Two of the most popular home therapies for injuries are heat and ice. As simple as these two modalities seem, there is often confusion surrounding their use. Bowlers experience a number of issues that ice and/or heat could be valuable for.
Here is the breakdown.
Ice is used for acute injuries to the soft tissue of the body. The purpose of ice is to reduce inflammation and reduce pain. Ice is great if you have just pulled something and it hurts and is going to swell. Ideally you will be able to apply ice before the swelling becomes significant.
Ice should remain on the injured area for no more than 15 minutes. If ice is left on for too long a reaction called the “hunting effect” occurs where your body senses prolonged cold and sends blood to the area which in turn may increase inflammation. Ultimately, this would produce the opposite of the desired effect. Icing may be repeated every hour to 2 hours.
Many people have heard of “RICE Therapy”. RICE stands for REST, ICE, COMPRESSION and ELEVATION. These four actions will generally begin the healing process of many common bowling injuries.
Important note: Ice does tend to tighten soft tissue.
The therapeutic effects of heat include increasing the extensibility of collagen tissues; decreasing joint stiffness; reducing pain; relieving muscle spasms; reducing inflammation, edema, and aids in the post acute phase of healing; and increasing blood flow. The increased blood flow to the affected area provides proteins, nutrients, and oxygen for better healing. (from wikepedia January 17, 2011)
Heat should be used for more chronic pain and tension. Sprain/strains that have lingered for over a week.
Heat should not be over used. I had a patient years ago who was leaving an electric heating pad on his back all night long. He came to the office one day and asked me to look at a rash. I pulled up the back of his shirt and his back looked marbled like blue cheese. Essentially, he was cooking himself. He reduced the heat and the length and the change in pigmentation changed back to normal.
15 – 30 minutes is more than enough but heat can be applied throughout the day with breaks in between..
When used properly these two tools can be very helpful when working to get you back on your game. Wrists, elbows, knees and other areas where injuries are closer to the surface respond well to ice and heat. If you are still unsure how to use ice and heat, please contact a doctor for experienced guidance.