The Progression of Low Back Pain

Approximately 70% of the people that come in to the clinic complain of low back pain. Low back pain can take many forms, but, in general, long-standing low back pain follows a typical plot line.

I will often hear from a patient that their low back has been bothering them, on and off, for years. It bothers them after gardening, shovelling the driveway, sports, or a similar physical activity. They will report that it is happening more frequently and lasting longer.

Now, this explanation may seem self-evident, but please allow me to explain the situation as we chiropractors see it.

The reason the low back hurts following activity is because the back is not functioning properly. There are 5 lumbar vertebrae and 2 sacro-iliac (SI) joints that must move in harmony for optimal low back movement.

The initial trauma to the back/pelvis usually starts in childhood. Anyone who has children has seen them fall off the monkey bars, wipe out on a bike, or fall on their backside skating. These little accidents initially sprain the back and pelvis and affect its movement pattern. Next we add a lifetime of ski wipeouts, car accidents, icy parking lot slips, and we get a back and pelvis with repeated small-scale trauma.

Then we sit. We sit at work, in the car; we sit to eat and watch TV. This sitting loads up the back and tightens the hip, leg and back muscles.

Now, instead of vertebrae and SI joints working in harmony when we are active, one or two of the joints do most of the movement and get sore. As the years add up, these overworked joints can become worn and arthritic. The situation builds over time. The problem becomes chronic and then even small activities can strain the back, until finally we are frustrated enough to do something about it.

This is the role of chiropractic care. We assess the level of damage to the low back, and depending on the severity of the situation, come up with a plan to get the lumbar spine and SI joints moving again in harmony. This will reduce pain, but, just as importantly, allow the low back to tolerate activity again, giving us another hike, another day skiing, another day in the garden. We have seen that the more a body moves, the longer it lasts and the more enjoyment we can get out of life.

Like I said, this is a long-term build-up, but the sooner we tackle the problem the better chance we have of making a difference. If this sounds familiar, please come in and have a physical exam and assessment. We would love to help you become more active.

Written by Dr. James Mayne, DC

Bungee Jump Your Way to the Present

I grip the handles of a bridge and peer 160 ft. down into a rocky, raging river. A stranger pokes me in the back, urging me to lean out as far as possible. I stare into the abyss, gulp deeply, and, when I hear my cue (“5-4-3-2-1…Go!”), I jump.

Just before slamming into the turbulent current, the rubbery cord catches my fall and whips me around. I release a “man-roar” of complete exhilaration.

This describes my recent experience bungee jumping in Whistler, BC—one of my many attempts at capturing the ‘aliveness’ that comes with fear. There is nothing like total fear and trust having coffee together on a sunny day. The billions of nerve fibers in my body were all screaming not to jump…and yet overcoming that resistance made me feel incredibly vital and alive.

Feeling truly present and in the moment can often mean coming to terms with fear, where any illusion of security is taken away. I definitely wasn’t thinking about taxes, the real estate market, or my to-do list. And that, my friends, is present-moment consciousness at its best!

Written by Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

Do you have an i-Hunch?

Did you know that forward head posture is the cause of many headaches, neck pain, and shoulder strain? This is when your neck slopes forward and downward in a hunched position.

With the increase in screen time, and all the sitting we do, there has never been a more crucial time to address poor posture. All day long people crane their necks sharply down or forward, peering at their phones—150 times per day on average!

Long-term poor posture leads to poor spinal health and degenerative joint conditions. If your head feels too heavy, you feel tired or foggy a lot, and you feel pain in your head, neck, upper back, or shoulders, you likely have poor alignment.

May is Posture Month. Make it a focus to check your posture and spinal alignment health by a qualified Chiropractor. We’re here to help you feel your best!

By Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

Arise Wellness Center, Vernon BC

What’s Our “Why”? Providing Drug-Free Healthcare Options

A wellness revolution is unfolding. Everyone is talking about improving their health, losing weight, eating organic, doing yoga, sleeping adequately, and wanting more energy to keep up with the kids, play golf, and meet the day’s demands pain-free.

