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Safe Shovelling

Every year, snow shovelling results in injuries to the neck, shoulders, back and legs among millions of Canadians. Though we have had a relatively easy winter thus far, Toronto weather can quickly change and heavy snowfalls are always possible when you live north of the border. But shovelling after a storm doesn’t have to leave you stiff and sore. Here are some key strategies to shovel safely:

BEFORE YOU START…

  • Don’t let the snow pile up
  • Give yourself plenty of time and don’t rush.
  • Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated
  • Dress in layers. Remove a layer as you get warm.
  • Wear proper footwear. Shoes and boots with solid treads on the soles can help to minimize the risk of slips and falls.
  • Pick the right shovel. Use a lightweight, non-stick, push-style shovel. A smaller blade will require you to lift less snow, putting less strain on your body. An ergonomically correct model (curved handle) will help prevent injury and fatigue.
  • If you spray the blade with a silicone-based lubricant, the snow will slide off more easily.
  • Before beginning, warm up for 5-10 minutes to get your joints moving and increase blood circulation. A brisk walk, “jumping jacks”, or range of movement exercise will work.

NOW FOR SHOVELLING…

PUSH, DON’T THROW

Push the snow to one side all the way to the snowbank and avoid throwing it. If you must throw it, avoid twisting and turning — position yourself to throw straight at the snow pile.

BEND YOUR HIPS AND KNEES

Use your hips, knees, leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting while keeping your back straight. Avoid twisting and turning with your back.

TAKE REGULAR BREAKS

Give your body a brief time to recover and gain energy to complete the task at hand.

WATCH FOR ICE.

Be careful on icy walkways and slippery surfaces. Throw down some salt or sand to ensure you have a good footing.

STRETCH ONCE YOU’RE FINISHED.

Take 5 minutes to stretch your neck, arms, back and legs.

 

For more information to maintain spinal function and avoid injury, contact Dr. Levi. If you do experience an injury, schedule an appointment to receive the appropriate care and return to optimal health.

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Question of the day: “If I don’t have any pain, why should I see a chiropractor?”

The most important thing we need to understand here is that health is not only about how you feel, it is about how well your body is functioning.

Here are some things to consider:

* When you have a cold, your body was exposed to a virus long before you feel a runny and stuffy nose.

* By the time you feel physical diseases such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease or arthritis, they have been developing and worsening for 10-25 years or longer.

* In 60% of cases of cardiovascular disease, the first symptom is either a heart attack or death.

* When you feel pain from a dental cavity, this is long after the cavity began forming inside your mouth.

Alarming? It should be!

The same is true of your spine and nervous system. When you feel pain in your spine and other parts of your body, it is likely that dysfunction had developed over quite some time. This is where chiropractic comes in. Chiropractors can assess the function of your body, primarily your joints and nervous system. Even though you may feel ‘fine,’ chiropractic care can identify areas functioning sub-optimally so that these same areas can be addressed to maximize health and avoid pain altogether.

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Gardening: The Safe & Healthy Way

As we move through the spring and summer seasons, the weather is improving and many of us will return to one of the more popular outdoor activities: Gardening!

If you plan on gardening this season, it is important to remember some key points:

  • Gardening injuries are common.
  • Gardening injuries can lead to pain, dysfunction, time lost from work and long-term problems, including:
    • Repetitive strain injuries (e.g., neck, back, elbows, wrists)
    • Degenerative joint and disk problems, herniated disks in the low back
    • Sprain/Strain injuries to muscles, especially in the shoulders, arms and low back
    • Chronic pain
  • Gardening injuries are easily preventable
  • When they do occur, gardening injuries should be assessed and treated by a qualified health professional

Quick tips for healthy gardening:

  • Warm up and stretch before you begin gardening. 

