Back Pain

Five Ways to Reduce Low Back Pain While Cycling

Setup your bike properly for an enjoyable and pain free ride.

Setup your bike properly for an enjoyable and pain free ride.

Cycling competitively, to work or just for the enjoyment of it is an excellent way to keep in shape and enjoy the outdoors, but it’s no fun at all if your back hurts. Back pain or discomfort while riding a bicycle can result from various factors, such as poor riding posture, a poorly fit bicycle, the wrong-sized bicycle or even from a pre-existing injury. Like any other physical activity, cycling requires some conditioning and adaptation, and if you’re just starting out in this sport, you may want to seek out more information before strapping on your helmet.

Importantly, if you experience recurrent or prolonged back pain while cycling or even afterwards, make sure to seek prompt assessment and treatment. There are also some simple adjustments you can make to keep riding easy, prevent injury or prevent an existing injury from progressing to a more serious problem. Often, simple fixes like adjusting your seat or correcting your posture could help. Read on for helpful tips!

1. Take it easy

Whether you are training for a race or simply working towards your personal best, be careful not to overdo it. On long rides, make sure to take breaks as needed, hydrate and do some stretches or move about. Check out our Resources section for excellent stretches for athletes.

2. The right fit for your needs

Touring, road racing or all-terrain – there is a bike for every rider. Make sure you have the bike that suits your needs. What terrain will you be riding on? How long will your trips be? Are you looking for comfort or speed? When you buy a new bike, or take yours for maintenance, ask to have your bike properly fitted for your individual frame.

3. Posture

While riding, keep a neutral spine by bending at the hips and avoiding the “hunch” in your mid-back. If possible, avoid excessive movement from your upper body and use your back as a fulcrum instead.

4. Core Strength

Having well-conditioned abdominal and back muscles will help to support your upper body while riding and minimize excessive swaying. Your chiropractor can help to guide you and recommend exercises that are targeted to your core, as well as exercises to enhance your overall conditioning.

5. Adjust your bike to your frame

Minor adjustments can make a huge difference. Different styles of bikes require different riding postures, however, this infographic provides a quick reference for general adjustments that can help ensure a relaxed, comfortable posture while riding your bicycle.

Bike-Infographic1

Plant & Rake without the Ache

Lawn maintenance

S-T-R-E-T-C-H Before You Start

Your thighs
Lean against a tree. Bend your right knee and grasp your ankle with your left hand. Repeat with your left knee.

Your Sides
Extend one arm over your head. Bend left from the waist, then right.

Your Hamstrings
Stand. Reach your hands to the sky. Then bending at the waist, reach toward your toes.

Your shoulders
Let your arms hand loose. Rotate your shoulders forward. Then rotate back.

Your wrists

  • Hold one arm out in front of you, palm down. Bend your wrist until the fingers point to the ground. Use the opposite hand to hold this position.
  • Keep your arm straight, place your palm in the “stop” position. Use your opposite hand to hold this position.
  • Place your hands in “prayer” position, and press palms together.

Your Arms & Shoulders
Hug yourself snugly and slowly Rotate at the waist, as far as Comfortable to the left, then right

Your back
Sit, bend form the hips, keeping your head down. Reach for theground.

Overall conditioning
Take a walk, even on the spot. 10 to 15 minutes should do it. Don’t forget to lift your knees and gently swing your arms.

The Right Moves

Lift Right
Make sure your back is straight and knees are bent. Carry the load close to your body. Make sure your feet and body are pointing in the same direction. If you need to turn, pivot with your feet…don’t twist your body while carrying the load. Avoid heavy lifting immediately after bending or kneeling.

Kneel to Plant
Use knee pads or a kneeling mat to reduce the strain while you plant and weed. Keep your back straight and stop frequently to take a break.

Alternate
Heavy, Light, Heavy, Light. That’s the right way to handle the chores.

Change Hands/Legs
Ease the strain on your back by putting one leg in front, the other behind. Switch legs and hands from time to time also helps.

