Water Kefir – A Delicious Probiotic Elixir

Water KefirIf you are looking for a fun, easy, delicious and inexpensive way to add fresh, home-cultured probiotics to your diet, water kefir may be just for you. Water kefir grains, also known as tibicos, are a culture of healthy bacteria and yeasts held together in the gelatinous polysaccharide matrix which they produce in a symbiotic relationship. The kefir “grains” ferment in sugar water to produce a fizzy, probiotic beverage which can be flavoured in a multitude of delicious and creative ways. The taste resembles that of kombucha tea – mildly sweet and mildly sour, with some nose-tickling effervescence.

I probably don’t need to write an entire essay about the health benefits of cultured foods / probiotics because it has already been overdone all over the internet. However, I will include a few point-form notes about cultured foods in general…

Health benefits of homemade cultured foods:

  • an excellent source of fresh probiotics or “good bacteria”

  • helps to balance the gut flora (the gut plays a huge role in immune system function)

  • boost immunity and therefore overall health and healing

  • easier to digest because they have been partially broken down by healthy bacteria and yeasts

  • improve digestion and reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome

  • fermentation naturally preserves foods

  • healthy skin

  • source of vitamins and minerals

  • making your own means that you can control the ingredients (you can use organic ingredients, avoid fillers, preservatives, artificial flavours and artificial colours)

More about water kefir:

Water kefir is one of many possible options for a homemade probiotic. Other fermented foods include, yogurt, milk kefir, kombucha tea, kimchi, pickles, sauerkraut, miso and many others. Water kefir is a great probiotic alternative for those who are allergic or sensitive to dairy. Water kefir is also a great way to ween oneself off soda pop. Water kefir can also be used as a starter culture for homemade fermented vegetables.

Sounds great, Dr. Liz! How do I get started?”

First, you need to find a source of water kefir grains. Once you have grains, you can produce your own water kefir indefinitely. The grains will multiply which means that you can share them with family and friends. There are several websites that sell dehydrated grains. Or you can do what I did and find a local source of fresh, live grains on kijiji.

You will need:

  • some quart sized mason jars with plastic lids

  • a fine mesh sieve

  • jars for bottling

  • a funnel


  • 1/4 cup organic cane sugar

  • 3-4 cups water (chlorine and fluoride free)

  • water kefir grains

  • your choice of flavouring option (such as chopped fruit, chopped fresh ginger, hibiscus, lemon etc)


  1. Add 1/4 cup organic cane sugar to bottom of sterile mason jar

  2. Add ~1/2 cup boiling water and swoosh it around until the sugar dissolves

  3. Fill the mason jar most of the way up with the remaining cold water (leaving space for the grains)

  4. Check to make sure the temperature is not too hot or too cold. It should be approximately room temperature. If not, let it sit on the counter for a few minutes.

  5. Add the water kefir grains.

  6. Set the lid on the mason jar lightly so that fermentation can take place in the presence of oxygen. Alternatively, you can secure a coffee filter or cloth on the top of the mason jar with an elastic band. Make sure there is no access to fruit flies or other insects that like sugar!Water Kefir

  7. Allow the gains to ferment in the sugar water for 24-48 hours out of direct sunlight.

  8. When it is ready (determined by taste), use the sieve to filter the grains out while pouring the fermented liquid into bottles.Water Kefir

  9. The grains are ready to ferment a new batch (repeat steps 1 through 8).

  10. Add your choice of flavour to the bottles then secure the lid on tightly for a “second fermentation.” In this example, I used some goji berries, rose buds and hibiscus. This is where you can be creative. You could also use chopped organic fruit, a lemon wedge, chopped fresh ginger or dried fruit.Water Kefir

  11. Allow the kefir to ferment for another 24-48 hours with the flavouring added. The second fermentation is when the kefir gets fizzy.

  12. Chill before serving and enjoy!

So there you have it – easy, fun, healthy and delicious! Cheers! :)

Now for just a few words of caution… If it looks weird, smells weird, tastes weird – when in doubt, throw it out and start from scratch again. Mould or bugs? Throw it out! Avoid if pregnant or breastfeeding – there is a small amount of alcohol produced during the second fermentation (sources suggest between 1 – 3%). Avoid if you are diabetic – while the culture consumes a lot of the sugar, there is still some left in the end product. Those with other health problems should consult their primary care provider.

Health is a lifestyle choice. Choose it. Make Chiropractic care a part of your healthy lifestyle.

