When we get injured or when something hurts, there is always someone who recommends us to get warm and suddenly another person appears who recommends that you get cold; or we decide to get warm because we don’t like the cold, or vice versa. Who do we pay attention to? Are we doing good? To put an end to this doubt, I will briefly explain when and how we should apply them.

When and how to apply cold cryotherapy

It is applied in situations where the injury has just occurred or during the inflammatory phase, that is, at most during the first three days after an injury.

Cryotherapy – General use of ice in acute injuries

his short video briefly explains what cryotherapy is, the effects it produces, the forms of application and the risks involved in the incorrect use of cryotherapy.

The best way of application from my point of view is to put several ice cubes in a towel, join the ends and hit the towel to crush the ice. In this way we avoid a possible cold burn by having the towel and we achieve that it adapts correctly to the place of the injury, to the body contour.

If your injury is recent, we recommend three applications of cold for ten minutes. Between the different applications (each application) should elapse at least two hours.

By putting on ice we are reducing inflammation, preventing the accumulation of oxidative substances and preventing the death of cells that are close to the injury.

What injuries can I apply ice to ?

Keep in mind that cold can only be applied during the first three days in case of:

  • overloads
  • Fiber breakage
  • Hits
  • sprains
  • dislocations
  • fractures
  • tendinitis

When should I not get cold ?

On the following occasions we should not apply the cold:

  • After the period of acute inflammation, that is, after three days of performing the injury, as we would delay the time and quality of tissue repair.
  • Before exercising: the cold has a sedative effect, and if we applied cold to the area before training it would be anesthetized and we could injure ourselves without knowing it. At the same time, this decrease in temperature causes the fabric to become less elastic and lose strength.
  • If you suffer from hypersensitivity to cold, do not think of using it. There are people allergic to cold, who can have serious skin reactions if they use it. Nor in cases of vasospasm, circulatory problems or serious diagnosed heart problems.

Precautions to take when using cold on an injury

We must be careful with the use of ice. Follow the following recommendations:

  • Never use ice directly on the skin. Always use a towel or cloth that gets between the ice and your skin.
  • Never exceed 40 minutes of application, as we could create paralysis due to cold and skin burns.

Thermotherapy – When and how ?

We can apply heat as long as the inflammatory phase mentioned above has passed (three days after the injury). The application time will be approximately 20 minutes.

By applying heat we are producing an increase in blood in the area, a decrease in blood pressure and a sedative effect due to muscle relaxation and relief of muscle fatigue.

There are different methods of applying heat such as electric blankets, bags of seeds, mud, paraffin, infrared lamp, etc. There is no big difference between putting on one thing or another, since the heat that we are going to produce will always be superficial, so if you have a bag of seeds at home, do not buy an electric blanket because someone has told you that it is better.

What injuries can I apply heat to ?

Please note that heat can only be applied after the first three days in case of:

  • Contractures
  • Strain injuries
  • Bad posture
  • Rigidity
  • Before training (to increase flexibility and prevent injuries)

When should I not get hot ?

It is essential not to apply heat in case of:

  • There is inflammation, that is, if the area is hot, red and swollen
  • During the first three days after a blow, sprain or fracture (since then the inflammation is still present)
  • In cases of anesthesia or altered sensitivity (we must take special care due to the risk of burns)
  • Infectious processes, decompensated heart disease, or in case of alterations in blood pressure such as severe hypotension

Precautions to take when using heat on an injury

We must be careful when applying heat, since we can burn our skin without realizing it. We have to notice intense but pleasant heat and it is recommended to check the area after a while to verify that no burn has occurred.

Simultaneous use of cold and heat: contrast baths

Surely you have heard about contrast baths, in which both cold and heat are used. This technique has been used since ancient times, but it is necessary to know the correct application to promote the healing of injuries.

Key points

  • The cold must be applied when an injury has occurred recently, that is, during its first three days, since it is in the acute phase. Its application should be about three times for ten minutes and with a duration between each application of at least two hours.
  • Do not apply cold after acute inflammation, before exercise or in case of hypersensitivity to cold.
  • Do not apply the cold directly on the skin or exceed 40 minutes of application.
  • The heat should be applied after the acute phase, and with a duration of about 20 minutes.
  • Do not apply heat while there is inflammation, that is, the area is red, hot and swollen, in cases of altered sensitivity or infectious processes, decompensated heart disease and severe hypotension.

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