Heat or Ice? Which remedy to use


Heat and ice are natural at home remedies for many aches and pains. However, depending on your particular problem, there is a preferential treatment for alleviation. In general, heat increases blood flow which helps tight muscles to relax and helps stiff joints to loosen up. Ice works by constricting blood flow which numbs pain, reduces inflammation, and helps prevent bruising.


In general heat is used for chronic long-term injuries. The increased temperature makes the area feel better. In doing so, flexibility is increased. Again, bouts of 20 minutes should be performed whenever pain is felt. For arthritis, heat will help loosen up stiff joints. Heat can help reduce the severity of headaches. When applied to the neck area, heat will relax the throbbing head and tension of the neck muscles. Heat can also reduce the stiffness of muscle sprains, especially those that have lasted longer than 6 weeks. It is important to note that heat should not be used for inflammation because it only worsens this condition. Dry heat can be used which includes heat pads, dry heating packs, or even saunas. Moist heat can be used which includes hot baths or a moist towel. Heat should not be applied to an open wound. Heat is not recommended for persons with diabetes, multiple sclerosis, and vascular diseases.


In general, ice should be applied to the area for 20 minutes and removed for 20 minutes to help the initial injury. Cold therapy is also called cryotherapy. This cycle should be repeated for the first 48 hours. An ice pack can be as simple as a pack of frozen peas or corn. The popular method is ice cubes in a Ziploc bag. Ice can also be massaged on the area by freezing a cup of water and using the top area to rub on the site. Ice baths can be done. Ice is the go-to method for any acute injuries. Upon application, it will decrease inflammation and swelling. As uncomfortable and cold as it may be, ice on the site of injury will work its magic to help reduce pain. Ice helps gout flare ups by numbing the pain. It should be used for strains which are pulled muscles or injured tendons. Ice will help reduce the swelling of these areas and feelings of tenderness. Ice should be used for tendinitis. This usually occurs in the joint involving the shoulder, wrists, knees, elbows, and heel. The pain will be numbed. Ice should not be applied directly to the skin.

Pain should only be temporary. Be sure to seek medical attention when serious injuries occur. A doctor can recommend best at home practices to help. Don’t let an injury set you back any longer than it has to. Take action the right way from the start and get well as soon as possible.





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Dr. Megan Johnson McCullough owns a fitness studio in Oceanside CA called Every BODY's Fit. She has a Doctorate in Health and Human Performance, M.A. in Physical Education & Health Science, and she's an NASM Master Trainer & Instructor. She's also a professional natural bodybuilder, fitness model, Wellness Coach, and AFAA Group Exercise Instructor. She has 6 books on Amazon too,.