Back injury: heat or ice?
Whether playing sports or raking leaves, injuries to the back, neck or elsewhere are common occurrences. Here are some tips for applying cold or heat to relieve pain and muscle stiffness.
Cold: an anti-inflammatory
When you are injured, there is always an inflammatory phenomenon that appears. this is completely normal and necessary for healing. However, what creates the pain is overinflammation. Cold is then ideal to reduce swelling.
Cold must be applied quickly to the injury in order to create vasoconstriction, which causes a decrease in blood flow. This helps reduce swelling and promotes faster healing of the injury.
You can use an ice pack, a bag of frozen peas, or a gel bag made specifically for this purpose. The cold source should be wrapped in a thin, damp cloth to avoid frostbite. Apply it for around fifteen minutes, but never more, as you would create the opposite effect to that sought. Wait about 45 minutes and then repeat until the swelling has gone down.
Heat: a muscle relaxant
Heat, on the other hand, has a completely opposite effect on blood flow. It creates, in fact, vasodilation, which causes an increase in blood circulation. This phenomenon helps eliminate toxins in the muscles. It is therefore effective in relieving muscle stiffness.
You can use a magic bag, a gel bag or a hot water bottle. Just like for the cold, your source must be wrapped in a damp cloth. Apply it to the targeted region for around thirty minutes, then remove it for another thirty minutes. The operation can be repeated until the stiffness has completely disappeared. There are also moist heating pads that plug in and generate high-performance moist heat that penetrates deep into the muscles.
Don't worry, you can never go wrong with applying cold to an injury. We cannot make it worse. In the case of heat, it is not the same. So, when in doubt, it’s better to turn to the cold.
When do you apply ice?
*All “itis” problems (tendinitis, bursitis, myositis, etc.)
*Sprain of all kinds (ankles, lumbar, cervical, etc.)
When is heat applied?
*Stiffness due to physical activity (being “stiff” the next day)
*Aches related to osteoarthritis or temperature changes.
Remember, Pain = ice, Stiffness = heat