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To ICE or NOT to ICE?

There’s been several articles lately, including from Dr. Mirkin which state that ice is not the recommended treatment for the athlete anymore. Re-reading these articles, they appear to be more in-line with an athlete that has torn something and not referring to, for example, a cyclist that has had a hard workout and needs to recover as quickly as possible for the next training session.

I have spoken to several Doctor’s of Physical Therapy, DPT’s, and they said that this non-icing belief has come from people doing it wrong. Here’s what one Physical Therapist had to say,

“The debate over ice is because many people use it the wrong way. When you break down muscle after exercising or tear any structures in the body it needs to heal. The healing process takes blood  to the area in order to bring the area nutrients the body needs to heal/recover. This blood creates swelling. This swelling is good TO A CERTAIN EXTENT. If there is too much swelling it can actually prolong the healing time resulting from an injury. Ice helps manage the amount of swelling through vasoconstriction. The blood vessels get really small and blood can’t be sent to the area. It’s like a red light for traffic on a freeway onramp that helps with the overall flow of traffic of the freeway. Same concept. It also helps the patient feel pain relief because nerves can’t fire in that cold of an environment it slows down the pain receptor transmission.
So, ice used in the right way is good for the healing/recovery process.”

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