Why Physiotherapists Recommend Icing an Injury
Within this video the physiotherapist discusses the importance of icing, when to ice and how to do it. First and foremost most injuries should be iced and not heated. The rule of thumb is ice first, heat later. Icing injuries reduce swelling around the injury, decreases bleeding into the tissues, and reduces muscle spasms or pain.
Icing can be used to treat acute injuries as it induces vasoconstriction which causes narrowing of blood vessels and a reduction in blood supply to the area. This is why heat is not recommended for acute injuries.
How and When to Ice an Injury.
Icing could be done as soon as the injury occurs. It is best to put the ice pack on as soon as possible as it will reduce the swelling right away and numb the pain.
First thing you are gong to do is wrap the ice pack in a paper towel or cloth, this protects you from getting ice burns. A lot of the time we have patients come into our clinic with little burns from directly applying ice packs to the injured skin.
After you wrap your ice pack you can then apply it to the point of injury. Leave the ice pack on for 20 minutes. While you ice you can do other activities such as work, watch TV or just play on your phone, it passes the time greatly.
Next, after 20 minutes, take the ice pack off and place it back in the freezer again for about 20 minutes or so.
After the ice pack is cold again you can re ice the area of pain for 20 minutes. You can repeat this a couple of times a day depending on how severe your pain is.
If your pain and swelling does not decrease from this routine make sure you see a medical professional right away.
If you do not have a store bought ice pack, you can make one with typical things you have in your house. Simply, fill a zip lock back with ice cubes from your freezer or a pack of frozen peas.
Never ice an injury for longer than 30 minutes. Make sure you take the ice pack on and off if you are doing it for longer periods of time.
Should you Heat an Injury?
Applying heat to an injury is best for chronic conditions, it should never be done on immediate or acute injuries. If it is done on sudden injuries it can cause further damage. Heat is best for the recovery process, it is recommended to start about 3 days after the injury or when the swelling goes down. Applying heat loosens up the muscles surrounding the effected area which reduces stiffness, further injury and soreness. It can also help decrease achy joints.
How to Heat.
Heat can be applied through heat packs, heating blankets or sitting in a warm bath or shower.
It is recommended to apply heat for a period of 15-20 minutes.
Applying heat around your neck may relieve tightness around your neck and reduce migraine or headache symptoms.