Physiotherapy Clinic in Ville-Saint-Laurent
How To Avoid Injuries When Shovelling Snow

How To Avoid Injuries When Shovelling Snow

Shovelling snow is an inevitable part of the Canadian winter, but suffering an injury when doing it need not be.

The Risks

It’s easy to get hurt while bending and lifting heavy loads of snow, and back injuries are the main culprit. Low back strain, acute disc herniation and even spinal injury are all possibilities. You can also place stress on the cardiovascular system, which can be dangerous for those with a pre-existing heart or lung condition.

 

Dos

  • Always Warm-up before clearing snow or ice. Warming-up is vital for preventing strains and pulled muscles.
  • Use proper equipment. Lightweight shovels are easier to wield, and those with a second or a curved handle help you to manoeuvre more easily.
  • Dress warmly. Cold muscles are easier to injure, so wrap up.
  • Wear appropriate footwear. Slips and falls can be serious, so ensure you have something practical on your feet, with a good grip. Also consider spreading salt or sand to help increase traction.
  • Maintain good posture. When shovelling, keep your back straight and your knees bent, and use the shovel to push rather than lift the snow. If you have to do some lifting, do so in small batches and carry it rather than throwing it.
  • Keep a proper grip. Place your hands slightly apart on the shovel. This will give you more leverage and make lifting easier.
  • Shovel early. Piled up and packed snow are harder to move, so start clearing before the snow stops.
  • Take breaks. Frequent rest prevents overexertion and muscle fatigue. Pacing yourself is key to preventing avoidable injuries.

 

Don’ts

  • Don’t ignore pain. Any injury, large or small, should be addressed immediately. If you pull a muscle, slip, or feel muscle fatigue, stop what you’re doing to ensure any possible injury does not become aggravated by further movement. Get off your feet and ice the injury to reduce inflammation. If pain from a snow shovelling injury lasts for more than two days, consult with your doctor or physiotherapist.

 

To conclude, if you are unsure of how to stay active or manage your pain, speak to a professional for advice on safe ways to improve your quality of life.

Schedule an appointment with our team of physiotherapists.

Physio Proactive, 2018.

Chronic Pain

One in five Canadians experience chronic pain and this can be both debilitating and difficult to treat.

What is Chronic Pain?

Chronic pain is defined as any physical pain that persists for more than 12 weeks.

It can be anywhere in your body and cause any type of painful sensation, including burning, searing, shooting, aching, throbbing, stabbing or spasms.

The pain can be sharp or dull, last for moments or hours at a time, and affect basic motor functions or simply cause stiffness.  It can also cause related problems such as difficulty sleeping and mood changes.

Causes of Chronic Pain

Some chronic pain is caused by pain-related ailments, such as:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Arthritis
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Migraines

In other cases it is a result of an injury or illness, such as:

  • Specific muscle injury
  • Broken bones
  • Surgery
  • Infections
  • Nerve damage
  • Back pain

It is impossible to tell who is going to experience chronic pain or if an injury or illness will result in it, so it’s important to keep track of pain levels and any other symptoms to be able to identify when a ache problem becomes constant.

Living with Chronic Pain

There are some simple pain management techniques that make living with a chronic pain condition more feasible. These techniques fall into several major categories.

1. Lifestyle Changes. The following have been shown to significantly reduce the severity and the effect it has on daily life:

  • Pacing yourself
  • Planning ahead
  • Learning relaxation techniques
  • Reducing stress
  • Taking regular exercise
  • Indulge in hobbies and favoured activities
  • Eating healthily
  • Speaking about pain with loved ones

2. Medical Intervention. If appropriate, your pain may be ameliorated by:

  • Pain medications
  • Pain counselling
  • TENS machine
  • Injury-specific treatment

 

To conclude, if you are unsure of how to stay active or manage your pain, speak to a professional for advice on safe ways to improve your quality of life.

Schedule an appointment with our team of physiotherapists.

Physio Proactive, 2018.

Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is one of the most common joint ailments, and it affects more people than all other types of arthritis combined.

What Is Osteoarthritis ?

Osteoarthritis is a degenerative form of arthritis, and occurs when the cartilage between bones breaks down and is unable to repair itself. Cartilage acts as a cushion between bones and allows for smooth movement of the joints, but when it is damaged joints can become difficult to move.

