When to use ice or heat depends on how long ago the injury occured.
After you strain a ligament or muscle, it generally best to use cold (ice or cold pack) immediately and then for the next day and half. It's usually wise not to use heat, until swelling and bruising has stopped.
Cold, reduces swelling and inflammation. Use Ice for the first 48 hours after an injury. Apply for 20 minutes, remove for 20 minutes, then repeat. Do not apply directly to the skin, put a tower over the skin for protection (to avoid frostbite to tissues/skin burn) and move ice over the injury. This helps control bleeding by constricting blood vessels. Cold acts as a local anesthetic, pain relievers. Bruising associated with acute inflammation stops within 1 to 3 days.
To relieve muscle spasms, minor sprains and strains, it's usually best to apply cold for 20 minutes interval at a time every 4 to 6 hours for the first day and a half. Later in the process, you may relieve pain by applying heat, rather than cold to your injury.
Use heat 20 minutres at a time at least 24 hours after a minor injury or 48 hours after a more serious one. Place heat pack directly on the injury area, do not add pressure. Do not apply to broken skin.
COLD REDUCES INFLAMMATION - Apply cold to acute injuries, such as a newly sprained ankle or pulled muslce.
HEAT IMPROVES CIRCULATION - Best for chronic pain, such as tight muscle or a sore back.
ALTERNATE HEAT & COLD - If you have soft tissue damage or stretched ligaments. such as an ankle sprain. Heat aids kin restoring range of motion. Apply cold for 20 minutes per hour as desired for the first 24 hours. Next day, apply warmth for 20 minutes per hour as desired.
CAUTION: DON'T APPLY COLD FOR MORE THAN 24 TO 36 HOURS OR WARMTH MORE THAN 72 HOURS, SEE DOCTOR
Acute injuries are sudden, sharp, traumatic injuries that occur immediately (or within hours) and cause pain (severe pain). Most often acute injuries result some sort impact or tauma such as a fall, sprain, or collision and it's pretty obvious waht caused the injury. Common signs and symptoms of injury such as pain, tenderness, redness, skin taht is warm to the touch, swelling and inflammation. If you have swelling, you have an acute injury.
Chronic injuries, can be subtle and slow to develop. They sometimes come and go, may cause dull pain or soreness. Often result of overuse but sometimes develop when an acute injury is not properly treated and doesn't heal.
Chronic pain from overuse injuries are the result of repetitive use, stress and trauma to the soft tissues of the body (muscles, tendons, bones and joints) when there is not enough time for proper healing. Sometimes called cumulative trauma or repetitve stress injuries. Examples: Tendonitis, tennis elbow, shin splint and etc. Many injuries occur at the start of a new exercise routine (doing too much too soon), poor technique, doing only one type of exercise (stressing the same muscle group day after day), wearing the wrong shoes, running surface, using the wrong or unsafe equipment and etc.
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