If you wake up with stiff, sore back; these exercises are for you
We Winnipeggers wait so long for summer to arrive that some of us overdo it a when exercising outdoors, especially during unexpected heat and humidity early in the season.
‘Global warming’ is changing the prairie climate, the old models are unpredictable and ‘stormy weather’ is dominating the news.
It takes a while for our bodies to become acclimatized to warmer temperatures and our bodies regulate heat more slowly during hot, humid weather, causing us to overheat that much easier.
Before you head outdoors this summer, take a moment to understand the potential health risks of being active outdoors in extreme heat.
While being physically active has many health benefits, it can increase your risk for heat illness, especially in those with breathing difficulties, heart problems, a mental illness such as depression, hypertension or kidney problems. Even those without any chronic health conditions can be at risk without proper precautions.
In my day, Canada’s ‘food guide’ recommended 8 glasses of water for men and 10, 8 oz glasses for women. Now take into account the daily diuretics we all enjoy, coffee and alcohol, and you must add 2 more glasses for each one of those habits.
• Ask your sports organization or trainer if they have a plan for extreme heat.
• Ask a friend or buddy to watch you during extreme heat; if you suffer from asthma, carry your inhaler with you and make others aware of your condition.
• Modify or reschedule your activities.
• Work out early in the day or in an air-conditioned facility.
• Check the Air Quality Index for air quality conditions.
• Check local weather forecasts so you can plan accordingly.
Keep yourself safe:
• Stay hydrated by drinking fluids and eating raw fruits and vegetables.
• Wear sunscreen and insect repellant.
• Allow your body to recover from heat exposure by sitting in the shade or heading to an air conditioned area.
• Watch for signs of heat exhaustion such as dizziness, fainting, nausea, vomiting, headache, rapid heartbeat and extreme thirst.
• Heat illnesses can lead to long-term health problems and even death. These illnesses include heat stroke, heat exhaustion, heat fainting, swelling of hands, feet and ankles, heat rash, heat cramps and dehydration.
• The most serious heat illness is heat stroke, which can be fatal. Symptoms include a core body temperature of 40.5ºC/105º F, confusion, lack of sweat and unconsciousness. Call 911 immediately if you see someone with these symptoms.
• If you see someone going into shock from heat stroke, move them to a cool place, apply cold water to large areas of their skin and clothing and fan them as much as possible.
More tips for staying safe in the heat can be found at
Stay hydrated Winnipeg, yourPhysio has the healthcare experience you need.
As the first Boomers move into their later 60’s, their growing demand for services, for activity and for health has spurred the demand for ergonomics in kitchen design.
Aging in place is a term used to describe a person living in the residence of their choice, for as long as they are able, as they age. This includes being able to have any services (or other support) they might need over time as their needs change.
To be clear: the act of aging in place takes place during a period of time in an elderly person’s life where they can have the things that they need in their daily life, while maintaining their quality of life.
The reason this distinction is important is because many people think aging in place will fix the problems they have in their lives. The only problems that can be fixed while aging in place are the ones that a person has planned for (i.e. finances, health, personal or health care, etc.).
The kitchen has always been a place for family and socializing. Making changes for aging in place in the kitchen space can greatly increase its usability and the safety of those that live there. With home modification, people will no longer have to spend less time in the kitchen as they age.
In a growing trend observed by the brand Smeg, European consumers are opting for compact appliances to give their kitchens a homogenous look and more efficient arrangement of appliances. Will this trend make it to Canada? to the USA?
One of the most popular trends in kitchen design is the demand for ergonomics with more and more consumers choosing a linear look for the placement of their appliances. Smeg, a leading Italian home appliance manufacturer, has observed this trend with a significant growth in the sales of its compact appliance range.
Smeg is the only brand to offer its appliances in two design styles – the classic stainless steel look and the linear look in stainless steel with glass. Both design styles are made in standard sizes and have matching aesthetics to ensure the kitchen gets a clean and homogenous look.
All standard compact appliances are 600mm wide and 450mm high and designed to be easily installed in a bank at midway level (chest or eye level) or under the bench. Smeg’s current range includes convection ovens with microwave, combination/steam convection ovens, dedicated steam ovens, microwave ovens with grill function and built-in coffee machines.
Appliances play a major role in a person’s ability to use and work in the kitchen safely and efficiently. Appliances that do not incorporate universal design, or that are placed improperly, can inhibit this. Select appliances that display information clearly, have convenient functions and are easy to use. Many appliance makers are incorporating universal design principles in their designs, which allow consumers to get a variety of more functional appliances. You should also consider investing in energy saving appliances, which will help you save money. Currently, the most popular placement of any appliance or storage cabinet is at the midway level since it ensures easy and safe access to a range of appliances without the need to bend or stoop.
