Office Ergonomics

What are office ergonomics?

Another common question that I get following helping someone with pain related to sitting, whether it be upper back pain, lower back pain or headaches is, “ how do I set up my workstation, to avoid this in the future?” So what are office ergonomics?

A good question which leads us to the study of ergonomics, (the study of people’s efficiency in their working environment.) efficiency being the key word here. When your body is in an inefficient position it needs to work harder to do the same amount of work and thus fatigue faster leading to strain and joint irritation. Who needs that?

Symptoms that might relate to poor office ergonomics include; back pain, neck pain, headache, eyestrain, elbow and wrist pain and carpal tunnel syndrome.

A couple of key things to keep in mind; the next time you’re at your desk, or perhaps you’re already there reading this.

  • 90/90/90 rule– keep the elbows, hips and knees bent at a 90 degree angle when sitting
  • Support– support the elbows and forearms on arm rests, keep your back against the chair’s backrest and feet on the floor or if unable on a foot rest. Keep body parts close to your body, don’t reach. This might mean using a keyboard tray or using a track ball mouse.
  • Breaks– even with perfect posture your body isn’t meant to sit all day, so take regular breaks. Take microbreaks every hour for a couple of minutes not just for your body but for your eyes as well, get up move around, stretch then get back to work.
  • Sight lines– The monitor should be at or just below eye level, laptops pose a problem here as their screens tend to sit lower, an external monitor is an inexpensive fix.

If you’re having pain at work get in touch

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Back to school means buying backpacks

Back to school means buying backpacks

We’re getting close to what some parents will refer to as, “ the most wonderful time of the year”, when our kids return to school. Back to school invariably also means back to school shopping, and often at the top of the list is a new backpack.

Back to school means buying backpacks

For some this will be their first back pack and for others a replacement for the holey, tattered mess that barely survived the year.

Here are some tips for buying, packing and wearing a backpack.

What to buy:   Several things to consider here, size, fit and features.

If your child is a kindergartner, the back pack should be roughly the same size as their back, so a considerably smaller backpack than the one your teen needs. Look for padded shoulder straps that can be adjusted to fit snug to their back, and internal pockets. Lighter materials are better such as nylon or canvas.

Older students, can have a larger bag, look for reinforced bottoms, padded backs, internal laptop sleeves, straps at the waist and chest will help to lessen the load on the back.

How to pack the bag:

This is important because the recommendation for those children under 10 years is that they carry no more than 10% of their body mass, that includes the weight of the bag itself! Older kids can have up to 15% of their body weight in the backpack, think about that for a minute, a 200 pound teenage boy should still only carry 30 pounds in their backpack! Check your child’s bag many high schoolers will have twice that, not good for a growing spine. A lot of this weight can be reduced by limiting a lot of junk from the bag, also bringing home and to class only what you need. Sometimes provisions can be made for students to have 2 sets of textbooks one for school and one for home if they’re having pain associated with carrying heavy textbooks back and forth from school.

Pack the bag with the heaviest items at the back closest to the body and use the pockets to distribute the load.

Wearing the bag:

Wear the bag with both straps, even though it’s cool not to, adjust the straps so they’re snug keeping the bag close to the body, not hanging way back and low like a teen boy’s pants.

As always if your child experiences any back pain, give me a call and we can assess the problem for any concerns.

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Careers that benefit from regular chiropractic care: Part 2

Careers that  benefit from regular chiropractic care: Part 2

In my first blog in this series I described how after painting my house for several weeks I was feeling quite sore in the upper back, neck and shoulders and those tradespeople who perform a lot of overhead tasks are at risk for neck, upper back and shoulder pain. So what other careers benefit from regular chiropractic care?

The next group of occupations that can benefit from regular chiropractic care are other health care professionals. In my practice I see a good number of nurses, dentists, dental hygienists, massage therapists and medical doctors of all specialities.

Why would these individuals, already in the healthcare world require chiropractic care?

