GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR RECOVERY
When you experience muscle pain, it can be challenging to find a solution. Fortunately, contrast therapy exists and may help reduce the pain and restore mobility in your muscles. This post will review what contrast therapy is, how it works, and some of the benefits of this treatment option. You'll also learn about what to expect when you go through contrast therapy.
What is muscle pain?
Muscle pain is a common condition that can affect your entire body. It's typically caused by overuse, injury, or inflammation in the muscles and occurs when they become too stiff to move appropriately. Lower back pain is one of the most common types of muscle pain.
This type of pain often appears gradually instead of suddenly after an accident or acute event, such as a fall. There are many causes of muscle pain, including doing the same activity over and over again without giving your body enough time to rest between workouts, intense or long-term exercise, lack of proper hydration, poor posture, high blood pressure, genetics lifestyle factors such as stress, lack of sleep and smoking.
Types of muscle pain:
When it comes to your muscles, four different types of pain can occur soreness (spasm), injury, inflammation, and tension. For example, if you overwork your muscles by lifting a heavy box at work or strain one of them during exercise, this causes muscle soreness.
In most cases, the pain will subside after a few days as long as you're giving your body enough time to rest and recover between workouts. If it doesn't, then there's a chance you may have injured your muscle. This is when the pain persists for an extended time, even after you've rested and given your body enough time to recover.
Inflammation causes severe, stabbing, or throbbing pain along with redness and swelling in tissues surrounding a joint, though it can also occur alone. Inflammation occurs when your immune system releases chemicals into your blood to fight infections or irritants, such as toxins from bacteria. When inflammation occurs in the muscles of people with arthritis, it can cause stiffness and swelling that restricts movement.
Tension is another type of pain related to muscle injury. It happens when one or more muscles are strained during an activity instead of one specific muscle. For example, when you experience tension in your back muscles after lifting heavy boxes at work all day long, this means they're overworked and strained.
What is contrast therapy?
Contrast therapy is a type of treatment that applies heat to reduce pain before applying cold packs or ice to the same area for relief afterward. Contrast therapy is more commonly known as hot and cold therapy or spray and stretch.
This treatment is a type of hydrotherapy that takes advantage of the fact that cold temperatures can temporarily numb nerve endings, which will help to decrease any existing or ongoing swelling and discomfort. Using hot water packs before applying cold ones on top of them will also increase blood flow to your skin's surface as well as release built-up tension in your muscles.
You can perform this treatment using various tools, including traditional gel ice packs or cold compresses that you place on top of hot water bags filled with either hot tap water or boiling it from the kettle beforehand to reduce its temperature more quickly. Both options will work just fine, but be sure not to use boiling water on any open wounds or areas of your body where the skin is broken, as it could cause further damage.
You can also similarly use hot and cold compresses to treat injured muscles by placing them directly on top of one another for six minutes before alternating between both packs every two to three minutes until you've finished using this treatment.
This treatment is beneficial for treating bruises or fractures, as well as reducing swelling and relieving cramping that occurs in either your legs or arms after strenuous physical activity sessions. You should use this treatment immediately following any accidents to reduce pain and discomfort until you're able to seek medical attention if necessary.
How does contrast therapy work?
Contrast therapy works by increasing blood flow in your muscles, reducing inflammation, and speeding up the healing process. The heat from hot packs or warm water causes blood vessels to dilate, increasing the flow of blood and oxygen in your muscles.
As soon as you apply cold packs or ice, this causes your blood vessels to constrict (tighten), which reduces inflammation while slowing down circulation. This is what causes the increased pain at first that turns into relief once it's gone away. Hot and cold therapy aims to increase blood flow, reduce inflammation, and speed up the healing process.
Which type of muscle pain is it best for?
Contrast therapy is typically used to treat muscle pain caused by overuse, injury, or inflammation in the muscles. It can also be helpful if you have arthritis and experience tension after long periods of physical activity without rest. Some people may use this treatment on their knee joints or lower backs when they feel sharp pains due to inflammation, injury, or overuse of the muscles in these areas.
Contrast therapy benefits:
Applying hot packs to your muscle causes it to dilate, increasing blood flow and lessening pain. The cold pack then constricts (tightens) the vessels that carry fresh oxygenated blood throughout your body, which causes increased pain. Once this passes, your muscles will feel less stiff and sore throughout the day.
Slows Down Damage:
This treatment reduces any risk of further injury and reduces muscle soreness that you might be experiencing from overuse or a previous injury. The cold packs prevent blood vessels from expanding too quickly after being heated with heat packs, which helps prevent muscle damage.
A lack of blood flow to your muscles can cause them to become stiff and swollen the next day if you don't perform this treatment regularly after a workout or physical activity session. Contrast therapy reduces any risk of becoming too stiff by increasing blood flow in your muscles during and after your workout.
Soothes Chronic Pain:
It's common for people with arthritis to experience inflammation in their muscles, causing them to tense up and become stiff or swollen without rest. Contrast therapy can be used regularly throughout the day when you feel like this is happening, which will ease any pain you might be feeling.
Prevents Muscle Spasms:
Your muscles can go into a state of extreme tension, causing them to contract or cramp without any warning. If you experience this regularly throughout the day, using contrast therapy with hot and cold packs could reduce your risk of experiencing these painful spasms in the future.
Speeds up Recovery Time:
If you've just worked out or completed a long day of physical activity, contrast therapy can help to speed up the recovery process. This is especially true if you use hot and cold packs on your muscles immediately after an intense workout session before going to bed for the night.
If you're engaging in high-impact sports or strenuous physical activity, using contrast therapy can help prevent injuries before they occur. The increased blood flow to your muscles during the hot pack phase of this treatment will make them feel less stiff and sore after an intense workout or sports session.
Swelling in your muscles can cause a significant amount of pain and discomfort, which may make it challenging to move that part of the body without feeling sharp pains. Using contrast therapy before or after you feel like this is occurring will reduce swelling and help with any ongoing injuries.
If you've been experiencing sharp pains in your muscles due to cramping, contrast therapy can help prevent this from happening again. The increased blood flow and reduced swelling that occur during the hot pack portion of this treatment will allow you to experience less pain throughout the day when applied regularly after strenuous physical activity sessions or long periods without rest.
Performing this treatment immediately after you've experienced an injury will decrease the amount of time it takes for bruises to go away, which can help reduce any pain or discomfort you feel due to bleeding underneath your skin.
How to do contrast therapy with recoup sleeves
- Use Recoup Cryosleeve & Thermosleeve - apply affected area in this solution for 15 minutes, making sure you switch between hot and cold every two to three minutes so that neither pack becomes too uncomfortable or painful to keep immersed in it for extended periods.
- Repeat this process every few hours throughout the day to ease swelling, pain, or discomfort caused by injuries or overuse from strenuous physical activity sessions until your skin begins to return to average temperature and coloration.
How long does it take?
It takes about 15 to 30 minutes for contrast therapy to start working, depending on which part of your body you're using it on and how regularly you perform this treatment throughout the day. You should expect to use cold packs immediately after hot water has been applied, as they will only take a few seconds before becoming too cold to use.
Ice and heat contrast therapy can be highly beneficial if you use it regularly to prevent injuries, relieve pain, and speed up recovery. Contrast therapy can help reduce muscle pain by causing specific physiological responses within the body that make these benefits possible.
The increased blood flow during hot packs speeds up your muscles' ability to recover from strenuous physical activity sessions or injury while also preventing swelling and bruising. Cold packs can relieve any pain or discomfort caused by injuries, cramping, or overuse of your muscles during strenuous physical activity sessions while also decreasing the time it takes for bruises to go away.
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