Looking for a chiropractor in North York? Dr. Serbinski is happy to offer her chiropractic services.

Dr. Elisabeth Serbinski

Check out the rest of my diet and nutrition articles.

Golf and Chiropractic: Don’t Let Injury & Pain be Par for the Course!

Golf CourseGolf is a great activity for amateur and professional golfers alike. It allows one to appreciate the outdoors, be active and challenge one’s skill/balance and co-ordination. Understandably frustrating at times, but overall a fun sport! Just imagine how much more frustrating it would be to not play on account of pain or injury…

Chiropractic care is a safe and effective means to maximize your golf experience by treating and preventing common golf-related injury, improving flexibility and optimizing your body’s biomechanics. The purpose of this article is to provide information to help prevent golf injuries and on how to hasten recovery should one occur, for an earlier pain-free return to play.

Common Golf-Related Injury

Being a whole body activity, it is not surprising that a golf injury can involve any structure in the body including the low back, neck, shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees or ankles! A full examination of each problem area as well as related structures is necessary to properly diagnose and treat the problem.

Since golf is a non-contact sport, overuse injuries are far more common than single traumatic events. Just think of the repetitive nature of the golf swing and the rotational forces that the body must go through! Muscle imbalance is very common in golfers because it is a very repetitive, one sided activity. In addition to the golf swing itself, the sport also requires walking on uneven surfaces, repetitive bending to retrieve the ball and maneuvering a heavy golf bag.

Studies show that golf-related injury is far more common towards the beginning of golf season. This is why it is important to stay physically fit all year round.

Why Chiropractic for the Golfer?

Some common reasons for golfers to seek chiropractic care are as follows…

  • treatment of golf related injuries (for a more complete recovery and earlier pain-free return to play)

  • early detection of mechanical problems in asymptomatic individuals

  • prevention of sports related injury and possibly even improved performance

During an initial visit to a chiropractor, a health history and physical examination is done. The purpose is to fully understand the patient’s presenting concerns and overall health and then to objectively record any findings. A physical examination is likely to consist of an assessment of posture, flexibility of the spine and related joints, functional testing, muscle challenge and neurological testing. The information gathered is used to diagnose problems and to identify any areas of imbalance that may contribute to pain, injury and suboptimal performance.

Chiropractic treatment consists of hands-on care which may include muscle work and adjustments to the spine, pelvis or extremity joints for any identified problem areas. The goal is to restore optimal mechanics/function of the joints and to improve muscle function. Beyond this, exercises may be prescribed for improving muscle balance, golf posture and core strength. Core strengthening, endurance training, balance training and resistance exercises are all great golf-specific exercises both on and off-season.

If you think about the mechanics of the golf swing, it really involves the entire body. Flexibility and stability are both required. For complete rotation during the golf swing, flexibility is required for all joints including the spine, hips and shoulders. A restriction in the full range of motion at any one joint may cause undue stress to other joints (above and below the restricted area) as compensation patterns develop. This can result in irritation and pain over time. Chiropractic helps by ensuring that all joints are moving efficiently and there are no restrictions in the kinetic chain. It restores balance and optimal biomechanics.

Tips for Golf Injury Prevention

The Ontario Chiropractic Association recommends the following ten tips for golf injury prevention…

  1. When lifting your golf bag, bend your knees and lift using your legs, not your back

  2. Always warm up with a few minutes of aerobic activity, such as brisk walking

  3. Stretch the muscles in your back, abdomen, legs and shoulders before your game

  4. Use clubs that are the correct length, so you don’t have to bend or overextend your back

  5. Wear soft spikes on your shoes for greater cushioning and shock absorption

  6. Use a cart rather than carrying your clubs

  7. Take some lessons on how to swing and choose the correct club.

  8. Occasionally practice swinging in the opposite direction to balance the stress on the muscles in your back

  9. Bend your knees and use a golf club for support when stooping to retrieve your ball

  10. Always stretch to cool down after finishing a game

Other Helpful Tips for the Golfer

Be aware of your body posture and position Golf Postureduring the golf swing. The optimal starting position for the golf swing is a slight bend in the knees and hips and a neutral spine position. A neutral spine is achieved when the natural curves of the spine are maintained – including a slight backward curve in the low back and neck and a slight forward curve in the upper back. The neutral spine position is a strong, athletic, efficient and safe position for the back to be in. These curves should be maintained throughout the golf swing so that there is only rotation in the joints and no flexion/extension. Some researchers also suggest shortening of the back-swing to reduce spinal torsion/shearing as a back injury prevention strategy. In this situation, the shoulders and pelvis remain parallel for the majority of the swing.

