Ice and heat are natural and very affordable ways to relieve pain. However, there is so much confusion out there. Here is a simple guide that gives you a rough understanding on when to use cryotherapy and when to use thermotherapy.
What Is Ice For?
Ice are for fresh injuries – it helps reduce pain, swelling and inflammation. Ice is a rational and affordable way to dull the pain and inflammation. So, if you have a freshly pulled muscle, use ice! Ice constricts blood vessels – which numbs the pain, reduces inflammation and eases bruising. Ice is normally used for injuries less than 6 weeks old.
What Is Heat For?
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Heat is used for muscle soreness, stress stiffness and chronic pain. If you have a standard case of muscle soreness, soak your legs in warm water instead of iced water. Heat dilates your blood vessels and increases blood flow. The increased blood flow helps flushes the lactic acid. This helps relax your tight muscles and relieve your acing joints. Heat is normally used for injury more than 6 weeks old or muscle stiffness.
When NOT To Use Heat?
Heat should not be used for any acute injuries. Using heat can aggravate your injury. Adding heat to a fresh injury will increase inflammation and delay healing. Your injury will swell up and be more painful.
When NOT to Use Ice?
Muscle aches should not be treated with ice. If there is no inflammation, icing your muscles would not be of use. It may in fact worsen your ache.
When To Use The Combination Of Hot And Cold Therapy?
A combination of both hot and cold therapy should be used after a tough workout. This helps in flushing the lactic acid out. You first immerse your legs in iced water for 3 minutes, then in warm water for 2 minutes. You keep repeating this process. When you soak your legs in iced water, the blood vessels constricts. When you immerse them in warm water, your vessels dilate, and this change causes a pressure changes that causes your blood to rush through your veins and arteries. This blood rush helps clear the lactic acid that is accumulated in your muscles.
Now, since ice and heat therapy is one of the cheapest, safest and easiest self treatment option, learn it, understand it, and put it to good use!