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The Benefits of an Ice Massage

By Martin Hughes ; Updated July 18, 2017

According to the Sports Injury Info website, ice massage, a form of cryotherapy, is an effective treatment for musculoskeletal injuries. Ice massage, which may incorporate the use of ice cubes or ice packs, helps decrease pain, swelling and inflammation in injured tissues, and is applied in a way that mobilizes or massages your tissues to promote healing. Ice massage can be used for both acute and chronic musculoskeletal conditions.

Reduces Pain, Swelling & Inflammation

According to certified athletic trainer Terry Zeigler at SportsMD.com, ice massage is an effective therapeutic procedure to relieve acute or chronic pain, inflammation and post-surgical pain and swelling. Zeigler states that ice massage affects your body in numerous ways, including reducing blood flow to the area of injury, which reduces swelling. Ice massage acts as an analgesic or pain-reliever by numbing tissues, reducing muscle spasms and slowing tissue metabolism. Because ice massage helps reduce swelling, inflammation and pain, it's the preferred modality for acute musculoskeletal injuries, such as ligament sprains, muscle strains, joint subluxations and dislocations, bruises and fractures.

Lowers Your Metabolic Rate & Promotes Healing

According to a 1999 study published in the journal "Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise," cryotherapy, or ice massage, also reduces the metabolic rate of injured tissues, allowing injured cells to survive the acute phase of injury, as well as reducing the area of secondary injury. Secondary injury is caused by post-trauma hypoxia or tissue oxygen deficiency, and is due to the following factors: bleeding of injured blood vessels, hemostasis or the stoppage of bleeding and reduced blood flow due to increased blood viscosity or thickness. According to Physio Montréal, a Montréal, Quebec-based physiotherapy clinic, ice massage lowers your metabolic rate and promotes healing through the process of conduction, which involves the interaction and transfer of energy between molecules in a warmer area with those in a cooler area.

Possible Relief From Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

According to the American College of Sports Medicine, delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a painful and temporarily debilitating condition that you feel in your muscles for one to three days following strenuous exercise. Although it's often confused with regular muscle soreness, DOMS is more severe and lasts longer. Although DOMS typically disappears on its own after about 72 hours, you should consider seeking treatment to reduce the severity of symptoms, improve quality of life and regain ability to perform your normal activities of daily living. According to the Sports Injury Bulletin website, cryotherapy and ice massage may help alleviate the pain associated with DOMS, although the Sports Injury Bulletin website notes that more research is required to substantiate the use of cryotherapy and ice massage for DOMS.

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