Saturday, January 28, 2006

Roy pIrRUNg - Icing works

Roy pIrRUNg column: When it comes to sports injuries, icing works =

January 27, 2006

If you have ever been to the beaches along Lake Michigan on New Year's Day, you have probably heard the chant of local Polar Bear club members prior to taking the plunge.

"It's not cold enough!" is heard by spectators bundled up, trying to
stay warm, as skimpily clad revelers run into the frigid waters in an
attempt to celebrate the New Year.

Some of us wonder about the sanity of this ritual.

I think I finally have it figured out=97mostly.

As you know, ice is a treatment for injury that reduces inflammation.
In fact, it is one of the most important treatments in an array of
medical methods.

This simple tool, used to reduce swelling, is also one of the simplest methods, not to mention cheapest.

Following an injury, icing the injured body part is your first line of defense and the quickest means to promote healing.

While jumping or at least gently immersing your body into a hot tub
may feel nice, it will not promote healing.

Heat actually will increase the swelling and bleeding associated with
your injury.

However, cold, and more specifically ice, will penetrate the skin and
fat barriers that protect your muscles, tendons and ligaments and
effectively reduce the swelling and bleeding caused by your injury.

Ice works by significantly reducing blood flow to the area you are
applying the ice treatment to.

Blood will be shunted from the area and you will be able to see the
effects of the ice application with the area being treated turning
white because of the decreased blood flow.

The blood supply will increase after several minutes of icing when
your body realizes it has more than enough warmth and, to stave off a
frozen body part, will increase the blood flow to the affected area.

Now, with the increased blood flow to the body part, the body pumps in nutrients and will flush out waste products created by the injury.

You will know this is occurring as your skin begins to turn red when
the blood flow rises to adequate levels in reaction to the stimulation created with ice applications.

Icing can be done several times daily, with applications ranging from
15 to 20 minutes each.

The most important application is the one you do immediately following your injury.

Timing is everything when it comes to a positive response to icing.
The longer you delay treatment the more inflammation will occur.

If the injury allows you to continue your exercise routine without too much pain, continue to ice after your sessions.

Do not ice prior to exercise, as an ice treatment will act as an
anesthetic, thereby reducing your body's alarm system, indicating
further pain. That could allow you to run through an injury, causing
further damage.

One of the most convenient means of performing a treatment is to pack
a towel with ice. Simply wrap the towel around the injured area.

For smaller areas it is recommended that you massage the area using
ice. Place Styrofoam cups filled with water in the freezer. Once
frozen, apply, and peel back portions of the cup as the ice melts.
These cups allow you to hold the ice while the insulated cup protects
your hand from the cold.

Some experts do not recommend ice packs that are usually called "blue =

One reason for this is that they may be too cold and cause a "burning" sensation or possible skin or nerve damage.

The commercial packs may also lose their effect in 5 to 10 minutes,
cutting the required time for effective treatment.

And now, you too know why "Polar Bears" don't use "blue ice"=97it's not cold enough. Hence, the plunge!

Although the "Bears" don't seem to be in too much pain, I do wonder
how so many were injured.

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