Hot and cold packs are known to be a safe and efficient way of managing pain. However, few people know the benefits or the procedure to use both hot and cold packs to relieve pain in the affected area, otherwise known as contrast therapy.
Contrast therapy is essentially managing pain, reducing inflammation and enhancing recovery by alternating between hot and cold therapy in a repetitive manner. This type of therapy proves to be more effective in chronic pain relief than using hot or cold therapy on its own.
Factors to Consider
The efficacy of contrast therapy depends on a number of factors as listed below:
· The temperature of the packs
· The amount of time each pack is applied
· The number of times you need to alternate between the packs
· Which therapy you should begin and end with, hot or cold
Generally, the nature of these factors depends upon the location, type and seriousness of the injury.
The Basic Contrasting Method
Muscular injuries, back and neck pain, arthritis pain, tennis elbow and dental pain can all be alleviated using the basic method of contrasting hot and cold packs.
· Start with the hot pack (2 min); relieves pain by increasing blood flow
· Then cool with an ice pack (1 min); reduces inflammation and relieves pain by numbing the nerves
· Heat pack again and make it hotter this time (2 min)
· Cool again and make the ice pack colder (1 min)
· Heat for the last time, make it as hot as you can handle (2 min)
· Cool for the last time, make it as cold as you can handle (1 min)
This basic method of contrasting is known to provide pain relief and aid in the healing process. Just make sure that you always heat or cool the pack to a bearable temperature so it doesn’t hurt you.
Some Tips and Tricks
Hot and cold pack contrast therapy is not only effective but easy to follow as well, all you really need are good quality hot and cold packs. Following are some tips that make the process even simpler.
· Vary the temperature according to your comfort level. If anything gets too hot or too cold, remove the pack immediately and let the injury breathe for some time before you restart the treatment
· The ideal temperature for hot packs depends on the type of injury you have, but generally a hot pack should be hot enough, not mildly warm for it to be effective
· As a rule, end your session with a ice pack. This not only reduces inflammation but numbs the nerves enough to render pain relief for a longer time
· If your injury is preventing normal range of motion and you want to stretch the muscles out to hurry up the healing process, then do it during the hot pack cycle. The heat causes the muscles to relax and increases blood flow that helps in the stretching phase
The efficacy of hot and cold pack contrasting therapy is greatly affected by the quality of the packs used in the process. Check us out online to learn more about the best personalized ice packs.