back pain

Fall prevention

Fall Stats

  • 1 in 3 seniors will experience a fall each year and half of those people will fall more than once.

  • Falls are the cause of 85% of seniors injury-related hospitalizations

  • Falls are the cause of 95% of all hip fractures

  • 50% of falls happen at home

Why are people falling?

The majority of falls are experienced by seniors. 

Two factors will increase the risk of falling

1. Environmental factors or the unsafe conditions around the person

2. Physical factors - poor/decreased balance, decreased muscle/bone strength and reduced vision/hearing 

What can be done to reduce the risk?

1. Around the home:

  • Install non slip surfaces

  • Install grab bars or rails in the rest room, at the entrances and on the stairs

  • Wipe up any spills immediately

  • Declutter the house

  • Make sure cords are not in walking paths

  • Get rid of rugs or mats

  • If you are using a step stool, find one with a safety rail

  • Store heavy items in a lower shelf or drawer

  • ** Slow down!** rushing a is a  major cause of falling

  • Use the handrail on the stairs and don’t have a full arm load when travelling on the stairs

2. Physically:

- Avoid situations that may make you feel dizzy - like skipping meals or doing activity after taking medications that are known to cause dizziness or drowsiness

- Wear your glasses or hearing aids

- Use an assistive device (cane, walker etc)

- Keep fit - cardiovascular exercise - walking at least 30 minutes a day

                  - strength and resistance training to help build bone and muscle mass

Balance is comprised of 3 major systems that communicate information to the cerebellum, located at the back of the brain

  • The vestibular system in the ear and the visual system tell the cerebellum where the head is in relation to the horizon.

  • In the rest of the body, proprioceptive cells that are found in muscles and joints communicate information about joint angles, muscle length and muscle tension.

If any of those systems are not working correctly or have not properly healed after injury than a person may be at greater risk for a fall. Concentrating on exercises that focus on making those three systems work together can improve reaction time and decrease the chance of a slip

 Is there any way to see if my Balance systems are all working together? 

There are a number of physical tests and neurological tests that a chiropractor will perform to assess your risk for a fall. Based on your test findings, you would then be prescribed a specific list of exercises to help improve the areas where you are deficient. New research from neuroscientist Dr. Heidi Haavik found cerebellar changes with movement related tasks after 12 weeks of regular chiropractic adjustments. 

 What about fall risk in Winter?

  • Keeping walkways clean and free of ice

  • Keep steps and rails in good repair and well lit

  • Wear slip resistant shoes

  • WEAR GLOVES!  hand should be out of pockets ready to help you brace against a fall -

- If you do feel unsteady WALK LIKE A PENGUIN

  •          Keep centre of gravity over your feet

  •          Take shorter/shuffling steps

  •          Keep your arms at your sides and wear your gloves

  •          Go Slowly and concentrate 

For a complete list of strategies to help minimize the risk of falls please follow this link to the fall prevention handout from the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Mom was right

Stand up straight

Modern people are hunched forward on their phones, computers, and behind the steering wheel all day long. This can be the cause of a lot of neck and back pain. It pushes our head and our centre of gravity forward, causing a strain our neck. It increases curve in your thoracic spine, which may prevent you from breathing properly with your diaphragm, further exacerbating pain and stiffness. Evolutionarily this slumped forward posture is a defensive position and triggers the release of stress hormones leading to even more tension. 

By being a little more conscious of our posture we can stand straighter, move better and feel good. Get somebody to take a picture of you from the side and see what your posture looks like.

  • Your chin and neck should be back with your ears over your shoulders

  • Standing in a neutral position your thumbs should be pointing forward

  • Externally rotate the shoulders instead of pointing them toward each other

  • Your pelvic floor should be parallel to your diaphragm, you can accomplish this by tilting your pelvis posteriorly (similar to the motion made during intercourse)

  • Keep the front of the  rib cage tucked down instead of flaring out.   

  • If none of the above makes sense, or your side picture looks atrocious - call us today!

Change your environment

  • Try holding the phone up to look at it instead of looking down at it

  • Take frequent breaks from computer work and sitting

  • Stand and walk more at work and at home

  • Breath through your nose, which stimulants your parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system, and activates your diaphragm

  • Try corrective exercises that stretch the soft tissue that becomes tight from slumping and strengthen the tissue that become weak.  

