Chiropractic Care and Chronic Medical Conditions

Chiropractic care can be helpful for a variety of chronic, or long-lasting, medical conditions. These include spinal issues, sciatica, chronic pain, headaches, and many others. But what about non-orthopaedic chronic medical conditions – diseases that do not primarily affect the bones, joints, and connective tissue? These problems include diabetes, heart disease, mental illness, lung disease, etc. Is it safe to have chiropractic treatments if you suffer from any of these conditions?


Keeping Everyone on the Same Page

Whether you have chronic medical conditions or are completely healthy, it is important to keep your entire healthcare team apprised of your situation. This means letting your primary care physician, chiropractor, dentist, surgeon, and other specialists know your complete medical history as well as any changes. All of your medical providers should be informed of your medication types as well as dosages and frequencies, hospital admissions, surgical procedures, allergies, and other medical information.

Only by having complete information will your chiropractor and other healthcare providers be able to make informed decisions for your effective treatment and safety. For instance, your chiropractor may elect to delay spinal manipulation if you’re still healing from a surgery. You should always defer to their experience and expertise if they feel that a treatment may carry a safety risk.

However, you should know that chiropractic treatments are generally safe, even for patients with chronic illnesses. Still, let your primary care physician and any specialists know before you seek chiropractic therapy.


A Look at Two Conditions

Let’s examine two widespread chronic conditions – type 2 diabetes and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Type 2 diabetes usually appears in adults and is a systemic disease, meaning it affects your entire body. The primary symptom is high blood sugar, but this can cause other issues like increased thirst and urination, greater susceptibility to heart disease, and diabetic neuropathy – shooting pain and numbness in the hands and feet.

There is currently no evidence that standard chiropractic treatments can worsen type 2 diabetes. Furthermore, while it is not likely that chiropractic can improve the main staple of diabetes – high blood sugar – treatments may be able to help with the symptoms of neuropathy. As always, inform your endocrinologist and primary care physician that you wish to receive chiropractic treatments, and also let your chiropractor know that you’re diabetic, as well as updating them on your blood sugar control and symptoms.

COPD is a common disease among smokers and former smokers, though it may affect non-smokers as well. It manifests mainly as emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Patients with COPD may have reduced lung volumes and sometimes require supplemental oxygen.

As with type 2 diabetes, a search of the published literature reveals no instances of adverse COPD patient effects with chiropractic therapy. In fact, several randomised, controlled studies found that COPD patients sometimes benefited from manual spinal manipulation delivered by a qualified chiropractor in the form of increased lung capacities, better lung function, and greater exercise capacities.

Despite these results, again, you should consult with your pulmonologist or family doctor before undergoing chiropractic treatment if you have COPD. Be sure to also let your chiropractor know about your COPD and overall health.

Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors

How Soon After Surgery Can You Have Chiropractic Treatment?

Surgical operations are a standard part of modern medicine. By many estimates, the average person will have about nine surgical procedures during their lifetime, including outpatient and in-office procedures. These surgeries may be quite minor and routine, such as a mole removal – or extremely serious, as with organ transplants.

Proper postoperative care is a critical component of recovery after a surgery. Your surgeon will often place restrictions on your activity for a period of time after your procedure, and you should always adhere to their advice. However, most surgeons do not explicitly mention chiropractic treatment in their aftercare instructions. So how long do you need to wait after surgery before having chiropractic care? Unfortunately, there is no single universal answer.


Type and Scope of Surgery

A large portion of the answer to the above question will depend on the type and scope of your surgery. This may seem obvious to some degree. For example, if you’re recovering from ankle surgery but desire chiropractic treatments for tennis elbow, this is unlikely to be a problem. Or, if you’ve had a wound on your finger recently stitched closed, spinal adjustments should not interfere with that healing process.

However, scenarios may arise where you’re unsure whether you’ve healed sufficiently for a chiropractic adjustment. This may be the case for abdominal surgeries, such as a gallbladder removal. In these cases, you should always consult your surgeon prior to undergoing any medical treatment, including chiropractic. Your surgeon is responsible for your aftercare following surgery, and you need to contact their office for any questions or concerns.


