"Heating pads are an effective way to soothe your sore muscles and temporarily ease any stiffness and discomfort," says Sandra Gail Frayna, physical therapist at Hudson PT. "The point of applying heat to sore muscles is to improve circulation and blood flow by raising the temperature around a specific area that has been injured or is experiencing pain of some kind. By increasing the body temperature and increasing blood flow, sore muscles can become more relaxed and work towards healing. Depending on the level of pain, you can toggle the settings from low to high heat."
Pads can also be a soothing treatment after high-impact exercise. Sean Alexander, ACE-certified personal trainer and CEO of Model Trainers, enjoys using heat pads for 15 to 20 minutes after a workout to help loosen any particularly tight areas.
"Heat pads help penetrate the muscles to soften the area and improve mobility," Alexander says. "I like heating pads since they maintain a constant level of heat the whole time it is applied to the sore muscles."
And one extra pro of the heating pad? It can aid in your sex life, specifically when it comes to increasing pleasure and dyspareunia-related issues.
"Heat can ramp up sexual pleasure because it ramps up circulation, which helps prep vaginal tissues and genital nerves for heightened sensation and pleasure," Kiana Reeves, somatic sex expert and educator with pleasure-product company Foria, previously told Well+Good. She added it can also be beneficial for those with tight, hypertonic pelvic floor muscles or vaginismus. "For vulva-owners who experience cramping after penetration, placing a heating pad on their lower abdomen before, during, and/or after can help," she said.
So whether you're extremely active in quarantine, want to spice up your sex life, or your body is taking a beating just by existing, we have some serious *options* for you below.
The best heating pads for every part of your body
1. Best heating pad for multi-purpose relief: XXX-Large Heating Pad, Electric Heating Pad for Back Pain and Cramps Relief, $30
If you're looking for something general to drape over certain sore spots, this is a soft and versatile option. It's a flexible lay-on pad that works with dry and moist heat, plus it can cover any area—keyword being cover. Consider it if you'd love to dial the heat up but something constricting turns you off.
2. Best heating pad for back and shoulders: Large Heating Pad for Back and Shoulder, $46
From the back, this looks straight out of a Duran Duran video, mon dieu! I do appreciate its aesthetic loudness and the way it handles the entire span of your back. If you slept on the wrong side or are having some serious laptop-related posture issues, slap on this flannel vest at the end of the day. Oh, heads up: it looks even weirder from the front.
Shop now: Large Heating Pad for Back and Shoulder, $46
3. Best heating pad for neck: My Heating Pad Microwavable Multi Purpose Wrap for Neck and Shoulders, $26
Want something easy-peasy you can pop in the microwave? This little heating pad is as ready-to-go as a Hot Pocket. The handles and thinner design make it easy to wrap around smaller areas, and we particularly like it as a warm, cushion-y, soothing scarf for your neck pains.
4. Best heating pad for lower back: Mighty Bliss Large Electric Heating Pad for Back Pain and Cramps Relief, $27
If the fuzzy teal vest is a little too aggro for you (and that's understandable) or you're looking to target your lower back, you wanna go with Mighty Bliss. Not only is it remarkably affordable, but it's an Amazon #1 best-seller, with a 4.5 star rating chalked up from nearly 45,000 glowing reviews.
5. Best heating pad for menstrual cramps: Portable Electric Heating Pad for Cramps, $30
I get the argument for period positivity, but uh, just about every part of the experience blows, right? And a really top five part of the suckfest is menstrual cramps; I've been debilitated to the point of fetal-positioning on the floor. But if you have places to go, things to do, and no more Midol in your cabinet, we recommend this. It straps on like a belt, sits relatively flat, and will get your uterus to chill TF out.
Shop now: Portable Electric Heating Pad for Cramps, $30
6. Best heating pad for abdominals: Comfier Heating Pad for Back Pain - Heat Belly Wrap Belt with Vibration Massage, $43
This could also be hugely beneficial for menstrual cramps, but it has a sturdy wrap-around style that really targets the entire lower-midsection. This high vibe (like, it literally vibrates) heating pad is especially useful if you've been doing crunches the wrong way and now your abs are feeling the burn. Do yourself a favor and feel the burn in a much more pleasant capacity.
6. Best heating pads for knees: Comfier Heated Knee Brace Wrap, $50
My dad injured his knee in a baseball game years ago (it popped out when he was sliding on base, oof!) and he's needed targeted heat pressure on it since. And because the joint has that very specific curvature, it helps to invest in something that can properly cling to it. This highly-rated knee brace (same brand as the abdominal brace) should do the trick: it'll wrap around your knee securely, and even provides a vibrating massage for extra alleviating support.
Shop now: Comfier Heated Knee Brace Wrap, $50
7. Best heating pad for feet: Electric Heated Foot Warmers for Men and Women, $40
I don't know about you, but my feet get extra icy in the winter, even when I'm [SIGH] not really leaving the house. Whether your tootsies naturally run cold or you're trying to recover after a long tromp in the snow, you'll want to have this toasty little pouch at hand...uh, foot.
Shop now: Electric Heated Foot Warmers for Men and Women, $40
8. Best heating pad for unwinding: UTK Quantum Wave Heating Pad, $299
If you're less focused on specific pain points and more interested in the *experience* of it all, this might be an intriguing investment. It includes 108 natural Jade and 42 Tourmaline stones for a spa-like experience (think: a hot stone massage). And though you can wrap it around your body, the long and wide layout seems best laid flat. You'll be like a lizard on a hot rock—my literal dream scenario.
Shop now: UTK Quantum Wave Heating Pad, $299
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