If you’re experiencing pain or soreness – do you know which will be most beneficial for you, heat or ice? When uncertain, many of us lean towards heat as we want to be warm and relaxed, not cold and agitated; however, this can be the wrong choice and may actually exacerbate the problem further.
Applying heat in the way of a hot water bottle tends to help restore blood flow and circulation and is often used before an activity, such as exercise. Conversely, applying cold therapy in the way of an ice or gel pack will help with inflammation and swelling and is often used after exercise or an activity/sport that causes pain.
Generally, the consensus is that you should use heat for chronic pain and ice for acute injuries. It is important not to overdo either therapy as prolonged exposure to heat or ice can have adverse effects on your body. When in doubt, you should always speak with a health professional. While you can research your symptoms online if you require a timely answer, take care to look for credible sources before making your decision as the Internet is full of self-proclaimed experts and false information.