Friday, January 29, 2016

How To Choose The Right Pillow

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

A good night’s sleep is important for maintaining good health and optimal functioning, and choosing the right pillow can make all the difference in the world when it comes to how well you sleep.  Using a pillow that is the wrong size and fit can be a significant source of neck and back pain.  In some cases, incorrect head and neck positioning can also affect breathing and cause snoring, which can hinder sleep.
The right pillow will help support the head, neck, and shoulders, keeping them in alignment, and thereby minimize stress and strain on muscles and joints.  As a result, the right pillow will also create a feeling of comfort and increase the likelihood of a restful sleep.

There is no one best pillow for everyone as there are a variety of factors that go into choosing the right pillow.  Below are some useful tips that can help you find the pillow that's right for you:

·        Consider your sleeping position.  Back sleepers should choose a pillow that is not too firm or too high.  The pillow should keep the chin in a natural resting position, and support the head and neck so they are aligned with the upper back and spine.  Side sleepers should opt for a firm pillow that supports the neck in a neutral position.  The pillow should hold the head high enough to ensure that the spine is aligned.  Stomach sleepers should choose a soft or flat pillow so the neck isn’t turned or tilted at an uncomfortable angle.

·        Choose a size of pillow suitable for your body size or frame.  The pillow should cover the entire back of the neck and mold to one's individual shape to alleviate any pressure points.

·        Try out a variety of pillows.  Most pillows are packaged in a plastic wrapper so you can lay it on a display bed in the store and put your head on it.  Visit a store that has a wide range of pillow options to find the one that best meets your needs.

·        A hypoallergenic pillow is a must if you suffer from allergies, but it is also a good choice for anyone.

·        Replace your pillow every 12-18 months.  Pillows will wear over time by losing their shape and ability to provide proper alignment and support.
If you experience pain and discomfort at night or have difficulty falling asleep, consider visiting a chiropractor.  Chiropractors are trained to treat muscle and joint problems that can interfere with a restful night's sleep.  They can also offer nutritional and lifestyle advice that can help improve sleep quality.  For more information, visit  The author credits the Alberta and Ontario Chiropractic Associations 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.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Building A Better You

Ontario Chiropractic Association

When you’ve got a lot on the go, personal goals can get lost in the shuffle. Between work, kids, commuting, cooking and housework, sometimes it’s hard to find the time for your personal health and fitness.


Chiropractors can be part of the solution to building a better you. You may be surprised at the number of ways a chiropractor can help!

Standing Tall

Research has shown that good posture not only prevents pain and injuries but also gives you more energy and improves your appearance and your mood.  That’s why having an expert look at how posture affects your muscles, bones and joints can have a big impact on your quality of life. Your chiropractor can show you how to develop and use good posture when typing, driving, running, playing sports and carrying children.

Moving Well

When your body is stiff and not very flexible, it is easier to become injured and more difficult to recover. By teaching you simple exercises and stretches designed for your needs, a chiropractor can help you regain your full range of motion.

Getting the Right Fuel

Consistently eating well is a challenge whether you’re an athlete, a stay-at-home mom or an office worker. One of the best ways to sort through your options is to get customized advice from a health practitioner who understands you and your daily needs. Chiropractors are trained in nutrition and holistic health and can help you find a diet that is right for you.

Staying Active

While sitting may not seem harmful, too much sitting takes quite a toll on our lower back and neck. Exercise can help to undo this damage while also benefitting your muscles and your heart. If you’re struggling to find the time for fitness, Canada’s chiropractors are here for you. Straighten Up Canada! is a 3-minute-a-day program for adults and kids that includes posture exercises and stretches to keep you flexible and strong.

