by Lovena Suson | Apr 10, 2021 | Pain Management
Hot and Cold Therapy: Beneficial or Needless Self-Torture?
It is a known fact that heat or cold is a very common home remedy for pain. Whether in a form of a heating pad, liniments, it is the go-to pain relief choice. Heat and cold are commonly used for treating injuries to specific areas of the body.
But what about heating and cooling your entire body? We hear a lot about athletes soaking in a tub of ice cubes after a big game. Gyms featuring saunas to attract clients who go crazy using them after workouts.
Are these helpful in any meaningful way? Or is it just a silly fad without any merit?
Biohackers have promoted these ideas over the last few years. Let’s see if there’s any substance to their advice.
Spending time in a sauna regularly has its benefits:
Good for Stress Relief. Sitting in a sauna can feel wonderful. It’s stress-relieving and cleansing, especially after you wash the sweat off.
Facilitates the Formation of Heat Shock Proteins. Excessive heat stimulates specific genes to create heat shock proteins.
● These are helpful in eliminating free radicals in the body. Heat shock proteins can also repair damaged proteins.
Spending time in a sauna can prolong your life. Research has shown that spending some time in a sauna at least four days a week may reduce the incidence of several causes of death. These include fatal cardiovascular disease, coronary disease, and sudden cardiac death.
Endurance and aerobic capacity increase. Red blood cell counts and blood plasma volume increase with regular sauna use.
Increased circulation. Heat causes your blood vessels to dilate and increases your heart rate. This can help injuries to heal faster and improve mobility in joints affected by arthritis.
Keep in mind that normal sauna temperatures are just fine. There’s no reason to crank up the heat in hopes of gaining greater benefits. No benefit is worth risking your life. Be reasonable.
A nice cold bath might not be that appealing but learn the advantages before making decisions!
A 10-minute ice bath can be beneficial, too:
Reduces inflammation. Exposure to cold reduces inflammation. This is why you might ice a sprained ankle. It turns out that if you cool the entire body, the anti-inflammatory effect affects the entire body.
● An ice bath can reduce pain more effectively than just icing a specific area of the body.
● Many diseases, including heart disease, are believed to be at least partially due to systemic inflammation in the body. Regular ice baths may reduce the likelihood of developing many diseases.
It can enhance the immune system. White blood cell counts increase after spending time in an ice bath. This has been shown to reduce the likelihood of getting sick.
May reduce depression. Some studies have shown that regular ice baths can enhance mood.
The term “ice bath” is a bit of a misnomer. The most commonly researched temperature is 50 degrees Fahrenheit, which feels colder than you might think. It’s possible that your tap water is that cold. The time spent in the cold water was 8-12 minutes.
Maybe you don’t have access to a sauna or a cold bath. Will a hot tub, hot shower, or cold shower work just as well?
There’s not a lot of research on the benefits of these other options. It seems reasonable to assume that these could be viable substitutes, but there are no guarantees. It’s not too hard to find a health club that has a sauna, and you can take a cold bath or shower at home.
There are definitely health benefits to safely exposing yourself to hot and cold temperatures.
You may have also heard about the use of contrast bath, which is the use of contrasting temperatures that can shock the body due to the alternating action of vasoconstriction and vasodilation.
When the body is subjected to cold and capillaries constrict, it is called vasoconstriction. This also happens when an ice pack is used over bruises or inflamed joints. When heat is used, blood vessels open up, called vasodilation, dilating blood vessels. This is consistent with the physiological of heat: expansion.
In using hot or cold therapy, it is just important to remember: HEAT expands, COLD constricts. For muscle spasms, cramps, heat proves to provide relief than cold for already tight muscles. For inflammation, on the other hand, cold works better as it decreased warmth in inflamed joints or body parts.
The stress that these situations create stimulates the body to make healthy adaptations.
However, as with all things, it’s important to be safe and reasonable! If you use hot and cold therapy safely, they can benefit your health.
by Lovena Suson | Apr 5, 2021 | Stress Management
How to Relax in Less Than 30 Minutes with Reflexology
As with my book series, The Self’Treating Patient”, I strive to impart helpful tips and strategies to address basic health concerns. Stress relief is what we can all use during these times. Being cooped up at home and not be able to do the activities we once were so free to enjoy.
One topic that is interesting to me is self-healing. When we are saddled by day-to-day life concerns, finding simple ways to help ourselves can go a long way towards living life the best way we can. One interesting alternative therapy is reflexology. There are practitioners who offer this service. For this topic, however, I’d like to share very simple strategies to calm yourself, alleviate the effects of stress.
👉👉👉4 Easy Tips for Stress Relief
The growing popularity of reflexology proves that many fitness fans understand how important their feet really are. Healthy feet enable you to stay physically active and practice good posture, which can protect you from headaches, back pain, and other health issues all over your body.
Reflexology is an ancient healing art that applies strategic pressure to feet, hands, and ears. The underlying theory is that these areas correspond to various systems throughout your body. For example, when you massage your heels, you’re also helping to align your pelvis.
