Heat vs. Ice – Which is best for you?

There is often a lot of confusion among our patients over whether they should use ice or heat at home for self-treatment options. I hope this post can clear things up for your individual condition.

In general, remember this formula:

Heat = muscles.

Ice = injuries.

Heat is often used during treatment (and later at home) to take the edge off of muscle spasms and pain. Heat soothes the nervous system and your mind, so heat helps those with chronic pain. Ice, on the other hand, helps dull the pain of inflammation, acute pain and swelling that occurs from an injury.

The other day I worked on a patient who had a knee injury and, subsequently, surgery on that knee. We were trying to straighten her knee, so as she laid on her stomach prior to her exercise, I put heat on her upper hamstring to soothe and relax that muscle so she’d be more comfortable trying to stretch her leg. However, after she worked with me for an hour, I then iced her knee – putting an ice pack directly at the location of her surgery helped calm down the tissue inside that was inflamed and swollen.

Heat can make inflammation worse, and ice can make muscle tension and spasms worse, so they have the potential to do some mild harm when mixed up. Be sure to clarify with your therapist which treatment is right for you before, during and after your home exercise program. However, both are inexpensive, easy, natural and have minimal risks, so don’t be afraid to utilize these treatments when you’re uncomfortable.


Links that discuss this subject in depth (credit for some blog content above extended to these links):

The Cleveland Clinic (includes an infographic for specific problems)


How Does Your Garden Grow?

We are growing a garden outside our clinic.


I’ll admit it sounds a little unconventional. Maybe you’re wondering if we have so little to do all day that we’re taking on this extra project to fill the hours (not it). Maybe you’re thinking we’re going to use our patients as free labor to take care of the garden (not it…completely).

There’s actually a few reasons why we’re doing it. One, it’s really an ideal space for a garden – plenty of sunlight, good drainage, and enough traffic that we’ll be guilted into keeping it looking pretty. Two, and this is personal – my family and I love the fresh vegetables that come from a garden, but our house is in the woods and after 3 years of failure, we’ve determined our soil, lack of sunlight, and array of wild animals traipsing through our yard is not going to yield a successful harvest. Three, many of our staff enjoy gardening and I hope this will encourage them to push away from their desks during lunch and give them a reason to go outside (because you never have enough supervisors on hand to offer advice, right?)

But the main reason we decided to create a garden in a professional setting is to offer an innovative, real-world application to help our patients. Many of you are avid gardeners and spend a lot of hours digging, weeding, bending over, hauling rocks, shoveling, raking, hoeing, watering, fertilizing, staking…which means your bodies spend many hours bending in weird positions, working in repetitive motions, and straining muscles, ligaments and discs. Nantahala Physical Therapy wants to help you be successful not only in the food you produce, but how you feel during and after your gardening workout.

If you become a patient and gardening is something you enjoy, let your therapist know. We’ll spend some of your therapy time working outside, making sure you’re using proper body mechanics to avoid injuries. And who knows….maybe we’ll share a tomato or two.


p.s. A big thank you to Wesley Hirsch, a master gardener himself, who is helping us have a successful harvest.

Healthy Eating – Yes, It Matters

You’ve probably heard it for years – first from your parents, then from TV talk show doctors, and now, today, from your physical therapist – good, nutritious food is really and truly good for you. And it’s not just about vanity and losing weight – what you put into your body can absolutely have an effect on your physical health.

Food provides the fuel that makes our bodies live, grow and function properly, just like the type of gas you put in your car can help extend the life, lower the maintenance issues, and increase gas mileage. Try putting diesel into your car that requires unleaded and see how it performs (and what it costs to repair it).

There is a lot of passionate debate on what type of diet is best – are artificial sweeteners okay or cancer causing? Low calorie versus less processed – which is better for you? Are cleanses effective? Gluten free, dairy free….one can research until you’re starving for ANY type of food and you’ll find many valid arguments on each side. In general, I recommend eating as much “real” food as possible – fresh fruits and vegetables, raw nuts, and recipes that involve ingredients you can pronounce and add yourself, rather than pre-packaged foods that are full of hidden components that don’t really fill you up or enhance the food much.

Healthy eating is based on conscious choices you make every day. Just as you plan your week’s activities and plan how you’re going to spend your money, plan your meals as well.  Our family has found that menu planning – sitting down each week and deciding on a menu for breakfast, lunch and dinner, is super helpful in our goal to eat healthier. Instead of just grabbing an unhealthy snack whenever we’re hungry, or waiting until dinner to think about what we’re eating that night, we know what’s coming up and are prepared with the right groceries and knowledge of how much time it’s going to take to make.

