Although the title suggests a Vanilla Ice song… what I plan to discuss today is icing and injuries. Why should we ice? When? For how long? What are the benefits of icing?
According to “about.com” , Ice:
“1)Decreases the inflammation and swelling that occur after injury
2)Helps decrease the pain by numbing sore tissues
3)Slows nerve impulses which interrupts the spasm reaction between nerves” (source via).
Here’s a picture of yours truly, icing my knees last night after a run:) I ice primarly to reduce the swelling after a hard workout, for example, after hard run (speedwork OR LONG run), the excessive pounding on my joints and the repetitive movement make MY knees swell – luckily ice helps that!
The important thing to remember is that you should always ice when acute pain occurs, acute pain can be defined by short-lived or rapid onset. An example of an acute pain would be a sprained ankle or overuse and/or chronic injuries in athletes (a.k.a. my knees!). Cold therapy is most effective when applied immediately after the injury; it will help reduce swelling (as explained above) and pain. “Ice is a vaso-constrictor (it causes the blood vessels to narrow) and it limits internal bleeding at the injury site.” (source via) It is not helpful and can cause a false sense of secuity (due to numbness) if icing an chronic injury before exercise.
Things to remember when icing:
1. Keep the ice in a towel (wet it if you don’t feel the cold through it) to protect your skin from frost bites.
2. Ice should be applied for 10-15 minutes at a time.
3. Before re-applying ice a 2nd time, make sure that the affected area has returned to normal skin temperature (to touch) and that any redness is gone. Ice can be re-applied 2-3 times as needed.
Oh and if you are a crazy runner and want to torture yourself badly… ice baths are a great recovery!
haha, until next time, keep it moving!