One of the most important things you can do when you get a muscle or joint injury is to apply cold therapy
. Most experts say that cold therapy should be applied as soon as possible following a soft tissue injury and repeated at regular intervals for 48-72 hours.
Cooling the area after an injury relieves pain and reduces bleeding, swelling and muscle spasms. The cooling causes blood vessels in the area to constrict which means less flow of blood and other fluids that cause swelling. Applying the appropriate cold therapy soon after a muscle sprain or strain also improves the recovery time.
There are may ways that cold therapy can be applied. The best method may vary depending on the location and type of injury:
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Coldone Therapy Wraps:
Coldone cold therapy wraps
are a neoprene wrap on the outside with small pockets of freezable gel on the inner side. The Coldone wrap is stored in the freezer until needed so it's ready to be wrapped and fastened around the injured area. The really great thing about Coldone wraps is they also provide compression to keep the cold in and the swelling down. The inner lining of the wrap is linen which prevents cold shock and skin burn. This type of wrap can be purchased for specific body parts or in a universal configuration. The only downside is that it needs to be frozen before you can use it.
Re-usable Cold Packs:
Re-usable cold packs
are simple plastic pouches filled with a gel that can be refrozen. Needless to say the pouch must be frozen before it can be used. You can't apply the frozen pouch directly to the skin because it will cause ice burns. The pouch must be used in a special wrap or cloth before applied. To apply compression you need to use a wrap like the Fabrifoam wrap.
Instant Cold Packs:
Instant Cold Packs
contain a liquid and another inner pouch with chemicals. When you squeeze the pack and burst the inner pouch the chemical reaction creates a cooling effect. The clear advantage of these packs is that they don't have to be frozen ahead of time. The disadvantage is that they can only be used once and the cold effect may not last as long. They are a must for any athletic bag.
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="125" class=" "] Reusable Ice Pack[/caption]
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="125" class=" "] Instant Ice Pack[/caption]
are very simple and yet very effective. They are a material pouch with a water proof lining. Ice cubes or crushed ice is then placed in the bag which can then be placed directly on the skin. These bags work well because they easily mold to the shape of the joint. Some of these bags come with a compression wrap
. I keep one of these bags in my athletic bag all the time since most athletic facilities I'm at have ice available.
Cooling Gels and Sprays:
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="125"] Cold Bag[/caption]
[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="125" class=" "] The ProSeries Elbow/Wrist Combination Cold Wrap[/caption]
Gels such as Biofreeze or Cryoderm are applied directly to the skin to provide a cooling effect. These products also contain an analgesic to aid pain relief. They come in gels, roll-ons or sprays. The products do work, but the cooling effect is minimal compared to ice packs and only the superficial tissues are cooled. I primarily use them when I want to continue playing after the injury or for use on an existing injury just before I play tennis or golf.
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Cryo Cuff Cooler[/caption]
Continuous Cooling Systems:
If you have had rotator cuff surgery or other joint surgery, chances are you have used a continuous cooling device
. They are simple in design but very effective since the cooling remains constant. Ice water is continuously pumped from an ice and water cooler into a compression wrap placed around the injured joint. They normally are used for recovery after surgery but can also be very effective for deep muscle sprains.
About the Author:
Bruce is the president of Return2Fitness, an online sports medical resource and product center. His "entrepreneurial spirit" has resulted in the founding or acquisition of 20 companies during his 39 year career. Bruce is not a medical professional so please consult your local specialist before making any changes in the treatment of any injury or condition.
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