Should You Use Ice or Heat for an Injury?

When people get hurt, a common question for medical personnel is whether to employ ice or heat for injury. Here are some broad rules that will assist you in a variety of situations. If you have fibromyalgia, Reflex Sympathetic Disorder (RSD), or rheumatoid arthritis, your sensory pathways are altered, and you don’t respond in the same way you used to.

Ice or Heat for Injury

Ice is used for injuries and after activity, while heat is utilized to loosen and relax tissues before activity.


We recommend using ice for the first 24 to 48 hours after an acute injury occurs. Even minor muscular sprains or pulls might cause this.

Use ice after an exercise, at the end of the day, or when swelling occurs. When something is inflammatory, the more you do during the day, the more inflamed it becomes. Ice can help to reduce pain, inflammation, and swelling.

Ice can also be used to decrease inflammation in chronic disorders like overuse injuries.

Ice Methods:

  • Plastic bag with ice cubes
  • frozen towel, wet
  • Ice packs (gel)

What you should know about icing:

  • Ice for no longer than 20 minutes.
  • Before re-icing, allow your tissues to warm up fully.
  • When icing many times, a decent rule to follow is 20 minutes on, 40 minutes off.
  • If you’re icing a location with superficial nerves (such as the elbow), don’t go beyond 10 minutes.
  • You should never ice before physical activity. Your muscles should be heated, not chilly!
  • Ice might increase tightness and stiffness problems.


  • Heat is commonly used to loosen or relax tissues.
  • Heat increases blood flow in the area.
  • Heat is typically utilized to treat chronic disorders. This aids in the stimulation of blood flow to the area.
  • Heat is utilized before an exercise to loosen and relax the muscles by assisting increased blood flow.

Heat Techniques:

  • Wet towel, hot heating pad

What you should know about heating:

  • Long periods of warmth should be avoided.
  • To avoid burns, avoid using heat while sleeping.
  • Inflammation can be exacerbated by heat.

If your discomfort doesn’t go away after a few days, don’t be afraid to get assistance, because you may need physical therapy. We can assess your injury or pain and help you get back on your feet at 1on1 Physical Therapy in Asheville, NC.CONTACT US TODAY! If you enjoyed this post you may also like; Long Distance Running Tips.

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