Exercise is the Best Medicine

Exercise is the Best Medicine

Author: Dr Balraj Ougra

 Bottom Line:

We’ve all heard about how exercise if good for you. But did you know how powerful that statement really is? Nearly every major risk factor for chronic disease can be lower with as little as 15 minutes of moderate exercise per day. As you age, the cells in your body can become damaged, your metabolism slows down, and you lose muscle strength. Daily exercise has been shown to actually slow down the typical aging process. The catch is that if you aren’t exercising consistently, you may be unknowingly accelerating the aging process and increasing your risk of chronic disease.

 

Why it Matters:

Even 15 minutes of exercise per day can lower your cardiovascular risk. Activities like walking, swimming, and yoga are great choices to start with. Being aware of your cholesterol, blood sugar, and blood pressure numbers are important. Keep in mind that many of those numbers can be improved without medication. Simply adding daily exercise into your life can make a tremendous impact on your overall health and well-being.

·       Regular exercise can reduce the risk factors associated with many chronic diseases.

·       Exercise benefits your mind and body by improving your mood and providing energy to get through the day.

·       Even 10-15 minutes of exercise per day has been shown to provide significant long-term health benefits.

 

Next Steps:

Before you begin an exercise program, we recommend that you consult with your doctor. If you are looking for the right activities to include in your exercise program, ask. We would be happy to provide with you an easy to implement an exercise program based on your current activity level. Starting an exercise program today can improve your life from decades to come.

Science Source:

Preventing Chronic Disease Through Improving Food and Activity Environments. Childhood Obesity 2014

Spinal Traction: Reducing Pain Through Movement

Spinal Traction: Reducing Pain Through Movement

Author: Dr Balraj Ougra

 

Bottom Line:

At a glance, spinal traction may look like a form of medieval torture. But, while at first, it may seem strange, the relief it can help provide is remarkable. Spinal traction offers relief from neck and back pain by reducing the pressure on spinal discs and nerves. Many people use spinal traction as a way to enhance the results they receive with their care in our practice.

 

Why it Matters:

Spinal traction is a form of decompression that is used to treat conditions such as herniated discs, sciatica, pinched nerves, and degenerative disc disease. Traction devices typically use a small force (manual or mechanical) to draw two spinal bones, or vertebrae, away from each other. The increased space between the bones can reduce the pressure in the disc and on the spinal nerves. Traction usually takes less than 30 minutes and is an excellent way to provide relief from pinched nerves and many types of disc herniations.

·       Spinal traction has been shown to be effective at reducing the pain associated with pinched nerves and herniated discs.

·       Traction can help promote the movement of water, oxygen, and nutrients into the discs to assist with healing.

·       New studies have shown improvements in range of motion, decreases in pain, and reductions in the size of disc herniations after traction.

 

Next Steps:

Not everyone is a good candidate for spinal traction. If you have osteoporosis or are pregnant, traction may not be the right choice for you. Call us today to learn more and discover if traction may benefit you on your road to relief.

Science Source:

Effects of segmental traction therapy on lumbar disc herniation in patients with acute low back pain measured by magnetic resonance imaging: A single arm clinical trial. Journal of Back and Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation 2017

Stretch Your Way to Better Health

Stretch Your Way to Better Health

Author: Dr Balraj Ougra

 

Bottom Line:

 Stretching each day is an integral part of improving your overall health. Even if you’re not an athlete, stretching provides important benefits for both your mind and body. Believe it or not, there is a right and wrong way to stretch. Knowing the differences, and understanding the proper technique will help you stay more energized throughout the day and can also improve the flexibility of your joints.

 

Why it Matters:

The days of “static” stretching are long gone. Static stretching, or bouncing as you stretch, can cause injuries and pain. Health experts now recommend dynamic stretching, which can release muscle tension, increase energy levels, and improve the delivery of nutrients to your muscles. Dynamic stretching should be performed at least 2-3 days a week for a minimum of 10 minutes per session.

 

Benefits of Stretching include:

·       Improved Flexibility - stretching can enhance your flexibility by keeping your muscles and joints limber.

·       Increased Energy - while stretching your body increases blood flow and nutrient delivery which can help you feel more energized.

·       Better Posture - consistent stretching will encourage proper alignment and can improve your posture over time.

 

Next Steps:

The first step is to set your schedule. Using your smartphone, schedule three days this week to begin your dynamic stretching routine. Dynamic stretching is a technique where you perform gentle movements that mimic an activity of daily living or a sport-specific activity. For instance, before running, you may choose to perform a dynamic stretch that includes walking and knee lifts. If you have questions about the best dynamic stretching for your activity level- let us know today!

