To Ice or to Heat? That is The Question

If you have a pain or you hurt yourself, do you ice it or heat it? Good question for all of you weekend warriors.


Apply ice no longer than 20 minutes:

  • If you've hurt yourself in the last 48 hours (sprained your ankle or hammered your thumb instead of the nail).
  • If the area is swollen - ice will decrease the inflammation around the injury which will help control the pain.
  • After surgery to reduce swelling, bleeding, and bruising.
  • To chronic injuries suffered by athletes, such as overused joints like runner's knees - these areas should be iced after the activity to reduce inflamation.

Apply heat no longer than 20 minutes:

  • If you have chronic pain, such as sore, stiff, nagging joint or muscle pain - the heat brings new blood to the area to help loosen the tissues and help them to relax.
  • To chronic conditions, such as a tight hamstring before you exercise to improve elasticity.

Fit's Tips: Both heat and ice manipulate blood flow. Heat increases circulation which boosts the supply of oxygen to the area which accelerates the removal of waste products. Ice restricts blood flow which reduces inflammation and pain. If the injury hasn't improved or gets worse after 48 hours make an appointment to see your doctor.

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