Ice it or Heat it: Treating Your Strains & Pains

When participating in physical activities such as working out, running, aerobics or every day physical activities, you always run the risk of experiencing minor muscular injuries. Minor or not, a bad strain can be very painful. The good news is that there are many ways to treat a strained muscle. Two very common temporary techniques to relieve strains are applying heat and ice. There are benefits to using both, although they are quite different.

Icing a strain is one of the best ways to implement a natural anti-inflammatory. Applying ice in 15 minute intervals can drastically reduce swelling and pain. Remember that applying ice directly to the skin can cause frostbite, especially if the skin is moist or damp. Be sure to use a cloth in between the ice and your skin to prevent frostbite from occurring. Also try to use a gel based ice pack or a bag of frozen peas, since they conform to your body and provide a sufficient amount of cooling. Remember to check the gel pack to make sure it doesn’t have any holes as the chemicals inside can burn skin. You can also fill up a plastic cup with water, freeze it, and roll over the inflamed area to decrease swelling and calm the nerves.

Heat is typically used before a workout or physical activity to warm the muscles up and loosen the joints. Muscles move and stretch much better when warmed up compared to cold. Heat is also very good during a strain or painful muscle pull. Applying heat in 10-15 minute increments can sooth the pain by warming the strain and relaxing the muscle. It also increases blood flow to the area which may reduce pain and inflammation. Try using a device like a heating pad to relieve your pan. Remember to use the lowest setting possible as to not cause a burn. Heat should not be applied until about 48 hours after the injury so that swelling does not increase and tissue damage is prevented.

Always remember to consult a physician before administering any type of ice or heat therapy to a serious strain or muscle pain. For more information on how ice and heat therapy can ease muscle strains or to find a physician near you please call (817) 465-3241 or visit our website.


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