Wellness Articles

Health Tips Provided by Vancouver Chiropractor and Naturopath

The monthly period. It is a pivotal marker for a woman’s fertility, and the body’s constitution and state of health have significant influence on how smoothly the body will undergo the menstrual cycle.

For some, the monthly period is just a minor inconvenience. But for many, the monthly period is a time of agonizing pain, cramping and other bodily discomfort that is met with dreaded anticipation every single month.

When women experience strong painful cramping before, during or just after the menstrual period, that is referred to as dysmenorrhea.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine there are five primary causes for painful periods:

1. Qi stagnation and blood stasis: seen as abnormal circulation or flow of energy and/or blood in the body
◦ Distending abdominal pain
◦ Pain aggravated by pressure
◦ Pain occurs just before or during onset of menstruation
◦ Often restricted menstrual flow during the first day
◦ Dark purple blood with clots or large pieces of decomposed tissue
◦ Breast tenderness
◦ rib/flank pain or discomfort

2. Cold-dampness coagulation and obstruction: seen as abnormal cold in the lower abdominal area
◦ Cold pain in lower abdomen just before or during menstruation
◦ Pain that worsens with pressure, but is relieved by warmth
◦ Light menstrual flow
◦ Dark purplish blood with clots
◦ Loose stools or diarrhea
◦ Dislike cold temperatures

3. Qi and blood deficiency: seen as lack of energy and blood in the body
◦ Persistent dull pain during or after menstruation
◦ Pain relieved with pressure
◦ Heavy or very light flow
◦ Pale thin blood with no clots
◦ Tendency for fatigue, dizziness and palpitations

4. Insufficient Liver and Kidney: seen as overworked or exhausted Liver and Kidneys
◦ Dull pain in lower abdomen after menstruation
◦ Light flow
◦ Dark blood with no clots
◦ Aching lower back and knees
◦ Tinnitus or ringing in the ears
◦ Occasional feverish sensation

5. Down Pouring Damp-Heat: seen as abnormal heat in the lower abdominal area
◦ Pain or burning sensation in lower abdomen during menstruation
◦ Pain is worsened by pressure
◦ Distending pain the lower back
◦ Thick dark red blood with clots
◦ Frequently have yellowish vaginal discharge
◦ Frequent low fever

Acupuncture and TCM herbal therapy have a long history in aiding reproductive health. They can help harmonize and correct your body constitution to alleviate painful periods.

If you are experiencing painful periods just recently, it is advisable to go see your family doctor or gynecologist to check for any functional or structural abnormalities first before seeking alternative therapies.

Book your appointment at Vitality Clinic at 604-687-7678, or contact myself (clow.vitality@gmail.com) to see if acupuncture and TCM would be right for you.

Have a great day,
Clarissa Low, RTCMP
Vancouver Registered Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioner

Celebrating Birthdays at Vitality Clinic

Wow, I can’t believe Vitality Clinic has had it’s doors open for 13 years already!  It fills me with immense pride, joy, and gratitude when I think of all the amazing patients, staff, and Practitioners who have walked through these doors.

As a Chiropractor, I love knowing I’m making a difference in someone’s health, but what has me smiling the most at the end of the day is knowing I have had the privilege of being able to share in so many personal and professional accomplishments. I relish in hearing your stories of health, engagements, marriages, births, death, and even divorce because it makes me feel connected to and part of your lives.  Thank you SO much for sharing these with me!

Another aspect of what I love about being a Chiropractor and Vitality Clinic’s owner is that every time someone walks through Vitality’s doors, I have the opportunity to learn.  I am still continuing to grow as a person, owner, and Practitioner and each new story or experience provides me with additional knowledge to learn from.

I know I speak on behalf of all staff and Practitioners’ at VC when I say we look forward to continuing to provide you with the best possible care we can and wish you much success in 2018.

All the best and see you soon,
Dr. Crysta Serné
Vancouver Chiropractor and owner of Vitality Clinic



Introduced in the United States in 1965 when Sherman Poppen bolted two skis together, snowboarding became popular with the introduction of commercial snowboards in the late 1970s. The popularity of snowboarding was further boosted after its introduction as an Olympic sport at the 1998 Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. In the 1980s, most snowboarders were young males. Recent surveys have shown that females and older persons are increasingly more apt to take up this sport. For example, the male-to-female participant ratio dropped from 9 to 1 in 1989 to 3 to 1 in 1995 (American Family Physician.)

Snowboarding is an extreme winter sport and as with any sport, there is a chance of injury, ranging from minor falls to high impact crashes. Although advanced snowboarders may try more dangerous maneuvers such as jumps and other aerial tricks, beginning snowboarders are the most frequently injured. This is often because they haven’t yet learned how to maintain a stable stance on the board and are thus more likely to catch an edge and fall. In fact, nearly 25% of injuries occur during a snowboarder’s first experience and almost half occur during their first season of boarding.