Keep Your Providers Up to Date

Whether you’ve undergone a tooth extraction or surgery to help repair a broken bone, you should make certain that all of your healthcare providers are updated on your medical history. This includes your chiropractor. As a health care provider, your chiropractor needs to know your current medical status and all procedures you’ve undergone, no matter how seemingly minor. Keeping your chiropractor up to date will allow them to make the best decisions for your health and safety.


Simply Ask

Before any surgery, your surgeon will explain the procedure and give you an opportunity to ask questions. If you’re planning on seeking chiropractic treatment during your recovery, let your surgeon know and ask about appropriate timeframes. Your surgeon will be able to clear you for chiropractic treatment when you’re ready.

Also, make sure your surgeon and chiropractor have each other’s contact information in case a question arises. This way, they’ll be able to coordinate your care and keep each other informed of your progress.

Although they are different disciplines, chiropractic and surgical care aren’t at odds with each other. By keeping your healthcare providers up to date on your medical history and asking questions, you can help ensure that your treatment team is working in conjunction to ensure your health and wellness.

Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors

Heat vs. Ice: Which Works Best for Treating Injuries?

Originally posted by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors


Heat vs. Ice … It may sound like the title of an upcoming blockbuster movie, but it’s a question most active people have mulled over during their life after they’ve sustained an injury. Like most dilemmas, there isn’t really an easy answer to this question. Whether to treat an injury with a hot pad or an ice pack depends largely on the situation.



How cooling an injury works

Applying ice or a cold pack works by reducing blood flow and pain sensation to a particular area. Cooling an injured area, especially a tendon or joint, can reduce inflammation and swelling that causes pain.


When is it best to apply ice to my injury?

Ice is meant to calm down damaged surface tissues that are inflamed, red, hot and swollen. Think of icing as a way to simply dull the pain, and reduce inflammation, nothing more or nothing less.  Ice therapy is most beneficial in the first 24-72 hours of sustaining an injury.

After you’ve sustained your injury, you should aim to apply ice to the inflamed area as soon as possible.

Use cold therapy for short periods of time, several times a day.

It’s important not to treat an area with ice for too long. Ten to fifteen minutes is fine, but no more than 20 minutes of cold therapy should be used at a time.

Also, don’t cool an area to the point where you are shivering. If you are already shivering, you should discontinue applying ice until you warm up. The brain interprets an excess of cold as a threat and when the brain thinks there’s something wrong going on it may actually amp up your area of pain as a defense mechanism.


How to apply cooling therapy

Before you apply ice or a cooling pack to the injured area, always make sure there is some sort of barrier between the ice and your skin. Whether it be a Ziploc bag or a washcloth, it’s imperative that the barrier exists. Applying ice directly on the skin can cause damage to the skin and tissues.



How Applying Heat to an Injury Works

Heat therapy works by improving circulation and blood flow to a particular area. Heating an affected area can soothe discomfort, increase muscle flexibility and help heal damaged tissue.


When is it best to apply heat to my injury?

Heat therapy is most effective for sore muscles, chronic pain and repetitive stress injuries. A comfortable, not scalding, heat can take the edge off symptoms like muscle aching and stiffness.  Heat can be most beneficial 36-72 hours after the injury is sustained.


 How to apply heat therapy

When applying heat therapy to a small, afflicted area you could use small heated gel packs or a hot water bottle.

There are certain cases where heat therapy should not be used. If the area is bruised or swollen, it may be better to use an ice pack. Heat therapy also shouldn’t be applied to an area with an open wound.

Heat therapy, unlike cold therapy, is most beneficial when used for long periods of time.

Minor stiffness can benefit with only 15 to 20 minutes of heat therapy. Moderate to severe pain can benefit from longer sessions of heat therapy lasting between 30 minutes and two hours.


When to see a chiropractor

Whether you go the ice or heat route, both treatments are meant only to mask the discomfort of your injury. If your pain hasn’t subsided after a few days of either heat or cold treatment seek advice from a chiropractor.

