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Ryan Seale

Exercising During Pregnancy: A Primer

By | Exercise

Whether you started your pregnancy off as a fitness guru or a Netflix queen, there are plenty of reasons to fit exercise into your daily routine. Don’t know where to start? It doesn’t —as long as you get moving!

According to the guidelines set out by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, healthy pregnant women should get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity (the equivalent of brisk walking). The college also encourages exercise for sedentary women, as well as those with medical or obstetric complications but only after medical clearance.

 

Women with uncomplicated pregnancies can—and should—engage in physical activities before, during, and after pregnancy.

 

What are the health benefits of being active during pregnancy?

There are several physiological benefits for continuing to move throughout your pregnancy:

  • Reduced risk of excessive gestational weight gain
  • Reduced length of labour
  • Reduced  risk of conditions like gestational diabetes, preeclampsia and preterm birth

When it comes to your psychological state, there are benefits too. These include:

  • Reduced anxiety
  • Reduced depression
  • Reduced fatigue
  • Reduced stress

What are the dangers of exercising while with child?

Fact: Physical activity in pregnancy has minimal risks and has been shown to benefit most women.

That said, you’ll need to pay attention to telltale warnings that will signal when you should stop exercising.

If you experience any vaginal bleeding, dizziness, headache, chest pain, muscle weakness, calf pain, decreased fetal movement or amniotic fluid leakage, you should terminate physical activity until you get medical clearance from your healthcare practitioner.

How might my changing body affect my exercise routine?

Your body will undergo an amazing shift as it grows another human being. It’s important you recognize how this change could impact your activities.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Weight gain and a shift in your centre of gravity can lead to an increase of force in your joints. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can also increase joint laxity, which can put you at a higher risk for injury.  
  • Your blood volume, heart rate, stroke volume and cardiac output are usually greater during pregnancy and your enlarged uterus can obstruct diaphragm movement. So you might require higher cardiorespiratory effort and a decrease in the performance you’re used to.

Given how your body will change throughout the pregnancy, there’s no doubt that you’ll need to adapt your activity to accommodate your changing body to keep both you and baby safe.

What physical activity can I participate in and how much can I do?  

The activities you partake in during your pregnancy should include the same elements as non-pregnant women.

DO: Exercise 30 minutes a day (or three 10 minute walks) on most, if not all, days of the week. This is the recommended frequency of exercise.

DO: Engage in aerobic exercise. This can consist of activities that use large muscle groups for example, walking, jogging/running, dance, swimming, cycling, and rowing.

Warning: Aerobic or recreational activities that can increase the risk of falls such as skiing, gymnastics, and horseback riding. These could result trauma and should come with cautionary advice for most pregnant women. The same applies to activities with high potential for contact such as hockey or soccer.  

DO: Incorporate resistance exercises into your routine. Relatively low weights with multiple reps—lifted through a dynamic range of motion—can be safe and effective. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that intensity should be 60 to 90 percent of your maximal heart rate.  If you didn’t participate in regular exercise before pregnancy, aim for 60 to 70 percent of your maximal heart rate (equivalent to a 4 or 5 on the perceived exertion scale, or RPE). If you were fit and exercised regularly before your pregnancy, then consider aiming for 70 to 90 per cent of your maximal heart rate (equivalent to a 7 on the RPE).

DO: Make sure you’re properly nourished and hydrated before you go for a run or do your zumba class. Enjoying a yogurt, some trail mix or a nice juicy peach before you hit the road will help boost your energy and blood sugar. And when you’ve finished up your exercise activity, be sure to drink a refreshing glass of water.

 

The most important takeaway for pregnant women is this: Listen to your body and exercise smart!

 

If you need some advice on how to modify your exercises or activities while you’re pregnant, get in touch with us. We’re happy to help!

 

walking-health-benefits

Walking Towards Better Health

By | Prevention, Walking

Most of us are now enjoying the warmer season and all of the outdoor activities it accommodates. Summer sports, such as golf and tennis, are a great way to increase physical activity but on your quest to increase your health and wellbeing, do not overlook the simple yet highly beneficial act of walking. Walking is one of our basic functional movements, yet half of Canadians walk less than 30 minutes a day. These numbers are especially concerning, as walking just half an hour a day can have significant health benefits to your body and mind.

A recent study found that walking 30 minutes a day, five days a week, can reduce your chances of coronary artery disease by up to 30%.

Walking has also been shown to stimulate and protect brain tissue, reducing the risk of dementia by up to 40%. Still not convinced? Here’s another fact: Daily walking is linked to a reduction in depression and anxiety and an increase in overall feelings of wellbeing.

 

How Much is Enough?

