first_imgBY NIAMH DAVIS: Ice or Heat? There is so much confusion about which one is best and when to use them.They both have been popular methods of treatment for adults and children but now there seems to be a big debate as to whether or not they are of any benefit.Ice is a mild, tablet free way to numb the pain of inflammation. It is important to take care when using ice, not to put it directly on the skin and only ice for up to 15 minutes every hour. If symptoms persist after 24-48 hours, then going to get it checked out would be your next point of call.It has always been used in conjunction with Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE) for any sprains or bumps that caused inflammation and it served its purpose.Research has developed over the past few years and showed that using that treatment method for longer than 48 hours is not always beneficial however.To rest a mild injury for too long will impair healing, if you can’t wait, get it seen to straight away, or take the joint or muscle through different planes of motion so that you do not lose the range you had prior to the injury. Ice baths/cryotherapy – This constricts blood vessels and decreases metabolic activity. When you get out of ice baths and the tissues then start to warm up, the blood flow returns quickly which is said to flush harmful metabolic debris out of your muscles.This is one of the reasons after a race if possible people jump into the sea or a lake, the cold water is said to aid recovery. For people who compete regularly or had a particularly hard training session then this method can be useful.Check how long a centre recommends using the ice baths and if it is your first time then do not use it for the full length of time.A lot of coaches and trainers would suggest this (cryotherapy) treatment for young athletes, aged 10 – 16. Personally, I would NOT recommend that. If there is inflammation, then by all means use ice but for young children, it may have side effects that are avoidable.Heat is another non-expensive treatment method that can work wonders for your muscles. It can be used for tired, achy muscles or mild stiffness and tightness. Whether it’s a hot water bottle, a microwavable heat pack or a nice warm shower the heat can even take the edge off some types of chronic pain. Hydrotherapy which is a heated pool, 34 degrees Celsius, can be great for relieving muscle pain and conditions such as arthritis.Some GPs even use it as an alternative to tablets. Heat is not suitable for open wounds or areas of inflammation and if used on a fresh injury can cause a lot more pain.Within reason, when it comes to ice or heat it is about what works for you but, as always, if in doubt you should ask a professional.It remains a highly debatable subject. Guest Columnist Niamh Davis is a neuro-musclar physical therapist based at Fit-Hub, Mountain Top, Letterkenny.Her Facebook page is here:https://www.facebook.com/Neuromuscular11/?ref=ts&fref=tsNIAMH DAVIS’ SPORTS INJURY CLINIC: ICE OR HEAT? was last modified: May 8th, 2016 by John2Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:Fit-Hub Letterkennyice or heatNiamh Davissports injurysports injury cliniclast_img