Friday 6 January 2012


I am often asked “when should I use ice, and when should I use heat on an injury?’

Unfortunately, the answer is a little bit complicated but a sure fast rule is that if in doubt, use ice- Ice, if used incorrectly may not help an injury but will very rarely make it worse. Heat on the other hand can hinder the healing on an injury if used incorrectly.

Why do we use ice?

Ice decreases the amount of the blood to the area as well as decreasing the metabolic rate of the area or tissue. This can help in preventing or reducing inflammation.

When to use ice?

-       Ice should be used immediately after a new injury occurs
-       It is suggested that ice is applied to an injury in the first 24 hours
-       Any injury involving inflammation requires ice

Why do we use heat?

Heat increases the metabolic rate of the area or tissue and increases blood supply, which speeds up the healing process. Heat helps increase the elasticity of connective tissues and relieves off muscle spasm for this reason, heat is great for chronic, stiff or nagging injuries.

Please note: Heat is not recommended on any inflamed areas, as it can increase the inflammation.

When to use heat?

-       Older or more chronic injuries
-       Injuries where little to no inflammation is involved
-       Injuries that involve chronic muscle spasm or stiff joint

Combining heat and Ice

The combination of heat and ice can be very beneficial but must be used correctly.

I recommend the combination of 2 when the injury is more complex than a simple sprain or muscle spasm.

Eg: If a patient presents with a sprain in their lower back with associated inflammation and muscle spasm. Ice will help decrease or prevent inflammation and heat will help with stiffness and muscle spasm.

I recommend, if combining to ALWAYS begin with ice for 10 minutes followed by heat for 5 minutes, followed with ice again for 10 minutes.

By using ice either side of the heat, you are able to get some of the benefits of heat without increasing the inflammation

Thursday 10 November 2011

Is your work environment promoting bad posture?

We live in a day and age that is so busy and focused on deadlines that we are often running out of time to take care of ourselves.

A computer dependent world has left us with a society of people with poor posture. Stooping over computer screens, slumping into office chairs and having your fingers continuously moving at a million miles an hour, typing, texting, tweeting...It's no wonder the incidence of office related injuries is on the increase.

In my line of work as an Osteopath I am seeing large numbers of cases everyday of computer posture related back pain, headaches, neck pain and repetitive strain injury and while I understand that it's not easy to change the nature of ones work, there are preventative measures you can take to give your body a fighting chance to withstand the pressure.

Computer set up! Sounds simple but it's amazing how a moving a screen a few centimeters or lowering a chair can make such a difference to your posture.

I recommend the following steps in computer/ desk set-up

1) Hips and knees should be at 90 degrees with feet flat on the floor (no crossing legs!)
2) Shoulders should be relaxed down and rolled back
3) Elbows should be held at 90 degrees
4) Your Eye line should be in the top third of the screen
5) Keyboard should be positioned so wrists are not bent (in line with your 90 degree elbows)
6) A lumbar roll or support should be used to provide low-back support
7) Make sure that your set up is squared and centered in from of you

Remember, prevention is better than a cure. Make sure you consult an Osteopath for your personalized prevention plan