Ice or heat?
One of the most common questions I get asked when treating people with injuries is, “Should I use ice or heat?” Well, both hot and cold treatments are effective ways of reducing pain, promoting healing, and preparing you for your activity. However, if not used at the right time or in the right way, it can actually delay your recovery or make an injury worse.
The best time to use ice is during the first 24-48 hours after an injury such as a strain, sprain, or bruising. Ice helps to reduce pain, decrease swelling, and prevents further injury. Heat should not be used during this time because it will increase blood flow to the area when bleeding and swelling needs to be controlled. Ice can also be used to treat repetitive strain injuries like tendonitis, or to decrease muscle spasms.