Heat vs Ice

Traditional belief since its origin in 1978 is the RICE method (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). Ice an injury to stop inflammation and reduce swelling. But is this method good for aiding in recovery from injury?

Lets look at the facts, both heat and cold change the amount of blood flow to the affected area.

Heat

Heat

Heat: vasodilation- the widening of your blood vessels increases the amount of blood able to reach tissue.

Ice / Cold

Cold: vasoconstriction – the constriction of blood your vessels, decreasing the amount of blood able to reach the tissue.

Inflammation responds to injury in the following ways:

  • local swelling
  • reduced or loss of mobility
  • redness
  • heat and/or pain

Inflammation is the body’s normal response to injuries. Cells of the immune system travel to the site of injury and cause inflammation to protect and heal the area.

The body’s inflammatory response to injury is a result of the following being rushed to the
injured site:

  • white blood cells
  • proteins
  • anti-bodies
  • various supportive fluids (helps protect injury site from further injury)

So, blood is rich with oxygen & nutrients that helps:

  • promote healing & tissue extensibility of affected area (Block Therapy)
  • tight muscles begin to relax
  • scar tissue from old injuries can begin to break up

Ice/ cold reduces inflammation by decreasing blood flow:

  • decreases inflammation but also
  • decreases blood, oxygen & nutrients
  • decreases fluid buildup
  • numbs the injured/affected area(s)

In my opinion, ice numbs the area and decreases pain, however it is not the ideal method in recovery from injury and actually prolonging it.