Doctors of Chiropractic are highly educated and specially trained musculoskeletal experts. If you experience stiffness or pain related to sport or active living, consult your chiropractor. If you don’t have a chiropractor, visit here to find one near you.

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“If it Hurts” Campaign Kickoff

Originally posted by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors


The ACAC is pleased to announce the kickoff of our “If it Hurts” campaign.

The campaign kicked off with our new television commercials, which can be viewed here, hitting the air on April 17. You can view all three commercials here.

The commercials depict Albertans, in everyday situations, experiencing pain. Not debilitating pain, but the type of pain that can slightly alter the way you’re living your life. If you are in pain act now and don’t wait to see a chiropractor. You don’t have to be in agonizing pain to see a chiropractor and chiropractic   doesn’t have to be a last resort. When the pain starts to become the least bit noticeable, you should be booking an appointment with your chiropractor. Your life doesn’t have to be ruled or inconvenienced by pain. If something is preventing you from doing what you want or what you love, take some positive action and see a chiropractor.

The vignette style commercials allow us to show the many MSK issues chiropractors diagnose and treat. We are especially pleased to be able to depict issues like headaches and joint pain including, shoulder pain, elbow pain and wrist problems. These are issues often not connected with chiropractic, but they are certainly issues a chiropractor can assist you with.

The television commercials are only the first step. The “If it Hurts” campaign will have a presence in radio, online and on social media.

We hope to build off the success of our past campaigns as we continue to let Albertans know all that chiropractic has to offer them.

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Chiropractic Tips for Gardening

Originally posted by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors


As the weather warms, many Albertans will be dusting off their spades and unraveling their hoses in anticipation for a spring and summer full of gardening.

As peaceful and relaxing as gardening can be, it’s undeniable that it brings with it a lot bending, twisting, reaching and pulling. Your back, upper legs, knees, shoulders, and wrists can all become affected while gardening and it’s important to take the necessary precautions before, during and after enjoying your favourite hobby.



Before you even head outside with your favourite gardening attire, give your muscles a good stretch.  As with any activity that will put stress of strain on your muscle, it’s imperative to stretch because warm muscles will work more efficiently and be less likely to be injured.  The Straighten Up Alberta program is a great place to start if you are looking for an effective way to stretch and warm up before digging.


Body Mechanics

Gardening is full of repetitive motions, which, over time can cause you a whole host of problems. Below are different problem movements to avoid during your time enjoying your garden:

  • One of the most pertinent things to think about when it comes to gardening is to reduce amount your body is twisting. Avid gardeners know that there is a lot of twisting to reach the space around you. A good rule of thumb to follow is to squarely face whatever you are working on to reduce twisting. To go along with this, never over reach; move to the job and keep moving to be close to your work.
  • If you are going to be a lot of digging, keep your elbows partially bent. Without proper technique when preforming a repetitive movement like digging you may end up developing tennis elbow.
  • You should be trying not to reach above your shoulders when watering your potted plants. A sturdy ladder is your best friend when it comes to keeping work below shoulder level. Putting constant stress on your shoulders by constant reaching above can cause a shoulder impingement or another type of rotator cuff injury.
  • Avoid pinching and pulling repetitively with your finger and thumb. This usually creeps up when using pruning scissors. If you are going to pruning or using a similar motion,  hold objects with a light grasp or pinch, avoid a tight sustained grip.



Believe it or not, the shovel, spade, rake, etc., you are using could be the direct cause of your discomfort. It is important to buy tools that are appropriate for your size. Try out your gardening tools before you purchase them to make sure handle size, length of spindle, and weight are right for you.

It’s also important to make sure tools meant for digging are kept sharp as that will reduce the amount of effort needed to move your dirt.


Visit Your Chiropractor

If you’ve injured yourself flexing your green thumb or are interested in strengthening or injury prevention, go see your chiropractor. Doctors of Chiropractic are highly educated and specially trained musculoskeletal experts. If you experience back pain related to spring activities, consult your chiropractor.

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Food for Thought: Nutritional Counselling in Chiropractic Practice

Originally posted by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors


We all know nutrition is an essential part of a healthy, active lifestyle. It’s been engrained in us. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away.” ““You are what you eat.” What may seem foreign to you though is how nutrition and chiropractic go hand-in-hand.  The promotion of healthy lifestyles is an important goal of chiropractic care. Nutrition is a great example of this.