Check Your Position
Change it often! Kneel, then stand or simply sit and relax for a while.

The Right Tools

Choose tools that are ergonomically designed with padded handles and spring action. Make sure the size and weight are right for you. And always choose the proper tool for the job.

Here are a few more tips:

a hose is easier to manage than a watering can
a good cart of dolly makes moving heavier loads a breeze
a wheelbarrow that is lightweight and has two wheels is a good idea
separate a larger load into several small ones
select comfortable, thick soled, supportive shoes
cover up with a wide-brimmed hat, wear gloves and sunscreen
use well designed, long handled, lightweight tools
Always drink lots of water, have a snack and take a break!

Take Care of Your Back

Back or muscle pain that lasts longer than 48 hours is your body’s way of saying it needs help. See your Chiropractor. Chiropractors are trained to detect and treat spinal problems. They provide expert care for your back, muscles and joint, helping you enjoy life to the fullest.

Give our office a call for more information and to book a checkup before you start into the spring gardening.

Shovel Right, Shovel Light

snow-shovelDuring the winter months, snow shoveling can be a pain, considering that each shovelful of snow weighs about six pounds. That’s a lot of repetitive lifting, and wear and tear on your back. These back health tips will ease the hassle of clearing your driveway and help keep your back in shape.

  • Download our brochure Shovel Light for more info on correct shoveling.

Warm Up

Before tackling any strenuous activity, a quick 10-minute warm up such as a walk around the block will kickstart your muscles for the activity ahead and help prevent injury.

1. Don’t Let Snow Pile Up

If the weather report calls for several days of snow, frequent shovelling will allow you to move smaller amounts of snow after each snowfall.

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2. Pick the Right Shovel

Use a lightweight push shovel. If you’re using a metal shovel, spray it with Teflon, so snow won’t stick to it.

shovel2

3. Push, Don’t Throw

Push the snow to the side rather than throwing it. This way, you avoid lifting heavy shovelfuls of snow, and abrupt twists or turns that may result in injury.

shovel3

4. Bend Your Knees

If you need to lift shovelfuls of snow, bend your knees, and use your leg and arm muscles to do the work, while keeping your back straight.

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5. Take a Break

If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a break. Shake out your arms and legs to recharge.

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Keep Comfort in Mind

Layer your clothing so you can adapt to changing temperatures. If you become too warm while outdoors, simply remove a layer or two to maximize comfort.

Stay Hydrated

Even though it’s cold outside, your body still needs plenty of fluids. Be sure to drink lots of water or fruit juice before, during and after shovelling. Remember – if you feel thirsty, you are already dehydrated.

Take it Slow

Rest when you feel tired or short of breath. Stop shovelling if you experience sudden or prolonged joint or muscle pain.

Cool Down

After you’ve finished shovelling, cool down by taking a walk and stretching out tense muscles.

Straighten Up Canada! The Importance of Good Posture for Spine Health

 

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Do you remember being nagged as a child to sit up straight at school or the dinner table? Do you still find yourself slouching at your computer or bending your head forward for long periods while using electronic devices? Canada’s chiropractors want you to Straighten Up! Good posture helps to prevent backache and muscular pain, allows your body to use less energy for daily tasks, helps to decrease wear on joints and prevent arthritis, and increases the flexibility and stress tolerance of your spine. Good posture also makes you look and feel great.

What are some examples of poor posture?

Hollow-backHollow back occurs when the natural curve of your lower back is increased, also called hyperlordosis. When your lower back is arched, it causes your ribcage to protrude and forces your pelvis out of the neutral position, causing your tailbone to point backwards. When these bones are out of alignment, it weakens your abdominal muscles, your hip flexors and your hamstrings. All this together may lead to uneven distribution of pressure on the vertebral discs.

