Ice versus heat for an injury?

Ice versus heat for an injury?

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.

If you require more guidance on the injury click here to book an appointment or ring (059) 9116939.