Let us take nurses for example; nurses are on their feet for their whole shift, standing on very hard surfaces often resulting in heel pain. They are often required to lift, move, restrain patients much larger than themselves; this can result in back, neck and shoulder pain.

Dentists and dental hygienists work for long periods of time in one hunched forward posture with their arms extended, this posture puts serious pressure on the joints of the upper and lower back and rib cage.

In my practice I see a number of medical doctors who just like anyone else can get back pain either from their profession, again long hours on their feet, operating in less than ideal ergonomic positions.

Massage therapists are prone to posture related back pain and repetitive strain injuries of the upper limbs.

Lastly are chiropractors themselves, this is a hands on physical job and often we may work on patients much larger than ourselves and as although we try to manage our posture we too can be in prolonged positions that are less than ideal.

All these professions can benefit from chiropractic care to reduce the pain and dysfunction associated with acute injury and regular ongoing care can help keep them performing at their best ensuring a long and healthy career.

So if you know of or are a healthcare professional who is not at their best, or who would like to continue to perform at their best tell them to give me a call, drop me a line, Facebook message or tweet me.

For other careers that benefit from regular chiropractic care, stay tuned.

Dr. K. Finn

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Novel treatments for osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis treatment

Most of you know someone with osteoarthritis, or may have it yourself; it is a very common form of joint disease that is related to aging and wear and tear of joint surfaces. This can occur in any joint but commonly occurs in the load bearing joints, the hips, knees and spine. Our joints have a super smooth layer of cartilage as its surface which allows the bones to move easily on one another, synovial joint fluid aids in this movement providing lubrication and nourishing the cartilage. As we age the cartilage producing cells lose their ability to keep up with repair processes and the joint begins to wear down, cracks and fissures can occur in the cartilage and the joint may become painful.

Recently treatments have been developed to improve this situation. First we had the development of artificial joint fluid to help with the lubrication of the joint, to mixed success.

Next we had, PRP or platelet rich plasma, here the clinician removes some of your blood, spins it in a centrifuge to remove the red/white cells and increase the concentration of platelets in the plasma. Platelets are special blood components that help with clotting the blood after a cut but also have special proteins that can help repair tissues. There have been some positive results for tendon type injuries; famously Tiger Woods had this procedure done. More recently it has been tried for osteoarthritis of the knees primarily providing some relief of pain, no small thing for anyone suffering from knee osteoarthritis, but not the big prize, regeneration of the cartilage.

A newer treatment, uses stem cells, these cells are master type cells that can convert to certain cell types, i.e. in this case cells that produce cartilage. These cells are harvested typically from your iliac crest, the bones that you put a belt around. These cells are then injected into the knee in several studies have shown to have regenerated the cartilage, improved pain and function.

These newer treatments are still somewhat experimental, not covered by provincial health plans or employer health plans and range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. The future looks promising for these newer treatments and perhaps a “cure” for osteoarthritis is around the corner. In the mean -time, maintain a good body-weight, exercise, and visit your chiropractor to keep the joints moving well.

For more information on other topics see here

Heart Rate

A common question people ask when we discuss exercise is “ how do I know if I’m exercising hard enough?”. What should my heart rate be?

A reasonable question, it can be explained in a number of ways and may differ depending on the exercise goal. Most often we use heart rate as the measuring stick to determine the intensity of exercise, makes sense the harder you work the greater the need for your body tissues for oxygen and fuel, the faster your heart needs to beat to bring the oxygen and fuel around to the various tissues through the blood. We can also use breathing rate, more on that later. The intensity you exercise at is termed the training zone. This is merely a range of heart rate you should be working at to achieve a particular goal.

For example a person having a goal of increasing their cardiovascular endurance may have a different training zone than someone primarily interested in weight loss. Note that any exercise is beneficial for either population but there may be more bang for your buck at certain heart rates.

So how do you calculate your training zone? Typically we use a percentage of your maximal heart rate, well great but what is my maximum heart rate? We use a theoretical maximum of 220 beats per minute minus your age, so at 40 years old your maximum heart rate is 180 beats per minute.

