Read This Before You Ice That Sports Injury

Photographed by Jens Ingvarsson.
To ice or not to ice, that is the question. When it comes to sports injuries, there's much discussion about whether to use ice or heat. Ice is often a go-to treatment, but, as Shape reports, a recent paper found that icing an injured muscle may not have the recovery powers we think.

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Researchers in Australia tested the theory by treating injured rats with an ice compress minutes after receiving an injury. Shape explains that the group of rats that received ice treatment “had lower inflammatory cells and higher blood vessel regeneration for the first three days...However, after seven days, they actually had more inflammatory cells as well as fewer new blood vessels forming and less muscle fiber regeneration.” The study hasn’t been done on humans, so it’s unknown if the results would be the same.

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But, even if ice doesn’t speed up the recovery of an injury, it does provide some comfort. Certified physical therapist Timothy Mauro tells Shape, “Ice limits the nociceptive response — that of your nerve cells — which decreases pain.” Mauro still recommends applying ice to an injury immediately, even if it may not alter recovery time.

Click through to Shape for more information on this study. (Shape)

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