Monthly archives

July 2008

Healing Achilles Tendonitis

Based on personal experience, achilles tendonitis is one of the worst injuries you can have. Not only does it completely incapacitate you (I went from playing 6 hours of ultimate a week to driving to work every day since walking was too painful), but it takes forever to heal.

That’s why I read with great interest an article published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine (2008; 36(5):881-887). This study testing the effects of low intensity laser therapy and specific exercise for achilles tendonitis.

52 athletes were divided into two groups. One group was given low intensity laser therapy and strengthening exercises, while the other was given fake laser (machine not turned on) and the strengthening exercises.

Results showed that the low intensity laser group had significant improvements in pain and all other measured factors at 4, 8 and 12 weeks after the initial treatment, when compared to the exercise only group.

This is only one study looking at achilles tendonitis treatment, and so much more research needs to be done. However, it does show some promise for the use of low intensity laser therapy. In fact, it was this treatment, coupled with some acupuncture that finally got this Comox Valley Chiropractor back on the road to health.

The Proper Way to do Yoga

I have written before on the subject of my concerns about extra-large yoga classes that proceed at a fast pace. In my opinion, most injuries occur due to people pushing themselves to keep up (often in an overheated environment) while maintaining incorrect postures.

It is for this reason that I wanted to share with you the best yoga class I have ever attended. Taught by Rachel at Semperviva Sea Centre (Granville Island), this Vinyasa (Power Yoga) class was by far the best instructed class I’ve seen. Besides being bubbly, humorous, and incredibly knowledgeable, Rachel repeatedly went around the class fixing people’s postures and ensuring that nobody was straining or stressing vulnerable structures.

In addition to this, she surveyed the class before it started inquiring as to what everyone’s injuries or weaknesses were. As I have the knees of an 80 year old (too many kilometers of breaststroke swum in my competitive days), she made sure to reinforce proper knee technique to avoid unnecessary strain.

I left that class sweatier and more exhausted than I can remember, and without any knee pain or frustration at not being able to hold certain poses. I encourage you to check out Rachel’s Hatha and Vinyasa classes at the Granville Island Semperviva location. She gets this Comox Valley Chiropractor‘s seal of approval!

Top 5 Ways to Avoid Morning Pain

One of the most common things I hear in my Comox Valley Chiropractic clinic is a complaint of pain in the morning. This can happen for two main reasons.

Most people think that their morning pain is due to sleeping on an old pillow or mattress. It is true that an un-supportive mattress or pillow will hold the body in an improper position for the duration of the night. This can slowly but surely irritate your spine and all its structures resulting in pain and stiffness upon waking. However, this is not the main cause of pain in the morning.

In my opinion, this pain results from the aggravation of an already existing condition. Most musculo-skeletal conditions heal faster and feel better with exercise, and feel worse when you have to sit or stand in one position for too long. When you have a pre-existing condition that is giving you some problems, or perhaps one that hasn’t started to hurt yet but is on the verge of appearing, it can be very sensitive to sleeping positions. A stiff spine coupled with staying in one position for 6-8 hours (tossing and turning doesn’t count!) is a recipe for more pain when you get up.

So, what do you do? Here are my top 5 tips for avoiding this pain (in the order you should try them):

1. Exercise more. Regular cardio exercise will help to keep the spine healthy and flexible, and can often work out the stiffness that builds up after 8 hours at the computer. The more active you are, the more your body will tolerate longer periods of time spent inactive.

2. Stretch more. A good round of stretching before bed, and regularly throughout the day, will ensure good flexibility of the spine. Flexibility helps to keep the spine healthy, whether active or inactive.

3. Get a new pillow. You don’t have to go out and spend excessive amounts of money at the start. I usually tell my patients to simply get a new regular pillow. If that doesn’t do the trick, then start looking into more specialized pillows. Different people respond to different pillows, so you need to find the one that works best for you.

4. Visit your Comox Valley Chiropractor. If you have tried 1 through 3 and can’t seem to get the pain under control, it may be that you need some help. Chiropractic treatment will restore the proper functioning of the muscles, joints and nerves of your spine allowing you to maintain your health with the above options. Sometimes when the dysfunction has built up you need some help to get rid of it.

5. Get a new bed. If your bed is older than 10 years old, or all other options haven’t worked, this is a good idea. I recommend buying a bed on the firmer side, and adding a mattress pad to soften it up if needed. If you buy a bed that is too soft to begin with, there is not a lot you can do. You spend 1/3 of your life in bed sleeping, and so its a good idea to take the purchase of this important piece of furniture seriously.

If you have any additional questions, please feel free to contact your Comox Valley Chiropractor for more information.

Yoga and Chiropractic: A Match Made in Heaven!

To follow up my last post concerning yoga, I’d though I’d share my professional opinion on which styles of yoga I recommend. I regularly recommend yoga to my patients in order to maintain the improvement in function that treatment gives them, but also as a long-term strategy to maintain strength and flexibility. As I often say, the more you do outside of the office, the less I have to see you in my office.

