Boulder Ironman 2014

Dr. Carly was at the Ironman Finish, providing care for finishers in the medical tent.

Ice or Heat - How to Decide

Most everyone has experienced an injury of some sort that requires extra care in order to relieve pain, reduce inflammation and speed healing. Usually either ice or heat is recommended to help achieve these goals, but how do you know which to choose? Both heat and cold can be beneficial in certain circumstances, but each can also cause more harm than good if applied at the wrong time. Following are a few guidelines to help you decide on the best course of treatment.

ice or heat

The first general rule is to ice an acute injury and apply heat to a chronic injury. Swelling and inflammation is your body’s natural first response to injury - your blood vessels expand in order to rush more blood to the area to begin the healing process. So the best thing to do within the first 24 hours of an acute injury is to apply ice. This will allow the blood vessels to contract, reducing inflammation and bringing down the swelling, in addition to acting as a pain reliever by helping to calm irritated nerves.

Ice or cold packs should never be applied directly to the skin, as this may cause frostbite. They can be wrapped in a damp washcloth or towel, or even simpler is to use a bag of frozen peas. Ice should be applied to the injury for 10 to 20 minutes every two hours within the first 72 hours after injury. If the injury involves your hands or feet, these can be submerged in ice water for 10 minutes every 2 hours for the same effect. Cold therapy should generally not be continued beyond 72 hours, unless it is used to aid recovery after a strenuous athletic workout, or to help reduce inflammation after an instrument assisted soft tissue mobilization (IASTM) treatment .

Heat treatment is most useful for chronic injury, as it increases blood flow, allowing additional oxygen and nutrients to speed healing and helping to relax tight and injured muscles. Heat should not be used immediately after an injury, as it may ultimately increase pain and swelling. For example, sitting in a hot tub may feel good, however, the following day you will likely feel more pain and stiffness due to the increased inflammation it has caused. Heat can also reduce joint stiffness and muscle spasms.

Heat may be applied beginning 72 hours after an injury, assuming there is no inflammation in the area. Though a heating pad may be used, moist heat is the most ideal for healing, so you can apply a warm, wet towel or submerge yourself in a warm bath or hot tub for 10 to 30 minutes between two and five times a day. Warm rather than hot treatments should be used to avoid the risk of burns, and heat should never be applied for an extended period of time or while you are sleeping. Heat treatment is also useful in cases of chronic injury, such as overuse injuries in athletes, shoulder impingement syndrome, bursitis and tendonitis.

If you're still uncertain which treatment to use, consult with a qualified physician.  At Denver Sports and Family Chiropractic Center, we are trained in treating acute injuries and getting you back on your feet as quickly as possible.

Top 10 Tips for Office Workers

Numerous studies have proven that the sedentary lifestyle of typical office workers is hazardous to their health. The biggest problem seems to be sitting for long periods of time, often without a break. One study conducted in 2010 indicated that "men who reported more than 23 hours a week of sedentary activity had a 64 percent greater risk of dying from heart disease than those who reported fewer than 11 hours a week of sedentary activity." And yet the nature of office work is essentially sedentary. What can you do to make it less so, and thus improve your health? Here's the top 10 things you can do to help.

  1. Eat breakfast. Studies have shown that workers who eat breakfast have better concentration than those who only drink coffee in the mornings. In addition, those who eat breakfast tend to eat less during the day than those who do not, and thus more easily avoid gaining weight.
  2. Bike or walk to work. If you live close to work, this can provide much of the exercise you need each week, and you arrive at work feeling more energized and having been exposed to fresh air. If you take public transportation to work, consider getting off one or two stops earlier, and walking the rest of the way.
  3. Take frequent short breaks. Even if you take a longer break for lunch or to go to the gym, sitting for long, uninterrupted periods of time can still be hazardous. Studies have shown that taking micro-breaks (getting up from your desk and moving around every 15 minutes or so) can be more valuable than taking a longer break only once a day.
  4. Use the stairs. Why ride in a stuffy box when you could get a little healthful exercise?
  5. Drink lots of water. Experts recommend you drink 4 to 6 glasses a day to keep yourself hydrated and healthy. If you have to get up to refill your glass from the drinking fountain or the refrigerator, that'll also provide an opportunity for another micro-break.
  6. Don't forget about fresh air. Offices can often be stuffy and under-ventilated.  If possible, open a window near your desk. If not, be sure to take occasional breaks outside the building, even if only for short periods of time.
  7. Bring a healthy lunch and snacks from home. Rather than eating in the cafeteria, make a healthy lunch at home and sit outside when eating it. Instead of eating sugary snacks from vending machines, bring fruit and nuts and snack on them.
  8. Think ergonomically. Adjust your chair to fit your body and sit with your feet flat on the floor. Position your computer monitor at eye level and your keyboard at elbow level, so that your wrists are straight when you type. Move your whole arm when you use the mouse, not just your wrist.
  9. Stretch at your desk. You may not be able to jog or do push-ups at your desk, but you can certainly stretch and release tension from your arms, neck, shoulders, and fingers.
  10. Exercise before you go home. After a long day at work, many people get home and just want to sit down on the couch and relax. If you are a member of a gym or jog regularly, doing this directly after work will improve the likelihood that you'll actually exercise.