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The best advice on the use of ice

Ice therapy (Ice, Compression and Elevation) is the key component of acute soft tissue injury, but little is known about the optimum duration of individual treatment sessions, the frequency of application or the length of the overall treatment programme.

Take note of some new advice on the use of ice.

ice1. Melting iced water applied through a wet towel for repeated periods of 10 minutes is most effective.

Frozen gel packs and ice taken straight from the freezer may cause tissue damage and even burns if applied directly to the skin. And, since deep penetration of cold is necessary to have any effect on muscle tissue, topical sprays can have little effect.

2. The optimum skin temperature for reducing inflammation without causing cell damage is 10-15 degrees C

3. Using repeated rather than continuous ice applications helps sustain reduced muscle temperature without compromising the skin and allows the superficial skin temperature to return to normal while deeper muscle temperature remains low.

Athletes should be aware of rushing straight back onto the track or road following ice therapy, since reflex activity and motor function are impaired temporarily, leaving athletes more susceptible to injury for up to 30 minutes following treatment.

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