Tag Archives: posture

Preventing Running Injuries

Running for exercise is not for everyone – but if you currently run, or are thinking of taking up running for exercise, then the following may be of benefit to you:

running shoes

Useful Tips For Preventing Running Injuries

1. Strengthen the areas which are vulnerable.

2. Buy and utilise the correct footwear.

3. Use the correct running posture.

4. Warm up before your running workout.

5. Gradually step up your running program.

6. Cool down appropriately to minimise stiffness and soreness.

Correct Running Posture

1. Keep your shoulders back and down, with your chest lifted and tummy tight.  The body should be leaned slightly forward without bending and the waist.

2. Look out ahead, not at the ground. Keep your eyes on the horizon.

3. Don’t clench your fists as this sends tension up the arms.

4. Land midfoot, instead of striking heel first like in walking.

5. Absorb shock better and protect the knees by maintaining a short stride with a slight bend in the knee as you land.

6. Focus on keeping the legs relaxed and lifting the feet up to avoid fatigue in the muscles.

Check with a health professional, such as your chiropractor or muscle therapist for advice that is unique to your specific needs.  Each body is different, so to adopt generic advice is not wise, nor will it assist in prevention or overall achieving of goals.

Preventing injuries involves listening to your body and basic common sense, so make sure that is Number One on your list!

Running Injuries

running injuries

Now that it is Springtime in the southern hemisphere, it is typical for most people to want to shed the extra weight that they may have put on over the winter months.  It has been my experience in dealing with patients on a regular basis, that moderation is key and a plan and specific goals to work toward achieving helps assist in a successful springtime exercise program.  The other key to remember is what you eat.  Exercise without watching what goes in the mouth, will not bring the health benefits as doing both.  Same with only watching what you eat, without exercising.  The two go hand in hand.

One big exercise that is commonly chosen is running.  I have heard people say that they’ll take that up and get out in the fresh air, and the weight will drop, and it will look after itself.

Wrong! Running to lose weight and/or keep fit can invariably lead to running injuries.  I highly recommend educating yourself, doing some ‘homework’ and getting informed on some of the possible injuries associated with running. Then make a wise and informed decision if running is the best option for you.

Many Running Injuries Are Caused By Overuse

When you think about taking up running, or just starting to run, it’s best to learn how to prevent running injuries.

The Most Common Running Injuries

•    Knee
•    ITB (Iliotibial Band)
•    Foot
•    Calf

Chondromalacia, or Runner’s Knee is due to wearing of the cartilage under the patella (kneecap) when the patella is tracked incorrectly while running, causing pain in the knee.

Lateral or side knee pain is usually due to Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome.  This band runs from the outside of the pelvis, over the hip and knee and inserts just below the knee.  The ITB is meant to stabilize the knee while running.  If this gets irritated, it can get inflamed and cause pain in the knee or band itself. This leads to ITB Syndrome.

Another contributor to knee pain as well as foot pain, is Plantar Fasciitis. The plantar fascia is the thick fibrous connective tissue on the bottom of the foot.  It’s job is to absorb the shock of the running motion.  Plantar fasciitis is when this tissue gets inflamed due to wear and tear, resulting in pain.  This can be temporary or a long-term problem.

Shin splints are usually caused by stepping up the volume of training too quickly.  Achilles tendonitis can cause leg pain and or ankle pain, and may eventually lead to rupture of the tendon itself.

Running May Lead To Back & Pelvis Injuries

Besides the injuries listed above, some runners may suffer from acute back pain, pelvis or hip pain, groin pain, and chronic back pain.  Running can also irritate the discs in the lower back, which may lead to things such as Sciatica.

Running Injuries Take Long To Heal

Running injuries may take months, or even longer to heal, easily putting fitness and weight loss programs on the back burner.  There are also the injuries that may lead to other problems that cause long term effects that can irritate other areas of the body.  I believe that it is wise to learn about the preventative measures so that we can make better choices and better decisions on the type of exercise we undertake.

