Healthy Living

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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Chiropractic for Tennis Elbow

Originally posted by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors


Tennis elbow is a misleading name for a common injury.

Despite the name, tennis elbow is not just a concern for Serena Williams or Roger Federer.

While tennis players can be affected by this problem, it also affects baseball players, swimmers, carpenters, plumbers, meat cutters, or anyone who repeats an arm motion over and over. It can be so painful that lifting your morning cup of coffee to your mouth can become an ordeal.


What is tennis elbow?

Tennis Elbow can be acute, caused by inflammation, or chronic, caused by degenerated collagen.

In acute tennis elbow, you will find the inflammation in the tendon and bony lump at the outer part of the elbow. This inflammation happens because of repetitive stress placed on the forearm muscles. The repetitive stress causes the tendons of the elbow to become irritated, and exert a force on the joint of the elbow leading to inflammation.

Chronic tennis elbow is most seen in non-athletes between the ages of 35-55 years old. In most cases, it is a result of tendon degeneration, which causes normal tissue to be replaced by a disorganized arrangement of collagen. It can happen as a result of a single traumatic event or repetitive stress.


How do I know if I have tennis elbow?

Tennis elbow will cause pain in the bony knob on the outside of your elbow. This is where the injured tendons connect to the bone. You may also feel pain in the upper or lower part of your arm.

Tennis elbow sufferers may feel pain when you ;

  • Lift something
  • Make a fist or grip an object
  • Open a door
  • Raise your hand or straighten your wrist


How do I prevent tennis elbow? 

Stretching – For those who know their work or play will involve a lot of repetitive arm motions, stretching will be your best preventive measure against tennis elbow. Stretching these muscles works to strengthen them over time. For a list of stretches, click here.

Squeeze and release exercise – Strengthening your wrist muscles will help to avoid tennis elbow.  Ironically, a great tool to accomplish this, is a tennis ball. Grip a tennis ball in the hand of your injured arm. Squeeze and release the tennis ball for 2-3 minutes, 3-4 times a day.


How do I treat tennis elbow?

recent study has shown chiropractic treatment to be effective for tennis elbow. Your chiropractor will assess your pain and first determine the cause of your tennis elbow.

Chiropractic treatment for tennis elbow may include: Active Release Therapy (ART), the Graston Technique, which is an instrument-assisted method your chiropractor uses to detect and resolve adhesions in the muscles and tendons, and extracorporeal shockwave therapy, where your chiropractor sends acoustic shock waves into the bone or soft tissue and breaks up the scarring that has penetrated tendons and ligaments.

Tennis elbow should not be ignored. Without the proper treatment it is unlikely to go away on its own. The pain can even begin to spread to the forearm and the wrist. Temporary bracing can help stop tennis elbow from worsening, but is a Band-Aid rather than a cure.

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Chiropractic for TMJ Pain

Originally posted by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors


When most people think of the work a chiropractor does, their thoughts immediately go to correcting problems with the back, neck, spine, etc.

Perhaps, the last place you’d expect a chiropractor to relieve pain is in your jaw.

Your chiropractor may be able to relieve pain in your  jaw, specifically your temporomandibular joint (TMJ), which can be a common sore spot for many people.

A study showed that specific adjustments of the TMJ may be appropriate for the conservative treatment of temporomandibular dysfunction (TMD).


What is the TMJ?

The TMJ connects the lower jaw to the skull in front of the ear. Certain facial muscles that control chewing are also attached to the lower jaw. You can easily find your TMJ by placing your fingers in front of either ear and opening your mouth. You should feel changing shapes beneath your fingers. Problems with the TMJ or the surrounding structures cause TMD.


What are some of the problems that cause TMD?

There are number of causes for TMD. The most common is clenching your jaw or grinding your teeth during sleep. These moments overwork the jaw muscles and put pressure on the joint.

TMD can also be caused by the following:

  • Disc dislocation
  • when ill-fitting dental fillings, crowns, dentures, etc. make the bite uneven
  • trauma to the mouth i.e. a fall directly on the jaw or dental surgery
  • hereditary issues
  • specific diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, gout or fibromyalgia


What are the symptoms of TMD?

TMD can have many symptoms that can be present all the time, or come and go. Some of these include;

  • trouble opening and closing your mouth
  • jaw locking, clicking or popping
  • headaches
  • pain in the jaw
  • pain in the neck or face
  • difficulty chewing
  • ear pain


How can my chiropractor help?

Your chiropractor will first assess the cause of your TMD. Most TMJ conditions respond well to conservative treatment like chiropractic.

If your chiropractor decides your specific case of TMD can benefit from chiropractic treatment, they may proceed with a few different methods, such as chiropractic adjustments, Myofascial Release, which works to relax muscles and soft tissue in order to optimize their function, or active release therapy, which is meant to release scar tissue.

