Heat therapy, also known as thermotherapy, has been a staple in pain relief and relaxation techniques for millenea. The Roman poet Homer wrote poems about hydrotherapy, Plato expounded its virtues, and Hippocrates wrote about the healing power of steam baths in his work De is, a quiz at loci.
Ancient Greeks well-knew the beneficial properties of sulphurous springs, especially for healing skin diseases and for relieving muscular and joint pain.
From the natural hot springs frequented by our ancestors to the sophisticated infrared devices of today, the continued use of heat as a therapeutic treatment in modern medicine remains a testament to its efficacy.
Whether you're grappling with muscle soreness, joint stiffness, or just seeking a comforting warm embrace on a cold day, there's a heat therapy method tailored for your needs.
Heat Therapy in the Modern World — Ancient Wisdom for New Problems
You might think that modern medicine has evolved beyond pain management by thermotherapy, relegating it to the annals of history alongside other ancient remedies.
Heat therapy, however, is just as good for our modern bodies as it was for those of the ancients.
Better, even — Greeks and Romans didn't have to contend with sitting for long stretches in an office job, or long commutes that wreak havoc on our lumbar (lower back).
Even in our era of cutting-edge technology and pharmaceutical advancements, the age-old practice of using heat as a therapeutic agent holds its ground, continually proving its worth.
We'll look at four distinct thermotherapy techniques that are both time-tested and backed by contemporary science.
From the most straightforward methods to those that integrate modern equipment, these techniques offer an array of options for those seeking relief and relaxation.
Here Are Our Four Favorite Therapeutics for Delivering Heat Right to Where It Hurts
Heated Neck Wraps
Neck wraps are the most common and versatile of our listed forms of heat therapy. They can be electric or microwavable and are placed directly on the area experiencing pain or discomfort.
Their flexibility allows for easy application to the areas on your body where aches and pains are found. We have a preference for the natural variety — filled with natural materials like rice or lentils that holds heat. They're more convenient than a bath, more natural than something you have to plug in, and deliver spot heat right to the source of the ache or pain.
Warm Baths or Showers
Heated Gel Packs
These packs are usually kept in the microwave or boiled in water to retain heat. They conform to the body's shape and provide localized relief. They are portable and can be reused multiple times.
Devices using infrared waves penetrate deeper into muscles and joints without making the skin uncomfortably hot. This method is used in some saunas and specialized heating pads, and it is believed to enhance blood circulation, aiding in faster recovery.
We're all about making heat therapy a persistent part of our wellness routine! The above methods are a great mix of immersive, committed practices (like baths) vs. convenient methods (heated neck wraps, infrared heat).
If you want to learn more about the science behind heat therapy, check out our guide on the (modern) science behind this ancient practice.
We also have a comprehensive guide on heated neck wraps if you're interested in learning more about this convenient and natural way to add heat therapy to your wellness regime.