Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Heat or Ice that Injury?

Several athletes over the years have asked me whether it's better to apply heat or ice to an injury? Honestly, it depends upon various factors, but often it depends on how long someone has been injured. Specifically, an acute injury should not be heated as this could disrupt the necessary inflammatory process. An acute injury injury responds better with ice, as this allows for decreased swelling and proper pain management. My best advice for a homemade ice pack is a bag of frozen peas as they really conform the ankle of various bodily sites (i.e. molding to the ankle joint in the pic above).

Injuries that are chronic in nature respond well to heat, particularly before activity as this helps loose the muscles and improve joint mobility. Personally, I use heat on my should before I play basketball and it works wonders. I pair the heat (Tiger Balm) with some range of motion exercises and I'm typically good to go.

The takeaway point: Ice for the first few (3-5) days and heat after. Heat before/Ice after activity. Train hard and stay safe, working around injuries- not through them.

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