Vitamin Junkeys

Treating Injuries Muscle Strains and Sprains Ep 30

Treating Muscle Sprains & Strains
Vitamin Junkeys Episode #30 (running time 9:44)
Date: December 16, 2008
Podsafe Music: Ice Cream by Christopher Dale Courtesy of the Podshow Music Network
Show hosts: Jennifer Lyall & Dr. Jean Jacques (Dr. JJ) Dugoua, ND HBSc PhD (Cand.)

Special Guest: Dr. Tracy Schlachta, Chiropractor

This episode examines:

Should you put ice or heat on an injury?

What is active release therapy?

How effective are epsom salt baths?

What is cold laser therapy?

What other types of therapies can you consider for treating muscle sprains and strains?

Natural, Canada's guide to complimentary and alternative healthcare.

What's Dr. JJ taking today:  In stead of taking a Vitamin today, Dr. JJ shared a story about a recent experience he had:

Dr. JJ participated in the Ride to Conquer Cancer, a 215 km bike ride from Toronto to Niagara Falls, Ontario.  Over 1,000 participants raised $14 million for cancer research.  After the ride, Dr. JJ's knees were sore, so he saw an Osteopath for a treatment, which helped his knees.

Should you put ice or heat on an injury?
This is a great debate, that becomes controversial.  It depends on the individual.  A general rule of thumb is to ice immediately after an injury, when it is considered acute, for the first few days.  You should put ice on the injury for about 15 minutes at a time to help reduce the inflammation.  After the first few days, some people find it beneficial to alternate between ice and heat.  If you have lots of muscle tension from work or if you've pulled a muscle, you may find that a moist heat works the best.  You can apply moist heat with a gel pack, or something that you can heat up, then take a warm, moist tea towel that has been wrung out and wrap it around the warm pack.  Then place this wrapped pack on the injury.

Jennifer said that at her house they typically use an ice pack of frozen corn wrapped in a tea towel.  When her kids get hurt, she offers to put ice on it and usually the tears go away quickly. 

What is active release therapy?

Active release was developed to break-up scar tissue.  Originally it was mostly used by professional athletes.  This therapy is now used for anyone, on a variety of injuries ranging from tennis elbow from playing tennis or from using a mouse all day.  Active release breaks up the scar tissue and realigns the fibres.  The problem with scar tissue is after you have injured yourself, the body tries to heal itself by laying a mesh of tissue. in a criss-cross pattern - that's the scar tissue.  Scar tissue is very weak, so with this therapy, you break up the tissue, and then with some strengthening exercises, realign the fibres so that they are stronger.

Active Release Therapy can be used for injuries like ankle sprains and tennis elbow.

It is important to see a trained practitioner.  Generally you can find a chiropractor, massage therapist, physio therapist or sports injury specialists that is certified to practice this technique.  These practitioners must do extra training to be a certified active release therapist.  Practitioners who are certified would have an ART designation.

It is also know as Active Release Technique.

Dr. JJ said that it hurts a lot for a few seconds, but it is a very effective therapy.  Some people find that they have loosened up after the first treatment, however typically people see good results after 6-10 treatments.

How effective are epsom salt baths?

If someone has gone for a long run, or perhaps has been painting all day, an epsom (not ebson salt or epson salt)salt bath is great to do afterwards.  An epsom salt bath takes away the lactic acid, which is what makes you sore and tired the next day.  If you can draw the lactic acid out of your body, you will heal a lot quicker.

A good guideline is to take 1 cup of epsom salt and put it in a bath and soak the sore body parts for 20-30 minutes.  Then you should shower off, if possible, to take the salt off of your body.  You should also drink lots of water, to keep yourself hydrated.

The effects of the of the warm epsom salt bath is different from the warmth of a far infrared sauna.  Far infrared rays penetrate 1-2 inches into the skin, and improves the micro circulation.  It would be repairing the area where there is scar tissue, or inflammation after exercise.  The intention of the epsom salt bath is to draw out the lactic acid.  It does get you roughly the same result, but an epsom salt bath is cheaper.

For the epsom salt bath to be effective, you should soak in the tub the day of the activity/injury.

What is cold laser therapy?

Cold laser therapy is a relatively new therapy.  Dr. Schlachta has seen some phenomenal results with this type of therapy.  It can be used by someone who is acute, or just injured themselves.  Typically it doesn't take very long to see results, often around 6-7 treatments.

For someone with a chronic injury, it takes a lot longer.  Each session is relatively quick- about 2-3 minutes per location of the injury, but you will need to come in for a number of weeks at a time, possibly 4-5 times per week, depending on the individual and the injury being treated.  It's a big time commitment, but it does stimulate healing.  This is done in conjunction with chiropractic care.


What other types of therapies can you consider for treating muscle sprains and strains?


Ultra sound

Supplements that are natural anti-inflammatories like Bromelain and tumeric, fish oil and arnica (topically or homeopathically).  You should see a natural health care practitioner to help you heal faster.  Unless, you are injured and want it to take longer to heal and possibly damage the area, you should see a health care practitioner and get a proper diagnosis.  If you fix the injury right way, you can get back to a healthy lifestyle faster.


Happy Holidays from the Vitamin Junkeys crew!

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Join Jennifer Lyall and Naturopath, Dr. JJ Dugoua as they have fun exploring alternative therapies and healthy living. Weekly episodes are released every Tuesday.

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