Using Heat or Ice for a Sports Injury

Whether you’re currently injured or not, it’s important to know how to properly take care of one just in case the unexpected happens. Should you ice your sprained ankle or just take a hot bath? With this guide, there will be no more guesswork as we tell you exactly when you should ice a sports injury and when you should apply heat to it.

When to ice your injury?

Ice therapy is ideal for dealing with newer injuries that are no more than six weeks old. It works wonders with particular injuries that have occurred within 48 hours. If you’re suffering from a recent injury like a sprained joint, pulled muscle or bursitis, then try icing it as soon as possible to reduce swelling and alleviate any throbbing sensations.

How will ice affect your body?

Ice therapy helps to lower your blood flow, limiting any chemical reactions within the area by constricting your blood vessels. The goal for icing your sports injury is to reduce inflammation, swelling and associated pain. Ice therapy also helps to numb the area, relieving you of discomfort.

How to ice your injury properly

Using a traditional ice pack, or frozen bag of food if necessary, wrap a thin towel around it, as you shouldn’t be placing anything icy directly onto an injury, as it can cause skin damage. Apply your wrapped ice pack to the sports injury for no more than 20 minutes, multiple times a day if you need to. However, wait a few hours between icing sessions.

When to heat-treat your injury?

Using heat therapy is most effective at soothing chronic pain, such as arthritis, back pain, lingering aches from joint sprains and other injuries. Originating from sports or otherwise, you shouldn’t use heat therapy when experiencing inflammation, as it will only increase the swelling and prevent further recovery. Heat therapy can also bring relief to headaches caused by muscle spasms.

How will heat affect your body?

Essentially, heat works to relax your joints and muscles, providing relief from muscle spasms and stiffness through expanding your blood vessels. This helps to increase your blood flow, improving both oxygen and nutrient delivery to your sports injury.

How to heat-treat your injury properly

To make sure you’re properly protecting your skin from damage, protect it by laying a thin towel between yourself and the heat pack. You can also try heating up a towel with warm water and apply that to your sports injury instead. It’s common and effective for patients to take steamy baths in order to soothe an injury. However, don’t apply heat to your injury for more than 20 minutes and don’t reapply it until the area has completely cooled down.

If you’re looking for a chiropractor in Langley, British Columbia, the Paterson Chiropractic is the place to go. Over here, we’re a dedicated team that provides new and existing patients with pain relief while improving their well-being. Dr. Paterson has another three years or postgraduate studies specializing in the assessment and treatment of sports injuries; he is also a Fellow of the Royal College of Chiropractic Sports Sciences. Give us a call to book your next chiropractic appointment.

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