As in lifting or reaching mechanics, the placement of load or where you interact with that load is of key importance.
Beware of your biomechanics. Know your Ergonomics.
Know yourPhysio Winnipeg!
Many people complain of back pain soon after they get out of the bed. Whether it be a combination of tight muscles, stiff joints or general aches, this is a common complaint at any age in Winnipeg.
Although, many fail to sense the link between the back pain and the bedding that they use, research has shown the influence the bedding can have on causing as well as relieving the stress from a persons back. When we go in search for bedding, we can see lot of varieties which are made in many different ways. Adding to this variety is our personal preference. The mattress should also match the framework of the bed. With all these considerations, the value we give to our health is probably low down in the list or not in the list at all.
The link between the bedding and back pain is associated with the malalignment of our body structures away from its natural alignment. When the spine is kept straight, which is the optimal shape to minimize stress towards the lower back, we can see that the ear, shoulder tip and the hip joint are in a straight line. Even when a person sleeps, this would be the optimal positioning for better stress distribution. In overly soft mattresses as well as in old mattresses, we can see certain body parts sinking more into the mattress than other parts of the body. This will upset the alignment and would either direct more stress towards the back or would not facilitate already stressed back muscles as well as the spine. Therefore, in order to avoid such back pains linked to your bedding, you can do the following:
1. If appropriate, the old rule was to place a piece of plywood to make the mattress more firm
2. Do shopping and choose a mattress which is soft as well as firm; many of the new ‘pillow-tops does this for you
3. Can sleep on the floor or on a firm surface with a soft covering to relieve pressure to the bony points.
4. Make use of a water or air filled mattress which could sooth the existing pain as well as relieve the stress in the whole body.
5. Do gentle exercises or stretching before getting out of the bed. Contact yourPhysio for appropriate exercise plans
6. Do not place extra pillows under your head, some may used behind the back, between or under your legs.
7. Position your bed at a adequate level to ease the work related to getting out of the bed.
When considering the link between bedding and the back pain, simple measures would go a long way in relieving this chronic problem. Therefore, the money that you spend for a perfect mattress would definitely be worthwhile when considering the suffering, the loss of productivity as well as the time you spend on your bed.
A great bulletin from the Heart and Stroke Foundation; Snow shovelling may be dangerous for some hearts
Snow shovelling may be dangerous for some hearts. Reports have linked snow shovelling in extreme cold weather to an increased risk of hospitalization or death due to heart attacks. The Heart and Stroke Foundation advises taking extra precautions when snow shovelling during extreme cold alerts, particularly for individuals with a pre-existing heart condition or who are at high risk of heart disease.
Research shows that physical activity helps protect against heart disease, stroke and many other health conditions. It is also an important part of cardiac rehabilitation programs and an important way for heart patients to keep their cardiovascular system strong and resilient.
Extreme weather conditions, such as very high temperatures and humidity in the summer, smog, and cold winter days, can make physical activity more strenuous. Both strenuous exercise and extreme weather independently increase blood pressure, push the heart rate up, and increase blood concentration of fibrinogen, a protein involved in blood clotting. All of these factors contribute to increased heart attack risk.
The Foundation recommends approaching physical activity in extreme weather with caution if you have been diagnosed with heart or blood vessel disease (including stroke, previous heart surgery, and uncontrolled high blood pressure) or if you are at increased risk of a cardiac event because of high cholesterol levels, an inactive lifestyle being overweight, or obese or other risk factors. Speak to your doctor about what is acceptable for your health.
The risks become even greater when vigorous exercise and extreme weather are combined, such as when shovelling snow in sub-zero weather conditions. Studies show that in most people who have died shovelling snow or carrying out some other form of vigorous physical activity in extreme weather conditions, the plaque inside their blood vessels ruptured and travelled to the heart causing a heart attack. The rupture may be caused by increases in blood pressure or changes in vascular tone associated with physical exertion. Plaque is a sticky, yellow substance made up of fatty substances such as cholesterol, calcium, and waste products from your cells.
Here are some tips from the Heart and Stroke Foundation.
Take the time to do a few minutes of warm-up activity like walking to increase your heart rate slowly and prepare you for the activity
Build in frequent breaks from extreme weather activities so your body doesn’t become too strained
Ask for help from family, friends or neighbours if you need to do an urgent task, such as clearing snow, in bad weather;
Wear appropriate clothing and keep water nearby to replace fluids lost through perspiration
Plan ahead. Watch your local weather forecast for smog, humidity, heat and extreme cold alerts and plan for enough time or get help with major tasks like snow shovelling, on those days.
