|Healthy Musician Workshop||
My rule of thumb is: if it hurts use cold, if it is merely stiff use heat.
Both heat and cold applications can reduce pain symptoms. Heat can cause vaso dilation which can bring more blood into the area. Cold application can cause vaso-constriction reducing blood flow to the area.
So if you have a hot swollen inflammation, you probably don't want to apply heat because the increased blood flow might increase the swelling and prolong the healing. Whereas applying cold to an area of inflammation might reduce the swelling and thereby speed the healing process.
In cases where there is no inflammation or pain it is advisable to warm up the body part prior to performance. And afterwards if pain results from the performance to cool the body part down. (this is what sports athletes do - especially baseball
Dr Quarrier has specialized in music-related injuries for well over 20 years. He has directed the Healthy Musician Workshop at Ithaca College