- Diathermy--involves the application of high-frequency heat for deep-tissue penetration (i.e., moist heat pack). This modality works by increasing vasodilation to promote nutrients to and waste products away from injured tissues. Good for injuries such as bursitis, sacroiliac strain, deep muscle spasms and osteoarthritis.
- Electrostimulation (E-stim)--involves the application of electrodes for the generation of low-intensity energy for about 10 to 30 minutes to a particular muscle to regulate muscular contractions, decrease spasms, and to lessen edema.
- Cryotherapy--recommended for acute injuries involves the application of cold to reduce blood circulation, lessen inflammation, reduce spasms, relieve pain, and increase range of motion using a chemical/gel pack (about 10 to 15 minutes) or ice bag (about 10 to 20 minutes) for large areas (i.e., quads), ice massage (i.e., ice cup) (about 5 to 10 minutes) for small areas (i.e., tendon), slush bucket (about 15 minutes) for extremities (i.e., ankle), cold whirlpool (about 10 to 20 minutes) for general analgesia, a cryocuff for compression, or a vapocoolant spray (about 5 to 10 minutes) to injured tissues to lessen pain by reducing edema. Application should occur within 2 to 3 days after an injury and continue until inflammation decreases.
- Thermotherapy--recommended for chronic injuries involves the application of heat to increase blood circulation, reduce spasms, relieve pain, increase range of motion, resolve hematoma, and reduce muscle and joint stiffness while promoting muscle relaxation using a moist hot pack (about 10 to 20 minutes) for large areas (i.e., back), hydrocollator (about 10 to 15 minutes) for large areas, hot whirlpool (about 10 to 30 minutes) for general analgesia, or a hot shower/bath to soothe sore muscle tissues to lessen pain and increase vasodilation. Application should occur more than 3 days after an injury.
- Ultrasound--involves the application of low- or high-frequency sound waves (about 10 to 15 minutes) to penetrate deep and shallow tissues, respectively, and to break up scar tissue or adhesions as a result of an injury. Recommended to reduce inflammation, spasms, pain and increase range of motion. Good for injuries such as tendonitis.
- Hydrotherapy--involves the application of water therapy to include contrast showers or baths as well as whirlpool therapy. Contrast showers involve alternating between hot- and cold-temperature water (i.e., 2 minutes of hot followed by 2 minutes of cold) immediately post-workout to improve blood circulation and lessen inflammation. Contrast baths work best for localized areas (i.e., limbs) by dunking the area in a hot bath and then in a cold bath. Whirlpool immersion for less than 15 minutes at a temperature of 102 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit serves to increase blood circulation and promotes relaxation.
- Cryokinetics--involves the application of crushed ice in a zip-lock bag for up to 20 minutes to a stretched muscle (called icing). This serves to lessen muscle hypertonicity and increases waste product removal.
- Massage--involves utilizing the services of a professional licensed therapist in which some of the myriad benefits include increasing blood and lymphatic circulation, reducing pain and muscle spasm, stretching scar tissue, increasing relaxation, and increasing range of motion.
- Leg elevation--involves raising one or both lower limbs for up to 20 minutes to lessen hydrostatic pressure in the legs. This works best after standing all day. Try lying on your back with one or both legs perpendicular to the floor against a wall.
- Professional assistance--involves utilizing the services of a chiropractor, physical therapist, acupuncturist, acupressure specialist, etc.
- Medications--involves the use of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) such as Advil, Motrin, Aleve, or Ibuprofen for the purpose of reducing pain, controlling or limiting inflammation, and reducing spasms. Medication use should only be temporary.
Brian Danley, CFT
"Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going."