Our last post looked at why and when to use heat therapy, but what about ice you may ask? It is common knowledge that if you hurt yourself playing sport, at the gym, or out in the garden, you apply ice to the area to stop swelling and inflammation. Many people spend 20-30 minutes continuously icing an aching joint or sore muscle. Research has shown that this can actually be counterproductive. Dr Romain Meeusen, a cryotherapy expert of the Free University of Brussels says that icing an area for too long can actually make the injury worse and if you are icing an injured area, it should be used with caution.
The ice and heat debate is a never ending discussion. Depending on what book you read or who you talk to, you will get different answers as to what is best and how to use them effectively. Here is my take on heat therapy.
Heat therapy can have numerous benefits and has long been associated with comfort and relaxation. However, it can provide both pain relief and healing benefits for injuries. Heat is best used for sub-acute and chronic or long term conditions.
So how does it work?
Heat therapy can help provide relief through several mechanisms:
How to use heat therapy effectively
My suggestion for using heat therapy is to have a good heat source like a wheat bag, hot pack or a heat lamp.
My favourite thing to use is a wheat bag for its ease of use and safety (if you follow the instructions and heat it correctly). If you are using a microwave to heat a wheat bag, make sure you put a cup of water in the microwave to avoid overheating the wheat.
When applying the heat I have found short bursts tend to work more effectively from a physiological perspective. Apply the heat for 20min (to make sure it penetrates deeper tissues) them remove the heat for approximately 40 min before re-applying for a further 20min. These short bursts will help bring two big rushes of fresh oxygenated and nutrient rich blood to the area to help speed up the healing process. You can leave the heat on for longer, but applying it in shorter bursts will give you the best physiological response.
We stock a range of wheatbags made locally in Whenuapai. They are great value and great quality. If you come to my practice, make sure you check them out. If you would like some more information about this article please contact us. Stay posted for the next blog on the reasons for using ice and how to use it effectively.
One of the most common statements I hear when someone comes to see me is, my back has gone out, can you pop/crack it back in. This statement leads to my usual response, if your back has gone out, then where did it go? It is a common misnomer that people have that their backs can “go out”. Unless you have a significant injury with a traumatic joint separation and dislocation, it is unlikely that you back is “out”. What actually occurs is that a joint complex has lost its normal motion and is fixed or stuck, which can then cause pain, irritation to nerves etc. Chiropractors, call this joint dysfunction a Subluxation. Rather than 'popping' or 'cracking' it back we chiropractors perform an adjustment, with the intention of restoring normal motion back to the joint. Various techniques that chiropractors use do create a popping or cracking sound. So what is this popping sound that you hear during a chiropractic adjustment? One thing I can say is that is not “bones cracking”.
Based on the results of some research published in the Journal of Manipulative and Physiological Therapeutics, it would appear it could. The study, entitled "Effect of Cervical Spine Manipulative Therapy on Judo Athletes' Grip Strength" by M, Botelho and B, Andrade, looked at the effect of chiropractic spinal manipulation on a team of top Judo Athletes. The results showed that there was a statistically significant increase in the grip strength in the treatment group compared to the sham group. Over the three treatments the treatment group received, the left hand grip strength improved by up to 11.53% and the right hand improved by up to 17.02%. This is quite a big improvement.
The results of this can be useful for anyone who requires grip strength for their work, sports or hobbies. Think of cricket or tennis players that need to hold onto their bat or racket. Think of tradies, like builders and plumbers, who need good grip strength to hold onto their tools. How could an improvement like this help you in your work, sports or activities? If you would like to find out some more about chiropractic care and how it may be able to help or benefit you, contact us.
The research article can be found at www.jmptonline.org/article/S0161-4754(11)00223-5/abstract
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