Heat vs icing


The use of heat and cold for pain management and recovery is a nuanced topic. and have discussed their knowledge on this subject in the .

Here are the key insights:

  • Initially, the widespread belief was that icing an injury was beneficial, but discussions with exercise physiologists and physicians have highlighted that ice is more likely to serve as a placebo, reducing pain temporarily but potentially causing clotting, inflammation, and restricting movement 1.
  • Heat, on the other hand, improves the viscosity of tissues and the clearance of fluids from an injury area, which aids the healing process 1.
  • Ice slows the movement of fluids and creates "sludging," impeding the clearance of injured tissue and reducing the beneficial presence of macrophages 2.
  • According to neuroscience, cooling can silence neurons, but as they warm up again, they can become hyperactive, potentially leading to increased pain 2.
  • mentions that traditionally, cold is applied for the first 48 hours after an acute injury, due to its anti-inflammatory and nerve signal-slowing effects, followed by heat to increase blood flow and muscle relaxation. Personal preference is also important, as individuals may respond differently to heat or cold 3.

    Ice vs Heat

    Andrew discusses the benefits and drawbacks of using ice and heat to treat injuries. While ice may provide temporary pain relief, it can also create clotting and inflammation. Heat, on the other hand, improves tissue viscosity and fluid clearance, aiding in the healing process.

    Huberman Lab

    Control Pain & Heal Faster with Your Brain | Huberman Lab Podcast #9
  • The use of both heat and cold should be done within reason to avoid issues such as frostbite 3.

Remember, individual responses to heat and cold can vary significantly, so it's essential to consider personal comfort level and consult with a healthcare professional for specific recommendations concerning pain management and recovery.