• Michael St Amant

Hot and Cold

What is hydrotherapy? Hydrotherapy is a natural therapy that involves the use of water to help with pain relief. It can help reduce inflammation, improve circulation and increase digestive activity. Some examples of hydrotherapy include an ice pack to a sprained ankle to help control inflammation or a hot water bottle for shoulder tension to help promote circulation and mobility.


When? Cold hydrotherapy is generally used to help control inflammation during an acute injury. If there’s swelling, heat, altered function, redness and/or pain present these are indications to apply cold hydrotherapy to the affected area.

TIP: SHARP (swelling, heat, altered function, redness, pain)

What? An ice pack, cold towels, ice cubes, ice bath. Have a barrier that will safely transfer the cold between the application and your skin. For example a thin towel between skin and ice pack.

How long? If you are applying cold therapy to someone else it’s important to check-in with the person throughout the application as their sensations will alter throughout. Initially they should feel a cold sensation followed by burning, ache and then a numbness. Leave a cold application on for approximately 8-10 minutes or until numbness has sustained.


When? For the most part heat is generally more beneficial for chronic aches and pains. If your aches and pains are reoccurring and generally stick to the same area heat may be indicated.

TIP: Feel the area that is sore and if you don’t sense any heat you can apply heat.

What? Hot water bottle, hot towels, heat pads, hot bath/shower

TIP: Don’t lie on the heat, let the heat lie on you.

How long? It often depends on the case but generally leaving a heat application on for 10-15 minutes could help create a positive effect. Once the heat is removed it may be a good idea to do a stretch. If heat was applied to around your shoulders and back of neck you could stretch some of your neck extensors by relaxing your chin down while bringing your hands together behind your head. Let the weight of your hands increase the stretch. Try not to force anything with your grip. Focus on your breath while holding the position for at least 30 seconds.

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