The Benefits of Applying Heat

Heat vs IceHello heatwave!  It’s been slow to warm up this spring, but every time we get several days in a row of sun, patients come in reporting aches & pains from yard work, gardening, spring cleaning, biking, hiking, etc.  Warm weather is so much fun!  Until you’re body cries mercy. 
Did you know that I recommend applying heat to all kinds of pain?  I know that might go against much of what you’ve been told before, but that’s because you weren’t talking to an acupuncturist.  We’ve been telling people to apply heat to pain for thousands of years.  Chinese proverb says “Ice is for dead things.”  Don't treat your body like dead things. 
Most people prefer heat and get more long lasting pain relief with it.  There are some people that prefer cold or find it works better for them.  That is why I recommend you do an experiment.  Just in time for this weekend when you might overdo it in the garden, on the trails, or even at the beach, and end up with sore muscles and joints.
Body Experiment:  The next time you have pain, apply heat to the area of pain.  Microwavable hot packs, heating pads, or foot/hand baths will all work.  While the hot tub, sauna, or a hot shower are not bad, that's not as therapeutic as applying the heat exclusively to the area of pain.  This sends the body a clear message of where to target sending more circulation. 
A lot of people ask “If I have pain, don’t I need ice to cool the inflammation with ice?”  That’s what most of us were taught, but this theory doesn’t make sense to me.  I mean some external ice is not going to stop the internal process of inflammation.  And that inflammation process is there for a reason; it’s part of the healing process. 
I agree that we don’t want to encourage more inflammation.  But the way Chinese Medicine sees it, applying heat increases blood flow to the area.  That increased blood flow will flush out inflammation and bring in natural pain killers and healing nutrients.  And current research supports the use of heat over ice for healing soft tissues.
Here’s how I apply heat to areas of pain:

  • Apply heat for 10-20 minutes several times a day after an injury or during a flare up of a chronic condition.  Continue with the application of heat at least once a day for a few days after the pain is gone to keep it away or as prevention to an area of chronic pain.
  • I love a microwaveable hot pack that I can go to bed with because it's a good use of time.  I’m already going to be laying down and resting.  And the hot pack will fall away when I’m done with it.
  • If you want to use ice, alternate it with heat—this expands and contracts and acts like a bike pump to flush the affected area.  This can be helpful for hand and feet since those areas sometimes need some extra help with circulation.  A good rule of thumb is:
–3 minutes hot
–30 seconds cold
–Repeat 3 times, ending on cold

I predict that, during my lifetime, the recommendation for treating pain with ice is going to reverse!  So next time you are sore from overdoing it, try out using some heat and let me know how it goes! 

Wisdom Workshop:
Resiliency 101–The Art and Science of Thriving
In this uplifting workshop you’ll learn how your mind works, so you can enjoy more peace of mind and:

  • Supercharge your performance
  • Improve your relationships
  • Enter the healing zone

Because less mental stress (worry, rumination, over-analysis, frustration, guilt) isn’t just more enjoyable, it’s correlated with better physical health.  And the bonus is that when you understand your state of mind better, it’s easier to make better decisions to support your health.

Summer can be busy and seats are limited, so put it in your calendar now and
click this link to register or find a future date that works for you:
Resiliency 101–The Art and Science of Thriving
Tuesday, June 25, 6-7 PM
Santa Rosa, CA


Saturday Workshops:I've teamed up for some special Saturday workshops with my mentor, friend, and colleague Julie Gleeson We'll be exploring how to have more resilient relationships because my patients tell me relationships are one of their biggest stressors.  We both have a lot of experience personally and in helping others uncover peace, connection, understanding, and joy in relationships.  I am sure the conversations will be helpful and humorous.  

Finding Family and Relationship PeaceDuring the heart of summer family time, we’re hosting a Saturday workshop to support resiliency in families and relationships.  

  • Imagine coming home to sanctuary, not chaos…..
  • Imagine being on vacation and actually connecting……
  • Imagine people who are warm with each other, and genuinely enjoy being together….
  • Imagine enjoying the roller coaster ride, not fearing it.
More information and registration to save your seat:
Finding Family and Relationship Peace
Saturday June 29, 10 am- 3 pm
Moraga, CA

Dealing with Difficult PeopleWhen I got a fresh perspective on romantic relationships, all my relationships improved.  So much so that friends and colleagues started asking me for relationship advice.  Come explore the understanding that will help you find peace with family, career, and romantic relationships.  

  • Are there people in your life who are unreasonable?
  • Do you walk on eggshells around someone?
  • Have you given up on a relationship completely and wish you had another option?
More information and registration to save your seat:
Dealing with Difficult People
Saturday September 28, 10 am- 3 pm
Moraga, CA

These workshops will be held in Julie’s beautiful office in Moraga, which is just over an hour drive from Santa Rosa on a Saturday.  It’s a perfect time to bring a friend or loved one and make a day out of it.  During the drive home you can chat about what insights you had or just relish in the good feeling together. 

What We’re Treating in the ClinicHiking, biking, and even yard work (depending on where your property is) don’t just lead to aches and pains–they also lead to poison oak.  Did you know that acupuncture and herbs are great at calming down poison oak itching blisters and helping your body recover faster?  Most people don’t, but when they come in the clinic and mention they have poison oak, we treat it and and they leave grateful. 
So now you know I can help reduce your poison oak suffering (and most other skin rash suffering) so get an appointment right away and get ahead of the curve.  My husband and I are pretty allergic to poison oak so I’ve become a pro at treating it.
Of course, if you think you have poison oak please wash with some poison oak soap so you’re not spreading the oils to other unsuspecting people like me and my husband.
Existing patients can book online here.  Make sure you get a confirmation email and click "CONFIRM" in that email.  

You can access our online booking anytime by clicking anywhere on our website that says "make an appointment" or "book now" and follow the breadcrumbs to "Existing Patients" and "Book Online".  Existing patients are always welcome to call or email us if you prefer to schedule that way or you’re not finding any appointments that work for you online.  

New patients need to call or email us to set up their first appointment because there is just too much information we need to share with you.

Happy Body Explorations!
Christina Ness-Hawks, LAc

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