Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) – Association Chiropratique..
Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) Blog helps Canadians live healthier lives. The Canadian Chiropractic Association (CCA) is a national, voluntary association representing Canada’s licensed doctors of chiropractic and the 10 provincial chiropractic associations which are its charter members.
The sun is out and the days are long, which makes it the perfect time of year to take your bike out for a spin. In Canada, we’re fortunate to have stunning bike routes from coast-to-coast, like Ontario’s Waterfront Trail, Quebec’s Route Verte, and Nova Scotia’s Cabot Trail (to name a few). But before hitting the trails, it’s important to read up on some safety tips to avoid injury.
Who better to offer advice than the Unleash Your Potential cyclists – a team of four chiropractic students cycling across the country this summer to promote healthy living to young Canadians. If you missed their story, you can catch up on our previous blog post. Today, the students are halfway through their 8,300-km journey, and they have some cycling tips to share.
Wear a helmet
Most provinces in Canada require cyclists under the age of 18 to wear an approved helmet. Even if you are over the age of 18, it is strongly recommended that you wear the right helmet to reduce the risk of permanent injury if you fall. But how do you know you’ve got the right helmet? Ask yourself these questions: 1
Does the helmet fit firmly on your head, without wobbling from side to side or backwards and forwards?
Does it stay in place when you shake your head?
Does the helmet sit comfortably on your forehead, above your eyebrows?
Do the straps feel tight and is the chin strap snug when you open and close your mouth?
By asking yourself these questions, you can ensure that your head is protected from potential impact.
Look over your shoulders
Riding a bike is similar to driving a car in the sense that both involve sharing the road. Before making any turns, make sure you look over your shoulder for any oncoming traffic or pedestrians. It’s important to be aware of your surroundings at all times to avoid any unwanted collisions.
According to the Ontario Highway Traffic Act, bicycles are not allowed on highways such as the 400 series, the QEW, the Ottawa Queensway, the KW Expressway, and on any road where there is a “No Bicycle” sign. Familiarize yourself with the laws in your province, to keep you safe!
Bike with confidence
The more confident you are, the more deliberate you will be in your actions on the road. But how do you become more confident? Practice, practice, practice. Try cycling on trails or quiet streets before venturing through busy intersections. That way you’ll build muscle memory and feel more self-assured. Mindset is everything!
Make sure your seat is aligned
A properly-aligned seat can make a world of difference, especially if you’re struggling with discomfort or knee pain. The perfect seat height is achieved when your knees are at a 25-degree angle. This prevents injuries and increases efficiency as you pedal.3
Practice proper hand signals
Riding a bike means sharing the road with other cyclists and motorists. Most vehicles have signals that alert other drivers when turning, changing lanes, or coming to a full stop. Cyclists, however, rely on their hands to make these signals. Take the time to practice essential hand signals so that drivers and fellow cyclists are aware of your intentions.
Plan ahead of time
By planning your ride in advance, you can avoid potentially dangerous routes, trouble spots, or bike thefts. Fortunately, there are services available, like this interactive map from BikeMaps.org, to help you plan ahead. The more prepared you are, the more enjoyable your bike ride will be.
Cycling is a great way to get outside, enjoy the fresh air, and stay physically active. With these tips, you can feel confident that you have the know-how to cycle safely this summer.
The Canadian Chiropractic Association is a proud sponsor of the Unleash Your Potential campaign.
Chances are, you’ve experienced the tender, achy feeling of a muscle knot at some point in your life. Research has shown that muscle knots may affect up to 85 per cent of the population. Muscle knots impair mobility, cause pain, and can reduce a person’s quality of life.1
What are muscle knots?
Muscle knots are typically found in your back, shoulders, and neck. They are stiff bands of muscle that have a hard knob in the centre, which is known as a trigger point. The pain can either pop up spontaneously (active) or when the trigger point is pressed (latent).3 But in all cases, muscle knots cause pain to radiate beyond the trigger point into the surrounding muscles.
What causes muscle knots?
Muscle knots, also known as myofascial trigger points, are complex and have a variety of possible causes. There is a lot more research to be conducted on the matter, but the best available evidence suggests that muscle knots are the result of overuse2 such as heavy lifting or repetitive activities. Other causes may include:
Unhealthy eating habits4
“Muscle fibres are made to move – contract and relax – lengthen and shorten,” says Dr. Adrian Chow, DC. “However, when we sit at the computer all day, with very little movement in between, these muscle fibres begin to stick to each other, forming a knot. Bad posture also puts stress on our muscles, and with enough time, this stress can cause the formation of scar tissue.”
