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When to use Heat or Ice?

Updated: Feb 21

This is a question we get asked from clients in the clinic everyday. We’ve made it quick and convenient for you to decide what situations to use a heat or cold pack. In this blog post we’ll share also an easy way to apply it whilst still being able to get on with your day.

When to apply a heat or a cold pack?

How to apply?

Typically we recommend using either for 1 hour cycles broken up into 20 minute intervals to minimise skin irritation. Repeat this throughout the day every 3-4 hours and especially before or after activity.

  • 20 minutes on

  • 20 minutes off

  • 20 minutes on

Easy ways to apply?

❓ So how do you apply it to the injured area and still start your road to recovery ASAP?

💡Wrap your pack in a compression garment or stocking/long-length sock (tubigrip/compression bandage used here).

✅ This allows you to move freely when completing day-to-day tasks and rehab exercises, whilst still maintaining the benefits of heat/ice!

Considerations when using a heat or ice pack

Always look for skin reactions when applying heat or cold packs. To minimise this wrap the pack in a paper towel if your skin is sensitive to direct heat or cold. If any abnormal pain, swelling or blistering occurs on application, remove immediately from the skin.

For more personalised guidance and assistance with your exercises, consider scheduling a telehealth consultation with one of our experienced physiotherapists. Whether you're seeking help with TMJ physiotherapy, post-surgery rehabilitation, or guidance on manual therapy and strength training, our team is here to support your journey to better health and mobility.

Written by: Eugene Lu

M. Phty, B. Ex Phys. (AEP) (AES)


Dehghan, M., & Farahbod, F. (2014). The efficacy of thermotherapy and cryotherapy on pain relief in patients with acute low back pain, a clinical trial study. Journal of clinical and diagnostic research : JCDR, 8(9), LC01–LC4.

Malanga GA, Yan N, Stark J. Mechanisms and efficacy of heat and cold therapies for musculoskeletal injury. Postgrad Med. 2015 Jan;127(1):57-65.

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