The use of heating pads after a workout is a topic of hot debate, although most people recommend it just as long as there is no swelling. Even if you don’t feel muscle soreness right away, it may still come over the next several hours or so.
This is often referred to as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), and is usually experienced by beginners.
Fitness experts can also experience it too if they are training and push a bit too hard. Soreness is caused due to small microscopic tears that occur during exercise. These tears are actually good, since they lead to a stronger regrowth.
Many experts would recommend using ice rather than heat when it comes to injuries. However, ice is ideal for acute injuries and heat is better for chronic soreness that lasts for more than a few days. If there is swelling, redness, or bruising, you will want to use cold therapy to help the swelling go down.
If there are no signs of an acute injury, however, you might want to use a heating pad to help prevent post-workout soreness. Taking a bath in warm water and Epsom salt after a workout is ideal as well.
Heating packs can also be applied prior to a workout to help prevent soreness, or minimize the amount of pain you would normally feel later on.
For best results, you need to know how to use a heating pad correctly. Here are a few tips on how to safely use one:
- If you do use an electric heating pad, start with a low setting. Maintain the same temperature for the duration of the session. Once you start getting used to the heating therapy, you can begin slowly increasing the temperature.
- Never, ever fall asleep with any type of heat pack on. You could end up with a nasty burn.
- Many experts recommend using moist heat in order to avoid drying your skin out, even if dry heat feels better.
- Only use a heating pad for fifteen to twenty minutes at a time, even if it lasts longer. Take a break from use after ever twenty minutes.
It’s ideal to use therapy before working out. Only use it after working out when the swelling has gone down, or there is no swelling. Trying to heat swelling skin will only increase the inflammation. This is where ice therapy comes in.
Heat therapy is convenient, as it can be done by anyone and for little cost. Reusable electrical heat packs are the most cost-effective, as they can outlast the parts in an electric unit.
Not only does heating therapy help relieve soreness from a workout, it also makes a workout easier for individuals who suffer from conditions such as Fibromyalgia. Heat helps to relax tense muscles and promotes a better range of motion.
As long as you follow safety tips and instructions, you will find a heat pack to be beneficial for pre-workout and post-workout.