The ‘ice vs. heat’ argument.

Now, I’m no doctor. But I’d like to think I know a good deal about pain relief and the way the human body works, seeing as how I spend about 95% of the time in some kind of pain, and about 50% of my reading materials consist of something to do with my health.

Time and time again I hear about people putting ice on a muscle cramp. I have one word for that.


I guess that’s six words. But think about it for a minute. What do you get when you jump in a cold swimming pool? CRAMPS. What happens when you eat ice cream too fast? The blood vessels in your head CRAMP and you get a headache. Ice makes things tighten. It makes things shorten. It restricts blood flow to the area. All of these things are useful of you have an injury such as a bruise, sprain, joint inflammation, broken bone, or bleeding of some kind. Ice reduces inflammation that leads to swelling.

As far as a pulled muscle goes, this is an instance where it is ok and probably necessary to use ice, but only for the first 24 hours to reduce inflammation. After that, it’s time for heat, because it will probably cramp up, and the heat will help it relax.

If your neck is tight because you sat at the computer too long, slept like a pretzel, or just kinked it trying to back out of a parking space, then you need to use heat. If you’re like me and you get cramps that are due to no particular activity, use heat also.

I see athletes and medical staff of all kinds mess this up. It makes me mad because people are causing themselves all kinds of unnecessary pain and discomfort because they have the wrong information.


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