General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Does icing help speed the heeling process? Rss Feed  
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2013-10-14 6:06 PM

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Subject: Does icing help speed the heeling process?

I have been wondering this lately.  I tend to be lazy about icing my aches and pains. Mostly, I think this is because I feel that it just has a temporary effect of decreasing pain.  Certainly I think it important for acute injuries with swelling but what about nagging aches and pains.  Anyone know?

2013-10-14 6:39 PM
in reply to: desertchica

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Sin City
Subject: RE: Does icing help speed the heeling process?

I was going to write something, but found an explanation that expressed my understanding of the thoughts about icing as I understand them:

The ice bath is thought to:

  • Constrict blood vessels and flush waste products out of the affected tissues
  • Decrease metabolic activity and slow down physiological processes
  • Reduce swilling and tissue breakdown
  • With rewarming, the increased blood flow speeds circulation, and in turn, improves the healing process.

I rarely do them.  Only after very long runs and/or bikes.  I almost think post workout massage is even more beneficial to me - or least seems to be the case after races compared to the times I don't get them.  I'm a fan of long workout/post workout compression as well.

2013-10-16 7:54 PM
in reply to: desertchica

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Subject: RE: Does icing help speed the heeling process?
I completed my first marathon two weeks ago. My longest run before that was 16 miles so when I got to 18/20 and beyond I was in some pretty good pain. At the end my knees and feet were not my friends. I sat in cold bath and then dumped in 20lbs of ice, sat for 20 minutes. The next day I have very little pain if any.

IMO the key to an ice bath is approach. I sit in an empty tub and fill it with cool water slowly turning it colder and colder until it is only cold water. Then once the water is covering my thighs I dump in the ice. I sit in it 15 minutes or until its all melted.

Love the no soreness feeling later in the day and espically the next day.
2013-10-16 8:55 PM
in reply to: Dub_Z

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Wendell, NC
Subject: RE: Does icing help speed the heeling process?
It's definitely the best part of the cup cake
2013-10-17 7:34 AM
in reply to: #4877026


Subject: RE: Does icing help speed the heeling process?
As a PT I have used ice baths on myself and clients for years to aid recovery. They do work, but as Kido mentioned, you may find other recovery modalities like massage and compression to be equally or more helpful.

For me personally, when I know a lot of muscle soreness is on the way, nothing helps as much as the ice bath. It still seems like magic! I've found that 10-20 minutes is enough....over 20 doesn't seem to be as productive. I usually wear my cycling or running shorts into the tub to protect bits, and will even throw on a fleece jacket to keep from shivering too much.

One thought on why/how it works is not the that it stops the inflammatory process (after all, some inflammation is good and necessary for healing) but that it speeds it along because the cool provides a better environment for the enzymes, hormones, macrophages, etc to do their work.

Good luck!
2013-10-17 7:48 AM
in reply to: desertchica

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New York, NY
Subject: RE: Does icing help speed the heeling process?
ice is a great antiinflammatory
does not damage your kidneys like nsaids and gets to where needed

2013-10-17 8:07 AM
in reply to: TriToy

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St Catharines, Ontario
Subject: RE: Does icing help speed the heeling process?
Pete Magill says (regarding running):

Icing is the silver bullet that makes our sport possible. We need to ice each and every sore spot that could potentially progress to injury. And we need to begin our icing within 15 minutes after completing our run. This is truly a case of a stitch in time saving nine.
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