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  • Proper lifting:
    • Untitled1Get close to the load being lifted
    • Bend your knees and keep your back straight
    • Get a good grip on the load and keep it close to your body
    • Lift by using your hips and knees; not the low back
    • Pivot with your feet, not your back. Do not twist your torso.
    • Slowly lower the load, bending at the hips and knees
  • Use the right moves
    • Alternate your tasks between light and heavy jobs
    • Change hands often
    • Always maintain awareness of your position and posture
    • Kneel to plant and weed 
  • Use the right toolsUntitled2
    • Use a hose instead of a watering can, as it is easier to manage
    • Use a lightweight wheelbarrow, cart or dolly to move heavy loads
    • Select tools that are a comfortable weight and size for you
    • Use long-handed, light-weighted tools to avoid bending and twisting 
  • Take frequent breaks
  • Cool down and stretch as soon as you are finished gardening

General Tips:

  • Pace yourself. Organize your tasks and split them into different days if needed.
  • Stay hydrated. Drink water or juice regularly. If you wait until you feel thirst, you are likely already dehydrated!
  • Protect yourself by wearing gloves, thick-soled supportive shoes, etc.
  • Don’t forget to use sunscreen / sunblock

Final Points:

Contact Dr. Levi if you sustain an injury, experience discomfort or would like to learn more about maintaining healthy spine and overall functioning. Remember to be proactive and not wait for pain to appear. Take care of your health now!

 

Dr. Levi

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Strength Training

If you have already made the decision to become more physically active and make exercise a regular routine, then you are already on the right track. The next step is to identify your health and fitness goals to tailor your exercise routine appropriately. Here is some information about strength training and the potential benefits for you.

STRENGTH TRAINING

Strength, or resistance, training aims to increase muscular contraction to improve the size of and force generated by skeletal muscles. This type of exercise program progressively increases the force output of the muscle through a gradual increase in the weight or resistance applied. Strength training may require no equipment and use your own body weight or it may utilize objects for resistance including weight machines, barbells, dumbbells, stairs, hills, specialized elastic bands, Swiss balls, among other tools.

Benefits:

  • Increase anaerobic endurance (the performance of shorter, high-intensity exercises that do not rely on oxygen to be completed)
  • Increase bone density
  • Improve ability to perform daily tasks, such as climbing stairs, carrying groceries
  • Improve cardiac function
  • Maintain independence

Examples:

  • Arm Curl
  • Arm Extensions
  • Shoulder Press
  • Bench Press
  • Abdominal Crunch
  • Squat
  • Leg Press
  • Lunges
  • Calf Raise
  • Back Row

 

Dr. Levi is available to address any questions or concerns that you may have regarding strength training. Don’t hesitate to ask!

 

Dr. Fabio Levi, BSc, DC

 

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Endurance Exercise

If you have already made the decision to become more physically active and make exercise a regular routine, then you are already on the right track. The next step is to identify your health and fitness goals to tailor your exercise routine appropriately. Here is some information about endurance exercise and the potential benefits to you.

ENDURANCE EXERCISE

Endurance, or aerobic, training aims to improve your body’s ability to perform a set of skills at a specific intensity over an extended period of time.

Benefits:

  • Increase stamina
  • Improve aerobic (respiratory) system and maximum oxygen utilization (VO2max)
  • Improve the heart’s effectiveness (cardiovascular system) and circulation
  • Improve overall joint health
  • Improve mental alertness
  • Increase exercise time / Prevent fatigue
  • Increase your metabolic rate, which can help decrease excess fat
  • Increase lean muscle mass
  • Increase your ability to maintain good posture, which helps prevent several conditions such as neck and back pain

Examples:

  • Swimming
  • Bicycling
  • Cycling on a stationary bicycle
  • Gardening (mowing, raking)
  • Walking briskly
  • Golf, without a cart
  • Volleyball
  • Rowing
  • Dancing
  • Climbing stairs or hills
  • Shoveling snow
  • Tennis
  • Swimming
  • Skiing (downhill, cross-country)
  • Hiking
  • Jogging

Dr. Levi is available to address any questions or concerns that you may have regarding endurance exercise. Don’t hesitate to ask!

 

Dr. Fabio Levi, BSc, DC

 

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10 Easy Steps to Brighten and Lighten Your Work Day

We live in a time where work is not only part of but all too often takes over a great deal of our everyday lives. Regardless of the demands that you regularly face at your workplace, surely everyone has experienced those long days at work and the negative physical, mental and emotional effects that this may have on our bodies. We can all make positive changes in our daily routines to overcome work demands.

Have you implemented any strategies to prevent and maintain your overall health while performing at your absolute best in your workplace? Here are ten easy steps that you can take to prove that good health and workplace productivity can co-exist!

1.     Get quality sleep.

Sufficient sleep and rest is paramount to starting your day off the right way. Although many experts advise 7-9 hours of sleep, it is important to remember that each of us are unique and have different sleep requirements to function optimally. Regardless, make sure to establish consistent sleep and wake schedules, sleep in a dark room, avoid watching television or using a computer prior to sleeping, and finish eating 2-3 hours before your bedtime. Avoid drinking caffeine or alcohol prior to sleeping and ensure that you have a good quality mattress and pillow.

2.     Eat a nutritious breakfast; do not skip this important meal.

Make sure that you have a healthy breakfast before you begin your workday.

Consume complex carbohydrates such as whole grains and fresh foods such as oats, rye bread, dried fruit, oatmeal, flaxseed, berries, almonds, yogurt, granola, fruits and drinking freshly squeezed juice. Complex carbohydrates have a low glycemic index, which results in a steady release of glucose into the bloodstream meaning you will feel full and have energy for longer. For protein, try eating nuts, seeds, peanut butter and egg whites.

Avoid eating sugary, carbohydrate-rich foods such as pancakes, waffles, toast, donuts, bagels, breakfast bars and muffins. Limit your consumption of caffeine and high-sugar foods such as cereal since these products provide a very fast, but short-lived boost of energy. Stay away from the fat-rich foods such as sausages, bacon, cream cheese and hash browns.

 3.     Manage your time.

Determine your goals for the day and set a clear plan on how you will complete them. By writing down specific steps and deadlines for each of your tasks, you will be more efficient and increase the likelihood of meeting your deadlines, all while avoiding the stress that you would have experienced at the end of the day.

 4.     Perform stretches 3-5 times per day.

There are simple exercises that can be done seated, standing or on the floor to improve your range of motion and flexibility while reducing the negative effects of prolonged work postures. Perform stretches for the upper and lower body 3-5 times per day or as needed. Do not wait for pain and discomfort for you to begin these exercises! Be proactive and remind yourself to stretch regularly.

 5.     Maintain good posture

Every work environment has preferred work postures which will minimize the likelihood of injuries and pain. In reality, do your best to keep moving and take breaks throughout the day. Try different postures and stretch regularly. Ask your employer about proper body mechanics and postures which are recommended for your particular job. Inquire about any supportive devices, such as back support and braces and footwear, which your supervisor may be able to provide for you.

 6.     Eat a nutritious lunch and leave your work in the office.

Prepare a healthy lunch and avoid settling for fast-food alternatives. Try to prepare a lunch that is 400-500 calories with a breakdown of 30% protein, 50% complex carbohydrates and 20% healthy fats. Good food options include dark, green leafy vegetables, salads, sandwiches with whole wheat bread, fish, lean meat, tofu, nuts and fresh fruit. If you feel rushed in the morning, prepare your lunch the night before.

7.     Use relaxation strategies.

It is important for you to reduce your stress level at work. Try closing your eyes and taking a full gentle breath in through your nose and slowly exhaling through your mouth. Place your hands on your lap and try to assume a comfortable sitting position. Visualize yourself in a peaceful environment and simply be in the moment. Consider drinking hot green, black or chamomile tea instead of coffee. When possible, try taking a break from you work and go for a short walk around your office.

8.     Eat healthy snacks.

Choose to eat healthy snacks that provide you longer-lasting energy. Good options are fruits, nuts, low-fat yogurt, vegetables with light low-fat dip, and whole grain crackers with hummus. Limit your snacks to no more than 200 calories each and no more than 3 per day.

9.     Exercise.

Perform a range of strength, endurance, flexibility and aerobic exercises at least 4 times per week. Choose activities that you enjoy and change your exercise routine between days to keep yourself engaged in the workout. Whenever you can, walk, bike or run instead of driving your car.

Set aside time to exercise for at least 30-60 minutes on most days of the week. This may be in the morning prior to work, in the middle of your day or after you leave the workplace. Most importantly, set an exercise schedule and program and commit to it. Encourage a friend, colleague or co-worker to join you.

10.  Get fresh air – it’s as simple as!

This last tip is free and readily available. Simply take a step outside to clear your mind, reap the health benefits of fresh air, and re-establish your focus for the rest of the day.

 

Try these tips to maintain your overall health and lighten your work day. Take the steps necessary to ensure that you are able to work efficiently and feel at your best!

If you would like to discuss your lifestyle choices and strategies for maximizing your health, contact Dr. Levi to book an appointment.

 

Dr. Fabio Levi, B.Sc. (Hons.), DC

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