One of the most common questions of our patients-athletes is …. “How long do I put ice after a muscle pull or injury? How many times a day? “And many other” reasonable “questions because for several decades it was the most appropriate therapeutic approach after every injury. But let’s take things from the beginning ….Immediately after each injury we have a massive outflow of waste products of metabolism, which means high blood concentration. The ice, as we already know, causes vasoconstriction, so it is a fact that the blood outflow decreases.
This leads us to the conclusion that IMMEDIATELY after the injury is necessary the use of ice which should not exceed 15 ‘. Ice should also be applied only for the first 48 hours after the injury every 4 hours.
From the third day onwards, the use of hot patches should be controlled. The targeted temperature increase aims to increase the blood flow to the injured area with the ultimate purpose of transferring pure blood and removing the “dirt”. This helps in nourishing and restoring the injury as well as relaxing the muscles around the injury. Use of hot patches should be applied for 20 ‘4 to 5 times per day.
The areas under injury are sensitive and therefore more vulnerable to bleeding again, so immediately after the warm patches, apply cold for 5 ‘. This alternation of warm and cold patches should be done from 3 days to 7 days. From day 7 onwards, cold pads have no benefit in repairing the injury. Before your decision, do not hesitate to consult your physiotherapist. These instructions should sometimes be personalized depending on the type of injury.
Foufopoulos Nikolaos Physiotherapist PT, MSc