How To Treat Injuries With Ice And Heat

              There are two types of injuries, acute and chronic. Acute injuries are short lived injuries usually caused by some sort of trauma to the area. Chronic injuries develop slowly, last longer, and the pain is more persistent. Both of these types of injuries can cause great discomfort and should be cared for properly for a quicker recovery. For proper care, it is important to know what type of injury you have. Below I will discuss the difference between applying ice or heat to and injury.

 The ongoing question is, when to ice an injury, and when to apply heat? Ice is important any time an injury has swelling associated with it.  When an injury has associated swelling the blood vessels bulge and applying ice will allow these blood vessels to narrow back closer to their original size and in turn reduce pain. When applying ice be sure to apply for twenty minutes at a time and not apply again until the area has returned to its normal temperature. You can ice an injury over a period of time until you see the swelling reduce.

Applying heat to injury should occur after the acute phase is over and the swelling has disappeared. Applying heat increases the blood flow which allows more oxygen and nutrients to surround the injured area and therefor allows the waste products to be carried away from the area. Some athletes use heat before exercise to increase the joint range of motion. Heat is s more sedative and relaxing form of rehabilitation. Both heat and cold allow our injury to start to become pain free. After the acute phase both heat and cold have about the same recovery rates, so you can decide what mode you want to use.


Kulund, Daniel N. “The Injured Athlete.” Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  J.B Lippincott Company. 1988.

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