Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Exercise And Over-Training Syndrome

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

Many individuals strive to incorporate more exercise into their daily routine and for good reason.  Regular exercise has long been identified as an essential element of good health due to its ability to positively affect every organ and structure in the body.  However, if done in excess, exercise can also lead to negative health consequences such as over-training syndrome (OTS).

OTS occurs when there is an imbalance between exercise training and the body's ability to recover.  This typically occurs when exercise volume (the total amount of exercise performed) and/or intensity (the total amount of effort exerted) are too high for an extended period of time.  Therefore, it is important to find the correct balance between exercise volume and intensity.  A good exercise program should allow you to exercise on a regular basis without "burning out".

It is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of OTS which may include:

·     Performance related issues such as:  decreased strength, endurance, and power; poor workout recovery; an inability to complete workouts.
·       Physical symptoms such as:  an increased resting heart rate; persistent aches and pains in muscles and joints; repetitive strain injuries.
·      Health related symptoms such as:  frequent headaches; chronic fatigue; gastrointestinal distress; menstrual irregularities; decreased recovery from and/or increased susceptibility to colds, sore throats, and other illnesses.
·       Mood and behavioural changes such as:  insomnia; loss of appetite; increased irritability; depression; decreased motivation to exercise.

Below are some useful tips that can help overcome or minimize the chance of OTS:

1.    Rest is essential for recovery.  This may include absolute rest from all exercise activity or increasing the recovery time between exercise bouts.  Proper rest allows for the body's important biological systems to recover, repair and recharge.

2.    Change your training method.  Look at the cumulative stress of the exercises performed.  Use a variety of exercises when training specific body regions and avoid continuous training without proper recovery.  Change your program frequently and find the right balance between exercise volume and intensity.

3.  Check your nutritional status.  Your body needs the proper nutrients to function optimally.  Inadequate intake of carbohydrate and protein can lead to muscle fatigue and poor muscle tissue repair.  Healthy fats are needed to produce hormones that regulate many body functions.  Dehydration can contribute to muscle cramping and joint pain.  Avoid nutrient deficient foods such as trans-fats and refined sugars and starches which put physical stress on the body.

4.    Get professional help:  Overcoming OTS is not always simple.  There are healthcare practitioners who can treat physical injuries and provide advice on nutrition and proper exercise training techniques.

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of OTS and knowing how to avoid or minimize its effects can ensure that you can continue to enjoy the many health benefits exercise has to offer.  For additional information on exercise, nutrition, and improving your physical health, 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.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Can I Move Myself Better?

By Dr. R. Greg Lusk, DC

When we experience joint, soft tissue (i.e. muscle, ligament, tendon), or nerve pain, we've become conditioned to expect an anatomical diagnosis from a healthcare practitioner, which speaks to the structural source of our pain. A low back "disc bulge", a "sacroiliac joint sprain", a "pulled muscle", and a "pinched nerve" in the neck are a few such examples. While there is value to labelling the problem as being from a specific piece of our anatomy, which aids in treating in the appropriate area and not being misled by radiating or referred symptoms, it often doesn't tell the full story. Particularly with respect to our backs and necks, it is not easy to specifically say which tissue is the pain source as our diagnostic tests are poor at selectively stressing only one type of tissue at a time. Also, imaging such as x-rays and MRIs often come back normal or have findings that may or may not be part of the problem. As a result, a vague diagnosis such as Nonspecific Mechanical Low Back Pain is very common as it is all encompassing with respect to possible mechanical sources. However, adding a functional diagnosis often clarifies the clinical picture and offers much more value to the pained individual.

What is a "functional" diagnosis? It is the process of identifying movements and/or activities (i.e. functions) that produce or aggravate symptoms, as well as those that may reduce or even abolish symptoms. Patients will often be asked about these activities in an attempt to discover consistencies. Using low back pain as an example, does bending forward, sitting, getting up from sitting, and/or washing dishes cause pain? If so, bending the spine forward (i.e. flexion) is an "intolerant" position which produces pain as it is a consistent biomechanical position in all of these activities, versus the neutral low back position where the back is relatively flat with a slight curve inward toward the belly button. Conversely, does standing, walking, and/or lying on your back make the back pain relatively better? These activities all share spine extension (i.e. bending backward) as the more dominant position, thereby making spine extension a "preferred" direction. The opposite scenario is also possible, with spine extension being aggravating while flexion is relieving, while at other times the situation isn't entirely clear. To aid your healthcare provider in determining these mechanical sensitivities it can often be helpful to keep a record, or diary, of your pain. When symptoms are present or elevated, record the activity you have been doing so the relative spine biomechanics can be deduced.