Hollow back can lead to low back pain, deconditioned and weak muscles in the back and abdomen, and other musculoskeletal conditions, such as knee pain.

at-attentionPerhaps you are very aware of your posture and work hard to stand straight and tall. Be careful! Good posture shouldn’t be hard work. If you are standing “at attention” all the time (hypokyphosis), your head may protrude and your shoulder blades may tend to be forward and tilted. As well, this posture increases the natural curve of your lower back, pushes your hips forward, and probably causes you to stand with your knees “locked” or slightly hyperextended. This will weaken your abdominals and hamstrings and shorten your hip flexors, causing them to feel tight.

Hypokyphosis can result in low back pain, thoracic (mid-back) pain and possibly hip and knee pain.

So, remember to stand tall (but not too tall!). Keep your spine neutral and abdomen braced – imagine tensing and stiffening your abdomen to prepare for an incoming impact. Don’t lock your knees – keep them slightly bent and make sure you wear good quality shoes if you are on your feet a lot. It will probably feel awkward at first, but your body will adapt and soon it will be second nature to look and feel great!

good-posture

 

Pack it light, wear it right! Backpack safety

backpackBack to school is just around the corner, and with all those new school supplies is often the most forgotten but most important part of a childs back to school wardrobe, their backpack.

Students these days are provided with more and more materials they need to bring on a regular basis. College and university students are often carrying laptops in addition to their daily school books.

Tips for packing light and wearing right

All this is a recipe for pain, but a few simple steps may provide for worry free carrying.

1.  A properly fitted pack should include;

  • well padded shoulder straps – The shoulder straps should be at least 2 inches wide and should not fit too snugly around the arms, straining muscles and affecting nerves.
  • a significant waist strap – a hip strap or waist belt can take as much as 50-70% of the weight off the shoulders and spine. The waist belt will equalize the strain on the bones, joints and muscles.
  • compression straps to keep the pack tight together – on the side of the pack they help to keep a less full pack from shifting weight backwards and away from the body.
  • sized to fit the torso of the person or child wearing it – 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. Properly weighted pack should be;

  • packed so heavy items are close to the body
  • no more than 15% of body weight for teens & adults and 10% for children
  • filled with lots of compartments to keep contents from moving around while walking

3. Properly worn a pack should;

  • have heavy items close to the body helps keep the weight close to the body’s center of gravity
  • be worn with BOTH shoulder straps – slinging a pack on one side causes strain and a lean to the child wearing the pack
  • be put on with the pack on a table or desk – helps from straining the low back twisting to put on the pack

How much is too much?

To help you figure out what is overloading a pack, we have the following chart.

Shoes 1kg/2lbs
wet towel 1kg/2lbs
6 text books 2.7kg/6lbs
2 binders 1.5kg/3lbs
20 CDs .5kg/1lbs
Game Boy .25kg/.5lbs
water bottle .25kg/.5lbs
sports gear 4.5kg/10lbs
lunch/snacks 1kg/2lbs
laptop computer 2.7kg/6lbs

To determine the maximum weight you should carry

If you weigh Only carry
23 kg/50 lbs 2.2 kg/5 lbs
32 kg/70 lbs 3 kg/7 lbs
40 kg/90 lbs 6 kg/14 lbs
50 kg/110 lbs 7 kg/16 lbs
59 kg/130 lbs 9 kg/19 lbs
68 kg/150 lbs 10 kg/22 lbs
77 kg/170 lbs 11 kg/25 lbs
86 kg/190 lbs 13 kg/28 lbs

Download this backpack_handout for additional help with backpack safety.

So what does this mean in the store?

While this information may help give guidelines for your Childs backpack, real life searches can be a bit more challenging.

To help save you some time we have stopped by a few local locations for back to school supplies to find the best options.

Walmart
While having the biggest selection, the choices for quality packs is thin. Of the many boxes of packs only one had curved shoulder straps, compression straps and well divided compartments.

  • Watch for thin straps with weak stitching to the main pack. Zippers should be coarse with metal preferred.
  • Seams should be wrapped with edging.
  • Theme bags may be a hit with kids but a theme lunch cooler in a better pack is your best choice.

