If you've ever been injured whether from working out or simply by moving the wrong way, you've probably wondered whether you should go for the ice pack or the heating pad. Most people do both which can actually be aggravating your injury more. So, I wanted to take a few to explain when to use ice or heat and why:
Ice Cold Relief
Typically ice is the better choice for injuries and inflammation. The cold will restrict blood flow and reduce swelling and inflammation. So any time there is a sprain, strain or bruising go for the ice pack. There are two different ways to treat an injury with ice:
- Immediately: this will prevent the injured area from becoming stiff by reducing tissue fluid.
- Rehabilitation: physical therapists, massage therapists and chiropractors will use cold therapy to reduce pain and spasms to allow for better mobility.
If you have poor circulation or cardiovascular disease, consult your doctor before resorting to cold therapy. In addition, if you apply ice for too long you may experience skin, tissue or nerve damage.
Can You Feel the Heat?
Heat is a great method for relaxing. While ice restricts blood vessels, heat opens them, increasing blood flow to an affected area. This is perfect for most aches and pains, and generally good for repairing damaged tissue since increased blood flow stimulates healing. You'll usually experience relief from minor stiffness and tension within 15-20 minutes of heat therapy.
It is important not to burn yourself during heat therapy. This seems like an obvious statement, but it happens a lot. If you have swelling or bruising, heat is not the right call. Never use heat therapy near open wounds, and if you suffer from heart disease or hypertension ask your doctor before using heat treatment.
The Ultimate Treatment
When it comes to injuries caused by physical activity, cold and heat are super beneficial, but they’re not long-term solutions. A healthy musculoskeletal system is critical to overall health and healing, affecting how the entire body functions. Regular chiropractic adjustments help reduce tension and pain by utilizing the body’s natural healing process. Choosing chiropractic as the first line of defense once injured decreases the likelihood of surgery and further injury!