By: Jacqueline Dagostino PT, DPT, OCS, Cert VRS

Heat therapy can be used for many different benefits, including relief of pain, muscle spasms, feelings of joint stiffness and for relaxation. By dilating blood vessels, heat increases circulation and blood flow, which is helpful for mobility and healing. Tissue warming provided by heat therapy can also be used to prepare muscles for exercise. This can be helpful after an injury, or when you are in pain and completing an active warm-up (walking, biking, ect.) is difficult.   

How To:  

  1. Fill long sock with uncooked rice or beans. If you are crafty, you can sew two square pieces of fabric together to create your own hot pack cover instead of using a sock.  
  2. Close the opening of sock by sewing or tying the top shut.  
  3. Microwave the pack on high 1-2 minutes until the rice is hot. Use caution when removing the bag from the microwave (it will be hot).  
  4. Apply the hot pack to the affected area. If the hot pack is too hot, you can wrap it in a towel.  

Use caution if applying the hot pack to an area of decrease sensation. These might include post operative / surgical areas, areas with neuropathy, and areas with numbness/tingling sensations. Elderly/geriatric individuals and individuals with diabetes mellitus are more likely to have decreased sensation and should use extra layering (towels) and caution with heat therapy. If you are unsure if heat therapy is right for your injury or about potential risks, reach out to your physical therapist for help!  


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