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Tuesday, September 2, 2014

What you need to know about hot and cold therapy

It can be really difficult to know when you should use hot therapy, and when you should use cold therapy. They both work in extremely different ways and usually aren’t used for the same injuries. If you’re out of hot or cold packs, online health equipment suppliers like www.optomo.com.au can help you replenish your stock – you never know when you’ll need them!

Unsure of how and when to use hot and cold therapy? Keep reading – here is everything you need to know!

Cold Therapy

Cold therapy should be used for sprains, bumps, strains and bruises – any injury that will bring about swelling. Cold therapy is generally applied with ice or cold gel packs. It should be used on and off for 24 hours after the injury. You should keep the cold pack on for 20 minutes, remove it for 10 and then keep it on for another 20 and so on.

When you get an injury, the blood flows extremely fast to that area of your body. This causes swelling around the area of the injury. Cold therapy works to stop this from happening by slowing down the blood flow. It can also work to prevent the area from bruising, which is always a handy thing! It reduces inflammation, muscle spasms and can relieve most of the pain.

If you can tell that your injury is going to swell or bruise (or even if you’re not sure), you should use cold therapy to prevent it from happening – it’s always better to be safe than sorry!

Cold therapy should be used for sprains, bumps,strains, bruises, etc. Cold therapy is extremely effective and should always be undertaken if any of these injuries occur.

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Hot Therapy
Hot therapy works in the exact opposite way to cold therapy. Where cold therapy slows down blood flow, hot therapy works to open up the blood vessels and let the blood flow freely. It reduces pains in joints and can help to relax muscles that have been pulled or strained. Hot therapy reduces muscle spasms and can alleviate pain. Hot therapy works best in cases of stiff joints, joint pain, or chronic muscle pain.

There are lots of different types of hot therapy – hot water bottles, hot packs, hot water baths, etc. The heat should be warm, not scalding hot, and should remain at a consistent temperature where possible. Never apply the hot pack directly to the skin – it should always be wrapped in a thin towel or sheet. Never use heat therapy on open wounds, or if you have poor circulation or diabetes. Use heat therapy in the same way that cold therapy is used – 20 minutes on, 10 minutes off.

If there is swelling involved in the injury, you should use cold therapy first to reduce the swelling, and then move on to heat therapy.  Never use heat therapy on open wounds, or if you have poor circulation or diabetes. Use heat therapy in the same way that cold therapy is used – 20 minutes on, 10 minutes off.

Hot and cold therapy are different and therefore should only be used in situations that suit them – cold to reduce swelling, and hot for muscular pain. Use your own discretion, or seek a medical professional so as to prevent any further damage! Don’t forget to always have hot and cold packs on hand as you never know when you’re going to need them!


Sarah and Sim said...

This is so good to know! I've always wondered about the difference...

Bonnie Way said...

Good to know! I remember having an injury lately and calling my mom to ask if I should ice it or heat it. :) Thanks for sharing!

Jennifer Van Huss said...

You are speaking my language! With a Kinesiology background, I know this well! It surprises me that a lot of people don't!! Another warning: Don't keep either on for longer then the 20 mins. It might feel ok, but it actually reversing the action and doing the opposite!

Christine McN said...

Always good to know! I always forget when to apply cold and when to apply heat. Hubby's first response and firefighter background have helped me a bit. I need to bookmark this post! LOL!

Gingermommy said...

With my son being an athlete we know all about this. So important youappky hot or cold as needed to heal correctly