Ice should be applied as soon as possible after an injury, as part of the first aid treatment of Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (“RICE”).
The use of ice permits your body to heal quickly in several ways:
- It numbs the pain so that you can move the injured area. Movement is essential for healing in soft tissue injuries, as it increases blood circulation to the area, prevents abnormal scar tissue from forming, and allows the newly forming tissues to remain pliable.
- It causes immediate vasoconstriction which reduces swelling in the tissues.
- Upon removal of ice, the resurgence of blood and lymph fluid to the area helps cleanse the injury of metabolic debris.
After immediate ice treatment, proceed as follows:
- chill the injured area in cycles of 10-15 mins with 30-90 mins off.
- as soon as the ice is removed, when the area is still numb, begin to move the area gently without putting weight on the injury.
Ice can be applied as a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel. You shoud never apply ice directly to the skin.
Ice is also applied to an injury prior to massage, since a torn muscle massaged while it is still warm will only inflame the injury.
See also Massate Tip: Use of Heat