Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Hot & Cold Therapy - The Ultimate Natural Pain Reliever

Who knew simple temperatures could be some of the greatest pain relievers available? You would be surprised, actually. The medical community has known for centuries that hot & cold therapy can help relieve pain from anything like minor aches and pains to chronic arthritis and joint pain. A lot of the benefits far outweigh more harmful narcotics and it’s a preferable alternative for your physical health. Many doctors will even prescribe it for many post surgeries or traumas. Each temperature serves a difference purpose though so it’s important to know when to ice vs. heat an injury.

When Do You Use Cold Therapy?
Cold therapy can be a great relief for swelling, inflammation, burns – basically anything that feels hot. It can help expedite the de-swelling process, which is why doctors often prescribe it after plastic surgery so you look better faster. But it also relieves the pain by reducing muscle spasms and your nerves ability to conduct impulses that send pain messages to your brain. So go ahead and freeze those nerves! We don’t want them sending those messages anyway, right?

Examples of Popular Conditions for Cold Therapy Arthritis is a popular example of pain that cold therapy can relieve. When you feel that burning sensation in your joints-reach for a cold therapy wrap! Other situations would be bruises, sprains, any swollen joints or conditions like Plantar Fasciitis – an extremely painful circumstance that occurs when the tissue in the bottom of your foot is inflamed. Some foot/ankle braces actually come with cold compresses embedded within them for this condition specifically.

When Do You Use Hot Therapy?
Heat Therapy is best used to ease pain like cramps, muscle soreness or stiff joints. Heat works to stimulate thermoreceptors which block your body’s pain transmitters from communicating with your brain. It also improves blood flow and circulation so any stiff joints will be moving in no time. Have you ever been really cold and rubbed your arms, hands or legs to warm them up? Your performing heat therapy to increase your blood flow and warm up!

Examples of Popular Conditions for Heat Therapy
You might have noticed after a stressful day or intense exercise you feel exponentially better after a hot bath or hot tub session. This is an example of heat therapy on a basic, everyday level. If you’re experiencing any stress that’s making you tense, heat therapy is a great way to relax and feel better. Other popular instances are menstrual cramps, arthritis and diabetes. Arthritis can cause a lot of joint stiffness and heat therapy should be applied when you’re feeling motion resistance but not when you have that burning sensation – use cold therapy for that. Diabetics often have problems with their blood circulation causing stiff joints as well. A good pair of diabetic shoes combined with some heat therapy can make a world of difference.

The Correct Way to Apply Hot and Cold Therapy
Cold and hot therapy can have some negative effects if used incorrectly. This usually happens when using homemade methods like ice packs, frozen peas, hot compresses or bottles, for example. It’s difficult to control the temperature on these and whether they’re hot or cold, the inaccurate temperature can actually burn your skin. Make sure to always have a cloth or towel in between you and application in addition to applying for no longer than 20 minute at a time.

A good way to avoid the negative effects caused by those, you can use a hot & cold therapy system or unit. They’re designed to circulate a more temperature controlled therapy through the pad instead of concentrate on one area. This allows you to use the therapy for much longer periods of time than 20 minutes. Our Aqua Relief System is a great example of both since you can adjust to the optimal temperature you need and apply it 360 degrees around the area in pain. Also, be certain to never apply heat therapy to an open cut or lesion.

A lot of doctors advise to even switch between hot and cold therapy at the same time. Just make sure you’re each correctly. If you’re joints feel stiff– don’t use cold therapy that will only make them stiffer. If your area of pain is red and inflamed make sure not to use heat therapy or the pain can actually increase. Just follow the basic guidelines and you’ll enjoy a significantly less painful life!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Poor Posture – Your Underestimated Nemesis

While you were growing up did adults ever nag you to “stand up straight!”? Chances are, it was annoying but they were right. The effects of bad posture should not be underestimated.

Bad posture not only slowly wears away your joints and ligaments leading to eventual orthopedic conditions & injuries but it can even cause trouble breathing, weight gain, lowered confidence and energy. But don’t worry; it can all be avoided with a few small adjustments.

Good Posture Tips
A common misconception is that you should stand as straight as possible, which usually means you’re overarching your back and that can actually cause more tension than slouching in some cases. You really just need to ensure everything is aligned correctly but don’t force your back into an unnatural position. A good test is to stand against a wall with your bottom touching. If the back of your head naturally touches the wall as well you’ve got good posture. Your head, shoulders and hips will be in a straight line but your spine should still form its natural “S” shape. Here are a few tips more specific to bad posture prone situations:

  • Sitting (driving, working on the computer, etc)
  • Sit upright as if you had a string pulling you up.
  • Your bottom should touch the back of your seat.
  • Feet are flat on the floor. Don’t cross legs, we know it’s tempting – don’t do it.
  • Don’t lean forward to look closer at what you’re watching/doing. This can seriously stress your neck muscles and lead to a lot of discomfort and even headaches!
  • A small pillow in the curve of your back can aid with comfort and keeping the natural curve of your spine.
  • Get up every 30 minutes or so and walk around if you can.
  • If you have injured your back in the past, wear a supportive back brace during strenuous activities.

Standing and walking

  • Walk heel to toe, pushing off the ground with the balls of your feet.
  • Position your feet shoulder length apart, shoulders slightly back in a relaxed position and suck in your stomach.
  • Take shorter, more frequent strides are idea as opposed to long strides.
  • Don’t look at the ground; keep eyes straight ahead.
  • Tuck in your chin just a little to ensure your head and neck are both in line with your spine.
  • It almost goes without saying but comfortable shoes with a proper arch make a huge difference, especially if walking long distances.

Lifting & Bending – One of the biggest back injury culprits!

  • Always bend at the knees when you lift.
  • Make sure you lift with your legs, never your back.
  • Keep your feet shoulder width apart.
  • Position yourself close to the object you’re lifting.
  • If you have to turn while lifting something, use your feet not your waist.
  • Tighten those stomach muscles!


  • Sleep on your back or on your side with your knees bent.
  • If sleeping on your side, put a pillow in between your legs to keep your spine straight throughout the night.
  • Don’t sleep on your stomach.
  • Avoid thick pillows that will raise your head up too far.

It’s not difficult to improve your posture; it just takes some conscious attention and consistency. The sooner you start, the better since it’s much harder to reverse the negative effects of bad posture the older you are. Besides, the benefits are worth it.

Improved Posture Benefits
You might be surprised at how much improved posture benefits your body, health and mind. Here are just a few of the positive changes you’ll see:

  • Improved organ function, especially digestion
  • Decreased joint injury and ligament stress
  • Lowers chances of arthritis and other orthopedic conditions and injuries
  • Stronger core
  • Facilitates breathing for increased energy, improved blood flow and a clearer mind
  • Try breathing slouching and breathing standing up straight – huge difference!
  • Relaxed muscles
  • Appear taller and thinner
  • Increased confidence

It won’t happen overnight but it’s well worth the positive effects improved posture brings. It makes you stronger, faster, smarter and even look better. Why wouldn’t you want to start ASAP?

About MMAR Medical: MMAR Medical Group Inc. is one of North America's premiere medical orthopedic brace distributors, carrying a large selection of carpal tunnel braces and rehabilitative cold therapy units. Based in Houston Texas, MMAR also carries a back brace and unloader knee brace selection.