Proper nutrition is essential in keeping your musculoskeletal (MSK) system operating to its full potential. If you are seeking chiropractic care to recover from an injury or just to maintain musculoskeletal health, nutrition becomes even more important.


Watch Your Caloric Intake

Although it has almost become cliché to talk about caloric intake, the foods you put in your body can go a long way in prolonging an MSK issue or putting extra strain on your muscles or joints. The more high caloric foods you eat, the more weight you’re going to gain. The more weight you gain, the more pressure your muscle or joints come under. It’s simple logic really, that most don’t think about.


Tailored Diets

Your chiropractor has the education and expertise to tailor a diet or suggest foods that can directly address your injury or lifestyle.

For instance, those suffering from pain in a muscle or joint may be given an anti-inflammatory diet that avoids foods like white bread, French fries. These foods are recognized as a foreign invader by the body, leading to an increase in inflammation as well as a host of other problems.

Lifestyle nutrition is also something your chiropractor can assist you in. If you or your child are into athletics a diet rich in complex carbohydrates is essential to provide the energy source to fuel your intense training and competition. Your chiropractor can assist you in developing a meal plan to meet your needs.


Chiropractic Expertise in Nutrition

Your chiropractor has received the training necessary to provide you with nutritional advice in conjunction to your chiropractic treatment. Students on the road to becoming DCs will receive classes in physiology, biochemistry and nutrition as part of the core curriculum.  Together with other courses that focus on a healthy lifestyle and whole-body wellness strategies, your chiropractor can be an excellent resource to assist you in your quest for healthy choices and better all-around health.

Many chiropractors also choose to further their education in the field of nutrition as well, through post graduate programs and advanced education.

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Chiropractic a Piece of the Puzzle in Dealing with your Child’s Concussion

Originally posted by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors


The hardest injuries to diagnose and treat are the ones we can’t visualize. Imagine trying to tend to your child’s scrapped knee if you couldn’t see it. Even with all the publicity that concussions receive, they still remain, in large part an enigma in the health care community.

Children and teens are more likely to get a concussion and take longer to recover than adults. Among children and youth in Canada (10-18 years) who visit an emergency department for a sports-related head injury, 39 per cent were diagnosed with concussions, while a further 24 per cent were possible concussions. Chiropractic has been found to be an excellent piece of the puzzle for dealing with concussions and post-concussion syndrome.


What is a concussion? 

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a hit to the body that causes to brain to move back and forth inside the skull. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging the brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain.

A common misconception is that you have to lose consciousness in order to be diagnosed with a concussion. While some concussion sufferers will lose consciousness, any sudden hit to the head can cause a concussion. In fact, a brief loss of consciousness or “blacking out” doesn’t mean a concussion is any more or less serious than one where a person didn’t lose consciousness.


What signs will my child show if they have suffered a concussion?

This is where things can be a little tricky. Concussion symptoms depend on the person and the injury, and they may not be noticeable for hours or even days. Most in health care agree that the presence of any of these symptoms is relatively common for those who suffer a concussion:

  • Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
  • Confusion
  • Amnesia around how the concussion was caused
  • Dizziness or “seeing stars”
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Appearing dazed
  • Fatigue

In most cases, the symptoms should subside in a week or two following the traumatic event. If you think your child may have suffered a concussion be sure to have them assessed by a healthcare professional shortly after the trauma occurred.


Why is my child is still displaying symptoms long after their concussion? 

If your child is still feeling the effects of their head injury three months after the event, they may be suffering from what is known as post-concussion syndrome (PCS).

Five to 10 per cent of those who suffer a concussion will experience symptoms that will last beyond the normal time for recovery.  As is with everything concussion related, how PCS affects people greatly differs from case-to-case.


How can my child be treated for a concussion or PCS?

