Learn the Techniques of Stretching
and feel more comfortable in your body

 Q & A

Answers from our community on day to day comfort.

These tips are provided by Anne Beecher and other members of the health community.  We focus on maximizing the comfort you experience in your day to day life.   (Clicking on a question will bring you down the page to the article you wish to read.  Clicking on the author's name will bring you to their website.)

List of Articles:

When should I use ice or heat for my aches and pains?

Are there other ways to control my inflammation besides drugs?

Can I exercise even though I have arthritis and osteoporosis?

How can I prevent joint injury during my workout?

What is your top stretch for computer users and posture?

As always consult your physician for any diagnosis or treatment.  These tips are not an attempt to diagnose or treat any condition.


When should I use ice or heat for my aches and pains? 

Answer provided by: Oceana Rames, ND, LMT, Naturopathic Physician, Vineyard Haven

The guidelines that I use are:
  • Ice for acute injury, heat, inflammation (swelling),
  • Heat for constriction, spasm, cramp
Both therapies are used for pain, however, they produce opposite effects.  Ice causes local constriction of the blood vessels, called vasoconstriction.  Heat causes an opening of the blood vessels, called vasodilation.

When you are injured, the body reacts with inflammation.  This causes a little splinting of the area through swelling so you won't move it and injure it even more, and the increased blood coming to the area brings more oxygen and repair type cells to the area which results in increased heat.  Signs of inflammation are:  redness, heat, and swelling.

Using ice on inflammation will help to reduce the swelling and cause a local vasoconstriction.  In addition, at any injury site, there is an accumulation of tissue debris that can unnecessarily add to the local distress.  A secondary benefit of vasoconstriction is that is pushes the tissue debris out of the area.  When you do ice an area, I recommend doing it for ten minutes, then wait for another ten or more minutes before icing again.  After removing the ice, the body will warm that cold area up by dilating blood vessels and sending more blood into the area, bringing in fresh oxygen and repair cells.  Applying ice for more than ten minutes has not been found to help and actually can be devitalizing.

So what about heat?  When you have a spasm, cramp, or constriction of a muscle group, it feels painful and there is usually a tight or pulling sensation.  The usual response is to want to stretch it out and/or put pressure on it, or get a massage.  This condition responds better to heat because it helps relax the muscle, promotes vasodilation, and brings more oxygen to the muscle.  Heating pads, microwave packs, menthol ointment, and hot showers or baths will help to relieve the problem.  Whenever you use heat, you should follow it with a short application of cold.


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Are there other ways to control my inflammation besides drugs? 

Answer provided by:  Eric Reardon, MS, CNC, Crossroads to Health Nutrition Consulting, Groton

Eating an anti-inflammatory diet is one of the best ways to reduce and control painful and disease causing inflammation.  Controlling inflamation is one of the most important factors in reducing the risk of chronic disease.  Research is now showing most modern diseases are caused by inflammation including heart disease, arthritis, cancer, obesity, dementia and more.  A diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids, fruits, vegetables and whole grains should be emphasized.  Just as important as what you eat is what you omit from your diet.  Sugar and poor quality fats are inflammatory to the body and speed up the aging process.  Eliminating trans fats and using quality oils such as olive, flax, sesame, and coconut are steps in the right direction.  Reducing sugar intake and using sugar substitutes like xylitol and stevia is also recommended.

Causes of Inflammation

  • Poor diet:  refined, processed foods, poor quality fats
  • Lack of exercise
  • Stress
  • Chronic infections:  viruses, bacteria, yeasts
  • Hidden allergens from food or the environment
  • Toxins such as mercury, mold, and pesticides
The Top 10 Anti-inflammatory Foods

  1. Wild Salmon
  2. Shitake Mushrooms
  3. Green Tea
  4. Broccoli
  5. Olive Oil
  6. Turmeric (with black pepper)
  7. Kale
  8. Ginger
  9. Pineapple
  10. Blueberries

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Can I exercise even though I have arthritis and osteoporosis? 

Answer provided by:  Jay Clermont, Fitness Together, Chelmsford

Exercise can be very beneficial for individuals who suffer from joint pain. This can include arthritis, osteoporosis, and other chronic conditions. If you're experiencing pain that affects your muscles, joints, or bones, a lack of physical activity can make the condition worse or more difficult to live with. Medical research shows that physical activity is both safe and beneficial for people with arthritis, osteoporosis, and other chronic conditions of bones and joints. Some of the benefits of regular exercise includes, but is not limited to, slowing the loss of muscle mass, strengthening bones, reducing joint and muscle pain, relieving joint stiffness, improving mobility and balance, and helping in the prevention of falls. Exercise does not have to be strenuous and vigorous to achieve these results. Thirty minutes of moderate physical activity several times a week can be beneficial. Exercise can also protect us from some normal effects of aging. This can include reducing the loss of muscle mass, increasing muscle size and strength, increasing bone mass and density which can decrease susceptibility to fractures, increasing elasticity in tendons and ligaments, and reducing joint inflammation and cartilage degeneration.

If you're looking to begin a structured exercise program, that's where Fitness Together can help. My staff of certified personal trainers and Exercise Physiologists will work with you to help you pinpoint exactly what your goals are, then tailor an exercise regimen that is specific to your own individual goals. Before you take that step, however, be sure to check with your doctor, especially if you're over 40, or if you have any health problems, like high blood pressure or cholesterol, diabetes, a family history of heart disease, or even if you smoke. It's always a good idea to have your personal physician give the idea of an exercise program a thumbs-up before you begin.

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How can I prevent joint injury during my workout?  

Answer provided by:  Anne Beecher, The Stretching Resource, Westford

Follow these steps in your workout for the safest routine for your joints.  Of course advisable for all, however, over 40 crowd pay close attention!

  1. Before strength training and stretching, do general cardiovascular warm-up exercises to increase circulation and literally warm your body for 5-10 minutes.
    Perform at low to moderate intensity - for example, walking or biking.
  2. Before strength training, do joint specific warm-ups.
    Initiate target moves with either  light weights or no weights.
    Example: Target - Biceps Curl with 10 pound weights.
    First, mimic the same movements without weights or with five pound weights for 10 reps., wait 20 seconds.
  3. Proceed to your 10 pound set.
    You may find that when you get to the 10 pound set you are more comfortable, you can do more reps., or even increase the weight lifted with greater ease.
    Use this technique for all your resistance positions.
  4. Use your best posture during the movements. Poor posture while using weights is a common cause of injury to the neck or low back.
    If you cannot maintain your posture, you may be using too much weight.

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What is your top stretch for computer users and posture? 

Answer provided by:  Anne Beecher, The Stretching Resource, Westford

My Top Stretch for Body Comfort 

Great for Computer Users and Posture Maintenance!!

Do you have slumped shoulders and low back soreness when you stand up from your desk? Computer work effects one of your biggest muscle groups:  Lattisimus Dorsi (Lats.).

 The Lattisimus Dorsi are large muscles located on the back. They attach onto the arm and when shortened give us those rounded shoulders we're always trying to combat. They also effect the low back because they're such large back muscles! Stretch these muscles and you're really going to feel better!

How do you stretch them? Go to stretch #16 on your DVD amd Poster from The Stretching Resource. It really is this easy to get comfortable!!!

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