In the clinic, I commonly get questions about the use of ice when it comes to musculoskeletal conditions. In what instances should I ice my injury? What are the benefits of icing? How do I correctly ice? What should I use to ice?
Benefits of icing
- Pain relief
- Decrease swelling and inflammation
- Decrease muscle spasm
When is ice appropriate?
- Recent injury (ex. ankle sprain)
- After surgery
- After exercise on an area that gives you trouble
Steps to proper icing
- Apply ice to area for 15 to 20 minutes (never leave ice on for longer than 20 minutes as this can cause tissue damage). Remove ice before 15 minutes if tissue feels numb or it is over a more sensitive area.
- ALWAYS use a barrier between skin and ice such as a thin towel or pillowcase to protect your skin. NEVER place ice directly onto skin.
- Ice regularly throughout the day at least three to four times. Allow skin to return to normal temperature before starting next icing session (at least 45 minutes).
- Use caution if you have sensitive skin or diminished sensation to cold. Do not put ice over an open wound. Ask your healthcare provider if you have conditions including but not limited to, diabetes or high blood pressure as icing may not be advised.
- Cold pack
- Frozen bag of veggies
- Ice cubes in a Ziploc bag
- Frozen water bottle inside a sock
- Homemade ice pack:
- One-gallon freezer bag
- Three parts water
- One part rubbing alcohol
*Mix water and rubbing alcohol in freezer bag and place in freezer for your very own ice pack.
Icing can be very effective when done appropriately. I recommended you give it a try by following these simple steps!