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It's Summertime - When Your Spine Cries Uncle


Ah, summer. Time to slow down, kick back and take it easy. But your spine may not see it that way. It’s the season of team sports and other rough and tumble outdoor activities. And it’s the time of year when vacations and getaways to the cottage tempt people to put their healthcare commitments on hold.

We cautioned back in April about the risks of “taking a break” from your spinal care. Our points there still stand – falling out of the habit of your scheduled routine of visits only delays your progress and may in fact knock you back a step or two, meaning you may have to come see us more often, for longer, to regain that lost ground.

And depending on your lifestyle, summertime may subject your spine to more trauma than usual – making this the worst time to decide to miss appointments. On this point, let’s dig into the archives and haul out some past posts:

Contact sports can be a pain in the neck

A rough tackle or hit while playing your favourite sport leaves you with a bit of neck pain or muscle stiffness that fades away after a few days. You shrug it off and don’t give it any further thought. Why should you? No pain, no problem, right?

Maybe, maybe not. The tragic death of Ottawa teen rugby player Rowan Stringer stirred a much-needed dialogue on the risks of concussion in contact sports, but a concussion is not the only kind of injury to be concerned about.

Any direct blow to your head or shoulders can lead to disc and nerve damage, strains and sprains, and other neck injuries similar to whiplash in a car accident. Whiplash doesn’t occur only in a car. It is a common term that covers a number of neck injuries that can result from any sudden impact that throws your head to the side or backwards. A related injury is the burner or stinger, so named for the stinging or burning pain that radiates from the shoulder to the hand.

Read the original post with tips on how to reduce your risk of injury.

Water landings aren’t always soft

Water sports, like land-based contact sports, also carry risk of injury to the spine and neck.
Rather than collisions and rough tackles, the risks here arise from the strain that’s put on the upper body as the boat lifts you out of the water and accelerates, impact with obstacles in the water, impact with the water at high speed, and impact with the skis or board when wiping out.

Ankle and foot injuries are common where the feet are anchored to skis or a board that can violently twist. The only real defence here is conditioning the lower legs and ankles to be strong and resistant to injury.

Shoulder injuries, which often impact the neck, have two common causes – the strain of take off and acceleration, and our natural tendency to put out an arm when we fall. It can be quite jarring if the arm is the first part of the body to hit the water at high speed. Shoulder injuries can range from strained muscles and impinged nerves to full dislocations.

Read the original post with tips on how to reduce your risk of injury.

Don’t let the hiking trail grind you down

grandfather-and-boy-hikeThe U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates there are 7,000 to 8,000 backpack-related injuries per year. Given that here in Canada, our habits aren’t much different than south of the border, the rate of injury likely isn’t much different.

Of course, reported injuries that can be directly attributed to a backpack only tell part of the story.

Wearing a backpack the wrong way, or hauling around too much weight, over a prolonged period can contribute to problems with posture, neck and back pain, and other issues we regularly seek to correct through Chiropractic.

The same principles apply when hitting the trail, only now, the risk factors multiply. Steep ground puts added pressure on the joints. Rough terrain can turn an ankle. And at the end of the day, instead of a hot tub and the comfort of your bed, you may have only a campfire and a sleeping bag waiting for you.

Read the original post for tips on how to avoid injury.

Watch for the warning signs

Signs of a neck or spine injury are the same as with any contact sport. Neck and/or shoulder pain are the most obvious. But watch as well for headaches, neck swelling, muscle spasms, numbness or tingling in your arms, nausea, dizziness, and blurred vision. These may indicate nerve or disc damage and misaligned vertebrae, or even a concussion.

Remember, mildly strained or sprained muscles can recover in a few days with rest, the appropriate application of ice or heat. But if you are experiencing any of the other symptoms listed above, seek medical attention immediately.

Enjoy a pain free summer, give Hazeldean Family Chiropractic Clinic a call today and schedule an appointment!

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