Image of a woman wrapping herself in a blanket.

Can Weighted Blankets Be the Culprit Behind Your Soreness?

When you’re recovering from a personal injury or accident, every decision about your comfort and healing counts. You can be laden with the decision to use various therapeutic aids to assist in the healing process. Weighted blankets, gaining popularity in the wellness community, are one such tool hailed for their soothing benefits.

While countless individuals rave about the tranquility and improved sleep they offer, for someone on the road to physical recovery, there’s a valid concern: Can these blankets cause more harm than good? Is there a chance that this gentle cocoon might actually exacerbate your pain?

It’s completely natural to be apprehensive. Before you decide whether or not to integrate one into your healing journey, it’s important to understand their intricacies and potential implications.

We understand the importance of each step you take on this road to healing. This article delves into the details of weighted blankets and the implications for those in recovery.

What Are Weighted Blankets?

Weighted blankets, in essence, are blankets filled with materials like plastic beads, glass beads, or natural grains to make them heavier than regular blankets. They work based on the principle of Deep Touch Pressure (DTP), which is akin to a firm hug, swaddle, or massage.

Such pressure has shown to increase serotonin and melatonin levels (responsible for mood and sleep, respectively) and reduce cortisol (a stress hormone). Consequently, they promote better sleep, reduced anxiety, and general relaxation.

The Connection Between Weighted Blankets and Soreness

Weighted blankets are designed to evenly distribute their weight across your body, mimicking the sensation of a gentle, firm hug. This effect, rooted in Deep Touch Pressure, can lead many individuals to experience reduced anxiety, stress, and an overall calming sensation. However, as with any therapeutic tool, what works wonders for one may not suit another.

When it comes to those in pain or on the mend from injuries, the very feature that makes these blankets sought-after can become a potential concern. The consistent pressure, while calming, might unintentionally spotlight areas of pain. Imagine a deep bruise or an inflamed joint: any added weight, even if evenly distributed, can amplify the pain, turning what should be a comforting experience into an uncomfortable one. Especially for those with broken bones or recovering from surgeries, the blanket’s weight can push against vulnerable areas, hindering the healing process or intensifying discomfort.

Moreover, muscle soreness post-accident or surgery can be further aggravated. Muscles trying to heal or adapt to new physical conditions might find the additional weight of the blanket burdensome, counteracting its intended calming benefits.

Lastly, it’s essential to note that everyone’s threshold for pain and discomfort varies. While some may find the weight of these blankets bearable or even beneficial, others may feel it adds unnecessary strain to their already delicate physical state. As always, listening to your body is paramount.

Risk Factors to Consider

Weighted blankets can indeed be a boon when used correctly. However, for those recovering from injuries or particular health conditions, several potential risks should be kept in mind:

Excessive Pressure

Ideally, weighted blankets should be about 5-10% of your body weight. Blankets that are too heavy can put undue stress on recovering body parts, potentially causing pain or delaying the healing process. This is especially true for individuals who might be bed-bound or have limited mobility due to their injuries. (Source: Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 2008)

Restricted Movement

For those with mobility issues post-accident or for the elderly, a weighted blanket might restrict movement. Limited mobility could lead to additional health concerns like blood circulation issues or the development of pressure sores, especially if one remains in a single position for extended periods. (Source: American Journal of Occupational Therapy, 2015)

Overheating

Certain materials in weighted blankets can trap heat, causing the user to become uncomfortably warm. Overheating is not only uncomfortable but can also exacerbate certain health conditions or interrupt the natural sleep cycle, a crucial component for recovery.

Pressure on Injured Area

Placing direct weight on an injury can be detrimental, especially if the injury is fresh or undergoing active treatment. This pressure can interrupt the natural healing processes and even lead to complications like increased inflammation or disturbed wound healing. 

Respiratory Issues

People with existing respiratory problems might find it harder to breathe under a heavy blanket. The weight, even when evenly distributed, can exert pressure on the chest or lungs, making breathing more labored for those with conditions like asthma, COPD, or those recovering from thoracic injuries.

Tactile Sensitivity

Individuals with heightened sensitivity to touch, such as those with certain neurological or sensory conditions, might find the sensation of a weighted blanket overwhelming or even painful. It’s vital to consider one’s tactile tolerance before opting for such a blanket.

Entanglement and Entrapment

There’s a potential risk, especially among children or those with certain disabilities, of becoming entangled in or trapped under a weighted blanket, which could pose a safety threat. The design and construction of the blanket, as well as the user’s mobility and strength, play roles in this risk. 

Guidelines for Using Weighted Blankets Safely

When using a weighted blanket, especially when recovering from an injury or dealing with health concerns, it’s crucial to prioritize safety. Here are expanded guidelines to help ensure a beneficial and safe experience:

Choose an Appropriate Weight

It’s generally recommended to select a blanket that’s about 5-10% of your body weight. A blanket that’s too heavy can restrict movement and put undue pressure on your body. On the other hand, a blanket that’s too light might not provide the desired therapeutic effect. Ensuring the right weight aligns with your comfort can enhance the benefits while minimizing risks.

