When managing pain either use cold or heat to help you manage the pain and speed up the recovery from the injury. These two forms of therapy are often under-utilized or not used correctly. This article will cover everything you need to know to maximize muscle recovery, manage pain, and use hot and cold therapy effectively.
Remember that Myofascial release and self-massage techniques complement heat and cold therapy, along with tools like foam rollers when in recovery. The more time and effort you put into understanding your injury and tending to it, the quicker and stronger you will heal.
Hot and Cold Therapy in Summary
‘Heat therapy is used to treat injuries that are more than 24 hours old, pain that’s deep in the muscles or bones, and chronic pain.
Cold therapy is used to treat recent injuries, swollen or inflamed joints and muscles, and sore muscles.’
Not treating injuries efficiently and with the proper type of therapy will result in the injury taking a lot longer to heal. There is also the potential for the injury to worsen, or to cause additional problems.
If you have lived with pain for any length of time you will be all too aware how important it is to take injuries seriously. While the treatments described in this article are almost always going to be very effective, if you have persistent issues you should consult the advice of a medical professional.
Using Heat Therapy for Pain Relief and Injuries
Heat therapy, or thermotherapy as it’s also called, works by warming up the area being treated and stimulating the body’s natural healing process. Heat relaxes muscle spasms, lessens muscular pain, and increases the blood flow to the area.
If you workout a lot you will be familiar with the feeling of a numb pain in your muscles after a hard session. This is due to the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles and reduced supply of oxygen. Thermotherapy increases the flow of blood and oxygen back into the muscles and gives you that relaxing, reduction in pain.
How to Use Heat Therapy
Heat therapy is most effective at treating persistent long-lasting pain or chronic pain. By restoring blood flow and encouraging the body to flush out toxins the area being treated can heal quicker and function better.
Here are some methods you can use to apply heat therapy:
- Fix a hot water bottle or wrap a warm towel around the area
- Use heat wraps or infrared heat pads
- Spend time in a sauna
- Soak in a hot tub
Using Cold Therapy for Pain Relief and Injuries
Cold therapy, or cryotherapy as it’s also called, works by first numbing the pain in the area you’re icing. Then the cold starts to thin the blood vessels which slows down blood flow. This is a very different reaction to heat therapy as discussed above, so you can now see why using the incorrect form of therapy can have a negative effect.
When you sustain an injury your body’s natural reaction is to swell around the area. The tissue becomes inflamed and painful to touch. Ice should be applied as soon as possible to numb the pain and slow down the rate of the swelling.
How to Use Cold Therapy
Cold therapy is most effective on recent injuries with swelling that are sensitive to touch. You can also use it after you’ve worked-out to lessen the muscle pain you will feel the following day by reducing the swelling in the muscles.
Here are some methods you can use to apply cold therapy:
- Holding an ice pack against the area or wrapping a cold towel
- Using cold gel packs and wraps
- Having an ice massage
Here are some areas that are easy to ice using ice packs or wraps:
*Important note: you should not use ice or cold therapy for longer than 20 minutes at a time. Prolonged use of cryotherapy can lead to tissue damage.Find Mobility Guardian on Google+