One of the questions that I most commonly get from patients and people in general is 'Do I use heat or ice on (injury, pain, post-surgery, etc.)?' My answer is always: 'It depends!'.
Here are a few medical guidelines for when to use ICE:
-When the injury is ACUTE (Less than 48 hours old)
-When there is visible inflammation
-When inflammation can be felt by the patient (I.E. inside a knee joint)
Why ICE an area of the body? Ice constricts blood flow to the area of the body, and thereby helps reduce inflammation, pain, and the soft tissue mobility of the injured or painful area.
So when should a person use HEAT?
-When the injury is chronic (I.E. overuse, DOMS)
-When the injury or problem area is needing increased blood flow
-When the soft-tissue is tight or spasming
Why HEAT an area of the body? Heat increases blood flow to the area of the body being treated, and thereby promotes health and healing.
If you have any questions on whether to ice or heat a problem spot, or how often, simply consult your sports massage therapist after treatment, or any of your healthcare providers. We are here to help!
In parting, here's a little humor on this topic for you to enjoy, life is too short not to laugh your way through it! Cheers! Amanda