Do you or have you ever suffered with pain? This is an important article that could make the world of difference to you!
Everyday in the clinic, we get asked ‘should I be using ice or heat?’. This is something that can make the difference to helping your pain, and is super simple to get wrong!
“Over 50% of people we see are using ice or heat incorrectly. Make sure you’re not one of them”
Let’s start with ice. If you’ve twisted your ankle or hurt your shoulder at the gym, for example, ice is for you. Within the first 72 hours of an acute injury, the inflammation phase is at its peak. This means there is increased blood flow to the injury as the body carries new cells to the area to initiate healing. During this phase, you may notice pain, swelling, redness and heat in the affected area. If you notice any of these, ICE it is! Using ice will restrict the blood vessels which will reduce swelling, minimise pain and help you get your function back ASAP. The general rule is 20 mins of ice on, 40 mins of ice off, as often as possible for the first 72 hours. But remember, avoid putting ice directly on the skin (use a wet towel or similar) to avoid ice burns! (trust us, it happens…)
So where does heat fit in? Heat is more effective in longer standing injuries, such as muscle tightness and stiffness eg waking up with a stiff neck in the morning, or a sore lower back at the end of the day. Heat helps increase blood flow to an area, which can promote healing and loosen tight tissues. And it just feels nice! Just make sure you don’t use heat if there is swelling, as we don’t want to increase bleeding in the tissues. Again, never place a heat pack directly on the skin, and never sleep with them!
Using heat or ice correctly can be essential in managing your pain at home. If you’re not sure which is for you, ask us today!