heat questions

A couple of Qs:

1. Is infrared significantly better than just any old heating pad?

2. Did those infrared massagers pan out for anyone? I feel like they might not get hot enough, but I could be completely wrong. What about the thermotex elbow/knee etc pads?

3. Do I need any special lamp for an IR bulb? I just match the watts, right? Does it make any difference if it is a ceramic heating bulb?

4. Will IR penetrate a pump? I have seen it written that it wont penetrate cloth.

I am starting back after a long layoff and want to do this right this time. My plan is to do a ton of warm up, which I suspect was the missing piece last time. I want to incorporate continuous heat with low intensity pumping and clamping routines for girth. Yes, I will start back on the newbie routine for a bit first.