Friday, May 29, 2015

Using Exercise To Manage Osteoarthritis

By:  Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)
Osteoarthritis accounts for more trouble with climbing stairs and walking than any other disease, and is the most common reason for total hip and knee replacement surgeries.  This article will discuss the role of exercise in the management of osteoarthritis.
Exercise increases our functional capacity to withstand occupational, recreational, and everyday stresses to our body more efficiently, thereby minimizing the risk of joint injury and subsequent disability.  Natural chemicals called endorphins have anti-inflammatory and pain relieving properties and are released by the body during exercise.  Joint movement also transports nutrients and waste products to and from cartilage.  For every extra pound of weight that someone carries, they put an extra three to five pounds of stress on a weight bearing joint.  Regular exercise can allow for an individual to keep their weight down, and their muscles and joints flexible and strong.
The individual components of exercise can exert specific positive benefits in the body.  Aerobic or Endurance exercise improves the body’s capacity to deliver oxygen to working muscles and organs.  Swimming, cycling, jogging, water aerobics, and power walking are a few examples of this type of exercise.  It is recommended that an individual engage in a minimum of 30 minutes of endurance exercise at least three times per week.  This type of exercise will also burn calories and help maintain healthy body weight.
Resistance or Strengthening exercise helps a muscle’s ability to contract and do work.  This type of exercise can help maintain bone density and strengthen muscles to support our joints.  It will also boost metabolism and assist in maintaining a healthy body weight.  Examples of this type of exercise include weight machines in a fitness facility, dumbbells, or resistance tubing.
Flexibility exercises help maintain a joint’s complete movement or range of motion.  Stretching is the most familiar form of this type of exercise but it can also include activities such as Tai Chi, Pilates, and Yoga.  Holding a sustained stretch for 15-30 seconds can result in modest flexibility gains.  This type of exercise becomes especially important when preparing for any endurance or strengthening activity to help ready the body and minimize the risk of injury.  Where appropriate, agility and proprioceptive/balance exercise may also be added.
Osteoarthritis can be successfully managed with active exercise strategies.  Exercise can encompass a wide range of activities.  Therefore choose activities that are safe and enjoyable.  This will make it more likely for you to stay consistent with those activities.  There may be some initial discomfort when beginning an 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.  Start slowly and progress gradually.  If discomfort persists beyond this point, consult with a Regulated Health Professional to make sure the exercise you are performing is appropriate and being done correctly.  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, May 27, 2015

An Introduction to Osteoarthritis

By:  Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)
Millions of Canadians suffer from osteoarthritis, the most common form of arthritis.  Osteoarthritis accounts for more trouble with climbing stairs and walking than any other disease, and is the most common reason for total hip and knee replacement surgeries. This article provides a review of the current scientific understanding of osteoarthritis, including common symptoms, risk factors/causes, and natural management strategies.
It is important to first understand what osteoarthritis is. Many joints in our body have smooth cartilage surfaces that glide against each other, which allow two or more opposing bones to move freely and perform a specific set of movement(s).  A joint becomes arthritic when there is wearing down of these cartilage surfaces, and a change in the composition of the bone underneath the cartilage occurs.  Soft tissue structures in and around the joint are also affected.  An arthritic joint does not mechanically function like it is supposed to.  This may result in a number of symptoms including:  muscle tightness and weakness, joint pain and stiffness, decreased ranges of motion, instability and creaking in the joints, swelling, inflammation, joint thickening (i.e. finger nodules, bunions), secondary movement patterns, and physical de-conditioning.  Weight-bearing joints such as the hips and knees are most commonly affected, but osteoarthritis can affect any area of the body, including the hands, neck, and low back.
Osteoarthritis risk factors/causes are typically multi-factorial, meaning that there is usually no single cause, but rather a combination of several different factors.  The more risk factors an individual has, the greater chance they have of developing osteoarthritis.  These risk factors/causes may include but are not limited to: advancing age, genetic predisposition, mechanical overload from occupational and recreational activities, direct joint injury, lack of exercise, and being overweight or obese.
There are several natural strategies that may be employed in the management of osteoarthritis.  These may include proper diet and nutrition to help control weight and decrease inflammation, ice and heat therapy, and supplementation with glucosamine sulphate, omega-3 fatty acids, and natural anti-inflammatory agents.
Treatment from Regulated Health Professionals who utilize manual mobilization therapies, soft tissue therapy, electrotherapy, acupuncture, exercise and rehabilitation strategies can also significantly help to decrease pain by restoring normal muscle and joint motion, and promote healing of arthritic or injured areas.  Exercise has been shown to be particularly helpful and effective as it increases an individuals functional capacity to withstand occupational, recreational, and everyday stresses to the body more efficiently.  This minimizes the risk of joint injury and subsequent disability.  Join us next month when we take a closer look at the specific role of exercise in the management of osteoarthritis.
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.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Behind the Wheel: Posture Check!

