Using ice on injuriesIcing helps to calm down the inflammatory process both directly after, and in the days after an injury. It can also be used as a therapy for more chronic tendon and ligament problems.
When advised to use icing, these are the guidelines we generally suggest:
- Make sure it is cold! Too often we see people wrap a dry tea-towel around the ice-pack or frozen peas. Icing needs to be cold enough to significantly cool the affected area. If using frozen peas, you could let them defrost to a cold but safe temperature, or you could apply a thin and damp tea-towel between them and the skin.
- Do not ice for longer than 20 minutes. We usually suggest 15 minutes.
- Make sure the skin does not go red - this is a sign that you are cooling the area too intensively. The area should ideally go whiter.
- Frequency of icing counts. If you ice the area a few times per day you build upon the effects of the previous session more effectively. In certain circumstances it can even be advisable to ice every hour for a short period of time.
- Do not use ice directly before activity and be slow and steady if moving directly after icing.
- If you aggravate the injury again, use ice as soon as possible.
- Before buying a sports ice-pack, try a bag of frozen peas. They usually mold around the affected area fairly well.