Your chiropractor will also work with your dentist to ensure that the treatment chosen is the correct one for you.

Your chiropractor may also advise you of certain postural changes you can make, especially in the upper-neck, which could be causing or contributing to your TMD as well.

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Catching some ZZZZs – How to Prevent Sleep Associated Pain

Originally posted by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors


Sleep. All of us could probably use more of it with our go-go lifestyles. A good night’s sleep is essential to our overall health and well-being.

It can be frustrating, when we do get around to getting some shut-eye, we can wake up with neck, back or shoulder pain. We should wake up from our slumber refreshed and relaxed instead of in pain.

Changing or altering your position in bed can help you reduce the pain associated with your sleeping pattern and will go a long way in making your slumber that much better.

Changing your sleeping position can be easier said than done. You’ve most likely slept that way your entire life, so breaking that habit can prove to be quite difficult.

Below are some common sleeping patterns and what you can do to improve your sleep for each.

Sleeping on your back – This is the optimal position to reduce pain while sleeping. Sleeping on your back is great for keeping the spine, neck and head aligned and does not force your body into any contortions. This position helps the mattress do its job of supporting the spine. When sleeping on your back, your face should be parallel to the ceiling, not tilted up or down.

Sleeping on your stomach – Sleeping on your stomach is regarded by chiropractors as the worst position for putting stress on your body. This position alters the natural curve of your lower spine, or lumbar and can cause numbness, tingling and pain in your extremities.

If sleeping on your stomach is absolutely necessary, try to shift positions several times in the night to avoid prolonged stress.

Sleeping on your side – Sleeping on your side is an effective way to reduce pain if your mattress is properly suited to your body shape. A good mattress should distribute your weight evenly while ensuring your lower back keeps its proper curvature. Sleeping on your side keeps your body in a relatively neutral position.

Also, for side sleepers, try placing a second pillow between your knees. This helps to keep your hips open. The pillow will help reduce low back pain as well as the strain on the ligaments in your hips.

Sleeping in the fetal position (knees to your chest) – Sleeping this way can be very harmful to your body. This position may be acceptable for pregnant women, but isn’t good for your body in the long run. Keeping your body and spine tightly curled in the fetal position can lead to muscle and ligament adaptations in one of or all of your neck, back or hips.

See your chiropractor if pain persists

If you are still experiencing pain in the mornings as a result of your sleep, see your chiropractor.

Chiropractors are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the spine and musculoskeletal system (the body’s bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, joints and connective tissue). Your chiropractor will first assess your current condition or the source of your problem and then develop a treatment plan for you to help ease your pain.

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Originally posted by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors


The Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors has long been a huge proponent of backpack safety for children.

That’s why, as the pencils are sharpened, the smell of fresh Velcro litters the air, and your kids come to the realization their summer is coming to an end, we like to highlight the importance of protecting childrens’ bodies when it comes to what is considered an essential back-to-school purchase.

According to a study by the University of California, 61 per cent of school children analyzed had backpacks exceeding 10 per cent of their body weight. Those carrying the heaviest backpacks had a 50 per cent higher risk of back pain. This goes along with the fact that over 50 per cent of Canadian youth will suffer at least one back pain episode during their school years.

Choosing the right backpack, ensuring your child packs it light, and wears it the correct way, can go a long way in preventing them pain, both now and down the road.


Choosing the right backpack

Upon entering the store, your child may flock to the [insert popular kids movie of the summer here] themed backpacks, but it’s important to help them pick their backpack based on substance, not style.

When looking for a back pack you should look for the following things:

  • Choose a bag made of lightweight material, such as vinyl or canvas.
  • Pick a bag that has two wide, adjustable and padded shoulder straps, along with a hip or waist strap, a padded back and plenty of pockets.
  • Ensure the bag is proportionate to body size and no larger than needed. The top of the pack should not extend higher than the top of the shoulder, and the bottom should not fall below the top of the hipbone.
  • Explore other options like bags with wheels and a pull handle for easy rolling.


Packing it with the right weight

The type of backpack your kids are using is key, but the weight your kids are putting in them is of equal importance.

The total weight of the pack should not exceed 10 to 15 per cent of the wearer’s body weight. A typical 10-year-old boy’s weight in Canada is estimated at around 50 lbs. A child this size should only be carrying around 7.5 lbs. maximum.

Also keep in mind that the weight should be distributed within the pack evenly. It’s a good idea to pack the heaviest items close to the body as this reduces the strain because the weight is closer to the body’s own centre of gravity.


