Category archives

exercise

Start ‘Em Young!

I had the pleasure of participating in the local Tri-K triathlon here in Courtney a few weeks ago. I didn’t manage to get in any training beforehand, but managed to have a pretty good time along the way. If you consider burning legs and a numb bum a pretty good time.

One thing that was a pleasant surprise for me was the number of children involved in the mini version of the triathlon. Children as young as 8 years old were doing small versions of the sprint triathlon, and there was even a smaller course for 5-7 year olds. It was very apparently that parents in the Comox Valley were very proactive about passing on their love of activity to their children.

In my opinion, if there is one thing you can instill in your child in order to promote future health and well-being, it is the love of sport/activity. We exist in a society where too much food and not enough movement is leading to staggering amounts of lifestyle diseases such as Type II diabetes, high blood pressure and cardiac disease. Creating healthy habits around exercise in youth will help them to maintain a healthier lifestyle in adulthood. And it all starts locally – hats off to the organizers of the Tri-k for a fabulously run event!

Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Courtenay Chiropractor.

Gluteal Muscle Activation Exercises

It has been mentioned before in this Comox Valley Chiropractor Blog that improper activation of the gluteal muscle can lead to many lower limb issues such as knee pain (patello-femoral syndrome) or IT Band problems. A research study was recently published which sought to establish a group of exercises that were the most effective at activating the gluteal muscles.

The study, published in the Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, measured the EMG (muscle electrical activation) of the gluteus maximus and medius during various exercises. They came up with a group of 5 exercises which are the most effective.

1. Side lying hip abductions – abducting the top leg to 30 degrees.
2. Single leg squats – ensuring the knee stays above the second toe, and start with knee and hip at 30 degrees of flexion.
3. Single leg dead lifts – keep knee bent at 30 degrees to maximize hip and trunk flexion.
4. Lateral band walk – side-stepping against the resistance of a band tied around the ankles.
5. Side-hops – hopping sideways off the non-dominant leg to land on the dominant leg.

These exercises may not be appropriate for all patients and all conditions. Consult a professional in order to determine your diagnosis and any other issues you may have. A good home program lets you achieve the results you desire in terms of stability, with exercises that are easy to do and won’t result in further injury.

Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Courtenay Chiropractor.

Preventing Back Pain in Adults

If you have been reading this blog, you know by now that back pain is a huge problem in our society. In affects over 80% of people at least once in their lives, and can lead to high costs in terms of diagnostic testing/imaging, treatment, medication, decreased productivity and time off work.

A systematic review was recently done in The Spine Journal to evaluate which methods were best for preventing back pain in adults. They evaluated studies including exercises, advice, back supports and other props, activity modification or social/workplace policy changes.

What they found is that the only intervention that consistently showed good results in preventing the occurrence of back pain was exercise. This reinforces the general tenet that you must get your back in motion for it to be healthier.

A simple, but consistent exercise plan is a vital component to healing existing back problems, and more importantly to stop them from recurring. Exercise, whether general aerobic or specific strengthening/mobilizing should be part of every patient’s plan of manangement.

Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Courtenay Chiropractor.

Rotator Cuff Rehabilitation

In the opinion of this Courtenay chiropractor, problems with internal rotation of the shoulder are often a major component of the rotator cuff issues seen in my office.

In office, I will employ soft tissue therapy, chiropractic adjustments and taping to help restore proper function to the rotator cuff and surrounding structures. I also believe it is important to arm the patient with exercises to do at home. One of the most important stretches out there is the Sleeper Stretch.

A great explanation of the sleeper stretch can be found here, with pictures to clarify.

If you have pain putting on your coat, or unhooking a bra, then you may have problems with internal rotation and impingement in the back of your shoulder. See a professional for a correct diagnosis, and ask them about the Sleeper stretch. It can be used to help alleviate the problem, and as a precaution to prevent it from returning.

Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Courtenay Chiropractor.

Comox Valley Yoga

One thing I do love about the Comox Valley is the unbelievable number of fitness opportunities! Especially when it comes to yoga.

I had the opportunity to check out a hatha class with Brian Hill in Cumberland the other day. Not only was his space warm, calming and comforting but he had all the latest equipment including some things I had never seen before. The lavender scented eye pillows were a step above.

Besides teaching at his studio in Cumberland, Brian also does classes at the Lewis Centre in Courtenay. You can find all of his information and class schedules on his website at www.bhill.ca.

I really enjoyed Brian’s class – he focused on technique and positioning thereby ensuring that nobody was in danger of injuring themselves. It was the perfect level for a Sunday morning, and I left feeling awake and refreshed.

As I’ve said before, if more people took the time to do exercises that enhance stability and flexibility like yoga does, they would spend a lot less time in my office!

Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Courtenay Chiropractor.

