Answering the age old question: Is it better to heat or ice?

Ice PackSometimes when you are in pain you just don’t know which to do and the simplest answer if you are unsure is to do nothing.

It all depends on whether there is inflammation present or not and usually with acute injury there is. The best way of thinking about inflammation is like a small controlled camp fire, if it gets too big you want to control it with the fire extinguisher i.e: ICE, however what you don’t want to do it to pour gasoline onto it i.e: HEAT.

Heating can be useful though, as long as there has been no direct trauma and you have a general muscle ache in the shoulders, hips and legs and the muscles feel tight and tender when you push into them then heat can be used to relax said muscles and relieve the ache.

If you feel a sharp pain that hurts when you move then there probably is inflammation present so you should apply an ice pack for around 15 minutes. Just remember when applying ice, don’t ice for more than 20 minutes, leave at least 20 minutes between applications and always cover the skin (a tea towel works very well and trust me you really don’t want an ice burn!)

Sometimes heat and ice can be alternated but you have to be in the right zone for this to be effective and should only be done on the advise of your healthcare professional.


Peter Heale Chiropractor in Hitchin and LutonFrom the team at Heale's Chiropractic Clinics
Over 30 years of helping people in Hitchin and Luton and the surrounding areas of Hertfordshire and Bedfordshire

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