Regardless of our level of activity, injuries happen. Whether we’re a super active athlete, or a Netflix loving home body, most of us are likely to have pulled our back, rolled an ankle or taken an unexpected fall.
And while it’s always a good idea to visit an expert, home treatment is a critical part of the healing process of any injury, says Evoker founder and physiotherapist, Adam Monteith.
“If we physiotherapists get 1, or 2, 30 minute windows with the patient in the clinic per week, that is simply not enough time to get a speedy result (when compared to the 168 available hours in the week),” he explains.
“Thus, we must get the patient to help us at home. The injury is with the patient for all 168 hours in the week, so they can most definitely be helping us at home in every single case scenario.
“Therefore, every single injury that passes through the doors of Evoker, will come with a home program, or very specific ‘home help’.”
In many cases, that home treatment involves either hot or cold therapy.
“There are very few conditions that wouldn’t benefit from one of these approaches, and yes – it is important to get that decision right.”
Very generally speaking, Adam says the Evoker team would be recommending heat for necks and backs (spinal conditions), and ice for the periphery (shoulders, elbows, wrist, hips, knees and ankles), but to make a more targeted decision, it’s important to understand exactly what you’re trying to achieve.
“Heat vasodilates (widens) the vessels that feed a region. So, we get a greater volume of blood and oxygen travelling to the site.
“We do this we want to lower the muscle tone/tension in a region. If we would like soft tissue tone to reduce, we apply heat.”
Injuries that benefit from heat include the spine, neck, upper back and lower back – basically any tight muscle where you’d like to see the tone reduce.
“Ice vasoconstricts (contracts) the vessels that supply a region. So, we get a lower volume of blood and oxygen (and any other fluid) travelling to the site.
“We do this we want to reduce fluid flow to a particular region. If we want to reduce inflammation for example, we apply ice to that region.”
Injuries that benefit from ice include sprained ankles, Osteoarthritis of the knee, torn muscles, cartilages or ligaments of the knee and shoulder, bursitis – at the hip and shoulder, and joint dislocations.
“Anywhere that inflammation is present, and close to the skin’s surface (meaning that the ice can actually make a significant difference), ice/cold should be in the game!”
According to Adam, knowing whether to use hot or cold therapy is critical if you want a positive outcome.
“If your aim is to get out of pain yesterday, or simply recover faster, then I recommend that you don’t waste any time applying an inappropriate therapy or modality.
“To get this wrong is a huge opportunity cost. Why would you go backwards, when you could be taking the right, positive forward movement?
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