ICE VERSUS HEAT

A Guide for Ice and Heat Application

Ice Blocks

Ice Application

When to apply Ice:

  • The goal of applying ice to an injury is to slow down circulation and blood flow to an area. Icing an area can reduce swelling and inflammation from an injury. In addition to this, ice can also reduce pain due to the cold reducing nerve activity around the injured area.

How to apply ice:

  • Grab an ice pack and wrap it in a towel. Caution: directly applying the ice to your skin will cause additional pain. Apply it directly to the affected area for 20 min on and 20 min off.

Extra tips:

  • When applying ice to an injury it’s best to apply it when the injury first happens as the ice can reduce bruising and swelling and in turn reducing pain. 

  • The general rule for ice application is if an area is swollen or bleeding it’s better to apply ice.

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Heat Application

When to apply heat:

  • Typically, when applying heat to an injury, it is to sooth and heal damaged tissue. For instance, muscle pain or muscle soreness is when you want to opt for heat than the cold. Heat therapy allows the muscle to relax thus easing the pain.

How to apply heat:

  • There are two different types of heat applications: dry heat and moist heat. Dry heat is using items such as a heating pad while moist heat refers to saunas. Moist heat allows full body to receive heat therapy while dry heat allows for specific areas to receive heat.  

  • Apply heating pad directly to area that is sore for 20 min on and 20 min off.

Extra Tips:

  • Do not leave heat on area for long periods of time as it can increase risk of burning skin

  • Do not have heat set too high as it can increase risk of burning skin

  • Use heating pads, warm compresses for heat therapy