I picked up the baby and twisted my knee.
I worked all day on the computer and now I can't turn my head.
These are all examples of how we can hurt ourselves doing ordinary things. Since we cannot avoid ordinary, how do we deal with life's aches and pains. Do I ice it? Do I put heat on it? What is a person to do?
Here is a quick rule of thumb. Use heat for chronic pain or an injury that is more than 2 days old. Overworked muscles are sore due to a build up of lactic acid. When an area of the body has been stressed or damaged, lactic acid does not get flushed out of the system and is soothed by heat therapy, which restores blood flow around the sore area. If you have a chronic injury, apply heat before exercise.
Use cold for acute pain or a new or swollen/inflamed injury. When you have an injury, the damaged tissue can become inflamed, which manifests itself in pain, swelling or redness. Ice and cold numbs the injury. The raise in temperature narrows blood vessels and slows down the blood flow that builds up in the injured area. Cold controls inflammation and swelling, but does not treat pain. Oftentimes the pain is a result of swelling, so you will feel better. Since the cold numbs the area, be sure to remove the ice once the area is numb.
I seem to be a bit swollen!