Both ice and heat are highly beneficial when treating sore muscles. Ice therapy or cryotherapy is mainly used to minimize swelling and the flow of blood which helps reduce the pain. As for heat therapy, it is used to boost the flow of blood to promote the healing process as well as to relax the affected muscles. When delivering first aid care, it is important to be familiar with the benefits of ice or heat therapy.
Bruising or inflammation
You have to determine first whether the muscles of the individual have bruising or inflammation. Always take note that once the muscle fibers have been stretched beyond their normal limits or torn, the body responds by increasing the flow of blood in order to eliminate the cellular waste. Excessive inflammation will cause the blood to become congested and block the oxygenated blood from reaching the muscles.
Application of ice
As a first aid measure, you have to use ice instead of heat in order to minimize the swelling and inflammation on the affected body part. Take note that ice is suitable for inflammation since it slows down the flow of blood unlike with heat which increases the flow of blood. The ice must be applied within the initial 24 hours in order to reduce the inflammation. The cold will help slow down the blood flow to the affected muscle.
Continue the application of ice to the affected muscles at least 3 times in a day every 6 hours. Always make sure that the skin of the individual returns to its normal temperature before reapplying the ice. After the initial 24 hours, apply ice on the muscles once in the morning, in the afternoon and at night. The pain and inflammation must diminish within 72 hours.
When it comes to tight muscles, you have to apply heat instead of cold before any physical activity. Heat is effective once applied on tight muscles since it helps increase the elasticity, thus making them easier to stretch. If muscles are loosened before a workout, it will minimize the soreness. The ideal first aid measure is to immerse a towel in hot water and apply or wrap it on the affected area.
Important considerations to bear in mind
Both heat and ice has their own advantages and drawbacks. With this in mind, it is important to be familiar on the proper application. Ice can be utilized freely than heat. Always take note that heat has a higher risk of causing pain or even burns if not properly used. Do not apply ice or heat directly over bare skin. Always provide a protective barrier between the skin such as a cloth or towel.
It is important to have a supply of hot and cold packs in your first aid kit. These packs can provide both heat and cold when needed.