Monday, February 29, 2016

Recreational Activities for Seniors

Canadian Chiropractic Association

It is important to manage your health at any age, but it is even more so when you age to keep an active lifestyle. Mobility, for example, typically declines with age which can lead to important loss of function and independence. Yet, we often take it for granted until it is too late. Regardless of the type of activity you enjoy, staying active as you age is critical to not only maintaining health but also your quality of life and independence.
In fact, it is never too late to start introducing new activities in your life. Even if mobility is currently a challenge, there are numerous ways to work around current limitations and introduce physical activity into your daily routine.
Here are some tips to consider:
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that older adults continue to be active. Here are some of the key recommendations made by the WHO1:
  1. Older adults should do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, or at least 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity throughout the week, or an equivalent combination of moderate- and vigorous-intensity activity.
  2. Aerobic activity should be performed in bouts of at least a 10 minute duration.
  3. For additional health benefits, older adults should increase their moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity to 300 minutes per week.
  4. Older adults, with poor mobility, should perform physical activity to enhance balance and prevent falls on 3 or more days per week.
  5. Muscle-strengthening activities, involving major muscle groups, should be done on 2 or more days per week.
  6. When older adults cannot do the recommended amounts of physical activity due to existing health condition(s), they should be as physically active as their abilities and conditions allow. Progressively introducing even small amounts of activity can have important and meaningful impacts.
For those who enjoy group activities, consider group classes that are specifically tailored for seniors.
Commonly, these are organized and instructed by trained professionals who have an interest and knowledge in supporting healthy aging. In fact, a chiropractor can also recommend specific movements and activity to help improve your mobility and enhance the health of your MSK system.
If you would rather exercise alone and on your own schedule, you may consider the following:
  • Biking indoors or outdoors (weather dependent)
  • Swimming
  • Cardiovascular training like walking or wheeling, or even following a low-impact fitness video at home
Whether you are a senior or you simply want to enhance your mobility, it’s important to keep moving and introduce consistent physical activity into your routine. Consult with a healthcare professional before engaging in new physical activity.
1. The World Health Organization, “Global Strategy on Diet, Physical Activity and Health: Physical Activity for Older Adults,”

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hip Pain & Prevention

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

Hip pain often limits physical activities such as walking, running, squatting, and going up and down stairs.  It can also create problems with sleeping and sitting positions.
Depending on what the source of the hip pain is, symptoms can be felt in a number of  different regions which may include:  the low back, deep in the hip joint, on the outer aspect of the hip, in the groin, at the front of the thigh, and in the buttocks.  Listed below are some of the conditions that commonly cause hip pain:
·        Osteoarthritis results from the protective layers of cartilage in the hip becoming worn over a period of time, leading to change in the composition of the bone underneath the cartilage.
·        Osteoporosis is a disease of bones that decreases bone mass and strength, making them more fragile and susceptible to fracture.  Hip fractures usually occur in older individuals after a fall injury.
·       Ligaments are tough bands of fibrous tissue that connect one bone to another.  They help stabilize joints, preventing excessive movement.  Ligament injuries (sprains) can occur when these structures become over-stretched or torn, often during activities where there is a direct blow to the hip or there is an awkward fall or twisting motion involving the hip.
·        Tendons are strong tissues that anchor muscles to bones, and these structures can become over-stretched or inflamed around the hip joint leading to tendonitis and muscular strains.
·        Bursitis can involve several fluid-filled structures in your hip that help provide more cushioning in the joint.  Repetitive hip strain and blunt trauma to the hip bursa are two common causes of bursitis.
·        Injuries and conditions in the low back can radiate symptoms into the hip region.  This includes things such as osteoarthritis, sprains and strains, disc herniations, sciatica, and spinal stenosis.
Below are some useful tips that can help individuals avoid or minimize the chance of hip pain and injury:
1.     Maintain a healthy bodyweight to decrease the overall stress on your hips.
2.     Wear appropriate footwear that supports your activities and helps maintain proper leg alignment and balance.
3.     Prepare your hips for physical activity by stimulating the joints and muscles, and increasing circulation.  This can be accomplished with a quick cardiovascular warm-up and gentle stretching of the muscles in the hips, thighs and lower legs.
4.     Choose activities that are "hip friendly" for you.  This may include low impact activities such as swimming, walking or cycling.  Remember to start slowly and build up the intensity gradually.
5.     Strength, balance, flexibility, and core exercises can train your body to better support your hips and avoid injuries.
If you have hip pain that limits your daily functioning, you should contact a licensed health professional who deals in the diagnosis and treatment of hip pain.  For additional information on hip pain and treatment of muscle and joint injuries, 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, February 19, 2016

