How To Alternate Between Hot And Cold Therapy
We all try to find ways to heal from our injuries.
Whether that is taking a huge ice bath and applying icy-hot to the area to help heal.
But the answer to this might be alternating between hot and cold therapy.
Read on to find out why this may be the case.
Benefits of heat therapy
There are usually multiple ways we try to use heat therapy to our advantage to recover from pain or injury.
When I was recently training for a marathon, getting in a nice hot bath often left me feeling relieved and not quite as sore after a run.
You can also apply a heating pad to any areas you think you might have injured and let the heating pad do the work.
It has also been found that saunas can be used for pain and arthritis.
So there are many ways that heat can be used to help you recover from pain or injury.
But why is this?
There are a few reasons why heat helps with recovering:
Heat speeds up the healing process
Applying heat directly to the affected area helps to speed up the healing process.
Heat does this by increasing the blood flow to the area.
This allows more oxygen and white blood cells to travel to the area, which in turn speeds up the healing process.
It calms muscle spasms
Muscle spasms are seen a lot in the lower back.
And one of the best things you can do reduce the spasms it to apply heat directly to it.
The increased circulation the heat allows also gives the body an opportunity to loosen up, thus allow relieve from the muscle spasms.
Heat slows down the pain signals
Your pain receptors are basically in competition of who is going to send information to the brain.
When you apply heat to an area of your body that is hurting, the receptors that are receiving relief will compete to get their information to the brain along with those that are feeling pain.
So it is possible that the receptors that are feeling relief will get that information before the ones that are trying to send pain.
Heat provides mental relief
There is a lot going on in your body when you apply heat to places of pain.
And as the body is feeling less pain because of the increased blood circulation, you are also receiving some relief in the form of mental relief.
If you are like me, when you get hurt, sometimes the mental stress is even worse than the actual pain.
When we apply heat to our pain, we give ourselves a little bit of mental relief from the pain.
Heat keeps us away from medication
A lot of people today try to stay away from using medication.
There are many reasons for this, but one of the biggest is probably so many people getting addicted.
So if we don't want to use medication, then we have to rely on other ways for pain relief.
Applying heat to our pain is a great way to keep ourselves away from medications and allow our body to do all of the work.
Benefits of cold therapy
If you are like me, you've seen pictures or watched videos of athletes sitting in ice baths after they've played a game or had a long practice.
This is something we've seen going on for quite some time.
And as you do some research, you can find out that there are actually a lot of benefits towards having an ice bath or some kind of heat therapy.
Numb nerve endings
Applying cold to an area of your body will numb the nerve endings in that area.
And if you were just recently injured, this is a good thing for you.
The numbing of the nerve endings means that your brain isn't going to receive signals that you are actually in pain.
Which then means you can give yourself a little bit of a break for feeling pain.
Slows the death of your cells
While your cells are cold, they will slow down a little bit.
And this means that it will take a little bit longer for them to die from their natural occurring cell death.
This means that your body has more time to repair before the cells die away.
How to alternate between hot and cold treatment
Now that we've covered what hot and cold treatment do you for, let's talk about how you can use them together to help yourself recover from injury or soreness.
It might seem counter-intuitive since you use the heat and cold treatment for different reasons.
But if you put the two together, you can do quite a bit to help with your recovery.
According to Ortho Carolina:
"As a more advanced treatment, use ice AND heat. To achieve therapeutic results, you must do this in a very specific way. The key is to ice for 20 minutes, causing the vessels to narrow, and then heat for 15 minutes, causing the vessels to dilate. This acts as a pumping mechanism to the inflammation, pushing it away from the injured area.
Most importantly, end the treatment cycle on ice (unless you’re treating a chronic back spasm). By ending on ice, the vessels will be narrowed and will help keep inflammation from re-entering the area."
So when you treat your injury with cold treatment, that causes the vessels to narrow.
Then when you remove the cold and add the hot treatment, the vessels will dilate.
This will then act almost as a way for the vessels to pump just like they would with your heart, but more.
Your body then pushes away the inflammation from the injured area, thus allowing you to heal more quickly.
So, 20 minutes with the cold treatment and then immediately treat with the hot treatment for 15 minutes afterwards.
It is not recommend to do this more than 3 or 4 times a day, but give yourself at least 2 hours because each treatment.
This will ensure that you don't overexpose your skin to too much hot or too much cold.
If you treatment for too long and too often, you could give your skin rashes or more serious issues.
Why LavaBag is the best for heat and cold therapy
Knowing the above reasons for why hot and cold therapy are good for you, we recommend that LavaBag is the best pad you could have for your therapy.
There are a few reasons for this:
LavaBag can easily got between hot and cold
There are different heating pads options available out there.
First of these being the electric heating pads.
But these aren't so bad for use for heat therapy, but not so useful for cold therapy.
There are other microwavable heating pads on the market, and some of these are good.
But most of these are filled with food fillers, which after extensive change between hot and cold can easily wear out.
This isn't the case with the LavaBag heating pads.
The lava sand that is used in the heating pads can easily go through hot and cold treatment without being ruined.
Next, you don't have to worry about the smell that a LavaBag heating pad might give off.
With the food fillers, you need to consider that when the food has finally gone bad, putting it in the microwave is going to make it even worse.
Then you'll have the smell of rotten and burnt food in your house.
And this will take away from your opportunity to relax.
This won't happen with the LavaBag heating pad.
Lastly, once you are done using the LavaBag heating pad for heat treatment, you can throw it into the freezer and wait for it to be cold for your cold treatment.
It should only take an hour or two for it to get to a cold enough temperature to use it for cold treatment.
This gives you a great opportunity to use it for alternating between hot and cold, if you feel that is appropriate for your recovery.
My wife recently had some issues with her foot while she was going on a hike.
She ended up breaking some bones in her foot.
But luckily she was by and really cold stream and was able to put her foot in the stream for some cold treatment.
She swears that this helped to keep her from getting more injured than she already was.
I myself have used heat treatment numerous times for different issues I've had with my body.
Both are great treatments for helping us recover from new or old injuries.
And if we combine these treatments together, we can also do so much more to help with our healing.
Just remember to do it 20 minutes of cold first, followed immediately by 15 minutes of heat treatment.
Repeat this throughout the day, but not more than 3 or 4 times.
And if you do this, you should see yourself recover quicker than you would have normally.