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Wednesday, 29 February 2012

NL Construction Article (2)

The following article will appear in the March issue of the NL Construction Magazine

In all stages of construction, there is a need to do overhead work.   People with shoulder problems know that when you have pain, the first thing you hear from your Health Care Professional is to limit overhead activity.  But, no matter what the job is, there is always a need to work overhead.
 The most common shoulder problem I see among overhead workers, such as those in the construction industry, is Subacromial Impingement.  This basically means that a Rotator Cuff muscle is getting pinched under a piece of bone.  The pain associated with this is usually felt near the side of your shoulder and can sometimes travel down your arm.
                In order to prevent this type of Impingement Syndrome, you can look like building a house.  The house is only as strong as its foundation.  Similarly, in order to have a healthy shoulder, you need a stable and well positioned shoulder blade.  Your entire arm only attaches to your body by that little joint between your collar bone and breast bone.  This joint is not very strong, so you need the proper coordination of 18 different muscles.  If these muscles are not in proper balance, the shoulder blade can rest in the wrong position.  I usually explain why this is a problem to patients by comparing it to closing a door.  If you push a door closed by pushing the knob, it’s easy.  If you push near the hinges, you still get it closed but you need to work much harder.  The same happens in your shoulder if it is sitting in the wrong position.  Over a period of time, pain is the result. 
If you already experience shoulder pain, it is important to have the issue looked at by a licensed Chiropractor.  Even occasional pain can be a sign of a worsening problem that needs to be addressed. 
Here are a couple quick stretches/exercises that will help prevent this type of imbalance in an overhead worker.
Trap Stretch
                Sit up straight and sit on one arm, or grab the bottom of your chair.  Gently move your neck to the opposite side and down, as if you are looking at the knee opposite to the hand you are sitting on.  Hold this position for 20-30 seconds then relax.   Repeat for the opposite side

Chest Stretch
                Stand next to a wall and place for your forearm against the wall, with your elbow above your shoulder.  Step forward slightly until you feel a comfortable stretch.  Hold this position for 20-30 seconds then relax.  Repeat for the opposite side.

Wall Angel
                Stand with your back against the wall with both elbows bent to 90 degrees and raised to be level with your shoulders.  While concentrating on keeping your shoulder blades held down and back, slowly raise your arms about 6-10 inches then slowly lower to the starting point.  While doing this, try to keep your hands and wrists as close to the wall as you can.  Repeat 10-12 times, then relax. 

Dr. Jeff Marshall, BScKin, DC, CSCS
Back Home Chiropractic

Thursday, 16 February 2012

NL Construction Magazine Article

The following article appeared in the January issue of the NL Construction Magazine:

Low back pain (LBP) is a very common problem on the construction site.  In fact, about 80% of people will experience at least one episode of LBP in their lifetime.  Not only does LBP affect our ability to play with our kids and to do things around the house after work, but LBP is one of the most common reasons for lost time at work.  In the US, over $100 billion is spent both directly and indirectly due to Low Back Pain each year.  This is a huge number but we all know that WHSCC costs, loss of skilled workers, finding replacement labour, and direct medical costs can add up fast.  Not to mention the personal cost to the one who is injured.  For these reasons, it is important that the prevention of these types of injuries is in focus; not only for employers and Health and Safety personnel, but with each individual worker.
When treating Low Back Pain, I always recommend exercises for the spine.  For patients who have strenuous jobs like those in the construction industry, this comes as a surprise.  They all have very strong backs, and are used to lifting heavy loads.  However in the large amount of research done on low back pain, poor endurance has been shown to lead to more LBP than poor strength.  The reason for this is the large muscles responsible for lifting things are separate than those small muscles that hold the back stable and your spine in line as you go about your day.  If these small muscles become fatigued, you will be more at risk of an injury because your spine will not be properly braced to do the work it needs to.       
To increase the endurance of the spinal stabilizers, it is best to train them by holding a neutral spine for increasing periods of time.  Here are a couple great, and simple, exercises for training your spinal stabilizers
Front Plank

Get down on the floor, face down.  Come up on your toes and forearms, like in the picture below.  Keep your stomach pulled in, stomach muscles tight, and breathe normally.  Hold this position until you start shaking a lot, or you feel like you are unable to keep your hips on a straight line from your head to your feet. Hold this position for 30 seconds for three sets.
            Side Plank

Laying on your side and resting on your forearm, lift your hips up so that only your forearm and your lower leg touches the ground.  Keep your stomach pulled in, stomach muscles tight, and breathe normally.  Imagine a straight line going from your nose to your belly button, that is how high your hips should be.  Hold this position until you start shaking a lot or you are unable to hold your hips up any longer.  Once you can hold this for three sets of 30 seconds, progress a full side plank by only allowing your feet and forearm to touch the ground. 

Bird Dog

Kneel on the floor with your hands placed firmly about shoulder width apart.  Keep your stomach pulled in, stomach muscles tight, and breathe normally.  Practice lifting one hand and the opposite knee an inch off the floor while balancing on the other hand and knee.  Once you get the hang of it, point one arm straight out front and extend the opposite leg to the rear.  Hold this position for 10 seconds and then alternate sides.  Repeat this three times

Any questions or concerns?  Give us a call at 747-0844
Dr. Jeff Marshall, BScKin, DC