Rule of thumb: Heat is for muscles. Ice is for injuries.
* Heat promotes muscle relaxation and can increase range of motion. It opens blood vessels to increase blood flow, relaxes muscles and helps alleviate pain.
* Heat is a great way to help loosen up tight joints and tight muscles. It is also a good method of pain relief for tension headaches and other chronic conditions. Always wait 48-72 hours before considering heat therapy. When in doubt use Ice.
* Ice calms down damaged tissue and slows down the blood flow to an injury, to reduce swelling, inflammation and controls the pain.
* Ice should be used right after an injury or activity that aggravates a chronic condition. Ice is good for migraine headaches, bumps, sprains, and strains that may occur with sports, slips and falls, or lifting. Cold therapy is also helpful in treating some overuse injuries or chronic pain in athletes. When in doubt use ICE!