Sunday, August 30, 2015

Fitness Tips For Recreational Athletes

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

Physical activity is an important part of a healthy lifestyle.  Being active can help you maintain a healthy weight, reduce blood pressure, build strong bones, relieve stress, and maintain flexibility and good posture.  Included below are some tips to help you protect your body and prevent injury so that you can get the most from your favourite activity this summer season.

1.    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.

2.    Improve your performance 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 and neck, along with the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, and ankle joints.

3.    Nourish your body by staying hydrated.  Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after physical activity - even in colder weather.  Remember that once you are thirsty, you are already starting to dehydrate.  Dehydration affects your energy level and your physical functioning.

4.    Prepare for the elements.  Avoid sunburn which is a result of overexposure to the sun’s UV radiation and can contribute to certain skin cancers, and a premature aging and wrinkling of the skin.  To protect from sun exposure, apply sunscreen and wear a wide-brim hat and light-colored clothing that covers your exposed skin.  Your eyes should also be protected with UV blocking sunglasses.  Outdoor activities and sports should be limited to the early morning or late afternoon when UV rays are not as strong.  Be cautious on cloudy days, as your skin is still susceptible to burn under these conditions.
5.    Learn the proper technique.  Learn the right technique for your sport from the beginning.  Using the wrong sport-specific technique can create incorrect muscle memory and can make it difficult to break bad habits.  Poor technique can also cause injury to your joints and muscles.
6.    Use the right equipment.  Make sure your equipment is the right fit, height and capacity for you to avoid a sport-related injury.  Recreational athletes should have their equipment professionally fitted and checked before starting out.
7.    Avoid over-training.  Too much.  Too fast.  Too soon.  Over-training is one of the most common causes of recreational athletic injuries.  Take your time and work up to it slowly before pushing yourself too hard.  Remember – rest is as important as training.  Take a training break and give your body a chance to recover.
In the event that you suffer a muscle or joint injury 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.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

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 irritation and injury of the spine, joints, and muscles, which can potentially result 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, nylon, 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 Ontario Chiropractic Association (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.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Knee Pain With Running?

By Dr. Greg Lusk, DC
Rarely a day goes by when I don't see someone running outside.  The lovely weather takes exercising outdoors and regardless of body type or experience, running is a low cost option and something we have all done.  I often think "Good for you" when I see a runner, but due to my occupation I cannot help but analyze the techniques I see.  Is the person running heavy on their feet, striking at the ball of the foot or the heel, are the legs swinging straight through or out to the side, are the knees buckling inward, how are the arms swinging, how much bounce up and down is occurring?  If I do see something that seems less than perfect, the next thought I have is "I wonder if they feel pain due to running that way."  Now, having less than perfect biomechanics does not always result in pain and it's amazing how much inefficiency the body can tolerate.  However, in the absence of prior injury many runners do begin to experience pain due to the repetition of poor mechanics.  Knee pain is one such presentation.

The knee is a slave to what the foot/ankle and hip are doing.  The long levers of the lower leg and thigh exert much force on the mostly hinging knee joint.  Therefore, any movement that occurs at the foot/ankle or hip that is less than ideal can wreak havoc on the knee.  Let's start where we make contact with our environment - the ground.  When our foot contacts the ground, we should first hit with the outside of our heel and then roll inward, or pronate, as our stride proceeds forward.  This pronation is important and normal to dampen the forces that occur at heel strike.  Over-pronation, however, is not ideal and causes poor mechanics in the ankle/foot and for the lower leg to rotate inward excessively.  This over-rotation is then experienced by the knee and further up the skeleton, often resulting in painful conditions or irritating existing structural damage (e.g. knee osteoarthritis).

With respect to the hip, adequate mobility is needed to allow the desired motions to occur throughout the gait cycle.  Stability is also crucial at the hip.  Running, and walking for that matter, can be considered controlled falling with alternating single leg standing.  As our centre of mass is not balanced over any one of our two hip joints, our bodies would tip sideways if it wasn't for the strength of the muscles on the outside of our hips and sides of our torso.  These muscles also control thigh rotation.  Therefore, if they are weak, which they notoriously are, due in part to the amount of sitting we do which does not activate these muscles but has them function more as "cushions", you get excessive thigh rotation.  Knee pain, once again, is a possible end result.

There a few things to consider which may alleviate and/or prevent knee pain related to running.  Be mindful of your knee position when running and try to prevent it from buckling inwards too much.  Do you have good shoes with appropriate arch support to prevent over-pronation?  Does your hip have sufficient strength or endurance to stabilize itself effectively?  There are exercises that can be done to strengthen the appropriate muscles.

Knee pain begs us to at least look at its neighbouring joints.  Otherwise, we're just managing symptoms and not getting to the root of the problem.  This article is for general information purposes only and is not to be taken as professional medical advice.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Understanding Bursitis

