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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.

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.

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.

Cut in Half your Risk of Early Death

All of my patients can now stop rolling their eyes every time this Comox Valley Chiropractor tells them to stop smoking, exercise more, eat well and drink moderately. My patients are quite used to my preachings on living a healthier lifestyle, and now (as if I didn’t have enough research to back me up) a new article has been posted in the British Medical Journal extolling these virtues.

This 24-year long study followed a group of over 77,000 women between the ages of 34 and 59 who had no signs of heart disease (when the study began). They wanted to determine the relation of their health to 5 lifestyle factors:

  1. Being overweight
  2. Smoking
  3. Excessive drinking
  4. Poor Diet
  5. Little physical activity

Over the years 8882 of the women died – 1790 from heart disease and 4527 from cancer. Each of the above lifestyle factors was found to significantly increase the chance of dying from any disease (not just those listed above). Another interesting fact is that women who drank moderately (up to one drink per day) actually had less chance of dying from heart disease than those who did not drink at all.

While it may seem like a tall order to follow the recommendations of this study, it really doesn’t need to be that complicated. You don’t need to hit the gym, lift weights and run ten miles everyday. Often, a healthy lifestyle is all about the little things.

Quitting smoking is a must. No if, ands or buts. If you are having trouble, both acupuncture and low intensity laser therapy are safe and effective options. You don’t need to give up your wine or spirits, simply moderate it to a one-drink a day maximum.

Simple diet choices can significantly improve your nutrition, while decreasing obesity. Choose whole grain foods, less red meats and cut out the soda and excess sugar. As for exercise, walking to work or the corner store will ensure that you achieve the 30 minutes of exercise per day that is considered minimum.

Revamping your entire life to begin an unsustainable nutritional and exercise plan is not the answer – you need to make sure you take small steps in the right direction and change your lifestyle in a comfortable way. These simple changes can literally mean cutting your risk of early death by 50%.

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!

Boot Camp Benefits

As a former resident of Kitsilano, there were certain things that I felt morally obligated to stay away from. I don’t own one piece of Lululemon gear. I don’t own a miniature dog and if I did, I certainly wouldn’t dress him up. I don’t have any kids, and so I don’t own one of those massive strollers that part the seas while being pushed down 4th avenue.

And so it was with extreme reluctance that I agreed to try out a bootcamp class run by a friend of mine. How Leigh managed to drag me out at 7 am on a November morning, I’ll never know. Since that first week, I’ve been hooked.

Leigh’s bootcamp classes combine cardio exercise, strength training and circuit training in order to give you the overall workout that the gym just never seems to attain. The main reason for this is that you are motivated (or forced?) to do all those exercises you would never do on your own in appropriate numbers – squats, lunges, burpees and pushups.

The one thing I reinforce with all of my patients is the importance of regular exercise. It is that one magic pill that will help with everything – back pain, neck pain, arthritis, weight loss etc. etc. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find types of exercise that are both convenient, effective and fun.

So if you’re looking for a great exercise plan that is easy to do, with an instructor that is both motivating and not even the least annoying, I would highly recommend Leigh (leigh@survivorbootcamp.com) and her Kerrisdale bootcamp. This Comox Valley Chiropractor gives her the thumbs up, and still loves seeing her face in the morning after 6 months!