Heat therapy as a treatment for soothing aching muscles in the back has been in use since before recorded history, a restorative for tired regions of the spine. Use of everything from hot baths to heating pads has exploded in popularity in the West as the therapy’s efficacy at easing the body’s ails has become increasingly well-known.
Heat therapy is so effective because of the three channels it activates that get the body working to soothe itself:
1. Stretching of soft tissues
One of the most common reasons for the employment of heat therapy is stiff, sore muscles around the lumbar region of the spine. What heat therapy does here is to stretch and relax the muscles it’s applied to, allowing them to untighten and ease into more natural positions.
2. Dilating skin and muscle blood vessels
Another prime function of heat therapy is its dilation of blood vessels in the skin and muscles of the back. This widening of vessels increases the blood flow to the areas where the heat is applied, raising oxygen and nutrient levels and leading to more rapid repair of damaged tissue.
3. Stimulating dermal sense receptors
Heat therapy activates sensation in the skin where it’s used, effectively crowding out a portion of signals from stiff and sore muscles of the back. Because of the brain’s limited ability to handle incoming sensation, anything you do that raises sensory “noise” to the brain – from pinching yourself to heating sore parts – can be effective at reducing the effects of tender muscles.
When it comes to treating muscle soreness, the application of heat can be very beneficial. For centuries, athletes have known that in order to avoid serious injury and recover faster, aching muscles should be warmed. Even non-athletes can attest to the healing powers of a hot bath or shower; you’ve probably experienced this at some point in your life. Today, many medical professionals recommend the use of heat packs to relieve pain and prevent muscle stiffness.
So, how does heat treat injury?
First, increasing the temperature of a certain area also increases circulation and blood flow. This helps your body to heal itself faster by bringing more nutrients to the area. Increased circulation can also carry away toxins that result from trauma. Second, heat feels good to most people. We instinctively associate heat with comfort and safety. According to Physiotherapist John Miller, “the heat stimulates your sensory receptors to block the transmission of pain signals to the brain, resulting in an instant and effective pain relief.” *So, even if the pain is still there, it’s less noticeable. Last, heat improves tissue elasticity and allows your tense muscles to relax. This is similar to the effects of getting a massage.
What’s the best way to apply heat?
Perhaps the most convenient way to apply heat to aching muscles is with a heat pack. They can be applied anytime, anywhere, with minimal interruption to your day. Having a hot bath feels wonderful, but it also takes time and can typically only be done at home. An electric heating pad is also a terrific alternative, but the electrical cord can cause movement limitations. A heat pack is not dependent on electricity or water; it allows you to continue with work or other daily activities while relieving your pain. Some heat packs even have an adhesive backing that you stick to your clothes this allows them to stay in place during a full range of motion. The pad should never be applied directly to the skin but on the outside of the clothing, therefore tight fitted clothing is recommended to get the best transfer of heat to the affected area.
Some guidelines for heat application:
- Never use a heat pack or heating device while sleeping. Even low heat has the potential to cause burns if left unattended. And always apply to the outside of an article of clothing.
- Women who are pregnant should never place a heat source near the abdomen as this can cause overheating or damage to an unborn child.
- Diabetic patients should consult their physician before using a heat pack since it may be harder for them to judge whether a heat pack is too hot.
In many cases, a heat pack can be the answer to muscle soreness, stiffness, and aches. The application of warmth not only provides immediate relief of pain, but also speeds up the recovery process. Heat stimulates circulation, relaxation and tissue elasticity. For athletes and active individuals, heat treatment can aid in getting back to normal activities after experiencing trauma. A heat pack can even stop muscles from “seizing up” after repeated training sessions and encourage physical improvement. Whatever the cause of muscle discomfort, it is clear that the use of heat can be extremely beneficial. As Physiotherapist John Miller noted, “a heat pack could be the best investment you make this year”.
As compared to many other therapies, heat therapy is extremely affordable, and in some cases, completely free (such as taking hot bath). You can use heat therapy (or heating pads) at your home while relaxing, or even at your work.
Heating therapy facilitates stretching the soft tissues, including connective tissue, muscles or adhesions. Ultimately, with heating pads or heating therapy, a decrease in stiffness as well as injury will be noticed, and you will also become more flexible. Flexibility is really crucial for healthy muscles.
