Injuries: Ice pack or heat pack

People often ask us, with my injury should i use ice or Heat?

Well here are a few simple tips:

When to use an Ice Pack: 
  1. If the injury is pretty recent (less than 6 months old) then use an ice pack.
  2. Use it as frequently as you can. Not just for the first day or so, but every day until the pain has resolved.
  3. Use a proper ice pack preferably (although a pack of frozen peas can work well too).
  4. Never put an ice pack directly on your skin (you'll burn yourself!). Instead wrap it lightly in a tea towel (towels are often too thick).
  5. Never apply it for more than 20 minutes. 
  6. Apply it as often as you can. At most 20 minutes on, 1 hour off, whenever you get the chance.
When to use a heat pack:
  1. If the injury is pretty chronic (more than 6 months old) and ultimately a long standing problem (arthritic problems etc) then use a heat pack.
  2. Apply it as often as you like, but preferably for no longer than 20 - 30 minutes at a time.
  3. Use a proper heat pack preferably (although a hot water bottle can work well too).
Put simply if you hurt yourself playing sport or during any other activity: Use an ice pack. Heat is only applicable with long standing injuries and can often make recent injuries worse.

The above advice will give you some indication of the use of ice packs or heat but ultimately a physio will always give you the best recommendation.