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After triggering a long term calf-muscle injuring in my leg during a recent run, I went to my local pharmacy to get some deep heat to apply to it whilst waiting for the doctors to squeeze me in.

However, both deep-heat and deep-freeze were available for purchase; both offering seemingly the same promise of easing muscle soreness and I wasn't sure which one was best to apply in this situation.

Is there a good rule of thumb as to whether to apply a freeze or heat solution?

I.e. is it the case that cold solutions should be applied to injuries and heat solutions are merely there to relax sore/ aching (but un-injured) muscles (or something similar?)

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@downvoter: any constructive criticism? – Matt Mar 21 '12 at 13:06
I think this question is too broad. Do you have more details about your injury? Have you researched or tried these two treatments? Do we have any reason to believe that they're substantially different, since they're simply different methods of pain relief? – Dave Liepmann Mar 21 '12 at 13:42
@DaveLiepmann: I've edited my question; hopefully it makes it clearer as to what I'm asking ("What's the difference between a hot solution and a cold solution, and when should I be applying each type?"). I've got no reason to believe they're different, but assumed they would have different use cases or they'd be no need for such different products... – Matt Mar 21 '12 at 15:05
up vote 1 down vote accepted

I have read that both heat and freeze have anti-inflammatory effect but heat will increase circulation and freeze decrease. Therefore the day of the injury is probably better to use freeze to limit damage/bruising etc. After that can use heat to help healing process.

Personally I prefer freeze treatments and find them usually more effective than traditional painkillers.

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