Wellness Sunday: Ice or Heat? That is the question.
Ice and heat are both good for different types of injuries and different time of day.
Ice is commonly used for acute, meaning rather sudden, injuries — so if you have had an injury in the last 24 hours you should consider icing it first to minimize swelling. You want to be careful though and only ice 20 minutes at a time, as any longer application could result in tissue damage by frost bite or lack of blood flow. Frost bites can also be prevented by adding a thin towel between the ice and the skin.
Ice can also be used for chronic injuries due to overuse and should be applied after activity.
Heat is commonly used for chronic injuries to help loosen muscle tissue and increase blood flow in the area in pain. Muscle tissue should be heated prior to any activity which can be accomplished with a heating pad or a wet, hot towel. You should make sure that the heat is moderate and not leave it too long to avoid getting burned.
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