Massage, Bodywork, Health and Fitness

Ice vs. Heat

At Massage Works Los Gatos we often see injuries not long after they occur… usually after a couple days. Even for the usual sore muscles we get asked a lot whether to apply ice or heat.

I have learned from personal experience when I broke my ankle that immediately after an injury you apply ice to reduce swelling. And stay away from trampolines. But every physical therapy appointment even weeks later they always used ice. Yet when I went to my acupuncturist she would use an infrared heat lamp on the injured ankle. She told me that in chinese medicine they do ice when an injury is new but then use heat to speed healing. I liked this since heat felt better to me then ice.

So I did some research… It is always true that you apply ice on an acute injury but it seems that after that it is more like you should listen to your body. Now isn’t that often the case. Signs of inflammation are warmness to touch, redness, swelling or pain.

You can make your own ice packs too which is cheap and easy… unless you misunderstand the directions like I did once and substitute rubbing alcohol for Grey Goose Vodka, ooops that was an expensive ice pack but it was all I had. (didn’t really work either)

Where as heat does most good to relax chronic pain like low back pain by relaxing the muscles and increasing blood flow. Moist heat is best a hot water bottle, warm bath or hot towel.

And of course don’t forget to schedule your regular massage therapy appointments  to release the muscles that are tense or injured and get back to being pain free!

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