What are the symptoms of muscle knots?
Pain is the primary symptom of muscle knots. Since everyone experiences pain differently, your symptoms may vary from those of someone else. However, most people agree that muscle knots feel swollen, tense, or bumpy, and cause an aching sensation.4
Depending on where in the body the muscle knot is located, it may cause seemingly unrelated pain in other areas. For example, a muscle knot in the neck can send pain into the base of the skull, causing a tension headache.4
Who is most at risk for muscle knots?
There are very few people who get through life without ever experiencing a muscle knot. Ninety-seven per cent of people with chronic pain have trigger points, and 100 per cent of people with neck pain have them.6,7,8 There are, however, certain risk factors that increase the likelihood of developing muscles knots. These include:
People with fibromyalgia6
How are muscle knots diagnosed?
Diagnosing a muscle knot requires a physical examination by an experienced professional such as a chiropractor. The examiner will assess the area of concern for three things: a taut band of muscle, a tender nodule, and the reaction of the patient to physical pressure.6
How are muscle knots treated?
Once you’ve been diagnosed, the question becomes “How do I treat the muscle knot in my back/neck/shoulders, etc.?” There are several options, but the most common include:
Whichever option you choose, the main goal is to release the trigger point to reduce pain and increase mobility1 by breaking up the knotted tissue and calming inflamed nerves.4
How can you prevent muscle knots in the first place? 4
Because muscle knots are the result of overuse, stress, bad posture, fatigue, etc., your risk of getting a muscle knot can be lowered by resting and working on posture and overall lifestyle habits. Here are some tips:
Improve your posture by sitting in a relaxed position, with your shoulders back and down. Try your best not to slouch.
Take opportunities throughout the day to rest and incorporate exercise into your routine.
Don’t overdo it when lifting heavy objects. Ask for help, take it slowly, or move things in batches.
If your job requires you to sit for most of the day, take regular stretch breaks to prevent your muscles from getting too tight.
Make sure your diet includes a healthy mix of calcium, potassium, and magnesium, and drink plenty of water to keep your body hydrated.
Can you treat muscle knots at home?
While we recommend seeking the advice of a spine, muscle, and nervous system expert, there are some cases where you can massage the sore muscles yourself. Try following this simple technique: 4
Locate the knot in your muscle and, using your fingers, gently massage it out.
Focus on loosening the tight muscle by pressing down firmly and making small circles.
If you’re finding it difficult to reach the muscle knot in your back, neck, or shoulders, you can try using a tennis ball or foam roller to apply pressure to the knot. Slowly and gently move back and forth to relieve the tension.
Muscle knots in any area of the body are painful and frustrating. Now that you know what they are, what causes them, and how to treat them, we hope you’ll find relief and get back to enjoying your everyday activities.
1 Jafri, M Saleet. “Mechanisms of Myofascial Pain.” International scholarly research notices vol. 2014 (2014): 523924. doi:10.1155/2014/523924
2 Bron, Carel, and Jan D Dommerholt. “Etiology of myofascial trigger points.” Current pain and headache reports vol. 16,5 (2012): 439-44. doi:10.1007/s11916-012-0289-4
3 Shah, Jay P et al. “Myofascial Trigger Points Then and Now: A Historical and Scientific Perspective.” PM & R : the journal of injury, function, and rehabilitation vol. 7,7 (2015): 746-761. doi:10.1016/j.pmrj.2015.01.024
5 Alvarez DJ, Rockwell PG: Trigger points: diagnosis and management. Am Fam Physician. 2002, 65: 653-660.
6 Bablis, Peter, et al. “Neuro Emotional Technique for the Treatment of Trigger Point Sensitivity in Chronic Neck Pain Sufferers: A Controlled Clinical Trial.” Chiropractic & Manual Therapies, BioMed Central, 21 May 2008, chiromt.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1746-1340-16-4.
7Rosomoff HL, Fishbain DA, Goldberg M, Santana R, Rosomoff RS: Physical findings in patients with chronic intractable benign pain of the neck and/or back. Pain. 1989, 37: 279-287. 10.1016/0304-3959(89)90192-9.