In addition to any therapies or approaches that may be provided to a patient with low back pain to help with symptoms, which includes medication(s), spinal manipulation, exercises, acupuncture, massage therapy, among many others, knowing the intolerant and preferred spinal positions plays a crucial role in recovery. It empowers the patient with information so they can stop "picking the scab" and perpetuating their pain. Furthermore, the preferred direction of spinal loading is often relieving to pain, completely resolving symptoms in some cases. Exploring spinal loading directions and sensitivities in a clinical setting can form part of the patient assessment and guides patient recommendations. Arming someone with an independent method to control and possibly remove symptoms can help expedite recovery and provides a tool for preventing recurring episodes in the future, as there is a greater appreciation for the effects of directional spinal loading.

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

Monday, January 22, 2018

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 15, 2018

Understanding The Inflammatory Response

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

The inflammatory response is a natural phenomenon that enables our bodies to fend off various disease-causing organisms, harmful toxins, and physical injury.  It is a protective and restorative process that helps keep us healthy - most of the time.  Unfortunately, when inflammation becomes excessive or uncontrolled, we begin to see chronic inflammation which can lead to poor physical health.  Learn more about how the inflammatory response can affect your health.

When you catch a cold, sprain your ankle, or are exposed to an environmental pollutant such as cigarette smoke, a chain of events are triggered in your body known as the “inflammatory cascade”.  The familiar signs of normal inflammation - local redness, swelling, heat, pain, and loss of function - are the first signals that your immune system is being called into action.  Pro-inflammatory hormones are released at the injury site, which stimulates the release of white blood cells, antibodies, and other chemical compounds that help initiate the healing and repair process.  Inflammation that starts and ends as intended signifies the proper and essential inflammatory response.

Chronic inflammation occurs when there is an inflammatory response of prolonged duration (weeks, months, indefinite).  It is accompanied by simultaneous attempts at healing and repair and inevitably causes tissue damage.  Over time, it may become more difficult for the body to heal and repair tissue in areas of chronic inflammation.

Symptoms of chronic inflammation can include persistent pain, fever, fatigue, weakness, and irritability.  Chronic inflammation has also been linked to undesirable health conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, symptomatic osteoarthritis, and irritable bowel syndrome.  Listed below are some natural ways to manage and avoid chronic inflammation:

·     Use the right fuel:  Avoid foods that can be a source of chronic inflammation in the body such as refined sugars, trans fats, and allergens.  In contrast, omega-3 fats which are found in fish oils have an inflammation suppressing effect.  Anti-oxidants, found in most fruits and vegetables are natural compounds that help protect the body from harmful free radicals and inflammation.

·     Exercise works like medicine:  Endorphins released by the body during exercise can have anti-inflammatory properties.  Exercise also regulates insulin levels and body weight.  Being overweight increases inflammation in the body.  Fat cells are efficient factories for producing key inflammatory elements, and burning calories through exercise shrinks those cells.

·     Sleep and stress management:  Poor sleep quality increases body inflammation.  Regular restful sleep allows for important biological systems to recover and recharge.  Prolonged stress, whether it is emotional or physical, can be a source of chronic inflammation.  Finding an effective outlet for dealing with stress is important for managing this source of inflammation.

·     Be mindful of your habits and environment:  Avoiding exposure to pollution and toxic fumes such as cigarette smoke will help minimize inflammation in the body.

·    Treat muscle and joint injuries:  These injuries can be a major source of inflammation.  Many individuals experience the benefits of therapies such as acupuncture, massage therapy, and chiropractic care for these structural causes of pain and inflammation.

For additional information on natural inflammation management and improving your health, 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 8, 2018

Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) Rehabilitation

The New Hamburg Wellness Centre offers emergency access to care for individuals who have sustained injuries in a motor vehicle accident (MVA).  This access is prompt, usually within 24-48 hours during the business week, and in some cases sooner.

