Understanding Hot and Cold Applications

Control Local Circulation to Speed Up Healing:

Acute Phase: (first 2 to 4 days)

To reduce blood flow to the injured area:

  • Use cold for 10 – 20 minutes every few hours to decrease blood flow. Relative rest of the injured area but movement is usually beneficial if pain free. Compression and elevation if swelling or bruising is evident.

Subacute and Chronic Phase: (after 2 to 4 days)

To increase blood flow to the injured area:

  • Use cold for 30 minutes or longer.
  • Or use heat for 30 minutes or longer.
  • Or use contrast bath. (Alternate hot and cold 3 minutes each for 30 minutes or more).
  • Massage.
  • Mobilize and stretch.