Are you one of those athletes that submerge themselves in ice baths and cold whirlpools to relieve tension and pain associated to sore muscles? I bet you didn’t know that ice may not be the best treatment for aching muscles - in fact, it could even be detrimental to recovery according to the Journal of Sports Medicine.
Let me give you a little history on icing and maybe you’ll consider changing your recovery or treatment method after this. I come from a lifeguarding background. Back in the day when I did my courses it was established that for any type of injury R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compress and elevate) was the solution. The reason R.I.C.E. was recognized as the solution, was because of an incident where a person had severed one of there fingers and someone had the bright idea of putting the finger in an ice bucket until it arrived at the hospital, for the surgeon to reattach the limb. Ever since then, ice is the go to for everything, even brain freeze.
Now the reason why ice makes sense to use for a severed limb, but not for recovery and/or and injury is because ice does just that, freezes the area! It limits or even stops blood flow… What you must understand is that your blood is the fluid in your body which carries all the necessary nutrients for you to heal. So, if you are restricting blood flow to an injured limb you are limiting potential recovery.
Well how do I get rid of the inflammation or swelling? First of all, we must understand the difference between inflammation and swelling because they cannot be interchanged as they do not mean the same thing. Inflammation is a critical part of the body’s healing process. Without inflammation, you cannot heal; we actually need it to survive. As to swelling; it is simply the accumulation of fluid in a given area.
Actually, the more you ice, the greater the amount of swelling is created, as you are limiting the waste of the inflammation, to properly drain through the lymphatic system.
So what is the best way to prevent swelling?
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