COLD or HOT treatment: which one to reach for when you’re injured, in pain or sore?
Placing something cold at the injury site causes the blood vessels, arteries and veins, to narrow. This reduces blood flow through the area and helps reduce inflammation and swelling. Adding heat to the area has the opposite effect: opening the blood vessels up and increasing blood flow through tissue.

These opposite effects are useful in different situations:

COLD therapy should be used for injuries that result in swelling and inflammation such as joint sprains, muscle strains or bruises - with the use of cooled water bottles or jelly gel ice packs. After sustaining a sudden injury, ice therapy should be used for the first 24 to 72 hours (for 15min every 2-4 hours). To prevent skin burn, you should place a layer of material between the skin and the ice pack or ice product.

Cold therapy, or applying ice, is often used in conjunction with rest, compression and elevation, known in first aid by the acronym RICE. After that, the injury should be well into the healing phase and the swelling and inflammation will subside and you can transition to heat therapy in order to increase blood flow to the area.

HEAT therapy is not recommended in the initial phase of an injury as this promotes blood flow and can increase swelling and pain - but can be helpful to relieve pain from 72 hours post-injury.

Heat therapy is also useful for reducing muscle tension/sore/spasm and joint stiffness/pain. Tipp: increasingly blood flow and heating muscles or joints for around 15 minutes before physical activity as a kind of warm up!

During heat therapy treatments, it’s important to use a comfortable level of heat to minimize the risk of burns. You can use hot water bottles, heat pads or pflaster, warm bath, hot wet towel.

Each structure depending on the injury, pain and overworked symptom, will require different care and there are circumstances when ice or heat may be inappropriate for a specific injury or condition. So please get advices from your Doctor or Physiotherapist before you try to experiment on your own with treatments 🙏