How long should you ice a sports injury

Sports Injury

Injuries are no strangers to athletes. There are plenty of athletes who are lucky enough to get by without getting hurt, but many athletes will suffer from some form of injury during their careers.

Whether you’re a professional or a recreational athlete, a sports injury can strike you when you’re least expecting it. When this happens, you’ll need to start treating it immediately.

Many sports injuries require medical attention for treatment. However, before you are able to see a healthcare professional for assistance, there are a few steps you need to follow for caring for your injury.

These include resting, icing, compression and elevating. Resting, compressing and elevating are not too complicated on their own, but icing can be a little intimidating if you’re not sure how to do it right.

What you need to know about icing a sports injury

Icing a sports injury is important because it helps reduce inflammation. Inflammation causes swelling that is painful and makes it difficult for rehabilitating the injured area. There is a finesse to icing an injury, though.

Not icing enough can make little difference in your inflammation. Icing too long can hurt your recovery process because it constricts your blood vessels.

Everyone is different, so you should talk to your physician for personal advice. That being stated, here are some general tips for icing that should help with your recovery without causing harm:

  • Use an ice pack or a bag of frozen vegetables. Never apply ice directly to the skin as this can damage your skin tissue.

  • Wrap the cold pack in a towel or some form of insulation if using it on your fingers or toes. These extremities have weaker blood flow and can be irritated by the cold.

  • Ice for about 15 to 20 minutes. Any longer can cause some of the blood vessels to constrict.

  • Do this a few times a day for a couple of days with at least an hour between each session.

What about heat?

After icing your injury for a couple of days, you should switch to heating. It’s important to wait a couple of days like this before heating because heat can make inflammation worse. Once the inflammation has gone down, heating the injury can help soothe the pain while recovering.

Contact Whatcom Physical Therapy for sports injury treatment

Icing an injury is a great way to begin your treatment, but you’ll likely need to visit a physical therapist to see your treatment all the way through. Our team at Whatcom Physical Therapy is skilled in many methods and techniques that can help reduce your pain and improve your recovery.

Contact our team today for more information or to schedule an initial appointment.