If you are a regular Yoga practitioner, there is something you can hardly avoid. Injuries. They may come in any form. It could be lower back injuries or bulging disks from forward back bends;the knee tears from pigeon pose/warrior pose/lotus pose;hamstring pull;wrist strain or neck strain.
By being careful and alert you can avoid them to maximum possible extent. However many a times, you hurt yourself trying to attain a little more perfection in some pose. So, the first thing that comes into mind when you injure yourself, is how to relieve yourself from the pain.
Many would suggest you to look for an ice pack while others will ask you to apply something hot. So, which one is correct to use? I was always confused whether I should treat the injury with a cold ice pack or apply something hot to it.
Finally I got some understanding in this topic. Please note I am not a medical person, the views I have collected is from my own research and experience. If you have more understanding on this topic, I welcome you to share your views.
Heat vs Cold Therapy
Heat and cold are the most common solutions followed in case of an injury. However if not applied with proper suggestion, it can aggravate the injury.
What happens if ice/anything cold is applied.
Applying anything cold to the injury will slow down the blood flow in that injured area. This will alleviate pain and reduce inflammation. Hence, it is suggested to use ice pack or anything cold when the area is swollen or bruised.
How to apply cold in the injured area.
It is never suggested to apply anything cold or hot directly to the skin. You can wrap the ice pack or cold packs in a thin towel and then apply on the injured area.
Don’t put the ice pack for more than 20 minutes. You can remove the ice pack after an interval say 5 minutes, 10 minutes and then reapply.
It is suggested to use cold/ice pack for 24-48 hours after an injury.
Cold therapy is good for sprains, strains, bumps, and bruises that may occur in sports or lifting. Apply cold packs or ice bags to injured areas for no more than 20 minutes at a time, removing the cold for 10 minutes and reapplying it again.
Well we all know heat expands. Hence heat also expands the blood vessels, which results in an increased amount of blood flow and oxygen supplies to the injured area.
The warmth helps in decreasing any spasms and helps in relaxing sore muscles, ligaments and tendons.
So, you can apply heat to any joint pains or chronic pains or in case of stiff joints.
How is it applied?
Again never apply heat directly to the pain area. Wrap the source in the thin towel and then apply.Heat can be applied by using hot water bottles, heating pad (electric or microwavable). Also, the temperature should be consistent and warm and not hot.
Also, we have two types of heat therapy : Dry heat and moist heat.
- Dry heat, such as electric heating pads and saunas. It removes the moisture from the skin and can leave it dehydrated. However because of the ease of convenience it is mostly used.
- Moist heat can be used in the form of hot baths, steamed towels. Because of heat’s penetration into the muscles people feel better relief and prefer it.
Just like cold therapy one should not apply heat for more than 20 minutes. In case of swelling, use cold first and then heat.
Heat therapy should not be applied in case of :
Heat application is also not suitable in the following cases:
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Peripheral vascular disease
- Open wound
- Severe cognitive impairment
In case the pain remains or there is no improvement, please consult your physician.