Considering the fact that both your feet are affixed in non-release bindings to a relatively narrow snowboard, it would seem logical that falling is the leading cause of injury. Jumps are the second most common cause of injuries and may be associated with head, facial, spinal, and abdominal injuries. Jumps are followed by collisions, often with stationary objects and/or other snowboarders or skiers. The overall injury rate is estimated to be 4 per 1,000 snowboarding days, similar to that in alpine skiing.

Compared to skiing, snowboarding injuries usually involve the upper extremities and the ankle. When snowboarders lose their balance, they can’t release their binding in order to recover, as both feet are firmly attached to the board. The instinctive protective reaction of a snowboarder then is to outstretch a hand to break the landing, thus placing the upper limb at risk of injury. Nevertheless, serious injuries are rare in snowboarding and generally occur when you lose control and collide with an inanimate object, like a tree. Wrist injuries are by far the most common of all snowboarding injuries, followed by ankle, and knee injuries.

Wrist Injuries
Wrist injuries tend to occur when snowboarders catch an edge, lose their balance, fall, and instinctively react by outstretching a hand in order to try and break that fall. Falling backwards and landing on your hands is a common occurrence, especially for those who are just learning how to ride. Hard impacts of those falls may cause sprains or possibly fractures to the smaller wrist bones.

If you fall back, try not to catch your fall with your hands because by doing so, you will be placing all the impact on your wrists. It is safer to teach yourself to fall on your elbows, especially if you are wearing elbow pads. As you fall backwards, keep your hands in front of you and point your elbows backwards as your elbows are able to absorb a much harder impact than your wrists. Even better is to roll out of a fall as this will distribute the impact over a greater portion of the body. 

Aside from teaching yourself proper falling techniques, wearing wrist guards are the best method of injury prevention. If you have wrist guards that you wore for inline skating or skateboarding, these will offer the same type of protection. Otherwise, most winter sports stores sell a variety of different styles and brands. Choose the style that offers you the greatest protection and comfort.

Ankle Injuries
Currently, fewer than one third of snowboarding injuries are to the lower extremities. The lead leg, which is at greatest risk, accounts for almost three quarters of such injuries. Ankle injuries occur mostly from hard sideway impacts such as crashes and are particularly common after jumping when a combination of compression and inversion (the ankle turning in) mechanisms are experienced. This may lead to an ankle sprain or to a more serious condition called “snowboarder’s ankle” – a fracture of the lateral process of the talus.

As with skiing, snowboard gear has a significant effect on the type and frequency of certain injuries. Generally, the risk of sustaining an ankle injury as a snowboarder is related to the kind of boots worn:

Hard Shell Boots tend to be worn by more experienced boarders and (as with ski boots) tend to protect the ankle joint. Hard shell boots lend themselves to a “boot top fracture” – a fracture of both the tibia and fibula. Although riders who opt for stiffer lace-up boots or alpine/carving boots are less likely to have ankle injuries, they may be more prone to knee injuries.

Soft boots are favoured by beginners because they allow some degree of ankle movement, which helps the rider to maneuver the board more easily. Unfortunately, soft boots give the snowboarder about twice the risk of ankle injury compared with hard boots. Any forces transmitted back from the board tend to be absorbed by this joint. This normally happens when the ankle is either compressed or inverted, which can occur after a jump.

If you’re a beginner, keep your bindings set relatively loose to spare your knees during falls. As you improve, you can gradually tighten the bindings to improve your control over the board.

Knee Injuries
During snowboarding, the knees are the natural springs of that absorb most of the shocks. Interestingly, 4 to 8 percent of snowboarding injuries take place while the person is waiting in ski-lift lines or entering and exiting ski lifts. Snowboarders push themselves forward with a free foot while in the ski-lift line, leaving the other foot (usually that of the lead leg) locked on the board at a 45- to 90-degree angle, placing a large torque force on this leg and predisposing the person to knee injury if a fall occurs. However, compared to skiing, knee injuries are less common and less severe in snowboarding for several reasons.

First, a snowboard only has two edges that can “catch” unexpectedly on snow as opposed to the four edges on skis. Also, snowboards tend to be shorter than skis; hence the lever arm of force produced by any twist is reduced. 

Most knee injuries in snowboarding are caused by extremely hard collisions (such as when you hit a tree), or impacts from unexpected angles or turning motions. To avoid such injuries, make sure you know your limitations; the time it generally takes for you to make a turn and your ability to make a sharp turn if need be. Keep in mind that as your snowboarding technique improves, your ability to absorb harder impacts will also intensify. Also, while boarding, make sure you keep your knees bent at all times, especially when performing jumps or tricks.