Stop your activity if you experience sudden shortness of breath, discomfort in the chest, lightheadedness, nausea, dizziness, or severe headache and immediately seek medical attention
Snow shovelling in very cold weather has specific risks. Here are some additional tips to help you stay safe during this particular activity:
Don’t continue shovelling just to get the driveway cleared in a hurry. If you’re tired, quit;
Don’t shovel or do any other vigorous activity directly after eating a meal. Your body is working hard enough just to digest the meal; adding vigorous activity on top of that could put too much strain on your heart;
Don’t stoop to pick up the snow; bend at the knees to avoid back problems.
Find out if your community offers programs or assistance for snow shovelling or snow removal (particularly for older adults or those with existing heart conditions)
Play safe Winnipeg; your your biomechanics, your limits and your Physio…
It’s snowing this morning in Winnipeg; the first heavy blast of winter this season. Car accidents, falls and shovelling injuries are inevitable. Beware of your posture, the load, your balance and fitness level before you ‘shovel for hours’. The shoulder, and its supporting rotator cuff group of muscles are highly susceptible to those strains n sprains of high repetition and little prep.
Rotator cuff injuries are common in all sports and can be career enders for athletes likes quarterbacks and pitchers. But even if you’re just throwing snowballs with the kids or working out to stay fit, it’s important to keep the shoulder joint healthy. Here, physiotherapist Chris Bisignano, answers some of the important questions.
Q1: What exactly is the rotator cuff?
“The rotator cuff is a group of muscles, that act almost like a dynamic ligament. It is comprised of four muscles: the supraspinatus, which is the most commonly injured, the infraspinatus, the teres minor, and the subscapularis. The rotator cuff’s functions are to assist with arm movements and provide stability to the glenohumeral [shoulder] joint.”
Q2: Why does the rotator cuff get hurt so often, and what are the common issues?
Most of the exercises we do actually do not specifically target the RC enough to make a difference to its actual strength.
“Up to 67% of the population will have a shoulder problem at some point in their lifetime, and the rotator cuff is most often the source of the pain. The primary reason for rotator cuff pain is that pinching sensation or ‘impingement syndrome,’ which may be the result of rotator cuff tendon inflammation caused by an activity or trauma. Over time, this can lead to a rotator cuff tear. To make matters worse, evidence suggests that most individuals are likely to experience rotator cuff degeneration by age 40 and rotator cuff tearing by age 60. Thus, in many cases, a seemingly normal exercise session or home-repair project may incite shoulder pain.”
Q3: What kinds of moves should I avoid if I want to stay injury free?
Repetitive reaches with even a simple load can isolate alot of force upon the RC. Movements above shoulder become risky when a joint is not supported well, or even unstable because of weakness.
“Many of the more common gym exercises—such as upright rows and lateral deltoid raises—may lead to rotator cuff injuries. Modifying these exercises to keep the end position of the arms or elbows below shoulder height may help prevent injury.”
Q4: How can I tell if I have a rotator cuff injury?
“Many people already have a rotator cuff injury and aren’t aware of it. Unfortunately, evidence suggests that these individuals will eventually develop symptoms. Early on, if you have pain when reaching overhead—pain located at the tip of the shoulder or the outside of the arm, where the lateral deltoid is located—that suggests a rotator cuff injury. Weakness when reaching the arm out to the side is also suggestive of a tear.”
Q5: How can I prevent a rotator cuff injury?
“Three key measures can be taken to reduce the chances of experiencing a rotator cuff injury.
“First, strengthen the external rotators; specifically by tubing or dumbbell exercises that need to be learned from a professional; these will help restore and maintain shoulder stability and may prevent impingement.
“Second, avoid sleeping on your side with your arm positioned overhead.
“Finally, try to achieve muscle balance—that’s key. Many weight-training routines are inherently biased, creating muscle imbalances that may lead to a rotator cuff injury. Try to perform an equal number of ‘pull’ versus ‘push’ exercises. Moreover, try to replace a few sets of shoulder exercises—such as lateral deltoid raises or shoulder presses—with exercises that strengthen both the deltoids and the rotator cuff, such as prone ‘Y’ or ‘T’ exercises.”
Visit yourPhysio or ask your healthcare provider for specific RC education and exercises.
Winter is knocking at the door Winnipeg, back to your gym routine. You must practice the correct posture, form and biomechanics to avoid injury and the right choice in exercise. As a orthopedic physiotherapist, it is crucial to learn the biomechanics of an exercise first; otherwise injuries are eminent. Ask your trainer, yourPhysio or the gym supervisor for education as to how to perform exercise correctly, and gain the greatest benefit.