Regular core strengthening exercises should be done both on and off-season. A strong core helps to protect the spine from injury by providing stabilization. The core muscles also provide a lot of the driving force for the golf swing.

Another consideration for the golfer is custom foot orthotics. The feet are one’s base of support, so faulty alignment at the feet can actually impact the rest of the body. One of the most common foot functional problems is over-pronation which can contribute to pain/irritation of the feet, knees, hips and even the back.

Health is a lifestyle choice. Choose it. Make Chiropractic care a part of your healthy lifestyle.

Looking for a chiropractor in North York? Dr. Serbinski is happy to offer her chiropractic services.

Dr. Elisabeth Serbinski

Check out these related articles:

Chiropractic Care for the Cyclist

Foot Posture: Rehab for Over-Pronation

Common Muscle Imbalances: Upper Crossed Syndrome & Lower Crossed Syndrome

The Forward Head Posture Epidemic

Why Posture Matters

I recently did some free posture screenings at the National Women’s Show at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. It always amazes me how many people have postural imbalances and don’t even realize it! Many of them wonder why they have neck pain, back pain, headaches or general soreness without having any form of injury or trauma. A lot of the time, these problems are a direct result of irritation to muscles, joints or nerves from chronic, uncorrected imbalances in the body. Allow me to explain…

Some of the most common postural imbalances that I see are forward head carriage, excessive spinal curves, uneven shoulders or pelvis and scoliosis. These imbalances can arise from many different things such as daily activities, slips/falls, inactivity, daily stress, one-sided activities (such as golf or tennis) or poor posture habits (such as slouching). Posture imbalances can also sometimes originate at the feet which serve as one’s base of support. For example, if one or both arches collapse, it sets up an imbalance that will affect the alignment of related joints (like the knees, hips and pelvis). Everything is connected! In any event, body asymmetry over time can lead to uneven wear and tear to the body which can contribute to arthritis, muscle tension and tightness/restriction in spinal joints.

Common Posture Imbalances

It simply makes sense that a body in balance will feel better, heal better and function better!

A Healthy Spine = A Healthy Body.

Standing posture, sitting posture and dynamic postures are all important. Inappropriate body posture/position while lifting, for example, can result in injuries.

Posture is a like a window to the spine. If your posture is off, so too is your spinal alignment.

Regardless of pain or symptoms it is important to have your posture imbalances and alignment corrected as a form of spinal health maintenance and overall wellness. You don’t have to have pain to have a problem and a lot of the time these asymmetries can be corrected before chronic uneven wear and tear results in pain. You only have one spine! So take care of the one you have! Regular chiropractic checkups can prevent problems before they start just like how regular dental cleanings can prevent cavities.

The great news is that many posture problems can be corrected or drastically improved with chiropractic care. Chiropractors use hands-on adjustments to correct the alignment and mobility of the spine, pelvis and related joints such that your body regains its mechanical and neurological balance. Soft tissue therapies and home exercises may also be incorporated into your care plan depending on individual needs.

Achieving mechanical balance is only half of the chiropractic story. Chiropractic care also helps to balance nervous system function. Spinal health is so important because it protects the nervous system which controls and co-ordinates every system and process in the body. For optimal health, we need optimal communication in the nervous system. This can be achieved by optimizing alignment of the spine.

Autonomic Nervous System

Regardless of pain or symptoms, everyone should have their spine checked. Chiropractic works.

The doctor of the future will give no medicine but will interest his patients in the care of the human frame, in diet, and in the cause and prevention of disease.” ~ Thomas Edison

Health is a lifestyle choice. Choose it. Make Chiropractic care a part of your healthy lifestyle.

Looking for a chiropractor in North York? Dr. Serbinski is happy to offer her chiropractic services.

