Are You Dealing With ‘Text Neck’?

The newest injury that we are seeing as Chiropractors is something that many of you can likely relate to! Even some of the youngest members of my practice!

What is text neck? It’s soreness, pain, lack of mobility in the neck and associated muscles caused by the repetitive motion position that is happening because people are hunched forward while using mobile devices.  Poor posture affects all areas of the body, you can read more about why this happens in this blog post here.

Like other overuse or spinal injuries, if left untreated repetitive strains within the vertebrae in the neck can lead to degeneration, which then leads to a worsening of symptoms such as numbness, tingling and weakness in the hands, wrists and fingers,  increased pain, lack of mobility, and stiffness.

Research from the Journal of Ergonomics indicates that texting can be worse than other smart phone tasks (gaming, reading, internet browsing) because the angel of head tilt tends to be more extreme. They also studied whether there was a difference when subjects were standing or sitting, and concluded that text messaging while sitting was the worst position for neck injury.

You might be thinking ‘what’s the big deal? I look down much of the day doing other tasks as well!’.  This might be true depending on your daily activities, however, what’s common is that when people are using their mobile devices than tend to be on them for a more prolonged periods without moving, which is what complicates things. While holding a phone in front of you are also activating many muscles in your upper neck, back and shoulders while looking down, and although your body is designed to perform this movement, again it’s the prolonged length of time in one position that creates the additional strain.

Staying in this position consistently throughout the day affects your overall posture, other joints, and even your lung capacity and the function of other organs!  Take a minute to think about your posture when you are looking at your phone using this example:

Think of your head as a bowling ball, which weighs 8-12 lbs. Where that bowling ball should be placed on your body for maximum function and the least amount of physical stress is exactly where it was designed to go – above your shoulders. If this bowling ball starts to roll forward (and remember, it’s heavy!) the angle at which it’s on top of the shoulders changes, and with this slight change in angle the pressure and weight does not stay the same, it gets magnified. This places more strain on the muscles in the upper back.

So what can you do?

  1. Raise the phone up when you are looking at it. Change your positions if you are planning on using your device for a prolonged period of time (stand, sit, lie down).
  2.  Take frequent breaks – this is good for both physical and mental reasons!
  3. Give yourself ‘rules’ around phone use (ie. when you will turn it off) . This will affect your body and mind in other ways too, and likely increase how present you are with the people around you. You’ll also be less distracted, more productive, and most people find they are happier when they are ‘less connected’.
  4. Stand up straight! Think ‘sternum up’ so that you naturally position your body in it’s natural posture.
  5. Integrate some neck stretches and mobility into your daily routines. For ideas how to fit in the time to stretch you can watch this video or  read this blog post.
  6. Stay fit! Strengthen your chest and upper back with any physical fitness routines.
  7. Get adjusted! See your Chiropractor to resolve any issues and keep a consistent schedule to help your body perform at its best.

What’s Your Word? Setting Your Intentions For The Year Ahead

I love the start of a new year! To me, it always feels like a chapter of my life is closing and a new one is beginning, and I love celebrating the successes of the past year, reflecting on the challenges, and building excitement about moving forward.  One thing I’ve realized as the years go on, is that no two are ever the same! As my sons grow older, the practice expands, I have new travel experiences or learning opportunities, life constantly evolves. There are always new things to celebrate, things we wish had never happened, and new things to look forward to. Perspective is powerful. You can’t change what life brings you, but you can always choose how you respond. Really, you can.

As you begin 2018 I encourage you to set aside a few moments to think about what you want most for this new year, and consider doing this exercise to help you shape what’s to come.  Rather than set resolutions try setting theme words for the year. A friend suggested this to me years ago, and I’ve been doing it consistently since. I started with 1 word, but for the past 3-4 years I’ve been choosing 3 instead.