Even if you live alone or don’t cook as often, you can still plan meals and stock your cupboards with healthy foods that will help you feel better, give your more energy, and might even assist on your road to recovery in physical therapy.

Feel free to ask any of the therapists at Nantahala Physical Therapy about foods they recommend, tips they follow themselves or websites they visit to find healthy recipes. We are here to help you!


Our New Therapy Pool….Explained

It was just a year and a half ago that my wife and I first discussed the idea of expanding Nantahala Physical Therapy by building our own physical therapy clinic in Franklin. We had (and continue to have) a great relationship with our then-landlords inside the Franklin Health and Fitness Center, and especially loved the results our patients got through aquatic therapy using their indoor pool. We knew that it was important that Nantahala Physical Therapy continue offering aquatic therapy to our patients and, if we were going to build a brand new facility, we must include a pool somehow.

After a lot of research (including a super cool trip to the Clemson athletic rehab facility, located inside their football stadium), we selected a Swim Ex pool.

For patients who were treated with aquatic therapy while we were at the Fitness Center, there are definitely differences to your experience there versus in our new clinic.

  • This pool is much smaller, only fitting 2-3 patients comfortably.  You aren’t dodging water aerobics participants or lap swimmers now! However, this is one case where size doesn’t matter. The SwimEx pool is a resistance pool, meaning we can control the amount of current to make the therapy more or less rigorous. This current essentially replaces the need for pool length. If your goal is to swim laps again, you can still do that in this pool.
  • Second, our SwimEx pool is warmer. We keep our pool set around 92 degrees, which is about 4 degrees higher than the Fitness Center’s pool. This temperature is more comfortable for patients, as it is cool enough to perform exercises but warm enough to quickly adjust to the water and warm up your muscles.
  • Only therapy is occurring at this clinic. There will be rare times you may share the pool with another patient but usually there is only one person in the pool at a time (with his/her therapist), meaning more privacy and customization for that patient’s particular goals.

If you’ve considered aquatic therapy before but have been wary of attempting it at our previous location, I encourage you to come take a look and talk to any of the therapists about what we can do to help reach your goals.


A Different Type of Therapy….

Some of our staff, including a few students here for a clinical rotation, recently took Muscular Dystrophy patient Donnie Clouse rafting down the Nantahala River. Scott and I rode with Donnie, his wife and step daughter, while the others rafted along side of us in another boat. It was a great day! Our local newspaper, The Franklin Press, ran a story about the adventure and Donnie’s positive outlook. Written by Sports Editor Andy Scheidler, I invite you to take a look here:

Special Wet Thrill Ride

One of the greatest joys of being a physical therapist is being a part of a patient’s progression. Donnie is one of those patients that is fun to work with and makes me glad I chose this profession.

Win a beautiful quilt with our Cystic Fibrosis raffle!

After raising more than $1,500 last year, Nantahala Physical Therapy is proud to once again partner with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation to help save a life.

Our goal is again $1,500 and we’re collecting donations in a number of ways:

  • The lure of great barbecue!  Drop by April 20th from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Big Bear Shelter on the Greenway and pick up a plate of delicious barbecue for $5 per plate.
  • While you’re enjoying your barbecue, you can also bid on silent auction items or purchase something from our bake sale.
  • Participate in a raffle for a chance to win this lovely handmade quilt, donated by a patient.

Purchase one ticket for $1, or 6 tickets for $5. The drawing will occur at the end of the barbecue.

  • If you can’t make it to the Greenway on the 20th, drop by our office and make a donation.  Our therapists will be sure to think of you as we’re walking in the Great Strides Walk on May 3rd.
  • Or, if you feel like moving your feet for the cause, feel free to join us May 3rd at the Great Strides Walk on the Greenway with your own donations raised!  We’d love to see you there.

Nearly 90 cents of every dollar of revenue raised is available for investments in programs that support CF research, care and education, so it’s a very worthy cause.

If you have any questions and would like to see the quilt in person, stop by our office and speak to any therapist. And thanks for helping make a difference!

Cystic Fibrosis (CF) is an inherited chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system.  More than 70% of patients are diagnosed by age 2.  In the 1950′s, few children with CF lived to attend elementary school; today, thanks to advances in research and medical treatments, many people with the disease can expect to live into their 30′s, 40′s and beyond.