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Hot Packs Vs Cold Packs and When To Use Them

August 7, 2017


There has always been confusion about when to use a reusable heat pack and when to use a cold pack. It's extremely important to know when to use what type of pack because if you end up using the wrong product your pain could become much worse. To keep it simple, cold packs are almost always used for acute injuries as well as inflammation and swelling. Hot packs are primarily used for muscle pain, stiffness, and stress.

What Injuries Should I Apply a Cold Pack To?

Hot Packs VS Cold Packs
  • Ankle sprain
  • Knee sprain
  • Muscle or joint sprain
  • Red, hot or swollen body part
  • Acute pain after intense exercise
  • Recent injuries within 48 hours

Tips for Cold Therapy (Cryotherapy)

Cold therapy or cryotherapy is used by many professions including athletes for acute injuries. With recent injuries (within last 48 hours) where swelling is a problem, ice can minimize swelling, reduce bleeding into tissue, and reduce muscle spasm and pain. Cold therapy constricts blood vessels. Ice is good for repairing tissue damage and inflammation around the injury.

It is important to respond quickly. The sooner you apply the cold pack the more likely the injury will heal quickly. Ice packs may also be used after high-intensity exercises to prevent or reduce inflammation.

What Injuries Should I Apply a Hot Pack To?

Heat Packs VS Cold Packs
  • Chronic pain
  • Sore & Tight Muscles
  • Stress

Tips for Heat Therapy (Thermotherapy)

Heat packs are primarily for non-inflammatory body pain including relaxation, comfort, duller and persistent pains associated with acute soreness, stiffness, cramping, and/or sensitivity. Heat allows blood vessels to expand and relaxes muscles. The soothing effect occurs because heat stimulates circulation and increases tissue elasticity. Never apply heat to broken or infected skin or injured tissue.


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