Now that we know the maximum heart rate we need to be able to measure your heart rate, the easiest location is at the carotid artery at the side of the neck, to find this artery, slide your fingers backwards from the mid-line of the neck until you feel it, alternately you could use the radial pulse on the thumb side of the wrist just below the base of the thumb. The higher tech way would be to use a heart rate monitor which uses a sensor strap around the chest and wirelessly feeds the information to a watch. The advantage here is you can save this information to your computer and track your progress.

Now we know how to measure our heart rate, where should it be during exercise? To train your heart for endurance typically you want to work at a higher intensity of 70-90% of maximum , for more fat burning a lower intensity of 50-70% of maximum.

Another way to measure exercise intensity which is proven to be accurate, (actually a method developed by a University of Toronto professor I had) is the talk test. Simply to check if you’re exercising at a moderate intensity of 50%-70% you should be able to carry on a conversation without being breathless, if you are at a higher intensity you would be unable to carry on a conversation.

Put one of these methods to the test the next time you’re exercising and see if you’re at the right intensity for your particular fitness goal.

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Careers that would benefit from chiropractic care: Part one

Careers that would benefit from regular chiropractic care: Part one

Working on my own home the last few weeks has enlightened me as to certain professional tradespeople who would benefit from regular chiropractic care.

I have been doing a good deal of painting, drywall installation and having electrical wiring done at my home lately and man have I been stiff and sore. The positions needed for performing some of these tasks, painting a ceiling for example leave a lot to be desired from a chiropractic perspective.

This kind of overhead activity causes extension of the neck which compresses the joints in the back of the spine. So what you say? Well prolonged extension postures will cause inflammation of the joints and subsequent local irritation of the nerves and muscles. This will produce muscle contraction reinforcing the compression of the joint and producing a vicious circle of joint irritation and muscle stiffness.

Our bodies are pretty good at hiding this from us, for a time, there may be small hints that this is occurring such as morning stiffness, more pain or stiffness as the day goes on, or headaches. At some point this will translate into pain and dysfunction. For tradespeople often not working means not getting paid.

Careers that would benefit from chiropracitc care: Part one

Other workers who do a lot of overhead work such as electricians, in addition to having potential neck issues will also need to focus on their shoulders. Shoulders or more specifically the tendons of rotator cuff muscles of the shoulder are at risk of being impinged and worn with prolonged activities, potentially resulting in a degenerative rotator cuff tear.

My rationale for writing this, is to encourage those of you who are tradespeople who do physical work daily to receive regular chiropractic care and not let the vicious cycle of joint dysfunction result in disability and time off work.

Give me a call let me keep you on the job.

Dr. Kevin Finn 905-831-3939   For other careers that would benefit from chiropractic care visit

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Skin Cancer

This might seem like an odd posting from; one a chiropractor and two it’s January. Not the first thing that came to mind but like a lot of my blogs the idea came from a patient who was, because it was January heading south to escape the cold.

Skin cancer is a bit of an interest for me, personally as a fair haired Caucasian of middle age I have had several skin cancers removed already, secondly I teach Dermatology at the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College and lastly as a I chiropractor I see a lot of bare backs.

So it makes some sense that a chiropractor should be interested in those moles on your back, you have a hard time seeing them and we may see them quite regularly and are thus well positioned to detect and monitor issues you may have.

Now for a primer on skin cancer, most skin cancers thankfully are not too much of a concern and can be managed easily with liquid nitrogen or excision.

These two most common types of skin cancer are:

Basal Cell carcinoma and Squamous cell carcinoma, a couple of fancy sounding conditions you may have never heard of, but are basically abnormal cell growths in superficial skin, occur in fair-haired, light skinned, middle aged or older individuals in areas exposed to the sun, so the face, top of that bald head, arms or legs.

