To ease sore muscles, you should start by using cold therapy, and then move to heat, advise experts.

For relieving muscle pain caused by sprains and strains, the first step is to apply a cold compress for approximately 20 minutes every four to six hours for the first few days.

A cold pack, a plastic bag filled with ice or even a bag of frozen vegetables will serve the purpose. Wrap the cold compress in a towel or dry cloth to prevent frostbite when placing it on the skin. The cold should reduce the swelling and inflammation, as well as relieve pain.

After the pain and swelling have subsided, usually two to three days after injury, use heat therapy. The heat helps relax tight and sore muscles, and reduces pain. Apply heat to the injured muscle for 20 minutes up to three times a day using a hot water bottle, warm compress, heat lamp, warm bath or hot shower.

Heat is usually a better treatment than cold for chronic pain (i.e., arthritis pain) or for muscle relaxation.

Want to Keep Reading?

Continue reading with a Health Confidential membership.

Sign up now Already have an account? Sign in