Physiotherapists and medical professionals have long used both hot and cold for treating injuries and pains. Sports people apply cold packs on muscles after heavy exercise, they use hot packs to reduce tightness and pain in muscles. Hot and cold is a very effective treatment method of muscles and the body.
The effects of heat:
- causes blood vessels to expand, increasing blood supply
- increases circulation, bringing fresh blood to the heated muscles
- helps the body get rid of waste products (increases the lymph function)
- increases the metabolism
- makes muscles and tissue relax as they expand
Too much heat isn’t good either – and I’m not talking about burning – as it makes the body try to get rid of the excess heat, including taking blood away from the central organs and the brain. This leads to a feeling of being relaxed, woozy and light-headed, just wanting to sleep so the body can recover and find its balance again.
The effects of cold:
- causes blood vessels to contract, sending blood and fluid away from the cooled area
- the body’s pain relievers are released, numbing pain
- constricts blood-flow to areas exterior to the cooled area
- stops muscle spasms and relaxes the muscles
Too much cold makes the body send warm rich blood to the area that’s cold, eventually taking heat from the internal organs.
Combining the two and alternating between hot and cold creates an even more powerful reaction. The effect is something called vascular gymnastics, a sort of roller-coaster effect between the two different effects. The outcome is greater than the effect.