8Ester Cerezo-Téllez, María Torres-Lacomba, Orlando Mayoral-del Moral, Beatriz Sánchez-Sánchez, Jan Dommerholt, Carlos Gutiérrez-Ortega, Prevalence of Myofascial Pain Syndrome in Chronic Non-Specific Neck Pain: A Population-Based Cross-Sectional Descriptive Study, Pain Medicine, Volume 17, Issue 12, December 2016, Pages 2369–2377, https://doi.org/10.1093/pm/pnw114
When you see the word chiropractor, what images come to mind? Do you know what a chiropractor does? What types of conditions they treat? Do you know how they can help you as part of your healthcare team?
Dr. Nalli currently runs five multidisciplinary clinics in the GTA and a medical assessment business with divisions in Toronto, Vancouver and Nova Scotia. His clinics are staffed with health professionals such as chiropractors, physiotherapists, physicians and massage therapists. He also has a popular radio show on Global News Radio AM640 Toronto (which attracts tens of thousands of listeners each week) and teaches at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College. For him, growth and success in the field have been a direct result of building social networks and approaching his care from the standpoint of patient education.
“When I first started practicing,” he shares, “Most of my patients would say, ‘I am so happy with you because I love the way you explain things.’ This built a foundation of trust.”
Dr. Nalli believes that a shift in focus could help bridge the gap between and public understanding. If you understand what pain is, you understand chiropractic care.
What do chiropractors do?
Chiropractors are extensively educated in the prevention, assessment, diagnosis and management of spine, muscle, and nervous system conditions. Using their unique knowledge and diagnostic skills, chiropractors recommend a course of treatment to help relieve pain and improve function without surgery or pharmaceuticals. Examples of treatment include manipulation (commonly referred to as an adjustment), mobilization, soft tissue therapy, exercise, education, modalities (i.e. ultrasound or laser) and rehabilitation.
“My goal is to educate and empower a population who knows very little about pain,” he explains. “Pain is one of the most poorly misunderstood things in healthcare. The radio show is primarily focused around properly promoting pain management rather than promoting the chiropractic profession.”
His method seems to be striking a chord. Often, after the show goes off the air, there are several callers lined up to ask questions. Dr. Nalli commits to answering every single one of them. He says that chiropractic care is an untapped resource and that is what he is trying to communicate on air. He isn’t treating anyone on the radio, but he is providing knowledge. And that knowledge is what attracts about 20 new patients for his assessment per week, which he then refers to his team of professionals for the best treatment.
His ultimate goal? To see a day in the future where someone who wakes up with pain goes to their family chiropractor.
An interview with Dr. Diana De Carvalho and Dr. Carol Cancelliere on balancing a career and motherhood
It’s no secret that working moms have a lot to juggle. In Canada, 73 per cent of women with children under the age of six are in the workforce1, which begs the question: how do you balance a successful career and the demands of motherhood?
The team at the Canadian Chiropractic Research Foundation recently spoke with Dr. Diana De Carvalho and Dr. Carol Cancelliere, two accomplished researchers and full-time mothers, to chat about how they make it all work. Here are some of the key takeaways.
It’s all about perspective
“When you have children, you realize that certain crises at work aren’t really crises at all. Being a mom helps me put things in perspective and forces me to shut down the computer. Otherwise, I could be occupied 24/7.” — Dr. Carol Cancelliere
“Juggling my kids and my career has brought a lot of sleepless nights. But I have two special little guys that I wouldn’t trade for the world. At the end of the day, I love what I do — both at home and at work. I have goals and passions in both areas of my life and working towards them keeps me going.” — Dr. Diana De Carvalho
There’s no one-size-fits-all
“It’s easy to see that balancing work and home life can contribute to a happier, more productive person. It’s putting it into practice that can be tough. I don’t have all the answers, but I’m learning that it takes a conscious effort, tough decisions and constant tweaking to make it work. Ultimately, balance is going to look different for everyone, but I think we all need to be a little kinder to ourselves along the way.” — Dr. Diana De Carvalho
“Sometimes work is the priority and my kids are occupied by other caregivers, activities or electronics. Other times, family gets more attention and extra cuddles at bedtime. If I need to work on weekends, it’s done sitting on the floor playing with playdoh or Lego, laptop at my side.” — Dr. Carol Cancelliere
Efficiency is key
“In an average day, I am solely responsible for supporting my students and managing my research program. Issues can arise at any time of day, and this makes work-life balance difficult. On the flip side, I have some flexibility within my workday to drop my kids off at school or pick them up if they’re sick. That means the world to me as a mom.” — Dr. Diana De Carvalho
“There’s never a day that I can say, ‘OK, I’m done my work for today.’ It’s more like I can say that I’m only one month behind as opposed to six months behind. Whether it’s investigating new teaching methods, writing more papers, or jumping on more research collaborations and funding opportunities, there’s always more to be done. One of the biggest challenges is hearing my kids ask, “Mommy, why do you have to work so much?” My three-year old recently said (as I’m known for being small), “Mommy you’re too little to go to work. Make Daddy go to work!” — Dr. Carol Cancelliere
“Like any working parent, finding balance is tricky. Some weeks my priorities shift, and I have to roll with the punches (i.e. a child home sick or a major grant due). On a positive note, I’m more efficient with my time than I’ve ever been!” — Dr. Diana De Carvalho
Dr. Diana De Carvalho, DC, MSc., PhD, is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Her research is in patient care, studying the development of low back pain in response to prolonged sitting. Read more about her research here.
