Using Hot and Cold Packs Therapeutically

There is much debate amongst practitioners as to when to use heat and when to use cold on sore or injured muscles. This information is intended to assist you in making the correct decision for your unique situation. One of the most important aspects of using Hot and Cold is to make sure that you are not using either one alone for more than 20 minutes at a time. After 20 minutes the body moves into a secondary reaction to the temperature and this can cause injury to the tissues. Also, it is very important to listen to your body and respond to its messages. If either temperature caused more discomfort stop and reassess.

Cold temperatures cause the blood vessels to constrict and force fluids away from the area. This is usually recommended right after an injury and for 48 hours after in order to reduce swelling.

Heat caused blood vessels to dilate and brings more fluids to the area. This is traditionally recommended for chronic conditions or swelling and functions to bring new blood and nutrients to the fibers and cells.

Alternating Heat and Cold creates a pumping action in the area, forcing fluids out and bringing new fluids in, reducing swelling and increasing nutrient rich blood to the injured muscle fibers. This can be conveniently accomplished with Hot/Cold Packs.