How to Apply Heat to Sore Muscles & Knots

woman applying cold pack on her arm
Woman in a tank top applies a cold compress to a sore tricep muscle. (Image: Tatomm/iStock/Getty Images)

Sore muscles and knots are a common problem often stemming from excess use, muscle injury or tension. Typically, sore muscles and knots aren't indicative of any serious ailments and can be treated in your home. One common treatment includes applying heat to the affected muscles, which can soothe muscles and relieve tension, swelling and discomfort.

Step 1

Apply an ice pack for 10 to 20 minutes at least three times a day and wait for swelling to go down before applying any heat to the sore muscle.

Step 2

Warm a medical heating pad. If you don't have one, substitute a water bottle with hot water.

Step 3

Place a dry towel on affected area to protect skin from direct heat and apply the heat pad or bottle to the sore muscle or knot. Let it set for 20 minutes. Repeat no more than three times per day.

Things You'll Need

  • Ice pack

  • Medical ice/heating bag

  • Water bottle

  • Water

Warning

Consult your doctor if the pain persists for more than three days or becomes severe. Also seek a physician if there's an infection or poor circulation resulting in numbness.

If you apply heat while the muscle's swollen, you can increase pain, discomfort and bruising.

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