What is heat therapy, how does it work, and why does anyone use it?
These are common enough questions from people unfamiliar with this very practical and easily practicable treatment option. The answers are simple enough, and all based in how the body actually works.
Heat therapy, also called, thermotherapy, is the application of heat to sore, tender, injured, stiff, or otherwise ailing parts of the body to ease ills, provide comfort and relief, and soothe sore muscles, tissues, and joints. It takes advantage of the body’s natural tendency to use heat to speed recovery and accelerate the healing process, and gives the body a hand, so to speak.
Heat therapy can be as simple as a wet towel or a hot bath, or as complicated as a procedure in a doctor’s office. Disposable heating pads are probably the easiest, cleanest, and most effective and efficient method of tapping the power of heat to heal and relieve, and not to mention the most convenient! Many heating pads slip comfortably beneath clothing and hold themselves in place – but there are as many different ways to apply heat to your body as you can come up with.
Heat helps the body by loosening up muscles and tissues in the area to which it’s applied, allowing them to stretch more easily and untighten. This reduces stiffness and provides comfort in affected parts of the body.
Heat application further widens blood vessels and arteries in the heated region, increasing blood supply and the supply of oxygen and nutrients, essential to the repair of damaged tissue, speeding up the healing process.
Heat therapy can be used alone, or in conjunction with ice packs and cooling therapy. When used together, it’s best rotating the two in 10 to 15 minute stretches.