I don’t know about you, but when I have muscle soreness after a workout I usually reach for a heating pad. I know that ice works well with swelling and inflammation, but for me the heat is better at relaxing my sore muscles.
That’s why I was surprised when I read a study by Petrofsky (2015) in the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research. It looked at both treatment options after a workout and found the cold therapy works much better. It did not matter if the cold pack was applied immediately after a workout, or 24 hours later. Either way there was less muscle soreness than when using a heat wrap. It should be pointed out, though, that the heat treatment also provided some relief. It just wasn’t as much as when using a cold pack.
The takeaway for me is to apply a cold pack for 20 minutes after a workout. Then if I’m sore later, I will still break out my trusty heating pad. A girl’s gotta have some comfort, man!
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