Tag Archives: Dr. Shereen Kangarloo

NW Calgary Chiropractor

Optimal Sleep Position

We all know how important our sleep is, but perhaps even more important is whether or not we are sleeping in the best position. What is the ‘best position’? Is there truly a best? One of the questions I routinely ask during assessments with a new patient complaining of back stiffness or discomfort is what position they sleep in. Different sleep positions can absolutely affect your immediate and long-term health, so if you often wake up feeling sore and stiff, perhaps your sleep position is to blame. Sleep position can be a difficult habit to change, but appropriate modifications can be very beneficial to your overall health.

There are four main sleep positions: on your back, side, stomach, or in the fetal position. However, there are also many variations of these four, and you will often change positions many times throughout the night. Sleep studies have shown that we tend to change positions between 4-17 times a night, however most of us do have a general preference towards one position.

Tips for the YOUR optimal sleep position:

Back sleepers: Kept simple, this position should keep your head, neck and spine aligned.

  1. Place a small pillow behind your knees, I find it helps to place the pillow under the fitted sheet to reduce the pillow from being kicked out.
  2. Use a fluffy but thin pillow so your not overly flexed forward at your neck.
  3. Not an ideal position if you tend to snore or have sleep apnea.

Stomach sleepers: This position is said to be the worst position. When you sleep on your front you most likely have your head rotated to one side to breathe. This  head rotation creates an imbalance in the range of motion in your neck and can cause neck pain and stiffness in the future.

  1. Use a thin pillow, or try sleeping without a pillow to decrease the strain on your neck.
  2. Put a small pillow under your pelvis, this will put your back in a more neutral position and take pressure off the spine.
  3. If you are experiencing acute low back pain, sleeping in this position for a short period may give you some relief. Place your hands under your forehead and hold this position for a 10 minutes.
  4. If transitioning off your stomach, try placing a body pillow under the fitted sheet and lay along the pillow. This will tilt your body slightly and slowly assist you to sleep on your side.

Side sleepers: This is a great position to keep your spine relatively neutral, can reduce acid reflux symptoms and snoring.

  1. Consider using a pillow between the knees, this will keep your hips square.
  2. Make sure your mattress is not too soft so that your body does not sink and create a side curve in your spine.
  3. Make sure your mattress is not to firm to cause pressure points at your hip and shoulder.
  4. If you are pregnant a full length body pillow is helpful to hold and place between your knees.

Fetal Position Sleepers: This position can be comfortable for a short time for women during pregnancy and also help reduce snoring.

  1. Use a full length body pillow to hold and support the body.
  2. Transition to a more supported side sleeping position.


In the end all sleep positions have their pros and cons, and your optimal sleep position may not be that of your neighbour. If you are waking up in pain or discomfort it may be time to make some simple adjustments to improve your position. You can always ask any of us here and we can recommend a few options for you.

Happy Sleeping everyone!

Written by Dr. Shereen Kangarloo, BSc, DC

6 Ways to Make it Through Calgary Stampede Healthy

WOW, Stampede is here – or should I say Yee Haw! It’s the first week of July, which means everyone’s  stampede attire is getting ironed and ready to go. Staying healthy and getting exercise can be hard during holidays and festivals, especially when there are free pancakes at every other corner.

Below are my top 6 tips to stay healthy and keep moving throughout the Calgary Stampede.


1. Have a plan:

This will help you adhere to your normal routine and not throw you off from your usual work, exercise, sleep and/or dietary habits. This doesn’t mean you have to have every minute scheduled, just don’t cram too many things into your week that go against your norm. If you are planning to attend a couple of pancake breakfasts, try to spread them out throughout the week, or search for the healthier options: at Talisman Centre for example, or a slightly more elaborate breakfast put on by Amber Approved.  Stay on track with your exercise; don’t skip out on your walks, runs, spin classes or yoga, just schedule them in before you head to the party!


2. Bring water and pack healthy snacks:

To not go off the rails completely, it helps to bring some of your own food with you to Stampede events.  Healthy snacks – such as dried fruit, vegetables, and nuts – are easy to pack and a great side to fair food. Whole fruit doesn’t bruise as easily – think apples, oranges, or bananas. Because of the hot summer days and all of the walking around, I always bring a water bottle that I can refill at the grounds. Also make sure you drink enough water after your alcoholic beverages to stay properly hydrated throughout the day. The heat can be strong out there and you wouldn’t want to end the day with heat exhaustion or heat stroke. If you notice any signs of heat exhaustion, promptly go to the nearest medical tent or health centre.


