How Heat Therapy Can Prevent Exercise-Induced Muscle Injuries
About 36% of injuries at fitness facilities can be attributed to overexertion. While exercise is certainly one of the best ways to stay healthy, many people forget about the importance of pre- and post-workout stretching, as well as other activities that can prevent muscle pain or soreness. Heat therapy, in particular, is not only beneficial in reducing sickness and stress: when integrated into a workout routine, it can also prevent exercise-induced muscle injuries.
The Science Behind Heat Therapy
Heat therapy, also known as thermotherapy, is commonly used in physical therapy for treating arthritis, fibromyalgia, and other musculoskeletal and tissue injuries. The application of heat has been found to increase blood flow, decrease muscle pain, and increase range of motion. Given these benefits, heat therapy has found its way to the fitness arena.
In the context of a fitness regimen, heat therapy before a workout can prevent overextension. When heat is applied to certain parts of the body, it causes the vessels to dilate, thereby increasing blood flow to the area. This can relax your muscles and increase flexibility. Meanwhile, heat therapy can also be used after a workout to reduce muscle pain or soreness. Increased blood flow can hasten healing and recovery of the inflamed area. Heat therapy also has an analgesic effect, which can reduce the amount of pain you may feel after a workout.
Some people developed delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), when pain manifests after 24 to 72 hours. Applying heat therapy before and/or after a workout can prevent DOMS, as well as other exercise-related muscle injuries. As a preventive measure, it can save you from more serious and long-lasting pain.
How To Incorporate Heat Therapy Into Your Workout
Committing to a fitness routine is one of the best things you can do for your health. However, exercise-induced muscle pain or injury can prevent you from keeping a consistent workout schedule, so including stretches in your warm up and cool down is critical. To ensure that your muscles are in the best condition for working out, consider using heat therapy before and/or after each session too.
It’s very important to warm up before exercising. Apart from stretching, you can also use a heating wrap or pad on your body. This can make your muscles more flexible, which, in turn, reduces the potential for strained muscles. Make sure to use the heating device 15 minutes before you start your workout. After a workout, you can use heat therapy to speed up muscle regeneration. Just remember that heat should not be applied if there is serious injury or inflammation. In such cases, cold therapy might be more beneficial. You can also consider taking supplements that can aid in muscle recovery.
Overall, heat therapy has been shown to be very effective in reducing muscle pain or soreness. As long as you choose the best products — and use them as prescribed — heat therapy can be a great way to boost your workouts and prevent injuries that could derail your fitness journey.
Article Written By: Jennifer Ellen