Muscle pain? What is better: Hot or cold? Muscle pain? What is better: Hot or cold?

In order to reduce inflammation, hot and cold therapies are common treatments for muscle injuries or contractures. However, which therapy is best or how it is best applied can sometimes be confusing.

The U.S. National Library of Medicine states that ice should be applied between 24 and 72 hours after an injury. This therapy is more effective when inflammation is severe as a result of a recent injury. Heat therapy, on the other hand, offers better results with chronic pain.

(Related article: Sore muscles after exercising)

Cold helps reduce blood flow, which reduces inflammation and pain, thereby preventing inflammation from spreading and affecting the surrounding tissue. In order to protect the skin, when applying something cold, do not apply it for more than 20 minutes.

Heat stimulates the circulation of blood around the affected area, helping oxygen and nutrients reach the area, which aid in healing the tissues. Heat is therefore recommended for ongoing pain that persists for several weeks or for chronic pain such as arthritis.