First aid for the family

Dr. Asha Fields Brewer

Over the past few articles, we have been learning how to take better care of our temples after injury. So far we have learned about ice (or cryotherapy) and heat (or thermal therapy), but did you know there is a treatment that combines the two? Contrast therapy alternates between ice and heat to aid in the healing process. This combines the benefits of cold (slowing cells down) and the benefits of heat (increasing the flow of cells) to create a “pump” through the injured area. 

We will go back to our faithful friend Jacob to continue our discussion on first aid and injuries. If you recall from Genesis Chapter 32, Jacob has a hip injury. We can use what we already know about heat and ice to see if the contrast therapy is appropriate for him.  

First, it is important to remember that ice is ideal right after injury for the first three days. This helps us reduce swelling, discoloration and other signs of inflammation. Heat is ideal a few weeks after injury, so we can bring fresh blood and other healing cells in to help repair the area. But what about in between? 

Contrast therapy is a great way to support the body’s natural healing process between these two phases. Of course, your doctor should be consulted about the best use of contrast therapy for you. I typically instruct my patients to use contrast therapy four or five days after injury and for the next one to two weeks until we transition to the heat only therapy. 

Remember, contrasting between the ice and the heat allows blood and other healing cells to be pumped through the injured site. This “through” part is very important, because this middle phase of healing is trying to rebuild the injured area. We don’t want blood to just pool the area, such as with heat. But we also don’t want to majorly decrease the blood and other cells getting to the area, such as with ice. Contrast therapy provides us with the benefits of both.

So how do you apply contrast therapy? Simple, you alternate heat for 10 minutes, then follow-up with ice for 10 minutes. No matter how many times you alternate, always end on ice. I typically have my patients alternate for up to one hour; take a break for two hours to move around; and start the treatment over again if necessary. 

Now that you understand cryotherapy, thermal therapy, and contrast therapy, read back through the story of Jacob in Genesis Chapter 32. What first aid treatment would you recommend for him? What treatment would you recommend for the nicks and bruises that you or your loved ones may encounter? Keep these basic first aid principles in mind, but remember to pay attention to your body, consult your physician, and do what’s best for your temple.

Dr. Asha Fields Brewer is a creator of healthy conversations. As a national speaker and published author, she teaches the busy and overwhelmed how to live life abundantly. She is the owner of Temple Fit Co. wellness agency, which is home to 25-plus wellness speakers and fitness instructors. Tune in to “Temple Fit Devotions with Dr. Asha” on Wednesdays at 4 p.m. on Hallelujah 95.3 FM.

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