Exercise for Chronic Pain

For years research has been conducted into the benefits of exercise for chronic low back and neck pain. Even though we know exercise is good for us, we don’t really know a lot about how it is prescribed in real-life situations (practice).  Recently, a large survey was done of 2700 people who reported having chronic neck or low back pain. The results are published in an article in Arthritis & Rheumatism.

Of these 2700 people, 48% had been prescribed exercise after visiting a physical therapist, chiropractor of family doctor in the past year. 33% of all people who visited a chiropractor were prescribed exercise for their pain, compared to 64% of PT patients and 14% of MD patients. Overall, the type of provider, as opposed to any characteristics of the patient was the greatest predictor of exercise prescription.

With chiropractic specifically in this instance, the rate of exercise prescription seemed to increase with number of visits. This supports the common practice pattern of reducing pain and increasing function before commencing rehabilitation.

This is a huge wake up call to all health care providers – exercise was prescribed to less than half the patients with chronic back pain, even though we know it is one of the most effective forms of treatment. We need to make sure we are getting our patients active, and helping them to stay that way!

Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Comox Valley Chiropractor.

Exercises For Spine Stabilization

Over the years, research has clearly shown that exercise and stabilization of the lower back are key to making a full recovery from back pain. Stu McGill, a leader in this field of research has consistently guided our thinking in terms of specific exercises that optimally stabilize the spine, while minimizing the amount of stress and strain on its structures (disc, joint, ligament etc.).

An article published in the Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation further clarifies our knowledge when it comes to stabilizing exercises for the low back. This study focuses on the three main exercises recommended for back stabilization, and aims to help guide clinicians in determining how to progress patients through these exercises.

Curl UpCurl Up: This classic curl-up involves keeping one leg straight, one leg bent, both hands under the back and curling the shoulder blades up off the ground. Progressions can involve pre-bracing, adding in arm movements (dead-bugs), and deep breathing during the exercise.

Side Bridge

Side Bridge: This involves lying on your side with our elbow and knee on the floor, while lifting the hips up off the ground and holding. Progressions can involve using feet instead of knees as lower balance point and moving arm positions.

Bird DogBird Dog: This involves starting on all fours with hips and shoulders at a 90 degree angle. Progressions can involve raising one arm, one leg, opposite arm and leg together, and movements of the limbs while elevated.

These three simple exercises are easy for clinician’s to prescribe, and can be done safely by a patient with little or no supervision. Its important for us to take the time to teach these exercises properly, so patients can attain the improvements they need with minimal stress on their spine.

Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Comox Valley Chiropractor.

Exercises for Knee Arthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common type of joint problem worldwide, with knee arthritis being the most prevalent. The chances of getting knee arthritis increase with age, weight, previous injury or heredity. There is mixed evidence to support various types of knee rehabilitation for osteoarthritis sufferers. A study in the Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation set out to compare strength training to balance training in managing knee arthritis.

At the beginning of the study, there were no differences between the 2 groups of participants. One group performed only strength training exercises, while the other group performed a combination of strength and balance exercises. Based on various outcome measures such as pain, disability, stiffness, depression and physical function; the balance group performed significantly better after one year.

This study suggests that it is important to ensure that any rehabilitation program for knee arthritis should include simple balance exercises. Some of the exercises used in the study are as follows:

  • 25 m backwards walk
  • 25 m heel walk
  • 25 m toe walk
  • 25 m eyes closed walk
  • 30-second one-legged stand (with leaning in all directions with eyes open and closed)

Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Comox Valley Chiropractor.

Improve Your Golf Game

Proper spine flexibility and strength is essential to a good golf game. Increasing either of these variables will more than likely lead to longer drives and strokes off your game. That is why most professional golfers know that chiropractic care is a necessity to keep them healthy and give them a competitive edge.

In addition to chiropractic care, a proper warm-up and stretching can ensure you have the best day possible out on the course. I regularly refer patients to the Canadian Chiropractic Association‘s golf stretching pamphlet. These quick and easy exercises will help to prepare your body for the increased forces that occur during your game.

You can download the Golf Stretches pamphlet by clicking on the following link:

Golf Stretches

Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Comox Valley Chiropractor.

Stretching For Runners

Running is a great form of exercise – easy, cheap and great for your cardiovascular system. However, running can also be very hard on your joints. Your joints are subjected to higher than normal forces with each stride, and this can compound any minor flaw in your biomechanics or your body. A tight hip or strained hamstring can alter your running position enough to cause significant pain.

As I have said before, prevention is the key. Its way easier to prevent something than to fix it once its happened. Apart from ensuring you have a good pair of running shoes, the second most important preventative step is to stretch out your body at the end of your run. This will help to loosen up any muscles that have tightened up, and will help your body recover faster.

The Canadian Chiropractic Association has created a brochure outlining some easy and effective running stretches. Again, these are to be done at the end of your run. The brochure can be downloaded by clicking on the following link:

Running Stretches

Dr. Debbie Wright is a practicing Comox Valley Chiropractor.