Photographed by Jens Ingvarsson.
If you’re dealing with sore muscles, chronic pain, or nagging aches, the question that always pops up is whether to ice or not to ice. And, the answer still requires more research. “It is a lively debate in the medical world,” explains Barre3 founder Sadie Lincoln.
While every ache and injury is different, there are guiding principles that are typically a safe bet. “Clients often turn to me for advice when it comes to injury because I have been so open about my personal history with chronic low back pain,” says Lincoln. Here, Lincoln and her Barre3 Director of Operations (and her former chiropractor) Jenni Johnson, weigh in on some of the general guidelines for effectively using cold and heat therapy.
1. Ice is helpful in reducing inflammation and relieving pain in acute injuries when used within the first 72 hours. When applied to the affected area, the ice constricts the blood vessels, helping to reduce pain and inflammation, numb the area to dull pain, and reduce swelling. Try applying ice in 10-minute intervals, and never apply ice directly to the skin for more than 30 minutes at a time.
2. Chronic injuries that have developed over time, like lower back tightness or neck pain, benefit from heat because it increases blood flow to an area.
4. Ice + ___ helps. The typical advice you’ll hear is to use the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation), and more research is showing that the combination of icing and compression may indeed be best.
So let the workouts rage on — the cold never bothered us anyway.