People are seeking better options for their healthcare. They want natural solutions to their health issues. They’re tired of taking medications; they’re tired of thinking that surgery is the only option. They’re tired of side-effects and hearing alarming stories about the widespread opioid crisis. They want to prevent illness and disease and feel well.

Arise Wellness Centre was created to play a part in this demand.  This is our “Why,” our mission.

We are a large team of talented health professionals sharing the goal of enhancing our community’s well-being, naturally. We have helped thousands of people since opening in 2009, and our team has grown significantly to meet your demands.

The future of health care is patient-centered. This means that people have several health professionals helping them now; they have health teams. It’s common now for patients to simultaneously see a chiropractor, naturopath, counselor, and family doctor. As a result, t’s becoming increasingly important to ensure strong communication between all health professionals – including medical doctors. We aim to encourage this communication, and we feel that if we uphold the highest professional standards, we can break down the walls separating different health professions, so that you, the patient, can enjoy a team approach to your health.

Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

Arise Wellness Center, Vernon, BC

Ramping up into Spring

The sun is finally shining, we can go outside in just a shirt, the snow is off the ground and that means spring chores are here! For most of us this is a wonderful season, getting to yard work and getting the garden ready. We charge into the crisp air and sunshine, work the weekend away, hike and exercise. And then our bodies start speaking to us…stiff necks, sore backs, sciatic pain. Maybe we got a little soft over the winter months.

I am as keen as the next person to get out and put in a 10-hour day in the yard, but most of us are not ready for that yet. And while I love seeing all of my patients who didn’t need me as much in the winter, I like seeing them without severe discomfort from overdoing it in the yard.

So let’s talk about simple tips to get the body ready for spring.

First up, stretch before and after yard work. Simple stretches like touching your toes, bending side to side, and gentle twists from side to side can warm up both the neck and low back. We all have collected our favorite stretches over the years, so doing this before and after yard work is a great way to get started.

Next, limit activities. Any time we are doing one activity for more than 20-30 minutes we can create strains in unconditioned muscles. Having a plan like raking for 20 minutes, then pruning for 20 minutes, then weeding/tidying for 20 minutes breaks up an hour and creates less stress on the body. Also, it is important to check in with yourself every hour to determine if it is time to quit for the day or continue on. There is always something that is “almost finished” but somehow 2 more hours go by before we head in. There is always tomorrow or next weekend.

Third, build up slowly. Whether it is exercise or chores, we have to build up our bodies and muscles before we are ready to go full on. Generally we want to add time to our spring walking/running/yard work in small increments until we are up to our full activity level. Putting this into perspective, if at the beginning of the spring season you can handle 2 hours of waking/running/yard work a day before you start to get sore, the next day/weekend add 15-30 minutes. Then increase from there. This may not work for all activities perfectly, but gradual increases in activity from day to day or week to week will limit the severity of strains when they occur.

And despite all of this pre-thought and planning many of us still manage to overdo it on a weekend and start our week off with neck pain or low back pain and sciatica. When that occurs we are here to help. I am blessed to work with fantastic chiropractors who can put me back together if I overdo it. So hopefully you have a wonderful spring and stay strong and healthy, but if you need a little help to get the body in spring shape, please call and let us help.

Written by Dr. James Mayne, DC

Creating a Strong, Stable Core

What Is Your Core?
It?s a group of muscles and connective tissue that forms a circumferential wall from front
to back, a roof from above and a floor from below that stabilizes your torso and spine.
It?s like a back support belt that?s built from within. Its primary function is to stabilize
and support your lower back when moving and especially when lifting. It also allows
energy and forces to move through your torso or mid-section that is generated from
either your legs or arms to perform a task. Before any body motion can occur, your core
muscles will activate or turn on. Compensations for a weak core will cause adaptations
or faulty movement patterns and increases the risk of an injury.

