Which do you use for what & when?
Ice or heat? I get asked all the time, and I’m glad because often people don’t know and they reverse it. I understand the confusion and we’re not all schooled in the science behind how heat and cold therapy affects your body, so good job watching and reading this!
I’m here to tell you when to use the heat or ice therapy on something paining you, so next time when you’re harboring some physical ailment, you might be able to save yourself a trip to the physical therapist, relax, and feel confident in how you’re treating yourself… and in a natural way.
As a general rule of thumb,
use ice (aka cold therapy) for acute injuries or pain such as inflammation and swelling. Ice reduces blood flow in an area, which can significantly reduce and numb the inflammatory area that’s causing you pain. It can also temporarily reduce nerve activity which helps in relieving pain. Ice packs come in many forms, so next time you twist your ankle, bust out those ice cubes, a wet towel, or even that pack of frozen peas you forgot were in your freezer. Keep the pack moving to avoid burns, and ice for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Ice ice baby!
Now let’s bring up the “heat” in here. A heating pad or a warm pad is used for muscle pain or stiffness. When applying heat, it stimulates blood flow to the area, which helps the muscles relax. Heat increases oxygen flow & brings nutrients to the muscles, which relax stiffness and eliminates toxins in your body. Just like ice, apply the heat for 15-20 minutes and avoid temperature extremes! Next time before you hit the gym, I suggest using heat therapy before exercising as part of your warm up to help increase the flexibility of your muscles through stimulating blood flow.
Another method commonly used by athletes right now is contrasting therapy, where you quickly go from ice for a short period, right to heat, then back to ice, then back to heat, etc. A lot of studies are backing this approach, but if ever in doubt, stick with the general advice I gave you above please.
So, I know you always had these rehabilitation tools under your belt, but now you know how to properly use them! For more trainer tip videos, click HERE.
Founder of Studio SWEAT & Studio SWEAT onDemand