Physio Art Blog



To Ice or Not to Ice

5th November 2021

Everybody knows that we should ice a brand new injury….. just like we know that eating carrots will help us see in the dark or eating chocolate is an aphrodisiac…..
My own children are obsessed with getting an ice pack out of the freezer for the slightest of head bumps. And they haven’t learn that from me!

So what is the deal with icing injuries….?
The acronym RICE dates back to the late 1970’s when Dr Gabe Mirkin recommended using Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation for acute injuries, to minimise the inflammatory process and aid healing. It has been developed a little over the years with the addition of P to include Protection giving us PRICE.

In 2012 research identified that ‘Optimal Loading’ (OL) aids recovery through cell regeneration induced by light mechanical loading in the early stages. Subsequently, Rest (R) or a lack of movement is detrimental to recovery. This gave us the acronym POLICE

Most people would say they feel better for using ice. But why is this? Is it because we are doing something we believe to be a good thing? Or is it because ice has an analgesic effect?

Could ice actually be detrimental and do more harm?

When we injure ourselves, our body sends signals out to our inflammatory cells (macrophages) which release the hormone Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1). These cells initiate healing by killing off damaged tissue. Although when ice is applied, we may actually be preventing the body’s natural release of IGF-1 and therefore delaying the initiation of the healing process. It is for this reason that in 2014 Dr Mirkin acknowledged changes in the research and ice was retracted from acute injury management protocols.

It’s all about PEACE & LOVE nowadays

So we have come a long way in the last 40 years, and we know rest and ice probably isn’t that helpful. Of course, we need to protect an injury from very painful movements in the first couple of days, reduce swelling with elevation, avoid taking anti-inflammatory medications, become informed about our injury and what to expect, get moving, think positive, do whatever exercise that we can to keep our bodies moving and our mind healthy!

So, I’d say leave those frozen peas to go with your sausage and mash… keep eating your carrots simple because they are good for you .. and as for the chocolate….. maybe try some oysters.

Please get in touch if you need any more specific advice about a pain or injury…

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