Heating pads are small, electrically-powered mats that produce and distribute heat across their surface. People use them to relieve pain and to relax.
Heating pads are compact and light and can be taken just about anywhere. They are used by everyone from arthritis sufferers to athletes and are considered safe and effective.
Below our health and wellness experts list the 11 most prominent benefits of today’s best heating pads.
11 Benefits Of Heating Pads
Here are 11 of the most important benefits of heating pads as determined by our health experts.
1: Heating pads are convenient.
Heating pads are small, light, and easy to store away until you need them. They can be kept in a dresser drawer, a cabinet, the closet, the vanity in the bathroom, or a hundred other places. If you plan on traveling, they can slip easily into your regular luggage or carry on bag without adding significant weight or eating up lots of space. So after a day at the Louvre, you can return to your hotel room in the Latin Quarter and use your heating pad to relieve your aching back. Considering how compact, affordable, and effective they are, they should be considered must-have gear for your next travel adventure.
2: Heating pads are great for relieving back pain in folks over 50.
Back pain is a major problem for people over 50 (1). These folks need a handy, affordable way to obtain relief, and a good heating pad gives them that. Take the Sunbeam Heating Pad Back Wrap we profiled above. It’s designed to address lower back pain. Just wrap it around the midsection, click the buckle in the front, and it goes to work relaxing the muscles of the lower back. In no time, the wearer can go back to sitting, standing, and walking like their normal, lively self. But truth be told, any fairly large heating pad can provide the same benefit. You’ll just need to find a way to hold it in place.
3: Heating pads can help alleviate the pain of arthritis.
It is believed that more than 50 million Americans suffer from some form of arthritis (2). That’s a pretty staggering number and one that is bound to grow by many millions more as the population ages. Besides being arthritic what they all have in common is the need for pain relief. According to the Arthritis Foundation heat is a great way to get relief from arthritis pain (3). The humble heating pad delivers that relief quickly and effectively and without the odious side effects that come with the use of painkillers (4). If you suffer from osteoarthritis (5), rheumatoid arthritis (6) or gout (7) you would be wise to have at least one heating pad always at the ready.
4: A heating pad can be used to calm muscle spasms.
Muscle spasms (8) and muscle cramps (9) affect everyone at one time or another. The difference between the two is typically a matter of degrees. Spasms tend to come and go quickly, while cramps take hold and last for up to several minutes. There are a lot of possible causes for spasms and cramps, including overworking the muscle, dehydration or injury. While a heating pad won’t be able to address the underlying cause, it can be effective at providing relief. Muscles that have cramped often remain painful for some time after the cramping has stopped. The timely application of heat causes the muscle to relax, alleviating the pain.
5: Heating pads are cost-effective health care.
Doctor visits aren’t getting any cheaper. Even if you’re covered by Medicare they still aren’t free (10) as you’ll have co-payments and deductibles to deal with. The bottom line is that few people can afford to see the doctor every time their back is acting up. While there will certainly be some cases when a doctor’s visit is necessary other times, your back, neck, or other pain may be well and truly relieved by using a simple, affordable heating pad. Because heating pads are typically fairly small, they can be used to address muscle and joint pain anywhere on the body.
6: A heating pad helps you loosen up before stretching.
Whether you’re a runner, enjoy long power walks, or you just want to feel good and stay limber, stretching is essential. As you get older, however, stretching itself can be an unpleasant experience. A heating pad applied to your muscles and joints before stretching can make the whole process go a lot smoother. When you’re ready to stretch your muscles will already be relaxed and loose and much more agreeable to doing what you want them to do.
7: Heating pads can relieve menstrual cramps.
For as long as anyone can remember, women have used hot towels and other methods to alleviate the pain of menstrual cramps. With the advent of modern heating pads, hot towels are no longer necessary. That said, there is disagreement in the medical community regarding whether heat actually offers any benefit in such cases (11). Studies have shown that women feel less pain when they apply heat. But researchers aren’t sure whether the pain relief is real or if it’s a result of the placebo effect (12). To most women who experience debilitating menstrual cramps, however, all that matters is that they experience relief.
8: Heating pads can help relieve stress.
There are many potential causes of stress. Certainly sore, tight muscles in the neck, shoulders, and back is one of them. But in some cases, it’s unclear whether the tight muscles created the stress or the stress created the tight muscles. Chicken-and-egg scenarios aside, using a heating pad to loosen up these tight muscles can have the knock-on effect of alleviating stress. And once the stress has dissipated, the odds of those tight muscles returning is significantly reduced. It’s, in effect, a spiral of wellness.
9: Heating pads can help lower your blood pressure.
Findings presented to the American Heart Association in 2019 indicate that the application of heat can actually cause a reduction in blood pressure for some people (13). The heat acts as a kind of vacuum that draws blood out of the major arteries and into the millions of smaller blood vessels in the skin. By doing so, pressure within the arteries is reduced. More study is needed to confirm this initial finding. But these early results are very promising.
10: Heating pads can help you sleep better.
Researchers have known for some time that your body gets cooler when you sleep. In fact, while you’re off chasing your dreams, your core temperature has dropped a couple of degrees from what it was during the day (14). Anything that helps facilitate this drop in temperature is going to make it easier for you to get to sleep. When you use the heating pad right before you go to bed, you warm your body up. By removing it before you turn in, your body begins to cool down. You then ride this downward temperature momentum right to dreamland.
11: A heating pad enables better overall health.
Heating pads can enable more effective workouts, reduce blood pressure, relieve menstrual cramps, relieve muscle spasms, and reduce stress (among other things). So, it’s no exaggeration to say they enable better overall health. Of course, you’ll need to do your part by exercising once you stretch. Also, don’t drink tons of coffee before bedtime and stay properly hydrated while working out. But if you do those things, your heat pad can help you have a better life.
Whether you suffer from arthritis, menstrual cramps or back pain, or you’re just looking for a great way to help you relax at the end of the day, consider any one of today’s best heating pads.