Should I put ice or heat or both on an injury? This is a question Chartered Physiotherapists get asked a lot. The reasons for either option are completely different and if you consider what they do to the body it is easier to determine which option will work best.
- Reduces blood flow
- Decreases inflammation
- Reduces the amount of repair needed
- Numbs the pain
- Increases blood flow
- Helps restore movement
- Promotes relaxation
- Increases the elasticity of the connective tissue
Considering the above points it makes sense to put ice on a new or acute injury (i.e. sprains, muscle/ligament tears) and use heat after a period of time has passed from the injury (i.e.muscle aches, arthritis, joint stiffness). Recommendation for using ice is 15-minutes maximum. Do not put the ice directly onto the skin instead use a towel as a barrier. The same applies if using heat as a treatment option.
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