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Dr. Kelly Ramsay at Meridian Spine + Sport!

It is May 1st and spring is finally arriving!  At Meridian, we also welcome Dr. Kelly Ramsay, DC to our team of doctors and therapists starting May 3rd.

Dr. Ramsay has been in practice for 25 years in Holland Landing mostly and will be joining us part-time on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  She brings with her a wealth of clinic experience and has recently served at the 2015 Pan Am Games in Toronto as a medical practitioner for tennis.

She is looking forward to working with Meridian Spine + Sport to bring optimum health care to our community.

You can read more about Dr. Ramsay on her profile page: http://www.meridianspineandsport.ca/about/dr-kelly-ramsay/

Pain Relief Can Be Easy!

Sometimes it doesn’t take too much to get pain relief.  Performing a Restorative Pose can help with neck, upper back and shoulder pain and which could also be causing your headaches.

Neck pain is often caused by poor postural alignment while sitting for long hours over a desk, driving and the dreaded texting. All of this results in a head that is stuck in the forward position. As a result, the muscles of the neck and upper back tense up, which can lead to neck pain, stiffness and headaches.

Restorative Pose 1Try this easy passive position to give these muscles a well-deserved break.

Lie on the floor with your legs on a chair or ottoman, with both your knees and hips at ninety degrees.

Place your arms on the floor at either 45 degrees or shoulder level with your palms up.

This exercise will place your head in the same plane as your shoulders, and allow the muscles of your neck and upper back to release. Stay here until your back settles into the floor and you discern a noticeable release in tension through your back and neck.

Restorative Pose 2

Additional support for the normal curve of your neck can be achieved with a rolled towel.

Restorative Pose 3

Sometimes having your head propped up on a book can put you into a more comfortable neutral position.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

While in this position focus on your breathing allowing stress and tension to leave your body with each exhale.

Try to stay in the position for 10-15 minutes if this seems impossible to you even 5 minutes daily would make a difference!

Too Much Sitting Is Hazardous To Your Health!

Over the past few centuries, society in general has moved from a largely farm based lifestyle to one where people mostly sit throughout the day.

While you would think that sitting puts you at less risk for injury compared to say the daily grind of working the field of a farm, there is a growing trend of office workplace injuries related to neck, shoulder, back and nerve injuries.  On top of that current research shows that sitting for long periods of times is a risk factor for a variety of chronic diseases such as obesity, heart attack, stroke, Type 2 diabetes and even early death!

According to the Healthy and Active Living Research Group in Ottawa, Canadian adults spend, on average, three-quarters of their waking hours each day sitting or reclining. This static behaviour is rubbing off on your kids, too. On average, Canadian children spend two-thirds of their daytime hours sedentary.

Interestingly, this seems even higher than our U.S. counterparts as shown in the infographic below:

So what can you do to take a ‘stand’ against sitting too much all day?  Here are a few suggestions:

  1. Use a Standing Desk.  You can actually burn 40% more calories while working from an upright position!  As well, sitting for prolonged periods can increase you triglyceride levels, decrease your HDLs and decrease your insulin sensitivity.  The seated position is actually very compressive on your spine and discs too.  There are commercially available standing workstations…talk to your HR department, Health & Safety or manager about if this is feasible.
  2. Take frequent walk breaks.  Many people are already doing this but there are still lots who don’t and simply sit at their desk for their breaks or lunch time.  Even quick regular walks help with circulation, refocuses your brain and helps burn fat.  As well, it prevents muscle and joint stiffness from settling in.
  3. Perform desk exercises.  Schedule your work breaks to include some simple stretches.  I have a patient who sets a computer alarm to remind him to take a break every hour.  He then follows a simple 5 minute routine to stretch his neck, arms, shoulders and lower back.  Office Fitness Break Reminder is a simple and free program you can download to your work computer!
  4. Try an exercise ball chair.  Sitting on one of these large fitness balls instead of a regular office chair helps to engage your core muscles and improve balance.  However, some recent research indicates that sitting all day on the ball isn’t a good thing either.  Try swapping back and forth between the office chair and the ball during the work day.
  5. Have active meetings.  Why not considering shunning the typical sit-around, boardroom meeting and try bouncing ideas around with team members during a walk outside.  The fresh air and activity may bring new perspectives on business and efficiency.  And you will all burn more calories while you are at it!

