For Hundreds of years, Heat therapy has been a very successful way of soothing muscle pain, Migraine, Ligament stress etc. Recent research has shown that heat packs work well for Pain relief because heat when applied to the injury, after about 15 to 20 minutes the heat penetrates the skin and opens the blood capillaries which in turn allows for increased blood flow. Research also shows that heat when applied Blocks the signals that are sent to the Brain by the sensory receptors and blocking trigger is a key factor for the immediate soothing effect when you apply heat to an injury.
When to Use Heat Therapy?
With the basic understanding that Cryotherapy can contain or reduce blood flow and help clot the blood if there is an injury. Heat therapy on the other hand will increase blood flow and help the muscle repair itself, Heat Therapy should be used for injuries that are slow and subtle when they develop, usually an after effect of acute injuries. They sometimes cure without treatment.
In cases of a Stiff or Sore muscle or you find the elasticity of the muscle is or connecting tissue has been affected, Heat therapy can be applied to relax the muscle and reduce the stiffness or soreness.The Heat therapy not only gives temporary pain relief but the increased blood flow helps in self repair of the muscle. Heat shouldn’t be applied in situations where there is inflammation because the increased blood flow can make things worse. Which is why when your child bumps their head accidentally, we apply an ice pack so the swelling can be controlled.
In situations where breast feeding mothers experience pain during feeding, heat therapy can not only increase the milk flow but also reduce the pain.
How Best to Apply Heat Therapy?
A Wheat bag has been the most popular way of applying heat therapy, however after a series of fire accidents due to overheating in microwaves. Besides the extreme uncontrolled temperatures on the wheat bag can burn the skin. It is recommended that you be extremely cautious when you are using a wheat bag.
A Moist hot towel is a highly recommended way to apply heat therapy since the moisture keeps the skin from drying out. The Easiest way is to wet a thick hand towel and microwave it for a minute. If you find them to be too hot, it’s better to put a towel between the skin and the hot towel. It’s recommended that you apply heat in intervals of 20 minutes.
There are some new innovations that are being widely used to warm the body during winter and also for heat therapy. Cryolux 20hr Heat packs have been designed so they are easily activated when they are removed from the vacuum packaging. These heat packs can reach up to 72 Degree C and keep warm for 20 hours. These Heat packs are not only convenient to carry around but also easy to activate when required and disposable.
Another option is the Instant Click heat packs that are soaked in hot boiling water to make them a liquid and can be clicked to activate when required. These heat packs are reusable and work great. They are a good option however they can be dangerous if they burst during application.
Hot Water Bag is a very common heat pack and is reusable and can keep hot for up to 30 minutes. You will have to reheat the water every time it cools. Please ensure the bag is locked tight and ensure there aren’t any leaks before you apply them on the body. Boiling water if leaked on the body can make things worse.
There are several Hot and Cold packs available in the market that can be used both as a hot pack and a cold pack. These hot and cold gel packs are a good thing to have in your first aid kit at home. It may be wiser to have one in the freezer all the time and another hot pack ready to use.
How to Make a Heat Pack at Home?
The Easiest way to make a hot pack at home is to fill thick cotton with wheat and stitch the other end thoroughly so it doesn’t spill on the skin. When the Socks is being microwave its safer to heat in increments of 30 seconds to avoid the socks from catching fire.
Another alternative is to use a thick glass bottle and fill it hot water or hot sand and roll the hot glass bottle on the injured area. If you are using a hot water bottle at home, Please ensure the bottle is of good quality since glass can crack easily when exposed to extreme temperatures.
For Post workout recovery, the best recovery is from a hot shower immediately after the work out. The hot shower allows you to relax your muscles immediately and also increases blood flow which helps the muscle start repairing itself. If you have access to a Hot Spa at the gym, it’s highly recommended that you use the spa for 10 to 15 minutes after workout and remember to keep yourself hydrated by drinking plenty of water.