Hot or Cold?: When to Use Heat or Ice for Injuries

UntitledSoreness and injury can occasionally come up with activity as well as inactivity. Common ailments for inactivity associated with long term sitting may include shoulder, neck or back pain as well as full body stiffness. Other common injuries associated with exercise or active movement can include shin splints, pulled or strained muscles in the legs, neck, or back, as well as general muscle fatigue. Specific treatment of such injuries may be dependent on the location and severity. It is always important to seek out a professional evaluation for treatment, especially for severe injuries. With this in mind, hot or cold treatment may be prescribed.

Regular treatments of heat, ice, or the combination can help the body to rejuvenate and recover. But how do they help? Ice treatments including ice baths, ice packs, or cool compresses help with pain management by reducing swelling and inflammation. Ice treatments can be applied after injury, but should not be applied for more than 20 minute intervals. It is important to protect your body from frostbite via controlled application. Continue to ice regularly for the prescribed duration until the injury is healed.

Applying heat treatments, including heating pads, hot compresses, or a warm bath can be great for relieving muscle stiffness and a sore body. Heating helps to generate blood flow throughout your muscles which, in turn, stimulates relaxation. Heat treatments should always be at a safe temperature to avoid burning the skin. Simple movement (if possible) can also be a natural way to warm up muscles and reduce tension. Consider light walking or stretching to do so. This can be followed up with physical therapy or massage treatment for optimal recovery.

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