Ice or heat for running injury

[00:00:00] It’s an unfortunate reality of running I talked about from time to time, and that is little aches and pains, a little bit of injury here and there. We want to avoid it. We do the best we can, but we know that sometimes it’s going to happen. And what we often see is people saying ice it, but also heat it. But wait. What should you do?

[00:00:31] I’m Jesse Funk, the founder of and the host of this show Runner’s High, where we talk about everything running and endurance related. So if you like running, you like running stuff, you’re going to want to stick around, hit the subscribe button to stick with me for more episodes every Tuesday and Thursday.

[00:00:46] Now we want to talk about ice versus heat. Now, this is something I’m a little bit more of an expert in as compared to the video I just previously shot about running with dogs. We had to do a lot of research. So if that’s something else you’re interested in, aside from subscribing, check that out here in a minute.

[00:01:04] But let’s talk about ice and heat. When should you use which is better? And the answer to which is better is both. This is a conversation I had with my friend who is a physiatrist. It’s basically the physical therapy version of a doctor so he can do more invasive stuff and is a little bit more a little bit more is an understatement. Educated in terms of how to manipulate the body for physical therapy.

[00:01:33] And this is a conversation we’ve had about patients often ask him which is better heat or ice? And the answer is both because they both are effective in different ways and at different times and sometimes for the same thing. So recommendations for ice often is going to be a case where you have an acute injury. Now I’m going to use the term acute injury to encompass a wide range of things.

[00:02:02] So this could be an actual injury in terms of like micro tears or tears or things like that. Or could be, I don’t know, you fell down or something and like hit your butt on the ground and now it’s swollen. That’s an acute injury. It happened kind of a snap instinct kind of situation versus chronic or long term, which is degradation over time.

[00:02:27] So an acute injury almost always going to be ice. And the idea with the ice is to reduce inflammation. This is where you are trying to increase mobility by reducing inflammation. Now, I’ve talked about inflammation before and how it actually can be somewhat useful for us because it’s our body signal to say, “hey, we need repair here.” Basically, we need you to start signaling the body to send all the nutrients to get blood flow increased, all these kind of things to move towards this area to help repair this problem.

[00:03:06] So that is why sometimes people don’t recommend doing like ice or ice baths all of the time because you want your body to adapt. But in this case, when we have an acute injury, we’ve done something again, snap acute. We’ve done something in the short term that has bothered us. Then we use ice to reduce inflammation.

[00:03:27] This can also be used potentially for the early stages of what might be a chronic injury or a rehab program, and that is icing so that you’re again, reducing inflammation, kind of allowing blood flow into the tissue so that you can get those nutrients in and get repair going.

[00:03:48] Heat, on the other hand, is going to be useful in somewhat of the opposite range. So we know that heat is going to help in some ways literally warm up our muscles. But it begins the process of increasing blood flow in those areas without doing the kind of warm-up routine. It’s like the pre-warm-up to the pre-warm-up to the warm-up to the actual workout.

[00:04:16] So when you’ve hurt something and it gets really stiff, that is when is a good time to apply heat. You’ve been resting for a period of time. You apply heat that encourages blood flow to the area, can begin to help those tissues loosen up without affecting them. It is as I see it again your pre-warm-up to your warm-up before you’re running. This is something that the trainers in college will often say to us if we got injured, heat before, ice after. And it follows that same kind of principle that we had talked about in the beginning.

[00:04:54] So ice for acute injury or in this case when you are cleared to go back to your activity, running, probably if you’re here with me, if you’re clear to go back to your activity but you are not fully done recuperating, then you may still have some inflammation from irritating that injury during your activity. So you can use ice afterwards to reduce that inflammation.

[00:05:18] It will depend on what your physician, your physical therapist whoever it is it’s got in your rehab, if you have somebody. They may make a call at some point and say, well, we don’t need ice anymore because we want some of that adaptation with the inflammation. But the heat, in the beginning, to warm things up to help begin that kind of lubrication process for your joints, that is going to be your kind of go-to long term.

[00:05:45] So in general, here’s the idea heat before, ice after. Heat for chronic long-term injuries or issues. Ice for a short-term, acute inflammation. There are always going to be exceptions in specific situations where these don’t cover. But I think as a broad base, these rules will guide you through rehab for a ton of different scenarios. So what questions do you have for me about running that you’d like to see in a future video? Leave them down in the comments below. I hope to see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.

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