Wearing it correctly

It’s important to teach your child the proper way wear their backpack as well. Slinging the backpack over one shoulder can cause stress on the joints and muscles in the mid and lower back. Both shoulder straps should always be used and adjusted so the pack fits snugly against the body. You should be able to slide a hand between the backpack and the wearer’s back.

If you’ve bought a bag with a waist strap, ensure that they do it up as it reduces the strain on the back and transfers some of the load to the hips.

To ensure your child’s back is healthy and strong, consult your chiropractor. They can teach you and your child how to pack, lift and carry a backpack properly to prevent injury.

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Sitting Properly: Decrease Pain and Improve Productivity

Originally posted by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors


Research has shown, sitting at work accounts for one-third to one-half of sitting time. Sitting at your desk, in meetings and in your car to and from work, are common for most people. You’re most likely sitting while reading this blog.

Sitting for prolonged periods can cause back, neck and shoulder pain.

Most think you’re more likely to injure yourself during activities like golfing or gardening, but sitting for extended periods of time while at work can produce chronic pain and can limit range of motion for many people. There are ways however, to ensure your office job doesn’t mean more pain than productivity.


Move Around

It may seem simplistic, but even getting up and stretching every hour or so can go a long way in preventing pain. Sitting in the exact same position for long periods of time can cause muscles to stiffen and can slow circulation.

A great device created with the intention to keep your blood circulating is a very simple desktop unit that allows you to raise your working surface with just two levers. The entire unit is on hydraulics, making it effortless to go from sitting to standing.



While it’s important to ensure you get up and move around, it’s equally important to ensure you have the correct posture while you’re sitting. Here are some tips to ensure your sitting posture is correct:

  • Always try to sit upright, with your shoulders down and back all the way to the back of the seat. The back of your pelvis should be butted against the back of the chair for support.
  • Keep your body weight distributed to both of your feet evenly. Try not to cross your legs as that rotates the pelvis backwards on the side that you are crossing over.
  • Try using a lumbar support, which is essentially a cushion for your lower back that rests on the back of your chair. A lumbar support can go a long way in preventing pain.


Your Chair

Your chair can be a big factor in whether or not you experience pain. If your chair height isn’t correct, you’ll have to extend your forearms downwards or upwards to type. This can cause pain to either shoot up to your shoulder blades or sit in your wrists.

Also, you should always try to have your chair under your desk as far as you can, this helps to prevent slouching forwards putting strain on your lower back.


How Chiropractic Can Help

A chiropractor is trained to help you understand how you can prevent and alleviate pain with prolonged sitting.

Chiropractors are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of conditions of the musculoskeletal system (the body’s bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, joints and connective tissue). Your chiropractor will first assess your current condition or the source of your problem and then develop a treatment plan for you to help ease your pain.

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Chiropractic for Treating Vertigo

Originally posted by the Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors


How many of us loved the sensation of spinning around in a circle to make ourselves dizzy as children? We spun and spun and spun, were dizzy for a few seconds and laughed it off. Vertigo sufferers feel this dizzy sensation constantly and it can last for hours or even days and can come out of nowhere.

Chiropractic has been found to be an effective treatment for certain types of vertigo, which can be very frustrating for suffers.


What is vertigo?

Vertigo is the feeling of being off-balance and dizzy, as if you or your surroundings are moving, spinning, or swaying. Sufferers’ feelings of being off balance can differ greatly, from being barely noticeable to so severe they find it hard to keep their balance doing everyday tasks.

A lot of people misunderstand what vertigo is. Vertigo is actually a symptom rather than a condition itself. This means your dizziness is your body’s way of telling you something isn’t right.

Vertigo is most common in elderly people, but it can affect both sexes at any age.


What conditions is vertigo a symptom of?

Vertigo is most commonly a sign of a problem in an area of your body that plays a role in how your body orients itself and maintains balance. Vertigo may be a symptom of;

  • damage to the inner ear
  • damage to spinal joints or ligaments
  • misalignment or a partial dislocation of the vertebrae in the neck


How can chiropractic help?

Chiropractic is an excellent option for treating certain types of vertigo. Your treatment will depend on what your vertigo is a symptom of.

One treatment option, is an adjustment targeting the joints that aren’t moving properly. In the upper neck, faulty motion patterns can result in mistaken information about body position and movement being communicated from your joints to your brain. A simple adjustment can often correct this problem.

If your problem is inner-ear related, your chiropractor may preform what is called the Epley Maneuver. This maneuver consists of repositioning debris that has collected in the sensitive areas of your inner-ear to a more harmless position. Another option for inner-ear related vertigo is specific exercises targeting the vestibulocochlear (inner-ear) system.

After an initial assessment, your chiropractor will decide the best course of action for you in treating the condition behind your vertigo.

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