Running for exercise is not for everyone – but if you currently run, or are thinking of taking up running for exercise, then the following may be of benefit to you:

Useful Tips For Preventing Running Injuries

1.    Strengthen the areas which are vulnerable.
2.    Buy and utilize the correct footwear.
3.    Use the Correct running posture
4.    Warm up before your running workout.
5.    Gradually step up your running program.
6.    Cool down appropriately to minimize stiffness and soreness.

Check with a health professional such as a chiropractor or sports massage therapist for advice that is unique to your specific needs.  Each body is different, so to adopt generic advice is not wise, nor will it assist in prevention or overall achieving of goals.

Preventing injuries involves listening to your body and basic common sense, so make sure that is Number One on your list!

Piriformis Syndrome

piriformis-syndrome

One common cause of pain down the leg or leg pain is Piriformis syndrome. Piriformis syndrome is named after the piriformis muscle. The piriformis muscle is located in the lower part of the spine (sacrum), connects to the thighbone (femur), and assists in hip rotation. The sciatic nerve runs beneath the piriformis muscle. This muscle is susceptible to injury from a slip and fall, hip arthritis, or a difference in leg length. Such situations can cause cramping and spasm to develop in the piriformis muscle, thereby pinching the sciatic nerve – causing inflammation and pain.

Muscle spasms and/or contraction of the piriformis muscle itself can lead to pain along the back of the thigh, down to the knee, causing a possible loss of sensation or numbness and tingling in the sole of the foot. The piriformis syndrome can often mimic the well known complaint known as sciatica.  Because of the similar symptoms, it is often misdiagnosed as sciatica. The main difference between sciatica and piriformis syndrome is the cause. What both of these complaints have in common is that both can produce pain, and/or numbness and tingling below the knee and into the foot.

This has been the ‘special of the week’  in my practice.  It can be left or right, depending on the activity that can irritate the area.

Who Does This Affect?

Many athletes are prone to piriformis syndrome.  The athlete’s cause is primarily due to improper stretching and warm-up exercises as well as overuse during activity. In this case it is most likely that the piriformis muscle is irritated and usually in spasm.

People who spend long hours sitting are prone to this syndrome.  It can be from sitting at a desk, in front of a computer, students, riding in a car or truck for long periods of time, and sitting on a wallet.

People who sit for extended periods of time, especially with poor posture are prone to the piriformis being irritated.

What Causes Piriformis Syndrome?

The primary cause is due to tightness and contracture of the piriformis muscle. In this case the piriformis muscle is shortened and does not allow for the smooth movement of the sciatic nerve during leg motion.
The causes of piriformis myospasm are varied such as overuse, excessive fast walking without proper warm up and stretching, prolonged sitting.

Treatment for Piriformis Syndrome

As for treatment of piriformis syndrome, many variables can hinder your successful recovery:  including but not limited to smoking, obesity, job limitations and improper exercise (not warming up and stretching).  It is very rare to have a piriformis syndrome from a one-off direct trauma to the area.

Any treatment plan must include stretching of the gluteal muscles as well as stretching of the piriformis muscles.

Chiropractors can assist you by recommending the proper exercises and stretches to perform. Many Chiropractors may also suggest some form of muscle therapy to the piriformis muscle in the gluteal region in order to assist in relaxing these muscles.

Relevant adjustments to the spine, pelvis, sacrum as well as hip may be required to relieve the pressure from the nerve being trapped from the piriformis muscle.

Pregnancy

During pregnancy, there are incredible changes occurring in a woman’s body and the creation of delicate new life within.  The significance of pregnancy cannot be over stated.  Chiropractic care during pregnancy is focused on caring for both mother and unborn baby.

Studies have shown women who have consistent chiropractic care throughout their pregnancies have shorter and less painful labours, with fewer complications and fewer interventions.

I can speak from experience not only as a chiropractor, but 12 years ago as a pregnant patient myself.  I am fortunate to have experienced the health benefits from chiropractic care personally, and passed on to my child as well.

Dani - pregnant

Why is Chiropractic care important during pregnancy?

The nervous system is like the “electricity” for the body.  It supplies this “electricity” to every  body system including the reproductive system. Therefore, keeping the spine aligned helps the entire body work more effectively.  This is true throughout all stages of life, and very important throughout pregnancy for a woman.  Chiropractic care is also a drugless way to manage symptoms of pregnancy, such as back pain.  A common misconception is that back pain during pregnancy is “normal”.  Back pain is not normal, it is only common.

