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September 12, 2012

Heat or Ice? How Older Adults Can Treat Sore Muscles

Fall brings a laundry list of indoor and outdoor chores to accomplish before the snow flies. Raking leaves, storing away summer lawn furniture, washing windows and curtains, and switching closets from summer to winter fills your time and taxes your muscles. Even if you have traded in your home (and all those outdoor maintenance chores) for a comfortable residence at Kendal at Oberlin, you'’ll want to get in one last bike ride and a final paddle across the lake before winter winds blow. 

The burst of activity that accompanies the changing of the seasons always seems to be accompanied by achy muscles and sore backs. We push ourselves to get everything done and wind up paying for it with aches and pains. Time to get out the heating pads and ice packs, but which complaints should you ice down and which will feel better bathed in heat? Use our handy guide to determine how to treat minor aches and pains. Be sure to consult your doctor if pain persists or worsens. 

  • Use heat to relax chronic sore muscles, muscle spasms, and osteoarthritis flare ups. Apply heat with an electric heating pad. Protect the skin from burns by placing a towel between the pad and skin. Apply heat for 20- to 30-minute intervals and check frequently to prevent burning. 
  • Use ice to treat new injuries, limit swelling, and reduce pain. Apply cold using an ice pack or bag of frozen peas. Protect the skin from frostbite by placing a towel between the cold pack and skin. Apply cold for 20- to 30-minute intervals and check frequently to prevent skin injury. 
For more tips on helping your mind and body age, download our free guide, “11 Ways to Age Successfully at Home


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