Pain Relief For Arthritis Happy Valley & Sandy, OR

For Cryotherapy-ing Out Loud…

Cryotherapy For Cryotherapy ing Out Loud…The Least You Need To Know:

  1. Ice can help control pain but it does not speed up recovery and may actually slow it down in.
  2. All ice is the same so don’t buy expensive ice or expensive icing equipment unless it is really just for convenience.
  3. If you want to recover from big activities faster you should focus on frequent movement, light stretching, basic mobility (foam rolling, etc.), and preparing for big events with smart training.

Ice is nice… exercise is better.

Hi, and welcome back. We are currently working on an article about recovering from exercise and some tips to walking back the pain and soreness that follows those back-to-back days of skiing, biking, hiking etc. In looking into what conventional wisdom had to offer (google search) we were a little shocked with the amount of bad advice out there, specifically the advice around ice.

Before I make to many enemies let me clarify. Ice is a time honored tradition for pain control, and it works for that. We can measure the reduced firing rates of nerves when we ice an area (it’s why your toes go numb when your boots aren’t warm enough or forget your gloves). That’s where ice appears to stop being much of anything to speak of. The claims that ice reduces inflammation, speeds up recovery, cures disease, and even reverse aging (no joke) are completely unsupported by literature (at least the credible kind). We looked at research for use of ice packs, ice massage, ice baths, and the industry kingpin whole body cryotherapy (WBC).

All of these methods appeared to have the same effect on muscle pain (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness/DOMS), temporary relief. When we looked at how it impacted the time for people to return to baseline the house of cards fell apart. We did find that light exercise and stretching are at least as good as ice (in any form) at resolving pain. Light exercise and stretching tended to outperform ice in helping get back to action at usual levels of performance. That’s right, common sense wins again. Your legs are sore, do what you need to do to get up and walk around and keep tissues/fluid moving. As long as you haven’t broken anything, you’ll be better in no time. In other words, ice if you must but know that you’re only helping with pain while you are numb.

Okay, Why do people do it?

People ice because of an old dogma. People promote that dogma for two reasons; first we need something to make us feel like we are improving our pain and secondly because it is actually fairly good money in it. Ice packs aren’t cheap at $10-$50, more complex cold water systems range from $1,500-$3,000 and WBC is expensive enough that you have to talk to a rep to find the prices, but will typically run something like $50-$90 for a two min session in a flash freezer.With ice cubes being just about free it all feels a little steep to us, but they have to be able to pay celebrity endorsements somehow.

While the risks, if done properly, are minimal the long term rewards appear to be even more minimal. In our opinion, skip the polar bear plunge (unless it’s just fun antics with friends after a day of skiing) and we can’t recommend anyone using WBC for any reason. What should you do instead? Get up and walk around, stretch, foam roll, take a hot shower (yes, hot) and save your money for more lift tickets. From the research we looked at it seems the best way to recover after a long day of skiing, hiking, biking etc. is to just not mess it up rather than doing something so self-loathing.If you are going to watch the entire Lord Of The Rings series after a day of skiing make sure you break it up and move around at least every 30 minutes with some stretching. We’ll get into some specifics next time.

Our Rules For Icing

  1. Don’t expect anything more than pain relief. We use ice in the clinic regularly as a way to control acute pain and help people tolerate the exercises and activities that will make them better.
  2. Never ice past numb. When you can’t feel light brushing across the skin, stop to avoid increased swelling and possible frost bite/tissue damage.
  3. If you are in a dire way and need the pain relief, you really need to wait until an area is fully warmed back up before you ice a second time to reduce risk of tissue damage.
  4. Move onto heat to help keep you moving as soon as you reasonably can.
  5. Don’t pay for it. You likely have ice at your house/hotel/the restaurant across the street and a zip-lock somewhere.
  6. Don’t pass the puck across the center line unless someone can get to it before it before the goal line (yes, a hockey joke).

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