Aug 09, 2016

by Team Snapbac

It can be difficult to know when to use heat and cold therapy, but a simple rule makes it easy to remember:

  • Use COLD Therapy for acute pain or a new swollen/inflamed injury
  • Use HEAT Therapy for chronic pain or an injury that occurred more than 48 hours ago

Cold Therapy

After a workout, your body needs to "repair" itself to prepare for the next training session. Icing or cold therapy helps constrict blood vessels and flush harmful metabolic debris, like lactic acid, from tissues. It also helps slow circulation, reducing swelling, inflammation, muscle spasms, and easing pain. Cold therapy is also beneficial immediately after a muscle injury, strain or bruising to speed recovery. However, do not use cold therapy before exercise.

After an acute injury, the body releases chemicals including kinin, prostaglandin and histamine into the blood which travel towards the injury and cause inflammation. As a vasoconstrictor, cold therapy causes the blood vessels to constrict helping reduce the flow of these chemicals and can reduce swelling.

When to use Cold Therapy

  • Cold therapy is good for acute pain, sprains, strains, bumps, and bruises and overuse injuries that may occur in sports or lifting.
  • The faster you apply cold therapy following intense exertion or injury, the better. Swelling starts as soon as you stop, so slip a cold Therapy Pod in the moment you finish for best results.
  • No need to stay seated while recovering. Therapy Pods stay in place thanks to dozens of MicroGrips that fuse with the tactical mesh, so you can stretch, cool down or head home while still in recovery mode
  • Leave Therapy Pod in place from 5 to 20 minutes.
  • You can continue to intermittently use cold treatment for 24 to 48 hours after an injury.
  • Apply cold Therapy Pod to injured areas for no more than 20 minutes at a time, removing the Therapy Pod for 10 minutes before reapplying it again

Heat Therapy

Heat therapy can be used multiple ways. With injuries older than 2 days or chronic pain, tension in the muscles and soft tissue, especially around the lower spine, restricts proper circulation and sends pain signals to the brain. Heat opens up blood vessels, increasing blood flow and supplying oxygen and nutrients to reduce pain in joints and relax sore muscles, ligaments and tendons. The warmth also decreases muscle spasms and can increase range of motion.

After intense physical activity, overworked muscles can become sore because of a build up of lactic acid. After using cold therapy to reduce swelling and inflammation, heat therapy can be used to increase blood flow and promote the flushing of lactic acid from muscles.

Warming up prior to physical activity reduces the risk of injury and prepares the body to quickly and efficiently respond to nerve signals. Snapbac can accelerate this process by providing heat therapy to muscles, increasing blood flow so you don’t need to expend as much physical energy, reserving it for training or game time. Also, applying superficial heat to your body can improve the flexibility of tendons and ligaments.

When to use Heat Therapy

  • Apply heat to loosen muscles prior to a workout to increase mobility and increase joint elasticity
  • You can also apply heat if you have stiff joints, chronic muscle and joint pain or an ongoing injury
  • 48 hours after an acute injury to promote healing
  • Heat should be warm, not too hot
  • Application should not exceed 20 minutes at a time
  • It’s important NOT to use heat therapy immediately following exercise. Heat increases blood flow, which may enhance inflammation, not reduce it. However, wait for a period of time, and after any swelling has had a chance to go down, heat therapy can increase circulation and promote healthy muscle recovery and relaxation.