This will not be comfortable at first but your brain and body will adapt in time and your joints, soft tissue, and even your organs will thank you down the road. 

SMT

Chiropractic Adjustments and Neck Pain

A recent study released in 2017 had some very interesting results.  Inami et al looked at the brain and the neck (via PET scans) before and after a cervical (neck) adjustment. While, unfortunately it was a small sample size (21 males) the results do show there is definitely an influence on the brain in regards to outcomes after an adjustment. 

Significant findings of this study include:

  • Decrease in Muscle Tension in the neck 
  • Increase of neck range of motion
  • Changes in the Cerebellum - where affective processing (sensory), pain modulation and sensorimotor processing occurs - possibly explaining a decrease of pain sensation
  • Changes to the prefrontal cortex - possibly explaining an increase in relaxation

Glucose Metabolic Changes in the Brain and Muscles of Patients with Nonspecific Neck Pain Treated by Spinal Manipulation Therapy: A [18F]FDG PET Study.  Evidence Based Complimentary and Alternative Medicine. 2017. 4345703. Akie Inami, 1 Takeshi Ogura, 1 , 2 Shoichi Watanuki, 1 Md. Mehedi Masud, 1 , 3 Katsuhiko Shibuya, 4 Masayasu Miyake, 1 Rin Matsuda, 1 Kotaro Hiraoka, 1 Masatoshi Itoh, 4 Arlan W. Fuhr, 5 Kazuhiko Yanai, 1 , 6 and  Manabu Tashiro 1 , 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5267084/

Mindful Breathing and Meditation

Mindfullness and Meditation

This is a how to post.  The brief why to is that these simple mindful breathing techniques can reduce pain, anxiety and depression, improve posture, improve cognitive function, increase gray matter in your brain.  This stuff sounds pretty good to me. 

Diaphragmatic Breathing

Practice laying on back or seated with one hand on your belly and one hand on your chest.  Inhale deeply through your nose*.  As you inhale the belly expands and chest does not move.  Exhale through pursed lips, squeezing you core, bringing your belly button towards your spine.

Tactical Breathing

This is a great way to stay cool in a stressful situation.  Using diaphragmatic breathing inhale for 4 count; Exhale for 6 count; as soon as exhale is complete begin inhale.

Box Breathing

This is a great way to learn to control your breath.  This is best practiced in a calm environment and allows you to more easily drop into tactical breathing in stressful situations.  Using diaphragmatic breathing inhale for 4 count; hold breath for 4 count; exhale for 6 count; hold breath for 4 count; and repeat.

Vipassana Meditation

Mindful breathing is focusing on your breathing in order to be present and interrupt the flow of random thoughts in the brain. Observe the breath. Notice if the breath is long or short.  When your mind wanders, gently return it to the sensation of breathing.  As you focus on the breath, you will notice that other perceptions and sensations continue to appear: sounds, feelings in the body, emotions, etc.  Simply notice this, and then return to the sensation of breathing.  The point is not to be good at it.  The point is to do it.  Through observing the breath, mind, and body, you can gain insight into the true nature of the reality and impermanence.  Like box breathing, this sets us up to be able to interrupt negative thought patterns throughout our day.  Start with 5 minutes in the morning upon waking or in the evening before bed.

Mindfulness

Single task, focus on what you are doing presently.  When you eat, just eat.  Don’t read or watch TV.  Pay attention and take your time.  When you exercise focus on your breathing and your body.  Daily routines like washing the dishes, taking a shower, and mowing the lawn can become calming.

*Breathing in through your nose calms your brain and activates your parasympathetic nervous system aka "rest-and-digest" pathway.

 

What will "back in my day" look like in 30 years?

Smartphone changing our genetics?

“Back in my day” seems to be a common phrase among baby boomers, in general it seems like everything was more simple back then.  Healthy eating and exercise were not fad diets or special gym training programs, they meant eating fresh foods that were cooked at home and getting outside to do yard work, chores, or play. 