These are related to previous burns and cumulative sun exposure. Look for areas of redness, small sores that don’t seem to heal over a period of time longer than you’d expect for a slight scrape or cut. They may become raised and the sore remains in the middle.

The skin cancer that you most likely have heard about before is, Malignant Melanoma or just Melanoma. This is the skin cancer that typically develops from a mole, occurs in younger age groups and can occur anywhere on your body, even the soles of your feet! So not just in sun exposed areas.

When you look at a mole on your body think of ABCDE.

  • Is the mole Asymmetrical?
  • Borders are they smooth and round like a simple freckle or jagged? Are the borders distinct or do they blend into the surrounding area?
  • Colour, is the mole one colour, brown or black or is it multiple colours?
  • Diameter is the mole more than 6mm in diameter?
  • Elevation is the mole raised above the skin surface or Evolution has the mole changed recently?




So if you are heading south for the winter, cover up, wear your sunscreen, check yourself for any weird moles or marks several times per year. If you have a spot you’re concerned about let me know next time I see you or ask your family physician.




Dr. Kevin Finn 905-831-3939

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Frozen shoulder

Frozen Shoulder: The What, Where, Why,  When and What to do about it

This common shoulder problem is clinically referred to as “adhesive capsulitis”, or sticky joint. This problem is very common affecting 5% of the population at any one time and results in pain and a severely limited ability to move the shoulder.

What causes it?

– Most of the time there is no identifiable cause. Other times a simple trauma or sprain/strain may be the initiating event.

Who gets it?

– Women are more often affected than men, however men tend to have a slower recovery. Usually middle aged or older.

-Those with heart disease and diabetes ( both type 1 and type 2) are more often affected.

What is it?

-The shoulder capsule ( like a bag around the shoulder joint) becomes thickened, tightened, and stuck on the top of the upper arm bone, the humerus.

-This results in the arm’s movement being severely restricted in all movements.

There are 3 stages of the condition, “ Painful stage”, “Frozen stage” and “thawing stage” with the 3 stages lasting 1-30 months.

If I have it what do I do about it?

– Early intervention, waiting allows for increased adhesion, for this problem I employ a variety of tools; manual therapy ( moving the joint to improve movement) electrical modalities to inhibit tight muscles, instrumented soft tissue work to break down the adhesions and promote healing, co-management with the family physician. Chiropractic adjustments are used to maintain motion of spinal and rib joints associated with the shoulder girdle.

Patients themselves will also have a lot of work to do, icing, stretching and mobilizing the shoulder at home.

If you think you have frozen shoulder or know someone who does, give me a call, send me an email message, or find me on twitter or facebook, I can help you get through this trying condition.

Dr. Kevin Finn 905-831-3939

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Different Types of Exercises

By now you’ve seen my posts on the benefits of exercise, if there ever was a fountain of youth it is exercise.

For the uninitiated however, exercise is a loaded word, there are so many types of exercise floating about and all are the “best” at doing something, making you stronger, fitter, leaner, faster etc.

There may be some truth to that for the athlete, the bodybuilder etc., but when I’m recommending exercise or encouraging someone to be more active any exercise is good, with some exceptions, more on that later.

Lets break down some of the words of exercise to understand them better.

Aerobic exercise- aka “cardio”- this probably came into our collective consciousness in the ‘80’s with the “20 minute work-out” the leotards and the leg warmers. Aerobic exercise simply means “ with oxygen” your muscles are using a fuel source that requires oxygen and this exercise tends to be of a longer duration, minutes or longer and is responsible for innumerable health benefits; lowered risk of heart disease, blood sugar control, improved cardiovascular (heart/lung) health, blood pressure and cholesterol, mental health improvements etc. Walking or jogging, aerobic classes, cross country skiing are examples of aerobic exercises.

Anerobic exercise- this type of exercise requires no oxygen and depends on the fuel stored in the muscles for energy. This type of exercise is intense, short lived (seconds instead of minutes) think, sprint instead of marathon. Anerobic exercise tends to be uncomfortable, however it is short lived and can result in increased strength and endurance especially if done in sets or bursts of high intensity.

