Ice VS Heat
Is it ice or is it heat? Well, we will discuss that in a bit but let's go into detail first at which each one of these are doing.
First up is ICE. Most patients do not like to apply ice to their body. Sauna's, Jacuzzi's, heating pads, and hot showers are preferred by most individuals compared to using ice packs or ice baths for therapeutic purposes. Ice decreases circulation, metabolic activity, and inflammation and numbs the skin so in turn it helps decreases pain, swelling, and muscle spasm/cramping. While icing may not feel the greatest, you can see it has some great benefits.
Next up is Heat. Heat gets a bad rep sometimes, see the thing is using heat is sometimes counterproductive to what we are trying to accomplish. Sometimes the use of heat is no different then scratching an itchy rash and making it worse. Heat increases circulation, metabolic activity, and inflammation. Heat helps loosen up the muscles, bring new blood and nutrients to the site, and relieves pain.
General rule: Heat before activity, ice after activity.
So as you can see they both have their place for therapeutic purposes. Our standard rule at Plainfield Chiro and Rehab is when using heat for an injury, pain, an ache it must be followed up with ice. Bringing new blood to an area is great when indicated but we do not like to leave the inflammation in the area, so we remove it with ice.Always remember use ice for 10 minutes and place something in-between the skin and the ice pack. Nothing is worse then having low back pain and then acquiring frost bite on top of that low back pain spot. So use heat to loosen up, and ice to remove the inflammation.