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

A bursa is a thin, slippery sac found around a joint that releases lubrication called synovial fluid.  Its primary function is to provide cushioning between bone and surrounding soft tissue, such as skin, muscles, ligaments and tendons.  Under normal circumstances, the bursa provides a smooth surface that allows for minimal friction with movement between these structures.
The term "bursitis" refers to any inflammation or irritation of the bursa.  When this occurs, the bursa loses its gliding capabilities, and becomes thickened and swollen.  As a result, the added size of the swollen bursa causes more friction within an already confined space, and the smooth gliding bursa becomes gritty and rough.
There are approximately 160 bursae in the body.  Fortunately, only a handful of them usually develop bursitis. The most common areas to get bursitis include the shoulder, elbow, hip and knee regions.  Less frequently, bursitis may also occur in the wrist, buttocks, heel and big toe.  Symptoms of bursitis include swelling, pain, and tenderness in the affected region.  This may also be accompanied by reduced range of motion and strength which can lead to a significant decrease in physical functioning.
There are several factors that can contribute to the development of bursitis.  Activities that result in repetitive overuse or prolonged and excessive pressure on a body region are a common culprit.  An example of this would be constant overhead lifting using your shoulders or continuous kneeling on a hard surface with your knees.  A bursa can also become injured as a result of a blunt trauma or fall such as slipping on ice and landing on your hip.  Bursitis is more common in adults, especially in those over 40 years of age.  As soft tissues age they become less elastic and durable making them more susceptible to overuse and traumatic injuries.  Other possible causes and risk factors for developing bursitis which may require additional medical management include infection from an opeing on the skin surface, rheumatoid arthritis, gout and diabetes.
Conservative self-care strategies for reducing the pain of bursitis should initially involve relative rest  from any painful activities and ice application.  Altering or eliminating the situations that contributed to the bursitis is also important.  This may include activity modification such as using the correct technique, tools, and/or equipment.  In addition, taking breaks to relax overworked muscles and joints, and performing exercises to strengthen the body can also be effective.
Bursitis that does not respond to self-care strategies may require professional treatment.  This can include acupuncture and electrotherapeutic modalities to decrease pain, manual and soft tissue therapy to assist in healing, and specific rehabilitative conditioning training for the affected muscles and joints.
If you are having difficulty with a case of bursitis, a qualified health professional can prescribe appropriate therapy and rehabilitation 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.

Friday, August 7, 2015

What a Pain in the Back!

Canadian Chiropractic Association

Odds are that you or someone you know has suffered from back pain in the past year. Low back pain,1,2 in particular, is very common affecting four out of five people at least once in their lifetime. A recent survey revealed that, in Canada, back pain continues to be the most common health complaint of people aged 12-443. In many cases, pain may naturally resolve within a few days to a few weeks. However, in others, the pain may persist and become chronic, significantly impacting quality of life and ability to work. In fact, among back pain sufferers, 15% report being away from work longer than one month4. The implications can be even more far reaching – in 2012, a staggering 31% reported limitations that affected their ability to care for their families, complete activities of daily living and enjoy recreational activities that enrich their lives5.


What Causes Back Pain?

The spine is a very complex structure composed of 33 stacked vertebra that function to protect the spinal cord and support the weight of the body while standing and in motion. In fact, the spine is one of the most important parts of your body allowing for support, but also to explore your world through movement.
As you can imagine, the spine bears the stresses of our daily activities. With such a complex structure, it can be challenging to find the exact cause of back pain as it may be attributed to a number of interconnected structures, the response of the nervous system and even related psychological factors. Luckily, healthcare providers, including your chiropractor, can perform a comprehensive examination, including ruling out serious pathologies, to determine a diagnosis and recommend strategies for the best course of care.
Why some people develop back pain while others do not is not yet well understood. The following factors can increase the risk of developing recurrent back pain6:

Lifestyle factorsMovement factorsPsychological and social factors
SmokingFrequent heavy liftingMental stress and anxiety
Low physical fitness Twisting and bending Lack of job satisfaction
Obesity Prolonged static postures Beliefs about back pain
Poor general health Repetitive work Poor advice from family and friends
Poor Posture
Excessive stress

How to manage back pain

For many, low back pain will subside on its own within a few days or weeks. Yet, for some, pain may persist well beyond the expected time of recovery. Seeking prompt care can help reduce the likelihood of chronicity and can help you get back to the activities you enjoy.
Research has shown that for “mechanical” low back pain, conservative care including chiropractic can be effective to reduce pain and improve function7. You can also practice self-management strategies that include staying active, doing recommended exercises and practising relaxation techniques. Ask your chiropractor about self-management techniques that you can incorporate into your daily routine.
Learn more about low back pain, as well as self-management techniques, and if you’re interested in how chiropractors and other healthcare providers approach lower back pain, check out this great resource from the Canadian Chiropractic Guideline Initiative.

1. McPhillips-Tangum CA, Cherkin DC, Rhodes LA, Markham C. (1998). Reasons for repeated medical visits among patients with chronic back pain. J Gen Intern Med, 13: 289–295.
2. Hicks GS, Duddleston DN, Russell LD, Holman HE, Shepherd JM, Brown A. (2002). Low back pain. The American Journal of the Medical Sciences, 324 (4): 207–211.
3. PHAC. (2012). The Chief Public Health Officer’s Report on the State of Public Health in Canada. Accessed
4. Henriks Bekkering et. al. (2003). Dutch physiotherapy guidelines for low back pain, Physiotherapy, 89(2), 82-96.
5. Statistics Canada. (2014). Canadian Community Health Survey indicator profile by age group and sex, Canada, provinces, territories, health regions (2012) and peer groups, annual. Accessed
6. Concannon, M. and Bridgen, A. (2011) Lower Back Pain: A Need for Thorough Assessment. Practice Nursing, 22, 458-463.
7. Savigny, P, Watson, P, Underwood, M (2009). Early management of persistent non-specific low back pain: summary of NICE guidance. BMJ. 4:338.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

2015 Record Reader Award Nominations‏

The Record is once again having their Reader Awards.  In order to qualify for the voting round, we need to be nominated in each respective category.
Please click on the links below and nominate the New Hamburg Wellness Centre for the:
Simply look for New Hamburg Wellness Centre and select Nominate for each category.
Vote now and vote often!  The nomination period will be open from Friday July 24 to Monday August 31 at 12:45 pm. 
Thank you for your support and keep voting often - you can nominate more than once!