Anatomy = Muscles

In the Front (Anterior):
1. Transverse Abdominus (TrA) – deepest layer in the front; fixed to lower 6 costal
cartilages, thoraco-lumbar fascia, & iliac crest; attaches to the mid-line Linea Alba;
contracts to narrow waist slightly and flattens stomach.
2. Rectus Abdominus (RA) – superficial & vertical muscle running from xiphoid process
and costal cartilage up high to pubic symphysis below
3. Internal Oblique (IO) – middle lateral layer; fixed to thoraco-lumbar fascia in the back
& inguinal ligament and anterior iliac crest in the front
4. External Oblique (EO) – superficial & lateral layer; fixed to lateral portion of lower 7
ribs and attaches to linea alba, pubic bone, & anterior iliac crest

In the Back (Posterior):
Multifidus – small, intersegmental muscles attached to each vertebral segment on
the left and right side (sacrum-lumbar-thoracic-cervical spine to axis or C2).

On the top (Superior):
Diaphragm: a sheet of muscle shaped like a dome; controls breathing

On the bottom (Inferior):
Pelvic floor – a hammock-like ?group? of muscles from tailbone (coccyx) & sits bones
(ischial tuberosities) to the pubic bone in the front.

*Pregnancy/child birth can alter recruitment patterns which can lead to leakage, painful
scars, prolapse, diastasis recti, painful sex, and dry vaginas. Seek a professional
knowledgable in pelvic floor dysfunction/rehab.

What Does It Do?
Your core muscles stabilize your lower back BEFORE movement of your arms & legs
occurs. It also transfers force from your upper extremity to your lower extremity or vice
versa. Proper activation and function is critical to prevent wear and tear (degeneration
or osteoarthritis) in your spinal joints.

Therapeutic Goals
It?s very important to remember that every person is Unique! If you have pain in your
spine after training or with specific movements (ie. deadlifts, kettlebells), seek expert
advice on your lifting technique. If the pain persists for more than a few days or this is a
chronic condition, consult a health care professional who you know and trust. You
should have a “health care team” of professionals who will work to help you learn more
about the ?weak? link in the chain or the dysfunctional motor recruitment patterns.
Professional treatment of the condition should produce tangible results within the first
two visits – decreasing inflammation, reducing pain and increasing range of motion.
The severity of the tissue damage, your age, your nutritional and lifestyle habits, and
number of prior injuries, will dictate your timeline to rehab and recover from the injury.

4 Core Tests
1. Flexor Endurance – supported half sit-up while maintaining good posture (ie.
maintain good lumbar lordosis); ideal time ~66 sec for men ~81 sec for women
2. Lateral Endurance – side bridge using one hand and one foot on floor, high hand on
low shoulder; ideal time ~40 sec
3. Extensor Endurance – legs and pelvis supported and secure by another person on a
bench or using a GHD machine or a superman position on the floor; be careful not to
curve your lumbar spine curve, try to keep your xiphoid process and pubic bone in
contact with the floor; hold body in a straight line on bench or GHD; lift chest and
thighs off floor (if doing the superman) and maintain length for as long as you can;
ideal time ~60 secs
4. Postural Breathing Pattern – Your breathing pattern should NOT be vertical. In
other words, if your chest/collar/neck lift vertically when you breath in, then you are
not breathing correctly or efficiently. This is considered dysfunctional. Ideally, you
should be breathing down into your belly and the belly moves outward in all directions
(forward, laterally, and posteriorly); this is difficult when under loads or performing
many athletic movements. This takes training and years of practice and should be a
focus to increase your overall performance.

