A lot of my clients ask me what is better ice or heat? So I thought I would share this information with you.
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The acronym RICE, is an easy way to remember the five basic methods used to speed minor injury recovery for acute soft tissue musculoskeletal (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) An acute phase is considered the first 24-72 hours after an injury. These five steps are the accepted standard for treatment for overuse injuries, contusions, strains, sprains, and dislocations.
For acute injuries, RICE treatment should be started as soon as you notice symptoms. If it is begun promptly, for some injuries, it can save you days or weeks of discomfort and inactivity by assisting with the recovery.
REST. This type of rest involves removing the person from the activity and then placing them in a rehabilitation program beginning with easy range of motion exercises.
ICE the best line of defense in most acute, soft tissue injuries is the application of ice. Ice decreases swelling and bleeding by causing a constriction of blood vessels; thereby, minimizing the damage. Depending on the amount of fat between the skin and the injured area and the depth of the injury determines how long you apply ice. Little fat: a maximum of 10-15 minutes; More fat? 20-30 minutes max. Brief applications until numbness is achieved are effective for conditions such as tendinitis or ligament sprains. Longer durations are necessary for muscle strains. You should do this two or three daily treatments or depending on the severity every 1.5 to 3 hours. Make sure to put some kind of insulating layer between the skin and the ice to prevent frostbite.
Compression. Direct external pressure applied to the injured area will help prevent swelling, decrease hemorrhage and bleeding. It is best done with an elastic wrap or an elastic bandage. Wrap from the largest muscle below the injury to the largest muscle above the injury or begin wrapping from the point farthest from the heart and wrap toward the center of the body.
Elevation helps reduce internal bleeding and swelling. The injured area should be elevated above the level of the heart. Do not elevate an extremity if a fracture is suspected until it has been stabilized with a splint.
Application of Heat. Heat increases blood flow and the “stretch ability” of tissues, decreases pain, muscle spasm and joint stiffness as well as promotes soft tissue repair. Heat can work well during chronic or rehabilitiation stages of an injury. Heat works well when used prior to rehabilitation exercises and ice after the exercise.