Ice and heat therapy can be of great benefit if used correctly… many athletes however, do not use it correctly or sometimes even not at all.
When referring to injuries, the general rule of thumb is as follows:
- Acute injuries (within 5-7 days after injury), always apply ice to decrease the swelling.
- Sub acute injuries (injury 1-2 weeks old), start using contrast therapy. Apply ice for 10 minutes, followed by 10 minutes’ heat.
- Chronic injuries (injury older than 2 weeks), heat therapy has been proven to be most beneficial to increase circulation. Poor circulation is often the biggest problem in chronic injuries, which will delay healing.
After vigorous exercise ice bath therapy is scientifically proven to aid in:
- Constricting the blood vessels to reduce swelling.
- Decreasing lactic acid build-up and preventing pooling of waste products in the muscles.
- DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) occurring after training is prevented and the athlete will feel less stiff.
Using ice therapy after training will speed up recovery and prevent future injuries. Immersion in an ice bath for 10-15 minutes after training is sufficient to achieve the above-mentioned effects.
Injury occurrence and recurrence will decrease dramatically when you start incorporating ice bath therapy and stretches in your post-exercise routine.