Heat and ice can both be used to treat pain and are proven to be an effective addition to any treatment plan. Although, we understand it can be terribly confusing to establish when to use either therapies. Here are few simple rules to help you determine when to use heat or ice.
Heat: Use for chronic pain and old reoccurring injuries.
- Apply heat for 20 min periods every hour.
- You can also apply heat prior to exercising. However, please be mindful that applying heat after can aggravate the existing injury.
Ice: Use for acute pain, inflammation, and swelling.
- Apply ice for 5-10 minutes every 30-60 minutes.
HOW IT WORKS:
Thermotherapy aka HEAT
Muscles become sore when they are deprived of oxygen and a chemical called “lactic acid” builds up in fatigue and stressed muscle tissue. Applying heat to the painful area causes a local vasodilation, which triggers blood flow, bringing oxygen and nutrients to the affected tissue. The increased blood flow also stimulates the elimination of metabolites and lactic acid flushing them from the sore muscles. In turn this relaxes muscles, reduces spasms, and releases tight tissue. Heat is also often used to reduce pain associated with osteoarthritis, long-term poor posture, latent trigger points, and to break down adhesions.
Hydrotherapy aka ICE
Ice application to a painful region causes a local vasoconstriction removing build up fluid or inflammation from the sore tissue, relieving pain. If you are experiencing a burning sensation, this is often associated with nerve pain. Ice application will also slow down nerve conduction and decrease pain.
Hydrotherapy is a useful and effective addition to any manual therapy. Ice can be a beneficial post treatment to decrease inflammation and flush metabolites released during massage.
HEAT AND ICE POST MASSAGE:
If you are sore or tender after massage therapy we encourage you to apply ice wrapped in a tea towel to the sensitive tissue when you get home. This will help decrease inflammation and tenderness the following day.
If you feel stiff after massage therapy, we encourage you to apply heat after treatment and/or the following day. This will help relieve muscle tension.
DIY: MAKE YOUR OWN ICE PACK AT HOME!
- Ziploc bags
- 9 oz. Bottle Dawn Dish Soap
- ¼ cup rubbing alcohol (optional)
Combine 9 oz. of Dawn Dish Soap (or whatever kind you have) with ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol
Fill Ziploc bag no more than ¾ full.
To make sure it does not leak, we suggest using two bags.
Let it freeze, and that’s it!