ice packs are an easy choice for icing during the initial
treatment process. Remember Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation are
the keys to injury treatment.
are many different ways to
apply ice. Below you will find some of the easiest and most effective
Making an Ice Pack
The best ice bags are usually made from crushed or flaked ice, placed
into a small plastic bag and then tied off at the top.
using a small
amount of ice, squeezing out all of the air from the bag, and tying the
knot at the very top, you can produce an ice bag that can be flattened
out and wrapped around an injury, completely covering the injured area.
This is the most common way a certified athletic trainer applies ice.
It is easy, inexpensive, and effective.
for "at home" ice bags, finding crushed or
flaked ice is sometimes not that easy. Trying to crush your own ice in
either a blender or by hand is time consuming. And Ziploc type bags
aren't the easiest to use for ice application.
what are you to do?
Frozen Peas Anyone?
Believe it or not, you can buy a very
inexpensive, reusable, and effective ice bag at your local grocery
Frozen peas, (or frozen corn for that
matter) make a great ice
bag. The vegetable is small, similar to crushed or flaked ice, and is
already sealed in a plastic bag. Simply take them out of the freezer,
wrap them around that sprained ankle, and leave on for 15-20 minutes.
When you are done, put them back and save for next time.
do not recommend you mix them in with your other frozen goods, as they
do not taste very good after the fact.
I regularly recommend frozen peas as an effective way of icing to my
patients, and they all have seen good results. Effective, inexpensive,
Commercial Ice Packs
Of course, if you do not have a taste for frozen vegetables, there are
many different commercial ice packs available on the market. From the
one use "smack packs" to the re-freezable gel packs, they can be found
at your local drug store or pharmacy.
Not all ice packs are equal. When looking at commercial packs,
should purchase one that is flexible when cold, so that it will mold
around your injured body part. This increases the contact between the
skin and the ice pack, and allows for greater cooling. If you are
purchasing an ice pack, you should also try to find one that is
re-useable, as single use packs are more expensive in the long run.
Commercial cold packs that provide compression as
well as cooling are the best choices for regular use.
compression, they aid greatly in the cooling of the tissues, as well as
helping to control any swelling. While they are more expensive than
frozen peas, I highly recommend these commercial ice packs to my
patients, especially those who are dealing with post-surgical
rehabilitation, or who have the need to ice on a regular basis.
Other Ways To Ice
In addition to ice bags, ice massage and cold soaks are another way to
ice. Depending on your injury, these may be good alternatives to an ice
pack. Ice massage
cups can easily be
made with small paper Dixie cups
(usually the bathroom size) by filling the cups 3/4 full with water and
freezing. Once frozen, tear the top half of the cup away, leaving the
bottom of the cup as a handle.
Rubbing the ice cup
on an injured area
for about 10 minutes will produce adequate cooling effects. Ice massage
is very effective for patellar tendonitis, bursitis, and shin splints.
Cold soaks can also be effective for icing an injury. This is most
useful for ankle and lower leg injuries, as well as hand and wrist
injuries. It is hard to soak a sore shoulder...unless you
are willing to submerge your whole body.
Preparing an ice soak or cold bath can be done in
any type of container sufficient in size to hold enough water to
submerge the injured part. Combine ice and water until it reaches
temperatures between 55 and 65 degrees F. Submerge for 15-20 minutes.
Applying an ice bag, ice massage, or cold bath can produce many
sensations in the injured body part. The response of the body varies
from person to person, but the most common feelings encountered include
tingling, burning, and mild discomfort, followed by a numbness and loss
This is especially true when ice
bags are wrapped on
tightly. These sensations are all normal. The burning
with icing is not damaging the skin, but more an overload stimulation
of the nerves. After the first 3-5 minutes, this burning subsides. But
in order for a ice to be effective, it should be left on
continuously for 15-20 minutes. So grin and bear that burning, it is
doing your more good than harm!
Icing can cause irritation for people who have sensitive
skin, or sensitivity to heat and cold. If you have never iced before, be cautious with your ice application the first few times to see how your body reacts
One word of caution regarding some commercial ice
packs. Re-freezable gel packs often contain chemicals that help keep
them flexible even when frozen. These chemicals can cause the packs to
be colder than freezing (32 degrees F, 0 degrees C) and should NOT be
placed directly on the skin.
Use a moist cloth or
towel between the ice
pack and the skin. Ice packs using ice, frozen vegetables, ice massage,
or temperature controlled ice soaks will not cause frostbite
or frost burn if used appropriately. As the ice pack contacts the skin,
it begins to warm up,
or melt, and the temperature of the skin never dips below freezing,
which is necessary for damage to occur.
Ice bags can take on many different forms, from commercial gel packs to
frozen vegetables. How you apply ice is not as important as the fact
that you DO apply ice. For more on the benefits of ice, read about the RICE
Principles for acute injury treatment.
Didn't find what you were looking for? Search SII for more information...
Running Pain Solutions
The key to getting rid of minor aches before they become major pains is a simple, total body prevention program.
Written for Runners by a runner, you'll learn a holistic approach to improving mobility, restoring normal movement and muscle activation patterns, and restoring the body and mind connection.
This Kindle Book contains a step by step program to keep you running pain free. Included are detailed instructions and illustrations for exercises to improve mobility, balance,
neuromuscular control, strength and endurance. Only $7.49!
Get Your Copy Today!