Your muscles may get overworked and exhausted from time to time, and it is only natural that you seek suitable relief. Hot therapy and cold therapy are some of the ways to relieve fatigue and enhance muscle recovery.
Heat therapy may involve the use of a warm bath, heated pads, or hot water bottle. On the other hand, cold therapy or cryotherapy can be a cold water bottle, frozen pad, or cool water. Therefore, what is the most suitable method for your muscle recovery?
In some cases, using both hot and cold therapy approaches alternatively may be the best solution.
When heat is applied to an inflamed area, the blood vessels in the region dilate, promoting blood flow. In turn, aching and stiff muscles unwind. Enhanced circulation will remove the buildup of lactic acid that accumulates at the time of exercise or rigorous activities.
Advantages of heat therapy include:
- Heat therapy relaxes stiff muscles
Heat therapy is most suitable during muscle spasming to encourage blood vessel dilation and release of accumulated lactic acid waste in the muscles.
- Heat therapy is part of the training process for athletes
When athletes compete in hotter climates, they rely on saunas to adapt their bodies to foreign temperatures. After a workout, athletes also use saunas to loosen their tensed muscles.
However, heat therapy is not for all individuals, especially those with a recent injury or inflammation. It is also vital that people adopting heat therapy are well hydrated to prevent excessive water loss while at the sauna.
This method has been used for years by doctors and caregivers to ease pain, reduce inflammation and initiate the muscle recovery process. In the fitness world, cryotherapy is gaining popularity due to its ability to hasten the recovery process for athletes.
The benefits of cold therapy include:
- Diminish inflammation
Cryotherapy stops muscles from progressive inflammation, lowering the risk of permanent injury and soreness.
- Treat Current Muscle Injuries
Acute injuries such as sprained muscles reduce swelling while simultaneously preventing inflammation.
Likewise, cryotherapy is not suitable for all individuals. People discouraged from using cold therapy include those with heart conditions, pregnant women, high blood pressure, and some autoimmune conditions.
Other than hot or cold therapy, muscle recovery depends on a healthy diet, good sleep, and hydration.