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Should I use ice or heat if I am injured or in pain? By Marathon Physio Lucy Macdonald


Can ice or heat help my injury recover?

If you are injured ice or heat can help you to recover although the research evidence on the subject is not conclusive.


How do I know whether to use ice or heat?

The best thing to do is to follow two simple rules:

  1. If it is hot cool it down and if it is stiff warm it up
  2. Use whichever you think instinctively would feel good


What do ice and heat do to help?

There are various ways of applying cold or heat – using all sorts of gadgets you can buy in the chemist or simply a bag of peas or a hot bath. They all do the same thing – they reduce or increase the surface temperature of your skin and the structures immediately below them. This affects circulation and therefore inflammation. They also provide sensory input which can reduce pain.


What should I be doing when using ice or heat?

Make sure you don’t get carried away or fall asleep with a cold or hot pack in place or you will get burnt. Wrap whatever you are using in cloth and make sure you check the skin regularly.


What should I do if my injury persists?

If you have swelling or pain in a specific body area, then it is a sign that you have sustained an injury and need to get it checked out as soon as possible. Get in touch with Lucy and her physio team now.


More marathon physio advice 

Follow @octopusclinic on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and/or Lucy Macdonald on YouTube to access our latest free videos on marathon training and injury prevention. If you would like our marathon handbook and are running for charity please contact Lucy Macdonald directly on lucymacdonaldphysio@hotmail.co.uk or if you would like to get the video course Your Marathon: Your Physio please click on the link. 

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