The Junk You Should Know Show Ep. 36: Pain Relief Therapy – Heat or Ice?

Heat or Ice for Pain Relief Therapy?

Dr. Heather Denniston is back sharing insightful information on pain relief therapy. Did you know that heat and ice therapy methods should be used to treat specific types of pain? Watch episode 36 of The Junk You Should Know Show to clear up the confusion of heat vs. ice pain relief therapy.

Side note, around the 0:49 mark of this episode, find out the new meaning of “snacks”… and it’s not food!  

Pain Relief Therapy – Heat or Ice?

What’s ice therapy? (3:53)

Ice is a muscle relaxer, pain reliever, and vasoconstrictor (closes down vessels). Common treatment methods include gel packs, ice bath, and ice massages. 

Note: Here are Dr. Denniston’s suggested application times to avoid frostbite due to overexposure. 

  • Ice pack: a maximum of 20-30 minutes only, then allow the tissue to return to room temperature before re-applying.
  • Direct ice or ice Bath: a maximum of 10 minutes only, then allow the tissue to return to room temperature before re-applying.

At the 6:04 mark, find out how to make your own ice packs so you have enough to rotate through.

Have you used frozen vegetables as an ice pack before? STOP! Frozen veggies don’t get cold enough to adequately treat pain or injuries.

Another common mistake is wrapping ice and gel packs with towels. The application area will not get cold enough for the ice’s anti-inflammatory abilities to work. 

What’s heat therapy? (8:27)

When applied therapeutically heat is a muscle relaxer, pain reliever, and vasodilator (opens up vessels). Heating pads (not a preferred method), hot water bottle, or a hot bath with Epsom salt are all heat therapy options. 

Extended heat therapy causes more inflammation because of its vasodilation effect. So just like ice, use heat in 20-30 minute cycles. 

Check out the 10:45 mark of episode 36 to find out how Joe made the wrong therapeutic choice that ruined his vacation. Poor Joe!

Next step contrast therapy (16:56)

For pain that hasn’t fully resolved after 3-7 days. Contrast therapy is the next step. It’s a combination of ice and heat used in alternating cycles. Heat then ice, heat then ice, and finally ending in ice. 

So, what’s Dr. Denniston’s preferred method? Watch the full episode to find out!

In case you missed the LIVE session, check this week’s episode of The Junk You Should Know Show right here!


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A special thank you to The Change Cave for sponsoring The Junk You Should Know Show! The Change Cave is a 12-Module online membership program that ignites passion and inspires first steps for women over forty ready to take their wellness to the next level.  


Don’t forget The Junk You Should Know Show airs LIVE on WELLFITandFED’s Facebook page every Friday at noon PST.

Heat or Ice for Pain Relief Therapy?



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About Dr. Denniston

Dr. Denniston is a wellness strategist for elite leaders and their teams, bridging the connection between personal well-being and professional success. She provides custom solutions for burnout and stress and facilitates cohesive habit-training strategies that maximize vitality, productivity, and resilience.

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THE THREE DAY RESET is a whole food, organic eating plan geared to charge your metabolism, give you tons of energy, and provide all the nutrients and vitamins you need.

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WELLFITandFED’s primary programming includes programs, keynotes, workshops, events and customized consulting. The foundations of these offerings are rooted in 25 years of experience working with companies from small start-ups to global giants like Microsoft.

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