While there is still much for the health care community to learn about concussions and concussion recovery, there are still steps that parents can take to help their child recover. These include;

  • Having your child get plenty of rest. Keep a regular sleep schedule, including no late nights.
  • Making sure the child avoids high-risk/ high-speed activities such as riding a bicycle, playing sports, or climbing playground equipment. Children should not return to these types of activities until their health care professional says they are well enough.
  • Avoiding bright lights and loud noises. These can make concussion symptoms worse.
  • Eating well and drinking lots of non-caffeinated beverages. Caffeine is a stimulant that can put added stress on your child’s brain.
  • If your child is beginning to feel better, ease them back into physical activity. Let them do light activity first and check to see if any concussion symptoms have returned.

Your chiropractor is also a great asset to have in the management of your child’s concussion. Your chiropractor has the expertise to evaluate, diagnose, and direct the management of concussion patients.

Also, many concussions bring with them other effects such as whiplash, subluxation, neck strain, facet syndromes and muscle spasms. Your chiropractor is an expert on how to treat these conditions and help get your child on the road to recovery.

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Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors

Avoiding Injury While Shoveling Snow

Originally posted by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors


Shoveling. It’s a sad reality of living in Alberta. Every time the powdery white stuff falls, someone has to be outside to clear it. Some winters can be harsher than others, but shoveling is inescapable. What can be avoided is the stress shoveling can put on your body. The American Journal of Emergency Medicine released a study which says an average on 11,500 individuals in the U.S. have a shoveling related injury every year. There are ways though you can prevent injuries related to shoveling.



When you have a task as tedious as shoveling snow, it’s understandable to want to just zip up your coat, put on your winter cap and gloves and barrel through it. Unfortunately, this is the first mistake you can make that may lead to injury. It’s imperative to stretch because warm muscles will work more efficiently and be less likely to be injured.  The Straighten Up Alberta program is a great place to start if you are looking for an effective way to stretch and warm up before shoveling.


Choosing the Right Shovel

When you hit the store to pick up a new shovel, you generally don’t put too much thought into your new shovel. It may be surprising, but not all snow shovels were created equal.

It’s important to find a shovel that is specifically meant for removing snow.  Also, buying a shovel that is the proper height is important. With the blade on the ground, the snow shovel should come up to approximately your chest height, as this this will reduce strain on your back because you aren’t bending down as far as well as making the snow easier to lift.

Also, try to use a lightweight, push-style shovel. If you use a metal shovel, spray it with a non-stick spray so snow slides of easily.


Shoveling Technique

When lifting anything, technique is important. Shoveling and lifting snow off your driveway is no different. Push the snow to one side and avoid throwing it as much as possible. If you have to throw, avoid twisting and turning – position yourself to throw straight at the snow pile. Squat and bend your knees. Your legs take the stress off of your back when you lift heavy objects like snow. Be sure to keep your feet shoulder-width apart and tighten your abdominal muscles.

Also, to reduce the strain don’t wait until the snow is six feet deep to begin shoveling. Removing small amounts of snow on a frequent basis is less strenuous in the long run, so try and get ahead of the shoveling duties during a big snow fall.

If the snow has already piled up, don’t try to shovel all of it at once. You should try to only lift the top two inches of snow off at a time to prevent injury.

If you’ve injured yourself shoveling, go see your chiropractor. Doctors of Chiropractic are highly educated and specially trained musculoskeletal experts. If you experience back pain related to winter activities, consult your chiropractor.

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Originally posted by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors


We’ve moved into November. Whether we like it or not, the weather is getting colder, snow is beginning to fall and……gulp……. Christmas music is already starting to ring through the speakers of your local, probably over crowded, department store. Sadly, you are only a few weeks away from being a few weeks behind on your Christmas shopping, which when done, will mean you will probably be frantically wrapping gifts to get under the tree for the big day.

With the stress of the holidays, there isn’t much time to think about how your gift wrapping spree can be hard on your body. Wrapping presents for an extended period of time can cause strains on the upper back and neck if done improperly. Below are some tips to keep your back and neck healthy this holiday season.