Many sufferers experience a grinding sensation in their joint, and pain, stiffness and swelling are all common symptoms. A cracking or clicking of the joint may also be a sign of trouble. These symptoms are typically more noticeable after a long period of rest, such as first thing in the morning. Osteoarthritis can affect any joint, but is most often found in knees, hips, spine and hands.

In severe cases, the bones adjacent to the damaged joint may themselves sustain damage.

Who Can Be Affected ?

While anyone can get osteoarthritis, it is more likely to affect older adults, with the prevalence spiking in those over the age of 65. Those especially at risk include people with:

  • Previous joint injuries
  • Excessive use of a joint
  • Obesity
  • A genetic predisposition
  • Weak muscles around the joint

Women are also more likely to be affected than men.

How Can It Be Treated?

Osteoarthritis is diagnosed based on symptoms and physical findings rather than a single definitive test. Symptoms are often slow to progress so catching it early can be a challenge.

As osteoarthritis is degenerative, symptoms will worsen over time, and there is no cure. However treatment options are available to increase mobility and manage symptoms. Living with osteoarthritis long term is possible with weight management, pain medications and therapeutic exercise. Specific exercises targeting the affected joints and muscles may be helpful in strengthening the surrounding structures and reducing the strain on the joint, and range of motion exercises will help reduce stiffness and improve flexibility.

Questions about osteoarthritis ? Schedule an appointment with our team of physiotherapists.

Physio Proactive, 2018.

TMJ

TMJ Disorders and How a Physiotherapist Can Help

TMJ disorders can be painful and limiting, but help is available for those experiencing this difficult condition via a licensed physiotherapist.

What Is A TMJ Disorder?

The temporomandibular joint (TMJ) is located below the temple and in front of the inner ear, and problems with this joint or the muscles associated with it can cause difficulty using the jaw. This affects talking, eating, drinking, chewing and yawning. Usually people realize there is a problem when they experience pain in their jaw during everyday activities, but other symptoms include: ear pain, facial pain, facial spams, tight or tender jaw muscles, jaw popping, headaches or neck aches, ringing in the ears, or difficulty opening or closing the mouth.

What Causes A TMJ Disorder?

“TMJ disorder” is a general name for a group of conditions relating to these muscles and joints. Research suggests that the major causes of a dysfunction in the TMJ are:

  • Arthritis
  • Inflammatory joint conditions
  • Joint or disc displacement or dislocation
  • Jaw injuries
  • Fractures
  • More generalized myofascial pain conditions
  • Environmental factors such as:
  • Poor posture
  • Clenching of the jaw
  • Grinding of the teeth
  • Inability to relax
  • Poor diet

Anyone can experience a TMJ disorder, with the young just as susceptible as the elderly, although women are more prone than men.

How a Physiotherapist Can Help

For those experiencing a TMJ disorder related to a fracture, injury or dislocation, the underlying cause must first be addressed before rehabilitation can be begun. However, the vast majority of sufferers have no obvious underlying cause for their discomfort, with many finding that symptoms begin out of nowhere. Physiotherapy has been shown to be an effective, non-invasive and safe treatment route for TMJ disorders, regardless of the cause.

A physiotherapist will assist with and teach a variety of techniques designed to alleviate symptoms, including: postural correction, stretching exercises for the jaw, head and neck, strengthening exercises, manual mobilizations of the affected joints, ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and relaxation exercises. Your physiotherapist will assess your specific condition and create a tailored program to treat your symptoms and to resolve exacerbating factors.

Questions about TMJ disorders? Schedule an appointment with our team of physiotherapists.

Physio Proactive, 2018.

How to prevent work injuries with Physiotherapy

Below you’ll find the top ten ergonomics principles to prevent work related injuries.  Also, make sure to provide the following information to your employee and if needed consult a certified physiotherapist to help you set-up a safe work environment.

1. WORK IN NEUTRAL POSTURES

Educate your employees on the correct posture that they should work in, so that they do not cause harm to their spine, shoulders, elbows or wrists. Encourage a neutral position with proper body alignment to decrease the strain and impact on joints.

2. REDUCE EXCESSIVE FORCE 

Excessive force on your joints can create potential for fatigue and injury. In practical terms, try to identify tasks that imply excessive force and think of ways to make improvements (example: reduce force on hands by producing hand holes on boxes).

3. KEEP EVERYTHING WITHIN EASY REACH 

Save muscles from overexertion by keeping objects close to you.

