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To Heat or not to Heat...THAT is the Question

One of the common things I have to re-educate my clients on is the correct use of heat. Heat feels good, it's comforting and relaxing and a natural analgesic. So more is better? Right?

Wrong!


Heat brings in blood to an area which is good but it keeps bringing it in which causes inflammation, and inflammation is bad. It is the body's over-reaction to well, almost everything. You cut yourself and the body does a great service and heals the skin, laying down new tissue to close up the cut. But does it lay down just enough to make the skin look the way it did before the injury? No it lays down MORE, leaving a scar. This is a classic example of the body's over-reaction process. It's doing what it can, the best it can, so we need to not complicate things, so proper heat use is important.


Solution:


You can definitely use heat. I love it! But don't over do it. Good rule of thumb is to utilize that heat on one spot for say 15-20 minutes and then do not reapply heat to that same area for about 3 hours. In this time it gives the body a chance to come back to homeostasis (normal).


Another common error people fall into is the heated car seat. I was travelling up to Edmonton with my husband, so about a 3 hour drive. He likes the car on the cooler side, so I put my car seat heater on high to stay warm, also did this on the way home too. I found myself sore the next day, and the day after and for actually a few weeks. I could feel my lower back boggy, uncomfortable and a bit warm would be the best description. Then it dawned on me, it was the over heating from the car ride! Epiphany! Inflammation had set in. Now on those cold days I'm super careful to only let my seat heat up for about 10-15 minutes tops and then turn it off to avoid that situation again. I also bundle up for the car when riding with my hubby now.


So what about the sauna or hot tub. Well that's a bit different situation because the body is circulating that blood everywhere, not just to one localized spot. However you wouldn't sit in any of those for extended periods of time either. However, your hot bath you have at home cools off over time which is why you can stay in it a bit longer.


Wise man once said, with great power comes great responsibility! Moral of the story, yes use heat but use that heat wisely!




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