Get up and stretch – It may seem silly to stretch before doing something so repetitive, but if you’re going to pull an all-night gift wrapping cram session, stretching will go a long way in preventing injury. You should stretch before you begin and around every 30 minutes of wrapping or so. Also be sure to not sit in the exact same position the entire time you are wrapping as this can cause stiffness and muscle fatigue. If you’re looking for a stretch guide to help you out, look no further than the Straighten Up Alberta program.

Avoid sitting on the floor – If you are wrapping gifts on the floor for long periods of time, you are most likely spending a lot of time leaning forward, which can put a lot of tension and stress on your back and neck. Use a table and chair to wrap your presents. Also try to keep items you will be picking up or putting down constantly, like scissors or tape, within arm’s length. This way you won’t be reaching and putting unneeded stress on your muscles.

Be careful when lifting large or awkward items – Before you even start to wrap your gifts, you often have to lug out all your decorations and also a tree. This means quite a lot of lifting.When you lift something, the load on your spine increases and your spine can only bear so much before it is injured. When you are lifting, correct body position and lifting technique is crucial to preventing injury.

Here is a step‐by‐step technique for lifting safely and preventing back injury:

  1. Stand close to the object you are going to lift.
  2. Place your feet shoulder‐width apart.
  3. Bend your knees and keep your back as straight as possible to squat to the level of the object.
  4. Test the weight of the load before lifting.
  5. Keep the load close to your body.
  6. Use the strength of your leg and arm muscles (not your back) to smoothly and slowly lift the load. Do not to jerk when lifting.
  7. Pivot your feet to turn in the direction you want to move toward.
  8. Avoid twisting your body while turning and carrying the load.
  9. Bend your knees and slowly lower the load to its new location.
  10. Always ask for help if the load is too large, heavy or awkward.


What do I do if I’ve already hurt my back or neck?

 See your chiropractor if you’ve already injured your back or neck. If not treated, back and neck pain may go away temporarily, but in many cases it returns and becomes more of a persistent pain. Your chiropractor can provide more sustainable relief.

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Stay Out on the Dance Floor and Out of Pain

Originally posted by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors


Dance is a beautiful art form. The hallmark of a great dancer is one who incorporates fluidity and mobility into their movements. This also means a dancer is one who places tremendous stress on their body.

As of 2011, 35 per cent of Canadian children aged three to seven were enrolled in organized dance. The same study says adult dance professionals spend an average of 17.7 hours in dance per week. Leisure adult participants say they devote 6.5 hours per week to their involvement in dance.

It’s easy see how all this stress can accumulate for dancers. Here are some ways dancers of all ages can prevent injury.


Training outside of dance

If you are a serious dancer, it’s important to not just rely on dance for all your physical activity. Aerobic conditioning, muscular strength and muscular balance training are extremely helpful in preventing both acute and long-term repetitive stress dance related injuries.

These kinds of training have been shown to not only increase dance performance, but also reduce incidence of injury. Research has shown dance ranks just behind football for how physically demanding it can be.  If football players are vigorously training off of the field, it should be a no-brainer that dancers should be doing the same.


Don’t over-do it

Hockey season ends in June. Baseball season ends in late October. Dance has no off-season. This can be problematic, especially for young dancers who still have developing bodies with growing bones and joints. A common trap dancers young and old fall into is biting off more than they can chew. Most dance techniques use the same foot/ankle, hip, knee and back muscles. Dancing every day of the week and pushing the same muscles too hard for too long have the potential to  lead to a repetitive strain injury.

Think of it this way, nobody goes to the gym and just works out their shoulders, arms or legs every day. If you did this, eventually, those muscles would weaken and you risk injuring yourself. The same line of thinking should go into planning your or your child’s dance schedule.


 If you’ve injured yourself dancing, see your chiropractor  

Your chiropractor has a great understanding of the difficulties related to specific movement patterns, as well as bone, joint, and soft tissue stresses that dancers typically preform. Your chiropractor can help with pain management and injury treatment and prevention in the future.

Dance is great way to stay active. It’s a great source of aerobic exercise (which strengthens your heart), it increases bone and muscle strength and is a great core workout, a long with a host of other positive health benefits. If you or your child take the steps needed you can keep your bodies out on the dance floor and out of pain.

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Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors