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10 steps to decrease your risk of getting sick during the COVID-19 crisis

10 steps to decrease your risk of getting sick during the COVID-19 crisis


It seems simple enough but there are actually important reasons, considerations and steps to follow when staying safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.  For instance, did you know that hand washing has an equally important second step that must be followed?  That the reason the common cold is so “common” is the same reason that COVID-19 spreads?  That masks only protect you if you use them correctly?  That one of the greatest vectors of infection follows you everywhere (hint: it’s your phone)? 


These are just a few of the topics we will go over in the following post – but just for the record, the only real way of protecting yourself from contracting COVID-19 is complete social isolation (which is very unrealistic and impractical).  Keep in mind that all of these suggestions are no different for any infectious illness. 


Apologies for the length of this post but I have found some things need to be blatantly explained as WE CANNOT ASSUME some of the intricacies or reasons behind this stuff.  


The below suggestions are ordered starting from the most significant steps of things you can do to stay safe and decrease your risk of contracting COVID-19:



  • Hand Washing is king:


      1. This is considered the single most important infection prevention and control practice to break the chain of transmission of infectious disease (but this is because we touch our face so much – foreshadowing to the next suggestion).
      2. Soap (of any kind) and water is the gold standard of hand washing and must be done for a minimum of 20 seconds.
      3. Hand sanitizer is also acceptable but must have a minimum strength of 60% ethanol or isopropyl alcohol (but hand washing with soap is the superior and recommended method).
      4. This should be done when you enter a new environment (ie. someones house, a business) and again when you leave an environment (including before you leave your own house).  Here is a helpful link with more information on how to wash your hands correctly.  


  • DO NOT touch your face:


      1. Hand washing is technically irrelevant if you touch your face.  Your hands don’t make you sick – touching your face with contaminated hands is what makes you sick.  This is likely how you contract the majority of all colds/flu you have ever had: hand-to-mouth transmission.
      2. It is estimated the average human being touches their face up to 23-times an hour.  Therefore it is unrealistic to assume you will stop or even know you are doing so just make sure your hands are as clean as possible and try your best not to do it.
      3. This applies even more if you are wearing a mask (as the mask is likely moist and soiled from your own breath making it a great environment for virus and bacteria to transmit to you if you touch the mask).




      1. The main reasons why the common cold and flu are so prevalent is that as a social we have gotten used to still going out/working if we are sick.  
      2. These common illnesses spread in the EXACT same way as COVID-19 – except COVID-19 is unique in that is far more dangerous (even fatal) and virulent (spreads even easier and faster via the same means as the common cold/flu).
      3. This apply even to a minor sore throat or running nose.  STAY HOME FOR ANY AND ALL ILLNESS SIGNS OR SYMPTOMS.
      4. If people generally practiced this simple strategy alone it would significantly reduce how much everyone gets sick forever for all infectious illnesses that exist, period.
      5. Don’t be selfish and don’t be a hero.  It is not worth potentially furthering and prolonging the COVID-19 crisis.  Most illness will NOT be COVID-19 but should be treated as if they might be.  Symptoms can be very mild in the majority of infected people and these people usually never know they have it because they do not get tested because they are not that sick.
      6. It is much more responsible and helpful if you just isolate when sick, instead of everyone isolating to prevent from getting sick.


  • Social distancing (2-meters separation):


      1. Yes, this still applies as another significant reason viruses spread is by respiratory droplets – so keeping your distance helps a lot.  
      2. Standing or talking closely to someone can allow those droplets to get on you or your belongings – when you then touch those belongings and then touch your face or direct contact from those droplets get on your face/hands you run the risk of getting sick.
      3. Stay 2 meters or more away from everyone who lives outside of your household.
      4. Droplets are invisible and you cannot feel them – so it is best to assume they are just there if you are too close.


