With any high impact sport like BJJ or muaythai, especially if you train competitively, the risk of injury is always present. So what should you do if you ever get injured? Should you be applying ice or a heat pack after an injury? Confused at when the appropriate time to use these aids is? Or actually, ever just wondered how these can help us? Here are some simple facts to help you decide when and what to use to help with the body aches and pains martial arts practitioners are so familiar with…

When to use ice:
1) Immediately post and up to 72 hrs post injury – (during the acute  inflammatory phase)
2) After surgery to help reduce pain and swelling
3) To help resolve acute muscle spasm
4) To help ease acute or chronic pain
When NOT to use ice: 
1) On an open wound
2) On an acute (fresh) muscle injury if you are in the middle of competition and need to continue
3) On suspected fractures
4) On chronic muscle injuries
Directions for use:
1) Use ice packs, or bags with ice cubes because they contour the body well
2) Use a towel or cloth over the skin to prevent direct skin contact (ice burn)
3) Keep ice on for 20 minutes and allow 90 minutes in between sessions for  tissue re‐warming
4) Watch out for skin blanching, numbness, burning or tingling
How does icing help? Cold application decreases tissue metabolism and causes vasoconstriction,  slowing blood flow. This helps inhibit the inflammatory response and helps to break the pain spasm cycle.
When to use heat: 
1) To help heal chronic injuries
2) To reduce spasm and muscle guarding
3) To increase blood flow and range of motion (joint stiffness)
4) To facilitate healing
When NOT to use heat: 
1) During the acute inflammatory stage of an injury (first 24-72 hours)
2) If you have impaired or poor circulation and sensation
3) To relieve swelling
Directions for use: 
1) Do not apply heat directly to the skin – for hot packs use at least 2 layers of towel to protect your skin
2) You should never feel more than mild to moderate heat
3) Apply heat for 20 minutes maximum
4) Check the area after 5 minutes of heat to ensure skin is in good condition

How does heat help? Heat application causes vasodilation and therefore increases circulation which  causes an influx of oxygen and nutrients to promote healing in the injured tissues.

Here’s to greater knowledge when it comes to affordable pain relief techniques. If you have any questions, don’t forget to visit our very own physiotherapist, every Wednesday from 6-7pm!