Canadian Chiropractic Association

In the previous article, we discussed the stresses that driving can place on the musculoskeletal system. In fact, studies have been conducted, particularly with bus and truck drivers, that show a higher risk of developing MSK conditions associated with these occupations. Vehicle vibrations, bumpy roads and sitting in a constrained position with improper lumbar support may contribute to neck, shoulder and back pain.
If your work depends on driving for long periods of time, or even a lengthy commute to work, there are a few things you can do to help minimize your risk of developing an MSK condition and associated pain. A key factor is how you sit while driving. By keeping your spine relaxed and neutral while avoiding excessive twisting and reaching, you can avoid awkward postures that may lead to injury. Our tips below will help you adjust your driving posture to minimize risks!
1. Loosen Your Grip
You’ve probably been told that it’s safest to keep two hands on the wheel. This is true for road safety, but it’s also helpful for your MSK health to keep your torso from twisting. Make sure to keep your hands relaxed on the wheel. If you’re a white-knuckle driver, this tight grip decreases circulation and increases muscle tension. Change your hand position frequently.
2. Relax
Do your shoulders ache when you are behind the wheel? If you experience shoulder pain, neck strain, leg cramps or an ache in your side, make sure you aren’t tense and leaning forward towards the steering wheel
3. Don’t Slouch
Leaning way back in the driver’s seat with an arm out the window might look comfortable, but it can actually cause lumbar pain and side aches. The driver’s seat should lean back just a little (100-110 degrees) to reduce pressure on your back.
4. Adjust Your Seat
Most new cars are equipped with adjustable seats. Your knees should be slightly lower than your hips. Sit comfortably with your back relaxed and supported. Reclining your seat slightly opens your hip angle. It has been suggested that this position can also help decrease the pressure placed on your discs.
5. Adjust the Steering Wheel
Most steering wheels have a tilt feature that allows you to move the wheel up and down. Tilt the wheel so that you can reach it easily with your elbows bent at your sides. The steering wheel should also sit at about 25-30 cm from your breastbone.
No matter what type of activity you’re engaging in, it’s important to be aware of your posture. Check out these other posture resources to learn more! Your chiropractor can also provide you with some ergonomic tips.
Have you tried Straighten Up Canada, the free posture app from Canada’s chiropractors? It’s simple, easy and free – your back will thank you.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Five Back Saving Tips for Drivers

