Ice or Heat: A Guide to Relieving Joint and Muscle Pain

Whether you are an active exerciser or not, life happens. We pull muscles, sprain joints, and often experience the general wear and tear that our bodies take. Those who are active may experience muscle and joint pain on a more frequent basis than those who are not, but regardless of how the pain may have arisen knowing how to properly treat it is important to recovery. Athletes who sprain or injure their bodies spend serious time trying to heal and restore their injuries, and so should you! Knowing how to relieve muscle and joint pain, and when to use heat or ice to do so, is integral to your healing process when dealing with any injury of this sort. Today we’ll discuss using ice and heat to combat muscle and joint pain, as well as which methods work best based on your injury.

Using heat and ice to combat muscle and joint pain is not a new phenomenon; athletes of all types have been using ice and heat for pain for decades. Treating pain with heat or ice can be extremely effective for a number of different conditions, not to mention that it’s affordable! Using heat and using ice work in two different ways when it comes to aiding the body. Understanding how each works will also help you decide which one to use when it comes to the injury and how your body feels.


Using heat, otherwise known as heat therapy, works by helping to improve circulation and blood flow to a certain area (the area with the issue or injury). It is the increased temperature that increases the blood flow and circulation, and increasing the temperature on a segment of the body can also soothe discomfort, increase flexibility, and heal damaged tissue. There are two specific types of heat therapy used for joint and muscle pain: dry heat and moist heat. Dry heat includes saunas, heating pads, and any other form of conducted heat. Moist heat usually involves, you guessed it, a wet heat! So a hot towel or a hot bath can be found in the moist heat category. Using heat for your pain is best for injuries that have lasted six weeks or longer, as well as arthritis associated pain.

Also known as cryotherapy, cold therapy works by reducing the blood flow to a particular area which works to reduce inflammation or swelling. This is especially efficient when it comes to joints and tendons. Cold therapy might sound pretty intense, but your at home personal practices don’t have to be! You can use ice packs, frozen veggie bags, bags of ice, or even cold towels. Ice baths and coolant sprays are also efficient when it comes to cooling tools, but aren’t the ones you should turn to immediately. You should not be using cold therapy on muscles or joints that are just stiff, and it is advised to use for short periods multiple times a day.


Hot and cold therapy each have their own specific uses, and interchanging heat therapy with cold therapy for one specific injury doesn’t really work. In the most basic sense: heat helps muscles relax, and cold helps minimize inflation and pain. Another tip about using heat or cold to help deal with muscle and joint pain has to do with how the joint or muscle feels. Never apply heat to a joint that is already red, irritated, and hot. On the other side of this, you should ever use cold therapy on a joint that’s stiff and not moving well.

Knowing when and how to properly use hot and cold therapy on muscles and joints will change your recovery period. Being able to utilize the benefits of the cold or the heat properly will allow you to become more intune with your body, and your pre and post-workout routines. SSLA Lifestyle’s Soothe Muscle and Pain Relief Joint Cream can also help with the pain often handled with hot and cold therapy. This fast acting aloe-based cream was created to help with any aches related to overuse of muscles and joint pain associated with arthritis, and is a great after-workout staple to keep in your gym bag. For more information, you can visit the SSLA Lifestyle Soothe page here.


SSLA Writer