A few aspects of pregnancy that may lead to spinal misalignments:

  • Rapid increase/decrease in weight
  • Postural changes
  • Stress
  • Changes in sleep patterns & positions
  • Altered appetite and eating habits
  • Loosening of body ligaments to allow for growth and labour
  • Flat feet/pronation due to weight gain/loose ligaments
  • Emotional changes (hormonal shifts/new family stress)

Not only does what you eat and drink during pregnancy affect the unborn baby, but the way you sleep, sit, stand, walk, drive and handle stress will affect the baby too.  Your baby needs your nervous system to be functioning optimally in order to develop correctly.

Is chiropractic care safe during pregnancy?

The answer is Yes!  There are no known contraindications to chiropractic care throughout pregnancy. General wellness of women who are pregnant or trying to conceive is a routine treatment.

Chiropractors that have been trained to work with pregnant women may use tables that adapt to suit a pregnant woman’s body, and will use special techniques that avoid unneeded pressure on the abdomen.  Exercises and stretches that are safe to use during pregnancy are recommended by chiropractors to compliment any adjustments made to your spine.

Why should I have chiropractic care during pregnancy?

During pregnancy, there are several anatomical and physiological changes that occur to the woman’s body. The following changes could result in a misaligned spine or joint:

  • Protruding abdomen and increased back curve (lumbar lordosis)
  • Pelvic changes
  • Postural adaptations

Establishing pelvic balance and alignment is another reason to obtain chiropractic care during pregnancy. When the pelvis is misaligned it may reduce the amount of room available for the developing baby.  A misaligned pelvis may also make it difficult for the baby to get into the best possible position for delivery.  When the pelvis or lumbar spine is misaligned, there are also increased chances of developing back pain, groin pain or sciatica.

What are the benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy?

Chiropractic care during pregnancy can include a variety of health benefits for women who are pregnant. Potential benefits of chiropractic care during pregnancy include:

  • Maintaining a healthier pregnancy
  • Controlling symptoms of nausea
  • Reducing the time of labour and delivery
  • Relieving back pain, neck pain or joint pain
  • Preventing a  potential caesarean section

What about chiropractic care and breech deliveries?

The late Larry Webster, D.C., Founder of the International Chiropractic Paediatric Association, developed a specific chiropractic analysis and adjustment which enables chiropractors to establish balance in the pregnant woman’s pelvis and reduce undue stress to her uterus and supporting ligaments. This balanced state in the pelvis makes it easier for a breech baby to turn naturally. The technique is known as the Webster Technique.

Post-natal:

After your pregnancy, chiropractic can help to ensure that the loosened ligaments and joints to get back into their proper places.  A spinal check-up is recommended for mother and baby to assist in enabling optimal nervous system function.

Yoga Vs Pilates

Which one, you may ask….in fact, many of my chiropractic patients ask me all the time which is best.  Well, questions like this always depends on the individual and their personal needs.  Both Yoga and Pilates work in supporting your body, mainly the muscular system.  Core muscle strength is one of the Health Benefits of Yoga and Pilates.

A little background from a chiropractic perspective:

The muscles of the abdomen, the back and the buttocks all support the spine. These are the core muscles. If these core muscles are weak, they often contribute to the root of back pain, especially lower back pain.

Muscles are the spine’s main support system.  Strengthening the muscles that support the spine with exercises can assist in preventing, reducing and even eliminating back pain.

Strong abdominal muscles (primarily the deep abs) are as important as strong back muscles for supporting the lower back and preventing lower back pain. Strong quadriceps (front of thigh muscles) are important to prevent back injuries when lifting. Proper lifting techniques involve using your legs.  If your legs are weak, you may end up using your back, which can lead to injury.

Shortened muscles can throw the spine out of alignment and cause back pain. Stretching exercises lengthen shortened muscles and help to relieve back pain. Tight back muscles, tight buttocks muscles, and even tight hamstrings (back of thigh muscles) or quadriceps (front of thigh muscles), can affect the alignment of the spine. Stretching the back with stretching exercises also increases mobility of the joints of the spine.
Flexible and strong muscles help maintain proper posture and prevent back strains and sprains.

