Ice and heat are both great ways to treat and manage your recovery at
home. It‘s also important to keep in mind that they both stimulate different
processes in the body, so knowing when to use which approach is important.
Ice is best used during the acute stage (1-3 days) to reduce swelling and
inflammation by inducing vasoconstriction which will reduce circulation and
decrease tissue temperature. It’s also very efficient at reducing pain as is numbs
the applied area very rapidly. Apply an ice or cold pack for 20 minutes then
remove for at least 20 minutes before re-applying or applying heat. This allows
the tissue temps to slowly return to normal and will avoid the potential for skin
burns or potential tissue damage.
Heat is best used for chronic conditions (persisting longer than 10 days).
Specifically, stiff joints and sore muscles. Heat works as a vasodilator and
increases circulation and tissue temperature. This will also help to relax the body
by reducing pain and stress. Apply a heating pad for 20 minutes then remove for
at least 20 minutes before re-applying or applying ice. This allows the tissue
temps to slowly return to normal and will avoid the potential for skin burns or
potential tissue damage.
Mike Van Nice, PTA
Tags: Heat vs Ice