain injuries of the wrist and elbow, sprain/strain injuries to muscles throughout the body, especially in the lower back, and general wear and tear on joints and muscles.  Here are a few tips to stay pain free:

1.    Warm up.  Take a short walk around the block or climb up and down the stairs a few times.  The goal is to elevate your body temperature and increase your circulation.  You can also do some leg, spine, shoulder and forearm range of motion stretches to get those areas ready for activity.  Your muscles and joints will appreciate this prior to being asked to do work.
2.    Alternate tasks and change positions.  Switch between heavier tasks such as digging and raking and lighter tasks such as planting every 10 to 15 minutes.  The change of body position with each different activity allows you to recover and avoid fatigue.  Changing hands when raking or digging also helps to share the load on both sides of the body.
3.    Have the right tools.  An ergonomically designed tool with padded handles and spring action features can decrease the stress on your body.  Make sure they are the right size and weight for you.  Carts and wheelbarrows minimize the need for lifting and carrying, reducing your risk of injury.
4.    Do the "scissors" when you rake.  Stand with your legs in a split stance and alternate which leg is forward every few minutes.  This will decrease the strain on your back.
5.    Kneel to plant and weed.  Constant bending strains your back, neck, and legs.  Use knee pads for comfort and keep your back straight.
6.    Lift correctly.  Bend your knees, feet shoulder width apart, keep the back straight/"neutral", and tighten your core.  Keep the load close to your body.  Pivot at your hips and ankles if you need to change directions and avoid twisting your spine.  Share the load if it is heavy.
7.    Take frequent breaks.  Three brief breaks each hour is recommended.  Have a drink, stretch, or sit and relax.  Life is busy but you don't want to make this a race.  Spread the work out over a few days.
8.    Dress correctly and hydrate.  Your feet should be protected with thick-soled supportive shoes.  This will avoid direct injury to the feet and best support your body to minimize back pain and muscular strain.  Wear loose fitting, comfortable clothing to not restrict your flexibility.  Also drink plenty of water to keep your muscles and joints moving freely.
Stop gardening if you experience persistent muscle and/or joint pain.  If you experience back pain that lasts more than two to three days, contact a licensed health professional for an evaluation.  This article is for general information purposes only and is not to be taken as professional medical advice.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Understanding Medical Acupuncture Treatment

By:  Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCOR(C)

Acupuncture is a 2000-year-old Chinese treatment in which needles are inserted into specific points on the body.  The World Health Organization (WHO) lists approximately four-dozen different conditions that can legitimately be treated by acupuncture.   Acupuncture treatments can be particularly helpful for pain complaints such as:  muscular strains, arthritic pain, neck and low back pain, rotator cuff tendonitis, tennis elbow, migraine and tension headaches.

The term "Medical Acupuncture" refers to acupuncture performed by a licensed health care professional who has training in the health sciences.  Practitioners of Medical Acupuncture derive the concepts of disease, dysfunction, and healing from the western biomedical understanding of pathology, anatomy, physiology and biochemistry.  Under this model, the act of inserting an acupuncture needle into the body is believed to result in the following:

·        Pain Control - Pain-blocking substances are released locally and by the central nervous system to suppress the transmission of pain.

·        Inflammation Control - Natural anti-inflammatory chemicals are released locally, and inflammation control centers are stimulated in other parts of the body.

·        Blood and Lymphatic Flow - Enhancement of blood and lymphatic flow locally and throughout the body allows for the delivery of fresh oxygen and the removal of injury debris from the injury site.
The needles used for acupuncture are much smaller than a standard hypodermic needle.  These needles are solid, not hollow, and have a finely tapered point as opposed to a bevelled cutting-edge point.  The sensations felt during needle insertion range from feeling nothing at all, to mild tingling, to slight numbness/achiness, to small electrical pulsations distant to the site of insertion.  All these sensations typically subside once the needles are removed.  It is common practice nowadays for practitioners to use sterile disposable needles that are discarded following treatment.