Science Source:

Stretching: Focus on Flexibility. Mayo Clinic. 2017

Growing Up with Good Posture

Growing Up with Good Posture

Author: Dr Balraj Ougra

Bottom Line:

 “Sit up straight!” We’ve all heard it (or said it) a million times, but many people aren’t aware that poor posture as a kid can create health challenges later in life. Rounded shoulders (scapular protrusion), swayback (lumbar hyperlordosis) and a hunched upper back (thoracic hyperkyphosis) are all postural imbalances that place a tremendous amount of stress on the spine. The muscles supporting your spine consequently must work harder to support your body weight which can result in pain. These types of abnormal postures have been linked to everything from depression to decreases in energy and headaches to carpal tunnel syndrome.

Why it Matters:

 Poor posture is usually caused by what kids aren’t doing instead of what they are doing. If your child is on their phone or playing a game on their tablet, they probably may not be moving and stretching very often. One of the most important things you can do to encourage good posture is to set a timer and have them stretch and change positions every 15 minutes. This will allow their spine, muscles and joints to decompress and reset. By breaking the pattern of poor posture, you can help reduce the likelihood of your child experiencing pain.

·       Over 50% of children display the clinical signs of abnormal posture.

·       Excessive weight and decreased physical activity are risk factors for postural issues.

·       Setting aside daily times for physical play can help support stronger muscles and improved posture.

Next Steps:

If your child is suffering from back pain, neck pain or headaches, postural issues may likely be part of the cause. Next time you’re in the office, ask us for a quick posture screen for your child. We would be happy to let you know how they can improve their posture and reduce the risk of future aches and pains!

Science Source:

Prevalence of postural deviations and associated factors in children and adolescents: a cross-sectional study. Fisioterapia em Movimento 2016

How Heavy is that Backpack?

How Heavy is that Backpack?

Author: Dr Balraj Ougra

Bottom Line:

Even though an iPad can store an entire library worth of books, most kids still trudge to and from school each day carrying an oversized and overweight backpack filled with heavy textbooks. While it may not seem like a big deal, recent studies have shown that carrying the weight of a typical backpack is one of the top reasons for kids to have back pain.

 

Why it Matters:

A vast majority of kids wear backpacks every day that weigh 6-7kg or more. That’s a heavy backpack! Over time, the stress of the load can result in back pain, a rounding of the shoulders and postural changes. The spinal compression caused by heavy backpacks often has kids leaning forward to compensate, which begins a vicious cycle of postural issues, compensation and pain.

·       Up to 30% of kids may suffer from back pain due to carrying a heavy backpack.

·       Limiting the total weight of the backpack to less than 10% of your child’s body weight is recommended.

·       Instruct your child to wear their backpack with both shoulder straps fit snugly, so the backpack isn’t carried below the waistline.

 

Next Steps:

 Kids typically choose their backpack based on what makes them look cool. We recommend taking a second look and making sure the straps are wide and padded, the size is appropriate (and not too big) and that it has compartments to help distribute the load. If your child has pain, numbness, or tingling, give us a call. We would be happy to help get them back on track!

 

Science Source:

Backpack weight and back pain reduction: effect of an intervention in adolescents. Paediatric Research 2018

Tech Neck

Tech Neck

Author: Dr Balraj Ougra

Bottom Line:

Smartphones and tablets have quickly become a part of our everyday life. Many kids and adults spend hours per day messaging with friends and playing the latest games. Often, it’s done with their neck bent forward, shoulders rounded, and arms holding the phone up in front of their eyes. New research has shown this type of awkward position can lead to a painful condition called “Tech Neck.”

 

Why it Matters:

Recently, Scientific Reports published a shocking finding which found a “horn” growing off the back of the head of kids who spent a great deal of time on their cell phones and tablets. This extreme variation of Tech Neck is suspected to be caused by constant pressure placed on the back of the head (the occiput) when the head is bent forward and chin is tucked. The excessive force can result in calcification of the soft tissue, which can start to look like a “horn” growing out of the back of the head! Did you know… 

·       Kids may be spending up to 1400 hours per year in positions that cause tech neck.

·       Even 15 degrees of forward tilt can triple the weight of the head and stress on the spine.

·       Taking a break from mobile devices every 15 minutes can help reduce the likelihood of neck pain and headaches.

  

Next Steps:

 Spending time on your favorite devices doesn’t mean that you start growing horns tomorrow. However, it does give an example of how and why we need to be smart about our posture and positioning when using our mobile devices. Encouraging yourself to take a break and stretch is one of the best (and easiest) ways to break the bad habits that can lead to Tech Neck. If you have any questions, just ask our team!

Science Source:

Prominent exostosis projecting from the occipital squama more substantial and prevalent in young adult than older age groups. Scientific Reports 2018