When dealing with pulled muscles from over-exertion or your environment, you have to be careful of fire. Pretty much any time you utilize heat or cold therapy in certain scenarios, you'll need someone reliable who could help monitor the treatment for both to be most effective. So, on the subject of injuries which are called pulled hamstrings, it is obvious that knowledge about Heat & Cold would benefit you most!
When to Use Heat or Cold Therapy
Heat and cold therapy are incredibly effective remedies for many muscle strains. Heat can help to relieve muscles of pain as it increases blood flow, while cold treatment can bring down swelling with the same effects of reducing inflammation. Understanding how each of these can be beneficial to recovery is important because if you're going to do either, you'd want to make sure that you do it properly.
When to Use Cold Therapy:
- To decrease muscle spasms
- Immediately after the injury
- To minimize bruising
- To reduce swelling
- After physical activity
- If you are in pain
Do not apply Cold packs to any open wounds, frostbitten areas, or numb areas. Apply a thin cloth between your skin and the Cold pack for protection - this will allow you to feel the effects of freezing without harming you.
When to Use Heat:
- To relieve soreness several days after a strenuous activity
- Before physical activity
- After the initial injury phase has passed
- To loosen tight muscles
Avoid heat when skin is broken and/or experiencing swelling. Avoid the area if you have a condition that makes it difficult to feel the temperature.
Cold Therapy for a Hamstring Injury
When you’ve suffered a hamstring injury the best way to deal with the pain and swelling is to relax as much as possible and avoid physical activities until the pain has subsided. However, there may be some simple ways to reduce your pain without having to stay home all day resting. The best way for dealing with a painful muscle injury like this one is in most cases rest but if it’s too severe or your sleep time is disrupted because of it try keeping a cold therapy pack close by.
When applied properly, Cold therapy can work wonders because it causes blood to rush and constrict in the area where applied. When that happens, the swelling is reduced as well as the amount of pain you will experience. Cold therapy can also block pain signals from reaching one's brain while cooling down areas of the body that are inflamed or injured. By applying this technique, we can more easily reduce the amount of inflammation and swelling surrounding an area by stimulating local blood circulation. This means we get a lot of benefits with very little effort on our part!
Benefits of Icing
An injured player will often be iced by their coach to reduce swelling, pain, and muscle spasms. The icing helps to relieve muscle spasms, control swelling, and speed up the healing process too! The three main benefits of icing are:
- Less pain
- Less swelling
- Less inflammation
These three benefits will have a domino effect on your hamstring. Less pain will allow you to move more and keep your range of motion. Less swelling will decrease pain and keep stiffness at bay. Lastly, less inflammation will reduce pain, swelling, and stiffness in the hamstring section of your leg.
Tips for Applying Cold therapy pack
Putting a cold pack on the back of your thigh for a hamstring muscle injury won't be an issue if you do it correctly. You'll want to use Cold packs or frozen bags of vegetables, as they will stay cold longer than doubled-up freezer bags. The important thing is that it doesn't disrupt circulation. To prevent this, place a light towel between your skin and the Cold pack. Here are our top tips for applying to ICE:
Ice it Fast
Get the ice on your injury quickly: it's more effective when it's done within 48 hours of injury.
Don't just set the Cold pack on the back of your thigh. Move it around and massage the cold into your skin at the same time.
Set Your Timer
To ice, the injured hamstring, Withdraw immediately if you feel the affected area becoming cold or numb, which is usually after 20 minutes but can vary from one person to another.
Icing it for too long can cause skin and tissue damage like frostbite.
Heat for Hamstrings
Hamstring injuries often heal much more quickly when heat is applied after the initial primary healing phase. This can be done using an infrared lamp, a herbal heating pad, or some other device to warm the affected area for about 20 minutes several times a day during the first three to five days following an injury. The heat helps with healing because it causes an increase in blood flow and the expansion of blood vessels - bringing much-needed oxygen and nutrition to the affected muscle tissue. It's important not to overheat a painful area but also never to go too long without heat!
Benefits of Heat Therapy
Heat therapy is like a warm hug when your leg muscles are sore and stiff. Heat can help reduce pain, and increase blood circulation and muscle relaxation as you rest in between practices or performances. It's generally a good idea to stretch after using heat because your muscles will be more pliable. Otherwise, even the best heat therapy may not give you everything you need to get back on stage!
- Loosens muscle tissue
- Relieves pain
- Speeds up healing
Tips for Applying Heat
To apply heat therapy, you can use a heating pad or hot pack and place it against the injured area. You will want to protect the area by putting a towel between the heat source and your thigh and securing it with an elastic bandage to prevent potential burns. These are our top tips for applying heat:
Wait 72 hours
Never place heat directly onto a pulled hamstring. It's recommended you wait at least 72 hours after having the injury before applying a heating pad or any other heating item. Heating pads can increase swelling and bruising, which is exactly what you don't want to happen.
Heat Before Exercise
Use heat before exercising to warm up muscles. It will help prep your body for movement and prevent re-injury!
Set Your Timer
Hot and cold therapy should be used for no longer than 15 to 20 minutes. Never sleep with a hot or cold pack as it can cause burns, so make sure you check out Sacksythyme’s full line of products that help manage pain related to the hamstring!
Alternating Hot and Cold Therapy
Depending on the specific strain you may experience, it can benefit you to use cold and hot therapy in conjunction with one another. The best way to integrate both forms of therapy is by creating alternating treatment sessions which will last approximately four minutes each. To accomplish this, grab a Microwavable Aromatherapy Hot/Cold Sack. Make sure you have a stopwatch or timer at the ready (and maybe a buddy to help) so your sessions are more efficient and effective. As soon as you are done with one session move right into the next - ending with the Cold pack!
The Safe Way to Use Heat and Cold for a Hamstring Injury
Hamstring injuries can be quite a nuisance as they cause a lot of pain and will also slow you down in many ways. Just make sure that either you or someone who's treating the injury is well-versed in how to handle it before applying heat or cold because you don't want the injury to get worse instead of better! And if the injury does not respond to these treatments, you should head to your doctor so that they can help decide whether there are other ways for you to heal it.