So how do we know how intensely we need walk to reap the benefits mentioned above? After all, walking can be as slow as someone browsing an isle at a grocery store, or as fast as the Olympic speed walkers. The American College of Sport Medicine recommends that in order to gain the most from walking, we must be exercising at a level of ‘moderate’ intensity. To gauge this intensity, you can use the ‘talk test’. This means that you should walk at an intensity light enough to be able to carry a conversation, but not so easy that you would be able to sing. If you don’t have much time in your schedule, divide your walks into three sets of 10-minute bouts, at least five days a week.

If you have a pedometer (a step counter), aim for 10,000 steps per day. Research has shown a target goal of 10,000 steps/day is enough to stimulate desired health benefits.

 

5 Tips to Get Started

  1. Incorporate walking into your day: If you schedule daily walks, it will become routine. Walking to and from work, or going for walks on your lunch break are good ways to get started.
  2. Start a walking group: This is a great way to get motivated. Social interaction and peer support can give you the extra kick you need to get out there and get going.  
  3. Dress for success: There is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing! Dress in layers to allow you to adjust to changes in weather. Waterproof boots, big umbrellas, sunglasses, and hats, can give you that extra bit of protection that will make your walk more enjoyable.
  4. Get extra support with walking aids: Walking poles, which look similar to ski poles, will give you extra support. Using these while walking increases your base of support, giving extra stability to those concerned about balance. They also help promote good posture by encouraging an upright stance while walking. Last, but not least, they promote upper extremity involvement, contributing to a whole-body workout. You’ll find walking poles at most major pharmacies.
  5. Be creative: Walking can take place around your neighborhood, around your workplace, or through forest trail. To keep things interesting, don’t be afraid to take advantage of the many paths and trails available in SD&G and surrounding area. The local bike path offers a safe and scenic walking trail by the water. Gray’s Creek Conservation Area, the Bird Sanctuary, or the Summerstown Trails, offer cleared paths through the forest. Outdoor walking trails in different areas can be found on Alltrails.com. If the weather is not cooperating (which tends to happen around here), the Civic Complex and the Benson Centre have indoor walking tracks. It is not uncommon to use the halls of a shopping mall, such as the Cornwall Square, either!

 

If you’d like more information on how to incorporate walking into your daily life, talk to your physiotherapist at Active Sport Physiotherapy!

avoid-golf-injuries

Get a Grip on Common Golf Injuries

By | Golf, Prevention

It’s that time of the year again. The Masters Tournament has wrapped and some of us are dusting off our clubs in anticipation of a sunny, golf-filled summer. I thought this would be the perfect occasion to talk about common golf injuries—how they happen and what you can do to prevent them.

On the surface, golf might seem like an injury-less sport but statistics show that 1 in 4 golfers who tee up in North America play with some type of injury. Golfers over the age of 50 have a much higher likelihood of injury. Even PGA tour professionals are at risk—they average two injuries per year.

So why do golfers get hurt?

When it comes to injuries, the biggest factor is the ability for tissues in the body to withstand the forces applied to them. Factors such as age, gender, and conditioning play a big part in how the tissues handle this force. Injuries come when tissues can’t withstand the force and break down.

You can develop an injury from a single traumatic force or from repetitive movement (accumulation of force). When it comes to the golf swing, both these instances are possible.

When it comes to a golfer’s body, there are a few common areas where damage occurs: the lower back, the shoulders, and the upper arm (wrists and elbows). Low back injuries are prevalent across all golfers, whereas shoulder injuries are the second most common injury for males; for females, the secondary injuries are to the wrists and elbows.

Here’s a rundown on what’s happening when you hurt yourself playing golf:

Low Back

The rotational stress of the golf swing puts the small joints, discs and muscles of the back under considerable loads that can often lead to failure. Combine that with the posture of leaning over your club, and the repetition that a round or practice session requires, and it’s not hard to understand why this is the most common area of injury. The best ways to minimize stress through your low back is to make sure to distribute the rotational stress through your legs, hips, pelvis, low back, upper back and neck. When one area doesn’t move well, the other areas have to pick up the slack. Most often, stiffness occurs in the hips and thoracic spine. When these two areas don’t rotate well, it means that your body will try to create as much rotation from your lumbar spine as possible and you’ll get hurt.  

To prevent this, develop an exercise program that will improve the areas that are stiff in rotation and strengthen the core and back muscles to help your low back take on those loads. Work on a proper setup posture to achieve a neutral spine position before your swing, then work to maintain that spine position throughout your swing.

Shoulders

The muscles of your rotator cuff stay active throughout your golf swing, but where they are put under the most stress is at the top of your backswing and through impact. Swing plane and proper trunk rotation during your backswing are very important in minimizing this stress. The more rotation your body can comfortably go through in your backswing, the less reaching your shoulders need to do.

There are ways to minimize stress on your shoulder: improve the rotational capability and force production through your spine and/or take a shorter backswing. Many of us try to generate force through impact solely through our arms and this is when a shoulder injury. Working on the length of your backswing to match your body’s ability, perfecting your swing sequence, and exercising your trunk to improve rotation should be your priority if you have persistent shoulder problems persist.

