Is It Better To Use Ice Or Heat?

Do you know when to apply heat or ice to an injury?

You’re running errands and unfortunately sprained your ankle. Do you apply heat or ice?

Now, most people will say to apply an ice pack to the injury. But, do all injuries need ice?

Even though ice is the better choice, it is important to understand that heat and cold do different things to your body. 

Is it good to put ice on an injury?

Ice is good for an injury or inflammation where tissues are damaged.

If you have a new injury, especially in the first 24-48 hours when swelling is the most intense.  You’ll want to use ice for about 10 minutes an hour. This will relieve pain by numbing the affected area and reducing swelling, inflammation, and bleeding.

Make sure you wrap the ice pack so that the coldness is not in direct contact with your skin.

Is heat good for an injury?

Applying heat to an injury brings more blood to the area where it is applied and reduces joint stiffness and muscle spasm.

This makes it useful when muscles are tight. It also reduces inflammation and is good for sore or achy muscles from an intense workout or movement. Heat relaxes muscles and allows blood vessels to expand and deliver more oxygen and nutrients to an injured area. You can use heat for up to 20 minutes an hour. But again, make sure that the heat is not too much for your skin.

If the injury includes open wounds or cuts, avoid heat because it promotes more bleeding