Allergies in the Winter

You know the feeling, you are sniffling and sneezing…again. And again, you are feeling achy, exhausted and headachy.

Most people do not think about their allergies as the cause of their annoying cold-like symptoms during the cold winter months because the cause of most respiratory allergies — pollen — is not generally floating about in the cold and snowy climate.

Yet some of the most troublesome and frustrating allergies are two things found inside. Things like dust mites, mold and animal dander top the list.

What are the Allergies?

Allergies are overreactions of the immune system to foreign particles that ought to be innocuous. For reasons that scientists do not completely understand, some people have a more dramatic reaction to things like dust mites or mold spores than others. And, just as some people react worse than others, some experience, some headaches and others sinus pressure.

How Can You Tell the Difference Between Allergies and a Cold?

So how do you know if you have an allergy or a cold? Both allergies and colds are caused by a virus and an allergen that is set off your body’s immune responses. Both can lead to a runny or stuffy nose, fatigue, sinus pressure, headaches, a cough and sore throat. However, there are some symptoms that are more likely to occur with allergies. These include itchiness of the eyes, ears, and back of the throat. While symptoms like aches and fever often indicate a cold.

Another huge difference is the timeline and persistence of these symptoms. Generally, when you have a cold, you will first feel crummy, and then you will get sick before your symptoms gradually go away. Often a cold only lasts a week, maybe two at the most. Allergies, however, tend to show up on a more recurring basis, without the slow build up or gradual depleting of symptoms.

Are There Any Complications That People With Allergies Tend to Experience?

People who experience allergies throughout the winter are more likely than others to develop asthma, which is a much more serious and chronic condition.

What Can I do if I Have Indoor or Winter Allergies?

-Reduce your exposure as much as you possibly can. This can be quite challenging, however, knowing that dust mites live in bedding, upholstered furniture and carpeting means that you should be washing and changing your bedding and upholstery on a regular basis. The fact that mold grows in damp places such as bathrooms and basements means that if you suspect you might have a mold problem, you should get it checked ASAP. And well, if you have pets, you should be trying to avoid coming in contact with too much loose fur, and vacuuming either every other day or every single day depending on how serious your symptoms are.

-Cockroaches are another extremely common allergen that is found in most urban settings. When it comes to dealing with these little critters your best bet is to vacuum frequently, wash bedding in hot water every few days, and to remove mold with a bleach solution.

If you think that you might be battling winter allergies, there are a wide variety of over-the-counter products to help relieve some of your symptoms, including antihistamines and decongestants.


How to Prevent Swimming Shoulder Injury

How to Prevent Swimming Shoulder Injury

The warm weather is here, and for many of us (myself included), it’s the perfect time of year to include some swimming into your fitness routine. Swimming is a super activity that has a mountain of benefits for the entire body—especially if you are looking for something that is easy on your joints. That said, swimming can take a toll on your shoulders. Improper technique and overuse often results in the ever-dreaded swimmer’s shoulder. Here is some handy advice I’ve scraped together to help you prevent shoulder injuries, or how to come back from one.

Before you get in the pool

Before you jump in the water, you should warm up your shoulders. You can begin with some band or dryland exercises to help your shoulders prepare for swimming. Boosting your heartrate and circulation will help with the range of motion in your joints, putting less strain on your shoulders when you begin swimming.

Bands

Begin warming up your shoulders with some quick and easy band exercises. Bands are extremely effective because you can do numerous stretching exercises and build your strength without straining your shoulders. When it comes to getting you ready for the pool, bands are your shoulders’ best friend.

Dryland

There are several great dryland exercises that will help you prepare your shoulders for swimming. For instance, you can do some dips on a bench or bench push ups to warm up your shoulders. But keep in mind, stop doing these exercises if your shoulders start hurting.

Practice

When you are swimming, pay close attention to how your shoulders are feeling. If they start to hurt, take a break. Overdoing it can cause serious damage to your shoulders, like tendonitis and rotator cuff problems. If your pain persists, consult a healthcare provider.

Technique

One of the main causes of shoulder injury is poor technique. So, if you are experiencing shoulder pain, you might need to make some adjustments. Getting help from a coach will help you iron out your technique, and pin down your mistakes.

Post-workout

After your swim, it’s important to stretch your shoulders. Post-workout is crucial when it comes time to protecting your body. Your muscles are tired and are on the mend, beginning the process of repairing themselves.

See a healthcare provider

Shoulder health is not only vital for swimming, but also for day to day living. So, it’s a good idea to take care of them. If you are experiencing chronic shoulder pain, see a health care provider. They will educate you on how to properly take care of your injuries.

In need of a proper shoulder support? Come in to meet with our brace fitters today!

Have any shoulder exercises you would like to share? Let us know, as we would love to hear about it!