Dr. Elisabeth Serbinski

Check out these related articles:

Common Muscle Imbalances: Upper Crossed Syndrome & Lower Crossed Syndrome

The Forward Head Posture Epidemic

Foot Posture: Rehab for Over-Pronation

Why Prolonged Sitting Sucks & How to Save Your Spine


Why Chiropractic Care for Kids? – Asks North York Chiropractor

It is very common for adults to seek chiropractic care for a range of physical issues such as back pain, neck pain, headaches, chronic postural stress, injuries from sports, arthritis and others. Parents may wonder why they should have their child’s spine checked. Just as for adults, kids can also have mechanical imbalances or spinal misalignment that can result in suboptimal function and an irritation to the nervous system. The nervous system is very important as it controls and co-ordinates every system and function in the body. Spinal dysfunction or misalignment can put stress on the developing nervous system. Optimal spinal alignment however, allows for optimal communication, optimal function and optimal healing potential. Spinal misalignments may occur at any point during development from activities of daily living and stresses. Regardless of pain or symptoms, a spinal health check is an excellent way to determine if the body is functioning at its best. A nervous system free of stress allows optimal expression of life.

Where do misalignments come from?

These can occur for a variety of reasons such as trauma from birth, bumps and falls as one progresses through developmental milestones, postural stress and others. Emotional stress can manifest as tightness in muscles that affects underlying alignment. Physical, chemical and emotional factors can all contribute to misalignment.

What can you expect from a pediatric chiropractic visit?

The first step is a detailed health history from birth until present. This is used to identify stresses to the body and to discuss heath concerns. Next, a physical examination is done to assess spinal health, function and alignment. If any misalignments or imbalances are detected, the chiropractor will recommend a course of chiropractic care. How does a chiropractor treat and infant or child? Primarily this done by specific adjustments aimed to restore optimal spinal mechanics and alignment – which is a manual procedure. Adjustments for the little ones are very different from adults. Pediatric adjustments are very gentle, safe and effective and take into consideration the unique biomechanical properties of the pediatric spine. For an infant, this means only the light touch of 4-6 ounces. Kids enjoy their visits to the chiropractor.

Reasons to have your child’s spine checked:

1) Birth trauma

Birth itself is a traumatic experience not only for the mother but also for the baby, where the baby must twist and rotate in a confined space and there is potential for injury especially to the head and neck. A difficult or painful labour/delivery necessitating multiple interventions (such as episiotomy, forceps, vacuum extractor..) can affect the baby. Congenital torticollis is a condition that can be caused by birth trauma and it responds well to chiropractic and other gentle, manual treatments. Other telltale signs that your child should have a spinal health check are visible head tilt, a misshapen skull that doesn’t balance out within a couple weeks after birth, difficulty with breastfeeding or latching on one side compared to the other (may indicate a problem in the neck) and colicky behaviour (creates stress on nervous system).

2) Developmental milestones

Developmental MilestonesDuring development, different milestones are met (such as sitting upright, crawling, standing, walking, etc) and during this time the body must adapt to different stressed placed on it due to gravity. There is also a tremendous amount of growth and changes to the body such as development of normal spinal curves. During this time there is also potential for tumbles and falls which can affect underlying spinal alignment.

3) Falls and injuries

Children fall a lot as they grow up! They may fall of change tables, sofas, fall as they learn to walk and fall from sports. These falls can be minor traumas or be painful injuries depending on how bad the fall is how how they land. Regardless of severity, a spinal health assessment is necessary.

4) BackpacksBackpack

In school aged children, backpacks are used – even from a very young age. An overloaded backpack can affect posture and put abnormal stresses through the muscles and joints of the spine. Carrying a backpack improperly will cause asymmetric loading and create imbalances in the developing spine.

5) Postural stress from sitting at a desk or using electronic devices

There is a tendency in most to slump forward, slouch or sit awkwardly. Chronic postural stress will impact the developing spine.

6) Emotional stress

Emotional stress can manifest as muscle tension and misalignment. Chiropractic care helps to balance the body and the nervous system. People often report improved mood, energy and sleep when under chiropractic care.

7) Scoliosis

Children should be screened for scoliosis as this condition usually develops as the spine grows and there is risk for progression. Scoliosis is an abnormal sideways deviation of the spine which should be monitored over time. Some cases of scoliosis benefit from manual therapies and rehab exercises.

8) Other childhood issues

Parents often bring their children for chiropractic visits for all kinds of problems such as ear pain/pressure, fluid in the ear, ear infections, allergies, asthma, colic, digestive disorders and others. Just to clarify, chiropractors do not diagnose of or claim to cure organ problems. It is still important to see the pediatrician for diagnosis of this type of condition. However, kids with these problems often benefit from chiropractic care. A body in balance will function better overall and a nervous system free of interference will allow better communication and healing. The spine protects the nervous system. Better spinal alignment means less interference in the nervous system.

