Straighten Up Canada! The Importance of Good Posture for Spine Health

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Do you remember being nagged as a child to sit up straight at school or the dinner table? Do you still find yourself slouching at your computer or bending your head forward for long periods while using electronic devices? Canada’s chiropractors want you to Straighten Up! Good posture helps to prevent backache and muscular pain, allows your body to use less energy for daily tasks, helps to decrease wear on joints and prevent arthritis, and increases the flexibility and stress tolerance of your spine. Good posture also makes you look and feel great.

What are some examples of poor posture?

Hollow-backHollow back occurs when the natural curve of your lower back is increased, also called hyperlordosis. When your lower back is arched, it causes your ribcage to protrude and forces your pelvis out of the neutral position, causing your tailbone to point backwards. When these bones are out of alignment, it weakens your abdominal muscles, your hip flexors and your hamstrings. All this together may lead to uneven distribution of pressure on the vertebral discs.

Hollow back can lead to low back pain, deconditioned and weak muscles in the back and abdomen, and other musculoskeletal conditions, such as knee pain.

at-attentionPerhaps you are very aware of your posture and work hard to stand straight and tall. Be careful! Good posture shouldn’t be hard work. If you are standing “at attention” all the time (hypokyphosis), your head may protrude and your shoulder blades may tend to be forward and tilted. As well, this posture increases the natural curve of your lower back, pushes your hips forward, and probably causes you to stand with your knees “locked” or slightly hyperextended. This will weaken your abdominals and hamstrings and shorten your hip flexors, causing them to feel tight.

Hypokyphosis can result in low back pain, thoracic (mid-back) pain and possibly hip and knee pain.

So, remember to stand tall (but not too tall!). Keep your spine neutral and abdomen braced – imagine tensing and stiffening your abdomen to prepare for an incoming impact. Don’t lock your knees – keep them slightly bent and make sure you wear good quality shoes if you are on your feet a lot. It will probably feel awkward at first, but your body will adapt and soon it will be second nature to look and feel great!

good-posture

 

Pack it light, wear it right! Backpack safety

Proper use of a backpack

Proper use of a backpack

Back to school is just around the corner, and with all those new school supplies is often the most forgotten but most important part of a childs back to school wardrobe, their backpack.

Students these days are provided with more and more materials they need to bring on a regular basis. College and university students are often carrying laptops in addition to their daily school books.

Tips for packing light and wearing right

All this is a recipe for pain, but a few simple steps may provide for worry free carrying.

1.  A properly fitted pack should include;

  • well padded shoulder straps – The shoulder straps should be at least 2 inches wide and should not fit too snugly around the arms, straining muscles and affecting nerves.
  • a significant waist strap – a hip strap or waist belt can take as much as 50-70% of the weight off the shoulders and spine. The waist belt will equalize the strain on the bones, joints and muscles.
  • compression straps to keep the pack tight together – on the side of the pack they help to keep a less full pack from shifting weight backwards and away from the body.
  • sized to fit the torso of the person or child wearing it – The top of the backpack should not extend higher than the top of the shoulder and the bottom should not fall below the top of the hipbone.

2. Properly weighted pack should be;

  • packed so heavy items are close to the body
  • no more than 15% of body weight for teens & adults and 10% for children
  • filled with lots of compartments to keep contents from moving around while walking

3. Properly worn a pack should;

  • have heavy items close to the body helps keep the weight close to the body’s center of gravity
  • be worn with BOTH shoulder straps – slinging a pack on one side causes strain and a lean to the child wearing the pack
  • be put on with the pack on a table or desk – helps from straining the low back twisting to put on the pack

How much is too much?

To help you figure out what is overloading a pack, we have the following chart.

Shoes 1kg/2lbs
wet towel 1kg/2lbs
6 text books 2.7kg/6lbs
2 binders 1.5kg/3lbs
20 CDs .5kg/1lbs
Game Boy .25kg/.5lbs
water bottle .25kg/.5lbs
sports gear 4.5kg/10lbs
lunch/snacks 1kg/2lbs
laptop computer 2.7kg/6lbs

To determine the maximum weight you should carry

If you weigh Only carry
23 kg/50 lbs 2.2 kg/5 lbs
32 kg/70 lbs 3 kg/7 lbs
40 kg/90 lbs 6 kg/14 lbs
50 kg/110 lbs 7 kg/16 lbs
59 kg/130 lbs 9 kg/19 lbs
68 kg/150 lbs 10 kg/22 lbs
77 kg/170 lbs 11 kg/25 lbs
86 kg/190 lbs 13 kg/28 lbs

Download this backpack_handout for additional help with backpack safety.

