You, like most other people, might have the question of when to ice or when to heat. Lucky for you, there’s more than one answer to that question. Here are a few pointers to help make your decision. Ice is for fresh injuries and heat is for muscles, chronic pain, and stress. Ice is good for acute superficial injuries such as inflamed, hot, or swollen tissue. For example, a sprained ankle or a freshly pulled muscle are a few cases where you should apply ice. On the other hand, ice can aggravate symptoms if you are already cold or if it is a chronic pain issue.
Heat is utilized to increase blood flow to the muscles, which in turn reduces muscle aching and stiffness. Although heat may feel like it’s helping, it can be harmful if used incorrectly such as when applied to fresh injuries/muscle sprains. Applying heat during these situations may cause an increase in inflammation.
At the end of the day, if you are still unsure, the best strategy is always the one that you feel help alleviate your pain the most.