Is Chiropractic Care Safe For Expectant Moms?

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Pre- and Post-natal Care and the Webster Technique

Chiropractic care benefits all aspects of your body’s ability to be healthy. When misaligned, pelvic and spinal dysfunction can result, which can create imbalances in the surrounding muscles and ligaments. All of this can affect the body’s ability to function optimally.

Over 50% of all pregnant women experience back pain and approximately 75% of women report back pain during labour but some are reluctant to seek treatment. Chiropractic care is a safe, comfortable and effective treatment during pregnancy.

The Webster technique is a specific chiropractic analysis and gentle adjustment technique that can be used on all populations, not just pregnant women. The goal of the adjustment is to reduce the effects of joint dysfunction in the pelvis. In doing so, optimal movement and function of the pelvis and surrounding structures can be restored. Common symptoms that can be relieved with chiropractic treatment during pregnancy are: low back pain, sciatica and joint dysfunction.

In some women, pelvic dysfunction can contribute to difficult labour for the mother (commonly known as dystocia). Dystocia can be caused by inadequate uterine nerve function, pelvic contraction, and baby mis-presentation (breech positioning). Correction of joint dysfunction and pelvic misalignment may have a positive effect on all these causes of dystocia by addressing the tightening and torsion of specific pelvic muscles and ligaments.

Obstetric literature has determined the importance of normal pelvic biomechanics for the prevention of dystocia and difficulty during labour. The adaptations that occur in the female body during pregnancy include the increase of hormones, weight gain and postural adaptations. All of these result in pregnant mothers having a greater chance of sacral dysfunction and biomechanical imbalance than the general population. These can easily be corrected safely and comfortably throughout pregnancy and following labour.

Gentle chiropractic techniques can also be used effectively in the care of children but that’s a topic for another day – to be covered later.

For more on the Webster technique, check out the International Chiropractic Pediatric Association website: (http://icpa4kids.com/about/webster_technique.htm)

 

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It’s Only Cold If You’re Standing Still?

While that never really feels true when it’s -30 degrees for the third day in a row and the snow continues to fall….. it is true that if you wait for perfect conditions. or perfect weather (pretty unimaginable during a Canadian winter), you’ll never get anything done!

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Running. All. Winter. Long.

Of all winters to decide to continue running outside, I sure picked a good one! I think we’ve all had our fill of extreme temperatures and endless snow falls by now. Needless to say, it hasn’t been boring. You may think you’ve planned your run schedule for the week but all it takes is a wind chill alert or snowfall warning to keep things interesting!

There were days (yes, more than one) when I felt like I was wearing my body weight in layers…. or running with the wind always at my front and never at my back… or constantly repeating “wow. it’s cold, wow. it’s cold, why am I doing this?!” inside my head. But somehow, it’s turned out to be my favourite winter season to date.

After running all spring, summer, and fall, I reached my training goal of running a half marathon last fall. I always dread winter, like many of us do, and I just couldn’t imagine having to lose all of my progress and start from scratch again the following season. Not to mention that like many of us, I hate the “blah” feeling that comes with a long winter and being far too inactive. I may not be able to change the cold but that doesn’t mean I need to sit inside all winter dreading it. Sure, the routine has to change a bit, as does the clothing but if you’re like me and you love how you feel after a great workout, it’s worth it to stay active. Even during the coldest temperatures.

One of the best lessons I’ve learned is that every now and then, you need to adjust your expectations. It’s not realistic to pull off a long run when it’s -25 degrees and that’s okay. It’s actually sensible not to get frost bite. The day after an ice storm is probably not the day to try for speed and that’s just smart – some days, it’s enough to get out there and stay un-injured. Instead of the typical speed or distance goals that many runners get used to, you may want to consider running by effort when the conditions are extreme. This can be applied to other types of working out too and it’s the most helpful advice I’ve been able to apply yet. That – and lots and lots of layers! Whatever your sport or activity, get out there and make the most of it.

“When you think about quitting, think about why you started.” 

