Larry A. Law
When to Use Heat
For muscle aches and pains, applying heat will help increase blood flow to the wounded area; this will encourage healing while soothing the pain and increasing flexibility. As blood flow increases, the flow of oxygen and nutrients does too. In addition, waste material is cleaned out quicker too. Heat is especially good for joint pain and as a pre-workout warm-up. Gel packs or heated water bottles work well and don't pose the risk associated with electric heating pads (electromagnetic fields—EMF). In general, pain that is chronic and not related to swelling responds best to heat treatments. As with ice, apply the heat for only 20 minutes at hourly intervals and use a barrier between your skin and the heating source.