Heat or Ice For Injuries, “Which Is Best For You?”

The first thing that comes to mind when treating an injury immediately after it has happened is which is better to minimize the pain and damage as well as facilitate recovery. Whether it be from working in the yard or to being a weekend warrior. Your lower back has been bothering you more than usual. The question is should you ice it to try to control inflammation, or would heat be better to promote circulation?

While it’s difficult to establish a fail-safe rule for when to apply ice or heat, the general directive is to use the ice for the first 48 hours after an acute injury and then switch to heat. It depends whether it is a recurrent injury, which is by far the most common: in these cases, consistent and frequent applications of ice may prove very helpful over long period of time. On the other hand, your back or other muscle spasms caused by overexertion rather than injury may benefit greatly from heat immediately upon the onset of symptoms or immediately after exercise in order to relax the muscles and increase circulation.

Muscle belly pain, not resulting from acute and serious trauma, generally responds well to that which can break the spasms and release the strain. Nerve and tendon pain, regardless of the duration of symptoms, even if you have been experiencing them for months, benefit from ice. The bottom line – different individuals vary greatly in their reaction. Some people are more prone to the types of inflammation exacerbated by ice, while others find their bodies contracting and tightening at the mere mention of ice.

Try each option and pay close attention to how your body and mind reasons and let your “gut instinct” be your guide.

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