When To Use Heat Vs.ice What Is Better For Your Pain?  - Functional Advantage
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When To Use Heat Vs.ice What Is Better For Your Pain? 

The Misconceptions of Using Heat vs. Ice 

  • When used properly, they can be extremely effective  
  • Icing helps reduce inflammation and swelling 
  • Heat helps with sore muscles and stiff Joints 
  • Always use a barrier between heat or ice and your skin 

HEAT vs. ICE Treating pain with hot and cold can be very effective for a wide variety of different conditions and injuries. The great thing about both is they are relatively inexpensive! The tricky part is knowing what situations calls for heat and which call for ice. By default, always try ice first, we often see better reports of lasting relief with cold therapy. Here are just some general rules of thumb to go by and how each one works:


When you are using ice on an injured or painful area, you are reducing blood flow to a generalized area. Using ice can significantly reduce inflammation and swelling that causes pain. Icing also can temporarily reduce nerve activity, which can also help to relieve pain. ice should be used with acute injuries. inflammation and swelling. It can be  applied for 10-20 minutes at a time with a barrier placed between the ice.


The way heat therapy works is by improving circulation and blood flow to a specific area. When you are warming up the tissues in sore or stiff muscle you may decrease discomfort and increase muscle flexibility. Heat therapy can relax and soothe muscles. It also can have the ability to assist in healing damaged tissue. Heat can be applied to sore or stiff muscles. It can also be effective in treating chronic pain. Heat can be applied for 20-30 minutes at a time with a barrier placed between the  heating pad and skin.  
The Take Away: They key is knowing when to use cold and when to use heat! Choosing the correct option can significantly increase the effectiveness of the treatment. You can also try alternating between ice and heat to see which works best for you! 

*Do not use heat or ice if you have poor blood circulation or decreased sensation in the area you are applying. Do not apply heat to an infected or swollen area.
Functional Advantage Physical Therapy 

Neil Sauer

Neil Sauer

Physical Therapist, Certified Health Coach and company owner Neil Sauer graduated from Saginaw Valley State University in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science. During that time he played four years of collegiate soccer. Neil earned a Doctor of Physical Therapy from Central Michigan University in 2006. He has taken continuing education courses for Stanley Paris manual therapy techniques and a Gary Gray Functional Training course. He has also taken selective functional movement assessment courses with the North American Sports Medical Institute (NASMI). Neil’s treatment philosophy goes beyond reducing pain and restoring motion/mobility. He has a passion for health and wellness and for improving the quality of life of his clients, and works holistically with them to ensure their injuries do not reoccur and that his clients enjoy optimal functionality. He strives to help his patients live more active, mobile and healthy lives knowing that they don’t have to rely on pain medications, injections or surgery. In his personal life, he is married and has two sons. During spare time, he enjoys spending time with his family, fishing, spending time outdoors and leading an active and healthy life. Neil also likes to read as much as possible when he finds/makes time. He primarily reads books on leadership, business and special forces. An avid exercise enthusiast, he continually works to improve his own health and wellness.
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