Here's a great infographic from Precision Nutrition to help guide you in exercising while pregnant. If you experience back pain during pregnancy, remember that chiropractic care is safe and recommended. Connect with a Webster trained chiro, like myself ; )
After such a long harsh Canadian winter, signs of spring are finally all around us – green peeking through the grass, buds on the trees, and happy glowing pregnant moms to be! As a Webster trained chiropractor, I work with many pregnant women and often get asked questions about how to reduce the risk of back pain during pregnancy. Remaining active and healthy during and after pregnancy is one key way to keep your back aligned, and fortunately with High Park so close by, there are a number of community led groups who meet and exercise in the park.
The last trimester of pregnancy can be a very exciting and anxious time, and is unfortunately also when low back pain is most likely to make an appearance. It has been estimated that 50% of all pregnant women experience back pain during their pregnancy, however only 21% seek consultations with their physician or chiropractor (1). Back pain during pregnancy arises from mechanical, hormonal, and circulatory changes in the body. As your body works to adjust to the changes in your mechanics and a shift in your centre of gravity, your muscles and ligaments can work overtime to keep everything moving in proper alignment.
With the hormone Relaxin increasing in the body, ligaments and joints have greater laxity, and as a result can become much more sensitive to strain and dysfunction. The most common region to feel pain is in the sacroiliac joint area of the pelvis, which can lead to low back pain, hip, buttock, and sciatic nerve pain. Misalignment of the joints of the pelvis can result in tighter surrounding ligaments, tendons and muscles, and can also restrict your baby’s living quarters. There are things that you can do to manage your low back pain, for a more comfortable pregnancy, and gentle exercise is an important piece of the puzzle.
Chiropractors, particularly those of us who are trained in Webster Technique, can work alongside you to help you move with ease through all stages of pregnancy and post-partum. The Webster Technique, is a specific biomechanical analysis and chiropractic treatment protocol, which aims to assess the areas of dysfunction in your pelvis, with the goal of improving function, decreasing pain, and creating a more aligned and comfortable environment for the baby.
Chiropractic is safe and effective throughout pregnancy, and can bring some great relief from pain and discomfort. As health and wellness professionals, chiropractors can also recommend customized and safe exercises and help you return to normal biomechanics during and after pregnancy. Keeping your core strong will help support your spine at any stage in life, but most importantly during pregnancy. Your glute muscles also are important in keeping your pelvis stabilized and moving well. There are great benefits to participating in gentle exercise such as swimming, yoga, and other low-impact exercise. If you prefer the group atmosphere, consider one of the many awesome local groups out there, such as those on Meet-up! It’s important of course to discuss which options might work best for you with a healthcare provider.
Further reading: 1.Borggren CL. Pregnancy and chiropractic: a narrative review of the literature. Journal of Chiropractic Medicine. 2007;6(2):70-74.
Taking care of your back is an important factor in maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle. Your back and its related structures (muscles, nerves, joints, and ligaments) work hard every day to keep you upright and moving through your daily activities. Unfortunately, statistics show that almost 80% of Canadians will suffer from low back pain throughout their lives. Low back pain can originate from a number of different structures, and may manifest immediately following an injury or it may be delayed by a day or two. Posture can play an important role in how your body responds to certain movements, and poor posture and weak core stability can pre-dispose you to a greater risk of injury and pain.
So what exactly is low back pain, and what causes it? Lower back pain can result from a number of causes, including: muscle strain, restrictions in the movement of the spinal joints or pelvis, irritations of the joints in the spine, irritated spinal nerves, disc injuries, and sprains. Sometimes, something as simple as sleeping on your stomach or shovelling the driveway can lead to low back pain. Injury to the low back may also irritate the longest nerve in the body called the sciatic nerve, which runs from the low back down the back of the thigh where it eventually branches below the knee to the foot. Symptoms of sciatic nerve irritation include burning and tingling along the back of the thigh, and weakness of the leg and foot muscles.
The key to limiting your potential for low back pain is prevention! Maintaining an active lifestyle will help to keep your muscles and joints moving in your low back. Strengthening your core muscles will also enable your back to move in a well supported and balanced way. Activities like yoga, swimming, and walking are very beneficial, and simple moves at home to keep your core and legs strong will help reduce your risk for low back pain. Encourage yourself to take breaks from sitting, and avoid movements which decrease the natural curve of your low back. A little effort throughout the day can go a long way towards improving your posture and reducing your risk of developing low back pain. For short periods of low back pain, you should avoid bed-rest (keep moving!), and use ice to help decrease the pain and inflammation.
