Most people put ice on an injury immediately after suffering it. This isn’t always the best option, however. Sometimes, taking the opposite route and applying heat is better for alleviating your pain. Heat is generally best for older injuries of six weeks or longer. Here are the specific times you should apply heat to a cycling injury and why it helps.
When to Apply Heat to a Cycling Injury
- Chronic soreness – Pain that lingers, such as lower back pain, generally accompanies continually tense muscles. Warm showers or heat pads helps to relax these tight muscles, helping blood to flow more freely through the affected area. Increased blood flow delivers more nutrients, the most important for treating cycling-induced injuries being oxygen.
- Arthritis – If you know your pain is likely due to your already diagnosed arthritis flaring up, wrapping the sore area with a hot towel after your bike ride is probably your best bet. As with other forms of chronic pain, patients with chronic osteoarthritis usually notice a bigger improvement with heat over ice.
- Joint stiffness – An excellent way of relieving stiff joints is to use heating gels before you ride. This will help both by soothing the joint as well as reducing pain, making your decision to begin your workout less of a mental hurdle.
An easy way to remember when to use heat is based on when you suffered the injury. Ice is best for recently sustained, acute injuries, such as sprains, freshly pulled muscles, and your typical sports injuries. Conversely, heat works better for treating reoccurring injuries caused by joints and muscles that need to be relaxed.
Frederick M. Dudek is a San Diego personal injury attorney committed to helping victims of cycling accidents.