As a licensed massage therapist I get this question a lot. Especially when ones have been in a car accident or a slip and fall at work. Many have been taught the philosophy to ice for 24hrs, heat for 24hrs, or something similar. Were exactly that came from, I’m not sure, because it is NOT founded in science. The facts of the matter that we need to discuss and understand is what happens after you hurt yourself… A Pain response will illicit your brain to increase blood flood to help in the repairing process. This much need “new” blood is essential to repairing the muscles that have been damaged. The break down happens when either this response does not turn off or if the blood flow increase has no exit due to scare tissue. This is what we call inflammation. Putting heat on an area that is already warm will only sooth the pain temporarily due to the nerves getting overly stimulated. In the end, heat will only act to increase the blood flow to an area that already is getting too much. So besides getting a massage to help alleviate the blockage in the muscle, we need to SLOW down blood flow. By applying ICE, yes ICE, to an area will decrease the blood flow by restricting the blood vessels themselves. Now this is where timing is everything. Because if ice is left on an area for more than 20 minutes the opposite effect kicks in. This is a fail safe response from your brain fearing hypothermia and death. After this golden 15-20 mins has elapsed, your brain will then increase blood flow (heat) to stop the tissues from dying. This is ultimately why it is completely unnecessary to heat after ice! Your body is already almost 100 degrees! Once the tissue has decreased the blood flow, it has allowed the area a chance to reestablish a normal blood flow ammount to bring in the “new and fresh” and exit the “old and damaged” cells. So ICE for 15-20 minutes, yes even if it winter outside. You will thank me later when your recovery time is cut in half!
Car Accidents and Massage
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Pain & Massage Therapy
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