When Do I Use Ice & When Do I Use Heat?

When do I use heat and when do I use cold?
I get this question a lot from patients asking when it’s best to use each one.
The best answer I can give is feel the area that is injured, if it feels warm/hot use ice and if it feels cool use heat. Ice is best to use when the injury is acute or it just happened in the last 24-48 hrs. It’s good to use on areas that are red, painful, and swollen because you want to constrict blood flow in order to control the swelling and numb the area to decrease pain. Be careful how long you leave the ice on though. Ice can burn your skin if you leave it on for too long. Don’t fall asleep with ice on! Ice is a powerful vasoconstrictor, so don’t exceed 20 min. at a time.
Heat is best to use if the injury is chronic, stiff, or tight. Heat encourages blood flow to an area and that helps with healing. Moist heat is best because it can penatrate into the muscle layer better than superficial heat which just heats up the skin. Do not use heat if you have pitting edema (meaning when you press on the area, your finger-print indentation stays longer than 10 sec.) Heat is a vasodilator so it encourages blood flow which you don’t need to do if it’s already swollen. Also, make sure there are enough layers btw your skin and the heat pack so you don’t burn your skin.
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Thanks for reading. Let me know if you have questions!

6 Tips to Help You Sleep Better

Healing happens when you sleep, so it’s really important to get a good nights rest. Below are a few tips to help get to sleep faster.

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1.) Maintain the same sleep schedule every night. Try to go to bed around the same time and get up at the same time everyday. This programs your body to learn when it’s time to go to bed and when it’s time to get up. There is no ‘catching up on sleep’ on the weekends. In other words, sleeping more on the weekends to makeup for loss of sleep during the week sounds like good logic, but sadly your body doesn’t see it like this. Your best bet is to train your body to go to bed around the same time every night so your body learns this sleep schedule and you can program your circadian rhythm correctly. This way it becomes easier to fall asleep each night.
2.) Eliminate light in your bedroom. Either wearing an eye-mask or using curtains that block the light. This also includes lights coming from electronic devices like phones and TVs, which brings me to my next point…
3.) No using electric devices such as smartphones, ipads/tablets, or laptops before going to bed. The light emitted from these electronic devices acts as a ‘caffeine shot’ for your brain. In order to wind down you should stop using these devices about an hour before going to bed. Read instead or….
4.) Meditate. I know this word is thrown around all the time, like you should just meditate, but if you are like me and you need to quiet the chatter in your head at night, doing some breathing and listening to a meditation might be helpful. There are tons of exercises you can use to try to quiet your mind and relax your body. One such exercise is focusing on each part of your body at a time and try to feel it relax entirely into the bed. Start with your feet and feel them completely relax into the mattress, then move on to your legs and so on. This one has worked for me before.

5.) Acupuncture has many health benefits, but one thing that I noticed immediately after starting a couple months ago, is how well I slept at night. I not only fell asleep quicker, but I stayed asleep throughout the night. If you’ve never tried acupuncture it may be a good thing to try.


6.) Another tip if you are having trouble falling asleep, when it’s been longer than 20-30 min and you are no closer to dreamland, then get out of bed.  Get out of bed and either read in a bedroom chair or actually leave your bedroom and try again when you feel tired. The goal here is to associate your bed with sleep, so if you are lying in bed and really can’t sleep, then get out of bed. If you program your mind to associate bed with sleep, when you get into bed you should fall asleep easier. And for that matter, try to eliminate doing other things in bed like eating, watching TV, playing on your laptop etc…leave those things for other rooms if able. This way your body associates the bed with sleep time.
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Hope you find these tips helpful! Happy dreaming 🙂

Expectations For Your Physical Therapy

How to Approach your physical therapy treatment

In the words of Jerry Maguire ‘Help me, help you!’ —
Think of PTs as health coaches -they give you the tools and education you need to help you heal yourself. Everyone wants a quick fix — A pill, a shot, a one treatment and healed approach, but that’s not likely if you are dealing with a chronic injury or really want to prevent one from coming back. You need to actually build up muscle strength, stretch tight muscles, or retrain your postural muscles and these things don’t happen over night. Take responsibility for your treatment and do your home exercises. They are there for a reason, and they are an important part of your treatment. If you are serious about not only healing your current injury, but also preventing a recurrence, those exercises are a must. And they don’t stop when you are discharged from PT. A PT can’t give you muscle strength, but they can teach you how you can. Consistency is key. It takes about 6 weeks to really strengthen a muscle, so don’t get discouraged. It takes time.  Sadly with insurance limitations and only coming in to PT for 2-3 days a week does not counteract hours of poor muscle habits, sitting at your desk job for 8+ hours a day, or performing any repetitive type of activity in your life by itself. Taking care of your injury outside of PT (as instructed by your physical therapist) is an important component. So understand it’s a process and trust in the that process.
PTs are probably your best bet of any health care provider at really taking the time and educating their patients about their injuries and teaching you self-management and independence. Part of this is due to the amount of 1 on 1 time a patient gets to spend with their patient during the treatment. (Far more than most other medical professionals get to!) Take advantage of that time to bring in questions you may have about your injury, expectations, the exercises you’re doing, and anything else you can think of. We are happy to teach you.
Work with your PT to get better. They are on your side, and they want you to succeed as much as you want to get better!