Hotteeze have been used in Australian private and public aged care facilities, hospitals and Physiotherapy clinics since 2005.
People who are not physically mobile can feel cold even on a hot day.
Hotteeze body warmers, hand warmers, and toe warmers can be a cost-effective comfort for the elderly and infirm.
Benefits of Hotteeze
Since wheat bags and hot water bottles have been discontinued due to safety concerns, Hotteeze provide a wonderful solution for people craving the comfort of localised heat because they are;
1. One use only
This limits the risk of cross infection between patients
Staff don't have to keep reheating them as they last for up to 16 hours
3. Made in Japan
Hotteeze Heat Pads pass the strictest of quality standards
What to be Careful of
Do not apply to people who are too frail to recognise how hot the heat pad feels. There are risks of low temperature burns if you keep applying to the same place day after day. For some elderly, their skin is thin so care must be taken. Make sure they move the pad to a different place a few times a day.
Try sticking a Hotteeze on a pillow and covering with a pillowcase to help protect frail skin. NEVER apply directly to skin. Hotteeze are designed to create moist heat and needs a layer of clothes to allow the skin to lightly sweat- ensuring a deeper heat.
For a Safety Data sheet email email@example.com
Natural Heat Therapy
What are the benefits of heat therapy?
Clinical studies have found that moist heat therapy, like that produced by Hotteeze Heat Pads, is an effective, non-invasive and drug-free option for the treatment of many health conditions. (Download a Guide for Clinicians)
Heat therapy can provide relief to sufferers of:
- Back pain
- Muscle spasms and tight muscles
- Mild arthritis and joint stiffness
- And a range of other conditions.
How Does it Work?
The application of moist heat helps blood vessels relax and open up, increasing the flow of blood, nutrients and oxygen to the affected area. This relieves pain and helps the area to heal, via the quick regeneration of damaged tissues and the removal of toxins from the area. It also increases the ability of the muscle tendon unit to relax and stretch, thereby easing muscle stiffness and improving joint mobility and flexibility.
The application of heat also switches on heat receptors at the site of pain, which in turn block the effect of the chemical messengers that cause pain to be detected by the body. This means the brain focuses more on the heat and less on the feeling of pain, reducing pain and discomfort (King et al 2006).
Lower Back Pain
According to clinical studies, persons suffering from lower back pain report significant pain relief following the use of continuous, low-level heat therapy, with relief persisting for up to 24 hours after therapy (Steiner et al 2000). Heat therapy has been found to provide greater relief for lower back pain than ice therapy, Naproxen, Ibuprofen and Paracetamol (Denghan & Farahbod 2014; Nadler et al 2002).
Muscle Soreness and Flexibility
Application of moist heat therapy has been shown to help reduce athletic injuries and improve muscle and ligament flexibility (Petrofsky, Laymon & Lee 2003). Heat therapy can increase soft tissue flexibility, tissue blood flow and muscle resistance; improve contraction of smooth muscles and muscles' motor function; and decrease muscle seizures (Szymanski 2001; Kent 2006).
Continuous, low-level heat, applied after exercise, has been found to reduce delayed-onset muscle soreness (Petrofsky 2017; Weingand 1999). Heat therapy following exercise also decreased the amount of muscle strength lost, preserved muscle activity, and prevented elastic tissue damage (Petrosfky 2013; Petrofsky 2015).
Mild Arthritis and Joint Pain
Moist heat therapy has been found to be effective in alleviating pain, and improving stiffness and gait impairment in patients with knee osteoarthritis, with the effects persisting for at least 6 weeks after application (Seto 2008). Heat application every other day has also been shown to improve the sub-dimensions of quality of life scores of physical function, pain and general health perception of patients with knee osteoarthritis (Yildrim, Ulusory & Bodur 2010).
Patients with wrist pain associated with strains, sprains and osteoarthritis reported greater pain relief following continuous, low-level heat therapy, when compared with a placebo. Pain relief progressively increased with each successive day of therapy, and persisted for two days after therapy was stopped. Patients also experienced a significant increase in grip strength (Michlovitz 2002).