Should I Use Ice or Heat?

By Dagmar Stolp

This is a question I hear almost every week. When we are in pain, it can get very confusing and we often hear conflicting opinions. So, what should we use?

Ice is best used for acute injuries and pain as it reduces inflammation and numbs the pain. How long should you use ice? Immediately after getting injured up to a day or two afterwards. After that, you can use a combination of heat and ice, alternating the two. This creates a pump like action to help flush out the injured tissue. Ice in the form of an ice bath or cryotherapy tank can be beneficial post extreme exercise, such as post marathon.

If your pain is chronic, if you are experiencing pain from an old injury, or you are just tense from stress, Heat is your best option. Heat will help bring blood circulation to your area of pain or old injury, which will relax the muscles and relieve the pain. Heat is great to use prior to activity to help prevent a re-injury. Heat warms up the tendons and muscle tissue making them more pliable.

I hope this helps shed some light on your decision to use heat or ice!

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