Don’t Let the Risk of Ankle Injuries Sideline from Playing Soccer

Don’t Let the Risk of Ankle Injuries Sideline from Playing Soccer

Soccer (or football) is hands down one of the most popular sports on the planet. And with the ever-increasing number of Vancouverites catching Whitecaps fever (myself included), interest in this world-famous sport has never been bigger. From elite athletes to weekend warriors, hordes of people are heading out to the nearest field to take part in a sport that so many people all over the world have come to embrace.

Twisting your ankle is a part of the game

Like many of you, I used to love racing of up and down the soccer field with my classmates during gym class, or on the weekends with my friends. I don’t think I ever took part in any competitive or recreational soccer league, however, without watching some of my fellow teammates get hurt.

Let’s be honest, getting hurt is part of the game. Sooner or later, someone is going to hobble off the field—or worse, get carried off. And without a doubt, one of the most common injuries from soccer is a sprained ankle. Between running nonstop on the field, weaving around players, or even being stepped on by them, it isn’t really all that shocking.

Managing your sprained ankle

Thankfully, it’s not all doom and gloom when it comes to on-field ankle injuries. If you have twisted or sprained your ankle, there are several steps you can take to speed up the healing process. The first thing you need to do is get off the field as quickly as possible—a little help getting to the sidelines from your coach or soccer buddies will help keep the pressure off your ankle. Next, you want to apply some ice to your ankle, making sure to avoid placing it directly on your skin. Then, wrap your ankle with a bandage or elastic tape and elevate it above your heart to help stop pooling in your ankle.

Getting back in the game

When you have given your ankle enough time to heal and you’re ready to get back on the horse, wearing an ankle brace will help ease the pain and prevent further injury. The added support will also stabilize your ankle, allowing you to run, kick, and change directions like a pro (ok, well at least like your old self) again.

Don’t let an ankle injury keep you off the soccer field this season. If you are looking to prevent sprains, rollovers, and minimize the risk of overextension, a quality ankle brace really is the way to go.

Before you head out to the soccer field this year, come in to meet with our brace fitters today.

Taking up soccer this season or thinking about joining a league? Let us know, we would love to hear about it!


A Hiker’s Guide to Knee Support

A Hiker’s Guide to Knee Support

The 2016 hiking season has finally arrived with the opening of the Grouse Grind. What’s that? You’ve never visited Mother Nature’s Stairmaster? Whether you are an accomplished hiker or a novice out for your first climb, the spectacular scenery at the top is well worth the challenging 2,830 steps ascent up the mountain.

As a hiker, I always try to fit in time for the Grind whenever I can. Unfortunately, however, I have suffered from knee pain for the past several years. And let me tell you, pain in your knees climbing up the Grouse Grind can make for a pretty unpleasant hike.

Knee injuries can happen doing just about anything. However, the endless pounding of hiking can really put a lot of wear and tear on your joints. The chance of a torn ligament from a twist or a fall are always a possibility on the trail, but it is your knees that are more likely to suffer if they are overworked. But if you are like me, the thought of being cooped up indoors on a gorgeous day, nursing a sore knee is simply not an option.

Here are some helpful tips to keep your knees in great hiking condition and treat your joints with the respect they deserve.

Wear high quality hiking shoes/boots

When it comes to protecting your knees, it’s all about the shoes. Take my word for it—wearing a proper fitting, well-cushioned shoe is going to make a world of difference. The right footwear will help take pressure off your knees when your heels hits the ground. If you are thinking hiking boots, make sure they have shock absorbing soles and ankle support. Quality hiking boots will help minimize the impact of shock during hikes, helping to save your knees.

Strengthen your legs

Taking on a challenging hike without being physically prepared is a sure-fire way to injury. Is it really worth crossing the Grouse Grind off your bucket list if you wind up in the hospital? Knee problems are less likely to happen when you strengthen your leg muscles.

I like to do a lot of exercises that workout my hamstrings, inner thighs, quadriceps and calves. For example, I ride my bike (or a stationary bike when the weather’s brutal) for at least 30 minutes every day. I also do a wide variety of weight-bearing exercises, including lunges, step ups, and squats. Keeping your leg muscles strong and balanced will help your knees handle the stress while hiking.

Wear knee braces

When hiking, wearing a knee brace is a great option for additional support. There are a wide variety of braces on the market for compression, stability, ligament support, tracking, and more. So, I highly recommend consulting with a physician or a qualified pharmacist to help you get a grip on what works best for you.

Don’t let the hiking season pass you by. With a little help and a little planning, you can help minimize pain and maximize your experience on the trail.

Taking up hiking this spring? Come in to meet with our brace fitters today.

Have you been up the Grouse Grind or are you thinking about it? We would love to hear all about it!