To ice or Not to ice…

As a young athlete I was fortunate to not sustain any major injury. However, there was the occasional jammed finger or thumb (basketball, volleyball) or shin splints (lacrosse) which were initially treated with ice packs. The ice packs took most of the pain away.

Today, we are learning that the cold, although pain reducing, may not be the best for body healing.
The thinking is that the cold will restrict the blood flow to the injured area, thus inhibiting the healing process. Inflammation in the injured area starts the healing; cold will minimize that effort. The blood, if restricted, is not able to eliminate the damaged tissues/cells easily.

Injury debris too big for the blood system enters the lymph system. Now here is another new approach – it may not be good to rest the injured area too long. The lymph system is powered by our movement. If the body needs to eliminate some of the injured cells and related debris into the lymph system and it doesn’t move, there will be stagnation in the lymph system.

According to sports-medicine physician Gabe Mirkin, M.D. who coined the RICE protocol in 1978 (rest, ice, compression, elevation), in 2013 he stated in

    Iced! The Illusionary Treatment Option,

“my RICE guidelines have been used for decades, but new research shows rest and ice actually delay healing and recovery.” (Men’s Health – p 90 – March 2020)

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