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Health

Gardening Pain-free from Pursuit Physiotherapy

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Follow these basic body mechanics tips for gardening safely!

Gardening season is here! We want you to enjoy the outdoors without injuring yourself. It’s easy to get overzealous and spend hours in the garden without noticing an aching back or neck until it’s too late. But don’t worry, just because you have a long ‘to do’ list doesn’t mean you have to suffer the consequences. By planning ahead and being smart about your body mechanics you can help prevent soreness and injuries.

Follow these easy tips for staying healthy throughout the gardening season:

Lift properly to protect your back.

Remember to bend your knees and engage your core muscles; use your leg muscles to squat and don’t bend with your back.

  • Avoid lifting and twisting through your back – instead keep the load close to your body and pivot your feet and trunk together
  • Avoid carrying heavy loads on 1 side of your body – balance it out on both sides or lighten up the load and take more trips. Also consider getting help for heavy lifting – you can’t do it all!

Maintain good posture.

Position yourself close to the task at hand to avoid awkward reaching and twisting. Try to keep your back straight and head in a neutral position so that you are not looking up or down for extended periods of time.

  •  Use stools, chairs, or knee pads whenever possible to help maintain good neck and back posture.
  •  When pushing a wheelbarrow or lawnmower keep your back tall and head up. Also bend your knees and engage your core muscles to optimize your power and protect your spine.
  •  Take mini-breaks to stretch and correct your posture – try squeezing your shoulder blades together, or contracting your deep abdominal (TA) muscles.

Use Proper Tools to Reduce Strain

  • Use knee pads for kneeling and avoid sustained squatting. This will give your knees, hips, ankles and back a break.
  • Use a step stool or tools with extended handles to make overhead work easier. Bring yourself closer to your task to avoid awkward reaching and reduce neck and shoulder strain.
  • Use tools with good grips or ergonomic handles to reduce fatigue on your hand and forearm muscles. Ensure they are a comfortable fit for your hand size.

Prevent Repetitive Strain Injuries

Doing the same task over and over will put excessive strain on certain body parts and muscle groups, leading to pain and injury. Here are some self-management tips to help avoid RSI’s:

  • Change positions frequently to avoid stiffness and strain on certain body parts. For example try raking on both sides.
  • Alternate tasks to add variety to your body movements and avoid static postures or repetitive lifting. For example do 10 minutes of weeding followed by 10 minutes of pruning.
  • Take breaks to stretch and hydrate. It is important to give your body some time to recover, and adding these mini-breaks can help improve your work endurance and efficiency.
  • Don’t overdo it! Create a realistic plan ahead of time so that you aren’t trying to get all your tasks done in a single day or weekend. Plan to spread your workload out over several days or weeks to avoid overuse injuries.
  • Never work through pain. Listen to your body and stop when you are getting tired or sore. The task will still be there the next day or week!

Keep your body limber

  • Warm-up before gardening with some light walking or gently swinging your arms and legs. This helps increase your heart rate and gets blood flowing to the muscles so they are ready to work.
  • Take stretch breaks.  Do some of your favourites and try to target all your major body parts – neck, shoulders, back, and legs. This will keep you feeling loose and flexible and prevent muscle tension from building up. Move slowly and hold each position for approximately 10-15 seconds.
  • Cool-down. An easy walk around the yard and some gentle stretching will help relieve tension after your work and prevent muscle stiffness.

We hope these tips help keep you active, healthy, and pain-free throughout the spring and summer. If you have any lingering pain or specific concerns please do not hesitate to book an appointment for a one-on-one session with one of our physiotherapists. We will be able to assess and diagnose your injury, as well as provide hands on treatment and a therapeutic exercise program to address your specific needs.

Click for more information about Pursuit Physiotherapy.

 

Community

Scott: Healthier weight while taking anti-psychotic meds

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photo of Scott

This story was originally published on the PCN website in May 2018.  

Scott: Healthier weight while taking anti-psychotic meds

My health issue is schizophrenia and the side effects associated with the anti-psychotic medication I take. I had a conversation with my family doctor about the bariatrics clinic at the hospital and he assessed my obesity and referred me to the Health Basics course. I had hoped to get control of my body weight because I have had chronic pain, injuries, and intense frustration with my physical abilities.

A major barrier to my mental concentration was the lack of structure regarding my knowledge around health. I had been advised to control my eating by family and friends but I felt that my weight would naturally sort itself out if I could just get my medications decreased. I had previously connected with a dietitian through AHS however I could not keep a food journal or make adjustments that she recommended.