Wrists/Elbows

Very similar to the shoulders, issues for your wrists and elbows come from your swing sequence and where you generate power in the swing. Golfers who try to set up power with their arms only are more likely to experience injury in these areas. Females tend to have a slightly higher incidence in the wrist and elbows (versus the shoulders) because they have smaller bone structure and less muscle mass in these areas. That means there’s less adaptability to stress through impact.  

Equipment can also play a big role for injuries. Make sure 1) your clubs are the right size and weight for your body and strength, 2) your grips on your clubs fit your hand size 3) your grips are not worn so there is no excess grip pressure are all ways to reduce arm stress.   

Working on your swing sequence as to not cast the club or release the hands too early can also minimize stress on the wrist and reduce the chance of hitting a shot fat.

The bottom line

The biggest way to help minimize your risk of injury on the golf course is to make sure you take the proper amount of time to do a warm-up. Increase the blood flow into the muscles you will be using for the swing, make sure your body feels supple and is moving well prior to repeated swings and practice.

 

Need help with your swing? Contact us to find out more about our mobile biomechanical analysis lab. We can analyze your movement, identify technique errors and help you avoid injury!

weekend-warrior-injury

How to Avoid Weekend Warrior Injuries

By | Prevention

So many people have schedules filled to the brim with full-time work, family duties, household responsibilities, and other commitments, so squeezing in regular recreational activities can be a real challenge. Many of us have become weekend warriors, managing to carve out some time to recreate on Saturdays and Sundays. As a result, we tend to push our activities to the limit in hopes of making the best of them. The problem is the remaining five days a week we spend sitting at a desk or in a car commuting back and forth to work or our kids’ activities. Despite this imbalanced schedule,  we still expect our bodies to work in the same way they did when we were younger. Unfortunately, this type of schedule can increase our risk of injury.

There are a few things that you can do every day that can help to minimize your injury risk and help prepare your body and its tissues to better manage the occasional sport-related stress you place on it.

1. Warm up right.

When it comes to warming up our bodies before activity, it seems the older we get the lazier or more complacent we become. For example, we might get to the rink strap on the pads and jump into a game and expect our bodies to hold up. Or we decide to go for a run and start at race pace and wonder why our feet or knees hurt after the first kilometre.

There are many benefits to a proper warm-up that can help our body prepare to the needed workload.

These include:

  • Improving blood flow to working muscles, which allows them to be more pliable and accepting for stretch or loading.
  • Gradually increasing the heart rate and blood pressure, minimizing the chance of getting a rapid spike.
  • Improving oxygen and nutrient transport to the muscles and joints.
  • Improving neuromuscular efficiency and coordination.
  • Mentally preparing you for the upcoming task and increasing your focus.

A good warm-up should consist of a minimum of 10-15 minutes of dynamic movements involving the muscles you will be using for the upcoming activity.A good resource to use is the FIFA11+ warm-up routine, which has strong support for injury prevention behind its program. If you’re unsure about which movements should be included, speak with a healthcare practitioner, kinesiologist, or personal trainer—like our experts at Active Sport Physiotherapy Clinic—to help design something specifically for you. 

2. Maintain a regular stretching and mobility routine at home.

Stretching doesn’t have long, drawn-out process. It can be as simple as five to 10 minutes each morning to get your body prepared to move for the day. Target major muscle groups and movement patterns that you will be using during the day, as well as muscle groups that may get neglected given your work environment. For example, those of us who spend the majority of the day in a seated position should look to stretch the hip flexors and lumbar spine to keep them from shortening over time.

3. Cool down.

It’s important to cool your body down after you’ve engaged in an activity. This doesn’t mean cool off the body with a cold adult beverage after the game (though that does sound good, doesn’t it?). Take the time after a workout to gently stretch the major muscles you used during your workout or activity.

A cool down period helps to:

  • Prevent blood pooling in the extremities.
  • Promote clearance of lactic acid from the muscles.
  • Restore your regular heart rate, blood pressure, and breathing rate.

4. Stay on the move.

It’s important you take the time to get up and move throughout your day. Recommended guidelines suggest that you should stand up at least once per hour if working in a seated position. This can be as simple as getting up for a drink of water or going to the bathroom. But remember, the more you move, the better your body will feel. Having regular bouts of activity throughout your day will help keep your muscles from adapting a shortened position and improve circulation into your lower extremity.

So there you have it, weekend warrior. You may not have the chance to engage in high-energy activity throughout the week but by staying active and healthy, taking the proper precautions to keep your body prepared to handle the stresses you place on it on the weekend, you’ll minimize the risk of injury. If you have any questions about what you can do to prevent injuries, reach out to us by email here or give us a call at 613-936-0676. We’re happy to help!