As with any health intervention, there is always a potential for side effects and adverse reactions.  The good news is that acupuncture performed by an experienced and knowledgeable practitioner is relatively safe and infrequently yields minor side effects.  These may include but are not limited to: a slight discoloration at the acupuncture site that is temporary and not dangerous; minor bleeding; nausea; short-term fatigue or drowsiness; or a short-term increase in pain before relief sets in.  An experienced and knowledgeable acupuncturist aims to avoid treatment of certain points during pregnancy, over wounded or infectious areas, to individuals who are hemophiliacs, and to individuals who have needle phobia.

Medical Acupuncture treatments can be safely and successfully employed to help promote healing and recovery from pain complaints including muscle and joint injuries.  Acupuncture treatments can also be utilized in conjunction with other rehabilitative strategies such as exercise prescription, manual adjusting and mobilization techniques, and soft tissue therapy.  For more information visit

Dr. John A. Papa is a graduate of the McMaster University Contemporary Medical Acupuncture Program.  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.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Tips for Optimizing MSK Health in Your Later Years

Author: CCA Staff Team

 As the baby boomer generation reaches the age of retirement, seniors now make up the fastest-growing age group in Canada. By 2030, it is expected that 23.6% of Canadians will be age 65 or older. To give some perspective, in 2013 a mere 15.3% of the Canadian population was 65 or above.
How Aging Affects Your MSK Health
Not surprisingly, as we age and our bodies accumulate the effects of daily wear and tear, our musculoskeletal (MSK) system can become compromised as we are more susceptible to injury. Stiffer muscles, decreased range of motion and a loss of elasticity of connective tissue (ligaments, tendons and muscles) can decrease mobility and affect balance. Vertebrae and other bones lose some of their mineral content with time. For the spine, this can result in decreased vertebrae height, narrowed foramen and even compression fractures. Hip and knee joints may also lose cartilage. The healing process can be slowed and repair can take longer. This is more pronounced in the vertebral column.
Common Age-related MSK Conditions
Degenerative changes to the MSK system start developing around age 30, and like everything relating to our health, is impacted by the choices we make every day. Chiropractic care can be very effective in helping seniors with pain management, range of motion, joint degeneration, posture and balance. Thinking about age-related degeneration should not be put off until you’re older; making choices now that promote health can help slow the process.
Some of the most common age-related MSK concerns are osteoporosis, spinal stenosis and limited mobility, and there are simple steps you can take to reduce your chances of developing them.
Tips for Optimizing MSK Health in Your Later Years


1. Diet

A diet rich in micro nutrients helps to decrease the risks of developing bone defects and muscular weakness. Make sure you get adequate amounts of vitamins C and D throughout your lifetime to promote healthy functional growth of muscles and bones, as well as calcium for strong bones to help avoid osteoporosis

2. Stretching

An active lifestyle benefits everyone, but it may be of particular benefit to seniors, as it also helps to relieve depression and isolation. Regular stretching exercises such as yoga can help maintain joint flexibility and slow age-related stiffening and shortening of the muscle fibers.

3. Strength Training

Weight training for the elderly may not sound like a good idea, but a 2007 study showed that strength training for six months can actually improve cell function, help preserve muscle strength and even reverse age-related cell impairment. The study compared the muscle strength of older adults to a sample of younger adults. Before the six-month period of strength training, the older group was 59% weaker than the younger group; at the end of training, they were only 38% weaker.1 Weight-bearing exercise, such as walking or weight training, has also been shown to help maintain bone mass, and twisting or rotational movements are beneficial for flexibility and balance.

4. Falls Prevention

A leading cause of morbidity and mortality among seniors is accidental falls. In fact, one in every three Canadians over age 65 will fall at least once in a year. This is due, in large part, to poor balance and limited mobility brought on by age-related changes to the MSK system. Check out our Best Foot Forward Program for tips on safeguarding the home and preventing falls.

5. Posture

Postural changes commonly associated with aging can also affect balance. As your body ages you can expect gradual changes, such as flattened foot arches and decreased vertebrae height, which can have an impact on how we walk or how we stand. However, conditioning your body starting now can minimize these changes and your ability to perform certain tasks later in life. Download the free Straighten Up Canada app and teach your body good posture now for a taller and stronger future.