A Good Night’s Sleep

Sleep is important to your health, both for your body and your mind. No matter whether you sleep on your back, your side or your stomach, the right pillow and mattress will help you support your spine so you can be truly relaxed and refreshed while you sleep. If you’re having trouble sleeping, your chiropractor can be part of the solution.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Preventing Cold-Related Injuries During The Winter

By Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)
Physical activity during the winter season can place unique demands on the body that can predispose you to injury.  The good news is there are strategies that can be employed to help prevent cold-related injuries.
Below are some of the common injuries that can occur during the winter season:
·        Soft tissue injuries including sprains, strains, and contusions.  Cold weather decreases the elasticity of soft tissues making them more prone to injury during activity.  Ligaments and muscles in the back, upper and lower extremities are commonly injured.  Falls in slippery conditions can also contribute to injury.
·        Exposure injuries include frostbite and hypothermia and occur when individuals do not wear attire that is appropriate for the weather conditions and physical activity performed.
·        Blisters can form due to the friction of wet gloves and/or wet socks with poorly fitting footwear.
·        Sun-related injuries can also occur in the winter months and cause sunburn and snow blindness.
·       Technical injuries can happen when physical activities are performed with:  inadequate technique/training; unsuitable equipment; and/or poor preparation/planning.
Below are some of the strategies that can be used to prevent cold-related injuries:
·        Warm up and prepare your body for physical activity by stimulating the joints and muscles, and increasing blood circulation.  Also consider exercise training to help prepare you for winter activity.
·        Dress for the elements by wearing insulated lightweight clothing with multiple layers.  This will allow you to add or subtract layers as needed.  Attire that is waterproof can help keep you dry and reduce the risk of heat loss.  Insulated gloves, footwear, and headgear can also help keep you warm.  Shoes and boots with solid treads and soles can help minimize the risk of awkward twisting, slips and falls.
·        Protect yourself from the sun by applying sunscreen regularly.  Your eyes should also be protected with UV blocking sunglasses.
·        Use safe snow shoveling techniques.  Get professional training and advice while learning the skills of a particular activity such as skiing or snowboarding to help minimize the chance of injury.
·        Equipment considerations may include using an ergonomic snow shovel, having sporting equipment properly fitted for your body type, or wearing a helmet during activities.
·        Preparation is critical.  For example, be aware of changes in weather forecasts that can influence safety.  Intermittent thaws and subsequent freezing can give way to ice build-up under foot increasing the risk of back twisting, slips and falls.  Coarse sand or ice salt can help give your walkways and driveways more traction.  Planning for physical activity is also important.  For instance, adequate nutrition and hydration before, during, and after activity can optimize energy levels and improve overall physical functioning.  This will help reduce fatigue and chance of injury.
Recognizing some of the common injuries that occur during the winter months and knowing which precautions to take can ensure that you enjoy physical activities safely in cold weather.  For additional information on health and wellness, 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.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Hockey Stretches

Canadian Chiropractic Association

Starting Out
Invest in equipment, sticks and skates that suit your height and size.
  • Be ‘head smart’ – wear your helmet with the cage, shield or visor properly secured.
  • Sharpen your skates regularly for better performance.
  • Repair or replace damaged or broken equipment.
  • If you are new to the game, get checked by a health professional, such as a chiropractor, to make sure it’s an appropriate fitness activity for you. If you are a regular player, routine chiropractic check ups can help optimize your muscle and joint function and deal with stiffness and soreness before they sideline you.

Never stretch a cold muscle. Always warm up before pre-game stretches.
  • Don’t overstretch – be comfortable.
  • Don’t bounce when stretching.

If you experience pain that lasts longer than your usual post-game soreness, ice the area and consult a chiropractor.

Pre-Game Stretches

1. Hamstring Stretch

Lay on your back and bend one knee towards the ceiling. Hold the back of the thigh with both hands and straighten the knee as much as you can by raising your foot towards the ceiling. Hold the stretch for one second, then bend the knee and straighten again. Repeat 20 times on each side.

2. Groin Stretch

Stand with your feet slightly wider apart than your shoulders. Bend your knees. Shift your weight to the right leg. Reach down and across your body with your left hand to touch your right foot. Point your right hand up to the ceiling. Keep your back parallel to the ground. Shift your weight to the left leg. Repeat 10 times on each side.

3. Hip Flexor Stretch

Stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Step forward with your right foot into a lunge position. Your right knee should be directly over the toes of your right foot. Keep your left leg and your back straight. Extend your arms straight in front of you and bring your palms together. Turn your upper torso to the right, keeping pelvis and hips stationary. Hold for one second and repeat 10 times on each side.

Safety Check

If you are injured during practice or a game, don’t try to play through it. Put ice on the injured area for periods of 15-20 minutes.