Here are the basic differences to help give a better understanding between Yoga and Pilates.

Yoga

Yoga is aimed to unite the mind, the body, and the spirit. Yoga’s view is that the mind and the body are one, and that if it is given the right tools and taken to the right environment, it can find harmony and heal itself. Yoga therefore is considered therapeutic. It helps you become more aware of your body’s posture, alignment and patterns of movement. It makes the body more flexible and helps you relax even in the midst of a stress stricken environment.  Benefits include feeling more fit, more energetic, balanced and peaceful. Your own body’s weight is used for resistance from one posture into another. There are several different Yoga styles.  It boils down to personal preference and individual needs.

One example and a common one is Vinyasa Yoga.  Vinyasa Yoga makes use of modified yoga poses that are designed to enhance healing, flexibility and strength of joints. The poses also intend to promote the feeling of well-being and strength. The emphasis of this branch of Yoga practice is on coordinating breath and movement. Practices may also include meditation, reflection, study and other classic elements.

Pilates

Pilates is aimed at reaching similar goals with a series of controlled movements. The major difference is that the Pilates technique has a full complement of mat work, as well as incorporates work on the Pilates machines. The emphasis of the exercises is to strengthen the abdominals, improve posture, stabilise and lengthen the spine, improve balance and overall strength.

Pilates Six Principles:

•    Concentration
•    Control
•    Centering
•    Breathing
•    Flow
•    Precision

Pilates works the whole body, emphasizing control, precision and concentration in both the mind and the body. The focus is on quality not quantity, so movements are not performed rapidly or repeated excessively. The abdominal muscles, lower back and buttocks (“powerhouse”) serve as the centre of all movement, allowing the rest of the body to move freely. This focus on core stabilization makes one stronger from the inside out and is critical for advancement.  The low impact nature of Pilates makes it ideal for injury prevention and rehabilitation. The balance between strength and flexibility creates a healthy, vigorous and symmetrical workout for all muscle groups resulting in a leaner, more balanced, and stronger body.

Are you still left with a question of which of these two fitness techniques is right for you?  Here’s an answer for you:  do them both!  You don’t necessarily have to choose.  The nature of the techniques makes it easy for them to complement each other. Get the stretch from Yoga and keep it from Pilates. Strengthen your abdominals and watch your poses improve. Join the breathing techniques of Pilates and meditative aspect of Yoga into your daily routine and see the stress of your everyday life begin to dissipate. Both techniques are time-proven and established, and with the help of an experienced instructor, you will surely reach the goals you set up for yourself!

Hip Pain

Hip pain can afflict a wide range of ages. It is not just a natural part of the ‘aging process’.  Pain in the hip can actually be caused by a variety of things. It may originate from degeneration within the joint itself, referred pain from the lower back, or from chronic tendinitis of the gluteal muscles.  Hip pain may also result from inflammatory conditions or from improper biomechanics in the knee and ankle or foot.

Making sure your pelvis, low back, hips, knees, ankles and feet are in the proper alignment and moving well may help alleviate hip pain and may prevent recurrent episodes.  It is important to first identify the cause of the hip pain, not just treat the symptomatic area. When this is addressed, it is then essential to increase strength and regain mobility in the hip area and help return to previous level of activity.

Degenerative and pathological conditions of the hip can present with a broad range of diagnostic mysteries. For every patient who comes in complaining of pain and discomfort that he or she correctly traces to the hip, there is likely to be another patient with symptoms from the lower back, to the buttocks, to the legs, that eventually can be traced to a hip condition.  On the other hand, conditions like hernia, aneurysm, and iliopsoas bursitis, with no direct hip connection, can cause what a patient may perceive as hip or groin pain.

Hip disease itself manifests as pain in the groin that may radiate all around the thigh and even to the knee. Although a significant number of people present with hip pain, the real challenge is making sure that hip and thigh pain really is a pathology of the hip and not a referred intra-abdominal or retroperitoneal pain.”

Some patients may complain of pain that initially seemed to have nothing to do with the hip, but upon closer questioning and examination, had at least some of its origins there.

