Ice Pack or Heat Pad, Which is the Best? -- Oct 25

It is common to have injuries during sports, exercise, or jogging. After an injury, the next natural step is to find an effective way to relieve pain as soon as possible.

Minor injuries caused due to exercise can be treated locally at home. Pain can be relieved by both cold treatment and heat treatment. The main question is when should we use heat treatment and when the cold one? The general rule of thumb is that we should use heat to lose our muscles before exercise and cold to reduce swelling after an injury.

Also for treatment to follow also depends on the type of injury whether it is acute or chronic. An acute injury generally occurs as a result of falling or colliding with an object and is during the last two days period. On the other hand, a chronic injury develops gradually with time. The major cause can be overuse of muscles or some previous injury that was not healed properly. Chronic pain may make someone inactive, but it can be irritating.

In response to an injury, the natural response of the human body can be inflammation of the affected area. It may become red, sensitive, hurt, or inflamed. The cause of this inflammation is the expansion of damaged blood vessels. Ice can help restrict inflamed blood vessels and consequently decrease both swelling as well as pain. Ice therapy can be more effective if applied frequently within the first 48 hours after the injury. Ice can also be used on a chronic injury after a flare-up.

However, it may be used for a chronic injury with caution as it may enhance its stiffness. Heat packs are useful for chronic injuries, especially muscle strains and pulls, and stiff joints. Heat packs show a counter effect on blood vessels in comparison to ice packs. Heat can open the blood vessels so more blood with fresh oxygen can travel to the injured area which may cause speed healing. Heat can also be applied for several days after an acute injury once the swelling has reduced. In addition to injury, heat can also be used during normal conditions as preventive maintenance of body muscles.

Use Heating Pad Before Exercise

Heat can be used before exercise, to increase the flexibility of body tissues and thus consequently increase the range of motion of body muscles. After exercise, ice is recommended as the preferred treatment as it decreases swelling and pain. For ice treatment, use an ice bag with an ice pack. An ice pack should not be applied directly to the affected area of the skin. It can damage the tissue. Always wrap a thin cloth around the ice before placing it on the affected area. Place the ice pack on the affected skin for about 20 minutes and then remove it. Then wait for the next 10 minutes and then again place the ice pack on the skin.

Repeat this process several times for the relief of pain and a decrease in inflammation. For heat treatment, use heat packs for heat and apply for 20 minutes. However, heat treatment is not recommended for everyone. People with diabetes may avoid this treatment. Also, open wounds or wounds with stitches may not be exposed to heat as it can increase the bleeding of the wounds. It is a great idea to warm up cold tendons, joints, and inelastic muscles before starting a workout with heat. Heat opens up the blood vessels and causes more blood flow in the area. It also provides more oxygen to muscles which provides them more power. Preheating muscles greatly avoid injuries from exercising.

It is also helpful to provide relief from a chronic problem. The reason is that heat loses the stiff tissue. The easiest way to apply heat is by using heating pads. It is advisable to place a piece of cloth between the body and the heat source. It will reduce the risk of skin burns. In addition to separate ice or heat therapy, a combination of cold and heat can be used for freshly injured muscles. The ice can reduce the swelling of the area while heat can reduce pain and provide healing.

Author: Amelia Croud
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