Should I Turn to Heat or Ice for My Sports Injury?

January 28, 2019

Regardless of how much you stretch or how careful you are, there’s a very high chance that you’ll injure yourself in one way or another while playing a sport. What should you do after that injury, though? Should you ice the injured area, or apply heat? The answer is both—ice and heat are both necessary parts of sports medicine in Fort Mill, SC. Continue reading to learn more about icing and heating your sports injuries.

Start with ice

Ice should be used immediately after a player injures himself or herself, and then applied every 20 minutes or so for the next 24 to 48 hours. Here are a few of the reasons why ice is so crucial in the healing process:

  • Pain relief: As long as it’s covered by a cloth and not applied directly to the skin, ice is your first resort for pain relief after an injury. The trick when it comes to icing, however, is to never leave it on one spot for too long. Continuously moving the ice pack around the area will ensure you don’t get frostbite while relieving as much pain as possible.
  • Reduce inflammation: Ice reduces swelling around the injury by restricting blood flow to the area. After just a few minutes of icing, you may notice that huge bruise or welt shrink significantly.

Continue treatment with heat

Ice alone won’t do the trick when you’re trying to heal a sports injury. Experts recommend applying heat once the swelling around your injury has subsided. Here’s how heat application will help you get back onto the field:

  • Increase blood flow: Ice reduces blood flow, thus reducing swelling, but at some point, you’ll need to get your blood flowing back to that area once again. The fastest way to do that is to apply a heating pad to the area. Much like ice, use your heating pad every 20 to 30 minutes for maximum effect.
  • Warms muscles: You may find that applying heat is your new go-to ritual before a game if you’re not 100 percent better. As you can imagine, heating pads can warm up your muscles and make them looser and ready for physical activity.

What else can I do?

There are a couple of other things that you can do as an athlete that’ll help reduce pain and get you back to playing your sport sooner. First off, rest! Don’t force your body to do anything it isn’t ready to do. For example, if it hurts to stand on your injured ankle, then just don’t do it! Next, you’ll want to keep your injury wrapped in a bandage to keep swelling down. (Make sure it’s not wrapped too tightly.) Finally, elevate your injury and raise the sore body part above your heart. This will reduce pain and throbbing, and decrease bruising.

If you injured yourself or are experiencing any pain at all, be sure to come in and see our specialists at Apollo Physical Medicine. We specialize in sports medicine in Fort Mill, SC, and we guarantee we can get you back out onto the field or court as quickly as possible.

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