Heat or Cold | Sports Injury Doctor Manhattan
There isn’t an athlete on the planet who is unfamiliar with muscle
soreness after an intense workout. Many people choose to help alleviate
some of this soreness and improve recovery time to get back into the game
faster by using either thermotherapy (heat) or cryotherapy (cold). Both
have been proven to relieve muscle pain, but which one is best? To answer
this old question, it’s important to take a look at what each one
does to your body, since one may be better than the other depending on
When your muscles are inflamed or swollen or you’re experiencing
pain from a more serious injury, applying cold therapy (such as an ice
pack or ice bath) helps restrict the blood flow to the area, numbing the
muscles and slowing the swelling process. This helps limit your nerves
from transmitting pain messages to your brain, giving you relief.
It’s important to note, however, that while this does relieve pain, it does
not heal injuries, nor does it have nearly the same effect on back pain or
injuries that are more than a few days old. That being said, if you do
take a knock to a knee or a finger and begin experiencing some swelling,
applying ice for at least 20 minutes every 4-6 hours can greatly reduce
the pain you experience.
Whereas cold therapy reduces the blood flow to a particular area of the
body, heat therapy does exactly the opposite: encourages blood flow. Doing
this can help a muscle that is tight or inflamed to relax and allow blood
to remove any wastes like lactic acid from the area.
Similarly, heat therapy has tremendous benefits for back pain and older
injuries, as well as for areas that may be harder to reach with a cold
compress, such as deep tissues. However, you want to avoid heating injuries
that are already hot, such as fresh injuries or burns. Blood is already
flowing rapidly through these areas, and you will be better off slowing
the swelling and numbing your pain sensors first.
Which One Should I Use?
In the event of a hard workout with general muscle soreness and large amounts
of lactic acid buildup, resting with a cold compress for about 20 minutes
and then treating it again with heat later to re-encourage blood flow
is the best way to reduce the pain and speed healing times. Continue to
heat extra sore areas for longer and you should notice a considerable
increase in pain relief.
For more serious injuries, such as swollen joints, you will want to focus
on cold therapy a little more closely. The Mayo Clinic advises that you
ice your injury as soon as possible for at least 20 minutes and do this
every 4-6 hours for three days. Between ice treatments, applying heat
can also re-encourage blood flow and encourage self-healing while the
swelling and tightness of injured muscles is reduced.
When you need a sports injury doctor in Manhattan, trust the professionals at
Manhattan Sports Therapy. Dr. Rolland Nemirovsky specializes in treating all kinds of sports injuries
using the latest techniques, and treats everybody from professional athletes
and celebrities to your neighbor next door. Whether a small injury or
a major condition, trust Manhattan Sports Therapy to provide you with
Call Manhattan Sports Therapy to schedule an appointment today at (646) 798-1330.