Head Injuries
Crashes with natural objects, such as hard snow surfaces or ice, rocks and trees, or unnatural objects such as rails and boxes on a half pipe, can cause concussions and serious head injuries. As a result, helmets are an essential component of any snowboarder’s gear. Although there’s little doubt about the importance of wearing a helmet, keep in mind that wearing one while snowboarding does not make you invincible. It is not unlike a football injury where concussions still occur even while wearing a helmet, and these injuries can have deleterious effects, years after. If you are going to go down the hill at mach speed, and you collide into a tree, you will most likely suffer injuries as a result.

Snowboard helmets are meant to reduce the risk and severity of such injuries and are certainly expected to be of benefit in more minor impacts, glancing blows and other similar mishaps. 

When buying a helmet, make sure to purchase one designed for snowboarding as they are specifically designed to combat injuries sustained in the sport.

Whether you’re a novice or an expert, prevention is the name of the game. Please take the necessary precautions and wear the proper gear when hitting the slopes.

Enjoy and be safe,
Dr. Crysta Serné
Chiropractor and owner of Vitality Clinic

Happy Thursday Everyone!

Now is the time of year when routines take shape again and patterns emerge.  If you haven’t sought out Chiropractic care, now is a perfect time to take those first steps.

Related Links:
Why Seek Out a Chiropractor
Is Chiropractic Safe?
What to Expect at Your First Chiropractic Visit
Chiropractic isn’t all About The “Crunch”
Low Back Pain
Neck Pain
Lower Back Stretches
Upper Body Stretches
Core Exercises

Have a great day,
Dr. Crysta Serné
Chiropractor and owner of Vitality Clinic


Vancouver Chiropractor and Registered Acupuncturist Provide Tips for Back to School

It’s back-to-school time and all this encompasses; back packs, homework, books, school sports, the odd sports or playground injury, and trips to school. The activity can be great for you and the kids, but heavy backpacks and poor posture can lead to various issues later on in life.

Here are 5 easy tips that will help keep the entire family healthy for back-to-school:

1. Find a good backpack! A good pack is light, snug, and comfortable to wear. It should be made of vinyl or canvas, with two wide padded shoulder straps and a waist strap. All straps should be adjusted so the pack is snug against the wearer’s back, and not “falling away” from the body.

A quality back pack is only as good as the way it is packed! Make sure the heaviest objects are close to the body and any bumpy, odd-shaped objects are placed on the outside, away from the back.

The weight of the backpack should be equivalent to a maximum of 15% of your total body weight!

2. Help set you and your back up for success when you’re hitting the books! When you are studying or reading, find a quiet place where you can concentrate on what you’re doing. Ensure you maintain proper eye level to either your book or computer by using a stand or pillow to prop the book or computer on. This will reduce the amount of strain on your neck and shoulders from having your book lay flat. Ensure you are implementing the “rule of 90’s” when it comes to sitting posture. Lastly, make sure you have a water bottle on your desk so you can take frequent small sips.

3. Returning back to school sports after some time off during the summer? If you have taken time off, you may need to spend some extra time helping your body return to pre-summer shape.

Be sure to warm up for a minimum of 10-15 minutes before playing. The warm up should involve simple movements that are sport specific your sport and also increase your heart rate. Remember, stretch before activity to prevent injury and stretch after to promote flexibility.

4. Moving your kids into their college dorm room, new apartment, or re-organizing your den? Improper lifting of moderate to heavy objects is one of the most common ways to injure your lower back. Be sure to label your boxes so that you or individuals helping you know what can be found inside, and how heavy they will be.

Before lifting make sure you have balanced footing and a good grip (boxes with handles are ideal).

When you are ready to lift or move an object, stand so that your nose, hips, and toes are facing it. Keep the object as close to your body as possible, bend with your knees and hips, and lift while engaging your quad (thigh) muscles.

5. Commuting. Sometimes the commute in is easy, while other days it seems you are stuck in never ending traffic. Ensure you have positioned your seat and head rest to abide by the “rule of 90’s”, have your water bottle handy, and give yourself more time than needed. It’s better to arrive safely, even if that means you might be a few minutes late!

Have a great weekend,
Dr. Crysta Serné
Chiropractor and owner of Vitality Clinic

Related Links:
Sprain vs Strain
Posture at Work
Standing versus Sitting Desks
Low Back Pain
Neck Pain
Upper Body Stretches
Lower Body Stretches
Care of Head, Neck and Upper Back


Cupping Provided by Vancouver Acupuncturist and RTCMP

You can see the tell-tale marks as more and more people sport large circular bruises on their bodies. You are starting to see them on athletes and celebrities in the media. Maybe you have noticed those marks peeking out of a friend or coworker’s shirt collar. What on earth are those marks, and why are people getting this done to their bodies?

