Training-Room Tips: Intermittent Icing Method is Most Effective

Training-Room Tips: Intermittent Icing Method is Most Effective

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education

There are several methods for icing soft tissue injuries such as ankle sprains. A traditional method is to ice for 20 minutes every two hours.

However, research has shown that a different protocol may be more effective.

The Study
The study involved 44 athletes and 45 non-athletes with mild-to-moderate ankle sprains. Treatment was applied within the first 72 hours of the injury.

One group used the traditional 20 minutes of icing repeated every two hours.

The second group used an intermittent regimen, icing for 10 minutes, removing the ice for 10 minutes, then icing again for another 10 minutes. This also was repeated every two hours.

While both groups showed similar improvements in pain, swelling and function over the long term, the subjects in the intermittent group experienced significantly less pain during everyday activities in the first week after the injury. Less pain allows patients to be more functional in everyday life and improves the ability to perform rehabilitation activities.

Icing for 10 minutes, resting for 10 minutes, icing for another 10 minutes, then repeating every two hours is more effective than other icing methods in reducing pain during the first week after the injury.

Reference: C.M. Bleakley, S.M. MacAuley, Cryotherapy for acute ankle sprains: a randomised controlled study of two different icing protocols. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 40: 70-705, 2006.

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