HEAT can hurt!
When your body is hurting, it feels comforting to put a hot water bottle or a heating pad on the sore areas. But it may not always be a great idea. Heat can aggravate your injuries and prolong your pain. When should you use heat and when should you use ice? If you're ever in doubt, use ice. Here are some general guidelines:
Use Ice if:
- Your injury is recent (within 48 hours from the injury)
- Your muscles are in spasm
Why ice? Ice will reduce inflammation and decrease the time it takes the injury to heal. It also has an anesthetic effect that will lessen your pain and relax muscle spasms.
Use Heat if:
- Your injury is chronic (more than 48 hours old)
- Your muscles are tense
- You have pain that is the result of muscle knots or trigger points
Why heat? In these cases, there's no danger of aggravating inflammation. The heat will relax your muscles and help improve your circulation.