Whenever people injure themselves, they’re often not sure whether they should start with ice or heat on the injury to help them heal. The general rule is ice for the first 48 hours after injury. Heat after that.
More specifically, ice and heat do opposite things and so should be used in very different situations.
Heat speeds up healing.
Ice slows it down.
If you get injured, and your injury is incredibly red or uncomfortably swollen, then ice may be a good idea. The heat and swelling you see is blood rushing to the area. The blood brings with it healing chemicals and special blood cells designed to help you heal. Additionally, the swelling prevents you from moving and further injuring yourself. It is like a natural splint. Those are all good things!
You do not want to stop that process. However, if the swelling is so intense that it is painful, then it might be a good idea to use ice. That will reduce the swelling, which will reduce the amount of healing chemicals. But it will also decrease the pain and possibility of injury from swelling.
If you have pain that has lasted more than a few days or a problem that comes and goes, consider heat. Heat will cause your blood vessels to expand. It will bring more blood to the area. With that blood comes more healing chemicals. The result may be a quicker healing time.
When using heat, consider a very warm bath with Epsom salts. The magnesium and other minerals in the salt will help with muscle healing. Next time on the blog we will discuss essential oils. Should you be adding them to your bath? The answer surprised me!