4. WORK AT PROPER HEIGHTS

Do most of the work at elbow height except for heavier work (best done lower than the elbow). For precision work or visually intense work, it is best done above elbow height.

5. REDUCE EXCESSIVE MOTION:

Do not hesitate to use power tools instead of manual tools to reduce repetitive movements.

6. MINIMIZE STATIC LOAD

Holding the same position for a long period is known as static load. It creates fatigue and discomfort and can interfere with work. Try using an extender for tools when working overhead to minimize static load.

7. MINIMIZE PRESSURE POINTS

Continuous contact of a body part on a hard surface can be very stressful for your joints. For example, standing on a hard surface like concrete can hurt your feet. Using an anti-fatigue mat or insoles in your shoes can decrease contact stress.

8. PROVIDE CLEARANCE

Your workspace should be set-up to provide you with a clear view and enough room around you.

9. MOVE, EXERCISE & STRETCH

The human body needs to be exercised and stretched. Alternating between sitting and standing throughout the day is ideal. Make sure to give yourself breaks when sitting in the same position for extended periods of time.

10. MAINTAIN COMFORTABLE LIGHTING

To decrease eye strain and glare problems, make sure your workspace is well lit. Also be aware of how long you stare at a computer screen during the day.

 

Questions about ergonomics? Schedule an appointment with our team of physiotherapists.

Physio Proactive, 2018.

Schoolbags and Back Injuries

Schoolbags and Back Injuries

It’s that time of year again: the threat of heavy schoolbags weighing down your little one is rearing its ugly head. The rise of handheld technology has not stemmed the need for kids to carry bulging backpacks full of heavy textbooks, and the risk of back pain is real and serious.

The Risks

Heavy schoolbags can result in musculoskeletal pain and in some extreme cases, persistent back pain. The damage comes in a variety of forms. Some kids might bend forwards or arch their hips, causing compression of the spine and leading to shoulder, neck and back pain. Those who carry their school bag over just one shoulder can cause strain and an imbalance in their posture, and those carrying bags with narrow straps risk circulatory problems and nerve damage. Girls and younger children are especially at risk due to their smaller size.

Ideal Backpack Use

Current research states a schoolbag should be no more than 10% of a child’s body weight. Doctors and physiotherapists also recommend:

  • Wearing the bag using both shoulder straps to evenly distribute the weight.
  • Standing upright to avoid hunching or rounding of the back.
  • Adjusting straps so that the bag is resting tightly against the middle of the back, not sagging down to the posterior.
  • Placing heavier items, such as text books, at the centre of the back.
  • Consider lightening the load if your child struggles to pick the bag up.

Pick The Right Bag

You can do your part to help your child avoid back pain by helping them to choose a sensible schoolbag. Some simple guidelines to follow are:

  • Pick a lightweight bag.
  • Pick a bag with two wide, padded shoulder straps.
  • Pick a bag with an extra waist belt or hip pads to compensate for those really heavy loads.
  • Choose a bag with multiple compartments, so that weight can be distributed throughout.
  • Consider a bag with a padded back, to increase comfort and avoid being poked through the material.

More than 70% of schoolchildren carry more than the recommended weight; keep your child safe this school year by investing in a practical bag and speaking to them about how to avoid back problems.

Our physiotherapist, Fawzi Charaan explains in a video (in French), how to best choose a schoolbag and how to adjust it to avoid any injury. See the video here!

Questions about schoolbags and back injuries? Schedule an appointment with our team of physiotherapists.

Physio Proactive, 2018.

pelvic foor physiotherapy

Pelvic floor & Physiotherapy

Pelvic floor physiotherapy is a growing field but for many patients, the concept is shrouded in mystery. So let’s take a closer look at the pelvic floor and who might need physiotherapy for this region.

What is the pelvic floor?

The pelvic floor is the collection of muscles, ligaments, connective tissues and nerves that sit in the lower pelvis and support the organs in closest proximity, such as the bladder. Pelvic floor muscles are important in assisting urinary function and bowel function. For women, the pelvic floor also underpins the uterus and vagina.

What is pelvic floor disorder?

The muscles of the pelvic floor can become weak or damaged for a number of reasons. When these muscles weaken the ‘hammock’ of muscles that support your organs, it drops down, causing one of three main types of disorder:

  1. Urinary incontinence, or lack of bladder control.
  2. Fecal incontinence, or lack of bowel control.
  3. Pelvic organ prolapse.

