We all have heard of it.
The use of ice or cold therapy for reducing symptoms of acute muscle injury has been used for generations, and there’s good evidence to suggest it works. But the question is, how to use ice effectively for maximum results.
The reason I’ve long been an advocate for using cold application to a muscle injury is partly due to the strong evidence but also due to the fact it’s a simple, easy accessible and most importantly, has no adverse side effects.
The important primary thing to know about ice therapy is that it’s not a method by which you can heal an injury but instead a very effective way to decrease inflammation for acute or new injuries.
We know scientifically it has two main ways in which is does this: by reducing swelling and by acting as a natural pain reliever.
It reduces swelling but causing blood vessels to constrict – known as vasoconstriction. This reduced the quantity of blood flow to an injured muscle, which will naturally be heightened after injury due to the natural inflammation/swelling process Also, due the ‘numbing effect’ of ice (where by the ice itself numbs the nerve ending once applied) it acts as a pain reliever.
This makes it an incredible alternative to over the counter anti-inflammatory and pain relief medications which are known to have adverse side effects.
That being said, there are effective ways to ice therapy and ineffective ways.
Physiotherapist BSc MCSP HPC
Founder and Principal Physiotherapist at Tavistock Clinic.
HCPC Registration Number PH97986
CSP Registration Number 089576