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Do ice packs and baths help with injuries?

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It takes approx. 3 minutes to read this article

Cooling injured body parts has been very common among athletes for many years. But is it an effective method? Or maybe only popular? In this article we will try to answer this question.

If you occasionally appear at sporting events or watch them in the media, you have probably noticed that ice is a friend of many athletes. But is putting ice on sore spots a proven method? To explain this aspect it would be best to refer to the relevant studies, but unfortunately there are none that unequivocally confirm the good effect of cooling tissues on the healing process. What is more, there are studies that say that the treatment prolongs the regeneration process

This method used to be taught at medical universities and at all physiotherapeutic trainings. Today it also has many fans. They believe that it is a great way to reduce swelling and eliminate pain and inflammation.

Why might cooling an injured area not be a good idea?

In 2013, the Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research revealed an article proving that cooling muscles delays their recovery after training. Another study confirmed this claim. It concluded that post-workout immersion in an ice bath reduces muscle mass and strength gains.

The fact is that cooling muscles eliminates pain or makes it bearable. The problem is that the inflammation created in the sore part of the body is designed to regenerate the damaged tissues. For this reason, when you use ice packs, you block the body’s natural responses and weaken the immune system’s response. Even though you think it was helpful for you, it is unfortunately quite the opposite. The inflammation and swelling associated with it may seem like something undesirable, but it is not at all. Our bodies know best how to take care of themselves and fight injuries with these solutions

Doctors still recommend ice packs. Why?

This question is hard to answer. Most likely, doctors so insist on cooling damaged tissues because they are simply used to it. For many years, this knowledge has been taught to them and it was believed to work. So it’s not surprising that they continue to replicate these methods today

How do you deal with injuries?

You already know that cooling problem areas may or may not be a good idea. So what should you do in the case of an injury? It depends on what area is injured. If your cruciate ligaments are injured, you definitely need to rest

However, if you have a sprained ankle, it’s worth finding a physiotherapist quickly who will recommend appropriate exercises to help you get back to full fitness. There are also devices for electrical neuromuscular stimulation. These induce muscle contractions, which in turn improves the function of the lymphatic system.

Main photo: Yogendra Singh/unsplash.com

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