Regardless of pain or symptoms, a spinal health check is an excellent way to determine if the body is functioning at its best. Find a chiropractor in your area or if you’re in Toronto or the GTA, come to my North York chiropractic office.

Dr. Elisabeth Serbinski


Did you like this post? If so, click the Facebook “like” button below to share it with your friends!

Chiropractic Care for the Cyclist

Chiropractic care for the cyclistChiropractic care is an effective way for maximizing your cycling experience by treating and preventing common cycling injuries, improving flexibility and optimizing your body’s biomechanics. As you roll right through summer, be sure to take care of your body! Whether you are a recreational cyclist, a commuter or a competitive cyclist, chiropractic care has much to offer. Let’s learn more about common cycling injuries and how chiropractic care works.

Common Cycling Injuries

North York and Toronto are full of cycling enthusiasts and Dr. Elisabeth Serbinski is one of them! As a chiropractor, she diagnoses and treats the underlying cause of cycling-related injuries as well as other sports injuries. Certain types of musculoskeletal injuries and imbalances are common among cyclists due to body posture / position and repetitive use of certain muscles. Pain or discomfort can arise acutely or may develop over time due to chronic overuse. Instead of waiting, have an assessment by a competent health professional in your area and have your imbalances / injuries treated in a timely and appropriate manner. Remember, you don’t always need pain to have a problem. It is reasonable to have a chiropractic assessment regardless of pain as you are sure to learn a lot about your body and may even prevent pain or injury from happening! Some common cycling injuries include:

  • low back pain due to forward flexed posture during cycling

  • neck pain due to facet joint irritation, pinched nerves or strain to posterior neck muscles

  • shoulder pain

  • wrist and hand pain from carpal tunnel syndrome or ulnar neuropathy (handlebar palsy)

  • knee pain due to iliotibial band syndrome or patellofemoral syndrome

  • hamstring and quadriceps muscle strains

  • hip pain

  • ligament sprains

  • thoracic outlet syndrome

  • Achilles tendonitis

  • bruises, abrasions and fractures from trauma

Neck pain and back pain among cyclists are often attributed to poor body posture such as hyperextension of the neck and forward flexion of the low back. This can cause certain muscles to become tight and irritated and spinal joint restriction and irritation to develop.

How Chiropractic Helps

Prior to any treatment, new patients will undergo a health history and physical examination to identify functional problems and establish a diagnosis. The recommended treatment and treatment frequency will vary depending on the diagnosis and prognostic factors. Treatment is likely to consist of hands-on manual care such as adjustment to spinal or extremity joints, joint mobilization and/or directed soft tissue therapy. This is likely to be combined with specific corrective exercise prescription so that you may facilitate your recovery at home (stretching chronically tight/short muscles and strengthening chronically long/weak muscles). The goals are to reduce pain naturally, heal faster and more fully and to restore optimal biomechanics in terms of function, flexibility and range of motion. Chiropractic care is great because it is non-invasive, drug-free, effective and logical.

Benefits of chiropractic care include:

  • pain relief

  • enhanced flexibility / range of motion

  • improved cycling biomechanics

  • improved muscle balance and tone

  • faster healing for injuries involving muscles, ligaments, joints and nerves

  • injury prevention and wellness

If a foot imbalance is identified, custom foot orthotics may be recommended as they help to restore optimal alignment at your base of support.

Other Helpful Tips for the Cyclist

Be aware of your cycling posture! When gripping the handlebars, keep your wrists in a neutral position to minimize risk for developing carpal tunnel syndrome and handlebar palsy. Keep a slight, comfortable bend in your elbows instead of locking them. Keep your shoulders low and set. Feet should point forward. Engage your core as you ride. Having your bike professionally fitted can also make a big difference in optimizing your body’s alignment and efficiency during cycling.

So, if you are looking for a chiropractor in North York, book an appointment with Dr. Serbinski and find out how she can help.

Dr. Elisabeth Serbinski


Did you like this post? If so, click the Facebook “like” button below to share it with your friends!

Neck Pain? See a Chiropractor! Spinal Manipulation is Superior to Medication According to Research

Today I’d like to share an article published by the Annals of Internal Medicine: “Spinal Manipulation, Medication, or Home Exercise With Advice for Acute and Subacute Neck Pain, A Randomized Trial.” This trial was a collaboration among medical doctors and chiropractors.