Dr. Carol Cancelliere, DC, PhD, is a clinical epidemiologist and project lead for the Canadian Chiropractic Guideline Initiative. She currently works in the Faculty of Health Sciences at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT). Read more about her work to increase evidence-based guideline adoption here.
1Canadian Institute of Child Health, “Module 8, Section 2: Labour Force Participation Rate,” The Health of Canada’s Children and Youth: A CICH Profile (2018). Link: http://bit.ly/2oq4xyZ.
For someone who has never been to a chiropractor before, it’s completely normal to have questions and want to better understand what’s involved in a chiropractic treatment. As with anything, the fear of the unknown can present some challenges and anxieties. The Canadian Chiropractic Association is here to support clearer understanding of the chiropractic profession, including what it is, how it works, and what to expect after your appointment. If you’re wondering about the safety of chiropractic treatments, you’ve come to the right place.
What is chiropractic?
The World Federation of Chiropractic (WFC) has defined chiropractic as: “A health profession concerned with the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mechanical disorders of the musculoskeletal system, and the effects of these disorders on the function of the nervous system and general health. There is an emphasis on manual treatments including spinal adjustment and other joint and soft-tissue manipulation1.”
Put simply, chiropractors are spine, muscle and nervous system experts specifically trained to diagnose the underlying cause and recommend treatment options to relieve pain, restore mobility and prevent re occurrence without surgery or pharmaceuticals.
Why is it important?
The musculoskeletal system supports your weight, provides physical stability, enables you to move your body, and protects your vital organs. Benefits of chiropractic care include:
Improved movement in your neck, shoulders, back and torso
Relief from headaches, neck and back pain
Prevention of work-related muscle and joint injuries
Enhanced athletic performance
Relief of pregnancy-related backache
Correction of gait and foot problems
How does it work?
Chiropractic treatments normally consist of manual therapy, including joint manipulation, mobilizations and soft tissue therapy.
A manipulation (commonly known as an adjustment) is a quick, small thrust to the spine or other parts of the body intended to provide immediate pain relief and mobility. Mobilizations are slower, more passive movements or stretches that help relieve stiff joints. And soft tissue therapy refers to a variety of different techniques focused on alleviating discomfort without causing movement.
In addition to manual therapies, chiropractors are trained to recommend a course of action that includes exercise, ultrasound or laser treatments, rehabilitation, nutritional counselling and injury prevention strategies. Whether you are suffering from a specific injury to your muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves, or you have a chronic condition such as spinal stenosis, osteoarthritis or inflammatory arthritis, a chiropractor can help relieve pain and restore function in the following areas of the body:
Head and neck
Low back and pelvis
Elbows, wrists and hands
Hips, knees, ankles and feet
Are chiropractic treatments safe?
It is important to keep in mind that there is a difference between something being unsafe and having potential reactions. Any therapeutic treatment from medication to manual therapy comes with potential risk.
For example, there is a concept in the pharmaceutical industry known as a risk-benefit analysis which is used to assess how much benefit a medication has compared to the potential risk. The riskier the medication, the less likely it will become mainstream.2
Spinal manipulations should be recommended for patients when a similar risk-benefit assessment has been conducted. This assessment on the safety of chiropractic treatments is performed via the patient intake form and physical examination.