It is also possible for the muscles of the pelvic floor to over-tighten. This condition, known as hypertonicity, is also a form of pelvic floor dysfunction and can cause urinary and fecal urgency and chronic pelvic pain.

What can physiotherapy do to help?

Physiotherapy can be an important tool in preventing and treating pelvic floor disorders. Not all disorders require the same treatment, so it’s key to know what issue you are specifically experiencing before beginning a new treatment plan. Strengthening exercises, for example, may actually worsen hypertonicity.

For weak pelvic floors, physiotherapy can help lengthen, strengthen and tone the associated muscles. This is not just about doing kegel exercises, but also involves the core, the diaphragm, the muscles in your back and abdominals. Conversely, stretching and loosening can be achieved through physiotherapy to assist with disorders caused by over-tight muscles. A specialized physiotherapist – such as our own Mirvat Bachir, who has a Certification in Pelvic Floor Disorders – will be able to identify the cause of your issue, help you to identify the individual muscles you need to work on, and tailor your treatment according to your needs.

Who are the people at risk?

Childbirth is the main cause of pelvic floor disorder, but by no means the only. Other risk factors include:

  • Obesity
  • Pelvic surgery
  • Radiation treatment
  • Heavy lifting
  • Chronic constipation
  • Digestive diseases
  • Age
  • High impact exercise

Incontinence is not a natural part of aging and some common symptoms of pelvic floor disorders can be wrongly associated with it. If you experience urinary problems, either urgency or incontinence, constipation, pain or pressure in the vagina or rectum, or pelvic muscle spasms, you may have a pelvic floor disorder.

Schedule an appointment with our team of physiotherapists.

Physio Proactive, 2018.

your physiotherapist's advice for moving day

Your physiotherapist’s advice for moving day

For most of us, the constant bending and lifting on moving day is guaranteed to bring aches and pains. To prevent injuries, it is crucial to warm up, take your time and repeat a healthful pattern of movements. Keep reading for your physiotherapist’s advice for moving day.

Warming up

Moving house is a very demanding activity on your body. Every year, a patient surge is seen at physiotherapy clinics around Moving Day. What most people omit from doing is warming up properly before undertaking their moving tasks. Take the time to warm up your muscles before and stretch after doing any physical activity. This will greatly reduce the risk of injury.

Lifting boxes

First off, it is helpful to pack as many small boxes as you can, and distribute the weight evenly. It is much easier to carry 10 boxes of 10 pounds, instead of 5 boxes of 20 pounds. Therefore, plan a larger number of boxes to make the task easier. For heavy appliances, use belts, hooks and straps for moving, or even a cart or hand truck if you can.

In order to adequately lift boxes, it is important to place your feet shoulder-width apart. With your head and feet pointing in the direction of the object, make sure to keep your back straight. In addition, assessing the actual weight of the box is a good preventive step for injuries.

While you’re lifting, use your leg and arm muscles. Go slow and use your abdominal muscles to support your body.  Inhale deeply while going down and exhale once you are up. Make sure you are balanced and hold the box closest to your body. Pivot with your feet and not with your back. Do not turn your upper body while carrying the object: the combination of twisting and bending is harmful to your back.

To place the box down, fold your knees first, then bring yourself down to the ground. Always try to keep the object as close to you as possible.

If you must grab an object at a high reach, remember to use a stepladder and do not try to extend your arms further than they can go. Your hands should never be above your shoulders when lifting heavy objects.

Tips & tricks

Staircases are a place where one can easily get hurt, especially when lugging a load of things. Ensure you are always at least 2 people when carrying heavy or long objects. When bringing these bigger objects down the stairs, make sure the person at the end is stronger and capable of bearing the weight. The person on top ensures the steadiness of the load.

In conclusion, employing a series of good movements and using your arms and legs rather than your back first, will shield your neuromusculoskeletal structure from potential injuries during your next move. Make sure to also stay hydrated and take breaks when needed. At the first sign of pain, do not hesitate to use ice on your inflamed joints (ankle, elbow, knees, etc.) and heat on any muscular stiffness. To enjoy summer at its best, please protect yourself! Your body will thank you.

 

Schedule an appointment with our team of physiotherapists

Physio Proactive, 2018.