Helpful Hints

Ergonomic Work Station

For most of us, the majority of our work day is spent at the computer. This can cause stiffness, aches and pains in the neck, shoulders, upper and lower back, as well as the elbows and wrists.
Posture is the most important factor to help prevent strain throughout the day. An appropriate work chair and station is also critical.
A few tips when setting up your desk:
  • The 90/90/90 rule: Your knees, hips and elbows should be flexed to approximately 80-90 degrees when seated.
  • Your feet should be planted on the ground or supported.
  • Hips should be as far back in the chair as they can go. Make sure you are sitting on your "sit bones", not your sacrum. This allows for a natural arch in the low back and sets you up for proper upper back and neck posture.
  • The shoulders should be set back, but relaxed; Don't force your shoulder blades together. Start by rolling your shoulders up by your ears and then placing them back and down, like tucking your shoulder blades into your back pockets.
  • The chin should be slightly down, feeling like you are getting tall through the back of your neck and head.
  • Once set up, gently pull in your belly button to engage your core. Make sure this contraction is gentle, it should not alter your posture or cause strain.
See the following handout for tips on setting up your work station from the Canadian Physiotherapy Association. Their "S.M.A.R.T." guidelines give you helpful hints to get through your workday with minimal strain: Stretch, Move, Add It Up, Reduce Strain, Talk to a Physiotherapist

Shoe Selection Tips

How do you know it's time for a new pair of running shoes?
When you observe the back of the shoe on a flat surface, the shoe should sit relatively perpendicular, not leaning to one side or the other.
The middle of the shoe, along the base, should be free of lines or creases.
Check if the outer sides of the sole of the shoe have noticeable wear as the traction it provides may have worn down.
If you have noticed the above signs with your running shoes, it may be time to invest in a new pair.
Types of Shoes:
Shoes offer a variety of degrees of support from the very flexible to the more rigid and supportive. The heel counter at the rear of the shoe, around your Achilles, provides support for the rear foot. A stiffer heel counter offers more support and is recommended for those who have excess mobility. Torsional stability is the amount of flexibility the shoe provides in order to control the degree of twist/turn of your foot while you walk or run. This can be evaluated by trying to "wring out" the shoe. A stiffer shoe will not allow much motion with this test and is recommended for those with excess mobility of their foot. To encourage motion in a more rigid foot, a more flexible shoe is often recommended in both these areas.
The "bend test" is also an indicator of the degree of support the shoe provides. When holding the front and back of the shoe, bend it in half. The shoe should bend where your foot does - around the ball of the foot. If it bends throughout the shoe, it provides less stability.
One of our physiotherapists can help determine which type of running shoe is best suited to you.
Maintaining your Footwear - Prolong the life of your running shoe with these tips:
Your shoes will last longer if you untie them prior to taking them off (and putting them on). This helps preserve the shape and stability of the heel counter.
The soles of your shoes need to recover from your running and walking work outs. If you can, have two pairs of shoes and rotate them every few days. This gives the cushioning in your shoe opportunity to recover to its original height and help it provide optimal cushioning and shock absorption.

I’ve injured myself. Should I use hot or cold?

  • When a cooling agent is applied to the skin, blood vessels narrow and blood flow decreases, resulting in reduced swelling and inflammation
  • Skin temperature is decreased, resulting in a numbing effect to help decrease pain
  • Cold is typically applied within the first 24-48 hours of the acute stage of an injury, to prevent tissue damage, or after the first 48 hours if inflammation persists. It may also be used after an exercise program to prevent or reduce pain and swelling or to ease muscle spasms.
  • Follow the “PRICE” protocol to manage an injury in the early stages when swelling and pain are at their peak: Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation
  • Ice may be used periodically throughout the day for approximately 10 to 15 minutes at a time
  • It is important to use a damp towel between ice and the skin to increase effectiveness and decrease the risk of nerve or skin damage which could lead to frostbite

  • Hot packs dilate blood vessels and increase blood flow, delivering needed nutrients and oxygen to cells in the area being heated, promoting healing
  • Therapeutic heat is often used in the chronic phase of an injury. It may also be used prior to physiotherapy or exercise to decrease muscle tension and increase flexibility and range of motion
  • Heat also plays a role in pain management and reduction of muscle spasms, muscle tension and joint stiffness
  • Heat therapy should be avoided in the acute phase of an injury when swelling is present and the skin is hot to touch.
  • No matter the type of heating agent used, several layers of towelling should be used as a barrier between the skin and the hot pack to help prevent skin irritation or burns.
  • Hot packs should be applied for 15 to 20 minutes. Do not lie on a hot pack or apply heat when going to sleep since it increases the likelihood of burns resulting from close or prolonged contact with the heat source.

Visually check the skin every 5 minutes and discontinue treatment if there are abnormal changes in skin colour or you experience increased discomfort. Talk to a physiotherapist today to determine what treatment is best for your condition.