I am an endurance athlete. Most of you know that. I loved icing my muscles after training, racing and whenever I sprained a joint. I LOVED IT!!!!
When I came to New Zealand six years ago I was confronted with the idea, from a wise student of mine while I was teaching on the UNITEC Osteopathy course, that ice IS NOT GOOD FOR OUR RECOVERY. IT’S NOT GOOD FOR SPRAINS and … IT SLOWS DOWN THE HEALING SYSTEM.
Whilst I am very open to new ideas I thought THIS WAS A CRAZY IDEA!
Fast forward to 2019. I’m convinced. I have studied physiology. It makes sense NOT TO ICE. Basically, how I understand it is as follows:
- Ice was used since the 1950s and started in American football teams (I’m sure other countries too) because they realised they could numb the pain and get the athlete back on the field. Perfect! Goal: Performance. Non goal: Health
- If you use ice it certainly numbs the pain BUT you will then slow down the healing process BECAUSE the lovely healing molecules (I call them Pac Man molecules) that come in to clean things up cannot get in and out as fast because AFTER THE ICE, everything slows down. Like a slow flowing river. Consider this: The body knows the speed it needs to heal things and remove the inflammation. WE OFTEN WISH IT WAS FASTER BUT IT’S NOT THE BEST WAY!
- If you ice, you may feel good. This doesn’t mean good things are happening to your ankle sprain. Just because you feel good doesn’t mean recovery is happening. How many of you have experienced an ankle sprain, added the ice and felt great for half an hour and then BOOM, PAIN BACK AGAIN WITH A VENGEANCE!
My take on why we still do it?
It takes a VERY LONG TIME to:
a) Change opinions
b) We think we’ve been doing it for centuries but it’s only been the mainstream advice for 70 years!
c) It will cost a lot of money to change the first aid manuals and tell all of the coaches, GPs, Osteopaths and Physios!
d) There is a whole industry making a lot of money producing cold sprays and ice packs.
There you have it. Controversial? Have a little google and watch the videos below before you screw up your nose at my blog.
Oodles of love to you all and may you always have an open mind.
P.S. Cold water and snow immersion is something completely different. Different goal and great for your health if you practise. See below!
Photo Credit: Michelle Hyslop Photography. https://www.michellehyslop.com/
Like to know more? Here’s the short version with one of my favourite Physiotherapists in the United States, Kelly Starrett: Click HERE.
Here’s the longer, more technical version: Click HERE.