I really didn't know how good I had it, my first job. Walk around the corner, pull out a nice hot hydrocollator pack, wrap it up in a couple of thick terry towels, and I was good to go. The next job? I was on my own, working out of a room that was barely the size of my table, and didn't even have an electric heating pad.
Most therapists will agree, having SOME type of heating/cooling apparatus is necessary. Application of heat can help prepare the tissues for deeper work, reduce pain perception, and save your hands some of the prep work. Application of cold can help reduce inflammation after using friction techniques and improve your treatment outcomes. So, how do you decide what to invest in?
1. Patient Load
- How busy is your clinic? Do you have multiple treatment rooms, therapists, or patients all at the same time? Will you need access to heat/cold for every patient? If so, you might want to check into the free standing Hydrocollator
. The best of the best, it offers immediate heat with minimal preparation, and can provide heating pads for several patients/therapists at the same time. It spoiled me for any other kind of moist heat application. The cons? Pricey, and requires more towels for proper insulation.
2. Convenience/Mess tolerance - Do you have time to microwave a wheat bag/gel pack for your patient? How far away from your treatment area is the freezer/heating unit? Do you want to deal with extra laundry and the occasional water spill on the floor? Is there space for a hydrocollator unit? If your choice is to go with an electric heating pad, are you able to run a cord that isn't going to trip you up when you're working? Can you store/use all of the above hygienically, do you have access to everything you would need for proper sanitary procedures?
3. Personal/Professional Philosophy
- Are you comfortable using electricity close to your patients, or do you prefer to use natural elements - water, stones, clay, herbs, or sand? When fascia isn't going to move, when I want to melt tissue without pain, nothing beats a warm stone
. Many therapists keep a few options on hand - Cryo cups
in the freezer, a thermophore in the treatment room ready to go, and a gel pack
available on the shelf for smaller areas or mobile treatments.
Once I had my own office, my first "proper" heating pad was a wheat bag
my mother sewed for me, large enough to cover anyone's lumbar spine, with a washable cover. Cheap, reusable, smelling faintly of fresh bread while heating up, it served me well for a good year. However, it also took 7 minutes to get to a decent temperature in our tiny office microwave, which cut into my treatment time and eventually led me to my current favorite, the Thermophore
What works for you?