We often hear the question “Should I use ice or heat to treat my soft tissue injury?”
For many years, most of us have been taught to R.I.C.E. for acute injury. Rest, ice, compression, and elevate. Ice does decrease swelling and pain. However, is it really in our best interest to reduce our body’s natural inflammatory response with ice or will that only slow down the healing process?
Let’s take a look at the inflammatory response to injury. First, there is an initial trauma. Then vasodilation occurs allowing more blood flow to the injury site. This brings up leukocytes and macrophages (types of white blood cells) to clean up the injury. More fluid at the injury site causes swelling or edema, pain, and limited range of movement. The lymphatic system then drains out this fluid and waste (broken down tissue) so that the healing can commence.
What does ice do? It decreases circulation and can block this regenerative process. The addition of ice may even increase leakage of interstitial fluid back into the tissue. Neither Traditional Chinese Medicine nor Ayurvedic medicine recommend ice for injury as a treatment protocol for these reasons. They both encourage flow for healing.
It’s a bit of a misnomer that inflammation is bad. Taking anti-inflammatory medications (which can be really hard on the gut) or ice to completely decrease the swelling may not be the most therapeutic approach. Yes, inflammation causes decreased range of motion and pain. This is your body’s way of telling you to rest it. It’s true, inflammation does need to clear out so as not to damage surrounding tissues. However, we should be supporting our body’s natural drainage process to encourage healing, rather than trying to restrict it.
Warm summer days often mean spending more time outside. That means more potential sun exposure for your precious skin. Remember to seek shade, cover yourself up with hats and light layers of clothing, and apply sunscreen to exposed skin.
Choose your sunscreen lotions wisely as they are not all created equally. Many chemical sunscreens can be a slurry of toxic hormone disruptors and cancer causing agents. Mineral sunscreens made from zinc oxide and titanium dioxide seem to be better choices as they do not penetrate the skin and they don’t break down in the sun. They also offer better protection against UVA rays than chemical screens do. UVA rays are the ones that penetrate deep into the skin, suppress the immune system, accelerate aging, and may cause skin cancer.
Don’t be fooled by ultra-high SPF’s either. The Sun Protection Factor only refers to the UVB rays which burn and not the more harmful UVA rays. The high SPF can also fool people into thinking they can stay out in the sun longer than they should.
For more information on sunscreen, check out the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) safer sunscreen list for 2013.
Hold onto a counter or ledge and bend your knees into a low squat. Allow the weight of the pelvis and the pull of the arms to slowly decompress the low back. Hold for 3 minutes if possible. The longer the hold, the bigger the space you create in your lumbar spine. See video demo. This is part of a low back series developed by Kelly Starrett, author of Becoming a Supple Leopard.
Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer under cold water to remove any bitter taste. Bring water and quinoa to a boil. Add salt. Cover and reduce heat to low for 15 minutes. Remove lid when all water is absorbed and let rest.
Steam or lightly sauté corn until just tender. Allow to cool. Combine all of the ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss. Season with additional lime, hot sauce, or salt.
Fresh air is crucial to our well-being. Getting outside has been scientifically proven to improve moods, decrease stress-levels, improve sleep patterns and even enhance immune function. It also enables us to connect with our amazing natural world. All you have to is dress accordingly and head out your front door. Try just walking ten minutes away from your house and ten minutes back. Chances are, you will return feeling refreshed, happy and more alive.
Did you know that you are able to calm your entire nervous system down by taking deep breaths? A deep rhythmic breath supports a switch from your sympathetic system (the flight or flight response) to the more relaxed parasympathetic system (the rest and digest system). Deep breaths also help us release muscular tension, especially in our shoulders, necks and jaws.
3. Make sleep a priority.
Sleep is vital in maintaining your health. Without it, you become more susceptible to health problems, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, obesity and depression. Growth hormone released by the pituitary gland during non-REM deep stage sleep stimulates tissue growth and repair. Lack of sleep and changes in sleep quality cause a sharp decline in growth hormone secretion. Growth hormone deficiency is associated with increased obesity, loss of muscle mass, and reduced exercise capacity. Adequate sleep also improves cognitive function and enhances creativity.
We’ve all heard that 8 hours seems to be the magic number. Yet many of us think we can get by just fine on 6. An experiment by Dr. David Dinges in which he shortened a number of adults’ sleep to 6 hours per night for two weeks had many of the subjects stating that they felt just fine. After a battery of tests however, they proved to be just as impaired as someone who had stayed awake for 24 hours straight.
Too much sleep can also be detrimental. Most experts agree that averaging somewhere between 7-9 hours per night is optimal for adults.