“I don’t know whether to put heat or ice on the pain“. A common statement made by many clients who come into the massage room. Sometimes it can get really confusing when it comes to treating muscle pain and stiffness at home.
So what do we use?
We use Ice therapy when the pain you are experiencing is sharp and very sensitive (can’t touch the area or move), inflamed, red or you have just injured the area. This is usually called the acute stage of pain, so it has just happened. Ice will help reduce further damage and relax any built up tension around nerves.
Putting heat on stiff and dull aching muscles helps to soothe by increasing blood flow to the area and opens up restricted muscle fibres allowing more movement and circulation within the muscle easing tension. If the muscle is tense, the fibres restrict and are unable to move freely causing a dull constant pain. This is when heat is more effective, as it allows circulation to open and tense muscle fibres and allow more movement.
Of course, if you are unsure or what you have done or heat or ice is not working, then it is best to get it checked out by a massage therapist, other health practitioner or go to your doctor.