When to Use Ice
Ice is best for injuries with no swelling, such as a bruise or sprain. Ice works to reduce the temperature of the tissue and slow down blood flow and nerve conduction, but isn't effective at reducing swelling because it doesn't impact fluid build up. When using ice on an injury, remember to ice for around ten to fifteen minutes at a time, and ice the injury up frequently throughout the day. To prevent ice burns, use ice packs that are covered in a towel.
Injuries that respond best to ice include muscle injuries, such as a strained or tight muscle and joint strains and sprains
When to Use Heat
Heat is best for injuries with swelling, such as a twisted ankle, muscle strains or tendinopathy’s. The heat will help relax muscles that are tight from being in an injured state, stimulate blood flow so nutrients can be delivered faster to damaged areas of tissue. Heat also reduces swelling since it helps increase circulation which brings increased blood supply and nutrients. It also increases flexibility in muscles around joints where you have pain. So heat may help loosen those stiff, painful muscles after an injury occurs. When using heat on an injury, remember to use a heating pad or hot water bottle, and to heat the injury whilst being aware to avoid burns.
Still not sure which one to use?
Heat vs ice treatment both work well on their own depending on your specific circumstance; however research shows that using them together has even greater effects than just one alone! One study showed that ice massage followed by heating pads promoted faster recovery from ankle sprains than either heat or ice alone. So if you're not sure which is the best treatment for your injury, using both ice and heat might be the solution for you!
Remember, it's always important consult a doctor or physiotherapist if your injury doesn't seem to be improving after a few days of PEACE and LOVE. They will be able to assess your injury and provide you with specific rehabilitation program to follow. If you've currently got an injury and would like to see one of our Brisbane Southside physiotherapists don't hesitate to reach out! Call our friendly Tarragindi physio clinic on 07 3706 3407 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll find a time that suits!