Heat or Ice?


If you have ever been injured from either a workout or even just moving the wrong way, you have probably wondered if you should reach for the heating pad or the ice pack. Most people do both, which can actually further aggravate your injury. Here are a few tips to help you know when to use ice or heat therapy.

It’s getting hot in here…

When you think of relaxation, what do you imagine? For many, it’s a nice hot both or a soak in the hot tub. That’s because heat is an excellent method for relaxation. Heat opens up your blood vessels, which increases blood flow to an affected area. If you are experiencing general aches and pains, heat is usually the go-to method. It is also great for repairing damaged tissue, as the increased blood flow promotes healing. You will usually find relief from minor tension and stiffness within approximately 20 minutes of using heat therapy.

Be careful not to burn yourself when using heat therapy. It might seem obvious, but it happens more frequently than you’d think! Additionally, if you have bruising or swelling, avoid heat therapy. Avoid using heat therapy near an open wound, and if you suffer from hypertension or heart disease, speak to your doctor before using heat treatment.

Ice cold pain relief!

When it comes to inflammation, cold therapy is usually the way to go. The cold will reduce inflammation and swelling by restricting blood flow. Any time you experience a strain, sprain, or bruising - go for the ice pack. There are two methods for treating an injury with ice:

  • Immediate: Immediately putting ice on an affected area will prevent the injury from becoming stiff by reducing tissue fluid.

  • Rehabilitation: Massage therapists, physical therapists, and chiropractors all use cold therapy to reduce spasms and pain to allow for increased mobility.

If you have cardiovascular disease or poor circulation, consult with your doctor before using cold therapy. You also want to be aware of how long you are icing your injury (15-20 minutes max at a time), because icing an area for too long can cause nerve, tissue, or skin damage.

Call your chiropractor!

If you have experienced an injury due to physical activity, cold and heat therapy can be extremely beneficial, but they are not long term solutions. A healthy musculoskeletal system is essential to your overall health and healing, and affects how the entire body functions. By receiving regular chiropractic adjustments, you will experience decreased tension and pain as the body’s natural healing process goes to work. Contact us to schedule your next appointment, and choose chiropractic as your first defense against injury.