Here’s how it works:

Think about your aspirations – what do you want for the year ahead? Is there an overriding theme that comes to mind for you? Can you sum up your intentions in a single word? Or maybe 2-3? I bet you can. Choose a word(s) that can represent many different areas of your life

Why it’s effective:

A great word can set the tone for your actions and keep you focused.  A word can also serve as a reminder of what’s important when everyday ‘life stuff’ frustrates us. For example, when my sons were young and I wasn’t in practice, my word was “Nurture”.  It reminded me of my focus on raising my sons and looking after myself.  It allowed me to accept that my career aspirations would be fulfilled at a later date (like now!) and that the little boys in my kitchen were simply more important for the time being. In other years the words “Grow”, “Balance” and “Focus” have worked well for me as I was rebuilding my life and business.   A great word sets your intention and will help manifest the people, places, opportunities (and challenges!) to help you achieve your goals.  Metaphysics aside, what you focus on tends to happen!  The simple act of awareness can powerfully  keep you oriented towards actions that support your goals, and make you more likely to attract success.

Your ‘word’ might come to mind easily.  You may already have one that has been running through your thoughts repetitively, especially if you have set resolutions or goals for yourself. If not, carve out some time in your week to think about it. Sit quietly and reflect.  Journal if it helps you sort out your thoughts, or, on a blank sheet of paper simply write down words that depict your hopes and dreams for the year ahead. Something will pop out at you, or you may notice a pattern in the words you write down. Don’t over-think it!

Friends, colleagues, and people in my practice have shared their words with me for added support and accountability. Here’s some of their theme words to get you started:  Relate, Believe, Focus, Simplify, Build, Mindful, Refresh, Rejuvenate, and Fun. Once you have your ‘word’ write it down where you can see it regularly. Use it as a password so you have to consciously think about it many times a day. Place post-it notes all over your home if you need to. Get creative and do what works for you!

~Dr. Melissa

Give Gifts of Experience

There are many ways to show affection and pamper the ones you love without purchasing ‘things’.  I’ve noticed many people choosing ‘experience gifts’ instead of tangible items consider giving someone you love the gift of time together or the experience of doing something they love.I’ve done this with my sons for the past 6 years and we’ve had many memorable times together such as going to Great Wolf Lodge, a trip to New York City, catching Raptors games, skating on the Rideau Canal (after watching the Montreal Canadians vs. The Ottawa Senators!) and seeing Coldplay perform live.

Now when they make their Christmas wish lists they often include ‘things to do’ as some of their items! For the people in your life, what about vouchers for ski passes, yoga passes, gift certificates for restaurants and cafes? Cooking classes, music or art lessons? Spa services are always a popular choice, and tickets to the movies, theatre, concerts, sporting events are always fun.

Another option is to look around your community for services you use, ones that have made an impact on your quality of life, and consider giving your loved ones a certificate to try out those services. Gifts of health are always well received! I’ve had many people purchase an initial session with me or a series of adjustments for people they care about, and there is a tremendous amount of gratitude expressed to me by the recipients.

If you choose to give gifts during the holiday season, consider ones that are from local stores. Shop within your community if possible and you’ll save on gas, meet new people and support a small business.

But remember, time together is more valuable with the ones we love than any object, and you’ll get the benefit too! Take the stress away from shopping and get creative giving gifts of the heart in other ways this holiday season.

3 Holiday Nutrition Tips

As far as I’m concerned, focusing on healthy food choices and avoiding overconsumption is something we should be doing all year-round, but it’s even more important during the holiday season when the sheer volume of parties and events can add up and the opportunities to indulge are constantly present! Here are 3 tips to help you this year:




If you are going to  a party or dinner, don’t starve yourself all day in anticipation.  Doing so will  slow your metabolism, leave you ravenous and more likely to overeat later in the evening. Instead, eat small meals or snacks throughout the day and you’ll be less likely to overindulge when you are out.

If you are planning on consuming alcohol remember there is sugar and calories in every drink, and if you consume too many your judgement will surely be off. Good idea to make decision before you go out about how much you want eat. Be sure to increase your intake of water to compensate for the dehydrating effects of alcohol. Often we mistakenly believe that we are hungry when really what our bodies need is more fluid. Keep this in mind when you head for the table of food at your next event and try having a glass of water instead.