Ever tweaked a muscle when working out? Whether due to a loss of focus or chronic poor form, getting hurt when exercising can be a huge setback. Fortunately, weight lifting and cardio needn’t be dangerous if you can keep a few concepts in mind. For this blog post, you’ll learn how to stay safe with some of the more common resistance exercises, with good posture and technique.
Try this posture test: When viewed from the side, an imaginary vertical line should pass through your earlobe, the tip of your shoulder, midway through your trunk, over the bony part of your thigh, and then through both your knee and ankle. If there is any deviation from this alignment, like if your ears are in front of your shoulders or your shoulders roll toward your chest, you are set-up for potential injury.
Aside from maintaining ideal posture, try these technique modifications to avoid injuring yourself during 5 common exercises:
Don’t let you knees drop inward. This common mistake can be remedied if you actively spread your knees apart. Try to keep your back straight as possible, body weight over your heels such that your center of gravity does not fall forward, potentially injury for knees and hips.
Our advice: Doing air squats with a mini band around your thighs is a good way to train proper technique.
Avoid low back injury by maintaining your natural lumbar curvature.
Our advice: Imagine a broomstick running along the length of your spine; if your pelvis curls off the bottom of the stick during the deadlift, then you’ve lost your lumbar curve.
3. Shoulder Press:
Decrease the risk of shoulder impingement by mimicking the natural plane of shoulder motion.
Our advice: Hold your elbows slightly forward of your chest, rather than directly at your sides.
Spare yourself unnecessary spinal compression by preventing your head and belly from sagging to the floor. Maintain thoughtful and regular ‘belly breathing’ to elicit a better core effort.
Our advice: Tighten your core and shoulder girdle so that you are one straight line from the top of your skull to your ankles.
Land as softly as possible to decrease impact on your joints.
Our advice: One method to do this is by decreasing your stride length, while simultaneously increasing your cadence.
Remember, none of these exercises should be attempted without proper individual instruction; there is no ‘recipe’ that works for everyone, consult yourPhysio or your nearest sportsmed doctor.
No one will stand all day when they have the opportunity to sit. This is because the body works harder when standing than when sitting. However, when we at yourPhysio.com in Winnipeg review work production studies indicate that workers are more efficient when they stand to work. So how do you decide between the two? Consider these general guidelines Winnipeg!
When Standing is preferred:
the task cannot be performed with arms kept comfortably by your sides.
assembling, testing, or repairing larger products (i.e., greater than 6 inches high)
the work area is too large to be comfortably reached when seated. Stand when you must reach more than 15” past the front edge of the workstation. The maximum reach envelope when standing is significantly larger than the corresponding reach envelope when sitting for both men and women (Sengupta & Das, 2000).
you work in more than one workspace to perform job duties and must move around frequently.
the work task lasts less than 5 minutes.
dealing with heavy objects weighting more than 10 pounds. In general, more strength can be exerted while standing (Mital & Faard, 1990) Stand when you need to maximize grip forces (Catovic, Catovic, Kraljevic & Muftic, 1991) or complete static or dynamic lifts (Yates, & Karwowksi, 1992).the work surface does not allow the worker to comfortably position legs under the surface because of an obstruction (i.e. working on a conveyor or a progressive assembly line, working in a kitchen, using a workstation with a drawer located underneath the work surface or a wide front beam, working at a retail counter, or using specialized equipment)
tasks require frequent application of downward pressures (loading bags, inserting screws)
Jobs that are most appropriately done standing include construction workers, highway flaggers, medical personnel, painters, electricians, plumbers, loggers, firefighters, plant inspectors, and maintenance personnel.
When Sitting is preferred:
Better when visually intensive or precise work is required, the activity is of a repetitive nature; longer tasks are completed (greater than 5 minutes), and when everything can be placed within easy reach. Sitting is not appropriate when heavy objects must be handled or long reaches are required.
However, prolonged sitting has been associated with a high incidence of back complaints (Mandal, 1981), increased spinal muscular activity and intradiscal pressure (Grandjean and Hunting, 1977; Lindh, 1989). Other problems reported include discomfort in the lower extremities (Westgaard and Winkel, 1996) and increased muscle loading of the neck and shoulder muscles when sitting with the forearms unsupported as compared to standing with the forearms unsupported (Aaras et al., 1997; Lannersten and Harms-Ringdahl, 1990).
To summarize the literature, neither static standing nor sitting is recommended. Take note of ‘static’ versus ‘dynamic’ Winnipeg, learn to balance each through your day.
