Bay Life Centre

July 2021

The primary function of heat in an injury setting, is to cause an increase in blood flow and relax tight musculature.

We discussed how ice is used in an acute setting (1st 48 hrs after an injury) -thus to reduce the inflammatory response, avoiding a backup of red blood cells.

Heat will then be used in the phases to follow: a sub-acute and chronic phase once the acute phase has passed (after 48hrs) to encourage blood to the area to deliver O2 and nutrients and there for promoting healing.

Heat will also relax the muscles which will further take pressure or tension off the injured area, thus allowing for a faster recovery. We have found that applying heat for no longer then twenty minutes and then allowing twenty to pass before re applying and repeating 3 to 4 times a day.

Why do we use heat and cold in combination?  

This is when we want to create creates a pumping action to increase the amount of blood that moves through an area or region of the body, for example chronic tendon injury to the Achilles tendon (tendinosis). A tendon has an extremely poor natural blood supply, therefor we need to encourage the blood flow to the injured tendon to encourage healing. Thus, we use the combination of both to be more aggressive in this situation.


Always ask yourself… are you trying to speed up recovery? Or control pain?

Ice for pain – 1st 48hours after injury.

Heat thereafter and no longer than 20minutes.

Moist heat penetrates deeper and faster (e.g., moist heating packs, baths)

Dry heat: an electric heating pad or sauna draws moister out you body and is less effective.

Combine both (heat and ice) when you want to promote healing in long standing injuries (Chronic)

Heat and ice in combination: 15 minutes heat and 5 minutes of ice – repeated twice.

Do not use heat directly after exercise.

Do not use heat if there is still swelling present.

Do not burn yourself.

Another great use for heat is keeping warm in winter and remember movement is LIFE.

Tarnia and Joshua

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