Studies show that reflexology can be effective for relieving anxiety and physical discomfort. On the other hand, its track record is less convincing when it comes to serious conditions like diabetes or cancer, so it’s important to follow your doctor’s recommendations.
With that in mind, see how you can use these tips to enhance your health and well-being by just rubbing your feet.
How to Practice Reflexology
TIPS: ***Identify which area you want to work on, look and refer to the charts above. Look for the correct reflex spots on your foot. Apply gentle pressure to the area similar to getting a foot massage.
***Contact to points should feel firm, but not painful. Use your fingers and thumbs to gently work the area for several minutes.
***The amount of pressure should just be enough that it can be tolerated, but maintain the pressure or go into circular motions around the area.
***The pressure you apply to these points will stimulate your body to create endorphins that interrupt the pain cycle and relieve stress.
1. Create a peaceful setting. Play soft music and combine your reflexology with aromatherapy. Light a candle and rub on fragrant skin lotion. Sit or lie down anywhere that’s comfortable such as your bed or a chair. Place a cushion behind your knees to avoid hyperextension.
2. Be gentle. Reflexology is safe for most adults as long as you avoid pressing too hard. Take care of bones and joints. Stop if you feel a cramp. Learn appropriate techniques before trying to use your knuckles or props which can be more intense than using your fingers and thumbs.
3. Loosen up. It’s a good idea to stretch first. Wiggle your toes. Lift your feet up starting at the ankles. A good simple trick is to write the alphabet with your ankles, all uppercase letters. Written with both feet beginning with A all the way up to Z. This helps move many muscles in the foot, ankle, and legs. Do ankle pumps, which is also a great exercise for improving circulation in the legs, even utilized for preventing blood clots.
4. Twist around. Give your feet a hug to wring out tension and make your feet more flexible. Wrap your hands around the middle of your foot, and turn them slowly in opposite directions. Repeat the wringing a little higher, and a little lower until you cover your whole foot.
5. Stroke your feet. Place your palm on top of your foot, and stroke it from toe to ankle. This follows the normal blood circulation from the lower extremities towards the heart. Repeat on the bottom side. You’ll stimulate your circulation and raise your energy levels.
6. Consult a professional. Chiropractors and physical therapists are some of the many health care practitioners who offer reflexology. Schedule a session to receive more extensive treatment and learn methods you can practice at home.
Additional Foot Care Suggestions
1. Exercise your feet and toes. When was the last time you gave your feet a workout? Take turns walking on your heels and your toes. Try lifting each toe separately and lowering it back down. Here are simple exercises that help strengthen the foot and toes, improve their flexibility. Another benefit of these exercises is improved balance, as stronger toes can grip the ground surface better.
A. Towel Curls – Place a towel on a tile, wood, or laminate floor. Place feet on top, the heel stays in contact with the floor: then curl toes to bring towel under your feet. Repeat as many times as you are able.
B. Heel and Toe Raises – this exercise helps strengthen ankles, stretch the calves, and lower legs which are relevant for balance and gait stability when walking.
Holding on to the counter for support, raise your heels up, on tippy toes. Hold for 5 seconds. Then, go on your heels, raising toes up, off the floor. Hold for 5 seconds. Repeat 10 or more times.
2. Wear comfortable shoes. Do your toes have enough room to move around? Properly fitted shoes can protect you from blisters and provide adequate support for your arches. Are you flat-footed, or possess a high arch? Choose footwear accordingly. If shoes are uncomfortable, use shoe inserts to add more cushioning to shoes you already have. This can also save your back.
There is about 3-4 times your body weight load that is transmitted to the spine upon heel strike. This is when the heel comes in contact with the ground when walking. An extra heel cushion or insert can decrease this load to the spine.
Many types are available to purchase. Gel cushions, memory foam, and other shock-absorbing materials. Check out heel inserts and read reviews or other information about them. This is a cost-effective remedy to easing the impact on the feet and spine.
3. Change your socks. Socks can protect you from blisters and odor. Replace them when they wear thin or sprout holes. For more vigorous or active participation in sports, opt for more cushions or one with breathable material that can repeal moisture. Socks complement the use of your shoes.
4. Take a break. Prolonged standing or other strains can leave your feet hot and throbbing. Try elevating them on a pillow or plunging them into a herbal bath.
5. Stay hydrated. Your feet need moisture to fight dry skin. Drink water throughout the day. Dab on moisturizer daily, especially if you feel a blister starting.
6. Talk to your doctor. While reflexology is safe for most adults, your doctor can advise you about conditions, such as pregnancy or diabetes, which may make you more sensitive to touch. Your doctor can also refer you to a podiatrist or other specialists when needed.
Use basic and simple reflexology to help your body relax and heal itself. It’s a quick and easy way to reduce stress, enhance your posture, and strengthen your immune system.
Until the next issue!