What is a muscle cramp? Although it is one of the most commonly faced issues, most people are unaware of what it is, what are its causes and types, and how effective heating pads can be for treating cramps, either menstrual or muscular.
A muscle cramp is a painful condition where muscles are contracted involuntarily and under duress and those stressed, or strained muscles do not get relaxed. Usually, cramps occur in the muscles of the legs and feet, but they can happen to any muscle of the body. Coming to its causes, the most common reasons are:
- Overly excessive exercise
- Longer periods of rest
- Disturbed sleeping positions at night
- Numerous medications
If you think about how the cramps can be treated, you must know that the answer is “Best heating pads.”
A heating pad helps manage cramps by relaxing the stretched muscles and accelerating the speed of the healing process. It plays a significant role in increasing blood and oxygen flow to the damaged tissues or muscles. It helps ease pain by dilating blood vessels, softening muscles, decreasing stiffness, and enhancing flexibility. In short, a heating pad is a helpful trick to loosen the tight trigger points of muscular cramps.
Heat Pads for cramps
I bought 9 top-reviewed heat pads from Amazon. These 4 received positive feedback from my clients.
UTK Jade Far Infrared Heating Pad
There are many heating pads, but nothing can beat the effectiveness of far-infrared heating pads. It is a safer, assured, and faster way of getting rid of pain and cramps. It emits far-infrared rays from a durable heating element. The rays are strong enough to pass through and reach the deeper skin BUT not harmful to cause cancer or any skin problem. It increases your blood circulation and minimizes inflammation. That’s why it ranks no.1 in our list of best heating pads for menstrual cramps.
The infusion of jade stones makes it an ideal option for body relaxing. The use of jade stones is unique and unbelievably amazing. It is known for promoting better oxygenation towards the brain. It is suitable for people of all ages as it comes with safety features making it switch off by itself when not in use. The maximum temperature limit is 159°f. You can go as least as 103°f.
Want to take it with you on a traveling journey? Yes, it is portable! Roll it and VIOLA!
Get rid of fatigued and tensioned muscles with this marvelous gadget!
BodyMed Far Infrared Natural
What could be better than enjoying the warmth of a heating pad after a long tiring day? Absolutely nothing!
This heating pad works by penetrating far-infrared rays in the skin to ensure deep heating. It gets inside your muscle without causing any pain or discomfort and guarantees to deliver a long-lasting therapeutic release from aches and cramps. It is made flexible enough to be bent, and you can quickly wrap it around the arm or waist, leg, or ankle for a desired warmness. Based on negative ion technology, it has a gemstone design (2 types of gems). The use of premium natural gemstones makes it a good pick for people of all ages.
Oh, yes! This is a medication-free, natural treatment for whole body pains as it treats deep tissue pains. For safety, it uses a lower voltage (110 volt AC). It is straightforward to use as it comes with a controller that lets you set heat settings and offers safety with a built-in auto shut-off switch. It is customizable. The best part is that its kit comes with a travel/storage bag.
BodyMed is the best heating pad for exercise cramps.
Pure Enrichment WeightedWarmth
There is not one but several reasons to choose this! And on the top of the list is its ability to be used as a blanket and a heating source. This lap pad is made in a portable design. This is an absolutely one-of-a-kind weighted body pad that delivers optimal warmth without overheating or leaving burns. Moreover, the use of Glass beads ensures equal-weighted pressure that happens to be 100% BPA-free. It means this article is safe to use for even children.
It offers a customized experience by letting you set the temperature. Apart from aches, it soothes your anxiety and induces relaxation. This top heated pad is made in an appealing design to make it look a bit more deluxe. As it is an electric option, you need to recharge it. But DON’T WORRY, it has a removable cord for easy and fast charging. Done with charging? Keep the cord in its built-in storage pocket. It can be carried with you due to its travel-friendly size.
BRIGENIUS Far Infrared Electric Heating Pad
It is about time to relax and unwind with a deluxe heating pad. It guarantees to give you quality materials and effective heating. So, are you ready to experience the therapeutic warmth?
The company has preferred using a unique material for heating, and that is graphene. Surprisingly, it seems compatible with every human body regardless of gender and age. With a quick heating time, it decreases your pain and soreness instantly. It is made extra-large, letting it cover more body surface. This heating pad can also be used while you are pregnant.
This best heating pad 2023 seems to offer an incredible cozy feeling along with providing maximum safety of use. It applies firm yet gentle pressure, just like a warm hug. Although graphene film emits far infrared waves, it works a bit differently and more efficiently. Choose the heat or temperature according to your comfort level.
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Heating pad buying guide
The most commonly used, most feasible, and safer option for treating cramps, aches, and soreness is a “heating pad.” But what is it?
In a simple definition, a heating pad or pack is an item solely designed to provide the warmness high enough to treat the pain and leave beneficial impacts and gentle enough to cause no burns or redness. It is a form of thermotherapy where your painful, sore, stressed, and cramped muscles are treated. As it is applied to a specific part, it doesn’t increase the core body temperature. Depending on the type of heating element used, it is divided into several types, such as electrical and chemical.
It works by opening blood vessels for improved blood, oxygen, and nutrients flow. It comes with an extensive application in minimizing inflammation. Moreover, it is ideal for easing the joints and muscular pains, particularly neck and back pain. Heating pads are easy to use and maintain apart from being portable.