Consider a 12 hour overnight fastThe detox signal to your body to start cleaning internally is given approximately 8 hrs after your last meal and requires at least four hours to function well and finish the internal cleaning.  If you fill up late at night and eat early the next day, you deny yourself the benefits of your body completing it’s natural detox mode, and so it’s better to do a little fast every night. If you think of the word ‘breakfast’ it means “break” “fast”, and eating your meals this way allows your body to work most effectively. The best part is that it’s easy to implement and remember! After you finish your dinner (or late night snacks at holiday cocktail parties)  just plan to eat 12 hours later. For example, if you finish dinner at 6pm, the earliest time you can choose to eat something in the morning for breakfast would be 6am. If you have a day when you eat later, just push the time back. If you are out and eating those delicious hors d’oeuvres at 10pm…wait until 10am to have your breakfast the next day. After the last time you eat, no more solid foods, or snacks! Liquids such as water or herbal teas are ok, but nothing that has any calories because your body will then need to digest it.

Most of all, remember this: whatever you put into your mouth is always a choice!  You CAN enjoy the holidays and all your favorite foods without overindulging and then needing to deal with added weight gain in January. Think about how you want to FEEL and make choices that line up with what you want. If you go back to last week’s post on setting an intention for the holidays that can help you make the right choices for you.

First Major Snowfall of 2017! How to Deal With The Snow Without Causing Injury

Snow. It’s unavoidable in Canada, particularly in the community that I live in! Which is fantastic because many people in my practice love to ski, snowboard, and snowshoe! However, dealing with snow around our homes and in our driveways means that I will see a very consistent pattern within people’s spines, and sometimes with acute injuries too. It’s no surprise when you consider that an average shovelful of snow weighs 5 to 7 pounds! Take this load and repeat it over and over to clear a walkway or driveway, and you’ll quickly realize how much weight is lifted in one session of snow clearing — on average, several hundred pounds!

Shovelling snow can be a pain in more ways than one. Keep these tips in mind to prevent hurting yourself while dealing with the snow on your property:

• Don’t let the snow pile up: If the weather report calls for several days of snow, frequent shoveling will allow you to move smaller amounts of snow each time. This approach is far less strenuous in the long run.

• Pick the right shovel: Use a lightweight pusher-type shovel.

• Push, don’t throw: Always push the snow to the side rather than throw it. That way you avoid lifting heavy shovelfuls of snow, and sudden twisting or turning movements.

• Bend your knees: As with any heavy object, you need to use your knees, and leg and arm muscles to do the pushing and lifting, while keeping your back straight.

Don’t forget to take breaks! If you feel tired or short of breath, stop and take a rest. Shake out your arms and legs. Stop shovelling immediately if you feel chest pain or back pain. If you have back pain that is severe or that persists for more than a day after shovelling, call me rather than ‘waiting for it to go away’. If you have chest pain that is severe, see a doctor immediately.

And of course…keep your regular chiropractic adjustment schedule to maximize your spine’s ability to move the way it was designed to! 

Holiday Season 2017 – What Do You Want It To Mean For You?

Every December in my practice, for 15 years now, I hear and observe the same sentiments from people. As much as there is excitement about the holiday season, there tends to also be a lot of overwhelm. People are often overstimulated, overfed, overcommitted, and they may also overspend on gift-giving. This added stress is not good for your health!

The good news is that how you feel during the holidays is up to you. You CAN choose to celebrate but feel positive, rested, and healthy! The first place to start though, is to get really clear on what you want the season to mean to you, and so I’m encouraging you to reflect on this idea briefly, and then do this one thing that will make a tremendous difference:

Set an intention for the holidays.

But first, be realistic and consider:

What’s happening in your life these days? Where are your children or extended family in the current stage of their lives? Given their ages and interests, what do you want the holidays to look like for you?

Every year our lives are a little different, and it’s important to change our expectations accordingly.

Maybe you have a holiday planned, maybe there is someone in your family who having a tough time, maybe your grieving a loved one? Maybe there has been a change in your home or work life somehow?  Maybe your finances are more strained than usual?Depending on your reflection on these areas of your life and the people in it, you might want to adjust your plans and celebrate a little differently this year.

