ICE vs. HEAT – Part 2
Last week, I weighed in on the benefits of ice to treat an injury. In this blog entry, I’m continuing the Ice vs. Heat debate telling you what I tell my patients about the use of Heat!
In my practice I use heat on my patients prior to treating them. But it doesn’t stop there. A day doesn’t go by where I don’t recommend heat to help manage someone’s pain or condition. 90 percent of the conditions I see in my office would be classified as a repetitive strain injury or chronic (with the other 10 percent being acute). Heat is the key when treating repetitive strain or chronic injuries! Heat will increase blood flow, relax muscles, decrease pain and promote healing.
Dr. G’s Tips on when/how to use heat:
- use for chronic injuries, if you have tight muscles
- use before activity to warm up muscles, not after activity
- use at night before bed if you often wake up with stiffness
- heat should be applied for 15-20 minutes but can be used for longer (if you use an electrical heating pad, be sure not to fall asleep on it as they can cause burning)
- Apply the heat to the area that is the problem…going in a hot tub/sauna or generally applying the heat to a larger area will not have the same affect (as mentioned earlier the goal of using heat is to increase blood flow to the affected area, this can not be achieved if heat is applied to a larger more general area)
- recommended to use moist heat rather than dry heat (e.g. Hot water bottle, gel packs, etc)
Are you aware of your sleeping position?
Is the way your sleeping going to come back to haunt you in the future? Changing your sleeping position may be the solution to your back pain. The following blog entry focuses on what I tell my patients about their sleeping habits and how it can affect their back.
It is a well known statistic that 8 out of 10 people will experience back pain at some point in their life and back pain is one of the most common health problems. Like any chiropractor, low back pain is one of the more common conditions that we see in our clinic. On your initial visit, a history is always taken and the one question I always ask to those patients presenting with back pain is ”what position do you sleep in?”. If your answer is “I sleep on my stomach” then that may be the cause of your pain. It’s amazing how many people sleep on their stomachs and enjoy sleeping on their stomachs, however, it is the one position that is not ideal for your low back and neck. In simple terms, the curve in you low back (lordosis) is crucial for proper balance, shock absorption, and strength. Sleeping on your stomach will in the long term reverse that curve, and in the short term put pressure on the posterior (back) portion of your spine and that’s where the pain receptors lie. If you are a stomach sleeper and experience back pain, sleep on your side or back and over time you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the difference it will make. If you do not have pain and sleep on your stomach, break the habit now, as it’s only a matter of time before you start to experience the negative affects.
Dr. G’s Tips:
• Whatever you do, do NOT sleep on your stomach. Sleep on your side or your back
• Use a pillow! If you are sleeping on your side put it between your knees. If you are on your back put in underneath your knees. This will ensure that muscles, joints, and nerves are not being stressed
• Use heat for 15 minutes at night before bed and this will help minimize common morning stiffness
• Use 1 medium sized, medium stiffness pillow for your neck. Using 2 pillows is a no-no and will create issues (the goal is that you maintain a neutral position of your neck- should not flexed(too far forward), extended(bent backward) or laterally flexed(leaning more to one side)
• Do not fall asleep on soft surfaces or awkward positions, which means NO sleeping on the couch!!
• If you are a stomach sleeper and are having difficulties changing the habit, here’s a tip that has worked with many of my patients: Take a sweatshirt with a front pouch or a pair of sweatpants with pockets in the front and put something hard (tennis ball etc) in the pouch/pockets, this will make it uncomfortable for you to sleep on your stomach