Each position has its advantages and disadvantages. Research indicates that constrained sitting or constrained standing are risk factors and that alternating work postures may be preferable. Alternation between two postures allows for increased rest intervals of specific body parts, and reduced potential for risk factors commonly associated with MSD development.
Ideally, provide workers with a workstation and job tasks that allow frequent changes of working posture, including sitting, standing, and walking. If either sitting or standing is feasible but only one possible, sitting in a properly designed chair is preferable.
yourPhysio anatomy lesson first; your hip flexors are the dominant muscle in the ‘knee to chest’ action. Anatomically known as your; Iliacus, Psoas Major and Minor, and your Quadratus Lumborum, these muscles are attached to your hip, to your lower back and your pelvis. Consequently, when overused or tight they can reconfigure your lumbar spine, throw out your hip and back, affect your sacro-iliac joint, and change your biomechanics thoroughly.
Even though stretching is essential for all muscle work, it can actually be damaging if not done properly. When you stretch without warming up your muscles, it increases your likelihood of injury, as you are trying to stretch a cold muscle. So before you stretch, make sure you warm up; walk in place, cross-train, and increase the blood flow into your muscles so you can prevent an injury. As a physiotherapist, I do commonly advise patients to hold a stretch for 20-30 seconds, but why? The reason is because our muscles have a protective reflex to avoid over extension or contraction. When you are stretching your muscle, the muscle spindles, which are the components that produce contraction, activate a reflexive pathway which causes them to shorten in order to compensate for the stretch (called the myotatic reflex). This is what causes your leg to kick out when you tap your knee.
There are two main types of stretching: dynamic and static. Static stretching is what we just talked about, which is a stretching routine that includes holding 30 second stretches for specific muscles. When using static stretching before a sport that requires you to use specific muscles to initiate specific movements, it is hard to relate static stretches to dynamic activity. This is where dynamic stretching comes in. Dynamic stretching is designed to mimic the actions and movements you are expected to perform during a specific sport. For example, this would include kicking around a soccer ball in warm-up before a soccer game, so your body can get accustomed to activating the required muscles. That way, your muscles can make the necessary preparations to prevent injury, as playing a sport requires many specific dynamic and explosive movements.
For your hip flexors, I teach a ‘dynamic lunge’; such that your hip flexors, quadriceps and pelvic muscles are used within the stretch. If you add Kegel exercises to this movement, the pelvic floor muscles are activated more and a greater effort can be applied to this core stretch. Remember those pre-natal classes guys? A patient was recently surprised to know that guys can do Kegels too! Guys are equipped with those same pelvic floor muscles and ladies should appreciate these efforts, as do the men!
Overall, stretching is very beneficial for movements involved in a regular day, and those involved in heavy labor, repetitive activity and sports. Therefore, it should be a priority for everyone to incorporate some sort of stretching into their daily routine (after warming up of course!), in order to maintain optimal functionality. Flexibility is a highly underappreciated component of muscular strength and function, but key to good performance at work, home and recreation.
We’ve all heard physios, chiros, docs and fitness experts claim that core training is important for overall fitness and health. Health clubs offer core training exercise groups and physiotherapists recommend it for those recovering from spinal injury. Your core is the collection of muscles that stabilize the spine, this includes the hips, pelvis, abdominals, lower back, mid-back, and neck regions of the body. These muscles are extremely important in all sports, so why do so many ‘office athletes’ that basically sit for a living overlook core training?
The reason most people skimp on this vital part of their workout is because the benefits are simply overlooked.
Benefits of core training:
- Develop better posture
- Decreases back pain
- Helps injury prevention and rehabilitation
- Increased flexibility
- Greater physical strength
- Improved respiration and lung capacity
- For seniors, it can help to improve balance, reduce injury, and maintain mobility
It’s important to note that performing a few crunches is not proper core training. As a matter of fact, I recommend that these be avoided for much of a lower back stabilization program. We simply just do not need any more ‘flexion’ in our daily routine; you sit most of your day!
Since your core involves many different muscles groups, a variety of exercises are needed to ensure you work them all; some exercises to explore include, but are not limited to, lunges, bridges, planks, and crunches. Every patient learns how to properly stretch their hip flexors, the ‘culprit’ muscle that usually guards when the ligaments are sprained in the lower back.
Pilates and Yoga classes are also excellent for strengthening your core muscles while also improving balance and posture. Check out Pilates Manitoba as they are offering 50% off their introductory classes for first-time participants.
When your core is strong, your whole body works better. Core training isn’t just for athletes, it’s for anyone who would like to have their body working at its greatest potential. For anyone just starting an exercise program, be sure to talk to yourPhysio first.