When is the Best Time to Apply Heat to Injuries?

Whenever I have sprain or injuries, ice bag comes handy. How about applying heat to your injury? Sounds like a bad idea, right? The idea sounds absurd but studies have shown that heat water immersion can be beneficial when done at the right time.

It’s important to note when heat should not be used too. Heating not only increases blood flow near the skin, but it also increases the flow of lymph fluid, the body’s “general plumbing” system for the interstitial fluid that fills up the empty space in your body. Many of these lymph vessels happen to be close to the surface of the skin, and as such are susceptible to being opened up by external heat.

In one study of 30 brave volunteers with newly-sprained ankles, the ankle swelled by 25% in a group treated with hot water immersion of their foot. Contrast this with only a 3% increase in size in the group treated with cold water immersion.

So, heating any kind of injury, especially an acute one, seems like a bad idea if you aren’t going to cool it down later. It’s also plausible that this same effect can manifest with the micro-trauma to muscles from hard training.

 

Read the full article at Runners Connect.

 

Photo copyright by Flickr user micamica.

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