Don’t let a sedentary lifestyle ruin your health!  Simple changes to your daily routine can yield massive benefits!

Until next time,

Dr. Keith

 

Fixing Postural Problem #1 – The Hunchback (of Notre Dame!)

In this digital age of high tech TVs, performance computers, iPads and smartphones, the general population is starting to slouch more…and more…and more!

Here’s how to identify your problem and what sort of things you can do to fix it!

See it – Have someone use your smartphone to take a photo of you standing sideways. If you notice that your upper back is excessively curved (more than 40-45 degrees) as in the photo to the right, you have a bad hunchback posture.  If you are somewhere in between the left and right picture, you need to start working on it now!

Typical cause – Sitting especially for long durations with bad posture.  For example at an office doing computer work, studying at a desk, prolonged gaming in front of a monitor, smartphone use on the train.

What’s happening – Sitting hunched over say a computer screen causes chest muscles to gradually tighten, which can cause excessive curvature (kyphosis) of the upper back (thoracic spine).  At the same time, postural muscles in the upper back weaken and loosen.  A muscle imbalance occurs between your anterior and posterior musculature.  For some people this can result in chronic neck, upper back and/or shoulder pains.

Solution – Relieve chest tightness with myofascial release techniques using a massage ball, tennis or lacrosse ball) and stretching, while strengthening the upper back postural muscles.  Also, you need to work on mobilizing the upper (thoracic) spine with a foam roller.

 

 

Chiropractic ‘Self-Defense’ Tips for Your Neck

You’ve heard the saying: “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  Are you willing to do the little adjustments in life to affect your positively affect your health or pain problem?  My next series of blog posts will be called ‘Self-Defense Tips’ for different parts of the body.  But don’t just read them…APPLY IT!  Today, I give 8 tips to defend against developing chronic neck pain.

  1. Don’t tilt you head down when you  read.  Don’t adjust your head position to the material, adjust the material to you.  Try to keep your head in a neutral position.  One of my chiropractic patients recently said to me…”Who actually does that??”.  And he’s right, most people don’t and that’s the point!  We’ve all developed bad habits since our childhood and it take a conscious effort to reprogram our brain and body.
  2.  When you watch TV at home, make sure that your couch or chair is directly facing the TV.  Most of the time, we arrange our furniture to make the room look nice but is functionally terrible!  Can you imagine going to the theatre and watching a 2 hour movie with your head cranked to the left because the screen wasn’t directly in front of you?  You’ll need to see your chiropractor immediately the next day!
  3. When travelling by plane or train, bring a small pillow for better neck support.  You’ve seen these passengers.  You probably were one at some point!  Head is down to their chest or extended backward with their mouths open (and drooling).  Embarrasing….AND bad for your neck.
  4. Don’t sleep on your stomach; stick with lying on your side or on your back.  If you have been doing it all your life and you feel there is absolutely no way you can change your habits, at least alternate the side that you turn your neck to.  Also your pillow should support your head and keep it in neutral alignment.
  5. Don’t bend your neck down to look at your keyboard.  I think laptop computers and the advent of smartphones and iPads are going to keep chiropractors in business for many years to come!
  6. Set up your computer monitor so that you can look at it without tilting your head up or down.  Typically, most people have their monitors too low on their desk.  A good rule of thumb is to have the top frame of the monitor at eye-level.  You can put a few books or an old Yellow Pages directory under the monitor to prop it up.
  7. If you spend a lot of time on the telephone or cellphone, invest in a headset.  Do not cradle the phone receiver between your ear and your shoulder.  You’re just asking for neck pain or cramps.
  8. Take frequent, short work breaks.  Yes, I know that some of you have tons of work to do or get really in the zone and hate breaking your concentration.  But these breaks will pay huge dividends to your mental and physical health.  Move around to get the blood flowing.  Performing a few head circles or rolling your shoulders is a good start.