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Why Combine Soft Tissue Therapy and Chiropractic?

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The joints in the body are sites for muscle attachment – and joint motion can be affected by the muscles that act on them. For many patients, the most effective approach is one that includes both soft tissue treatment and chiropractic. A combined approach to treatment allows both the soft tissues and joints to be addressed. Since both muscles and joints play a role in headaches and other pain conditions, patients often recover faster, experience more long-lasting results and less pain overall with a combined treatment. 

When muscles are relaxed, they are usually pain-free and the joints that attach to them can move freely and glide smoothly without discomfort. This is an ideal scenario. However, muscles can become tight and contracted due to injury, repetitive overuse and stress. When this happens, the muscles contract and can limit the movement of surrounding joints, which can lead to pain and/or may limit function. 

How Does Treatment Help?

Soft tissue and chiropractic treatments can help to break this pattern of chronically tight, over-used muscles and joints that don’t move properly. When muscles are treated, they will relax and move more freely, and as a result, joint motion is returned to normal and any pressure on the nerves is relieved. 

I’m often asked “is it the muscle or the joint that’s affected?” Sometimes the answer is both.

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10 Things I Want My Daughter to Know About Working Out

We love this! It’s so true that girls who are involved in sports and are active suffer from less depression, are more confident, are more likely to leave a bad relationship and less likely to use drugs. Life is better when you spend it doing things you love.

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Mid-way through a recent group exercise class, the teacher lost me.  She didn’t lose me because of some complicated step sequence or insanely long set of burpees; I mentally checked out because of a few words she kept saying over and over.  “Come on!  Get that body ready for your winter beach vacation!  Think about how you want to look at those holiday parties!  PICTURE HOW YOU’LL LOOK IN THAT DRESS!

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A Few More Reasons to Exercise……

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Do you wish you had more energy? Want to feel better and possibly even live longer? 

Then the answer is simple: exercise and physical activity. The health benefits are hard to ignore. More often than not, the more active you are, the better you will feel.

The list of reasons to exercise just seems to get longer and longer – which makes any excuses we have for not working out almost impossible to justify. You only have one body and only you can take care of it. Health really is our most valuable possession because without it, it can be difficult or in some cases impossible to enjoy life the way we want to. And yet, it’s often the thing we take most for granted.

Some of my favourite reasons to exercise and be more physically active and fit:

1. Exercise prevents heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses.

By decreasing unhealthy triglycerides and increasing HDL (“good”) cholesterol, we can lower our risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes, heart disease, certain cancers and other chronic illnesses. Avoiding these can help us to live longer and improve our quality of life in the meantime.

2. Exercise burns calories.

Any time we work out, we’re burning calories which can result in weight loss. As your body starts to look better, you’ll feel more confident and that can be a big self-esteem booster! You’ll also feel a sense of accomplishment because you’ll feel stronger and more capable. As your confidences increases, so does your ability to accomplish almost anything.

3. Exercise increases your energy level.

When we exercise, we increase our muscle strength and endurance. As more oxygen and nutrients are delivered throughout our bodies, we feel more energetic and less fatigued. You would think that exercising would use up your energy but in fact, the opposite is true.

4. Exercise can improve mood and reduce depression.

Physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that can leave you feeling happier and more relaxed. It has been shown that regular exercise can prevent episodes of depression or help to relieve symptoms for those already experiencing depression.

If you’re feeling frustrated and need an outlet to help relieve stress, consider taking 30 minutes out of your day – you won’t regret it. For the record, that’s only 2% of your day. Everyone is busy but we make time for what’s most important to us. There’s a reason they say the only bad workout is the one you didn’t do.

I’m Thin So I Must Be Healthy? Why Waist Size Isn’t Everything.

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“I’m skinny, so I must be healthy?” WRONG.

Physical inactivity is a leading cause of disease and disability – it’s not just your waist size that matters.

