When dealing with trauma or pain, remember–
Ice is for dead things!
The Chinese martial arts know a lot about trauma medicine. A sinew popping kick to one of the joints, punches that powder capillary beds, or broken and shattered bones from falls or weapons all are common fare. All that whirling kick and punch training can result in some serious injuries to the soft tissues, ligaments, sinews and bones as well. The Chinese figured out long ago how to fight with style and power. They also learned a lot about putting people back together.
Many of the training temples have herbal formulas and liniments to treat bruises, bleeding, soft tissue injury and broken bones, and these formulas and liniments have been passed down through generations. The vast majority of these methods involve increasing blood flow, reducing inflammation, and promoting the generation of new tissue.
There is one substance we commonly use in the West to treat trauma and the associated swelling and pain that comes along with it that the Chinese have never used: Ice. There is a good reason for it too!
What? But, 10 doctors out of 10 recommend ice for trauma.
True enough, but do consider that at one time everyone thought the sun revolved around the earth, cigarettes were good for you, and tomatoes were poisonous. Sometimes we do things thinking we are acting in our best interest, only to later discover we were missing an essential bit of information.
Ice will temporarily help a traumatic injury to feel better, but in the long run we are prolonging the healing process as it reduces circulation to the injured area.
Ever notice we use ice to preserve dead things?
Fish at the supermarket are laid out on a bed of ice. We pack our picnic sandwiches in a cooler with ice to slow down the process of spoilage. Get the connection? If you want to slow down a metabolic process, add cold.
Generally speaking, alive, warm, living creatures don’t particularly like ice. That would include the cells in the area of the trauma, along with the blood and lymph that circulate through the area.
Think about it like this: When there is a disaster of some sort that results in destruction and chaos, emergency supplies and materials need to get through and debris and damaged materials need to be transported out. Open roads are vital for this to occur.
Our bodies are just the same. We need white blood cells getting to the scene of the damage as quickly as possible, we need good blood circulation to bring in nutrients, and we need lymph drainage to carry away the debris.
Slap an icepack on a sprain or contusion, and the process of recovery slowwwsss wayyyy doowwnnnn.
OK, fine, but what kind of first aid should be applied?
Simple– Kungfu first aid, the kind those Shaolin monks use that entails That entails the local application of herbal plasters or ointments, internal herbs that increase blood circulation, and some acupuncture or a specialized form of cupping. All this, ideally, as soon as possible after the injury has occurred.
Listen in as I talk with one of the masters of using Chinese medicine to treat trauma; Tom Bisio