In this trial, 272 persons aged 18-65 were randomized to one of three intervention groups:

  1. Spinal Manipulative Therapy (SMT) Group: Sessions lasted 15-20 minutes and included manual adjustment (high velocity joint thrust) and mobilization (low velocity joint oscillation) to involved areas of the spine (areas of segmental loss of mobility). Additional therapies included light soft-tissue massage, stretching and hot/cold packs.

  2. Medication Group: Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, acetaminophen or both were given as the first line of therapy. For those who did not respond, narcotic medications were used. Muscle relaxants were also used.

  3. Home Exercise with Advice (HEA) Group: Two 1-hour sessions were provided in which therapists instructed participants on simple self-mobilization exercises for the neck and shoulders. Participants were instructed to do 5-10 repetitions of each exercise 6-8 times per day.

Throughout the trial, participants rated their level of pain, disability, global improvement, satisfaction, general health status and any side effects. The study concluded that SMT was superior to medication for both the short and long term for pain as well as the other outcome measures for participants with acute or subacute neck pain. A few sessions of HEA produced similar positive outcomes. Of note, side effects were most frequent in the medication group (at 60% of participants) and were systemic in nature (mainly GI symptoms and drowsiness) compared to SMT (at 40%) and HEA (at 46%) which were primarily musculoskeletal (mainly muscle soreness).Chiropractic Adjustment

So, what is the take home message here? If you have neck pain, see a chiropractor! A chiropractor is a spinal health expert. The purpose of chiropractic is to restore optimal function and mechanical balance in your body such that no one area is being over-worked. It also helps to restore optimal communication within the nervous system such that you can heal at your greatest potential. A chiropractor will examine the area of complaint (as well as related structures), provide a diagnosis and offer manual therapy and advice to treat the underlying problem so you may return to your normal activities that you love.

Neck pain is fairly prevalent, affecting an estimated 70% of people at some point in their lives. It can have a significant negative effect on quality of life. So why wait? See your chiropractor today!

Dr. Elisabeth Serbinski


Did you like this post? If so, click the Facebook “like” button below to share it with your friends!

Looking for a chiropractor in North York? Visit Dr. Serbinski’s Website for more information.

North York Chiropractor Discusses Conservative Options for Knee Pain

When it comes to knees, it is probably best to explore conservative options prior to undergoing surgery, according to some of the latest research (1, 2, 3). Certainly, it is important to be informed as to the potential benefits and risks of any treatment prior to making any decision about your health.

There are many different pain Conservative treatment for knee paingenerating structures in the knee (including the cruciate ligaments, collateral ligaments, menisci, muscles, tendons, etc). The first step before entering any treatment program is to establish a diagnosis as depending on the type of injury, the recommended treatment may differ. Seek a chiropractor or other musculoskeletal professional in your area. If you’re looking for a chiropractor in North York, come see me!

Conservative Options:

Chiropractic care: Chiropractors are biomechanical experts who can not only establish the diagnosis but can deliver conservative forms of care. The goals are to restore mechanical balance / alignment in your body such that no one area is being overworked, to relieve pain without medication, to improve function and to accelerate your body’s natural ability to heal.

Pain relieving modalities: Electrical stimulation and acupuncture are both great choices for relieving knee pain without the use of drugs. These are especially helpful during the acute phase of recovery when there is usually considerable pain and inflammation. Depending on the condition, ice or heat can also work well.

Targeted rehabilitation: Following the acute phase, rehabilitation becomes important. Optimal knee function requires muscular balance and both flexibility as well as stability. Rehabilitation involves strengthening the muscles that are relatively long/weak and stretching muscles that are relatively tight/strong.

Soft tissue therapy: Soft tissue therapy can help break down scarring and adhesions from injuries that may otherwise compromise normal range of motion and function. It also temporarily increases circulation in the area to enhance healing.

Activity modification: Sometimes too much activity, or not enough, or poor form during an activity can result in aggravation of symptoms. In addition certain types of activities are not as safe for your knees (such as high impact sports or activities on an uneven terrain). That being said, some amount of activity is necessary as it flushes fluids through the joints, carrying nutrients and removing metabolic wastes. One of the best things for osteoarthritis, for example, is low impact range of motion exercise (such as swimming).

Custom orthotics: Orthotics are special insoles for your shoes. Custom made orthotics are specially constructed to correct the alignment of your feet and to improve shock absorption so there is less impact through your joints. Because the knees are functionally connected to the feet, poor alignment of the feet can cause or contribute to knee pain (or pain higher up in the kinetic chain). A common contributing factor to knee injury is overpronation. Overponation causes the longitudinal arch to drop which results in an inward torsion of the knee (creating more tension on the MCL and medial meniscus and compression of the lateral knee joint space). Over time, this suboptimal loading can result in pain or injury.

