Heat therapy is one of the easiest and often most effective way to treat aches and pains. While it can’t necessarily address the cause of the pain, it does help you relax and reduces the uncomfortable sensation associated with things like muscle cramps and nerve sensitivity. One of the best things about heat therapy is that it’s something you can do at home, and it’s an excellent alternative to using prescription painkillers.
How Does Heat Therapy Work?
There are many instances when heat therapy can provide great relief for the body whether it is post-athletic injury, an inflamed back or major muscle group, cramps, and more. Heat therapy works by increasing blood flow to loosen tight muscles and produces the most benefits when done after ice therapy.
When To Use Heat Therapy
Heat therapy greatly benefits large muscle groups and chronic pain. In particular, heat therapy can be great for dealing with back pain or many other types of chronic pain, as well as feelings of all-over achiness. For example, when you are feeling achy from an illness, sitting or laying on a heating pad can be very soothing. Also, sometimes shifting in the wrong way can cause an instant influx of sharp pain in your back. The spine consists of numerous nerve endings, which is why back pain can feel so excruciating. Your body’s first response is to cause inflammation around the area to protect it and try to heal itself.
As you get older, it is common to develop stiffness in certain parts of the body, which can make it difficult to move around throughout the day and limit you on many daily activities. A great way to treat this is by using a heating pad, which will loosen up the joints and muscles, making it easier for you to move around throughout the day. You can also use heat after an intense workout when you are feeling sore.
Ways To Apply Heat Therapy
There are a few different ways you can apply heat therapy to your body. Many gel ice packs are made to be heated up in the microwave as well for heat therapy. This is great for treating concentrated muscle pain. Another easy way to use heat therapy is to dip a washcloth in hot water, which works great if you suffer from headaches or migraines. If you need to apply heat to a larger area of the body, look for a heating pad with an adjustable temperature gauge. These are an excellent solution for after exercising or strenuous work. Using a heating pad on tense areas before a workout can also be helpful because it gets your muscles loose and ready to move.
When should you avoid heat therapy?
While heat can be very beneficial for many different types of ailments, there are some instances where you should avoid it. The most significant case is if you are dealing with an infection or severe injury where you are experiencing a lot of inflammation. Heat can increase inflammation, which can sometimes make it difficult for the damage to heal. When you encounter these instances of pointed, acute inflammation, try using ice instead, which will help bring the swelling down.
It’s always helpful to have a heating pad or other heat therapy methods on hand at home. Using heat therapy is excellent for relieving achiness and improving mobility when you feel stiff and tired.