This is one of those pieces of advice it took me way too long to follow.
It took me about ten years between the time my friend first suggested it to me in high school, and the time I actually tried out a heating pad with moist-heat capabilities.
All this time, I thought I was getting the same benefits from taking hot showers, or spending time in the hot tub at my gym. After all, both of those things involve hot water and some steam. It’s the same thing, right?
There is something uniquely awesome about a heating pad holding all that steam against your skin. Steam is, by its very definition, hotter than water in its liquid state. Sure, there is steam in the bathroom when you’re taking a shower, but it’s floating all over the place and out through the cracks around the door. The heating pad traps it right against your skin, where it’s harder to escape.
For this reason, a moist heating pad can actually be better than a hot shower or a hot tub. Granted, it’s not as much of a whole-body experience, but if you are trying relax one specific part of your body, this is what you want.
I just love it because it’s so quick, easy, and cheap. A spa in a 12″ x 24″ rectangle.
I was a little nervous at first about combining water and electricity, but the inner cover is completely waterproof. This is what it looks like with the outer cover removed:
There is a third part that came with my heating pad—a sponge, that you wet in the sink and then place over the inner cover. Um… I lost mine. But it’s no big deal because I’ve found that wet paper towels draped over the inside cover work just as well.
How to use a moist heating pad:
1) Put a towel down on your bed/chair before you get started. Not to be gross, but you want your skin to be dripping by the time the thing’s really heated up.
2) Make sure there aren’t any cracks on the inside cover before you use it. It’s only waterproof when the electrical bits are all sealed up.
3) When you’re done using the heating pad, be sure to wipe the moisture up right away. When water evaporates from your body, it actually takes heat with it. (This is why sweating helps to cool us down). In the winter, you will be cold if you leave the steam on your skin to dry up on its own.
Buying a moist heating pad:
Be sure you get one that says “moist heat” on the box.
This is the heating pad I use: Sunbeam 764-511 King Size Moist/Dry Heating Pad
Make sure you get one with an automatic shut-off! Moist heat is so relaxing, you will probably fall asleep at least once.
Thoughts/Comments/Questions—let me know!
“Hot Tub Water” picture courtesy of pacfolly on Flickr.