Hot cold therapy is often recommended to treat sore muscles. When used together, cold therapy reduces inflammation in the muscles and hot therapy boosts blood flow to the affected region, aiding in a quick recovery.
Overworked muscles can suffer damage due to wear and tear over time if neglected. As such, you should take good care of your muscles and treat any discomfort or pain as soon as possible. Hot or/and cold therapies have been advocated as the best methods for treating muscle-related injuries. Let’s take a look at which one of these proves to be more efficient for muscle recovery.
Hot Cold Therapy refers to treatments stretching over two ends of a broad spectrum. Heat therapy has been associated with relaxation in most cases. This is why many individuals prefer to soak in a bath of warm water to alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by sore muscles. Heat therapy is known to have many advantages like relaxing sore muscles after a workout. Accordingly, while ice therapy helps to reduce the inflammation in the injured areas, heat therapy dilates the blood vessels and promotes increased blood flow to the affected area, thus aiding in quick recovery.
One thing to note here is that heat therapy comes in two forms, moist heat therapy (warm baths) and dry heat therapy (heating pads). If you opt for the latter, you may have to hydrate your body in advance because the heat from the heating pad can dehydrate your skin.
Another thing to note is that heat therapy may not be recommended for open wounds and acute injuries. In these cases, the hot-cold therapy treatment involves treating the affected area with ice packs for the first few days and following it up with heat therapy treatment after the inflammation reduces to an extent.
Cold therapy, aka Cryotherapy, involves treating injuries and inflammation with ice. The ice used may be in the form of a simple ice pack or ice path to a more complex cooling procedure using nitrogen chambers. Cryotherapy using nitrogen chambers is becoming a sought-after treatment option today by athletes who want to return to the field after an injury.
The cold therapy treatment from the hot cold therapy comes with its share of advantages too. For instance, cold therapy has been shown to reduce inflammation in the muscles and joints. While inflammation is common during training and exercises, too much exercise can lead to injuries as well. Ice therapy can treat such inflammations and injuries within a short span, thus allowing the affected area to heal completely before suffering more serious damage.
Cold therapy can also treat acute injuries like sprains with ease. In addition to reducing the pain and inflammation caused by the injury, the application of ice packs on the affected area daily can help speed up the recovery process.
As in the case of heat therapy, there are a few things to be noted about cold therapy as well. For instance, while cold therapy is considered safe for everyone, not every kind of cold therapy is safe. For instance, cryotherapy treatment using nitrogen chambers is not recommended for individuals suffering from heart disease and autoimmune conditions. It is also not recommended for pregnant women and children.
Be it hot or cold therapy, one must understand what kind of injuries can be treated by hot cold therapy. Understanding when and where to use hot and/or cold therapy for injuries and inflammation can prove to be beneficial for the muscles in the long run.