Posts Tagged ‘medicine’

FIre and Ice

July 11, 2012

I work out hard, most days of the week.  The farther away from 25 I get, the more injuries and chronic aches and pains I experience. Lately, it seems something always hurts.

I’m never actually sure when to apply heat to an injured area and when to use ice.

I set out to get the information from “Dr. Google”, my go-to source for all things medical.

According to Sports Medicine and Everyday Health, there are 2 kinds of injuries:

Acute pain is of rapid onset, and can be short lived.

Chronic pain develops more slowly, and is persistent and long lasting.

Acute injuries are generally sudden, sharp and occur immediately after some sort of trauma or impact. They are often accompanied by pain, tenderness, redness, swelling and inflammation.

Chronic injuries can be slow to develop, and the pain often comes and goes. They are often the result of overuse, but could be caused by an acute injury that was not properly treated.

Cold therapy, or ice is considered the best treatment for acute injuries, because it constricts the blood vessels and reduces swelling

Ice can also be effective for some overuse injuries as well. For example if a runner experiences knee pain after running, ice can prevent or reduce the inflammation if used after each run.  ( bingo!)

To ice an injury, wrap the ice in a towel and place it on the affected area for 10 minutes at a time. From personal experience with runner’s knee, I’ve found a small bag of frozen vegetables such as peas or corn are perfect, because they allow the “ice pack” to conform to the entire knee area.

Heat is recommended for injuries that have no swelling or inflammation, such as stiff, sore muscles. Heat can also be applied pre-workout, to increase joint elasticity and stimulate blood flow. It is also helpful in relaxing tight muscles or relieving muscle spasms. ( my computer neck, for example?)
It is not recommended to use heat immediately after a workout.

Moist heat is optimal, so hot, wet towels can be used. Heat packs or heating pads can also be used for 20 minutes or less. Never go to sleep with a heating pad on.

While heat and ice can be very helpful in treating injuries and muscle pain, it is advisable to see a real live doctor for treatment.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Is Sunscreen Harmful?

June 22, 2012

As the temperature rises our thoughts often turn to tanning. For several years, we have been cautioned to protect our skin from harmful UVB rays, by slathering on high SPF sunscreen.

Sunlight provides us with a healthy dose of vitamin D, which is essential in the development of strong bones. It is also thought to protect us against certain cancers, as well as insulin resistance. Sunlight also enables our natural immunity, promotes the growth and healing of our skin, and stimulates hormone production. Medical guidelines suggest that 15-20 minutes of daily sunlight is good for you.

Over the past 30 years, the incidence of melanoma, or skin cancer has increased dramatically. During this period, the use of sunscreens has increased as well. Researchers are wondering if there is a correlation.

Some of the ingredients in sunscreen are potentially toxic. Avoid products containing retinyl palmitate, oxybenzone, octisalate, octinoxate and avobenzone, which are known to cause lesions when exposed to the sun, and can interfere with hormone receptors in our bodies. Sunscreens with parabans are also not recommended.

It is not known if UVA or UVB rays cause skin cancer. Therefore, it is important to use a broad-spectrum mineral based product that blocks both.

Fortunately, there are other sources of vitamin D. Look to low fat dairy products and supplements to reap the benefits of without the potential harm.

photo: Glasshouse Images

Exercise: Getting to the Heart of the Matter

June 1, 2012

The New York Times ran a story today about the potential negative effects of exercise on a small part of the population.
In analyzing the data from six different rigorous exercise studies involving 1,687 people, about 10% got worse in at least 1 or more measures related to heart disease. These included insulin levels, blood pressure, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides.

About 7% of those tested showed a decline in 2 or more factors.

The results were not related to age, race or gender. They also were not affected by how fit the people were at the start of the program, or how much their fitness levels improved. There appears to be no correlation between the decline in health measurements and any other factor.

There is great concern that this gives inactive people an excuse not get moving.

While the article is interesting, yet inconclusive, the 300 comments are more fascinating.

Many are questioning the other factors not followed in the study: diet, sodium intake and what type of exercise was done. There is no reference to these individual’s genetics. There is also concern that the subjects were not followed long enough to know what, if any effect this had on mortality rates.

Most agree on one thing: the benefits seem to out weigh the risks. There are many more pieces of research supporting the positive outcome of exercise, than this small study. Perhaps fitness is another place where “one size” does not fit all.

Stay tuned for more on this controversial topic.

%d bloggers like this: