The use of cryo (cold) and thermal (hot) therapy as a first response to pain and injury is even older than the IFC bossman Aaron himself.
While use is extremely easy and largely safe, it is important to understand the effects it has on your tissues to make sure you’re not doing yourself more harm than good.
Here is the IFC guide to hot and cold therapy:
Heat triggers vasodilation, increasing the supply of oxygen and nutrients to tissues, aiding healing and encouraging elimination of metabolic waste products.
Heat is useful to treat:
- stiff joints
- muscle tension and spasms
It should not be used for:
- acute injuries, as the vasodilation will actually increase bleeding and bruising
Cold causes constriction of the blood vessels, reducing blood flow to the area, limiting swelling and bruising. It also helps with pain by numbing the nerve endings, reducing the signals sent to the brain.
Ice is useful to treat:
- acute and inflamed injuries
- bruising and acute dressed wounds
It is not beneficial for:
- tight muscles or stiff joints
If you suffer with reduced sensation or poor vascular supply then both hot and cold therapy should be used with extreme caution to avoid burns.
As always, the most important thing is to make sure you have your injury assessed by a qualified health professional to help prevent long term and/or secondary issues.
Annie trained in the UK and has worked in both London and Singapore. She is a rugby enthusiast and head physio for the Bedok Kings RFC as well as working closely with the Singapore Rugby Union. She, and the therapy team are also affiliated with the British Dragon Boat Team and the crew from Juggernaut Fight Club.