Canadian Chiropractic Association

Musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions are prevalent among habitual drivers. Whether you work in your vehicle or commute to work through rush-hour traffic, you may have experienced some level of back or neck pain. In fact, studies have shown a high incidence of work-related musculoskeletal injuries among people who drive for a living, and, according to the USDA, your chances of developing an MSK condition increase if you spend more than 20 hours per week behind the wheel.
Information about the health hazards of sedentary work continues to emerge, and spending long periods seated in the same position while driving can be as detrimental as sitting in front of a computer. In addition to the prolonged sitting, driving can add extra hazards like the swaying motion from turning corners, the vibrations of the car and rolling over speed bumps. It shouldn’t be surprising to hear that driving can be a risk to your musculoskeletal health.
However, taking every opportunity to choose alternate ways of transportation, such as cycling, walking or even jogging, could help enhance your MSK health. However, if you must drive for prolonged periods, here are some tips to help safeguard your MSK health:
1. Head position
Aside from the importance of keeping your eyes on the road, the position of your head and eyes is also important. Try to maintain a neutral spine, shoulders relaxed and chin tucked in slightly. Your attention should be on the task at hand, avoiding excessive twisting and bending. Interestingly, heavy coats with hoods, for example, can add pressure on the back of the head and shift the position of the head slightly forward exerting additional strain on the neck.
2. Take breaks
Long trips can be daunting. Your instinct might be to push through to get to your destination faster. But, you may be putting yourself in danger due to fatigue. Your body will welcome occasional breaks. Go for a short walk, play Frisbee with your kids or do a few of the gentle stretches included in our free app, Straighten Up Canada. It’s free and you can take your stretch routine wherever you go!
3. Lumbar support
Many vehicles are equipped with adjustable lumbar support. This can help to provide additional support to the natural curvature of your lumbar spine. If your vehicle does not have adequate lumbar support, consider using a small pillow or rolled-up towel.
4. Don’t sit on your wallet
Do you keep your wallet in your back pocket? Change in your hip pocket? This can throw off your alignment, shift weight and cause a tilt in your pelvis. If you sit this way long enough, it can result in pain and discomfort. Empty your pockets before getting into the car. Your spine will thank you.
5. Avoid the twist
Make sure the things you might need while in transit, such as sunglasses or tissues, are placed within arm’s reach. Twisting and bending to reach for things in the passenger seat or even the back seat can be dangerous for your health. Not only are you distracted, but twisting and over-reaching can create some pressure on your spine and strain back muscles.
Remember, if you are uncomfortable at the beginning of your trip, it is likely to get worse. Take the time to make the appropriate adjustments. Your chiropractor is also a great resource for back-saving tips.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Early Management of Strains & Sprains

By Dr. Greg Lusk, DC
Injuries to muscles (strains) and ligaments (sprains) are something that each of us will experience at some point in time despite our best efforts to be safe and smart with participation in activities.  In the event you sustain an injury, there are five simple rules, collectively known as the PRICE principles, to follow in the first 72 hours post injury to maximize your rate of recovery. Consult a health care professional for an assessment and further guidance if you are unsure of the severity of your injury.

A sling, brace, or elastic wrap can be used to help immobilize the injured area and protect it from suffering more damage.  It's also important to avoid aggravating activities which may impede healing or worsen the injury.

R is for REST

The injury needs time to heal so you want to avoid activities that may interfere with this process. If you experience pain, swelling, or discomfort, stop the activity.  However, it is important to do some form of exercise that does not bother the injured area (e.g. go for a walk if you hurt your wrist) to keep up your cardiovascular fitness and prevent other muscles from becoming weak and de-conditioned. 

Movement around an injured area also helps flush out swelling by way of skeletal muscle contractions (i.e. “muscle pumps”) on the lymphatic system.  This further reduces pain and facilitates the healing process.

I is for ICE

Apply ice as soon as possible to the injured area  To avoid ice burns to the skin wrap a bag of crushed ice or frozen peas in a damp towel so there is no direct skin contact.  The 10/10/10 method of applying ice is recommended, which calls for 10 minutes of ice, followed by 10 minutes of rest without ice, and then another 10 minutes of ice.  You should repeat the cycle as many times as possible during the first 72 hours after an injury.  Ice reduces pain and possibly inflammation.  Consult a health professional before applying ice if you have diabetes, vascular disease or altered sensation.