  • Masks don’t prevent you from getting sick:


      1. Masks do not protect you from getting sick from others – if anything they prevent others from getting sick from you.  
      2. The purpose of masks is only to contain your own droplets from your own breathing and speech.  
      3. Touching your mask once it is on is just like touching your face – viruses are really tiny and masks are porous in comparison.
      4. Once a mask is on, DO NOT touch it.  If adjustments need to be made, make them by only touching the straps/ties – NEVER touch the actual mask once it is on.
      5. Removing the mask should be done when you are home or in a sterile environment by only touching the straps/ties of the mask.  Immediately discard single use masks as they are not helpful after one completed use.  Cloth masks must be washed with soap and water after every use. 
      6. Wearing a mask incorrectly can confer a false sense of security if you do not use it properly.
      7. NEVER pull your mask down temporarily for any reason.  Pulling it down then putting it back up is actually no different than just straight up touching your face – in fact it might be worse as your mask is likely wet from you own breath and makes your hands wet, which makes it easier for viruses and bacteria to stick onto your wet hands (and then you touch your face or mask with these wet hands).  If you have to take your mask off, it is recommended you donn a new one on.
      8. It is recommended (not mandatory) that you use/wear a mask in situations where you will be interacting with people other than those in your own household (ie. grocery shopping, going to the bank, seeing your chiropractor).  Here is a helpful link with more information about masking.




      1. The dirtiest thing you probably own is your cell phone.  You are likely constantly touching it each day and not cleaning it.
      2. Using your non-cleaned cell phone defeats the purpose of washing your hands.  Think about it: you are touching your cell phone all day so whatever is touching your hands is on your phone so if you wash your hands and then immediately touch your phone then your hands are dirty again.  When was the last time you cleaned your phone?  Have you done it ever?  Studies show the majority of people have never properly cleaned their phone even once.
      3. If your phone is dirty and you use your phone for real phone calls, you are putting a dirty phone directly onto your face.  Consider the speaker phone option if possible.
      4. Make sure you search and educate for yourself how to properly clean and disinfect your phone.  I suggest you just google “how to clean my phone” and include the make and model of your specific phone.  DO NOT spray or immerse or wipe your phone with any liquid until you know it is safe to do so. 
      5. Do not blame me if you ruin your phone – it is your responsibility to understand how to do this without ruining your phone.  There is a plethora of information easily available online about  how to do this safely clean your phone.
      6. Same can be said about commonly touched items that leave the house with you (ie. keys, wallet/purse, car handle/steering wheel, etc) so wipe them down as well or ensure your hands are cleaned before you touch something new.


  • Modify/limit your social interactions:


      1. You might feel safe to start seeing family or friends again but remember the threat of COVID-19 has not passed us – we are just opening businesses and trying to rebuild the economy.  Do not let your guard down or think we are past this.
      2. Avoid any physical contact.  As hard as it may be to avoid hugging, kissing, touching loved ones, it should be avoided until we are out of the pandemic stage of this crisis. 
      3. Maintain social distancing when seeing friends or family (2 meters apart).
      4. If going to someone’s house/business, make sure you wash or sterilize your hands upon entry.  Do the same when you leave.
      5. If someone is coming to your house/business, make sure you clean all surfaces you may use with that guest over.
      6. Reconsider how you interact with the eldery.  The eldery are at a significantly higher risk than the rest of the population.  Is it really worth exposing them to a possibly fatal illness during this exact moment?  This same suggestion applies to smokers as COVID-19 affects them more significantly than the other populations of people.  Again it is very hard to say do not see these people but waiting a little bit longer before we resume in-person interactions is probably a good idea in the short-term.


  • Protect yourself first:


      1. You do not know what other people are doing or what their practices are, so it is best to assume they are not following proper practices and hygiene so it is your job to protect yourself by understanding proper procedures and etiquette to keep yourself safe.
      2. Politely educate your family and friends on how to stay safe as their behaviours may directly affect you – especially if you see them doing something that could be done in a more hygienic or considerate fashion.  
      3. It is important to keep in mind this is new to all of us so do not judge anyone for not knowing or misunderstanding; have tolerance and patience for others as we all navigate this unfamiliar situation together.  
      4. It is advised you abstain from educating strangers as this may result in unwanted and unnecessary conflict and confrontation.


  • Gloves are not as helpful as you think:


      1. Consider gloves to be the same as your hands – whatever your hands would touch, your gloves touch.  This means your gloves will be as “dirty” as your hands are so be careful what you touch when wearing gloves.
      2. DO NOT touch any of your personal items when using gloves as they confer a false sense of security that your hands are protected (which they are but contaminated gloves touching personal items just contaminate those items so later when your gloves are off and you touch those items with your hands you have defeated the purpose of wearing the gloves in the first place).
      3. Once you place a pair of gloves on (if you choose to use them) do not remove them until you are completely finished your purpose of wearing them and dispose of them immediately.  
      4. You still need to wash/sanitize your hands after using gloves.
      5. Washing/sanitizing your hands often is more helpful and protective than wearing gloves.




    1. You cannot really control whether you get sick or not.  All you can do is be mindful and try your best to avoid situations or circumstances in which you can decrease your risk.
    2. Do not live in fear.  It is hard to say that but life has to go on at some point, whether we agree with it or not.  All you can do is control your own situation and put yourself in the best spot to decrease your own risk.
    3. Do not worry about what other people are doing – it will drive you mad.  As mentioned above, protect yourself and try to avoid situations where you may have an increased risk or use some of the strategies mentioned above to lower your risk of infection.


Additionally, a healthy balanced diet and good cardiovascular health are exceptionally helpful as well as new studies are showing those with good cardiovascular health (people who exercise regularly) are less likely to become infected and those infected show less illness and recover significantly faster.  I suppose I should have made this a list of 12 steps but we all know 10 is far catchier.  


This is new and difficult for EVERYBODY, there is no “right” way and there is a lot to figure out when it comes to the “new normal.”


Hope you learned something new and that these tips help you in maintaining your health and those you care for.


Be safe, be patient, be tolerant and be kind,

Dr. Alim Kara BSc, DC


If you have any signs or symptoms of illness and believe you may have COVID-19 please use the Alberta Health Services Self Assessment Tool

***Disclaimer: These are 10 suggestions for decreasing your risk of infection only and will not completely prevent you from getting sick.

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

What does my pain mean?

Most people develop pain the same way; like constant sitting, lifting, silly mistake or by maybe trying to ‘keep up with the Kardashians’ too much. When, where and why someone has pain is usually a strong indicator as to what caused the pain. In most cases pain is predictable which can make it easier to identify and predict injuries, especially if you are observant!

As a disclaimer, the below statements just provide general information on types of pain, which DOES NOT replace the careful, educated assessment from a trained health care professional.



Non-specific pain is typically of muscular in origin and likely due to a repetitive strain injury. Usually there is no good reason as to why someone has this pain (no clear mechanism of injury).  Think about how your shoulders feel right now to get an idea of what I am talking about. This can lead to sharp pain if an activity that aggravates this pain is done repetitively.

You can typically train through without this type of pain without immediate/serious consequence. Stretching and exercise can help this type of pain as long as it is the right type of stretch/exercise (like these wonderful suggestions from Dr. Kangarloo), otherwise it can also progress or aggravate your pain if done incorrectly.


Usually means stop doing the activity that causes the pain, duh! Something has been pinched/compressed or has become injured. Sharp pain is usually directly correlated to inflammation. Tissues involved can be muscle, nerve or joint. Commonly has a defined mechanism of injury or is the active symptomatic stage of a repetitive strain injury.

Ice, compression and temporary rest (avoiding activities that cause the pain) help as does getting an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Stretching does not usually help (think about it, does it make sense to stretch something that is inflamed). Personally, I see many people in this stage of injury who just waited for their pain to go away but it never really does; kind of like how Kimmy Gibbler tormented members of the Tanner family over the years.


Usually a sign of nerve injury, most commonly nerve compression/impingement. In most cases these sensations tend to be on/off (non-constant). Avoid stretching (as nerves do not like being stretched when they causing sensations like this) and find the root cause by getting treatment under the supervision of a trained professional. If left untreated this can lead to long-term damage/dysfunction.


Ahhh! This is an indicator of a more serious tissue (muscle, nerve and/or joint) injury. Usually occurs when a muscle is torn or severely strained with signs of substantial inflammation and possible nerve involvement. Activity should be stopped immediately and you should make a point to solicit a medical consultation as soon as you can as leaving issues like this could result in serious injury/surgery.


With all types of pain, the gold standard of relief is consulting a properly trained health professional (the link is a shameless CCST plug) who can accurate diagnose and provide result-oriented hands-on therapy with accompanying advice on self/home care. It is important to note that if the right diagnosis is made and coupled with the right treatment, results can be expected even within one treatment!

Keep in mind that surgery or invasive therapies are rarely needed so be careful when consulting Dr. Google who tends to provide the scariest and/or worst possible injury/pain diagnoses.


Written by Dr. Alim Kara BSc, DC

Top 3 predictors for developing a injury

Why do we get injured? Are there steps we can take to avoid injury? Will I ever get better? Well to answer these questions: depends, yes and kind of. Thanks for reading! Bye.

As if that is it! Although it seems as most injuries are either of random origin (ie. Drunkenly lifting up your buddy at the bar while trying to imitate the infamous Dirty Dancing scene) or seem to arise out of the blue, there are some common trends as to why people seem to get injured.

I do not have a crystal ball but I can tell you the three most common predictors of injury that I know/treat so you can put on your Miss Cleo turban, shuffle your deck of tarot cards and shine up your crystal ball to figure out for yourself of whether you are at risk of developing a new and/or aggravating an old injury.


#1 – Repetitive Strain
This is usually the root cause for 90% of the issues I treat (in some form or another) and directly contributes to #2 on my list! Repetitive strain means doing something of low or high force repetitively; and when I say repetitively I mean like thousands of times over long periods of time (like decades even).

The number one cause of repetitive strain is sitting! Think about it, you sit for hours upon hours per day for years upon years. As your body adapts/degrades from this repetitive activity it slowly strains over time (see my blog post on postural deconditioning). This slow strain essentially weakens you from everything that is not sitting and that is how you become injured.

If you have pain somewhere and you don’t know why it is there (nothing happened to injure it) it is likely because of repetitive strain.

#2 – Old Injury
The old adage goes ‘you break it you buy it.’ This is true for your body, if you break it then you own that…forever. Just think about it, once something breaks it will always be weakest in the place it broke; especially if you do nothing about it.

Sorry to be all doom and gloom but this is the unfortunate reality of how injuries work in most cases. Why in most cases? Because we are lazy and think everything will fix itself over time. This is kind of true but what actually happens if you leave an injury without treating it is that the injured tissue becomes remodeled and the surrounding tissue starts to compensate. We then develop weird habits and muscle firing patterns as a result of changes/dysfunctional tissue and over time we re-injure this area.

However, if you get a proper assessment and/or treatment for a new injury in the early stages, preventative steps can be taken to help the body fix this issue faster without developing the compensation and dysfunction that normally follows.

#3 – New Activity
Let’s continue to harp on this old adage theme and throw out another one, ‘practice makes perfect’. So referencing back to #1 we can confirm we have all practiced being good perfect at sitting so when we introduce a new activity the body can be slow to respond. Now starting a new activity doesn’t directly correlate to developing a new injury but considering most of us go all-in and over do it when we try something new, it becomes a common way to develop a new injury.

You should always ease into a new activity the same way you ease into a cold lake; after time, once fully immersed you should have nothing to worry about (other than shrinkage).


So to wrap things up here are my suggestions to avoid injuries:

1.) Don’t get injured!
2.) Take care of your body by investing time/treatment/therapy into by working with professionals trained to prevent injuries.
3.) Three, move around more! Don’t allow repetitive strain the opportunity to ruin your body.

Remember, “nobody puts baby in a corner” so get out there and move around!

Written by Dr. Alim Kara 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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