Decide what you want the holidays to mean, what your priorities are, and how you want feel? And then I want you to write it down.

Choose 3-5 words or perhaps write a brief statement or sentence, then put it somewhere you can see it. You can get creative with this! Make it look pretty or decorative if you like, but what really matters is that you will see it and be reminded of what you wrote. Whether you post it on your fridge, put it on your phone, or write it in a journal that you will look at every day, this is the most important step!

When you have an intention to refer to, it will help you make solid decisions about how you spend your time and money this holiday season. You’ll feel better about your choices because they will be more realistic with your current lifestyle, and this will ease your mind, and help you find more JOY (and less stress) holiday season.

~ Dr. Melissa

Is Your Body ‘Out of Balance’?

The body is a self-healing, self-regulating organism and perfectly designed to express good health. As a Chiropractor our whole clinical philosophy is based on this simple fact, and after all these years in clinical practice I’m still amazed and the ability of the human body to coordinate all internal functions, heal and grow when given the right environment inside.

On the wall in my reception room it’s written: “There is a vast difference between treating the effects and adjusting the cause.”  In addition to providing spinal care, it’s always been important for me to take a holistic approach so that people’s health can improve, and so they can completely heal and thrive.

When a body is NOT functioning well, whether it’s pain or lack of mobility in the neck, low back, or hips or some other symptom of dis-ease (bowel trouble, compromised immune system, allergies, etc) the question we need to always be trying to answer is “What is the cause of this imbalance?”

The easiest and quickest way to answer this question is one word, can you guess what that is? STRESS. But, it’s also a little deeper than that, there are generally 3 main categories of stress in the body:

  1. Trauma: accidents & falls, sports injuries, car accidents, repetitive strains, poor posture habits
  2. Toxins: pesticides, chemicals in personal care or household products, pollution, food sensitivities, drugs, nicotine, alcohol
  3. Thoughts: mental stress, overwhelm, anxiety, negativity, emotional trauma

Nowadays I think it’s also important to consider a 4th category too:

4. Deficiency: lack of proper nutrients, sedentary living, lack of mobility, lack of adequate brain stimulation

How do these stresses affect your health?

Trauma, Toxins, Thoughts & Deficiency  —–>  STRESS on body

STRESS —>  internal changes in body physiology to adapt, leading to dis-ease, then disease

What is the solution?

Restoring health doesn’t generally just happen with a ‘quick fix’, it’s a consistent way of living to ensure your body functions the way it’s naturally designed to. There are often 3 parts to this process:

Remove or minimize the stressors. This might mean lowering your level of stress, improving your movement patterns, reducing your toxic exposure or any number of other things depending on your unique situation.

Restore proper mobility  This is where Chiropractic comes in! 

“The more mechanically distorted the spine, the less energy available for metabolism, energy and healing.” ~ Dr. Roger Sperry, Nobel Prize Winner for brain research

Support the body by adopting lifestyle habits that are congruent with good health and allow the body to  to function the way it was designed to!

In my practice we look at all 3 of these areas so that you can not only feel better faster, but so that you’re results will last and all aspects of your health will improve, and it’s an approach that has consistently worked for the past 15 in practice.

Can You “Feel Fine” and Still Benefit From Chiropractic?

So many times when I speak with someone about what I do, they comment “I would hate to know what you’d find in my spine, it’s probably a mess!”. This attitude still surprises me, and you can imagine it starts an interesting conversation!

Some of the sickest people on this planet have no symptoms and “feel fine”. We all know people who seemed to be fine but then suddenly are diagnosed with a major illness. People who ‘suddenly’ have a heart attack, stroke, are told they have cancer.

Waiting for your body to give you symptoms is like waiting for a bomb to go off…everything is quiet until suddenly there is a huge impact.

The attitude “if it’s not broken, why fix it?” does not apply to the human body, but I can relate to this thinking because it’s how I used to approach my health.

Like many people, I only thought there was a problem when my body wasn’t feeling right, and I only responded to any symptoms with medications. Luckily, over 20 years ago, a shoulder injury forced me to see a Chiropractor, and from that point on everything changed. Not only my own health, but my attitude about it.