So what does this mean in the store?

While this information may help give guidelines for your Childs backpack, real life searches can be a bit more challenging.

To help save you some time we have stopped by a few local locations for back to school supplies to find the best options.

Walmart
While having the biggest selection, the choices for quality packs is thin. Of the many boxes of packs only one had curved shoulder straps, compression straps and well divided compartments.

  • Watch for thin straps with weak stitching to the main pack. Zippers should be coarse with metal preferred.
  • Seams should be wrapped with edging.
  • Theme bags may be a hit with kids but a theme lunch cooler in a better pack is your best choice.

Staples
Another large selection of packs. Obus Forme is the brand of choice with the selection available. If your son or daughter is heading to university with a laptop, Targus makes a few solid packs with laptop sleeves. Watch for a few packs which are very large but not very well designed with weak materials, poor straps and stitching that probably can’t handle the weight which would fill the available space.

Canadian Tire

Suprising enough, our local Canadian Tire store had a great selection of quality packs with two Obus Forme models and another from Outbound which all provided great features for a reasonable price.

Other local stores

Other retailers in town have a selection of packs. From Dakine to Quicksilver, these branded packs may be missing the compression straps and waist belt, so be careful to look thoroughly at the available models.

For more information and to check if your childs pack is suitable, please give Dr. Wilson a call at 250-898-8683 or find a nearby chiropractor at www.bcchiro.com

Information provided courtesy of the BC Chiropractic Association. For more handouts and to have backpack safety information for your school follow this link to the association site.

Thank you Cumberland

DSC00094 (Small)I would like to thank my patients, and the people of Cumberland, for your patronage through nearly 8 years. It has been a pleasure being part of the community and seeing the growth and changes around town.

As of April 30th, I will be working full time in our Courtenay office, and would like to invite you to come see myself and Dr. Ernie von Schilling, at 102‐307 5th Street, on the lower level by Linda’s Leather and Lavish Salon.

We have some exciting things in store and additional services to offer you at our larger Downtown Chiropractic office space.

Dr. Colin Wilson
Downtown Chiropractic
102-307 5th St
Courtenay, BC V9N 1J9

250-898-8683

How your anatomy affects your movement

Was shared an interesting article posted on The Movement Fix.com which reminded me why some patients have reoccurring issues with one side or the other of their body.

We’re not completely symmetrical and we all move a bit differently.

While movement in general should be as free and stable as possible, our structure has a say in what the extent of the movement we can attain, both with, and without treatment.

This different movement will also affect nearby tissues which complicates your clinical picture.  Come in for an evaluation and, if needed, an adjustment to make sure the range of motion you have is actually ready for action.

So keep on training, but listen to your body, and most of all have fun!

Lift Light, Shovel Right

A snowfall warning is here so it’s time to get ready to shovel those sidewalks and driveways. Falls are a great risk for the health of seniors and never any fun for anyone.  Here are some tips from Dr. Colin Wilson of Downtown Chiropractic for shoveling without the pain.

snowshovelling

Warm-up. Before beginning any snow removal, warm-up for five to ten minutes to get the joints moving and increase blood circulation. Follow this with some gentle stretches for the back, arms, shoulders, and legs.

Push, don’t throw. Push the snow to one side and avoid throwing it. If you must throw it, avoid twisting and turning – position yourself to throw straight at the snow pile.

Bend your knees. Use your knees, leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting while keeping your back straight.

Watch the ice. Be careful on icy walkways and slippery surfaces. Coarse sand, ice salt, ice melter, or even kitty litter can help give sidewalks and driveways more traction, reducing the chance of a slip or fall.

Take a break. If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest. Make it a habit to rest for a moment or two for every 10 or 15 minutes of shoveling.

Most Important! Stop shovelling immediately if you feel chest or back pain, feel dizzy, are short of breath or if your heartbeat is rapid. Seek medical attention right away.

Chiropractic can help prevent backpack problems by teaching you how to spare your back when shoveling. Should you suffer an injury from shoveling, chiropractic can also provide relief for your pain.

For more information please contact Dr. Wilson at 250-898-8683