Ice Massage

Ice massage is a therapeutic technique that can benefit both acute injuries and chronic tendon and ligament problems.

There is evidence that massaging in non-steroidal anti-inflammatory gels (like Voltaren Emulgel) can benefit inflammatory conditions in tissues that are immediately under the skin. These gels can be purchased over-the-counter from most pharmacies, without prescription. (Unfortunately there is little proven benefit for using these gels on deeper structures like the rotator cuff in the shoulder).

Instructions

  • Take a polystyrene coffee cup (like McDonald’s serve their coffee in)
  • Fill it with water and freeze it solid
  • Peel off about 2cm of the rim, so that 2cm of ice-block is exposed - this gives you a solid block of ice that you can hold without freezing your fingers
  • Apply a blob of anti-inflammatory gel (about the size of a 20-50 cent piece) to the affected area
  • Massage this in for 10 minutes BY THE CLOCK!

For an acute injury, massage gently.  For a longer standing problem, massage firmly enough to be uncomfortable, but not so hard as to cause pain.  If it is getting painful, move the zone of massage away – nerves in particular don’t like ice massage.  Keep peeling the cup away as needed.  Return the ice-block to the freezer when you have finished.  You may need to wrap it in gladwrap if you have a frost-free freezer

Ice massage can be performed as often as comfortable, but should be done AT LEAST ONCE EACH EVENING.  If there is swelling, an ice-pack for 10 minutes every waking hour will be of use.

DO NOT ice massage if:
  • There is increasing pain
  • You develop a skin rash
  • You are making any swelling get worse
  • You are about to exercise – always ice massage after exercise and in the evenings

Tips

  • You might like to freeze 2 or 3 cups at any one time, or keep one in the freezer for emergencies
  • A small “coke” bottle filled with water and frozen, or a frozen golf ball can be used as foot massagers for things like plantar fasciitis

 

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