3. Keep the fair foods to a minimum.

This year the stampede is featuring 44 new and unique foods (see the full list here), just focus on 1-2 must-have food treats. Each year I treat myself to a mini corn dog and one new dessert treat (last year was the deep fried oreos, this year I’m thinking the decadent milk shake). When you limit the day to 1-2 treats it makes you savour every bite. This goes for the pancake breakfasts as well: don’t douse the pancakes with too much syrup and try to limit yourself to 2 cakes.


4. Share your tasty stampede treats:

Not only does sharing your treats allow you to try a wider variety of foods, but also cuts back on the serving sizes. For example, the small bag of mini donuts is a perfect treat to share. There is a ton of sugar and processed ingredients in those donuts, so see how you feel just after a couple. If you can’t share with someone, decide beforehand how much you are going to eat and then leave the rest on your plate. It’s highly likely that you will be completely satisfied and won’t feel ‘deprived’ by the time you have consumed that pre-set amount of food, versus finishing it off and not feeling well from the overly large serving you just consumed.  


5. Apply sunscreen and wear your cowboy hat:

If you plan on being out on the grounds all day, definitely bring some sunscreen with you and remember to  reapply mid day.  Often we don’t realize how much sun exposure we receive out on the grounds until it’s too late. Also, your cowboy hat is not just a stampede attire necessity but also provides great sun protection. For the kids, get the hats with a string attached to go around the chin – this is helpful to ensure that they don’t lose them on the rides.  


6. Break in the cowboy boots:

If you plan on wearing your boots over the week, try breaking them in for a few short walks before hand. This will prevent blisters and get your body a little more adjusted to the heel raise in the boots. As a backup plan when packing for the day, a light pair of shoes or sandals may be good to have incase your feet get sore.

Well that’s all folks. Happy Healthy Stampeding to all you Cowboys and Cowgirls!


Written by Dr. Shereen Kangarloo, BSc. DC

Vitamin D: The Sun & Supplementing

The importance of vitamin D is a hot topic, especially now as we are getting warmer weather. Vitamin D is a crucial vitamin that helps with bone health, immune function, brain health, muscle function and even protects against diseases such as multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis.


How We Get Vitamin D:
There are three ways to obtain vitamin D. The best and most natural source is from skin exposure to sunlight, secondly from vitamin D supplements and lastly from food. However, it is quite difficult to get the appropriate amounts from food.


Let’s Talk Sun Exposure:
Exposing bare skin to sunlight, specifically the ultraviolet B rays (UVB) allows the body to naturally produce vitamin D for the body. It is important to know that you don’t need to tan or burn to get the appropriate amounts of Vitamin D. Receiving vitamin D from UVB rays depends on the time of day, where you are in the world, the colour of your skin and the amount of skin exposed.
The best time of day to get vitamin D is in the mid-day, between 12-2pm, when the sun rays are at the best angle to pass through the earth’s atmosphere (for those science geeks who want to learn more about the sun check this book out). The further away you live from the equator, the less UVB rays available. Living here in Calgary means that we don’t get much for UVB rays from approximately October to April. This timeframe is when it is most important to supplement with vitamin D.

The colour of our skin and amount of skin exposed plays a large role in vitamin production as well. The darker your skin, the harder it is for your body to absorb the UVB rays. This is due to higher melanin content in darker skin, which protects against the harmful effects of sun exposure. Remember, I am not saying that those with darker skin need to tan or burn, but may need a little more time in the sun than someone with fair skin in order to receive an adequate amount of UVB rays for vitamin D production. Also, the larger the amount of skin exposed to the sun, the faster the vitamin D production. I know it can get complicated with all these factors. According to the Vitamin D Council, they suggest to “get half the sun exposure it takes for your skin to turn pink, and expose as much skin as possible”. The time taken to achieve this amount of exposure generally ranges between 10-30 minutes during peak hours of sunshine. After this amount of time it is suggested to stay in the shade, wear sun-protective clothing and use UVA and UVB protectant sunscreens to reduce the risk of burning and skin damage.