In the Health Basics program, I committed to the group therapy process and began journaling for the first time. I increased the proportion of fruits and vegetables in my diet. I now plan snacks and focus on “in-control” eating. Further, I practice the 80/20 rule regarding the Healthy Road vs. Easy Street and this keeps my spirits up when I slack off. I simply remind myself that I can make a better choice in any moment to “save the day”.

The last I weighed myself, I had dropped fourteen pounds and my waist was quite a bit smaller. I am getting comments about my physique. I am working through the side effects of my medication with gratitude for the treatment team that helps me, and I am overall noticing less symptoms of depression. In addition, I am maintaining my active lifestyle and achieving the high level of performance that I demand from myself.

I recommend anyone needing weight loss and a healthier lifestyle to take the Health Basics course and attend and participate for yourself AND the others in the group. Make your nutrition a priority because I believe “you are what you eat”. Find a career that forces you to exercise at a high intensity. One big motivator to me is that I need to start a family and I believe that I can have more fun in life with a body that I am happy with.

I am on track to continue to be healthy. I eat enough fruits and vegetables. I continue to journal my food intake. I drink water as my main beverage. I stretch daily. I make my soccer referee job the priority in my career. I am currently participating in the sleep course at the PCN to make sure that I am improving other areas of my health as well.

Here are some other stories from Primary Care Network:

Finally the dam broke

Achieving Mental Health is an Everyday Task

About the Red Deer Primary Care Network

We (RDPCN) are a partnership between Family Doctors and Alberta Health Services. Health professionals such as psychologists, social workers, nurses and pharmacist work in clinics alongside family doctors.

In addition, programs and groups are offered at the RDPCN central location. This improves access to care, health promotion, chronic disease management and coordination of care.  RDPCN is proud of the patient care offered, the effective programs it has designed and the work it does with partners in health care and the community.

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Alberta

Province pumping millions into mental health supports for post-secondary students

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Representatives from the Student Counseling Office and Mental Health at NAIT, Kids Help Phone, United Way and members of Alberta Students’ Executive Council stood with Associate Minister Luan and Minister Nicolaides 

From the Province of Alberta

More mental health supports for students

Government is investing $22 million to deliver more mental health supports for post-secondary students.

Students at the 26 post-secondary institutions across Alberta will have more access to mental health and addiction crisis supports through text and chat, and professional counselling by phone. Those services will be supported by a new digital navigation and crisis hub that will link service providers, including United Way’s 211 service, helplines such as Kids Help Phone, HealthLink/811 and other distress lines.

“Our government is committed to eliminating barriers to mental health and addiction services for post-secondary students. Working together, we’ll make it easier for students to talk openly about mental health and ensure they have access to supports when they need them.”

Jason Luan, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

In addition, Budget 2019 continues to support a range of on-campus mental health services, including:

  • increased access to counsellors
  • early alert systems
  • peer support programs
  • awareness campaigns and mental health literacy
  • training for faculty, staff and students in suicide-prevention
  • helping others in distress
  • personal coping strategies

“One of the common themes I have heard from our students, from Day 1, is the need to strengthen mental health supports on campus. This initiative will improve access to mental health services and will make sure our students can find help when they need it. I am always listening to students, and this announcement demonstrates their advocacy pays off.”

Demetrios Nicolaides, Minister of Advanced Education

On-campus services are supported by the Post-secondary Mental Health Grant of $7.6 million this year.

In addition, government is funding expansion of digital services by providing $6.75 million to Kids Help Phone to expand its 24-7, free, confidential and professional online and telephone counselling and volunteer-led text-based crisis support. Another $7.5 million will fund a new digital navigation and crisis hub that will link United Way’s 211 service to other helplines such as Kids Help Phone, HealthLink/811 and other distress lines.

“Kids Help Phone is pleased to be a part of this initiative that will help Albertans, particularly post-secondary students, connect to the services they need in a timely fashion. Navigating the mental health system is complex and we are proud to work with partners to ensure all Albertans get the help they need, when they need it most.”

Katherine Hay, CEO, Kids Help Phone

“More than 500,000 Albertans access at least one mental health service each year, with many others unable to get help when they need it. With this partnership, Albertans will have access to information and help at any time no matter where they live in the province, allowing anyone to connect when they need to most.”

Rob Yager, president and CEO, United Way Alberta Capital Region

“Mental health is critical to the success and well-being of everyone. In order to thrive inside the classroom and beyond, mental health needs to be supported.”

Glenn Feltham, president and CEO, NAIT
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december, 2019

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