Stress is a feeling you may encounter when there's just too much on your plate to handle.
Your stress level can vary from those around you, and it can also be affecting you in a different way.
But, there's no denying the harmful effects stress impose on your overall health. In fact, stress can be the number one contributor to additional health problems if it's left unreleased.
According to the American Institute of Stress, 77 percent of people chronically experience stress. Even though there are many different ways you can manage your stress, have you ever considered using heat therapy?
Heat therapy, also known as thermotherapy, uses heat to ease muscle pain, as well as both mental and physical stress. Heat therapy comes in the form of hot baths, hot cloths, heating pads, or wraps.
How can heat therapy be used for stress relief?
Tara Grodjesk discusses how heat therapy works to reduce stress, as well as ways you can incorporate heat therapy into a relaxing ritual.
RadioMD Presents:HER Radio | Original Air Date: March 5, 2015
Host: Michelle King Robson and Pam Peeke, MD
Dr. Pam Peeke, founder of the Peeke Performance Center and renowned nutrition and fitness expert and Michelle King Robson, founder of EmpowHER.com and leading women's advocate, cut through the confusion and share the naked, bottom line truth about all things woman. It's HER Radio.
PAM: I'm Dr. Pam Peeke with Michelle King Robson who's on travel today.
Have you ever felt you're at your breaking point? You know what I'm talking about out there. Oh, my gosh. You feel so much stress and then you think, "How am I going to deal with this?" No. Put that down. Yeah, you know what I'm talking about. That Ben & Jerry's.
I'm talking about dealing with stress in a brand new way and I have Tara Grodjesk, a dear, dear friend of mine and someone I've known in the spa industry for more years than I care to count, huh, Tara? She is president of Tara's Spa Therapy and has, for the last 20 years, been devoted to promoting the experience of well-being. She's a certified massage therapist, holistic whole health educator and certified Ayurvedic practitioner. She knows everything there is to know about de-stressing with really cool products. I've used the aroma therapy for so many years and, well, I'm just going to hop right into it.
Tara, first, welcome to HER Radio.
So, you're at your breaking point and you want to ease your stress. We're going to talk about an innovative way of doing that with heat therapy. Can you help us understand how that works?
TARA: Well, first of all, thanks, Pam for having me on. It's great to be here today.
You know, heat therapy is one of the best stress reducers because what it does is it helps to release the tension in the muscles. You know, when we're really stressed out, the muscles start constricting. They're like gripping. And, what we need to do is make them more soft and supple because they need to release so the blood can flow so that circulation can happen. When we're tense and tight, we're all constricted and heat just turns the muscle tissue soft and almost like Jell-O.
PAM: Wow. Okay. So, I mean, are we just talking about hopping in a...what? A bath? Or, are we talking about putting something on our body? How do we do this heat therapy?
TARA: Right. There's way to do it and, of course, a hot bath is a great way to relax although we have to be careful not to get it too hot because we can overheat ourselves a bit. But, there is localized application of heat with hot packs and, as you know, in my Tara Spa Line, I have herbal ease heat therapy packs—one for the neck and then there's a rectangular pack that's called a "unipack". We can apply that to the tummy, to the low back, to the kidneys, to different parts of the body to bring heat to that area. In fact, my favorite thing to do is to heat it up and put it in my bed while I'm getting ready for bed and to warm the bed. Then, once I get in, I put it on my tummy and I'll tell you, that is the best way to induce a deep sleep.
PAM: Really? And so, I mean, where do you put it on your body to be able to induce that deep sleep and that relaxation? Because each part of the body is so different.
TARA: Yes, it is. Well, first I should mention that when you bring heat to a localized area, it does increase white blood cell production, so it is a great immune booster anyway and especially if you feel like you're coming down with a cold or flu bug or something like that. What I do--the first thing I do--is heat up the packs and just put them on my tummy and on the kidney area. In Chinese medicine, that's a common principle to keep the kidneys warm and the low back. So, that's a great thing to do if you think you're coming down with something. In fact, my son, when he was little, we used to fight over the packs to kind of boost our immunity during the cold winter months. I know with this barrage of storms, that's a really great tip to use.