Millennials and Generation Y groups are known as the “digitally savvy, easily influenced and media exposed” generations.  Typically they are a well-connected bunch and the use of smart phones and tablets is part of their daily, if not hourly lives.  The average adult glances at their smartphones 5 times a day compared to 109 times a day by Millennials.

With all the technology, there must be an impact on health?  It is only just recently are we starting to comprehend the influences such devices have on health.  While the true impacts will likely not bee seen for decades from now, there are some emerging trends that cannot be ignored.

  • Eyesight is changing.  A study published in 2015 found 90% of children in China had myopia (near-sightedness) as opposed to a mere 10-20% only 60 years ago.
  •  Couch potatoes are growing larger.  In 2009 the average American sat in front of a screen for up to 8.5 hours a day, and children were sitting in front of a screen up to 7 hours a day.  The decrease in physical activity and increase in screen time can be directly tied to the obesity and diabetes epidemic. 
  • “Texter’s“ neck is a real thing. The average human head weighs between 10-12 lbs and angling the head forward by 15 degrees while using a smartphone or tablet raises the weight on the neck to 27 pounds and angling forward by 60 degrees increases the weight on the neck to 60 lbs.  This increase in weight can cause pain in the neck, headaches, arm pain, and numbness.
  • Repetitive strain injuries, once common in factory workers, grocery clerks, baggage handlers, and frequent exercisers are now being seen in smartphone and tablet users.  Pain and inflammation are usually the two most common signs of a repetitive strain injury, which is usually caused by inadequate rest after a particular activity.  With the repetitive swiping action of the wrist, thumb and fingers, many people are now complaining of an ache of some type in their hands.
  • The use of smart phones is reducing the face-to-face communications skills.  One only needs to observe friends or family out at dinner to notice that the art of conversation is being replaced by the head down, face down position of smart phone usage.  Important communication skills will inevitably be lost with this decrease of human interaction.  

If each generation remembers the past as the good old days, what will the Millenials and Generation Y think of the way things are in 30 years?  With the use of technology changing our physical and social capabilities we are probably facing a society that has poorer life expectancy and quality of life than generations before it.  This is a scary thought, is it enough to make you put down that smart phone before it is all too late?

Chemical Stress and Your Health

Chemical Stress and Health

Stress can be good or bad.  Stressors can have positive or negative impact on cell function.  They may be physical, chemical, and psychological.  Good stress like exercise, or setting challenges builds stress resistance that is beneficial.  Bad stress such as poor nutrition, anxiety and worry can become overwhelming and is considered chronic stress.  Our focus today is on chemical stressors.

Chemical stressors on our body include alcohol, tobacco, drugs, environmental toxins, and food additives and preservatives.  Food can either enhance or suppress the immune system.  Most foods today contain additives and preservatives that tax the immune system.  Excess grains, sugars, trans and hydrogenated fats, alcohol, caffeine, and salt weaken the stress response.  Grains, sugar, and hydrogenated oils cause inflammation.  Caffeine triggers the sympathetic nervous system.  Salt increases blood pressure.  Stress depletes the body’s essential nutrients.

Psychological stress only compounds the problem.  Emotional stress can create poor eating habits like over/under eating, excessive dieting, and over consuming alcohol, caffeine, sugar, salt, and bad fat.   

To combat chemical stress develop good habits around food:

·      Eat real food, mostly plants.

·      Avoid processed food.

·      Avoid food with additives and preservatives.

·      Don’t binge or eat late at night.

·      Enjoy meals with friends and family.

We also have to consider other toxins in our environment.  Air and water quality are compromised in many environments.  We spend a lot of time indoors breathing recycled air and in traffic breathing exhaust.  We drink and bath in polluted water, and wash our skin and home with harsh cleaning products.  For green cleaning recipes check out http://www.davidsuzuki.org/what-you-can-do/queen-of-green/recipes/.

 

 

 

 

Does this look familiar?

Poor Posture

Look at what the effects of poor posture are on your body!

We see a lot of office workers complaining about their back discomfort, but look what what else happens when you sit (with poor posture) for long periods of time!

Make sure you are getting out of your chair at least every 50 minutes! 

sitting.jpg
photo credit: Washington post