What shall I use: Ice or Heat?

June 1, 2020

Many times I get this question from my clients “What shall I use when I am in pain / had an injurie, Ice or Heat?”

I hope that next video and text can clarify the situation!

It will be a commune sense that we will talk especially about some injuries/pain without presence of heavy bleeding or fracture, we will limit to scratches, bumps and bruises.

So, when an injurie is happening I suggest in first instance to apply some ICE, as ice will have the effect of calming down the inflammation. After you disinfect the scratch / make sure that is no fracture, apply Ice!

Again, is the idea of calming down the inflammation. Still some researches are showing that cold/ice has similar effect on the soft tissue as after taken away, it is increasing the blood flow towards the inflammation. Still my experience and believe is that by applying the ice we can feel more comfortable as it brings a bit of numbness.

How long shall I keep/apply Ice?

At least for the next 24 hours it is recommended to use ice in case of an injurie. Observe the level of inflammation and if you have enough range of movement.
if you find that swelling is not getting any better and you can’t use that area/joint/part of the body and if by moving it creates more pain then definitely you need to look for medical help!

What about heat?

Heat I recommend to be used once things have calm down. After the swelling went down, you have a good range of movement or at least has been few days/weeks after the injurie and there is no fracture then start to apply HEAT!
The idea is to bring blood flow, to improve blood circulation towards that injurie as the oxygen and nutrients will start to fix that area and will take away the “waste products” from the injurie.

What can I use as Heat?

There are plenty of things you can use to improve blood circulation:

– Hot bath / shower jet (at comfortable level). You can add some Magnesium salt or Epsom salt to accelerate the healing process.
– Apply hot compresses
– Use heating cream Deep heat, other gel with heating properties)
– Infrared lamp (sometimes I use that in my sessions) with great care and precaution!!!
– Self massage with warm oils (warm up some vegetal oil and apply on affected area and make a gentle massage)

Do I go to a Massage therapist or to a Chiropractor?

Sometimes, if the injurie has happened after a strong impact and it is related especially to the spine, my suggestion will be to see a Chiropractor, but after the inflammation has calmed down, even for the chiropractor will be harder to do anything straight away.

Ideally it is recommended to see a massage therapist after few chiropractic sessions, in this way the healing process will be faster and it will happen on different levels of the soft tissue.

But in some cases, like a knee or ankle injurie, where the chiropractor is not helpful, a gentle lymphatic drainage can be very beneficial!

After one or two days (once the inflammation has decreased), you can go to a massage therapist (avoid simple beauty, aesthetics type of massage as that might not be specific for your pain/problem).

In majority of cases with sports massage, therapeutic massage the problem can be improved and ideally the therapist can guide / redirect to another specialist if needed!

At the same time with applying heat start to do some gentle mobilising exercises as that should accelerate the healing process.

Keep safe and keep away from injurie and remember that “Prevention is better than cure!”