One of the more common questions asked after a muscle strain or sprain is, “should I ice it or add heat?”
If you have a muscle sprain, and not just muscle soreness, the rule of thumb is to ice it for 3-4 days and then add heat.
If, on the other hand, you have muscle soreness and not an injury, a hot tub will help you recover by loosening the sore muscles and increasing circulation.
How to tell if you have a sprain or strain
Although used interchangeably, a sprain and a strain are not exactly the same.
Simply put, a sprain is a tear in a ligament and a strain is a tear or stretch effecting the muscle itself – and both can be extremely painful.
Whether you have a sprain or a strain, the symptoms are similar and the at-home treatments are the same.
According to WebMD, the symptoms of a sprain or strain can include:
- Pain at rest
- Pain when specific muscle group is touched
- Muscle weakness
- Swelling, bruising and/or discoloration
- Inability to use the muscle at all
There are different levels of severity, and most of the time these injuries can be treated at home.
If you don’t have a sprain or strain and you are experiencing muscle soreness caused by strenuous activity; you can go ahead and jump right in the hot tub to loosen up those sore muscles.
Treat the injury with RICE therapy
Do not go in the hot tub after the injury. The key to treating this muscle condition is to apply cold immediately to reduce the swelling. The hot tub will come later in the healing process.
The best remedy for a sprain or strain is to treat it with RICE therapy. RICE stands for:
Rest: For the next 24-48 hours, don’t put any weight on the injured area.
Ice: Cold, not heat, is first method of treatment. For the next 3-4 days, you will need to ice the area. Don’t apply ice directly to the skin. Ice will ease the swelling and slow inflammation so you can get back to the fun part – getting back in your hot tub.
Compression: WIth a bandage or compression sleeve, wrap the injured area to decrease swelling.
Elevation: Place the injured area above the level of your heart to keep fluid from collecting around the injury.
How a hot tub can help you recover
Although heat is a bad idea right after a sprain or strain, it is highly beneficial for the healing process after the swelling and inflammation has subsided.
A hot tub is also relaxing and fun; something you will need after 4 painful days spent in the house using up all the ice cubes in your freezer.
The healing benefits of hot tubs include:
- Assisting in the recovery and rehabilitation of an injured muscle.
- Relieving pain and soreness after strenuous activity.
- Providing healing through the power of warm water therapy.
- Massaging sore muscles with powerful therapeutic jets.
While you are in the hot tub treating your injury, gently extend and stretch the muscle in the warm water. Let the massaging jets act like your personal masseuse; massaging your injured muscles back to top shape.
A hot tub is a known way to prevent muscle strains and sprains so you don’t get hurt in the future.
When you exercise in a hot tub such as the Swim Spa or the Olympian, you are working muscles that are already loose and flexible from the warm water. When you workout with muscles that are already warm; you decrease your chances of injury. After the workout, the massaging jets help your muscles to recover. It’s the perfect formula for injury free exercise.
This is especially important for people with pre-existing injuries, arthritis, and chronic back pain.
If pain persists, consult with your Doctor
At ThermoSpas, we’re in the hot tub business, not the medical business; so we encourage you to always follow the advice of a trained professional.