Adverse reactions lasting less than 24 hours include headaches, stiffness, fatigue, local pain, prickling sensation, nausea, hot skin/flushing, and fainting. In up to 50% of patients, one or more of these have been reported over the span of a lifetime.3, 4
Exact numbers on adverse events from chiropractic manipulation are difficult to extract due to variables such as research design, inclusion criteria and study selection. There is still a lot of research to be conducted on the role of spinal manipulation in individuals with serious adverse events.
Chiropractic treatment is a safe option for the prevention, assessment, diagnosis and management of musculoskeletal conditions and associated neurological system. Canadian chiropractors have over 4,200 hours of core competency training in the musculoskeletal system. It is up to each individual patient and their healthcare provider to assess the safety of chiropractic treatments and potential risks associated, and decide if spinal manipulation is right for them.
When Kelly Weaver arrived at the emergency room in November 2016, she couldn’t see a way out of her pain. She was suffering from an acute sciatic episode, and her agony was severe. Because she was struggling to get up at home, her husband, Dev, had to stay home from work to take care of her and their daughter. It was Dev who took her to the emergency room in a wheelchair, looking for a solution.
The attending physician in the ER referred Kelly to Dr. Carlo Ammendolia, Associate Scientist and Chiropractor in the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital – and her journey to recovery began. From the first time Kelly met Dr. Ammendolia, she felt relief. “He was the first person who understood how I really felt — how much pain I was in. He was very reassuring. He told me I was going to get better, but that I was going to have to work hard.”
The first-step to recovery
Kelly enrolled in Dr. Ammendolia’s boot camp program for low back pain (LBP). The program is aimed at addressing the multi-faceted aspects of LBP. It combines manual therapy, conditioning exercises and instructions on self-management. The goal is to restore function, reduce disability and improve quality of life.
In her program, Kelly carried out a set of (sometimes painful) exercises twice a day, slowly moving to once daily. Dr. Ammendolia shared a booklet of exercises with Kelly, teaching her how to perform each one properly at home. Kelly said that Dr. Ammendolia was very straightforward. “He told me I would need to do these exercises every day for the rest of my life to keep my back healthy. He instilled in me that recovery is up to me — not his treatments.”
When she worked with Dr. Ammendolia, Kelly always felt heard and supported. “He told me I could contact him anytime — even on the weekend — if I was having trouble or had a question. He listened to my concerns and provided direct answers. He was so knowledgeable. He always focused on how I was going to get better.”
After she began the boot camp, Kelly felt more mobile. The rigorous schedule sped up her recovery. But Kelly knows she must keep up the exercises to maintain her healthy back. Kelly repeated Dr. Ammendolia’s words, “What we’re trying to do is prevent it from happening again.”
Even Kelly’s doctor was impressed by her dramatic progress after Dr. Ammendolia’s boot camp program. The doctor transformed from a chiropractic skeptic to a believer. She now regularly refers her back-pain patients to Dr. Ammendolia.
Kelly says that Dr. Ammendolia will always meet you wherever you’re at. Since her episode in 2016, there was a period in her life when she was unable to complete her routine. “He understood and started me back up with exercises, encouraging me once again.”
Where is Kelly today?
Kelly still sees Dr. Ammendolia every three months. “These are quick check-ins for me to ensure everything is ok with my back. He really doesn’t want you to rely on him.”
Kelly’s quality of life has changed dramatically since completing Dr. Ammendolia’s boot camp. “I went from not being able to do anything, to doing just about anything. I walk around mostly pain-free and, by doing the exercises daily, I continue to be very active. Those exercises help in every way!”
Dr. Carlo Ammendolia is the Director of the Chiropractic Spine Clinic and Spinal Stenosis Program at the Rebecca MacDonald Centre for Arthritis & Autoimmune Diseases. He specializes in lumbar spinal stenosis and other chronic spine related disorders such as chronic low back pain, chronic neck pain, sciatica and ankylosing spondylitis, as well as musculoskeletal conditions like osteoarthritis of the knee and hip and persistent shoulder pain. He is a Canadian Chiropractic Research Foundation (CCRF) Research Chair in Spine Research, an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto, and an Associate Scientist/Chiropractor in the Department of Medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital.
Learn more about Dr. Ammendolia’s boot camp program here
What impact is research having to advance healthcare, the chiropractic profession and patient care?
For the last decade, the Canadian Chiropractic Research Foundation was working to achieve one goal—to place chiropractic researchers in Canadian universities for the first time in history. With the help of generous donors, this goal was successfully achieved in 2017.
Check out for yourself how donations are making a difference!
