What Do You Use Heating Pads For

Heating pads are the natural answer when it comes to aches or pains.

If you experience stiffness, muscle cramping, or joint pain, heating pads can help reduce pain.

By increasing blood flow to constricted muscles, helping connective tissue loosen, and causing muscles to relax, heating pads are an easy, effective, affordable pain treatment option.

Reasons why heating pads are a great therapeutic tool :

  • Medication Free Pain Relief Tool
  • Targets Area of Pain
  • Readily Available
  • Quick Relief
  • Can Be Used As Often As Needed

You may ask, "What makes heating pads the go to treatment option for muscle pain?"

The answer is heat therapy.

Heating Pads and Heat Therapy

Heating pads are tools used to apply heat therapy to the body.

The concept of heat therapy is that by applying heat to a certain part of the body where the blood vessels are constricted, blood vessels will open up to allow blood to flow more freely to the area.

By increasing blood flow to the portion of the body that is constricted, stiff, and sore the muscles and joints become more flexible.

Heating Pads For Stiffness

Muscle stiffness occurs when there is poor blood circulation to a certain part of the body.

Because of the decreased blood flow, muscles are unable to relax normally.

According to Medicover Hospitals, causes of this decrease in blood flow which causes stiffness includes:

  • Prolonged Inactivity
  • Exercise
  • Strains and Sprains
  • Infections
  • Obesity
  • Poor Diet
  • Cold and Humid Environments

Heating Pads for Prolonged Inactivity Stiffness

If you wake up in the morning to a stiff neck, back, or legs, the culprit is usually a disruption to the normal blood flow.

This can be as simple as sleeping on the right side of your body, or by having extra pressure on your nerves by the way you position your body.

To understand this, we need to understand how blood is distributed to the body.

Blood is pumped through the body by the heart.

The University of Michigan describes the way the heart pumps blood into four steps:

  1. The right atrium (upper cavity of the heart) gets the blood that has already delivered oxygen to the body and pumps it to the right ventricle (chamber of heart that collects and expels blood) through the tricuspid valve.
  2. The right ventricle pumps the blood to the lungs to get oxygen.
  3. The left atrium receives the blood which is now full of oxygen and pumps it over to the left ventricle.
  4. The left ventricle pumps the blood with oxygen into the rest of the body.

When you sleep on your right side, it makes it harder for the heart to pump blood efficiently to all of the body, causing some areas not to get the normal amount.

If an arm, leg, shoulder or other part of the body is positioned where the nerves and blood vessels are constricted, this can make it hard for blood to get to those areas.

Heating Pads for Exercise and Stiffness

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is when you feel stiff or sore a day or two after a workout or strenuous physical activity.

The NHS website lists the culprit of these aches and pains to microscopic damage inflicted to muscle fibers during exercise.

It can affect seasoned professional athletes or those new to a work out regiment.

When working out, it is recommended that heat be applied to muscles before exercising as well as stretching them out.

Immediately after a workout, apply cold to the muscles. Afterwards, when swelling is down, it is safe to apply heat to loosen muscles.

Heating Pads for Strains and Sprains

When you sprain or strain a muscle, you have inadvertently stretched or torn a ligament (fibrous tissue that connects two bones at a joint). Mayo Clinic. 

As with pain associated with exercising, it is best to apply cold to the area after the immediate impact to reduce swelling.

Once the swelling subsides, apply heat to help increase blood flow so the area can begin to heal.

Applying heat too early can cause the swelling to worsen and the throbbing pain to increase.

Heating Pads for Infections

When an infection is present, it can cause certain areas of the body to become stiff or in pain.

Depending on the infection and how it affects the body, heat can be useful to loosen up stiff joints and allow blood flow to reach affected parts of the body.

However, if an the infected has swelling, heat is not recommended because it will increase the blood flow and the pain.

Heating Pads and Obesity Stiffness

Heat can help increase blood flow to parts of the body that might be blocked by excess weight of the body.

Heating Pads and Poor Diet Stiffness

Livestrong.com lists electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, and a lack of essential nutrients as signs of a poor diet that can cause stiffness.

Without electrolytes, the body doesn't have the minerals it needs to transmit and receive nerve impulses.

Lost in sweat, a lack of electrolytes can cause muscle pain in the form of potassium deficiency. 