“Cupping” is the name of this technique used to produce these marks and is an excellent method in the Traditional Chinese Medicine scope to help treat pain and facilitate healing. It uses small circular cups of various sizes applied strategically onto the skin with suction. The primary concept of this method is to increase local blood circulation to stimulate the local area and treat or prevent disease.

The lifting and stretching actions the cups have on underlying tissues help with breaking up stagnation to the channels/tissues, assist in draining excess fluid and cellular waste that may be trapped within the fibres causing tightness or inflammation, and invigorate the local areas with increased blood circulation to nourish and repair tissues.

It is interesting to to note only injured tissues or channels will show bruising with cupping. Healthy tissues may become pink or flushed with the vacuum-action, but that will fade very quickly after the cups are removed. Injured tissues, on the other hand, may show bruising ranging from bright red, brownish-red, purple, to even blackish-purple. The intensity of the colour often indicates the severity of the injury and will change over the course of several treatments (ie. darker bruising will eventually become lighter in colour and density with repeat treatments). The bruises typically take about 7-10 days to completely fade away, and during that time the skin may be tender. Massaging locally can ease the bruising, but no other special care is normally required after treatment.

Common applications for cupping include arthritis, chronic headaches, lumbago/lower back pain, shoulder pain, neck pain, and general muscle joint pain.

Those with infected, ulcerated or overly-sensitive skin, or edema should AVOID cupping. Pregnant women should also AVOID cupping over the abdominal or lumbosacral areas.

If you are interested to know if cupping is right for you, please contact Clarissa for more information at clow.vitality@gmail.com or call 604-687-7678 to book your appointment today!

Clarissa Low, RTCMP


Sleep Tips Provided by Vancouver Chiropractor

Everyone experiences poor sleep from time to time. Often it is occurs when the mind is overly preoccupied by a stressful situation and the insomnia can resolve itself when the stressor is removed or circumstantial conditions improve. However, some people suffer insomnia that persists regardless of major lifestyle and evening routine changes, and the goal to achieve deep, uninterrupted sleep seems to be an unending challenge.

How does TCM approach insomnia?

From a TCM perspective, insomnia is seen as a condition stemming from internal imbalances that affect the body’s ability to sleep soundly. In fact, TCM categorizes insomnia into 5 groups and identifies the heart, liver, spleen, stomach, kidneys, and gallbladder as the possible organs affected. The heart is the governing organ for the body’s spirit and mind, so not surprisingly, it is responsible for the more common forms of insomnia.

Each type of insomnia has its own set of distinctive symptoms that allows the TCM practitioner to determine which organs are affected and need balance restored.

1. Heart blood deficiency

For this type of insomnia, it is difficult to fall asleep, the person wakes up easily throughout the night, and frequently has many dreams. Physical symptoms may include heart palpitations, forgetfulness, weak limbs, pale complexion, dizziness, blurred vision, and/or sweating easily with minimal exertion.

2. Heart and Gallbladder qi deficiency

This type of insomnia is distinctive with the occurrence of many dreams while sleeping, being easily startled awake, and generally being easily frightened or timid. Physical symptoms may include heart palpitations throughout the day or night.

3. Heart and Kidneys miscommunication

This type of imbalance, aka water-fire disharmony, is understood as the heart and kidneys not working properly in tandem to balance the fire and water elements of the body. This form of insomnia manifests with irritability, brief periods of sleep but easily woken up, and heart palpitations with a sense of uneasiness. Physical symptoms may include dizziness, tinnitus, nocturnal emissions, night sweating, sore waist and knees, feverish chest, palms and feet, and/or dry mouth/throat.

4. Spleen and Stomach disharmony

This form of insomnia is typically seen as general poor sleep with a feeling of chest fullness, and/or focal distention (below the sternum). This disharmony between the spleen and stomach is usually linked to irregular/excessive eating.

5. Liver yang uprising

This form of insomnia exhibits itself as difficulty to fall asleep, with irritability, and tendency to get angry. Physical symptoms may include dizziness, rib pain, reddish eyes, bitter taste in the mouth, constipation, and/or reddish urine.


Acupuncture can be an effective method to help correct the internal imbalances and help the body achieve better sleep. Different points are selected to address the specific type of insomnia and to help the body achieve normal sleep. Sometimes herbal formulas are also used to assist the body to normalize and calm the mind and spirit.

If you are experiencing insomnia, acupuncture and herbal formula may be suitable for you to help you achieve sound and restful sleep.
Good night and sweet dreams!
Clarissa Low, RTCMP

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