How to add moisture to an electric heating pad for penetrating pain relief - Be My Healer
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How to add moisture to an electric heating pad for penetrating pain relief

moisture to heating pad

Why would adding moisture help an electric heating pad improve its job and purpose? Heat with moisture is like James Bond in a muscle car: the combo is simply unstoppable.

Electric heating pad vs. moist gel heating pad

In my opinion, the easiest and most comfortable way to get relief from muscle soreness, cramping or stiffness is to get nice and steamed on a moist heat pad.

Moisture allows heat to penetrate our dense skin and the layer of fat cells to reach to tissue of concern - our muscles. When our muscles are caressed by gentle heating, they relax and allow the rush of blood flow to take over the process of healing.

That's why hot tubs, hot springs, and even long hot showers are very therapeutic for a sore, fatigued and aching body.​ However, life keeps us busy and we need something more convenient and accessible.

Moist heating pads are made from gel packs wrapped up in thick fabrics. They are heated through soaking in high temperature water for long periods of time until the gel pockets fully absorbs the heat in the surrounding water. The gel packs can remain hot for a long period of time and release consistent moist heat for excellent therapeutic uses.

However, not only are they relatively expensive, these gel-based moist heating pads take a long time to prepare, and overheating can result in damaged gel pockets with gel contents leaking everywhere. That's why very few people use these at home.

​A more popular alternative is an electric heating pad. All that is required to operate is a spot on the wall to plug-in and a spot on the couch for you to relax in.(Never have to be late for your favorite TV show again!)

And many people find their heating result pretty satisfactory, until they experienced the powerful in-depth effect of a clinical grade gel-pack moist heating pad. Then all of sudden your electric heating pad seems weak and pitiful. And as soon as you take off the heating pad, the "feel good effect" disappears immediately. The ingredient you are missing is the moisture.

​What you need

  • A simple, standard, well insulated electric heating pad
  • A pillow case
  • 1st towel: a hand towel for smaller body parts like the knee or elbow; a bath towel for neck and shoulder, upper back or lower back
  • 2nd hand towel

How to set up

First make sure that you are not using an old electric heating pad. Old electric appliances may have worn-out insulation or connections. A standard up-to-date electric heating pad should have a well insulated pad and a thick and comfortable layer of cushion fitted on the outside for padding. 

add moisture to heating pad
  1. Place pillow case over the heating pad for added insulation. This step is optional if you are confident with the quality of your heating pad.
  2. Wet the 1st towel with warm to hot water. Twist to rid the excess water so that the towel is moist but not dripping water at all. If you are using a bath towel for large body parts, fold the bath towel in half. Place the moist towel over the heating pad.
  3. Then, take the 2nd towel, keep it dry, and place it over the moist towel. This step can also be optional if you prefer laying over a moist surface, or if you are wearing a shirt (and don't mind that it will get damp).
  4. Carefully wrap this multi-layer setup around the area of treatment for smaller body parts. If this heating pad is for your neck, shoulders or back, the best position is to lay on top of the heating pad so that your body weight can rid the gaps of air that slow the conduction of heat.
  5. Turn on the heating pad and wait for the heat and moisture to reach you. If you have a large and powerful heating pads, your pain free relaxation nirvana will arrive within a minute. For other heating pad, this should not take longer than 5 minutes.

​The recommended time for moist heating therapy is 15 - 30 minutes. Unlike traditional gel-packs or bean bags, the electric heating pad does not lose heat on its own. Thus, it is extremely important to not fall asleep while having the heating pad turned on. The prolonged skin contact with a heated surface can numb your sensation and lead to severe skin burns. 

If falling asleep is a concern of yours, you can purchase a heating pad with a build-in sleep timer that will automatically turn off the heating pad after the desired amount of time.​

Recommended electric heating pad

Electric heating pads are supposed to be very basic and highly affordable. There is very little mystery about them. They can reach higher heating levels and stay there better than most microwave heated options. It is a safer bet if you are suffering from chronic muscle aches, or recovery from physical injury. 

The Sunbeam Xpress X-large

I own one of these personally. It is large and long, perfect for both shoulders and back heating. The microfiber plush padding is very comfortable.  

The only downside is that this heating pad does not​ have straps to hold it in place if you are wrapping it around your waist or leg. I use a belt when I need to wrap this pad around one of my hips.

The Sunbeam neck and shoulder wrap

This is a great option for those who experience chronic neck or shoulder pain. The highlight is the buckle in the front that secure this wrap around your neck. 

You can use it on other body parts as well, as long as the non-conformed shape does not bother you.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you find this post helpful.

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