As a rule ice is for injuries and heat is for tightness
What does ice do?
Ice calms down damaged tissue and slows down the blood flow to an injury, to reduce swelling, inflammation and controls pain.
When should you consider icing?
Ice should be used right after an injury or an activity that re-aggravates an injury.
Ice is good to use for migraines, bumps, sprains, slips and falls. Cold therapy may also be helpful for some overuse injuries in athletes, more are having ice baths after a competition.
When in doubt reach for the ice!
Do’s and don’t
Don’t treat for longer than 20 minutes at a time
During treatment check the skin every five minutes to make sure there is no damage such as freeze burn
Do not apply ice directly to the skin, use in a towel
Wait one hour between cold treatments
Biofreeze gel works well too, it is almost as cold as ice but more convenient, you can use it on the move and don’t need to hold it in place.
What does heat do?
Heat is often thought to relax muscles, it makes them feel relaxed by opening blood vessels to increase blood flow and speeding up the nerve signals from muscle to the brain. These nerve signals also help inhibit or alleviate pain and improve coordination. So really heat activates muscles which has the sensation of relaxing them.
When to consider using heat
Heat can give relief for those with chronic conditions; as a condition becomes chronic there is usually a degree of poor two-way communication between muscles and the brain. Activating this communication with movement, exercise and heat are often helpful.
It is also a good method of pain relief for tension headaches and some shoulder conditions..
When in doubt use Ice!
Do’s and don’ts
Do not treat for more than 20 minutes at a time
Do not lie on a heat pack to avoid falling asleep and potentially burning yourself
Do not use heat if you have no feeling in the affected part of your body
NEVER use heat if there is a swelling or bruising, Always wait 48-72 hours before considering heat therapy if there was some.
Do not apply heat directly to skin, use a thin towel
Do not use heat if you have poor circulation or diabetes
Wait one hour in between heat treatments.
The Aloe heat lotion we use gets absorbed through the skin and nicely warms the muscles while allowing you to keep moving.
A hot baths, hot tub or a sauna have this effect throughout all the muscles but don’t overheat or remain immobile for too long.
If you’re not sure ask your chiropractor for advice.