HOW TO USE COLD THERAPY FOR SPORTS INJURIES
When a sport injury occurs, our mind is instantly focused on reducing the pain and speeding recovery. Members of our team have dealt with ankle sprains, muscle strains, knee injuries, and the list goes on. Even with the best preparation and efforts to prevent injury, sports injuries still can happen and impact our ability to get out there and run/bike/play the way we want. So when that injury does happen, how can cold therapy be a part of your recovery plan?
Cold Therapy, also known as Cryotherapy, is the "I" component of the old acronym R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). Cold therapy for pain relief can be effectively used for many injury types, including:
- Sprains of joints
- Muscle strains
- Tennis elbow
- Runner's knee
- Arthritis pain
- Back or neck pain
- And many more
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF COLD THERAPY?
Cold therapy is known to slow blood flow, reducing swelling and pain. This is especially effective for short-term pain, like from a sprain, strain, or other sports injury. You can use ice in a bag, an ice block, ice sleeves or compression products to receive many of these benefits.
HOW TO USE CRYOTHERAPY FOR A SPORTS INJURY
The University of Rochester Health Encyclopedia gives several great tips on how to use cold therapy, a.k.a cryotherapy, for a sports injury. The key steps are:
- Apply the ice or gel pack for about 15-20 minutes, several times a day.
- Check your skin often for sensation while using cold therapy. This will help make sure you aren't damaging the tissue.
- Use caution when placing ice directly against the skin, as it could damage the skin if too cold. If using a traditional ice block, make sure to wrap it with a thin towel. Or even better, use a new KT Ice Sleeve which has a microfiber lining for comfort and placement directly on the skin.
USE COLD THERAPY AS SOON AS POSSIBLE AFTER INJURY
When an injury occurs, it is important to introduce cold therapy as soon as possible. This will help reduce swelling and inflammation in the area of injury, and help to numb the pain associated with your injury. Use a cold pack, cold compress, or ice sleeve (or even a bag of frozen peas!) and apply it to the area of injury. You can repeat several times in the first day.
WHEN TO AVOID ICE THERAPY
Although ice therapy is an effective part of recovery from many sports injuries, there are injury types that should not include ice therapy. For an open wound, ice therapy would not be recommended. The key is to listen to your body:
Discontinue ice therapy if you lose feeling in the skin where you are applying it.
For more information, see additional resources from The University of Rochester Medical Center here.