Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Heat or Cold Therapy?

Every day I have an evaluation and one of the questions that always comes up is, “Should I use heat or cold for my pain/injury?”  Since it is such a common question, I thought I would address it here.

Heat: The Good and Bad
Superficial heat can help improve flexibility to your tendons and ligaments, reduce muscle spasms. It can also alleviate pain and elevate blood flow.  “Increased blood flow occurs in the heated parts of the body because heat tends to relax the walls of blood vessels.  That is one reason why sports doctors recommend you steer clear of the practice of heating already inflamed joints.”

Cold: The Good and Bad
Cold therapy can also reduce muscle spasms but is most noted for pain relief and reducing swelling.  The cold actually “deadens” the nerve-cell activity.  Some issues with the pain relieving effects are that people get so much pain relief that they often return to work too soon.   Studies have shown that cold therapy, when combined with compression dramatically decreased swelling.  This is because the cold constricts the walls of the blood vessels and compression restricts the amount of blood that can reach that part of the body.  Studies show that cold produces large decreases in edema or swelling and better reduction in discomfort, compared to heating.

My first option is always ice but it is important to look at the pros and cons of each modality.  If you are still confused, contact your local physical therapist for a better evaluation of your specific issue.

Ref: http://physical-therapy.advanceweb.com/SharedResources/Downloads/2013/012813/PT_HotCold.pdf
Img: https://www.mountainside-medical.com/product_images/uploaded_images/HotCold_01.jpg

Sunday, April 14, 2013

6 Reasons Why You Should Stretch

Everyone knows that regular exercise is good for your health but many do not know that regular stretching is just as important.  Many patients and/or clients of mine always ask how often they should stretch, when they should stretch, or even if it is important to do so.  There are many reasons that stretching is important for you and your health.

Stretching For Your Body….
-          Helps improve flexibility (increases your range of motion)
-          Assists in correct posture by lengthening tight muscles that pull areas of the body away from their intended position (because of so much time at our computers, many of us have tight chest muscles which pulls the shoulders and head forward, leaving us with a hunched shoulder look).
-          These is a potential to decrease injury by preparing muscles for work before activity
-          Increases blood and nutrient supply to muscles, thereby possibly reducing muscle soreness

Stretching For Your Mind:
-           Even a short amount of time (10-15 minutes) of stretching can calm the mind, provide a mental break, and give your body a chance to recharge
-          Classes like yoga or Pilates offer you a chance to spend an hour releasing tension physically and mentally.

Main ideas are to stretch muscles that tend to be tight; spend longer times on areas where you have symptoms or notice increased tightness.  Stretch when your muscles are warm such as after a workout. Don’t just stretch for short periods of time.  Sometimes you need a session or two each week that lasts up to 45 minutes to increase your flexibility.
If you need help building a stretching program visit your trained physical therapists at Hayashida & Associates Physical Therapy.