The use of heat as a therapeutic strategy is one that has been present in physiotherapy for years. This treatment might be called for to aid recovery in some conditions, but is also used before heavy exertion, such as a sporting event.
The basic concept is that heat increases blood circulation. This, in turn, nudges the body towards better healing and relaxing the muscles. This is known to help counter stiffness in the joints, tightness in the muscles, and some forms of physical stress.
However, heat treatment can be dangerous. It is known to increase swelling in injured areas, so it is not advised for someone recovering from injury.
Heat therapy is used as a component of a treatment plan, not alone. Other forms of physiotherapy, such as massage, are utilised in conjunction with heat. This creates a comprehensive recovery strategy that maximises the body’s ability to mend itself.
Here are some of the key elements of heat therapy. These benefits, alongside the use of other physiotherapy treatments, can help someone recover from accidents and surgery, live a better life despite chronic pain, or regain their full range of motion.
The proper application of heat improves flexibility. It does this by loosening tendons and ligaments, fundamental parts of the joints that allow for a full range of motion.
Heat reduces muscle spasms. It can also relieve tension and tightness.
The use of heat can alleviate pain. In many cases, using heat releases endorphins into the body. These chemicals block pain transmission, providing pain relief. This is especially useful in treating some types of injuries or chronic pain.
You can also get elevated blood flow. Higher temperatures relax the walls of blood vessels, improving circulation temporarily.
Finally, heat can improve the metabolic rate. Stretching muscles and increased flexibility lead to faster processing of food.