You are most prone to injury after long periods of physical inactivity, often in winter. This lack of physical activity leaves your muscles prone to pulls and sprains. Some injuries can be severe and require the care of a doctor, but for many of the minor aches and pains associated with being active, home treatment with hot and cold therapy can do a world of good.
Common injuries to body parts that you may experience from exercising include damage done to joints. For instance, because of the impact, runners often develop pain and tenderness in the knees. Shin splints, pain along the shin bone, are also common, especially among new runners. Tears or stretches in the Achilles tendon can happen to someone participating in several sports. Sprains and strains can also occur during most types of activities. A sprain is a tear in a ligament. A strain is a tear or a twist in a muscle. Both can be painful but are not usually serious.
Most common sports injuries that are not severe can be treated at home with either hot or cold therapy. However, if an injury is severe, you need to seek medical care right away. Get help if you are experiencing severe pain, any numbness in the area of the injury, significant swelling, or if you can’t put any weight on the injury.
If your injury is not severe, follow the RICE acronym:
- Rest the part of you that is injured.
- Ice it to reduce pain and swelling.
- Compress the injury with wraps to reduce swelling further.
- Elevate the injured area.
Immediate care from either a medical professional or at home using the RICE steps is essential for keeping your injury from getting worse. When you have mild, but chronic pain, using regular hot and cold therapy can be an excellent way to reduce pain and inflammation while keeping you active. Heat therapy is useful for chronic pain and stiffness in muscles or joints because heat increases the flow of blood and relaxes tight muscles and other tissues. Chronic pains are common in people who are active because they often result from overusing muscles and joints.
Cold therapy is better for acute injuries, which include sprains and strained muscles and also for reducing inflammation. Always keep an ice pack in the freezer so that you have a cold pack ready to go for these types of unexpected injuries. Wraps are great for keeping the cold therapy in place, where it’s needed. Never keep a cold wrap in place for longer than 20 minutes and wait ten minutes before applying to the same area again.
Injuries, aches, and pains are not unusual for active people, especially when getting back to sports after long periods of inactivity. Using heat and cold therapy can bring you relief from pain and swollen muscles and can help to get you back in the game.