Appropriate footwear: Choose shoes that are appropriate for the activity with good support, stability and shock absorption. See: Tips for Healthy Feet

Ideal body weight: Reaching your optimal body weight if you are overweight, will help lessen the compression though your knees as well as other joints in your body and reduce the risk for osteoarthritis (4).

Knee brace or athletic tape: Using a knee brace or athletic tape while performing activities can help provide passive support to the knee and proprioceptive feedback. For injuries involving ligament damage, there is often a loss of joint position sense (proprioception) due to damage to nerve endings. This can set one up for future injury. Athletic tape provides more stimulation to the skin receptors to enhance your joint position awareness.

Glucosamine supplementation: Glucosamine is a natural substance the body makes that supports the health of joint cartilage.

Anti-inflammatory diet: Different foods are metabolized differently, some promoting inflammation and others reducing it. Having an anti-inflammatory diet will help rid your body of excessive inflammation and help to reduce pain naturally.

Have patience: Depending on the nature and severity of the problem, it may take several weeks or even up to a year to reach maximal recovery.

  1. Moseley JB, O’Malley K & Petersen NJ, et al (2002). A controlled trail of arthroscopic surgery for osteoarthritis of the knee. N Engl J Med. Jul11;347(2):81-8.

  2. Katz JN, Brophy RH & Chaisson CE, et al (2013). Surgery versus physical therapy for a meniscal tear and osteoarthritis. N Eng J Med; Mar18.

  3. Kettunen JA, Harilainen A & Sandelin J, et al. (2007). Knee arthrooscipy ad exercise versus exercise only for chronic patellofemoral pain syndrome: a randomized controlled trail. BMC Medicine. 5:38

  4. Felson DT, Zhang Y & Anthony JM et al. (1992). Weight loss reduces the risk for symptomatic knee osteoarthritis in women. The Framingham Study. Ann Intern Med. 1;116(7):535-9.


Dr. Elisabeth Serbinski


Did you like this post? If so, click the Facebook “like” button below to share it with your friends!

Looking for a chiropractor in North York? Visit Dr. Serbinski’s Website for more information.

Scoliosis Treatment Options: North York Chiropractor Presents

ScoliosisScoliosis is a condition in which there is an abnormal lateral deviation of the spine. In layman’s translation: if you look at a person from the back side, the spine has a C-shape or S-shape curve instead of the normal, vertically upright orientation.

There are two categories of scoliosis: postural scoliosis and structural scoliosis. The purpose of this article is to differentiate these two types of scoliosis, to describe the chiropractic approach to scoliosis care and lastly, to differentiate this from the medical approach. This is so that you may better understand some of the various available options for scoliosis care.

Functional / Postural Scoliosis:

A postural scoliosis is essentially an postural adaptation to an imbalance in your base of support. For example, a leg length inequality or a low arch on one side compared to the other. This will cause the pelvis to dip down on one side. Then your spine will curve as an adaptive response because all of the joints are functionally connected. This type of scoliosis is generally flexible and can be diagnosed from physical examination findings (evidence of short leg and a flexible spinal curve that unwinds with side bending of the torso). This type of scoliosis is also usually fairly straightforward to correct. Custom foot orthotics are used to correct the alignment of the feet or a heel rise is used if there is a structurally short leg. Chiropractic care may also be recommended to the postural scoliosis patient to address any muscle or joint findings and any resulting pain from years of abnormal force distribution.

Structural Scoliosis:

A structural scoliosis is a bit more complicated to deal with. There are many types of structural scoliosis. One such type is adolescent idiopathic scoliosis. This is a rigid, inflexible spinal curve and for unknown reasons, the spine just grows that way. While the spine continues to grow, there is a risk that it will continue to get worse. Chiropractic management includes manual adjustments and/or mobilizations to the spine to improve flexibility, function, alignment and mechanical balance. Chiropractic care is also helpful for naturally managing pain. Exercises are also prescribed.

Proprioceptive exercises are particularly beneficial for scoliosis patients (of either type). Proprioceptive exercises are exercises that improve body position awareness. Examples include exercises on an exercise ball, rocker board, wobble board or vibration platform. Yoga and Tai Chi are also great balancing exercises. Chiropractic care combined with proprioceptive exercises help to retrain the central nervous system. Beyond this, specific corrective exercises may be prescribed which are designed to stretch the relatively tighter muscles and strengthen the relatively weaker ones. Preferably, these should be done daily. Deep breathing exercises and sleep posture awareness are also beneficial.

