There’s a good chance that you’ve been injured, suffer with low back discomfort, or sore muscles due to exercise or running, someone has told you to use the ice or heating pad to ease the pain and stiffness, as well as inflammation.

Ice and heat can be used in a variety of ways to relieve discomfort and accelerate healing. Cold or ice therapies can make the area numb and also reduce blood flow and reduce blood flow to the affected area and reduce swelling. The heat, on contrary, boosts the flow of blood and relaxes the muscles and joints around it.

There are many different types of pains and aches that is treated the same way, and the guidelines for the best time to utilize which method–hot as opposed to. cold, isn’t always exactly the same.

How can you tell the right time to apply heat and when to apply the cold for sore muscles, back pain or other common aches and stiffness? We spoke to an orthopedic surgeon and physical therapist to determine the best times, places and for how long you should apply each technique.

Making Use of the Heat and Ice Safely

The first and most important thing to remember is that whether you are using heating or ice for warming up or to recover there are some guidelines to remember. You should never allow any source to come into any contact directly with your skin as excessive ice could cause frostbite and too much heat could result in burning.

Best practices for icing:With ice you want to ensure you include something such as a towel or pillowcase that is wrapped around the ice pack (frozen peas work well as well). Certain of the more sophisticated cold delivery devices you might find at a physical therapy or doctor’s visit actually regulate the temperature so that you can be sure you don’t suffer from cold burns, however they’re not all available for use at home.

Guidelines for Heat: With heat you’ll need to ensure it’s warmbut not burning hot. If it’s more hot than warm is recommended to put several layers of clothing between the source of heat and your body. For instance, an oversized towel or a shirt, as well as a sweatshirt is a good idea.

How Long Should You Apply Ice and Ice

The standard principle for both heat and ice is to set the timer for 20 minutes, then 20 min off. There are exceptions such as the portable lower-level heat heating pads, which are designed for use throughout the day.

It is important to talk with your physician prior to making use of ice or heat in the event of cardiac problems or hypertension, as both heat and ice can are able to affect the blood vessels. This is especially true for some of the body-wide therapies like cryotherapy or the infrared sauna , which alters temperatures of the whole body.

It’s essential to talk to your physician if you suffer from any sensory impairments, and. “Nerve injury, stroke, spinal cord, or brain areas where sensory nerves may be affected could be dangerous,” says Kris Ferrara, DPT, a physical therapy therapist working at Moss Rehab in Philadelphia. “If you aren’t experiencing temperatures or sensations as you would normally (or aren’t feeling any of them even) it could be hazardous and is something you should talk to your physician regarding.

Following surgery, ice is a great way to ease acute inflammation.

When you’re the first one off of the surgery only to find that everything is swelling, ice is usually the best option to decrease the swelling to a point where you are able to move your affected body part or limb.

“I advise my patients following surgery to keep their feet iced as long as they can during times when they’re experiencing the greatest swelling and inflammation” adds Thomas Hickernell, MD, an orthopedic surgeon at Greenwich Hospital in Greenwich, Conn.

The typical duration is around 48 hours, however be sure to follow the advice of your doctor. However, the goal is to start moving and healing as quickly as possible this requires proper blood flow. So after the initial 48 hours of intense inflammation it’s common to gradually ease back to ice.

Acute injuries don’t always require ice , as we thought.

Did you follow the R.I.C.E. (Rest Ice Compression, Elevation, and Rest) guidance for recovery? This advice is no longer adhered to in the case of an injury. And through time, the acronyms have changed.

In recent times, it’s recommended to adhere to P.E.A.C.E. and L.O.V.E. and L.O.V.E. avoid anti-inflammatory drugs, compression and Education. the Optimism, Load, Vascularization and exercise.

What caused the change? Doctors began to realize that ice and rest aren’t helpful for healing that requires a lot of blood flow to the area that is injured. “Now we’re recommending that you allow the body to run through the process of inflammation,” says Ferarra.

It may be a good thing for patients in the short-term however, according to an article published in 2021 from The World Journal of Clinical Cases, “[w]hen the edema (swelling) level is not excessive ( e.g muscle tear) The cold treatment might not be beneficial and may instead act as an obstacle to recovery.”

It is unlikely to be mentioned as a treatment option in this moment. “There already is inflammation in the healing process, and we don’t want heating to cause it to get worse,” Ferrara explains.

For less severe discomforts and aches, stick to your personal preferences.

After you’ve completed the initial stage in healing an injured the option of easing it using cold or heat is down to the one you’d like at the time and in your particular situation. Do you feel achy on the lower back or experiencing soreness due to pulled muscles? Once you’ve passed the initial stage that caused the injuries (if you had one) the choice between the two is your choice. The evidence from clinical trials isn’t as clear on which treatment actually reduces inflammation or pain in the long-term and as new technology is developed further research is definitely required.

Dr. Hickernell always recommends listening to the sensations that are most comfortable for your body, so in the sense that you’re secure with regards to temperature.

Heat before, ice after.

A common recommendation is to utilize the heat prior to exercise to loosen up and get warm. “Heat can help people feel more relaxed and free,” Ferrara says. “Before an exercise session, put some heat onto it to aid in your movement.” Of course, it is important to start warming up prior to your workout to get blood flowing to that region by moving.

Use ice if required following exercise “to reduce the swelling that follows,” Dr. Hickernell states. The most important thing is to listen to the body. If you notice something that is causing pain, talk to your doctor about the best approach to take.