What is hot and cold therapy?

Hot and cold therapies are effective ways of reducing aches, pains and swelling, easing stiffness and relaxing the muscles. They are used by health professionals including physiotherapists to treat patients as well as by athletes, sporting professionals and people who workout. So how do hot and cold therapies work?

Our blood vessels contract and expand at various times to regulate our body and this is controlled by the brain. At times, we may need to influence this to encourage contraction or expansion of the vessels. Ice, or cold therapy and heat, or heat therapy are effective methods of achieving this. Cold therapy encourages the arteries to contract which slows down the flow of blood. Heat therapy encourages the arteries to dilate or expand which increases blood flow.

Hot and Cold Neck Pack

When is cold therapy used?

Ice, or cold therapy can be used to contract the blood vessels to slow down the blood flow. When an injury occurs, blood flow to the area increases which results in inflammation, swelling and pain. Using cold therapy immediately following the injury and for the first 72 hours encourages the arteries to contract, slowing down the blood flow to the affected area, which eases the pain, swelling and inflammation caused by the injury. It’s recommended that cold therapy should be used for no more than 20 minutes at a time, leaving a break of around an hour before reapplying the cold pack. Cold therapy can also be used post workout to reduce the risk of soreness and injury.

When is heat therapy used?

Heat therapy can be used to dilate, or expand the blood vessels, increasing blood flow. This encourages the muscles to relax and can be used once acute pain from injury has subsided. It is ideal for soothing sore, tight, stiff muscles and joints brought about by exercise or some longer term conditions such as arthritis. Heat therapy can be used pre workout to encourage blood flow to the muscles, tendons and joints which helps to warm them up quickly and effectively. Using heat therapy pre workout can also help prevent injury to the muscles. It should not be used post workout.


When to use cold therapy

When to use heat therapy

Immediately following an acute injury to reduce swelling and inflammation

Once inflammation has subsided following acute injury

Muscle strains and pulls

Tight muscles and muscle spasms


Joint stiffness


Chronic joint and muscle aches

Post workout

Pre workout activity


Therapearl hot and cold compresses are high quality easy to use packs which are available for most areas of the body. These easy to use packs are filled with pliable gel pearls, allowing the pack to conform comfortably to your body, even when frozen. They can be heated in the microwave or frozen in the freezer and are highly effective in treating soreness, pain, inflammation and swelling and are great for pre and post workout use. They are also reusable and mess free.