If you hit your head, be aware of signs of concussion:
  •     Dizziness
  •     Blurred vision
  •     Problems with your coordination or balance
  •     Difficulty remembering teammates’ names or the plays
  •     Any loss of consciousness – even briefly

If you think you suffered a concussion, have neck or back pain, or experience tingling or numbness, get examined by a healthcare professional immediately.

Post Game Stretches

1. Quad Stretch

Stand with your back to a wall or the rink boards. Kneel onto your right knee (use a pad for cushioning) with your right foot flat against a wall. Your left knee should be bent in front of you at a 90-degree angle for support. Place your hand on your left knee for balance and lean back slightly to stretch your right quad muscle. Hold the stretch for ten seconds. Switch legs and do three stretches on each side.

2. Glute Stretch

Sit on the ground with one leg slightly bent behind you and one leg slightly bent in front of you. Lower your chest toward your knee keeping your back straight and holding your chin up. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds. Switch legs and repeat three times on each side.

3. Hip Stretch

Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat apart on the floor slightly more than shoulder width apart. Lower your right knee to the floor and place your left ankle on top of it pushing the knee towards the ground. Keep your hips on the floor. Hold the stretch for 10 seconds. Switch sides and do three stretches on each side.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Laser Therapy Now Available At New Hamburg Wellness Centre!

We are excited to announce that we have a
Class IV K-Laser at our centre.

The K-Laser is proven to accelerate the healing process
by increasing circulation, decreasing swelling and inflammation,
and reducing pain.




Call our centre today to schedule a Laser Therapy appointment with one of our Health Care Practitioners!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Posture Perfect

Ontario Chiropractic Association (OCA)

Good posture not only makes you look better, it also delivers increased energy, better breathing,
improved circulation, and less wear-and-tear on your joints. It’s an investment in both your appearance and your health.
The secret to good posture is maintaining the spine’s natural curves. If your spine is not properly aligned, your muscles and ligaments have to work harder to keep you upright and this can result in strain and pain.
When you slouch, you also put pressure on your lungs and stomach. This can affect breathing and digestion, as well as blood flow.
Does your posture pass the test?
Use a three-way mirror or have a friend help you check out these markers:
  • When standing: your head, shoulders, hips and ankles should line up, one comfortably above the other. Your knees should be slightly bent and your feet should be shoulder-width apart or more.
  • When looking at your back: are your shoulders and hips level or is one side higher than the other? Does your head tilt to one side or the other? Does one shoulder blade seem to be more prominent than the other? Do the muscles of the back seem more developed on one side, compared to the other? A healthy back should be symmetrical.
  • When looking from the side, your neck and low back should curve to the front of your body, and your mid-back and pelvis should curve to the back. Postural distortions in the curves of your spine mean stress and strain on your back.
Tips for Standing Tall
  • If you use a bag or briefcase with a single shoulder strap, choose a strap that is long enough to place over your head and rest on the opposite side from the bag. This helps distribute the weight of the bag evenly and prevents distorting your posture.
  • High heels throw your spine out of alignment, making good posture difficult and often leading to low back pain. A low-heeled, supportive shoe is best, but if you are devoted to your fashion footwear, try to restrict the height to no more than two inches.
  • Try not to sit in any one position for a long period of time. Take a quick stretch break or change positions every 30-45 minutes. For a quick and easy spinal stretch, stand up and raise your arms above your head.
  • Strengthening your core back and abdominal muscles will help promote good posture by keeping your spine well supported.
Canada’s chiropractors are specialists in back health. If you are concerned about your posture, consider an evaluation.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

How To Prepare For A Ski Trip

Canadian Chiropractic Association
Skiing is a beloved activity for many Canadians. It’s a chance for us to enjoy the outdoors and have a little fun. Families often go for a variety of hills and terrains that cater to different skill levels and age.
If you are skier or have gone skiing before, you know the sport can take a toll on your body, leaving you sore after a day on the slopes. Unfortunately for some, skiing may lead to injury. This is why it is imperative to prepare your body before gearing up. Here are some tips to help ensure your safety when skiing.