Staples
Another large selection of packs. Obus Forme is the brand of choice with the selection available. If your son or daughter is heading to university with a laptop, Targus makes a few solid packs with laptop sleeves. Watch for a few packs which are very large but not very well designed with weak materials, poor straps and stitching that probably can’t handle the weight which would fill the available space.

Canadian Tire

Suprising enough, our local Canadian Tire store had a great selection of quality packs with two Obus Forme models and another from Outbound which all provided great features for a reasonable price.

Other local stores

Other retailers in town have a selection of packs. From Dakine to Quicksilver, these branded packs may be missing the compression straps and waist belt, so be careful to look thoroughly at the available models.

For more information and to check if your childs pack is suitable, please give Dr. Wilson a call at 250-336-8683 or find a nearby chiropractor at www.bcchiro.com

Information provided courtesy of the BC Chiropractic Association. For more handouts and to have backpack safety information for your school follow this link to the association site.

How your anatomy affects your movement

20140109_001106Was shared an interesting article posted on The Movement Fix.com which reminded me why some patients have reoccurring issues with one side or the other of their body.

We’re not completely symmetrical and we all move a bit differently.

While movement in general should be as free and stable as possible, our structure has a say in what the extent of the movement we can attain, both with, and without treatment.

This different movement will also affect nearby tissues which complicates your clinical picture.  Come in for an evaluation and, if needed, an adjustment to make sure the range of motion you have is actually ready for action.

So keep on training, but listen to your body, and most of all have fun!

Lift Light, Shovel Right

A snowfall warning is here so it’s time to get ready to shovel those sidewalks and driveways. Falls are a great risk for the health of seniors and never any fun for anyone.  Here are some tips from Dr. Colin Wilson of Cumberland Chiropractic for shoveling without the pain.

snowshovelling

 

 

Warm-up. Before beginning any snow removal, warm-up for five to ten minutes to get the joints moving and increase blood circulation. Follow this with some gentle stretches for the back, arms, shoulders, and legs.

Push, don’t throw. Push the snow to one side and avoid throwing it. If you must throw it, avoid twisting and turning – position yourself to throw straight at the snow pile.

Bend your knees. Use your knees, leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting while keeping your back straight.

Watch the ice. Be careful on icy walkways and slippery surfaces. Coarse sand, ice salt, ice melter, or even kitty litter can help give sidewalks and driveways more traction, reducing the chance of a slip or fall.

Take a break. If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest. Make it a habit to rest for a moment or two for every 10 or 15 minutes of shoveling.

Most Important! Stop shovelling immediately if you feel chest or back pain, feel dizzy, are short of breath or if your heartbeat is rapid. Seek medical attention right away.

Chiropractic can help prevent backpack problems by teaching you how to spare your back when shoveling. Should you suffer an injury from shoveling, chiropractic can also provide relief for your pain.

For more information please contact Dr. Wilson at 250-336-8683

Holidays Can Be a Pain in the Neck

BC’s Chiropractic Doctors offer a few suggestions for holidays…

travelling-pain

“After every holiday, people visit their family chiropractic doctor with physical complaints that are usually the result of the holiday,” says Dr. Don Nixdorf, executive director of the BC Chiropractic Association.

Here are some tips to make your holiday weekend enjoyable, and pain free:

If you have to drive more than two hours to visit friends and relatives, take a break; get out of your vehicle and stretch. This temporarily restores normal posture, which will help prevent a recurrence of neck or low back conditions.

  • When loading your vehicle for the trip, organize your luggage and packages into smaller loads, as opposed to one large suitcase, cardboard box or carrying case.
  • Wear your seatbelt. Adjust vehicle headrests so that they are no more than two inches behind the centre of the back of the head. Many of the estimated 20 million car accident victims suffering whiplash injuries in North America could have prevented much of the injury had their vehicle seat headrests been adjusted properly.
  • It’s OK to be a couch potato this weekend, but don’t slouch on the sofa and don’t fall asleep on the recliner, as two or three vertebrae in the spine can assume a sharp angle. When you sit up, the normal movement isn’t restored. “We often see people walking into our offices with their heads sideways, because by slouching, the position of the joints irritates the nerves and blood vessels, causing muscle spasm,” says Dr. Nixdorf.
  • Avoid bending directly over the oven door to lift out the turkey. Crouch down, pull out the oven shelf, and use your legs for better balance. Avoid putting all the leverage on the lower spine. This helps reduce the sharp leverage on the lower spine.

