Here's a little reminder regarding when to use heat and when to use ice.
Ice is beneficial as an "anesthetic trick" on sore muscles. This works well on almost all areas.
If you numb a painful area with ice, the brain stops feeling the pain. Your body then releases the protective muscle tightness around that painful area.
So ice is almost always a good idea when something hurts.
I find that it's especially miraculous on neck and upper back pains.
About 10 mins, maybe 15 max time for best results. Too long almost has the opposite effect.
Heat is in charge of increasing blood flow to a muscle group and relaxing the muscle.
It's best on larger muscles, especially the lower back, even if the injury is new. Moist heat generally won't increase inflammation.
It can greatly relieve back pain, and bring fresh oxygenated blood, which feels great.
Not so great for injuries on extremities like knees or ankles, where it may cause increased swelling.
Remember, Moist heat is the way to go.
- a microwave bean bag hot pack
- a hot tub or shower
- an electric hot pack that is labeled "moist heat".
Regular "dry" electric hot packs inflame an area and are not recommended for pain.
Especially do not fall asleep on an electric hot pack. You'll likely wake up sore and stiff and a little worse. 15 mins max usually does the trick.
If an area throbs or pulses with heat, try ice instead.
Try alternating ice and heat, 10 minutes each. It works as a pump on the blood flow, alternately constricting and dilating the vessels.
Also it's very calming to the nerve endings. End on the one that feels the most relieving.
Remember, 10-15 mins max, either heat or ice, for maximum benefits whether alternating or not.
Hope that helps!
--Dr. Rina Tinozzi
PS A little tip: if you enjoy wine, even a half glass is an excellent muscle relaxant.
Try that instead of a pill next time, it may work even better and it's all natural.
Just like chiropractic!