Icing is the longest-standing cheap pain relief we have.
The problem is.......
Don't get me wrong, it feels good once you ice something down, but shortly after it's gone, the pain just comes back.
We associate icing with reducing swelling and inflammation, which are byproducts of an injury.
These byproducts are a good thing. The reason we have inflammation is a result of a immune response to increase blood supply and chemical reactions to the injured area. In turn, this provides more nutrients to the area to repair the injured tissues.
Icing will slow this process down and block your bodies natural reaction to healing. It may actually increase the total recovery time.
You still see it in professional sports and with athletes all around that "icing works".
There have not been studies to support this mantra. In fact, more recent studies show that icing will delay healing and should not be used as modality to treat an injury.
It all started in 1978, when Harvard physician Dr. Gabe Mirkin started to create “the RICE protocol" (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). However, most recently, Dr. Mirkin even admits he was wrong and does not believe you should follow his old protocol as no research supports it, and matter of fact, more studies disprove it.
He stated "I was just doing what everyone else was doing at the time".
Just doing what everyone else is doing does not sound like much of a scientific research study to me, nor does give you any insight into what's going on.
In my opinion, It's the same as just jumping off of a bridge just because your friend did.
The best protocols found to assist with tissue healing are active recovery methods that involve movements to engage low level muscle activity to flush out by products
As an example, if you rolled your ankle, going on a recumbent bike for 20 min at a low level will help increase blood flow throughout the body, cycling nutrients to the area and flushing out excessive fluids from the area.
When the injury is more tolerable, getting back to weight bearing activities that engage the muscles surrounding the ankle will be useful for regaining motor control and enhance tissue repair.
By going this route, not only are you allowing your bodies natural healing response to take action, you are speeding up the recovery by regaining muscle coordination and stability faster.
Before you start to ice that old injury down, try and get some low level movements in and let your body help you take care of the rest.
If you still are not sure what to do, just give us a call and we can walk you through it.
All you have to do is click the button below to hop on a call with a PT.
Dr. Peter Dionisopoulos is the owner and founder of Dynamic Performance & Rehab. He has worked with many high-level athletes and military personnel, but his true passion is to help active adults maintain their lifestyle by providing information and potential solutions to their aches and pains so they can continue with the activities they love.