So many of us reach for the heat pack when we have aches or pains, from period pain to sore shoulders, we all feel that instant relief!
For centuries heat has been used to help people manage pain and stiffness. The question is why does it reduce pain? Heat stimulates the sensory receptors of our body and overrides the transmission of pain signals to the brain. This results in an instant change in pain perception.
Heat helps increase blood flow to the tissues, which can be very useful in chronic conditions. This allows more blood in and out of the site of injury allowing new cells into the area and flushing out old injured cells. This intern may help your healing rate.
Heat improves the tissue elasticity of muscles which can reduced the resting tone or tension of muscles. Sometimes if you have a hot bath or spa when you are feeling sore and stiff from exercise you may feel a similar effect.
So we know that heat helps relax our muscles, improves healing and reduces pain but why else do we LOVE our heat pack? Well it is convenient to use, you can tuck it into bed with you, you can wear it around your neck whilst you are sitting at the desk and if you don’t have a microwave handy you can always buy a disposable Hotteeze pack that last 12-24 hours.
There is much debate over ice and heat therapy for injuries. If you are unsure of what you should be using for your injuries make sure you ask your practitioner.