The Two Most Common Therapies for Muscle Aches and Pains
They are two of the most common therapies to relieve muscle pain or discomfort in the joints. The problem is that most people who exercise are not very clear which they should use: cold or heat.
The quick response is depends on how recent the pain is or if it is a recurring discomfort.
Usually, a new lesion usually causes inflammation in the affected area, so cold can act to reduce blood flow and therefore prevent further inflammation from occurring.
Cold reduces the flow of blood and heat dilates blood vessels.
Heat, on the other hand, is more recommended for chronic pains, since by generating an opposite effect, with greater blood flow, it allows a faster healing.
A recent investigation of the Mayo Clinic, in the United States, recommends the general formula of opting for cold therapy first and then for a heat treatment.
When to use Cryotherapy (Ice Packs)
In an article published by the National Library of Medicine of the United States, a group of experts in sports medicine explained how applying cold can be crucial during the first 48 to 72 hours after the injury occurred.
According to Dr. Cayce Onks of Penn State Hershey Medical Center, ice can reduce secondary tissue damage and relieve pain in the affected area.
If it is a recent injury, it is better to avoid increasing the inflammation with the application of ice.
The recommendation is to apply the ice for 20 minutes per hour, to prevent damage to the skin.
The medical center of the University of Rochester, for its part, recommends in its health department the use of cold patches or ice in areas that are inflamed or where there is a contusion.
Read: Do ice baths really work for after exercise?
This type of therapy is good for sprains, for when a body area is hard, bumps and bruises on the skin.
When to Bring the Heat
“The heat carries blood to the affected area, which supplies the nutrients that the tissue needs to heal,” Dr. Onks said. “It can also increase the flexibility of tendons and muscles.”
The heat helps the flow of oxygen and nutrients through the blood.
By allowing a dilation of the blood vessels, heat accelerates the flow and facilitates the arrival of oxygen and nutrients that reduces pressure on the joints and relieves pain in the muscles.
Hot patches also reduce the appearance of muscle spasms and improve the flexibility of ligaments and tendons.
Heat therapy is one of the most effective treatments for chronic problems such as arthritis.
NOTE: Is it necessary to warm up and stretch to exercise?
In any case, the method that is recommended to be applied initially when an injury is suffered is the program known as RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation), that is to say, rest, ice, apply pressure and in elevation.