COLD OR HOT?
To know if I have to apply heat or cold to an affected area, we must understand the effects of applying heat or cold on the body.
The use of Heat is more effective in subacute to chronic states of trauma or injury, for example after about 2 to 4 weeks after a blow or a muscular or joint alteration occurs. You should NEVER apply heat to an acute injury. Since the heat generates vasodilation, increasing blood flow in the area, with the consequent increase in cellular metabolism and inflammatory edema. The greatest benefits when applying heat come from the analgesic (calming) effects.
In the event of muscle spasm and joint stiffness, heat decreases pain and produces general relaxation, since heat increases the elasticity of collagen, which is part of our muscles, tendons and ligaments among other structures in our body, allowing greater joint range of motion and muscle relaxation. Thanks to this effect we can also use it in preparation for stretching.
After a certain period of the initial injury has passed, it is desirable to look for hyperemia in the area (increased blood flow), for more oxygen and nutrient supply, facilitating the repair of the injury. Furthermore, the combination of heat and movement turns out to be very effective in improving the flexibility and elasticity of the tissues, especially after long periods of immobility. In general, heat is applied in various musculoskeletal and neuromuscular disorders.
The heat produces a relaxing effect, decreasing muscle contractions. In the areas where heat is most frequently applied is the neck and back, but it can be applied to any area of the body.