PAM: Now, why wouldn't someone just use a hot water bottle? You know, the old-fashioned one. I mean, seriously. What's the difference? What are these packs that you're really talking about?
TARA: Well, the packs that we have at Tara Spa are made with rice and just like you sometimes see rice kernels in a salt shaker, it absorbs moisture. So, the rice absorbs moisture and when we heat the pack up in a microwave, it releases moist heat. Actually, moist heat is more deeply penetrating than dry heat. So, some people might have an electric blanket on their bed or they might have an electric heating pad and that does generate heat and it does feel good, but it's a different type of heat penetration than the moist heat. It's like inducing a steam therapy which is more deeply penetrating. So, the magic there is the rice.
PAM: Oh, go ahead.
TARA: Yes. The magic is in the rice.
PAM: Ah! The rice. Oh, okay. And so, this is very different than that. So many of us out there, I mean, for crying out loud, the American Institute of Stress says that at least 77% of people feel that they're just stressed—mind and body-- but especially when you get stressed, you tense up. Suddenly, you find your shoulders are sitting somewhere near your ears and you didn't realize that you're tensing up as much. So, I think a lot of this is also muscular. So, you're saying that the moist heat is a great way to de-stress muscles that are very tense. Obviously, I'm thinking one of the biggest muscles, you know, in the back, all of that huge collection of muscles. I know I feel it in my lower lumbar area. It just tenses up and I find myself feeling pain. So, is this kind of where you're going and if it's true, how often should you use it during the day?
TARA: Yes. Well, a great point, Pam. Actually, heat therapy you can use ongoing. A lot of times, when I come home from a work day, the first thing I do is heat up my neck pillow pack and I put that around my neck. I know you were talking about your spinal column. You know, everyone holds their tension in different places, but with all of us on the computers all day long and other stress from driving and all of that, the neck and shoulder area is a great place to target and wrapping a warm pack around the neck is really good for releasing tension in the neck and the shoulder area. You can do something like that. Wrap it around the neck while you're preparing dinner or while you're at your computer or while you're sitting in front of the TV. So, it doesn't interfere with moving around or doing what you need to do and you can still get the benefit of the most heat therapy.
PAM: I just think that this is fabulous. So, this all something you could do at home. You don't have to go running off to a spa or somewhere. You can bring these things into your home and use them on a routine basis. I'm thinking also of tension headaches and the fact that that back pillow, as it were, the wrap, is so terribly helpful to me. I love that. I have had one of yours for years and years and I just keeping using it. But, I think a lot of people don't know that tension headaches actually cause constriction of those muscles at the back of the neck and that pulls down on the skin and the muscles on top of your skull.
TARA: Yes. Well, actually, I've seen a lot—I wanted to mention this, Pam, because I've seen a lot in younger kids or teenagers because of being bent over on the smart phones and texting all the time, I've seen a lot of postural changes. Adults are doing that, too. They're hunched over their computers, so there's a lot of compression, a lot of tension that's in the neck/shoulder area just from postural imbalance. That creates a lot of tension in the musculature, which then can ultimately affect headache tension. So, yes, your point is really an important one: that a lot of headache problems/headache tension is coming from structural alignment and then also from improper digestion. A hot pack to the abdomen is a great thing to aid digestion and calm down the nervous system.
PAM: And, you also add a little bit of aromatherapy, don't you? To your packs.
TARA: Absolutely. The hot packs, we use spices, warming spices because they help to move...
PAM: And lavender and other...oh, my gosh. Absolutely. And they smell so good when they get all warmed up. It's just absolutely fabulous. I've been using mine forever and a day. So, everyone out there--at your breaking point? Yes? Well, you can ease your stress with heat therapy.
We've been talking to Tara Grodjesk who's the President of Tara Spa Therapy. You can learn more about her by going to her website, TaraSpa.com.
Thank you, Tara, for being on our wonderful program, HER Radio.
I'm Dr. Pam Peeke with Michelle King Robson.Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.Stay well.