Working with healthcare teams in Denmark, U.S, Switzerland, Australia, Cuba, Hong Kong, UK, South America and more.
Industry collaborations with CCGI, CCA, Provincial Associations, Research Manitoba, World Federation of Chiropractic, World Spine Care Research Committee, Institute of Musculoskeletal Health and Arthritis (IMHA) and more.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to cycle from British Columbia to Newfoundland? That’s exactly what four students from the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (CMCC) will be doing this summer for the Unleash Your Potential bike tour.
From the end of May until mid-August, students Sefrah Daviduck, Lauryn Friesen, Justin Reay and Garrett Duff will be making the long and ambitious journey, stopping at schools and summer camps along the way. Their mission is to promote physical activity, proper nutrition and stress management to young Canadians, and help them form habits that will last a lifetime and create a healthier generation for the future. The goal of the campaign is what the name suggests – to unleash the potential of every young Canadian to live a healthier, happier life.
“We have a unique opportunity to lead by example,” says Garrett Duff, a second-year student at the CMCC. “We’re showing that you don’t have to be super human to achieve a physical feat. It’s really a journey of motivation.”
In the coming months, we’ll be sharing the students’ key takeaways and top tips for healthy living. In the meantime, let’s meet the team:
Growing up in Red Deer, Alta., Sefrah was an avid hiker, swimmer, and long-distance runner, competing in half marathons since the age of 12. She went to the University of Lethbridge where she completed a Bachelor of Nursing before moving to Toronto to attend chiropractic college.
While she’s very excited for the summer months ahead, she is aware of the work that will be required to cycle from coast to coast. A few years ago, she and her dad spent a week cycling from San Francisco to Los Angeles, Calif., a 45-hour journey that introduced her to the importance of keeping a positive attitude.
Sefrah is most excited about exploring the country while spending the entire summer outdoors. She is also looking forward to meeting chiropractors across Canada along the way.
Originally from Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ont., Lauryn is a sports enthusiast who grew up playing basketball. She received a Bachelor of Science degree from Queen’s University, where she took courses in physiology, anatomy and biology. It was during that time that she realized she wanted a career where she could help people in a hands-on way and share her passion for healthy, active living.
With very little cycling experience, Lauryn is specially poised to inspire youth to accept challenges and overcome obstacles. She says that if you had told her a couple of years ago that she would be biking across Canada, she wouldn’t have believed it.
Lauryn is looking forward to pushing herself and accomplishing a goal she never thought she could, and to having some fun along the way.
Justin Reay came into chiropractic with a very diverse background. After high school, he served in military infantry reserves, worked as a mushroom picker, and taught English in China. He then moved to Ireland and worked in a kitchen before coming back to Canada to attend the CMCC.
While he was working and gaining experience around the world, his perception of healthcare changed. He came to the realization that he wanted to work in a proactive and less invasive field with the opportunity to do a lot of good.
Justin’s goal with Unleash Your Potential is to shape public perception and increase understanding of chiropractic care. He’s excited to meet with chiropractors and provincial organizations, all while “exploring the country in slow motion.”
Garrett Duff of Sudbury, Ont., is no stranger to healthy, active living. When he wasn’t working at Parks Canada and attending classes at Carleton University, he spent his time biking, running, cross-country skiing and playing badminton.
For Garrett, Unleash Your Potential is the best way to express how much he loves his country while completing a physical and mental feat. He admits that he’s nervous about the challenges that might arise along the 8,300-km route. Yet, he’s more excited about getting outside and seeing what the country has to offer.
His advice for healthy living comes from his parents, who taught him that the process of integrating physical activity into your life is a journey. “Don’t try to be the best you can be in one day. Start small, and work up to finding your passion over a period of time.”
There are many ways to help make the Unleash Your Potential tour a success. Whether you’re interested in sponsoring the team financially, offering meals and temporary lodging, or requesting a talk, you can learn more at www.unleashyours.ca.
The Canadian Chiropractic Association is a proud sponsor of the Unleash Your Potential campaign.
How does back pain relate to cardiovascular disease and diabetes? What role does physical activity play? We spoke with Dr. Jeffrey Hebert about his research with back pain and other musculoskeletal disorders, which he hopes will have an impact on clinical practice in the future.
Q: Tell me about the research you’re doing right now.
A: We’re researching how musculoskeletal (MSK) disorders like back pain relate to other diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes. We’re asking ourselves if back pain can increase someone’s risk of developing other diseases as well as the role of physical activity in these relationships.