Hydration is important when it comes to muscle stiffness.

Without enough water, the muscles are unable to contract, causing them to hurt.

It is important to make sure your body has the nutrients and liquids it needs in order to work.

Modify your diet to include needed nutrients and apply heat to muscles that are aching due to a lack of nutrition.

Xray of knee joints

Heating Pads for Cold and Humid Environments

When your body is in a cold and humid environment, it naturally reacts to the temperature and conditions.

How Cold Affects the Body

When you are cold, your body naturally begins to contract.

If a portion of your body gets too cold, it can become stiff because the blood vessels have contracted.

Applying heat to a cold part of the body will allow the blood vessels to dilate again.

How Humidity Affects the Body

There is debate about the affects humidity have on the stiffness on the body.

Creakyjoints.org mentions three main theories to why stiffness and pain are attributed to humidity:

  • Changes In Barometric Pressure
  • Decreased Physical Activity
  • Mood Changes

Changes in Barometric Pressure and Body Stiffness

Many individuals link a change in humidity and atmospheric conditions to the pain that they feel in their joints.

Barometric pressure is thought to be a possible culprit.

The theory behind barometric pressure and joint pain is that shifts in air pressure may cause tendons, scar tissue, and muscles to expand and contract.

With all of the expanding and contracting, it can cause joints that are already affected by arthritis to hurt.

Decrease in Physical Activity

Some individuals argue that stiffness occurs in the body in humid situations because they are naturally less active.

Not many people feel like exercising if it is rainy or cold outside.

As we mentioned earlier, when an individual isn't active it can cause blood flow to certain parts of the body to slow down.

Mood Changes

The third argument for the correlation between humidity and stiffness is the perception of pain and stiffness when experienced during a certain mood.

When the weather is rainy or depressing, individuals tend to be in a bad mood.

When in a bad mood, their perception of stiffness and pain may be more acute than if they were in better spirits.

Use a Heating Pad

No matter the cause of the stiffness, a heating pad can help.

Apply the heating pad to the affected area to loosen up joints and muscles and find relief.

Woman suffering from cramps

Heating Pads for Menstrual and Muscle Cramping

Heating pads are one of the main survival tools when it comes to cramps.

By definition, cramps are,  a painful involuntary spasmodic contraction of a muscle." (Merriam-Webster.com)

Muscles can be uterine muscles that contract painfully, causing the dreaded menstrual cramps or they can be the calf muscles that contract that result in charley horses and shin splints.

Whatever form of cramp you may experience, they all have one thing in common...

Contracted blood vessels to the muscles.

To help relieve painful cramps, heating pads are a must.

Not only do they dilate constricted blood vessels, but they also help muscles relax, offering almost instantaneous relief.

Heating Pads for Joint Pain 

When blood vessels around joints become pinched, stiff, or creaky from arthritis and other medical conditions, heating pads are a great way to loosen up the muscles and tendons.

Once again, by applying heat therapy to an inflicted area, the blood vessels get larger, allowing blood to flow freely to afflicted areas, relieving pain and stiffness. 

What Makes a Good Heating Pad

If you suffer from muscle stiffness, cramps, or joint pain and want to use the healing powers of heat therapy to find relief, you need a good heating pad.

There are several heating pads on the market, as well as a plethora of DIY tutorials on how to make your own.

While most of these can effective heating pads, keep the following in mind when choosing the best heat therapy tool.

Is the heating pad:

  • Able to be reheated several times without burning
  • Made of a material that doesn't smell
  • Made of a material that doesn't rot or attract bugs
  • Provide adequate weight for maximum relief
  • Maintains a comfortable temperature
  • Conforms to the body
  • Can double as an ice pack if needed
  • Easy to store

While many people opt for the familiar rice sock heating pad, it isn't the best heating pad in terms of durability and comfort.

Most rice socks begin to burn after the first few uses, and attract bugs such as weevils.

Heating pads made of other food pantry stuffs don't fair much better.

Out of all available heating pads, Lavabags have proven to be the best heating pad on the market.

Not only are Lavabags made of indestructible lava sand, which can be heated repeatedly without burning, but they maintain a comfortable temperature longer than any other heating bags.

Since they are not made of perishable materials, they never rot or smell bad.

For reliable pain relief that you can trust, invest in a Lavabag, your aching muscles will thank you.