Therapy 101

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There are many forms of therapy that work together to approach physical and mental problems in a holistic manner.

But on this page specifically, we’re going to discuss how we deal with physical injuries, aches or pains, and/or long term physical disorders.elbow

I hope this page will be a reference for you for when you encounter an injury or if you are fighting with a short term or long term physical impairment.

Problems like..

  • Back Pain
  • Shoulder Pain
  • Rotator Cuff Syndrome
  • Foot Pain
  • Tennis Elbow, Golfers Elbow
  • Carpel Tunnel Syndrome
  • As well as simple injuries, bumps and bruises that occur on a daily basis.

Most of the time we can completely prevent injuries from turning into serious health related problems that negatively affect the quality of our lives. Especially if we are in tune with listening to our bodies.

So if you are recently injured or dealing with a more of a mid to long-term muscle, tendon, or ligament issue.

Here’s what you do.

R.I.C.E. – Just in Case You Didn’t Know

picture of a bowl of rice
Not Rice, but R.I.C.E. – REST, ICE, COMPRESSION, ELEVATION – Remember It!

Any time you experience an immediate injury due to whatever reason, you need to practice RICE.

Many people have heard of RICE – but in case you haven’t, the acronym stands for..

  • REST
  • ICE

Not everybody follows this simple form of therapy after experiencing an acute injury

– Including Myself At Times 😉

Sometimes we want to try to massage the pain away or use heat, but this is not the correct way to augment the healing process after a sudden injury or a long-term injury that’s recently flared up.

R.I.C.E should be performed within the first 24 to 48 hours after the injury has occurred.

Let’s go over each component of R.I.C.E.

R is for REST:

After a sudden injury to the shoulder or a sprained ankle, we need to rest. This is pretty obvious and most of us don’t have a problem with this. We’re injured, we’re not happy, we’re in pain – SO TAKE A BREAK – and start working on the other 3 components of R.I.C.E

I is for ICE:

Applying a cold back or ice massage will decrease the blood flow and oxygen to the injured area and is a great way to decrease the inflammation, pain, and muscle spasms in a newly acquired injury.icepack

Then when you take off the cold pack/ice massage, blood flow will return to the effected area bring in healing nutrients to help speed up your recovery.

For Cold Packs, you can use a plastic bag filled with ice cubes or a commercial ice pack. Commercial ice packs are great to have around the home when unexpected injuries take place.

Commercial ice packs are also great because most of them are made of a fluid gel that allows the pack to be molded around whatever body part is injured. This will allow for increased surface contact between the affected area and the ice pack.

Recommended Cold Pack Duration: Place the cold pack on the injured area for no more than 20 minutes at a time. You can take it off for at least a minimum duration of 10 minutes before reapplying the ice pack and the process can be repeated throughout the entire day to two days (24 to 48 hours after the injury).

Also, make sure you wrap the ice pack in a towel to avoid direct contact with the ice pack to your skin.

Preparations and Recommendations for Ice Massage: To make an ice massage cup, just fill up some Dixie cups (paper cups) and leave them in your Freezer. Once frozen..

  • Peal the paper cup away at the top so that you still have the base of the paper cup at the bottom to hold onto.
  • Massage the affected area CONTINUOUSLY for 5 – 7 minutes in circular motions – bring some towels to place below the massage area to catch the water as the ice is melting over your skin. – Also, don’t let the ice sit directly on the skin, keep the ice massage in continuous motion in order to avoid ice burn.


Compression is probably the most difficult thing to do for yourself and usually requires a second set of helping hands.

Compression is performed by wrapping an elastic bandage around the effected area to help decrease the swelling and improve the circulation of interstitial fluid that can excessively accumulate in recently injured area or in long-term circulatory problems that can be associated with Cardiovascular Diseases.

The compression should fit tight enough to allow the muscles of the affected area to still be able to contract and fill with blood.

If the compression is too tight, you’ll do more harm and impede blood flow to that effected area causing more serious problems and actually worsen your condition.

Elastic stocking can be used for the arms and legs at variant gradients. Again this is something that is normally used in patients that have long term swelling caused by various cardiovascular diseases.


Elevation will reduce swelling by increasing venous return (circulation of blood flow through veins and not arteries). This will result in less pain and swelling.

What Do I Do Most of The Time?

When I get an injury or have a reoccurring pain, I’ll immediately go with ice packs.

If I can elevate the affected area, which can be easily done with the legs and arms, I’ll do Elevation and Cold at the same time, and of course I’m Resting as well.

Completing 3 out of 4 of the R.I.C.E components isn’t too bad and will normally do the trick.

If my body is riddled with knots in my neck and my back is hurting, in other words, I’m in a whole lot of pain, I go with a bathtub of cold water and a couple large bags of ice cubes.

Dump the ice in the cold water and get ready to test you yourself mentally and physically – It’s intense.

After 7-10 minutes of an ice bath (it’s a pain in the ###), but well worth it when you get out.

The inflammation and pain is gone and you’ll experience a unique feeling of euphoria (Highly Recommended For the Brave at Heart).

What To Do After The Initial 24 – 48 Hours? 

Once the swelling and pain has decreased, you can slowly incorporate applying Hot Packs, Gently Massage, and begin passive or active range of motion (moving the affected joint within it’s normal range of motion).

Heat, Massage, and Range of Motion will help speed up your recovery by bringing increased blood flow that is loaded with nutrients into the injured area.

Start with HEAT:

Heat will open up the vessels (arteries and veins) and cause increased blood flow that will, in turn, bring in nutrients and oxygen into muscles, joints, ligaments, and packs

This will decrease muscle spasms and increase range of motion in joints, tendons, and ligaments as well as decrease the pain.

You can buy Commercial Hot Packs or make your own. With hot packs, you want to heat the pack up (usually using a microwave or hot pot of water) and then wrap the hot pack in several layers of towels before applying it to the affected area.

I prefer Commercial Hot Packs because they come with set recommendations on how to use them – Follow The Directions!

The key is to cause a gentle warming of the area using a Hot Pack. If the hot pack is too hot, you can end up causing damage to the skin and injured area.

If you feel the heat is too intense within the first 3 – 20 seconds of applying the heat to the injured area, BACK OFF WITH THE HOT PACK, and wrap another layer or two of towels around it.

Then proceed with the application. Hot packs can be applied for 20 minutes at a time and throughout the day to help speed up your recovery. Again, 10 – 15 minutes off before reapplying.

Massage and Range of Motion:

Massage and range of motion will again help improve the circulation and return full range of motion to the injured area.

This should be completed after hot pack applications to speed up the healing time.massage

Massage will also help with desensitization of the newly healing area. This will allow for normal sensation to the affected joint, ligament, or muscle.

Self massage can be completed sometimes depending on the location of the affected area, and range of motion can be completed passively (by yourself or by a therapist) or actively by yourself.

Whenever you complete self massage, be gentle, and message in the direction towards the heart. We want to push the blood back to the heart – veins are lazy  🙂

What’s To Come From Therapy Boy

In future posts I will be reviewing Manual Techniques, Training Programs, Home Therapy Products, Easy to Do-It-Yourself Massage Techniques that incorporate principles from Muscle Energy Techniques, Myofascial Trigger Point Release and Active Release Techniques.

These topics are a bit more technical, so I’ll save these discussions for future posts.

Follow the above recommendations for new injuries or irritated long term disorders and you’ll get pain relief and increase your healing time.

Thanks for reading and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Take care,

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