Should I Ice or Heat My Injury?

Full transcript:

So if you’re just icing for a couple of minutes and you’re not actually feeling the numbness,

you’re not going to do any good for pain relief, but if you can get to those stages, that’s

going to give you the best pain relief.

So what is the best way to ice an injury?

You may have seen that you have a lot of choices.

There’s the commercial ice packs, there’s dunking your hand or your ankle into a bucket

of ice water, there’s some other choices, but my favorite actually involves using of

these…a dixie cup.

These ones have penguins on them, cute, AWWW, but what you do is fill it up with water,

you put it in the freezer, if you know that you have an injury that you’re going to want

to be icing multiple times a day, just do six of them at a time, put them in the freezer.

When you’re ready to ice, just pull one out, and you just tear off the top rim here, so

that the surface of the ice is showing.

And then you…let’s say I’m going to apply ice to a forearm injury, I would start it

here (it can be nice to have a towel handy for drips, if you’re in a bathtub it doesn’t

matter or over a sink it doesn’t matter, but if you’re sitting in a chair, grab a towel)

and then you start to move the ice.

You don’t want to keep it in one place, there’s the possibility that you may damage the tissue.

You’ll want to move it around for one to three minutes, and you’ll notice pretty quickly

that the whole area will get pretty burn-y, pretty achy, and then it will start to be


At that point you’re done with the ice.

If you still have some left, you can put it back in the freezer.

Otherwise just compost or recycle the cup.

Now what about heat?

Well, there are a lot of cultures and a lot of traditions in Ayurvedic medicine and in

Eastern medicine that would actually point you towards heating up an injury.

A lot of the same cultures and traditions have things like warmed foods, drinking warm

liquids, keeping the body covered to maintain temperature.

These are all really important things and they tie into if you have an injury, maybe

not a forearm injury, but let’s say a back injury, neck, shoulders, a lot of cultures

would put heat traditionally on the injury.

And I think that may actually be a good idea, you have to look at common sense…if something

feels good, it probably is good!

I mean, you could take this to the extremes, like if you eat a whole cake all at once that

might feel good but it’s not good, you know what I mean?

But if we’re just looking at Occam’s Razor, the simplest principle, if it feels good to

heat an injury, it’s probably good for you.

And the research does not support ice for inflammation management, so why the heck not?

Heating an injury can give you some relief because it causes the muscles to relax, and

in my opinion, you don’t actually want to fight off too much inflammation.

Inflammation is the body’s natural response to injury, and you want those cells to rush

in and clean up the damage, you want that stuff there!

You don’t want to try to “ice that away!”

So let’s keep some of that inflammation.

Just a tip with icing, in terms of how often you can do it… if you’re using an ice pack,

using something to cool the deeper layers of muscle and fascia, then it’s recommended

that you use the ice for about twenty minutes, and then rest for an hour.

And then you can come back to it and do it for another twenty minutes.

If you’re using something like the ice cup, it’s one to three minutes treatment, and then

take it off until you feel the numbness and the coldness has gone away, once you feel

that the tissue has returned to it’s normal blood flow, then you’re able to ice again.

And that usually takes between thirty minutes and an hour, so it’s not like you’re going

to be getting in there every five minutes, give it a little bit of a break and let your

body natural heal things.

And we should probably talk about when not to heat an injury…there’s some things that

you would not want to heat, and these are active injuries.

So if you’ve just fallen, you’ve fallen yesterday and things are really still inflamed, anything

that’s an open cut or an open wound…NO HEAT!

I hope that gave you a little bit of insight as to whether you should heat an injury or

cool off an injury, if you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below, and

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Thanks and see you on the next video

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