Resistance training/strength training- is just that working against some kind of resistance, this is what most people think of when they think of “weight lifting”, however you don’t need to go to a gym and lift iron barbells around to get the benefits of resistance training, you can simply use your own body weight or exercise bands to get a positive effect. What kinds of effects, you ask? The list is exhaustive but here are a few; increased lean muscle mass ( we lose muscle as we age), increase metabolism ( as muscle mass decreases so does our internal “ thermostat” so more muscle more fuel burned), decrease diabetes risk/ improve diabetes control, lower blood pressure, reduce cardiovascular disease…etc., you get the idea.

The best message is get out and do something that elevates your heart rate be it aerobic, anerobic or resistance training of some kind every day.


See Dr. Mike Evans great video here for more information.

Ankle Sprains

This blog comes about due to the recent slippery conditions, resulting ankle sprains. Ankle sprains are one of the most common joint injuries, most people have experienced at least one during their life. Some people have had repeated ankle sprains whether due to sport or as some people will tell me they have “ weak ankles”, more on that comment later.

The ankle joint is formed by the two lower leg bones, the tibia (shin bone) and the fibula (the smaller bone on the outside of your leg) and the bones beneath that are part of the ankle and the heel.

So you’ve just twisted or rolled your ankle, what now? Ankle sprains or any injury to the ligaments ( tough connective tissues that connect bone to other bones) are graded from 1-3.

Grade 1 being the least severe, only some stretching of the ligaments, there may be some swelling and obvious at the end range of movements but no real damage to the ligament. You will be able to stand on your toes and may have a limp for a couple of days. Recovery takes 1-2 weeks.

Grade 2, is more common and involves some partial tearing of the ligaments, here there will be obvious swelling plus some bruising will also appear around the ankle and then into the bottom of one side of the foot. You will limp for up to 2 weeks, you will be unable to hop, run or stand on your toes, there will be pain with most movements. Recovery takes 1-2 months.

Grade 3 is more severe, complete tearing of the ligament, there will be bruising on both sides of the foot, weight bearing is impossible and nearly all movements will be painful and severely reduced. This may require surgery and months of treatment/rehab.

Ok, so when do I need an x-ray, should I go to the hospital? To determine need for an x-ray we follow the Ottawa Ankle Rules. These rules developed by the Ottawa Hospital Research Institute are designed to reduce unnecessary x-rays and reduce unnecessary hospital trips. In short the rules recommend x-ray if there is pain on touching the bones of the ankles and foot or there is an inability to bear weight and take 4 steps ( 2 with each foot) both right after the injury and at presentation to the health care provider’s office.

So what now, Grades 1-2 will respond well to conservative care including chiropractic care. Grade 3 will require a specialist consult, but if no surgery is necessary a conservative route can be taken but will require more time.

Initial home care will be for inflammation control (icing 10minutes/hour), rest ( including crutches), protection /compression of the joint ( some form of tensor bandage or brace) and elevation. Regaining mobility early is important, so moving the foot as much as possible in a non-weight bearing position, i.e. spelling the alphabet with your toes.

In the office we can use electrotherapy, ultrasound and hands on mobilizations to improve range of motion and decrease swelling.

As mobility improves and swelling decreases we will begin with strengthening exercises, initially non-weight bearing and then weight bearing.

Lastly, if you recall at the beginning of the blog, some people will say they have weak ankles or sprain them frequently. The reason for this is they have not retrained the ankle’s proprioceptive ability, or simply the ankle and the brain are not communicating properly and your balance is affected. To train for balance we need to stress the affected ankle alone, with one legged standing, hopping and balancing on an unstable surface.

I hope that this gives you a better understanding of ankle sprains and what to do about them. As always if you have any questions give me a call, send me an email, tweet or find me on Facebook.     info@drkevinfinnca @drkevinfinn 905-831-3939