Types of heating pads
Infrared heating pads
One of the most commonly used is the pads that use far-away infrared waves for heat production. These waves tend to go deeper in the skin to the soft muscle deeper tissues,
Electric heating pads
Being a popular option, electric pads are safe to use, easy to maintain, highly effective, and quick to act. They are designed to use current for heating up. It has a lesser ability to reach deeper skin and never goes into the deeper muscle tissue. Usually, every electric heating pad comes in 3 temperature settings.
It might harm you if left on the skin for too long, especially if left directly on the skin. Besides, it is the best pick for experiencing the uniform distribution of heat.
Moist heating pads
Well, it is another type that has been pretty acknowledged in females. It uses moist heat as a source of heating. Such heating pads can be either soaked in or filled with hot water. In comparison to electric pads, they are slightly more effective and feel nicer. But, yes, they don’t penetrate heat deep inside the skin. It never causes any skin redness, itching, overheating, or irritation.
Microwavable heating pads
As the name states, this is the collection of heating pads placed inside a microwave to heat the material. Made with insulating fabric, such pads are filled with rice, corn, or wheat. You can make these heating pads at home. Consider it the most convenient option to experiment with!
Chemical heating pads
Chemical pads work on a specific substance that could be sodium acetate. The substance has to be reactive enough to initiate a crystallization procedure, consequently producing instant heat.
Types of body cramps
The cramps are usually divided into four major categories depending on their diverse causes and the targeted muscle group.
- True cramps (injury, strenuous exercise, dehydration, imbalanced body fluid or blood levels)
- Dystonic cramps
What to look for in a heating pad?
Heating levels or temperature settings
The best option is to go for the pad that comes with a digital controller giving you the authority to control the temperature level. It lets you customize the heat as per the need. Usually, there are three levels: high, medium, and low.
The heating pad, no matter electrical, chemical, or moist heat, must heat up quickly. It is usually mentioned in the manufacturer’s description, so read carefully. It is a very crucial step. Because if your pad is heating up too rapidly, it might burn your skin, and if heating up too slowly, it is a waste of time.
The heating pad must be easy to wash and clean. Effortless and quick washable covers, especially the one that is machine washable, make the job easier.
Timer with auto-shut-off
Always check if the pad comes with a timer coupled with an automatic shut-off switch. It will not only offer safety but also do not let the bill increase.
Look for the size of the pad. Small will be a good option for the neck, arm, or legs. Choosing a big or extra-large pad will cover more surfaces of the skin, such as the back and abdomen. For regular period cramps, a huge massage heating pad seems good.
If you want to treat deeper tissues, choose INFRA-RED. Otherwise, every heating pad reaches a relaxing heating experience.
Are heated pads worth it?
Consider it a valuable source to manage your muscular and joint pains as well as menstrual cramps. Because of their adjustable temperature settings, they are safe to use by people of any age (pregnant women have to be extra careful). Their amazing role in improving blood, nutrients, and oxygen flow is something highly beneficial. Besides, its ability to speed up the recovery time is a big plus.
They are easy to carry, store and maintain. And, yes, they are pocket-friendly. Opting for the best heating pads for cramps is a medication-free way to treat inflammation, pain, soreness, and cramps is a sensible choice. And, how can we forget its quality of turning your cold environment into a warm one?
If one thing is giving these MUCH benefits, how can it not be worth the value and money!?
What is the number one rated heating pad?
The top-tier choice amongst heating pads is the Pure Enrichment PureRelief XL Heating Pad. This heating pad has risen to the top of its category by epitomizing quality and effectiveness. It’s not just a heating pad, but a comforting source of therapeutic warmth that can help to alleviate pain and muscle tension. Personally, there have been days where the weather turned cold suddenly and a niggling shoulder ache resurfaced – this heating pad came to the rescue as a true game changer. The level of warmth was just right and the impact on easing the pain was significant. (Pure Enrichment)
What to look for when buying a heating pad?
When you’re planning to purchase a heating pad, it’s essential to look beyond just the price tag. Some of the primary factors to consider include the heating pad’s dimensions and coverage area, the number of heat settings it offers, and its safe usage features such as auto shut-off. Also, consider its material for comfort and whether it is washable for hygiene purposes. Personally, I carefully examined these factors when I bought my last heating pad. It was worth the research time as the chosen product has proven to be a great therapeutic tool for me.
What is better than a heating pad?
If one is to explore options beyond traditional heating pads, Infrared LED pain relievers could be a viable alternative. These can come in the form of cushions, pads or mattresses and they are known to provide relief from aches and muscle pains. The underlying science is owed to NASA’s development and the FDA’s approval, rendering them not just effective but also reliable. From a personal perspective, I had the opportunity to try out an infrared LED cushion once. Not only did it ease my lower back pain, but it also helped promote overall relaxation. The warm comfort it provided was gentle yet soothing in a way that surpassed traditional heating pads.
What happens if you leave a heating pad on too long for cramps?
There is certainly potential for harm if a heating pad is left on for too long or if it gets overly hot. Overuse or high-temperature settings can lead to severe burns. A rule of thumb is to always stick to the usage guidelines provided by the manufacturer. I recall a time when I fell asleep with the heating pad on. Luckily, mine had an auto shut-off feature, protecting me from possible burns. Having learnt from that experience, I can’t stress enough the importance of using heating pads responsibly.
Annika Ramos is a physiotherapist with a passion for helping people recover from injuries and illnesses. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring her creative side through various craft projects.