Get the Proper Equipment

Do you have all the equipment needed to safely ski? If not, make the time to assess what you need, and take measures to buy or borrow the proper equipment for your next trip down the slopes. If you are a beginner, find a professional to help you determine exactly what you need and ensure that your equipment fits your needs and your body type.
Skiing does involve some serious risks of injury including falls, collisions or simply poor form; therefore, it is critical for your equipment to be in good condition to prevent avoidable injuries. For example, broken skis can put your safety and the safety of others at risk. Be extra cautious and inspect your equipment thoroughly and have it repaired by a professional as soon as you notice any problems.
Protective devices can help prevent the risk of serious injury. Notably, helmets help prevent the risk of a skull fracture from a fall or collision. Other protective measures such as braces can help those with existing issues or injuries. For example, knee braces can reduce the risk of knee injury by up to 90%1. Other protective gear to consider includes wrist guards and spine protectors2. When your equipment fits properly, it allows you to perform at your best.

Take a Lesson

Even the most avid skiers will sometimes take lessons to perfect their technique, form and acquire new skills. As with any activity, we can become accustomed to skiing the same slopes and forget to pay attention to our technique or form. Receiving expert advice from an observer can help tweak or correct bad habits acquired over time. Moreover, lessons can also cover other elements of skiing beyond physical form such as hill rules and regulations, conduct, identifying dangerous slopes, and how to avoid collisions to keep you and others safe.

Do Some Extra Training

Skiing requires agility, endurance, mobility and balance. Overall, skiing can put extra stress on your joints and spine, which is why it is important to ensure that you prepare your body in advance. You may want to consider building cardiovascular and muscular endurance, as well as strength, balance and mobility.  If you’re unsure of how to train for a ski trip, talk to a personal trainer who can prepare a workout for you. Don’t forget to warm-up and stretch too!
Ski trips are fun and exciting, but it’s important to take the time to prepare for them. All those hours of skiing and rigorous activity can put a lot of stress on your body, so make sure you feel prepared and properly conditioned. To learn more on how to prepare for skiing or any sport, read our Fit Tips and consider visiting a local chiropractor.

1. H├ębert-Losier K, Holmberg HC. What are the exercise-based injury prevention recommendations for recreational alpine skiing and snowboarding? A systematic review. Sports Med. 2013 May;43(5):355-66
2. Russell, K et al. The effect of wrist guards on wrist and arm injuries amongst snowboarders: A systematic review. Clin J Sports Med. 2007; 17:145-150

Saturday, January 2, 2016

The Basic Characteristics Of Exercise

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

Regular exercise has long been identified as an essential element of good health.  Below is a brief summary regarding some of the basic characteristics of a balanced exercise program.

·        Cardiovascular exercise improves the body’s capacity to deliver oxygen to working muscles and organs.  It is also a great way to help lose weight and control blood sugar levels.  Swimming, interval training, cycling, jogging, and power walking are a few examples.  It is recommended that an individual engage in a minimum of 15-30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise at least three times per week.

·        Resistance or strengthening exercise enhances a muscle’s ability to contract and do work.  Strengthening exercises can vary from using fitness machines, simple dumbbells at home, rubber bands, or your own body weight.  Improving or maintaining strength is important for preserving and building bone density.  This can assist in preventing osteoporosis and decrease the risk of fracture from falls.  Strengthening exercises can also boost metabolism and help keep a healthy body weight.

·        Flexibility exercise helps to maintain a joint’s complete 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.  Individuals with arthritic conditions can find this type of exercise extremely beneficial in helping them cope with stiff and painful joints.  This type of exercise can also prepare the body for physical activity to help minimize the risk of injury.

The exercise components of intensity, duration, and frequency will influence how one progresses through an exercise program.  For example, someone performing the cardiovascular portion of their exercise program of walking will find that after a short while they are able to walk quicker (intensity), longer (duration), and 5 days a week instead of 3 (frequency).  This same person also finds that they are progressing in their resistance program because they can now lift a heavier dumbbell (intensity), 10 times instead of 6 (duration), and 4 times a week instead of 2 (frequency).  A simple explanation for all of this is that your body is learning through exercise how to adapt to these positive stresses being placed upon it.  In order to keep progressing, the body must have a new stimulus placed on it every once in a while.  Of course there are limits to this, and sometimes switching the nature of the exercise you perform can be an adequate change in stimulus, resulting in continued health benefits from exercise.

A lifetime of regular cardiovascular, resistance, and flexibility exercise is ideal, but it is never too late to start!  If you are over 35, have been sedentary for some time, or have a specific health condition or limitation, consult with a knowledgeable health care provider before beginning any new exercise program.  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.