Ice Or Heat For Muscle Pain Relief
Ice for muscle pain relief is often used but there are some muscle injuries that do better with heat therapy. Stiff muscles or joint pains and other injuries that have no inflammation or swelling are better treated using heat.
Athletes with chronic pain use heat therapy to increase the elasticity of joint connective tissues and to stimulate blood flow before exercise. Heat can also help relax tight or spasmed muscles. After a workout, ice is the better choice on a chronic injury for muscle pain relief.
Because heat increases circulation and raises skin temperature, you should not apply heat to acute injuries or injuries that show signs of inflammation. Safely apply heat to an injury 15 to 20 minutes at a time and use enough layers between your skin and the heating source to prevent burns.
Moist heat is best, so you could try using a hot wet towel. You can buy special athletic hot packs or heating pads if you use heat often. Never leave heating pads on for more than 20 minutes at a time or while sleeping.
Cold therapy with ice is the best immediate treatment for acute injuries because it reduces swelling and pain. Ice is a vaso-constrictor (it causes the blood vessels to narrow) and it limits internal bleeding at the injury site.
Apply ice (wrapped in a thin towel for comfort)to the affected area for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. Allow the skin temperature to return to normal before icing a second or third time. You can ice an acute injury several times a day for up to three days.
Cold therapy is also helpful in treating some overuse injuries or chronic pain in athletes. An athlete who has chronic knee pain that increases after running may want to ice the injured area after each run to reduce or prevent inflammation. It's not helpful to ice a chronic injury before exercise.
When self treating muscle pains, be aware of the various treatments you can use and choose the correct muscle pain relief treatment.