Today I have my massage therapy hat on and we are going to talk about ice. Can I just tell you that I HATE ICE. I don’t like it in my drinks – I don’t like it on my body – I don’t like it on the road. I like to look at the ice outside my window while wrapped in a blanket. I like the feel of ice underneath my ice skates – while the rest of me is cozy in a hat, scarf, and sweater. Now – that being said – ice is the cheapest and one of the most effective treatments for acute and chronic pain. Why?
- It reduces inflammation
- It breaks the pain cycle (when the nerves become numb they stop sending the pain signal to the brain, which gives the muscle and nerves a chance to relax and heal)
- It is free
- It is not difficult to use
- There are very few contraindications (people who can’t use it)
Seems like a no-brainer right? but…most people don’t like ice.
Charlotte’s Boo Boo Buddy which she calls the “cold basketball” (I keep it in the freezer).
You can buy one here.
Most people like heat. Mmmmmm…it’s so cozy with a heating pad lying on your shoulders, relaxing your muscles, as you watch your favorite movie…but you might be doing more harm than good. Heat can be effective, BUT if your injury has any inflammation – the heat will make it worse.
That is what heat does – it brings fresh, oxygenated blood to the area which can help with healing if the muscle is ischemic (lacking blood). If heat feels good on your injury – here is the best way to use it. Alternate heat with ice and always end your treatment with ice.
Example: start with 10 minutes of ice, then 10 minutes of MOIST heat (like a microwaveable rice pack), then 10 minutes of ice. The contrast of cold and hot is actually very effective at healing muscular injuries.
* Never use heat on an acute injury until you have been to a doctor – use ice.*
If you are still struggling with the thought of a bag of frozen mixed vegetables on your neck (a popular substitute for an ice pack) this may help – the “ice” doesn’t have to be frozen water – a cool washcloth can be very effective as well. So give it a try – you have nothing to lose and a lot to gain – relief from pain!
be well today, my friends
p.s. I am a Licensed Massage Therapist MA50989 and not an M.D. If you are unsure of how to treat an injury please consult your Primary Care Physician.