morning frost

How Long Should You Ice An Injury For?

In light of the current frigid conditions, we thought we would write a little bit about something we have all had just about enough of… Ice.

We’ve all heard it before, if you are injured, ice it. But did you know that icing for too long could actually be counter productive and lead to an INCREASED inflammatory response?

Interestingly, applying ice for a period of time greater than ten minutes puts the injured area at risk for creating an even greater inflammatory response due to a phenomenon known as the Hunting Response. In a cold winter environment while walking outside, our nose and ears will turn red after some time because our body has sensed that the area in question is at risk of freezing. The body’s natural response is to increase blood supply to this area, thereby increasing the inflammatory markers in that area. Leaving an ice pack on for too long to an acute injury will create the same reactive increase in inflammatory response. 

We suggest patients use ice in ten minute intervals, ten minutes on – ten minutes off for an ideal effect.