Compression helps to stop swelling. When wrapping with an elastic compression (i.e. tensor) bandage, begin at the end furthest away from the heart.  For example, when wrapping an ankle, begin at your toes and work your way up the calf.  Be careful to not wrap too tightly as this may impair blood circulation.  If pain increases, the area becomes numb, or swelling occurs below the wrapped area, loosen the bandage.


Elevate the injured area, especially at night, by propping it up with pillows or towels.  If possible, have the injured area rest higher than the level of your heart as gravity will help to reduce swelling by draining excess fluid.

After the first 48 hours, start moving and using the injured area.  Gradual improvements in joint mobility (without pain) should be noticed.  You can start moving the joint in a non-weight bearing position first and progress to weight bearing as tolerated and if applicable based on the area of your injury.  If your injury is not improving by the fourth or fifth day, consult a qualified health professional. 
This article is for general information purposes only and is not to be taken as professional medical advice. 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Pictures from Baden Road Races 2015

Thank you to everyone that came out to this year's Baden Road Races on Saturday May 9, 2015.  It was a hot, sunny day and our team had a great time providing free post-race massages.



To view the entire album, visit our Facebook page:

Sunday, May 3, 2015

2015 Baden Road Race

Join us this Saturday May 9th at the Baden Road Race!
The signature distance of this event is the Baden Hill 7 Miler, which ascends the aerial Baden Tower Hill. Runners will climb the steep gravel slope and turn around at the top. At the top - which is the highest point in Southwestern Ontario - don't miss ringing the brass bell! Also at this event are the Neil Dunford memorial 5 KM, as well as 1 KM and 200m events for children.
Following your run, enjoy great food, musical... entertainment, draw prizes and massages from the wonderful team at the New Hamburg Wellness Centre!

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Preparing Your Body For Golf Season

By:  Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)

Warmer weather signals the start of summer and golfers can’t wait to get on the course to start their season.  Good preparation can go a long way in helping to avoid and/or minimize the chances of suffering a muscle or joint injury while playing golf.  Included below are some tips to improve your game and prevent the pain!

1.    Prepare physically by including flexibility and strengthening exercises as part of your training and practice routine.  Muscles act as important shock absorbers and help prevent strains and sprains of vulnerable regions such as the back, along with the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, and knee joints.

2.    Warm-up and cool-down both before and after your game.  Include gentle stretching and range of motion exercises, as well as a brisk walk or gentle jog to loosen the muscles and joints.

3.    Nourish your body by staying hydrated.  Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after your game and steer clear of caffeine and alcohol as they further dehydrate you.  Dehydration affects your energy level and your physical functioning.  Consider bringing nutritious snacks to help maintain your blood sugar levels during play.

4.    Use a wheeled golf cart for carrying heavy clubs.  Alternate every hole by pushing or pulling your golf cart to help prevent cumulative strain on your body.  If you must carry your golf bag, use both shoulders straps.  This will spread the weight across a greater area.  If there is only one strap, alternate sides frequently.  If you find that your bag is getting too heavy, put it down and take a break.

5.    Prepare for the elements.  Golf requires long periods of standing.  Choose a golf shoe that fits comfortably while providing adequate support.  This may help prevent knee, hip, and lower back pain.  To protect from sun exposure, apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brim hat.  Wear loose and comfortable clothing.  Know your physical limits.  Playing too much too soon is one of the most common causes of golf injuries, so build your tolerance and pace yourself.

6.    Whether it is your golf clubs or your golf swing, golf can be a very technical sport.  Ensure that your clubs are  the right height and grip.  Select irons with large heads and graphite shafts to lessen vibration.  Adopting a golf swing based on your physical and biomechanical capacity is important.  Take lessons to learn the correct swing technique and avoid unnecessary injuries.  A golf professional can help you with club selection and technique.

In the event that you suffer a muscle or joint injury while golfing that does not subside, you should contact a licensed health professional.  For more information, visit The author credits the Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) 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.