We see athletes taking ice baths, mid game athletes rest with ice on their knees or shoulders and if you ever go to a physical therapy office you will most likely receive ice as part of your care. So where does this ice obsession come from?
LeBron James cools off with ice wrapped around his knees and his feet in icy water following his fire performance in defeat to Golden State Warriors during NBA Finals. Image from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/othersports/article-3124613/LeBron-James-cools-ice-fire-performance-not-Golden-State-Warriors-better-Cleveland-Cavalier-s.html
In 1978 Dr Gabe Mirkin a sports medicine doctor coined the acronym RICE which stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation for the treatment of athletic injuries. Thanks to him Ice and the acronym RICE became the standard treatment for injuries and sore muscles.
But based on the past 36+ years researchers realized that out of this acronym RICE, Rest and Ice does not work. Rest causes muscle athropy. "Use it or you lose it" meaning if you don't move, you lose flexibility and your strength. With ice they realized that healing requires inflammation. When you damage tissue through trauma or develop muscle soreness by exercising you heal by using your immunity, the same biological mechanisms that your body uses to kill germs. Your body needs this inflammation in order to properly heal. When you apply ice the blood vessels near the injury constrict and this shuts off the blood flow that otherwise would bring in the healing cells of inflammation, oxygen and nutrients.
In 2014: Dr. Gabe Mirkin, updated the blog on his website entitled Why Ice Delays Recovery where he explains that actually anything that reduces inflammation also delays healing. So ice, anti-inflammatories such as advil and tylenol, cortisone shots and immune suppressants that are used to treat arthritis and cancer not only delay recovery and healing but also weaken your tissues. (Do cortisone shots actually make things worse?) (Use anti inflammatory spices instead of anti inflammatory medications)
So what you should use instead:
Chinese Trauma & Sports Medicine’s approach to examining and treating injuries is not all that different from that of Western Medicine. The major difference is: we don't recommend immobilization for injuries - we work through them - and we never use ice. Not only it wasn’t available thousands of years ago, but in fact, we have a saying --“Ice is for dead people”-- meaning, ice is great for preserving things in a static state. It slows or halts the decay of matter, such as the pizza slice in your fridge and ice keeps dead bodies from decomposing, but it does not help the damaged tissue repair itself. Ice does reduce the initial swelling, inflammation and pain, but at a cost.
Below are a few ancient tricks and formulas that can greatly reduce healing time without any of the unwanted side effects produced by icing.
Let’s look at them one by one:
When it comes to injuries, skip the ice, anti inflammatories and cortisone shots bc they do more harm than good. Turn to massage, acupuncture and physical therapy instead.
The herbs and balms/plasters can be applied quickly and easily, and be carried around in any first aid kit.
Come in for a treatment to see which product would benefit you the most!