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End of the Ice Age Do I Ice or Heat

Does ice therapy delay the healing process? There is much debate on whether or not ice use is effective in treatment or if it’s essentially doing nothing. When muscles and other tissues are damaged, the body starts up an inflammatory process that sends cells called macrophages to the damaged tissues to promote healing. Studies have shown that applying ice to the injured site to reduce swelling actually delays healing by preventing the body from starting up this inflammatory process and therefore preventing the release of macrophages to the injured site.

Furthermore, ice application causes the blood vessels near and around the injured or damaged muscles and tissues to constrict. This constriction of blood vessels restricts blood flow, which brings the inflammatory cells to the injured site, therefore, further slowing down the healing process. 

Ice also reduces strength, speed, endurance and coordination. Ice is often used as a method of short-term relief to assist an injured athlete to recover or get back into a game or activity faster. However, recent research has identified that ice in fact interferes with the athlete’s strength, speed, endurance, power and coordination. Alternatively, a short warming period of the affected tissues restored the strength, speed and coordination. It is recommended that is any cooling down immediately after an injury is to occur, it should only be for a short five minute period followed by warming prior to returning to activity. 


If you have encountered an injury, it is best to stop exercising immediately. If the injury consists of an open wound, it should be cleaned and checked. Its best to elevate the injured part as this will use gravity to help reduce the swelling. If the injury is merely a soft tissue or muscle damage a compression bandage may be applied by a trainer or health professional. Although applying ice to an injury has been proven to delay the healing process it can be used to reduce pain and therefore it may be used for a short period of five minutes to reduce the painful symptoms felt directly after an injury.

Our friendly, professional chiropractors are well trained in diagnosis and offering care programs, for further advice on whether to use heat or ice please do not hesitate to contact us on 9300 0095 or book in online at We are located in Central Walk Joondalup – 6027 in Perth’s northern suburbs. We are central to Currambine – 6028, Burns Beach - 6028 , Mindarie – 6030, Ridgewood – 6030, Craigie – 6025, Mullaloo – 6027, Connolly – 6027 and Kallaroo – 6025.


July 27, 2017