Tips To Enjoy Healthy Knitting

Ontario Chiropractic Association

Many of us turn to knitting to pass the time and can be a great exercise for those with hand pain. However, knitting is a repetitive motion and can lead to a variety of injuries, much like typing, sewing and other repetitive tasks. Knitting can cause strain not only on the hands and wrists, but also on the neck and upper back due to the extended length of time knitters are looking down at their work in a sitting position. Knitting can also lead to carpal tunnel syndrome related to improper wrist positioning and grip technique in serious cases.
The Ontario Chiropractic Association has compiled a few tips and techniques to help knitters enjoy their hobby free of pain and discomfort:
  • The single most important thing a knitter can do to prevent injury is take frequent, regular breaks. Change the position of your body and look up often from your work and into the distance.
  • Sit in a chair with your feet on the floor and try not to hunch. Try to engage your abdomen when adjusting your posture.
  • Stretch your fingers by clenching your hands and then spreading your fingers as far as you can. Stretch and strengthen your wrists with simple curls. Lay your forearm on a flat surface with your wrist at the edge. While holding a small hand weight, let your wrist fall over the edge and then lift the weight up towards you only bending your wrist. The rest of your arm should remain flat on the table.
  • Switch it up! Learning to switch easily between English and Continental knitting styles will allow you to keep on stitching while reducing the risk of repetitive strain.
  • Sit in a comfortable but supportive chair and consider placing a small cushion, rolled up towel or sweater between your chair and the curve in the small of your low back.
  • The tools you use matter. Consider smooth, lightweight needles. Circular needles are best for large projects. When crocheting, use ergonomic hooks.
  • Make small, efficient movements. Practice how small you can make your movements. Keep the working yarn close to the tip of the needles.
  • Grasp your yarn gently. A consistently relaxed grip will help you keep a constant gauge while reducing unnecessary strain on your neck, shoulders and forearms.
  • Hold your projects away from you. This will help you relax and avoid muscle and eye strain.
  • Plan your knitting projects in advance and try to space them out over time.
Any pain or stiffness resulting from knitting should not be ignored. Knitting should be a fun, relaxing hobby. Make sure that knitting is contributing to your wellbeing and health, not more injuries.
More information on back health, including how to protect your back during snow shovelling, can be found online at

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Reality Of Neck Pain

By Dr. R. Greg Lusk, DC

Neck pain is a common complaint in healthcare offices.  Whereas 8/10 people will experience low back pain throughout their life, up to 70% of people will experience neck pain.  Thankfully, only 1/10 neck pain sufferers report that it is serious enough to limit their ability to work or enjoy other daily activities.  However, like low back pain, neck pain will commonly recur.  In fact, between 50% to 85% of people will experience neck pain again within 1-5 years of the initial episode and how quickly symptoms improve is variable with each episode.

Due to the global impact of musculo-skeletal complaints, The United Nations and World Health Organization had an initiative from 2000-2010 titled "The Bone and Joint Decade".  A component of this was a Neck Pain Task Force that screened an enormous amount of research, nearly 32,000 citations, on its way to including 552 papers in a summary of best evidence with respect to neck pain.  As stated by the Task Force, "...the most productive use of this review is to inform and empower the public - more specifically people with neck pain or who are at risk of developing neck pain.  The most valuable outcome and contribution will be a change of attitudes and beliefs about neck pain and its prevention, diagnosis, treatment, and management."

Starting with cause, neck pain most often comes out of nowhere and does not involve trauma or a specific mechanism.  In these cases, there are multiple factors that can contribute to developing neck pain.  There are things you cannot change, such as being female, the genetic make-up you inherit from your parents (i.e. if there is a family history of neck pain), and getting older, all of which increase your risk.  However, there are things that increase your risk which are modifiable.  These include smoking, exposure to environmental tobacco, prolonged sedentary positions, repetitive work, and work that is very precision oriented.  Having degenerative changes in the neck, which are often seen on x-ray and are not modifiable with conservative measures, had no supporting evidence as a risk factor for neck pain.  This reminds us that structural changes shown on medical imaging, which are common with many painful conditions, need to be interpreted carefully and not easily scape-goated as the cause of pain.  As for protective factors for neck pain, physical activity participation had a positive influence.

If you have neck pain, how quickly you recover is also dependent on many factors.  Younger age was helpful.  In contrast, poor overall health, a history of neck pain, and poor psychological health were associated with a poorer prognosis.  With respect to the psychological aspect, worrying or becoming angry in response to neck pain, avoiding any activity that causes pain, and receiving only passive treatments were associated with a slower improvement.  Optimism, being confident in your abilities, and taking an active role in therapy, on the other hand, help you resume normal activities more quickly.

Non-surgical treatment options found to have benefit include educational videos, mobilization, manipulation, manual therapy, exercises, low-level laser therapy, and acupuncture.  Manual techniques combined with exercises are superior to hands on only approaches.

As you can see, there are many options which can be used based on appropriateness and personal preference.  Either way, due to its recurring nature, management of neck pain should involve therapies that are effective at managing your symptoms, empower you to take a role in self-management, and aim for prevention.

