An ice/elevate or heat/lower question…

(2 discussions)

As part of my degree I studied exercise and health and one of the topics that I always took for granted and never bothered to question was the fact that ice is always the first thing you apply to an injury be it a twisted ankle, an elbow in the cheek, whatever… Now, I understand that the reason for this is to reduce swelling by diverting the blood away from the injured site. You are told to do this as soon as the injury occured and for some time after (RICE). But surely this is counter productive, going against the body’s natural instinct to deliver blood to the site to repair the broken tissues and heal the injury. So if anything, shouldnt the advice be forget about the ice, play on if you can, if you cant go home and have a warm bath and Rest, Heat, Compress and Lower.
Also if the ice/elevate thing does work then why after you have suffered an injury should you not drink alcohol? With the theory being that alcohol constricts the capillaries, directing blood away from the skin and away from the site of the injury preventing the natural healing process to occur- surely the same thing that ice and elevation does. So alcohol MUST be a good thing for the injury- it mimicks ice.
Im kind of playing devils advocate here, because I know the ice/elevate thing is proven but Im confused. Im looking for a clear cut explanation?



    9 10

    Hi Dan,

    I think the answer comes when you consider that the internal injury is bleeding just like your finger does when you grate it into your romano cheese.

    Icing initially promotes increased circulation in the area (the body’s attempt to re-warm “at-risk” tissue) this carries off fluid collecting in the area and prevents swelling from inhibiting later circulation. Compression and elevation reduce BP at the site of the injury and facilite clotting.

    Alcohol “thins” the blood inhibiting clotting and so would be counter productive (…from a wound standpoint. As far as sedation goes…)

    Continued use of ice can moderate inflammation and promote circulation provided it is not left on too long which promotes vasoconstriction.

    Alternating Ice/heat I’ve found absolutely brilliant for reducing swelling as each change stimulates another influx of circulation to moderate the temperature change.

    How’s that? (Or are your petunias suddenly doing incredibly well )



    9 10

    dan c,

    RICE is used to avoid the disproportionate inflammatory response that leads to additional tissue damage. Ignoring an injury and “working through the pain” is a silly thing to do and should be reserved for idiots who strive to permanently disable themselves.

    I am sure you are very aware of this as you stated that you “studied exercise and health”.

    About alcohol… Oh yea, I get it. For medicinal purposes right?

    How long do you plan to staying drunk after an injury?

    I can’t ever remember seeing EMT’s or athletic trainers running out to help an injured athlete carrying a bottle of booze and a shot glass!

    dan c, I think you are just being silly!

    If your goal is achieving a specific goal, and a focused state of mind is what is required to achieve that specific goal, than the primary goal shifts from achieving a specific goal to achieving a specific state of mind. Xrsyzer


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *