Heat therapy is a popular and effective way to alleviate muscle tension, soreness, and stiffness. Whether you're using a heating pad, hot water bottle, or warm compress, heat therapy can provide a sense of relaxation and comfort.
However, it's important to use heat therapy safely to avoid burns and other injuries. Here are a few tips to help you safely incorporate heat therapy into your self-care routine:
Test the temperature before applying heat to your skin. It should be warm, not hot, to avoid burns.
Don't use heat therapy on open wounds or skin irritation.
Don't use heat therapy for more than 20-30 minutes at a time. Overuse can cause your skin to become dry and irritated.
Don't fall asleep with a heat source on your skin.
If you have diabetes, poor circulation, or are pregnant, check with your healthcare provider before using heat therapy.
Pain that recurs can be treated with heat, which will bring blood to the area and promote healing. Heat opens up blood vessels, which increases blood flow and supplies oxygen and nutrients to reduce pain in joints and relax sore muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The warmth also decreases muscle spasms and can increase the range of motion.
Sources of heat can supply either dry or moist. Dry heat sources may dry the skin. However, moist heat penetrates better. A few ways to apply heat would be an electric or microwavable heating pad, a hot water bottle, gel packs, and hot baths. It is not recommended to use a microwave to reheat a heating pad or wrap. It’s best to use hot water.
Moist heat is less likely to cause skin dehydration. It comes in many forms, including steam towels, hot baths, moist heating packs, etc. It helps to increase tissue elasticity, making it ideal for patients with dry and/or aging skin. Overall, most people find moist heat to be better. Apply heat if you have stiff joints or chronic muscle and joint pain
By following these simple precautions, you can safely and effectively use heat therapy to alleviate muscle tension and soreness. Remember to listen to your body and stop using heat therapy if you experience any discomfort or pain.