It can sometimes be confusing whether to use heat or cold when treating sore muscles or an injury, but keep these facts in mind:
Types of warm packs/pads:
When muscles work, chemical byproducts are produced that need to be eliminated. When exercise is very intense, there may not be enough blood flow to eliminate all the chemicals. It is the accumulation of chemicals (i.e., lactic acid) that cause muscle ache. Because the blood supply helps eliminate these chemicals, use heat to help sore muscles after exercise.
Types of cold packs:
ice pack/cold compress
When an injury or inflammation such as tendonitis or bursitis occurs, tissues are damaged. Cold application numbs the affected area, which can reduce pain and tenderness. Cold can also reduce swelling and inflammation.
© 2014 Main Line Health