Whether it’s a sprain, strain, or something more serious like a fracture or ligament tear, ice and heat can help but before that, you should know when and how to use ice and heat and which is better in which situation. Here are some ways to use them for the best results.
We want to use it in the first 72 hours of an injury, or if we re-aggravate an injury. In the first 72 hours of an injury, our affected area has a lot of inflammation and swelling. The area has a lot of pain as well.
So the ice is going to help with delaying the pain. It’s also going to help you decrease the blood flow to the area so it reduces your swelling.
You can go ahead and use an ice pack within 72 hours of your injury but make sure to avoid it after this duration because it can cause other issues like decreased circulation. You can also find a cold plunge ice tub for your body to be more relaxed.
Typically with heat, our muscles relax more. Heat also increases blood flow so you definitely don’t want to use heat immediately after you injure yourself because you will be producing a lot more swelling in the area.
But if you have a chronic back injury, heat is the perfect remedy for that. Moist heat like a hot shower or a warm and moist cloth pad can do the trick. Your body responds to moist heat a lot better than dry heat.
Moist heat will make sure to get a better response from your body but dry heat can also work if you don’t like moist heat or if you are not in the right place for moist heat.
You don’t want to put the ice on for too long because you can get frostbite from that. You can use an ice pad from anywhere around10 to 15 minutes in an hour. And you can do that every hour if you want to.
The same goes for heat therapy. You don’t want to put your cloth pad on there for too long because you can burn yourself with that. You can use a cloth pad from anywhere around10 to 15 minutes in an hour with repetition after an hour.
In summary, using ice in the first 72 hours of injury is good but after that using heat is preferred to avoid any issues and mishaps.