The Chiropractic approach is just that – an approach to supporting your body from the inside-out in every way. Giving the body what it needs from the top-down (neurological function from the brain through the spinal cord), as well as all the other ingredients necessary for optimal function….food, hydration, movement, love and social connections, sleep, purpose and passion!

Chiropractic is not just an adjustment or treatment for a symptom, it’s an approach to looking for the causes of problems in the body, rather than just reacting to them.

Waiting for something to happen before you take action often makes the healing take longer, and requires more investment of your time and resources.

People who choose to make chiropractic care a regular part of their life understand this, but they also see the profound changes in their health, and are more empowered to be in control of their body. It’s a beautiful thing to watch in my practice and something I will never tire of.

People often hear me say “health comes from choice, not by chance”. Choosing to honour your body and give it what it needs on a consistent basis is one of the wisest decisions you can ever make.

If you’re still struggling with some aspects of your health, ask for direction.
If I can’t help you, we’ll find someone who can.

Can You Just Do 5 Things To Support Good Health?

Taking care of your spine and nervous system is an amazing way to improve your health, but there are many other lifestyle factors that will help you feel fantastic. For some people though, the thought of improving their body and making some lifestyle changes can leave them feeling intimidated, and even overwhelmed. It doesn’t have to be this way though!

What if you just tried to do 5 daily things to improve your health?

Imagine doing 5 little, yet important, intentional acts everyday to get you closer to your most important health goal: feeling and functioning well. I’m not talking about massive, major changes to your health that require a dramatic lifestyle change, but small daily things that ultimately create a bigger impact because you are actually doing them.

“Success in anything is created through the performance of a few small daily disciplines that stack up over time to create stunning results”-Robin Sharma

It’s much easier to build on small steps and gradually add more, than to attempt a massive change.

It’s likely that you’re already doing some great things to support your health, but perhaps they have already become so routine for you that you’ve even forgotten they are good for you!

Focusing on the good things you are already doing, and all the good things your body is capable of doing is also a powerful gratitude reminder and can motivate other small changes.

Can you think of 5 things that you do on any given day to support good health?

Need some ideas? Here’s some to get you thinking

  • reduce your caffeine or alcohol
  • drink more water
  • go for a walk/run/swim/bike/hike
  • visit a friend
  • eat some fruit
  • go to bed a little earlier
  • play with your children
  • read a book
  • put that donut or cookie down
  • take a yoga class
  • breathe (with awareness! consciously relaxing, with full deep breaths)
  • do something you love
  • learn something that can help you live healthier
  • get adjusted!

Expand Your Abilities

One of my favourite conversations from people in the practice is always when they start to observe (and are often surprised)  they are that they are able to do ‘so much’ without physically harming themselves, how they feel they are able to deal with stress more effectively or ‘handle more’ before feeling overwhelmed.

Let me remind you: The body is amazing!

Every minute of the day your body is coordinating a multitude of activities…your heart is beating and sending blood and oxygen to all your cells; your lungs are expanding and contracting to exchange oxygen with the environment; your digestive track makes use of the food you take in to give you energy and will remove wastes; your immune system is constantly fighting microorganisms that try to inhabit your body…I could go on and on. Your body can do all these things simultaneously, every second of the day, because your brain is coordinating it all.

Spinal subluxations are caused by stress (physical, mental, emotional & chemical) but they also create stress within the body.

Chiropractic adjustments work because they remove stress from your nervous system and maximize your brain’s ability to coordinate all internal activities, and yes, your joints will move better too! Healthy joint function allows you to move freely, without pain, and push yourself more to become stronger, fitter and more flexible if you choose to.

You are designed in perfection to be who you are, to express every gift inside you, and to perform!
It’s up to you to use those skills, to pursue your interests, and to take responsibility for your health and ensure your body performs the way it was designed to.

Forget limitations, the goal of your care with me is to help your body thrive in every possible way by removing stress from your nervous system, and then guiding and supporting you in developing other health habits.

Chiropractic helps your ability to work, play, and live with a full range of physical abilities and emotional awareness, and ultimately to expand your potential.