Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Icing Injuries

Back when I was in college, ice "baths" and ice massages were a regular part of running-related injury treatment. Now, however, research indicates that icing may not be an effective treatment for overuse injuries common in running.

Icing may be beneficial for acute injures like an ankle sprain, but compression may be just as effective.

Ice baths, whether in an athletic facility's whirlpool or in your own tub, may actually decrease your performance gains. Inflammation is the body's response for "healing" muscles after vigorous exercise like running, cycling, or weightlifting, and icing reduces inflammation. While this may be helpful for sprains and other acute injuries, its benefit for recovery from a hard workout or overuse injuries is questionable.

Keep in mind that we are all an experiment of one, so if you feel icing is beneficial, do it. I take ice baths after racing marathons, but the frigid water is not something I desire on a regular basis. If, however, you are dealing with an overuse injury that hasn't healed for a week or more, stop icing. Instead, consider compression, changing footwear, and reducing the volume or intensity of your training.

Run well.

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