An exercise-related injury is never fun to deal with, and what can make it worse is the amount of conflicting advice you’ll deal with when trying to relieve the pain. Often some people will tell you to put something hot on the area, while others will recommend that you treat your injury with ice. Wondering which one actually works to relieve muscle pain? Both have their uses for different occasions, so keep reading to find out what treatment you should be reaching for and when.
When to reach for ice
Feel a sudden sharp muscle pain that starts swelling? Then reach for ice. Applying ice to a muscle injury as soon as it starts to swell will not only help to numb the pain, but can also reduce your recovery time and decrease the swelling itself.
Ever experience an injury that seems to throb warmly and that feels inflamed? This type of injury also responds well with ice treatment, and combined with elevation of the injured site should see you get better in no time. A frozen pack of vegetables is a good choice if you don’t have a dedicated ice pack on hand.
Just remember to avoid applying ice directly to your body, as it can harm the skin and may cause an ice burn.
When to reach for heat
When you’re dealing with an injury where recovery is likely to take a while (such as after spraining something) or you have a chronic injury that keeps acting up, heat therapy will work to loosen the tightened or cramped muscles, and relieve some of the discomfort and pain.
Using heat as a form of pain relief treatment is much easier than using cold, as you can simply jump in a hot bath or grab a hot water bottle or heating pad.
What else can help
Should your pain not go away or if it becomes more severe, it’s best to see a physio or doctor so they can assess your injury and provide more extensive treatment.