How many times have you gotten an injury and not known whether to apply ice or heat? It can be tricky to know exactly when you should ice or apply heat but don’t worry, you are about to get a quick breakdown on Ice VS Heat. Let’s take some time to understand the benefits of cold and heat:
Cold temperatures actually help to constrict the blood vessels which numbs the pain and relieves the inflammation and limits bruising. Icing an injury is most effective for injuries sustained no longer than 6 weeks.
Hot temperatures are known to increase blood flow which relaxes tight muscles and relieves aching joints. Applying heat on an injury is most effective for injuries that sustained over 6 weeks or for chronic conditions such as arthritis.
Cleveland clinic breaks down when ice or heat should be applied. There are some scenarios where ice and heat can both help.
If you are experiencing the following heat can help:
- Arthritis (heat eases chronically stiff joints, relaxes tight muscles)
- Headache (heat relaxes painful neck spasm)
- Sprains (heat relieves stiffness after the inflammation is resolved)
- Tendinosis (heat relieves stiffness after inflammation is resolved)
The following are some ways to apply heat:
- Moist heat: this simply means a bath or shower or even hot tub but with the temperature of the water being between 92°-100°F
- Heat wraps: this is available at drugstores and its great for travel, you are able to drape if around your neck like a scarf
- Heating pads: you are able to buy these at a drugstore and control the temperature as well, remember that to avoid burns you should remove the heating pad if the heat becomes too warm and causes discomfort.
If you are experiencing the following ice can help:
- Gout Flare-ups (ice calms flare-ups and numbs pain)
- Headache (ice numbs throbbing head pain)
- Stains (ice eases inflammation which can cause redness, swelling and or tenderness, and the ice also numbs pain)
- Sprain (ice eases inflammation and numbs pain)
- Tendinitis (ice eases inflammation numbs pain)
The following are some ways to apply ice:
- Ice packs: this can consist of a frozen bag of peas or corn, ice cubes in a Ziploc bag or a frozen gel pack. Amazon has some great gel packs.
- Ice massage: this consists of freezing water in a Dixie cup and when you are ready go ahead and peel back the cup so you expose some of the ice, use that to rub on the injured area until it is numb. This is great technique for those hard to get areas like elbows and heel.
- Cold mask: this mask can be found on amazon, drugstores, and even beauty stores like Ulta. Take the mask and lay it over your eyes or an alternative with household items could be to take a face towel and soak it in cold water and apply that damp towel to your forehead or temples. This method is often times used to help bring down fever temperatures as well!
Ice and heat are recommended to be applied up to 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off. We hope that you were able to understand the difference between ice and heat now and you will know what to use in the future if you ever needed to.