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Heat Therapy – mend Massage Therapy

Heat or thermal therapy can be a confusing subject. When is it appropriate? How do I use it? What should I use it for? While the use of Cryotherapy or Icing is commonly practiced by sportsmen and women (and us mere mortals) alike, thermal therapy is generally overlooked as a recovery tool. In this article we’ll look as the magnificent benefits that can be reaped from using heat therapy appropriately.

The Basics

Whether using heat to relax a tight muscle or as a post exercise recovery tool, the aim of thermal therapy is to cause a rise in temperature within the muscle tissue that we are targeting. When you heat this tissue it causes hyperaemia, which is essentially an widening of the blood vessels within the muscle and surrounding tissues. The benefit of this widening or dilation is an increase in blood flow through the tissue. This extra blood that is being flooded into the muscle carries with it more oxygen and nutrients and provides a vessel for the removal of muscular ‘waste products’ caused by exercise and general use.

Speedy Recovery

As an athlete recovery is key to increasing performance. Using heat therapy 24-48hrs after exercise can greatly reduce DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness), produced from micro-trauma caused to muscle tissue during exercise. Interestingly heat also has the same effect as an active recovery session, so maybe that’s an excuse to get in the bath instead of out on the bike.

Problematic Tightness

We all have that certain tight muscle that never seems to relax. This can be cause by overuse or may just be the result of a muscle spasm that’s causing you pain. Using heat correctly can provide analgesia, or pain relief and break the pain, spasm cycle that can affect muscle, at the same time increasing the range of a muscle providing more flexible muscles. If heated muscle tissue is then exposed to gentle stretching it can have a impressive effect of the length and flexibility of the muscle.

Problematic Tightness

We all have that certain tight muscle that never seems to relax. This can be cause by overuse or may just be the result of a muscle spasm that’s causing you pain. Using heat correctly can provide analgesia, or pain relief and break the pain, spasm cycle that can affect muscle, at the same time increasing the range of a muscle providing more flexible muscles. If heated muscle tissue is then exposed to gentle stretching it can have a impressive effect of the length and flexibility of the muscle.




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