Risks of Scoliosis:

Just because you have scoliosis does not guarantee that you will have problems later in life. Many people carry on with their lives with no idea and a scoliosis is incidentally found later. That being said, there are some risks with scoliosis. Statistically, with greater curves there tends to be more pain and also earlier onset of arthritis due to uneven wear and tear to the joints. There is also a risk that the scoliosis may continue to progress (especially during adolescence, when the spine is still growing). With structural scoliosis, there is concern about compression of the internal organs when curves progress beyond a certain point.

Scoliosis Diagnosis:

Scoliosis is diagnosed through physical examination and/or x-ray imaging. The physical examination entails an assessment of posture, flexibility of spinal ranges of motion and orthopedic testing. Chiropractors have trained eyes for detecting posture abnormalities such as unleveling of the shoulders, pelvis, hips, knees and feet which may indicate an underlying scoliosis. If a scoliosis is detected, the second step is to determine if it is postural or structural. A postural scoliosis will unwind upon side bending of the torso. A structural scoliosis will not unwind fully upon side bending and will have a positive Adam’s test (forward flexing the spine will have evidence of rib protrusion on one side). An x-ray may be ordered to evaluate the severity and objectively measure the curve. Other potential causes for scoliosis also need to be ruled out.

Conventional Medical Management of Structural Scoliosis:

The conventional medical management of structural scoliosis involves monitoring, bracing, medication and/or surgery. Medication is suggested only as a means for symptomatic relief and does nothing to solve the underlying cause (which is unknown). If the patient is still growing, progression is monitored by first a baseline x-ray and then follow-up x-rays every few months. If the curve progresses, a spinal brace is typically recommended. A brace is intended to prevent further progression but patient compliance is a challenge because spinal braces tend to be uncomfortable and awkward (especially for the self-conscious adolescent). If the scoliosis progresses beyond a certain point, the patient may be recommended spinal surgery in which a metal rod is surgically fused to the spine to straighten it out. This procedure is invasive and has many inherent risks.

Why Chiropractic Makes Sense:

In light of the other available options, chiropractic care is a logical approach for scoliosis management. Chiropractic care is hands on, non-invasive and drug-free. It attempts to correct the underlying mechanical problems in scoliosis, relieve pain naturally and empower the patient to continue appropriate home care corrective and postural awareness exercises. While there is no guarantee that chiropractic will correct a structural scoliosis, there is evidence in the literature that it can slow the progression and improve the curve in some cases. For these reasons, chiropractic care makes sense. If unsuccessful, the conventional medical management is still an option. While chiropractic care is a logical approach, it is not a quick fix. Typically a lengthy course of care is recommended, with regular progress examinations to objectively evaluate changes.

  1. Chen, Kao-Chang & Chiu, Elley. (2008). Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis Treated by Spinal Manipulation: A Case Study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine: 14(6); 749-751.

  2. Sanna, Mark. (2009). A New Look at Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis. The American Chiropractor: April 2009; 18-19.

  3. Woggon, Dennis. (2005). Scoliosis Correction – CEAR Solutions; Chiropractic Leadership, Educational Advancement & Research. The American Chiropractor. February 2005; 54-56.

  4. Hyland, John. (2008). Functional Scoliosis. The American Chiropractor. April 2008; 30-31

  5. Payne, Mark. (2008). Scoliosis: A Postural Approach. The American Chiropractor. April 2008; 26-28.

  6. Yochum, Terry & Maola, Chad. (2008). Scoliosis. The American Chiropractor. April 2008; 14-16.

  7. Lamantia, Marc. (2009). Review of the Literature: Non-operative Scoliosis Treatment. The American Chiropractor. April 2009; 20-23.

  8. Woggon, Dennis. (2006). Can Chiropractic Care Help Scoliosis? The American Chiropractor: May 2006; 24-25.

  9. Morningstar, Mark, Woggan, Dennis & Lawrence, Gary. (2004). Scoliosis treatment using a combination of manipulative and rehabilitative therapy: a retrospective case series. BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders.

Dr. Elisabeth Serbinski


Did you like this post? If so, click the Facebook “like” button below to share it with your friends!

Looking for a chiropractor in North York? Visit Dr. Serbinski’s Website for more information.