I am sure many of us have asked ourselves this very question after an injury of some kind. Well, today I want to give you a little more information about heat and when it is appropriate to use. Last week we talked about the benefits and timing of using ice, as I mentioned with a more chronic injury especially of the joints, ice is very helpful. Opposing the effects of ice, however, we have heat. Typically heat is best applied on muscle injuries that are in the acute or subacute phase of injury, and even then we like to include Ice in our protocol.
For a muscle injury, we recommend what is called contrast therapy which is a blending of both heat and ice in an alternating fashion. With this technique, we get both the beneficial effects of heat and ice. Heat has a relaxing effect on muscle tissues as it warms them. Additionally, it brings in more blood flow, this is both a good and bad thing for our healing. As it is applied the extra blood flow is a positive thing, as it brings in more nutrients and other factors that help us heal. Where it becomes a problem is when this inflammation continues to develop and can turn into a long-lasting issue. For this reason, we recommend that after heat you apply an equal amount of ice.
This helps to pull out the excess inflammation that the temperature increase may have brought in. This is our recommendation for Contrast therapy, which is heat and ice alternating:
Follow the Steps Below for Our Recommended Contrast Therapy
1) 3-5 minutes of heat ( a water pack or microwavable heat pack is best and not so hot that it’s painful)
2) 3-5 minutes of ice (see last weeks entry for icing instructions.)
3) Repeat this process for a minimum of 20 minutes.If you have an injury that does not seem to respond or that needs more care then just heat or ice can provide contact us at (573) 250-7427!!