With these few simple tips, the Chiropractic Doctors of BC wish everyone a healthy, happy holiday.

Sit Back, It’s Better for Your Back

Nov. 29, 2006 — Lean back before reading this; your back may thank you.

A new study suggests that sitting upright for hours at a time — for example, when working at a computer — may lead to chronic back pain. Instead, the best position for your back is somewhat reclined, sitting at a 135-degree angle rather than the 90-degree angle most office chairs are designed for.

“A 135-degree body-thigh sitting posture was demonstrated to be the best biomechanical sitting position, as opposed to a 90-degree posture, which most people consider normal,” says researcher Waseem Amir Bashir, MBChB, clinical fellow in the department of radiology and diagnostic imaging at the University of Alberta Hospital, Canada, in a news release. “Sitting in a sound anatomic position is essential, since the strain put on the spine and its associated ligaments over time can lead to pain, deformity and chronic illness.”

Bashir presented the results of the study this week at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America in Chicago.

Comparing Sitting Positions

Back pain is one of the most common causes of work-related disability in the U.S. and helping to identify bad seating postures may help protect the spine and prevent injury.

Using “positional” magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) researchers studied the sitting positions of 22 healthy volunteers with no history of back pain. The MRI machine allowed freedom of motion, such as sitting or standing, during imaging. Conventional MRI machines require the patient to lie flat and may mask some causes of back pain.

Researchers used the MRI to examine spinal positioning while the participants assumed three different sitting positions: slouching forward (such as hunched over a desk or video game console), an upright 90-degree sitting position, and a relaxed position with the back reclined backward about 135 degrees while the feet were still on the floor.

Overall, researchers concluded that the 135-degree reclining position put the least stress on the spine and may reduce the risk of back pain. They recommend that people who sit for long periods of time correct their sitting posture and find a chair that allows them to recline.

“This may be all that is necessary to prevent back pain, rather than trying to cure pain that has occurred over the long term due to bad postures,” says Bashir. “Employers could also reduce problems by providing their staff with more appropriate seating, thereby saving on the cost of lost work hours.”

SOURCES: Annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, Chicago. Nov. 26-Dec. 1, 2006. News release, Radiological Society of North America.

Tips and Preventative Techniques for Getting Back to Gardening

sore-gardenerGardening is a common pastime for all ages, and with some simple tips and stretches, you’ll be able to continue working pain free for many seasons to come.

  • Give your muscles a chance to warm up before working in the yard or garden. Practice stretching with the various movements you will be working in the yard, or take a short ten to fifteen-minute walk around the block.
  • Avoid prolonged bending, pushing and pulling while raking and hoeing, which can strain shoulders or the lower back.
  • Use long-handled tools, or the resulting forward and sideways bending can aggravate the neck or lower back.
  • To avoid strain and muscle spasm on one side of the body, switch hands frequently while raking or hoeing.
  • When using a hedge trimmer, keep your back straight and use short strokes to avoid upper arm and neck strain. Pause after three to five minutes.
  • Carry medium-to-small sized loads of debris close to your body, or use a wheelbarrow to avoid strain on your back. Save heavier work for mid-way through your chores. This helps avoid sudden strenuous exertion on unused muscles and joints.
  • Keep overhead work to five-minute episodes. Avoid extreme reaching with one arm.
  • Kneel to perform tasks, rather than bend.
  • Stretch! The following exercises will help prevent recurrences of spinal and related health problems. Back exercises should deal with flexibility first, strength second.
  • Finally, if a task seems like too much work, it probably is. Hire a professional for tasks like landscaping, tree-topping or trimming large hedges.

For more information, consult with your family chiropractor.