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Whether you sit at a computer, shovel snow, lift sandbags or play hockey in Winnipeg, your back pain is probably the result of tight hip flexors

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.

Knee Reflex

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.

Starting blocks

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.

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Back pain in Winnipeg, or is it just a symptom of an irritable bowel?

Middle of August, summer is coming to a close for many, as holidays end and the kids prepare for a new school year. We remember those summer foods, the bbq’s and oh, that unfortunate bout of back pain. You over did it; tubing on the lake, building a deck, moving into a new house. But these events can mimic each other…

I have had many patients complain of back pain, the purest form of mechanical back pain; a lumbar ligament sprain. Maybe some sciatica. But many have mentioned a sore side, soreness to the abdomen or even into the front pelvis.

Irritable Bowel Syndrome can include back pain as a symptom, and even mimic, many of its signs and symptoms. IBS is more affected by ‘stress’ than actual bowel distension; stress at work, home or play, it is another sign of stress that is gaining prevalence in our work-life balance.

Oh that King, fries and chocolate shake was amazing. Once a year, the ‘pilgrimage’ to the finest Winnipeg has to offer, Mrs. Mike’s on Tache.Truly, the best Winnipeg burger for years; my first in 1980!

But as we all have experienced, after a big meal it just may not sit right, and that tension we feel all around the belly can imitate what 4 out of five Canadians will experience some time in their life, back pain. Know your biomechanics, learn the preventative exercises and play safe.

Next, how bout these shoes?

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Sitting in Winnipeg; an Ergonomic approach to your Physiotherapy needs

Many people ask; ‘what do you treat most often Downtown?’, to that I reply; “mostly neck and back injuries, just from sitting all day at a workstation”.

Here’s where my 27 years of experience as a physiotherapist, who provides specific assessment, feedback, education and instruction in Occupational Ergonomics, or how we interact with our ‘work tasks’, benefits my patients of the grain, finance and legal hub of Winnipeg.

As a physiotherapist, I must assess your workstation and task challenges in order to understand your biomechanics that caused an injury or pain. I only use evidence based guidelines published, and reviewed annually (CSA link http://t.co/Su0MxsFy). Beware of those ‘weekend course’ assessors, quite frankly you will get what you pay for.

You, and your company can reduce repetitive strain complaints in your workplace with an ergonomic assessment at your specific, work site. I will assess problem areas and make recommendations for change to workstations, task organization and management, and your specific, body mechanics with a focus on employee participation, responsibility and behaviour change.

A worksite visit to understand your business and jobs will only provide a baseline for understanding the demands on workers. It will provide us with an ability to recommend modifications for ergonomic improvements and safe body mechanics training.

By providing immediate feedback; employees are able to participate and install immediate, habitual changes at work, home and play, that assist in improving compliance with safe work procedures, and biomechanics that prevent injury.

The main risk factors for musculoskeletal injury can be categorized under one of the following four broad headings: force, posture, repetition and duration of task. In the office or call centre environment these risk factors could be interpreted as;

  • force – is an exertion performed to overcome the weight, resistance, or inertia of the body or a work object (i.e. forceful hand movements while keying or mousing),
  • posture – awkward postures deviate from neutral or comfortable positions. (i.e. twisted neck, raised shoulder, extended wrist, etc..),
  • repetition – refers to tasks or series of motions that are performed over and again by the same muscle groups with little variation (i.e. continuous mousing or keying)
  • duration – the time which something continues (i.e. sustained neck extension to view monitor or abducted shoulder while mousing)

check back again for more on this continuing series regarding your ‘sitting in Winnipeg’…

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Concourse Physio in the Winnipeg Exchange District

Concourse Physio in the Winnipeg Exchange District

Since 1993, physiotherapy services upon immediate access, downtown convenience and with direct billing if possible…enjoy the Winnipeg Fringe Festival!