If you do experience low back pain that lasts longer than a couple of days, consult with a chiropractor for an assessment. We will assess your ranges of motion, and examine your back to determine the cause of your pain. For those who may benefit from chiropractic care, conservative treatment of the low back may include: soft tissue therapy, spinal manipulation or mobilization, rehabilitative exercises, electrotherapy or laser, and acupuncture. Chiropractors are highly educated about back pain, and will work alongside you and your family healthcare team to get you feeling your best. We also work to educate patients on the reasons why they developed the low back pain, and ways in which they can self-manage to decrease the risk of re-injury.
A sedentary lifestyle can take a physical toll on those who spend their days sitting at a desk for hours on end. Recent research has demonstrated a link between the amount of time you spend sitting during the day with poorer health outcomes, and a greater risk of disease. In my practice, it is common for me to see patients who experience muscle strains, neck pain, and headaches, all related to computer use and long hours spent sitting without a break. The human body needs to move! The longer you spend in one position, the more stress and strain your muscles, ligaments, and joints must endure.
Repetitive and long term strain on your back and neck can result in muscle imbalances, contributing to bad posture. A common condition that can be caused by long hours of computer use is known as Upper Cross Syndrome (UCS). UCS results from a pattern of weakened muscles of the mid-back and neck, alongside overused and tightened muscles trying to counteract the steady pull of gravity. People with UCS often have forward slumped shoulders, rounding of their upper back and a forward jutting head. Sounds familiar? Besides perpetuating bad posture, UCS has a number of consequences for the body, both short and long term, that are important to consider. In the short term, you can experience discomfort and pain and may also have headaches associated with muscle strains. The muscle imbalance pattern of the upper back and neck may also put you at risk for arm pain and injury to the shoulders. In the long term, you may be at greater risk for degenerative joint disease of the upper back and neck, and osteoarthritis.
So what can you do to help your body feel better? To counteract the effects of sedentary tasks, take a number of short breaks throughout your day to keep your body moving, and break up the time spent hunched over your desk. The Canadian Chiropractic Association has created a great free app called Straighten Up Canada to help motivate you to take posture breaks throughout the day (it’s free, and available for Apple and android mobile devices). Your plan should also include stretching your overworked muscles (pecs, and upper traps) and strengthening those that have become weak. Exercises for your mid back that involve drawing your shoulder blades down and together can help strengthen the key muscles that help you to sit up straighter and feel better. A little effort throughout the day can go a long way towards improving your posture and reducing the long term stress and strain put on the joints of your neck and back.
Every year approximately 1 in 3 Canadians over the age of 65 falls, and these numbers can go up significantly over the winter months. One of the key ways you can avoid slips and falls during the winter months (or any month!), is ensuring you exercise regularly and keep your legs strong. Strength and balance help you to recover more easily should you slip on the ice, and in turn you reduce your risk of injury. Here are 3 helpful exercises that you can do at home to maintain strong legs:
Standing with your back against the wall, place your feet in front of you so that your shoelaces are in front of your knees. Squat down bending your knees to a comfortable position or until they are at a 90 degree angle (do not exceed).if you are new to this exercise or are worried about being unsteady, ensure you have a chair to hang onto nearby or underneath you. Hold this squat position for 30-60 seconds, stand up and rest for 60 seconds and repeat 2 more times. Try to work up your endurance each day by challenging longer holds or more sets.
Hold onto something solid for support and balance, such as a counter, chair, or wall. Push up onto the your tiptoes as high as possible and hold for 10 seconds, lower your heels to the floor very slowly. Repeat 10-15 times. When you are ready to make this more challenging try balancing on one leg while doing the raise, or increasing the amount of time you hold the position.
Clamshell for glutes
Lay on your side with your knees bent and ankles and toes together. Slowly raise the top knee and rotate the hip out while keeping your toes together, and hold for 10 seconds. Keep your pelvis still and in line. Lower your knee back down slowly. Repeat 10 times, and switch to repeat on the other side. To make this more challenging, extend the leg our straight instead of bending it, or increase the reps.