Your leg develops a sharp pain — what do you do? Do you grab the bag of frozen peas or fire up the heating pad? It can be hard to know which methods of therapy are the most effective for relieving pain — but the choice between hot and cold therapy is often the most confusing. While both are effective, there are certain injuries where one is more appropriate than the other. Here’s a guide to help you know which to choose for any common aches, pains, or injuries.
What Is Cold Therapy and When to Use it
The history of cold therapy dates back to at least Ancient Egypt, where cold was used to treat sickness and injury. It has remained a powerful tool for pain management to this day, and you can use it in a variety of ways ranging from ice packs to cooling gels. But what’s the science behind it? In short: Ice applied to injuries helps decrease swelling and inflammation by constricting blood vessels. It is the most effective in helping acute injuries after you’re done exercising.
Choose cold therapy for the following injuries:
- Chronic conditions (after activity)
When you’re faced with an acute injury, or you want to use cold therapy to help ease inflammation after exercise, you have a few options to choose from. While hopping in an ice bath or laying down with an ice pack make for easy options — they don’t let you stay mobile while healing. For a customizable on-the-go option, try a Strive cold therapy compression wrap. Combining the healing power of both compression therapy and cold therapy, Strive wraps help accelerate healing.
What Is Heat Therapy and When to Use it
Much like cold therapy, heat has been used as a way to treat injuries and ailments for centuries. However, instead of constricting blood vessels as cold therapy does, heat opens blood vessels up, promoting blood flow. It’s a perfect remedy to use for chronic conditions as it warms and relaxes tight muscles. It’s also effective for people with joint pain from arthritis. Avoid heat therapy for any acute injury, as drawing more blood to a sprain or strain will only increase inflammation.
Choose heat therapy for the following conditions:
- Chronic muscle pain
- Joint pain from arthritis
Along with the above conditions, you can also use heat therapy before exercise, as the warmth will loosen muscles and prepare them for flexible movement. Strive hot & cold therapy wraps are perfect for this kind of on-the-go heat treatment. It’s easy to heat up the wrap before heading out to relax your sore back, knee, wrist or ankle — and then cool it down after you’re done to enjoy the benefits of cold therapy!
Integrate the Power of Hot and Cold Therapy to Soothe Your Pain!
As you can see, hot and cold therapy are powerful ways to support your injury or accelerate recovery when used correctly. It’s important to note that both should be used in moderation — Strive recommends applying hot or cold wraps for about 20 minutes at a time to recover safely and effectively. Get back to enjoying the activities you love with a mix of heat and cold therapy.