Breathing with Core Activation
Dysfunctional breathing decreases overall strength due to poor alignment of the spine.
It also limits your thoracic spine?s flexibility necessary for an upper right posture. Por
posture will weaken the stabilizers of the shoulder blade/scapula and limits shoulder
flexion. It will also limit shoulder rotation needed for overhead movements, ie. pull-ups,
overhead squat. Depending on your neuromuscular patterns and tendencies, your
spine will compensate some where and weaken the overall structural support.

Train Your Brain?
Rehab Principle:
You must restore or “TRAIN” the recruitment patterns of the deep core muscles –
meaning the order or sequential firing of synergistic muscles via your nervous system.
1. Isolate and create awareness so you can fire or activate it on command.
2. Strengthen it with specific and progressively harder exercises that target and
challenges it neurologically.
3. Increasing the intensity and loads over time will increase your athletic performance.

Why Train with Core in Mind?
With mental awareness, a wave-like contraction of muscles (diaphragm, multifidus,
pelvic floor, abdominal wall) creates a safety mechanism that protects and supports
your back. It?s a collective integration that strengthens your internal architecture for
whole body functional movements – breathing, posture, & movement.
– Training comes before strengthening
– Core/proximal stability precedes distal/extremity mobility
– Intra-abdominal pressure (IAP) is a pneumo-muscular reflex and must be trained
mentally through sensory engrams; think of it as a software program that gets hardwired,
so train your brain.

Core Exercises
1. Asymmetric Kettlebell carry “bottom-up”
2. Pallof Press – standing good posture holding rubber band close to your mid-section,
create tension in rubber band, then push straight forward with hands while
maintaining strong core, repeat.
3. Cable chop – using rubber bands and wooden dowell, see demo
4. Stir-The-Pot – using a Swiss ball, fingers interlaced, plank position, elbows bent,
slowly stir the ball in a clockwise direction and then counter-clockwise direction.
5. Wall Bug (Kolar) – on your back w/hands against wall, legs 90/90, spine neutral core
activated, alt. taping heels while pressing hands into wall
6. Body Rolls – lying on foam roller vertical with head free, holding a ball over head, core
activated, slowly take ball over head while maintaining neutral spine and breathing.
7. Curl-up – Lift chest/shoulders over ground 1/4 off ground, keeping low back stable on
ground. Lumbar spine should not move, only upper spine. Try to prevent your
lumbar spine from over arching by engaging your core.
*Youtube will have examples of all the above mentioned exercises. Look at a few of
them before trying.

Written by Dr. Deane Studer, DC

Poor Posture Creates Body Pain

Our lifestyles perpetuate poor posture—hours of driving, sitting at desks, and staring down at our tablets and phones. Chiropractors see this poor posture translate into pain and inflammation in the neck, mid-back, low back, shoulders and hips.

Look at yourself in the mirror. Do you have level shoulders? Is your head sticking out too far in front of your shoulders? Do you have a noticeable head tilt? These are examples of the postural imbalances that can create corresponding joint pain.

If these imbalances are not corrected, they can lead to advancing degenerative joint conditions. The joints will continue to wear-and-tear, causing long-term, permanent damage. Thankfully, Chiropractic can help restore joint alignment and range of motion, correcting postural imbalances and resulting in less pain—naturally.

Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

The Health Secret No One Talks About

You get your eyes, ears and teeth checked. You test your blood. You measure your height, weight, blood pressure, heart rate, vitamin B12 levels and body mass index. Your Fitbit device tracks all of your biometric data, from how many steps you take to the quality of your sleep. When it comes to monitoring your health, no stone goes unturned. Except one, and it’s a biggie: How many times do you get your posture, spine, or spinal alignment checked?

After all, whether you realize it or not, you have endured countless physical trials in your lifetime. You experienced the trauma of being born, and you’ve fallen from couches, trees and monkey bars. You’ve had stitches, sports injuries, broken limbs, and car accidents. Not to mention the fact that you’ve clocked about a million hours hunched over your computers, tablets and cell phones, with your head cranked forward and downwards in a less-than-ideal position.