You already know that exercise will help you fit into your jeans, but the benefits are far greater than just looking good. A huge percentage of diseases and chronic illnesses can be improved, or prevented altogether, simply through regular exercise. In an effort to combat our sedentary lifestyles and get patients moving, some physicians are even starting to write prescriptions for physical activity (http://www.cbc.ca/news/health/doctors-writing-prescriptions-to-get-patients-active-1.1355824).

The World Health Organization attributes nearly 2 million deaths per year to physical inactivity, which has prompted them to issue a warning that “a sedentary lifestyle could very well be among the 10 leading causes of death and disability in the world.” Between 60-85% of people in the developed and undeveloped world lead inactive lifestyles, making this a serious health problem.

Sedentary lifestyles increase all causes of mortality, double the risk of cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and obesity, and also increase the risks of high blood pressure, osteoporosis, depression and anxiety. Recent evidence also shows that exercise is linked to a decrease in colon cancer, breast tumors and other malignancies. It has been suggested recently that physical inactivity is much like cigarette smoking or obesity, in that it causes disease and shortens people’s lives.

Plain and simple, people who are physically active most often outlive those who are inactive.

It’s never too late to start being more active! The World Health Organization recommends moderate physical activity for at least 30 minutes every day. Start slowly and safely and build up to the recommended frequency, duration and time. Besides lengthening your life and preventing chronic illness, you are also likely to improve the quality of your life, have more energy, relieve stress, improve confidence and reduce depression.

Life is better when you’re active. It all comes down to prevention: nobody feels like they have the time but if it’s a choice between making time for exercise or making time for illness, choose exercise.

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Preventing Low Back Pain …..the Core of the Matter.

Preventing Low Back Pain …..the Core of the Matter.

There’s a question I get asked a lot when recommending core strengthening to my low back pain patients: “Why are you telling me to work on my core, when it’s my back that hurts?” More often than not, people expect to be given exercises that strengthen the back directly because that’s where their pain is. So why is working on the “front” important and how does it help to prevent future episodes of low back pain?

When we talk about back pain, we have to talk about spinal stability. Before pain happens, there is often a dysfunctional movement pattern present and the result is instability, which leads to pain. For the spine to function efficiently, it needs to be able to bear loads – but it also needs to be flexible enough to allow movement, while remaining secure enough to avoid pain and injury. The repetition of our daily activities and sedentary nature of many of our jobs can interrupt this delicate balance and the result is instability. In order to prevent this, we need to ensure that the muscles surrounding the spine are coordinated and follow a proper pattern of contraction (e.g. abdominal and extensor muscle groups).

Spinal stability and motor control become compromised if muscles are activated improperly. When certain muscle groups aren’t functioning properly, the result is that the surrounding structures have to work harder and take on more of the stress/load and this often results in pain.

The solution? We need to re-activate certain muscles so we can restore proper patterns of movement. Don’t worry, it’s not as painful as it sounds! The key here is not to use just any assortment of core exercises – because with some exercises, we end up adding more compressive load to our spines and can end up making our low back pain worse. It’s important to choose exercises that involve a neutral spine. Here are my favourites:

Exercise 1: The Plank

For core strength and stability. When you’ve mastered this one, you can even add alternating leg raises. But don’t let your pelvis shift or sag in the middle… that’s cheating!

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Exercise 2: Side Bridge

Used to train the lateral musculature. When you get to be a real pro, try going from the forward plank directly into the side plank!

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Exercise 3: The Bird Dog

Used to train and improve endurance of the low back muscles.

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Exercise 4: The Crunch

To improve abdominal strength. This is NOT a sit-up! If it helps, think of it as a “sternal crunch.” The chin stays tucked while the spine is straight and shoulders are raised slightly off the floor. (For more on traditional sit-ups and why they aren’t recommended for those with low back pain, go to:http://www2.macleans.ca/2010/01/19/the-man-who-wants-to-kill-crunches/).

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Exercise 5: Dead Bug.

When you’ve mastered the crunch, it’s time to try out the dead bug. Look out lower abs!

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McGill, S. Designing Back Exercise: from Rehabilitation to Enhancing Performance. 2010: 1-12.

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