The idea for today’s post came courtesy of Anna. She said that we’ve covered icing for recovery or injuries pretty extensively, but what about heat? When is it appropriate to use a heating pad on an injured area?
Here’s some quick tips:
Prior to exercise, you perform a warm-up. Similarly, you should use heat before class. It’s no coincidence that you may sometimes do a cool-down after a WOD, and likewise this would be the time to apply ice.
Heat is useful to loosen up a chronically sore area, such as your back or knees. However heat also increases inflammation, so it should NOT be used for acute injuries or post-workout when your tissues are already inflamed in response to exercise. You can use either electric heating pads or wet a washcloth with warm water and apply to the area.
Ice helps knock down inflammation, so it’s great if you’ve just injured yourself. Likewise, after exercise when you induced microtrauma, it can help you recover (ice bath anyone?). If you have a chronic injury, it can also help to ice after exercise to knock down the inflammation from the recent activity. You shouldn’t be icing prior to exercise though so either switch to heat or just stop icing a couple of hours before you come into the gym. Commercial ice packs, ice cubes in a plastic bag or even bags of frozen vegetables are all great options to apply the cold.
With either ice or heat, you shouldn’t go longer than 20 minutes at a time, once per hour. You also do not want to fall asleep with either applied to avoid risk of potential frostbite or burns.
Polar Plunge on ice baths
Ice, Ice, Baby on ice massage and icing in general
Running Skills and Drills
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