And maybe now you find yourself noticing various health symptoms–aches and pains, headaches, low-back strain, digestive issues. You find you get sick a lot and generally feel unwell. Yet it has never occurred to you to check the very circuit board that runs literally everything in your body—your spine and nervous system. What if the nerves in your spine are under so much stress from poor alignment that they’re expressing the symptoms of ill health?

How healthy is your spine? How healthy is your child’s spine? Maybe it’s time to find out today. Because Chiropractors know a health secret that no one talks about: Great alignment = Improved health performance!

Are you ready to turn the power back on?

Written by Dr. Elliot Lysyk

Chief Public Health Officer Supports Chiropractic

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I recently watched an interview on The National with Dr. Gregory Taylor, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer. Dr. Taylor was addressing the opioid crisis in Canada. The large number of recent deaths associated with opioid overdoses is bringing critical awareness to the addictive nature of these drugs.

Although Fentanyl is the culprit for many of these overdose deaths, this crisis highlights the addictive nature of commonly prescribed opioid drugs such as Demerol, Percocet, Hydromorphone, Hydrocodone, Vicodin, and Codeine, and how these prescriptions may create a slippery slope toward addiction.

Opioid drugs are often prescribed to treat chronic pain, particularly spinal pain and lower back pain. Dr. Taylor’s main message was this—instead of prescribing opioid drugs for pain conditions, maybe it’s time to consider less addictive treatments like chiropractic, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and cognitive behavioral therapy. He outlined that there is considerable research showing that Chiropractic is a safe and effective way to treat low back pain, and that he himself has experienced personal success with chiropractic care.

Chiropractors play a strong role in offering treatment for low back and spinal pain that can prevent patients from being prescribed opioids in the first place, thereby helping them avoid the downward spiral that can result once they become addicted to these drugs.

We chiropractors witness the healing benefits of chiropractic every day in practice, and I am happy to see a health minister acknowledging the tremendous evidence in existence proving that chiropractic care is an effective solution to spinal pain.

Dr. Elliot Lysyk, DC

Why Is There A Flu Season?

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Everyone has heard of flu season. It usually starts mid-fall and continues on until early spring. Yet the flu virus is around all year, so why do we have a “flu season”?

Our bodies become susceptible to diseases and illnesses for a number of reasons at this time of year due to:

  1. Lack of sunlight ~ Very appropriate for us Canadians. We don’t get enough Vitamin D through “flu season,” making us susceptible to getting sick. This condition is easily remedied by supplementing with a good Vitamin D capsule.
  2. Decreased activity ~ This one should not happen. With the availability of snowshoes, skating ponds, ski hills, gyms…we can maintain our activity levels all the way through winter. In fact, it’s good for our bodies to mix up our recreational sports and give our joints a rest from summer sports like golf or soccer.
  3. Dehydration ~ A lot more hot coffee, tea, or hot chocolate is consumed at this time of year, and the caffeine can dehydrate us. In Canada we have dry, cold winters that require as much water consumption in the winter as in the summer, and even more if we are dehydrated from those hot drinks.
  4. Poor dietary choices ~ We go from pumpkin pie at Thanksgiving to Halloween treats to Christmas and New Year’s treats. Lots and lots of sugar. This is another key issue, as good nutrition fuels a heathy immune system.
  5. Stress ~ This time of year can create extra stress. From physical stress due to raking leaves or shovelling snow, to the emotional stress of coping with family over the holidays, stress drains the immune system. This is where chiropractic care can be key in helping us cope with the flu season. Removing the stress from the body through adjustments and soft-tissue work, we make the body stronger and better able to function.

In summary, the flu is here year-round, but we can help fight it during “flu season” by taking Vitamin D, keeping up our recreational activities, staying hydrated, eating healthily, and removing physical stress from the body through treatments like chiropractic care. If chiropractic care is the missing piece of the puzzle, please give our office a call to see if we can help.

Written by Dr. James Mayne, DC