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Old 06-11-2009, 10:09 AM   #1
Kevin Burns
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Icing Methods

Maybe someone could shed some light on this small argument I had with my girlfriend. She did her first xfit workout at an affiliate and is understandably very sore. She wanted to put some ice packs on her quads so I gave her to zip lock bags with ice in them. She refused to put them on her thighs because she said someone should NEVER put ice right on the skin. She wrapped the bags in a dishtowel and then applied.

The amount of cold radiating through the ziplock bag and towell was so small that it was probably useless.

Anyone else heard about not putting ice that close to the skin (ie: in a plastic bag or even wrapping ice in a towell) ??
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:29 AM   #2
Steven Low
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Re: Icing Methods

Ice massage directly to the skin works the best. Pretty much just like an ice bath.

I don't know why it wouldn't?
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:30 AM   #3
Kevin Burns
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Re: Icing Methods

Exactly. I'm just having trouble convincing her that putting ice close to her skin isn't going to kill her.
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Old 06-11-2009, 11:48 AM   #4
Paul Coplin
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Re: Icing Methods

People are taught that to prevent being "burned" from the ice. If you can stand it, it's not going to hurt anything for the short time being iced.
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Old 06-11-2009, 05:30 PM   #5
Rob Goodwin
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Re: Icing Methods

Icing is safe provided:

The ice is not placed against the skin.
The icing does not last longer than 15-20 minutes at a time.
The person does not have a medical condition which icing is contraindicated.

For icing to be effective, the cold must penetrate below the skin surface to the muscle, tendon, or ligament which needs to heal. The process by which cold therapy aids the injury is fairly complex and too long for this posting. However, Icing and Compression are the first modality used by MDs who specialize in sports injury or orthopedics.

A wealth of information on icing and cold therapy for soft tissue injuries is available at http://www.coldoneinc.com/Information.html

Good Luck
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Old 06-11-2009, 05:41 PM   #6
Steven Low
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Re: Icing Methods

There's nothing wrong with placing the ice directly against the skin. You just have to be wary you don't leave it on too long
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:08 PM   #7
Rob Goodwin
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Re: Icing Methods

I still maintain ice against the skin is not good. All that is required is a layer of material between the skin and the ice. A good quality ice compression wrap is more useful, less messy, and safer than a dixie cup of frozen ice. Costs more though.

Below is an excerpt from The American Journal of Sports Medicine:

There have been some deleterious side effects of cryotherapy previously documented. A number of case studies have reported the occurrence of skin burns54 and nerve damage3,,17,,44,,48 after as little as 20 to 30 minutes of cooling. Within this review, there was just one reported case of cold-induced nerve palsy, possibly caused by a continuous 40-minute ice application in the recovery room postsurgery.10 None of the other studies reported any incidences of skin burns or nerve palsies, despite applying continuous ice treatments for between 6 and 226 hours.
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Old 06-11-2009, 06:39 PM   #8
Steven Low
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Re: Icing Methods

That's from bad application... people shouldn't be leaving it on more than 20 minutes anyway.

Shrug. Each to his own.
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Old 06-11-2009, 07:14 PM   #9
Rob Goodwin
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Re: Icing Methods

Hi Steven:

I am in complete agreement with you. It is the manner and duration of the use of ice which makes the difference between best practices to aid healing and bad practices which can do skin damage.

The following from the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine:

To the best of our knowledge, continuous cryotherapy in a clinical setting lasting for several hours is associated with a certain risk of adverse effects, such as local skin injury. Furthermore, we found that cryotherapy alters tissue microcirculation significantly within the first minute of application lasting for at least the first 10 minutes with only minor changes beyond the first 10 minutes of cryotherapy application.
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Old 06-12-2009, 09:59 AM   #10
Brennan Huls
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Re: Icing Methods

Kevin,

If you wet the towel down and wring it out (moist to the touch) and use that as a barrier you can protect the skin from damage while maintaining the effectiveness of the ice. Not everyone can tolerate ice directly on their skin especially for large applications or prolonged periods of time. Hope this helps.
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