Spine Health: Heat Therapy

Apply heat to decrease muscle tension and reduce pain. Proper heat therapy application expedites healing.

      Heat is effective on the spine, torso and extremities. Heat is a common and useful form of passive, non-invasive self-treatment.

      Heat therapy dilates the blood vessels and increases circulation. The increased blood flow deliveries additional nutrients for healing and relaxation. The proper application of heat to an injury or tight muscle works to promote healing and warm the muscles.

      Apply heat later in the healing possess. Never apply heat when an injury first occurs. Wait at least 72 hours before utilizing heat therapy. Never apply heat if swelling is present.

      Heat therapy comes in multiple forms including: Moist heat packs, dry heat pads, saunas, Jacuzzis, hot showers, warm baths and Far-infrared. Each type is effective for reducing muscle tension.

      Moist or dry heat can be utilized to increase localized blood flow. Moist heat is more permeable than dry heat, thus penetrates deeper.

      Contraindications: Heat therapy is inadvisable over body parts where numbness, tingling or lack of sensation exist because the degree of heat cannot be felt. Heat therapy should not be used if the following medical conditions exist: Sunburn, burns, skin rash, open sores, swelling, bruising, circulation problems, Deep Venous Thrombosis, infections, malignant tumors, hyposensitivity to heat, hypersensitivity to heat, dehydration and in very hot temperatures.

      Application: Heat therapy should be applied over the area of pain or muscle tightness. Never apply heat therapy directly to bare skin. Protect the skin by placing towels between the heat source and skin. Overexposure to heat therapy can result in burns, skin damage and nerve damage.

      The optimum time frame for heat treatment is 10 to 15 minutes, followed by a 60 to 120-minute break. After the 60 to 120-minute break, the heat therapy may be re-applied for 10 to 15 minutes. This cycle can be repeated several times a day to reduce pain and muscle tautness.

      Combine moist heat and muscle stretching to amplify results. Stretch your neck in the shower while hot water hits the neck and upper back muscles. Place a heat pack on a tight muscle before beginning the warm-up phase of your workout. Heat therapy and stretching combine effectively to lessen muscles tension and increase flexibility.

      Self-Treatment is imperative to spine health. Proper application of heat is a key component in the healing process.

      Add the correct usage of heat therapy to your spinal health repertoire for maximum results. Utilize heat as self-treatment along with ice therapy. Combine heat and ice therapy with Chiropractic care, stretching, strengthening exercises, nutrition, supplementation and ergonomics to improve the function, mobility and health of your spine.

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