Common Causes

Contrary to some belief, age-related degenerative conditions are not the only cause of hip pain, particularly osteoarthritis of the hip joint.  Osteoarthritis isn’t always the reason -it may actually be the ultimate result of damage done to the hip earlier.

Some of the leading causes of hip problems that actually originate within and around the hip include:

  • Overuse injuries and repetitive motion or gait problems
  • Acute injuries, such as fractures, sprains, strains to the lower limb.
  • Avascular necrosis
  • Infections in the joint or bone near the hip -these are usually accompanied by fever, redness, and/or swelling.

After comprehensive examination and diagnosis, the treatment goal should not only be to decrease the patient’s pain levels, but assist in increasing the range of motion in the hip and lower back and restoring proper function. In addition, providing lifestyle options, such as postural changes, core stabilization, how to assume a neutral spine, and home exercises including stretching and strengthening will all assist in limiting stress on the low back and hips.

Tips For Improving Posture

Posture is the position that you hold your body upright against gravity while, sitting, standing or lying down.

Poor posture may result from poor habits that come from things we do every day – activities such as standing for long periods of time, sitting at a computer, driving, and even sleeping.  Poor posture can easily become second nature, causing or aggravating back or neck pain which can lead to damaging spinal structures. The good news is that when it is brought to our awareness, we are able to change and better manage the situations causing the poor posture.

The following guidelines suggest several ways to improve posture and ergonomics especially for people who work sitting in an office chair for most of the day.

  • Be aware of the warning signs caused by poor ergonomics and posture. Back pain may be the result of poor ergonomics and posture if the back pain is worse at certain times of day or week (such as after a long day of sitting in an office chair in front of a computer, but not during the weekends); pain that starts in the neck and moves downwards into the upper back, lower back and extremities; pain that goes away after switching positions while sitting or standing; sudden back pain that is experienced with a new job, a new office chair, or a new car; and/or back pain that comes and goes for months.
  • Get up and move. As muscles get tired, slouching, slumping, and other poor postures become more likely; this in turn puts extra pressure on the neck and back. In order to maintain a relaxed yet supported posture, change positions frequently. One way is to take a break from sitting in an office chair every half hour for two minutes in order to stretch, stand, or walk.
  • Keep the body in alignment while sitting in an office chair and while standing. Try to distribute your body weight evenly to the front, back, and sides of the feet while standing. While sitting in an office chair, use the chair’s features. Sit up straight and align the ears, shoulders, and hips in one vertical line. Even a good position for too long will be tiring. Swap from leaning forward with a straight back and alternate with sitting back against  the support of the office chair to ease the work of the back muscles. Also be aware of and avoid unbalanced postures such as crossing legs unevenly while sitting, leaning to one side, hunching the shoulders forward or tilting the head.
  • Use posture-friendly props and ergonomic office chairs when sitting. Ergonomic supportive “props” can help to take the strain and load off of the spine.  Office chairs that are ergonomically designed or chairs with an adjustable back support can be used at work. Footrests, portable lumbar back supports, or even a towel or small pillow can be used while sitting in an office chair and while driving. Using handbags or backpacks that are designed to minimize back strain can also influence good posture.  Positioning computer screens to your natural eye level position can also help to avoid leaning or straining the neck with the head tilted forward.  Excessive use of a laptop can be hazardous, so a laptop raiser could be beneficial.
  • Increase awareness of posture and ergonomics in everyday settings. This includes making conscious thoughts and connections to your posture not only at work, but at home and during social activities.
  • Use exercise to help prevent injury and promote good posture. Regular exercise such as walking, swimming, or bicycling will help the body stay aerobically conditioned, while specific strengthening exercises will help the muscles surrounding the back to stay strong. These benefits of exercise promote good posture, which will, in turn, further help to condition muscles and prevent injury. There are also specific exercises that will help maintain good posture.  Core strength is essential to develop and maintain to help support the upper body and maintain good posture.
  • Wear supportive footwear when standing. Avoid regularly wearing high-heeled shoes, which can affect the body’s center of gravity and change the alignment of the entire body, negatively affecting the spine and posture. When standing for long periods of time, placing a rubber mat on the floor can improve comfort.
  • Remember good posture and ergonomics when in motion. Walking, lifting heavy materials, holding a telephone, and typing are all moving activities that require attention to ergonomics and posture. It is important to maintain good posture even while moving to avoid injury. Back injuries are especially common while twisting and/or lifting and often occur because of awkward movement and control of the upper body weight alone.
  • Create ergonomic physical environments and workspaces, such as for sitting in an office chair at a computer. It does require a small investment of time to personalize the workspace, home, and car, but the payoff will be well worth it. Undue strain will be placed on the structures of the spine unless the office chair, desk, keyboard, and computer screen, etc. are correctly positioned.
  • Avoid overprotecting posture. Remember that it is important to maintain an overall relaxed posture and therefore avoid restricting movements like clenching muscles and adopting an unnatural, stiff posture. For individuals who already have some back pain, it is a natural tendency to try to limit movements to avoid the potential pain associated with movement. However, unless there is a fracture or other serious problem, the structures in the spine are designed for movement and any limitation in motion over a long period of time creates more pain and a downward cycle of less motion and more pain, etc.

