Therapy for Your Sore Muscles - When to Use Cold or Hot for Muscle Pain?

Therapy for Your Sore Muscles - When to Use Cold or Hot for Muscle Pain?

home cold plunge

When you're dealing with sore muscles, it can be hard making it through the day. Whether your muscles are sore from working out or from an injury, you want lasting relief, and one of your options is a home cold plunge.

Moreover, depending on the reason your muscles are sore, the method that's right for getting this relief can vary. Pain caused by muscle spasms, tight muscles from strains, and delayed onset muscle soreness from exercise might require heat or cold for the best results fast.

To help you choose between therapies like a home cold plunge or hot compress to alleviate your muscle pain, we've put together this quick guide. Let's dive in.

Methods for Applying Heat or Cold

Depending on your reason for muscle pain, there is a handful of methods for applying either heat or cold for pain relief.

Heating Pads

For localized pain relief from muscle stiffness, heating pads are one of the best tools. Most provide a range of temperature adjustments, they heat up fast, and there's nothing to clean up afterward.

Ice Packs

When you need localized relief for inflammation-related muscle pain, ice packs are a simple way to get the job done. Be sure to put a layer of thin cloth between the pack and your skin to prevent frostbite.

Cold Water Immersion

Sometimes muscle pain originates from larger muscles that are difficult to apply ice packs on. In these cases, cold water immersion tubs are an effective alternative. Back muscles and leg muscles are ideal for this form of treatment. 

When Should You Use Ice or Heat for Muscle Aches and Pains?

Whether you should use ice or heat to get relief for chronic pain, muscle aches, sprained ankles, and pains depends on the cause. Sometimes, applying the wrong treatment can actually make the pain worse rather than better.

To help you determine the best course of action for your muscle pain, here's a list of common reasons and whether to use cold or heat for relief.

Severe Muscle Injuries

When you've suffered from a severe muscle injury like a tear from lifting weights, the pain can be intense. In these cases, you definitely should not use heat. That's because heat can actually increase inflammation of injuries and cause delays in the healing process.

Instead, apply cold to the affected area. This can be accomplished using a cold compress, ice pack, or even with whole-body cold water immersion.

Headaches from Muscle Tension

Most of us don't think of our heads as muscular, but the truth is, there are over 20 muscles in the head and neck. To figure out which form of treatment will work for your headache, is it from a neck muscle or head muscle?

For neck spasms that radiate up to the head, it's better to use heat with a wrap to ease the muscle tension. And for headaches originating in the head muscles, apply an ice pack or cold wrap for fast relief.

Muscle Strains and Pulls

When you pull a muscle, it can be both incredibly painful and hard to find relief from. This reason for muscle pain takes a two-step approach to resolve fully. In the first step of the process, you'll want to start by icing the affected area to reduce inflammation.

Cold packs or an ice bath are some examples of cold treatments that help with this step. After the inflammation has subsided, you can then switch to heat therapy to reduce any remaining stiffness using a heating pad. 

Tendinitis from Overworked Muscles

A common cause of pain related to overworked muscles is tendinitis. This is the result of inflammation of the tendons that connect muscles to the joints.

It can be very tough getting rid of this type of pain, but the good news is applying ice packs can provide fast relief, although somewhat temporary. The ice helps numb the pain, along with reducing inflammation for lasting relief.

You can also try ice massage on the area while submerged in a cold therapy tank, which can help you regain your range of motion.

Pain from Tendinosis

A less common type of pain related to the muscles comes from Tendinosis, which is a chronic degenerative tendon disorder that causes joint stiffness. This is different from tendinitis, which responds better to cold therapy.

For Tendinosis pain, apply heating pads or take a hot bath to reduce the stiffness in the affected joint. You can also alternate some ice pack applications to reduce any remaining inflammation after the stiffness subsides.  

Get Sore Muscle Relief with a RENU Therapy Home Cold Plunge 

While simple remedies like applying a bag of frozen vegetables can be helpful for temporary pain relief, sometimes muscle pain is more persistent.

Also, large muscles or hard-to-reach areas like the back can be very hard to apply ice packs on. In these situations, a home cold plunge can provide an easy and effective remedy for persistent muscle pain.

With our cold plunge at home, you can get the relief of cold therapy for your sore back or legs when you need it most. If you have more questions about our products, you may contact our team!