[h2]When you are injured, should you use ice or heat?[/h2]

If I’m hurt should I use ice or heat?

This depends entirely on the injury. Ice is used to help manage inflammation to keep swelling down. While heat is used to relax a muscle and increase blood flow to the area.

An acute injury requires ice in the first 48 hours of occurrence. This is when inflammation and swelling are present, and need to be kept to a minimum. Ice should be applied for 10-15 minutes every hour for as many hours as possible. This follows the R.I.C.E principle of rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Slips and falls, strains and sprains, or even a sharp movement resulting in pain are all examples of acute injuries. Its important to note that once an acute injury reaches 48 hours it is no longer advised to use ice every hour.

A chronic injury is passed the stage of inflammation, and is generally characterized by a dull aching type pain. To help decrease the nagging pain heat is often useful. Heat also increases blood flow, which will aid in the repair to damage suffered to the muscle tissue. It is recommended to apply between 15-20 mins of heat at a time. However, if the tissue feels swollen (indicating inflammation) heat must be avoided until this subsides, and opt for ice instead. It’s important to follow the time guidelines as keeping heat or ice on a muscle for too long can cause more damage to the tissue.

Deep massage work to a specific area of the body will often result in pain the day following the treatment. This is a result of inflammation to the tissue, making the area feel stiff and sore. To help decrease this result it’s advised to apply ice immediately following the massage treatment, before the area begins to feel sore. By the next day the inflammation has already created the soreness and ice will likely not be helpful.

As always there are exceptions to the rule. If you do not feel relief or feel your condition has worsened, consult a professional on the best course of action.