Transformer - Decepticon

Transformer - Decepticon

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Cold - VS - Heat

The Ice Machine, which makes tons of ice.. all day long!   Along with one of our open sports massage clinical area's.  We also have one of our athletes in an ice tub or cold plunge tub... really it's what ever you want to call it.  We used large frozen cups of ice before we acquired the ice machine.
The Gunny, after a sports massage session ~ getting ready for the MARINE CORPS MARATHON!

When to use or not to use one or the other.
As a sports massage therapist here at USMT I must hear " when should I ICE and when should I use HEAT"?  At least a few times a week.  It's pretty common to hear that actually.

So here is the low down on ICE vs HEAT.
Most athletes know to ice an acute injury, and we preach RICE to all of our clients as standard treatment for an acute injury

But, it gets a little tricky when it comes to describing when and if to apply.  It really depends on the type of injury.  There are two (2) types of injuries.


                                  Acute pain is rapid onset and short lived

Chronic pain develops slowly and is persistent and long lasting

Rainee ~ She is a USMT member and Crossfitter
Ann Marie & Caitlyn, they are our fabulous runners!
See we have a  whole host of athletes that love the ice bath... they either request it or when it is suggested for part of the over all sports massage recovery process..everyone is one board!
Gino is one of our Crossfit Coaches

Acute injuries are sudden, sharp and traumatic injuries that occur immediately or within hours and cause pain (possibly severe pain).  Most often acute injuries or impacts such as a sprain, fall or collision.. and it's pretty obvious what causes the injury.  Acute injuries almost always have common signs and symptoms such as pain, tenderness, redness, skin that is warm to the touch along with swelling & inflammation.  Chances are if you have swelling, you have an acute injury.

Chronic injuries can be subtle and slow developing overtime.  They can come & go, may cause dull aching pain or soreness and, sometimes are often the result of over use or repetitiveness.  Along with possible acute injuries that have been untreated or not properly treated and have healed over the injury or hasn't healed at all.

Cold therapy  with ice is best for immediate treatment for acute injuries and I mentioned previously R.I.C.E.
It reduces pain & inflammation.  Ice is a vaso-constrictor ( cause blood vessels to narrow) and limits internal bleeding at the injury site.  Cold therapy is also helpful in treating some overuse injuries or chronic pain in athletes.  Example: if you have chronic pain in an area it may increase post activity, so icing the area post activity will be beneficial in reducing and or preventing inflammation to that area.

At USMT we use offer these types of cold therapy:
* Ice massage for muscle specific injuries
* Ice packs
* Ice Towels
* Cold Plunge / Cold Tub
* Biofreeze / Sombra cold therapy

Icing an injury site should be done for 10-15 minutes at a time, always allow the skin to return to it's normal temperature before icing a second or third time.  You can ice an injury several times a day for up to 3 days before switching up the protocol.

Heat therapy is generally used for chronic injuries or injuries with out inflammation or swelling, stiff, sore, dull nagging muscle.  Joint pain is perfect for heat therapy.  Athletes with chronic pain or injuries may use heat therapy pre exercise or event to increase the blood flow, elasticity of the connective tissue of the joints.  Heat can also help relax tight muscles or muscle spasms.  Heat is NOT recommended post work out or event / competition.  Ice is better suited for this time frame.
Heat is a vaso-dilator, it increases skin temperature and circulation which is not good for acute injuries.  You can safely apply heat to an area 15-20 minutes at a time and use enough layers between your skin and the heating source as not to burn the skin.

MOIST HEAT IS THE BEST!!!  This is the protocol we use at USMT.  We use hot, wet towels wrapped in larger dry towels.  You can do the same at home or you can purchase special hot packs or moist heating pads if you use heat often.  Never leave on for more than 20 minutes or while sleeping... there is a potential for burning and if your not careful with this approach.. you can possibly burn your self severely.

Some injuries can be serious and out of our "scope of practice".  So be sure to see a doctor if your injury does not improve or it gets worse with in 48 hours.

YOUR safety is OUR # 1 priority.

Please let us know if you have any additional questions on this subject

 Kristen & Lori-Ann

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