In order to develop these conclusions, we’re studying two population groups: children/adolescents and adults aged 65+. Much of this work is being done in collaboration with our Danish colleagues in the Childhood Health, Activity, Motor Performance Study (CHAMPS) and the European Youth Heart Study. I’m extremely fortunate to work with a number of talented researchers with backgrounds in chiropractic, medicine, and epidemiology.
Q: Why those two specific population groups?
A: Each group offers different types of information. For example, adults aged 65+ have often already developed cardiovascular disease whereas children and adolescents can present with different risk factors for disease in the future.
We recently completed a study of ~1000 children and discovered that girls with back pain have elevated cardiovascular disease risk factors such as insulin resistance compared to girls without back pain. Contrary to our hypotheses, physical inactivity does not totally explain the association between back pain and cardiovascular disease risk, and this relationship was not present in boys. As is often the case in research, we’ve ended up with more questions than answers.
We will soon be starting a project to evaluate changes in cardiovascular disease risk in older patients who undergo surgical treatment for degenerative spinal stenosis.
Q: Why are you looking at cardiovascular disease, in particular?
A: As health researchers, we try and undertake research with the largest potential benefit to society. Cardiovascular disease is the largest cause of mortality worldwide, while back pain is the largest cause of disability. It is important to understand how these diseases relate to one another and attempt to identify what could be responsible for these links.
We already know that a lack of physical activity is linked to cardiovascular disease and diabetes. We also know that many musculoskeletal diseases like spinal stenosis impact people’s ability to be physically active. I’m interested in whether MSK disorders are the gateway to developing more serious diseases.
Q: How will your research make a difference for chiropractors?
A: If we understand the link between MSK conditions and other serious health challenges, we’ll be in a better position to impact people’s lives. For example, a patient living with knee osteoarthritis may find it more difficult to be physically active. And effectively treating someone’s pain will not necessarily change their physical activity levels. In fact, health habits often remain unchanged despite improvements in pain and capacity.
As chiropractors, if we solely focus on pain and disability, I think we’re missing opportunities to improve people’s lives long-term. Systematically inquiring about each patient’s physical activity and providing appropriate advice should become the standard of care for patients with MSK disorders. “Exercise is medicine” represents an important opportunity for chiropractors.
I’m really excited about answering these research questions in a way that can inform clinical practice in the future.
You’ve made the decision to take your cardio routine from the treadmill to the sidewalk – congratulations! You’re on your way to reaping some amazing benefits. If you’re feeling wary about transitioning your routine to a new location, we’ve got you covered. With a good pair of running shoes and some healthy preparation, you can get the most out of your running session outdoors.
Note: Running is a high-impact activity. If you’ve never run before, please consult a chiropractor/medical practitioner to ensure you won’t worsen any pre-existing conditions or cause injury to your joints.
Here are some tips to help get you started:
Warm up and cool down: Make sure you stretch before and after your run. Stretches are an essential part of your running routine to avoid injuries. Some important points to keep in mind:
Never stretch a cold muscle
Hold each stretch for a slow count of 30
Repeat twice on each side
Don’t overstretch—be comfortable
Don’t bounce when stretching
Pick a road or trail you are familiar with: When starting out, the last thing you want to worry about is getting lost. Before you lace up your sneakers, do some research: ask friends where they like to run, use online running forums to find popular routes, and check to see if your park has designated trails. The more popular and visible the trail, the better.
Wear the appropriate footwear: Adapt your shoes to your environment. A regular running sneaker works for the flat, predictable surface of a treadmill. But once you are outdoors, make sure the sneaker’s tread can handle the gravel, dirt roads, and slick trails. Runners should get a sneaker that supports the feet while having the appropriate sole to help maneuver and provide support over uneven surfaces.
Start slow: Running outside is more taxing on your muscles, joints and bones, making you more prone to injuries like shin splints. Start off with shorter distances on flat roads or trails. As your endurance improves, gradually increase your mileage and hill work.
Maintain a constant pace: Don’t feel compelled to push yourself to run at the same pace that you would on a treadmill. Start with moderate and comfortable pace that allows you to run safely, and gradually increase your speed over several weeks as your body allows.
If you’ve been running on a treadmill for a while, transitioning to the outdoors may take time. The mechanics of running on a stationary treadmill are different than running outside on an uneven surface. When in doubt, you can always talk to a chiropractor about how to improve your form and prevent/manage injuries.