Improving Posture

We live in a society where either posture is not taught, or it is taught in such a way that kids come to resent it, meaning they have a parent or grandparent that is always telling them “don’t slouch” or “stand up straight!” Typically when this happens, a person’s first reaction is to thrust their shoulders back and stick their lower back out which in turn creates even more of a problem. Holding your shoulders rigidly back, and putting too much curve in your lower spine can cause just as many problems as slumping with shoulders rolled forward. Even though this is what is often thought of as appropriate posture, it actually is not.

Whatever the reasons for bad posture, whether it be poorly designed desks when we are in school, bosses who don’t have ergonomic chairs for those who sit at a computer all day, or just our own misunderstanding of what good posture is, bad posture has become a real problem for all of society.

Bad posture can be caused by a number of reasons such as, sitting for too long, standing for too long, being depressed or anxious, using poorly designed furniture, and stress. However, whatever a person’s reason for poor posture, anyone can change their posture at any time with just a little effort. Keep in mind it is not necessary to expend large amounts of effort on good posture. Remember that holding shoulders rigidly back, and having excessive curve in the lower back is not good posture, but simply another form of bad posture.

Bad posture may cause back problems, and exacerbate existing health problems even if the existing health problems such as a seasonal cold aren’t severe or permanent. So, what can you do to improve your poor posture?

The first thing you want to do when it comes to improving your posture is to become aware and understand what good posture really is. Good posture is when your spine is straight but with a slight curve in the lower spine, and your shoulders are rolled back just a bit (but not rigidly so) so that it is as if your shoulder blades could slide down your back. Your chin should be level with the ground, not drooping as if it were going to tuck into your chest.

The best way to get an idea of this is to stand up straight, but not too rigid. Imagine there is a metal string hanging from a hook in your ceiling that is attached to the top of your head. Pretend that this string can pull up just enough to align all the bones in your skeleton just right so that your head, neck and shoulders are aligned with your spine and on down to your feet. This is what it is like to have good posture. You can perform the same test when sitting, just make sure you have a chair that allows your feet to rest flat on the ground. If you are a woman wearing heels, they automatically throw your spine out of alignment by tipping your pelvis unnaturally forward.

Some other things you can do to improve your posture are using an ergonomic chair (with lumbar support) at your desk, and/or lower your chair so that your feet rest flat on the floor while you are sitting at your desk. A footrest may help too. Another is not to sit for long periods of time without getting up and walking around a bit, even if it is just to walk around your desk or cubicle space. You should also take time to stretch, or better yet begin practicing Office Yoga which are yoga postures you can do at your desk. Taking classes such as yoga or tai chi or Pilates that emphasize good posture can help as well.

When you find yourself slumping or sliding back into your old posture habits don’t be too hard on yourself. Instead simply be gentle and kind with yourself and begin to practice good posture again. In time good posture will become a habit. Remind yourself with sticky notes at your computer or around the house wherever you spend the most time. When it does you will notice that you feel a lot better. You may even find that you can handle stress better as well. These are only a few of the benefits of good posture, there are many others such as less or no back pain. Improving your posture will improve the quality of your life.