Ensure Even Weight Distribution

A weighted blanket should distribute its weight evenly across your body. Uneven distribution can cause certain areas to feel more pressure, which can be uncomfortable or harmful, especially if there’s an underlying injury. Proper distribution mimics the sensation of a gentle, firm hug, optimizing the therapeutic benefits of Deep Touch Pressure.

Avoid Covering the Face or Neck

For safety reasons, it’s important to ensure that the blanket does not cover your face or neck. This precaution prevents any breathing difficulties and reduces the risk of overheating. Especially during sleep, it’s vital to ensure the blanket remains below the neckline to maintain an open airway.

Test the Blanket for a Short Duration Initially

Before committing to a full night’s sleep or extended use, test the blanket for a short period, maybe 10-20 minutes, to gauge your body’s response. This trial allows you to identify any discomfort or potential issues early on and adjust accordingly, ensuring a more comfortable and beneficial long-term experience.

Always Consult with Your Doctor

If recovering from an injury or surgery, or if you have a specific health condition, always discuss it with your healthcare provider before using a weighted blanket. They can provide guidance tailored to your situation, considering both the potential therapeutic benefits and any unique risks associated with your health or recovery status.

Weighted Blankets We Suggest

While there is a possibility that using a weighted blanket can contribute to soreness for some individuals, many people find them to be a useful tool for improving sleep and reducing anxiety. Here are the weighted blankets you might love that are also well-loved by others:

Alternatives and Solutions

When considering any therapeutic tool or solution, choosing what aligns best with your comfort, needs, and any specific health considerations you might have is essential. So here are some alternatives and solutions:

Opt for Lighter, Breathable Materials

Not all weighted blankets are the same. Some are designed with lighter, breathable fabrics, like the Luna Breathable Weighted Blanket, that allow for better air circulation. By choosing such a blanket, you can reduce the risk of overheating, making the experience more comfortable, especially in warmer climates or for those who tend to sleep hot.

Consider Half-sized or Lap-sized Weighted Blankets

Instead of a full-sized blanket, there are smaller, more manageable options available. Blankets like the CottonBlue Weighted Lap Blanket are designed to be draped over the lap or shoulders, providing the benefits of Deep Touch Pressure without covering the entire body. It’s a great way to experience the soothing effects without the full commitment or weight of a larger blanket.

Use Weighted Pads or Cushions

If you’re wary of using a full blanket but still wish to experience the sensation of added weight, weighted heated pads can be an excellent alternative. These can be placed on specific areas of the body, allowing for targeted pressure without the encompassing feeling a blanket might provide. It’s a more localized approach to the therapeutic benefits of weight.

Explore Other Relaxation Tools

Beyond weighted products, there are numerous relaxation and therapeutic tools available. Warm baths enriched with Epsom salts can soothe sore muscles. Aromatherapy, utilizing calming scents like lavender or chamomile, can aid in relaxation and improve sleep quality. Gentle massages can alleviate muscle tension and promote overall well-being, while meditation and deep breathing exercises can reduce stress and anxiety.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I know if my weighted blanket is too heavy?

The general recommendation is to choose a blanket that weighs about 5-10% of your body weight. If you’re feeling trapped, overly restricted, or if you wake up with soreness that you didn’t experience before using the blanket, it might be too heavy for you.

Is it common to feel sore after the first use?

Some users report feeling a bit sore or achy after their first few uses of a weighted blanket, similar to the sensation after a deep tissue massage. This is due to the deep touch pressure applied by the blanket. However, if the soreness continues or is severe, it might indicate that the blanket is too heavy or not suitable for your specific needs.

What should I do if I consistently feel sore after using a weighted blanket?

If you consistently feel sore after using a weighted blanket, it’s a good idea to stop using it for a while. Consider consulting with a healthcare professional about the soreness and discussing whether you should continue using the blanket, try a lighter one, or seek alternatives.

Are there any conditions or situations where one should avoid using a weighted blanket?

Individuals with respiratory problems, certain skin conditions, claustrophobia, or those who are post-surgery should consult with a healthcare provider before using a weighted blanket. Additionally, weighted blankets should not be used for infants due to the risk of suffocation.

Are there alternative ways to enjoy the benefits of deep touch pressure without a weighted blanket?

Yes, alternatives include weighted vests, lap pads, or even deep-pressure massages. Gentle hugs or using heavy quilts might also provide a similar comforting sensation for some individuals.

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Disclaimer: Last update on 2024-07-14 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API.

This content is provided solely for educational reasons and should not be seen as medical guidance. It’s important to consult with a healthcare expert prior to making any changes to your health regimen, including dietary adjustments or the use of supplements.

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