The question we get asked so frequently is ‘Do I apply ICE or Heat to my injury?’ Well here’s a little bit more information to help you decide ….
Ice is usually used for the more acute injuries, such as Sprained ligaments, muscles tears or bruises. Especially if the affected area is beginning to swell. Ice is excellent at reducing swelling as it vaso-constricts (narrows) the blood vessels, limiting the internal bleeding / inflammation occurring at the injury site. It is best to apply Ice as soon as possible to limit the swelling in the early stages of injury, ideally within the first 48 hours post injury.
Ice may also be used for more chronic conditions such as repetitive strain injuries. In these circumstances it acts as a pain relieving method and to help control inflammation. It should be used after activity and not directly before.
Ice should be applied for no more than 10-12 minutes every 2 hours. If you apply Ice for too long then the brain over-rides the body’s mechanism and begins to vasodilate (open) the blood vessels, undoing all the work the previous 10-12 mins of icing has done.