Between my own experience with yoga, and what I end up seeing in my practice, I have developed an opinion on which styles of yoga I prefer. It is a very individual thing, and no two people will respond the same to one style. Let’s start with an overview on the 3 major styles:

1. Hatha Yoga: Hatha is a slower form of yoga which incorporates posture, breathing and occasionally meditation in order to increase muscle tone, strength and flexibility; and it allows for relaxation. This is my favorite type of yoga as it is low impact with minimal opportunity for injury. Yoga studios like Semperviva (where I attend) will also incorporate a short meditation portion in order to calm the mind, which in turn helps to keep the body happy.

2. Kundalini Yoga: Kundalini is a faster, more dynamic form of yoga which progresses through specific yoga posture sets, often with an accompanying mantra. This style is optimal for those who benefit from adding a mantra to their practice and enjoy a more active style. However, the fast-paced and bouncing nature of some of the posture sets can aggravate some neck and low back conditions.

3. Ashtanga/Power-flow Yoga: Ashtanga yoga is the one that most power yoga styles are derived from.  It is a much more physically demanding and dynamic form of yoga than the other two styles. This is the style of the now popular “hot yoga” which many of my patients are participating in. My experience with this type of yoga is very positive, and it can give you a fantastic strength, flexibility and aerobic workout all in one session. I do caution some people to be careful if they do have pre-existing back conditions as many poses incorporate a lot of spine hyper-extension which may aggravate these conditions. However as long as you know your limits and alter your practice to your abilities, problems should not occur.  I do have a problem though with the “hot yoga” where the room is artificially heated in order to raise body temperatures quickly. I see many injuries from this type of yoga as many will push themselves beyond their body’s limits due to the artificial flexibility caused by the heat. Also, these classes tend to be rather large with the instructor not capable of overseeing the technique of all their students.

If you are looking to get into yoga, this Comox Valley Chiropractor encourages you whole-heartedly. I would recommend you start with Hatha, and then experiment with the other types of yoga once you have become familiar with the postures involved. It is wise to choose a class that has a qualified instructor, who will ensure that all participants are doing the poses correctly in order to avoid injury. Based on experience, I can recommend Semperviva for this reason, and also the regular instruction from the teachers to listen to your body and alter your practice accordingly. In addition, they provide power flow yoga without artificially heated rooms.

Yoga and Chiropractic in Courtenay… a match made in heaven for your body and health!

Chiropractor in Courtenay Loves Yoga!

This Comox Valley Chiropractor is a huge fan of yoga. I didn’t used to be – as a previous competitive swimmer, I was programmed to think that exercise required a heart rate of 200 bpm and a near death experience. Now that I’m a bit older, and much wiser where neuro-musculoskeletal conditions are concerned, I have revised my view of the world.

Yoga is one of those activities which allow the body to move into postures and positions that it doesn’t normally get to do during the day. If you think of the average day in the life of an office worker, the positions which are most used are sitting, standing and maybe some walking. There could be the occasional reach or bend. But only in yoga do you get to move each joint through its full range of motion in a gentle manner.

I firmly believe in the adage of “use it or lose it”, and I see this in practice every day in my office. If you never move your joints to the end ranges of their motion, you eventually lose the ability to do so. Yoga ensures that you maintain a full and flexible range of motion in all your joints.

In addition, yoga will also build strength and stability, and it will help to calm the mind through quiet and meditation. Hatha yoga is my first recommendation, however there are many different types to suit your likes and needs. My comments on the different types of yoga will follow in the next post, so stay tuned!

Chiropractic Care Better Than “Usual Care”

A recent article in Lippincott’s Bone and Joint Newsletter caught this Comox Valley Chiropractor‘s eye concerning the effectiveness of chiropractic care when compared to “usual care” given by family doctors. The main author of the study is Dr. Paul Bishop, DC, PhD, MD, a professor of orthopedics at the University of British Columbia.

The study was presented at the International Society for the Study of the Lumbar Spine in Hong Kong. The results indicated that following the existing clinical practice guidelines (which include chiropractic spinal manipulation) produces better outcomes than family doctor-directed care for acute low back pain patients.

The guideline based care involved avoiding passive treatment, acetaminophen to control pain, reassurance and four weeks of spinal manipulation performed by chiropractic doctors at a frequency of two times per week. All patients returned to work within eight weeks.

Using pain and disability questionnaires, the chiropractic treatment group was found to have a significantly greater improvement than those who received “usual care” from their family physicians.

It was also stated that,

“Typically, the family physician-based care involved excessive use of passive therapies such as massage and passive physical therapy, excessive bed rest, and excessive use of narcotic analgesics, Bishop added.”

The evidence continues to mount that chiropractic care is an effective form of treatment for low back pain, and should be used as a first line of treatment for uncomplicated cases.