You do not have to see a medical doctor to start receiving treatment for a motor vehicle accident injury at our centre.   Our doctors are specially trained to assess your MVA-related injuries and prescribe the appropriate therapy.  We are capable of immediately initiating your claim and starting rehabilitation and treatment for your injuries.  Our centre is also a licensed service provider with the Financial Services Commission of Ontario (FSCO) and is able to bill your auto insurer directly for your treatments.

MVA injuries are not limited to just Whiplash injuries of the neck.  Any body part can be injured.  Our experience, examination protocol and treatment regime is specifically tailored to treating MVA-related injuries, including headaches, neck pain, mid back pain, low back pain, and soft tissue injuries.  Our unique, multi-faceted approach has successfully rehabilitated hundreds of individuals who have sustained MVA-related injuries.

Current scientific research demonstrates that those injured in a MVA recover most successfully if they remain active in their activities of daily living (ADLs).  Individuals may require treatment to help control pain, and instruction on specific exercises to help during their recovery.

Our centre has the ability to utilize a combination of the following treatment modalities to help you recover quickly and completely:

  • Rehabilitative Exercise and Physical Therapy
  • Registered Massage Therapy
  • Medical Acupuncture
  • Laser Therapy
  • Chiropractic Care
  • Active Release Therapy
  • Graston Soft Tissue Therapy
  • Electrotherapy


Q:  Do I need a referral from my insurance company or medical doctor to receive treatment for my MVA injuries?
A:  No.  Chiropractors are primary health care providers and are readily accessed.

Q:  If I undergo care, will my insurance rates increase?
A:  No.  Your rates will not increase as a result of an injury claim only.

Q:  How much will care cost?
A:  Under the present legislation there is no net out-of-pocket expense for care.

Q:  I was involved in an accident, and had little stiffness the next day, is it worthwhile to undergo care?
A:  In a number of instances there is a delayed onset of symptoms that can take weeks to show up after a seemingly innocent fender-bender.  A thorough examination by an experienced practitioner can help determine if any treatment is required.

If you have any questions that need to be addressed regarding injuries you have sustained in an MVA, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

How To Make Exercise A Regular Habit

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

Regular exercise has long been identified as an essential element of good health.  Despite this fact, many struggle to make exercise a regular habit.  Below are some helpful tips that can help individuals stick with an exercise program.

Make Exercise Convenient:  Incorporating regular exercise into a busy life necessitates some planning and sacrifice so it becomes a priority.  This may require scheduling exercise into everyday routines and/or making regular exercise as convenient as possible, thereby increasing the likelihood that it remains a priority.  Exercise does not need to be time consuming.  Regular bouts of exercise for as little as 30 minutes a day can have a positive impact on health.

Make Exercise Safe:  An exercise that may be considered safe for one individual may not be safe for another due to age, physical limitations, and other health concerns.  If you are not sure where to start, consult with a knowledgeable health care provider who can assist in choosing activities that are appropriate for you.  If you have been inactive for a period of time, gradually ease into activity and take it slow.

Make Exercise Fun:  Individuals should choose a range of exercise activities that they enjoy.  Performing these activities with a workout buddy, friend, or family member also results in the exercise being more satisfying.  Those individuals who choose fitness and recreational activities they enjoy are more likely to be consistent with those activities.  Having another individual to share this with also increases the likelihood that you will continue with the exercise activity.

Make Exercise Feel Good:  Not only does exercise make you physically stronger; it also has the benefits of releasing excess tension, building self-esteem, and stimulating the body’s natural “feel good” chemicals called endorphins.  Although there may be some initial physical discomfort when beginning a new 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.  If discomfort or pain persists beyond this point, seek advice from an experienced individual to make sure the exercise you are performing is appropriate and being done correctly.

Make Exercise Practical:  Individuals beginning an exercise program need to have realistic expectations about the amount of time they can invest, the activities they will enjoy engaging in, and the physical and psychological benefits they expect to experience.

Regular exercise leads to tremendous health benefits that can be initiated by individuals of any age or shape.  For more information on health, wellness, and exercise, 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.