Supplementing with Vitamin D:
We are very fortunate to live in Calgary, one of the sunniest cities in Canada, however many of us aren’t ready to expose large areas of skin in the winter. This is where supplementing becomes important. Supplements are found in the forms of vitamin D2 and D3. Vitamin D3 is the vitamin D that is produced in our bodies so is the best option when buying a supplement. The supplements can be found in capsule, tablet or even liquid drops. It doesn’t really matter what form you take as vitamin D is usually easily absorbed, especially when eaten with a healthy fat (as vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin).

The recommended dosage ranges between 600-10000 IU a day for an adult. What I recommend to make it simple, is between 2000-6000 IU/day. You may think this is high, but considering someone with fair skin produces 1000 IU’s of vitamin D in perfect conditions in just 5 minutes (according to the Norwegian Institute for Air Research and their Vitamin D/UVB Calculator) this isn’t too much. Personally, I use vitamin D drops with each drop being 1000IU, and I get between 2-6 drops a day based on how many drops fall on the spoon. You can also get your vitamin D levels checked from your medical doctor and they can evaluate whether you are low or need to adjust your levels. Vitamin D supplements are usually very safe, but if you are on certain medications, or have certain medical conditions I recommend asking your family doctor whether there may be any interactions or contraindications to supplementing.


Food Sources of Vitamin D:
As mentioned before, food isn’t the best source for us to get the right amounts of vitamin D so I am keeping this section short. You can find vitamin D in fatty fish (like wild salmon, mackerel and tuna fish), fish oil supplements, fortified milk and milk alternatives. Recent studies have shown that a palm size serving of wild salmon will give you a little under 1000 IU of vitamin D, compared to farmed salmon supplying ~250 IU. Unless you plan on eating 2-6 pieces of wild salmon a day during the winter, I definitely recommend taking a supplement and going outside in the summer.

Now let’s go outside and get some sunshine!


Written by, Dr. Shereen Kangarloo BSc. DC

Neck Pain Solutions

Regularly we have patients coming to the clinic complaining of neck pain. Most commonly these patients are reporting discomfort after sitting for long hours at their desk or pain worsening throughout the day. I am not saying all neck pain is the same but a generalized tight and stiff neck is commonly caused by bad sitting habits and poor neck posture.

This poor head and neck posture increases the stress on your muscles, ligaments and joints,  causing the postural deconditioning model- which Dr. Kara talked about here.  This deconditioning can lead to neck pain, headaches and jaw pain.

So what can you do to stop the de-conditioning?

Try these two simple exercises which only take a couple minutes. I always say to do these exercises once an hour every hour. Sneak them in before you head to lunch, at every red light, once you have sent off an email or after you have liked a picture from our instagram. Yes once an hour every hour seems like a lot but that is only ~12 times in your day and should only take you 24 minutes. Ultimately you would benefit doing these exercises 3 times a day but 12 would be even better!

The Chin Tuck: A very “attractive” exercise, creating the double chin effect. 

This exercise helps decrease forward head posture by strengthening your neck muscles. You can do this exercise standing, sitting or even laying down on a mat on the floor.

Chin Tuck exercise Calgary Chiropractor

When doing this exercise seated or standing:

  1. Start with your shoulders rolled back and gently pulled down.
  2. Look straight ahead, and move your chin straight back. (Make sure you chin is not flexed forward or tilted backwards)
  3. Hold for 5 seconds and release for 1 second.
  4. Repeat 10 times

You are all done and that only took 1 minute! I perform these at red lights, while pushing my head into the headrest for some resistance. Notice after performing the exercise in the car that you may need to adjust your mirror as you will be sitting taller. If you plan on doing this laying on the floor, place a small towel behind your head so you have something to push your head back into.

Wall Angels:

This exercise helps open your shoulders back and strengthen your shoulder blades. This exercise can be performed standing against a wall or laying on the floor.

Wall Angels Exercise Calgary Chiropractor

  1. Stand with your back against the wall.
  2. Place your feet a few inches from the wall and have a slight bend in your knees. Your head, spine and glutes should be flush against the wall.
  3. Bring your arms up in a “Goal Post” position on the wall, your elbows bent with your upper arms parallel to the floor, and back of the hands touching the wall.
  4. Hold this position for 2 seconds
  5. Slowly straighten your elbows while sliding your hands up the wall to form a letter “Y”. Pay attention not to shrug your shoulders to your ears.
  6. Hold for 2 seconds
  7. Repeat 10 times

Again that only took 1 minute. Good work

You are on your way to better neck health and posture. If you need any help with these exercises just ask me.

Written by Dr. Shereen Kangarloo BSc, DC

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