Should I Use Heat Or Ice?

Heat or ice? Which is the correct one to use and for which injury? This is something that practitioners get asked all the time.

When To Use Ice :

  • Ice is best for acute injuries or pain and new injuries.
  • Best applied within the first 48 hours after sustaining injury.
  • Calms down damaged superficial tissues which are inflamed, hot or swollen.
  • Temporarily able to dull nerve sensitivity to the area, providing short term pain relief.
  • Ensure the ice pack is wrapped in a damp tea towel or cloth before applying to the skin.
  • Do not use ice for longer than 20 minutes 
  • Wait 40 minutes – 1 hour before reapplying. 

Muscle pain does not always mean an injury, but rather aggravation. Common chronic pain issues you may mistakenly use ice for are: back pain and neck pain. Chronic back and neck pain should be treated with heat instead.

When To Use Heat:

Heat can be applied to relax stiff muscles and joints. It is especially beneficial for soothing chronic pain, such as back and neck pain. 

  • Helps relieve stress and tension, which could be causing the stiffness and chronic pain.
  • Using heat increases blood flow, which can help heal damaged tissue and aid in the later stages of injury rehabilitation. 
  • Improving circulation can help alleviate stress and tension to the affected area.
  • Often effective within 15-20 minutes.
  • Moist heat is more effective than dry heat as it is able to penetrate the skin surface to the underlying muscle tissue. Best applications are either a microwaveable wheat bag or hot water bottle, ensure both are wrapped in cloth to protect the skin surface.

Some examples heat can be used for:

  • Chronic sprains and strains
  • Chronic tendon issues
  • Chronic back pain 

You should avoid using heat if there are any indications of swelling and inflammation at the site of injury. Applying heat has been known to worsen these conditions.

CaN I Use Both?

Alternating between applications of ice and heat is called contrasting therapy. It’s extremely stimulating and is mostly used to facilitate injury recovery. The best practice is to use:

  • 5 minutes of ice to start
  • 10 minutes of heat
  • 5 minutes of ice to finish


Heat creates blood flow to the area to promote healing and the ice application after will reduce the swelling and stiffness to the area. 

Applying both ice and heat have the potential to do some minor, temporary harm when used poorly. Heat can make inflammation significantly worse. Ice can aggravate symptoms of tightness and stiffness; it can also just make any pain worse when it’s unwanted. Please note that responses to heat and ice may differ between each individual.

If you are unsure which method is best for your issue then consider booking at appointment with a Myotherapist or Physiotherapist as they are able to assess your injury, provide treatment options and guide you in your healing process. Call 0398942463 to chat with one of our practitioners. 

What our clients are saying about us

Bree BrittBree Britt
05:41 22 May 24
Mehar was fabulous! Not only was she warm, welcoming and funny, but professional and thorough.From the moment I walked in I felt well supported. She was able to identify what was going on, factoring in older ailments, and provide me with a treatment plan and options.Her focus was on sustainable changes and support moving forward, and I had a written plan and clear explanations and clarifications on everything. I never felt like she was encouraging me to need to come back unnecessarily.It took a few visits, and each time was met with the same warmth and professionalism. I got consistent progress and feel so much better now, even though it's a few months on from when I last saw her.It's very clear she is wonderful at what she does, thinks about the whole person and I would definitely recommend her to others considering needing podiatry support.
Rose StewartRose Stewart
02:32 14 May 24
The whole client therapist experience has been amazing. My Myotherapist provided me with a detailed plan to ensure my progress to meet my goals as well as addressing my issues of pain.Each follow up session is reviewed, discussed and any changes added/deleted or modified.The timely reminders and follow up from the clinic and experience with the Client Experience Officers have been always polite and friendly.
Patrick MonahanPatrick Monahan
00:37 13 May 24
Mehar Sandhu has been an absolute delight. She is very professional in her treatment and most personable and friendly to deal with.
Yolanda OppyYolanda Oppy
03:13 10 May 24
Ezyk ArtistEzyk Artist
00:07 19 Apr 24
I've been coming here exclusively since my first consultation. I've had constant shoulder and arm pain from my line of work; the exercises my physio, Carina provided are easy to remember, not time consuming and super effective!Bonus: the space feels super clean and calming - highly recommend coming here
Natasha KhongNatasha Khong
23:58 22 Mar 24
I had a great experience here. The gym was well equipped and the atmosphere of the clinic was amazing. I had Carina, who was very knowledgeable about my injury and helped construct a great solution plan! Her manner was beautiful and she had great energy. Definitely recommend!
Annabel ChandlerAnnabel Chandler
20:28 14 Mar 24
I’ve been seeing Talia for a few weeks now for treatment on my shoulder bursitis. From day 1 she was great! She explained everything about my condition to me and what she wanted to do which helped me visualise my own recovery. Could not recommend her enough.
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