This article is for general information purposes only and is not to be taken as professional medical advice.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

K-Laser in the NY Yankees Training Room

The K-Laser is a Class IV Therapeutic Laser that helps patients with pain, muscle spasms, arthritis, sports injuries, and more.
It is used by chiropractors, physical therapists, medical doctors, and athletic trainers - most notably those in the New York Yankee training room....and now at the New Hamburg Wellness Centre!

New Patients Welcome!
New Hamburg Wellness Centre
338 Waterloo Street, New Hamburg, ON

Monday, February 8, 2016

Air Travel Comfort Tips

By:  Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)

Comfort is not usually the first word that comes to mind when someone mentions flying.  Sitting cramped in a small space for a long plane ride can also lead to muscle and joint pain.  Here are some helpful tips for a more enjoyable voyage.

Choose the Correct Seat - Some airlines fill the plane from front to back, so ask for a seat in the back row to increase your chances of having an empty seat next to you.  If the arm rests lift up, you might even be able to lie down.  Aisle and emergency exit seats maximize leg room and are less claustrophobic.  If you are susceptible to motion sickness, request a seat over the wings and try to schedule flights on larger airplanes.

Keep Moving - Moving around is good for your circulation and helps to prevent swollen feet and ankles.  Wear loose clothing and walk about the cabin periodically every 60 to 90 minutes.  Wear shoes you can slip off easily.  Every so often, draw circles with your toes and contract your calves to help prevent blood from pooling in your legs.  Tapping your feet can also help increase circulation and reduce the chance of muscle cramping.

Stretch it out - Try not to place anything under the seat in front of you so you can stretch your legs out.  Quick and easy stretches also include standing up and raising your arms above your head, rotating your shoulders back and forth, and moving your head side to side.

Keep Good Posture While Seated - Position your lower back against the back of the chair to obtain the greatest amount of support for your spine.  A rolled sweater or blanket can also be used for added support.  Make sure that your weight is evenly distributed on your seat, your shoulders are not rounding forward, and you are not slouching.  Support your neck and head with a pillow if necessary and avoid awkward positions if trying to rest or sleep.  Try not to stay in one position for a long period of time.

Additional Tips

·        Eat Right - Eat a light, non-fatty meal just before you leave for the airport.  Avoid caffeinated beverages and fried food.  This can make handling turbulence a little easier.

·        Handling Pressure - Chewing gum, yawning or sucking on hard candies can help to relieve the pressure that builds up in your ears as the airplane ascends and descends.  This is not recommended for toddlers.  For young children, sipping a drink may help.

·        Prevent Dehydration - The air in most airplanes can dry out your skin and cause eye and nasal dryness.  Take a moisturizer with you for your skin and wear glasses instead of contact lenses to prevent eye dryness.  Drink enough water and steer clear of caffeine and alcohol as they further dehydrate you.  Alcohol can also interfere with your ability to sleep.

In the event that you suffer from ongoing muscle and joint pain following your trip, you should contact a licensed health professional.  For more information, visit  The author credits the 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, February 2, 2016

Protecting Your Back During The Winter Season

By:  Dr. John A. Papa, DC, FCCPOR(C)
The winter season is upon us and extra precaution must be taken as snow removal and icy walking surfaces can contribute to an increased risk of back injuries.  Included below are some useful tips that can be followed to help keep your back healthy and injury free this winter season.
1.    Warm up:  Prepare your body for physical activity by stimulating the joints and muscles, and increasing blood circulation.  Climbing stairs, marching on the spot, or going for a quick walk around the block, can serve as excellent warm ups in five to ten minutes.  Follow this with some gentle stretches and exercises for the back.
2.    Push, don’t lift:  Push the snow to one side and avoid lifting.  If you must lift, keep the shovel close to your body and avoid twisting and turning by positioning yourself to lift and throw straight at the snow pile.  Be sure to lift slowly and smoothly and do not jerk with your lifts.
3.    Bend the knees, keep the back straight and brace:  Use your knees, legs and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting while keeping your back straight.  Maintaining the natural and neutral curves of your back is important, as this is its strongest and most secure position.  Contracting and bracing your abdominal muscles during lifting improves spinal stability and decreases the chance of injury.
4.    Use the right shovel:  Use a lightweight, non-stick, push-style shovel.  Separate your hands as much as possible on the shovel handle for better leverage against the weight of the snow.
5.    Dress for the job:  Wear warm clothing to protect yourself against the elements.  Shoes and boots with solid treads and soles can help minimize the risk of awkward twisting, slips and falls.
6.    Don’t let the snow pile up:  Removing small amounts of snow on a frequent basis is less strenuous in the long run.
7.    Watch the ice:  Caution should be exercised around icy walkways and slippery surfaces.  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, ice salt, ice melter, or even kitty litter can help give your walkways and driveways more traction.
8.    Take a break:  Know your physical limits.  If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest.  Make a habit to rest for a moment every 10 or 15 minutes during shoveling.  This is especially important if the snow is wet and heavy.  Stop shoveling immediately if you feel chest or back pain.
In the event that you suffer a back injury that does not subside, you should contact a licensed health professional who deals in the diagnosis and treatment of back pain.  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.