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Pain, especially muscle pain, is very common as we age. If you are suffering from chronic pain from pulled muscles or arthritis, you are not alone. From cold and hot therapies to supplements to easy and affordable daily life changes, many things can help ease your pain. Keep reading to learn why and when you should use moist heat therapy for your annoying muscle pains.Heat and cold therapy are often recommended to help relieve an aching pain that results from muscle or joint damage. Keep reading to learn why moist heat therapy is our favorite! Click To Tweet
How Can Heat Therapy Help & When To Use It?
Heat therapy can enhance blood flow and circulation to a specific body area because of the increased temperature. Moreover, increasing the temperature of a particular area even by a degree can increase muscle flexibility and soothe discomfort.
In short, heat therapy can soothe and repair damaged muscles and tissues.
Types of Heat Therapy
If you weren’t aware, there are a couple of types of heat therapies: dry and moist.
Dry heat – Also known as conducted heat therapy, and typically consists of things like dry heating packs, heating pads, and saunas.
Moist heat – Microwable heating packs, steamed towels, or hot baths are slightly more effective than dry heat and take less time for the same results. It’s also known as convection heat.
Both dry and moist heat therapies are known to penetrate below the skin to alleviate soreness and pain but here’s why moist heat is our winner:
What is Moist Heat?
Moist heat therapy uses wet heat sources to relax and soothe joints, sore muscles, and ligaments. Hot baths and microwavable heating pads can provide significant relief by quickly targeting the injured muscles.
Lately, our favorite multi-use heating pads come from a company called SunnyBay. These heating pads are nicely weighted thanks to the flaxseed filling and can provide consistent moist heat. We absolutely love the combination of the weight and the heat — so soothing!
It’s a great size too! Measuring at 29 x 9 inches, the extra-long length makes it extremely versatile. You can easily use it to combat knee, shoulder, back, elbow, and neck pain — or whatever else is ailing you.
To enjoy some heat therapy, microwave the heating pad in 30-60 intervals up to a maximum of three minutes, turning in between. The heat lasts a good 15-20 minutes and is the perfect temperature to soothe sore muscles and joints.
In addition, it can also be used as a cooling pack — just pop it in the freezer until cold! However, we noticed it doesn’t quite provide an ice pack coldness but rather a cooling sensation. This makes it an excellent choice for light cold therapy, for, say, a headache!
The cover is made of super-soft cotton that feels like your favorite t-shirt, and it’s removable and washable to make clean-up a breeze! Meanwhile, the flaxseed bladder is quilted into sections to keep the seeds from gathering at one end.
Moreover, SunnyBay also offers this particular hot cold pack in a lavender-scented version if you also want to participate in aromatherapy. So, you can soothe your mind and muscles at the same time. It’s a great find!
What are the Benefits of Heat Therapy?
When you compare dry and moist heat therapy, the latter can penetrate the skin deeper and faster, getting through the muscles, where the root cause of the pain lies. Studies that compare these two pain therapies found that a greater amount of pain is relieved with moist heat, probably due to the increased blood flow to the area.
There are more benefits of applying moist heat therapy at home than dry heat, such as:
- Moist heat is more effective in reaching deeper tissues
- Moist heat can penetrate better at the same temperature
- Many healthcare providers prefer moist heat over dry therapy for the following ailments: stiffness, pain, and muscle spasms
- Moist heat can change tissue temperatures more rapidly, causing temperature receptors to respond more quickly
How Does Ice Reduce Inflammation?
Cold therapy or cryotherapy decreases blood flow to a specific area, reducing swelling and inflammation that leads to pain around tendons and joints.
- Frozen gel packs or ice packs
- Coolant sprays
- Ice baths
- Ice massage
When To Apply Cold Therapy
For home treatments, consider applying ice packs wrapped in a towel shortly after the injury or put the injured part in an ice bath ASAP. Remember, don’t apply frozen items directly to the skin surface as it can cause severe skin and tissue damage.
You should do cold therapy in short 10-15 bursts a few times a day. For best results, elevate the injured area while icing.
Do you prefer ice or heat for muscle pain?
Krystle Cook – the creator of Home Jobs by MOM – put her psychology degree on a shelf and dived into a pile of diapers and dishes instead. She is a wife and mother to two rambunctious boys, sweating it out in her Texas hometown. She loves cooking, DIY home projects, and family fun activities.