CHARLOTTE – We’ve talked before about what heat does during a massage. Let’s talk further about what heat does for your muscles and when is it appropriate. According to John Hopkins Medical University, heat brings more blood to the area you’re concerned with. Heat helps with muscle spasms and lessens joint stiffness, meaning if you feel your muscles are tight, then heat should help bring relief. Heat is not recommended for the first 48 hours after an injury.
How can you bring heat to your muscles? A heating pad will help. In massage, we may turn on the heater to the table to help your muscles loosen up. We may also incorporated other modalities (like hot stones) or even heat up the areas using myofascial release (MFR). Typically with MFR, less oil/cream is used and although friction is not the intent, it can easily be created. I’ll use heat therapy with hot towels, typically on the feet.
Heat is beneficial where range of motion (ROM) is involved, and studies have shown that a combination of heat and stretching is more effective than only stretching. This is powerful due to the fact that we are so enamored with the idea of stretching in the massage world. Adding a little heat can go a long way.
Another study found that heat increases blood flow to injuries, and with that blood flow comes healing nutrients and oxygen. These two indicators are thought to speed up the healing process (according to a PubMed study done on thermotherapy).
-Lisa Lane (#13098) is a licensed massage and bodywork therapist in the Mint Hill area.