🛑 STOP • Heating ➡︎ ✅ START • Icing

inflammation pain pro-tips Jan 01, 2003
Use Ice, Avoid Heat


"You can OFTEN GO WRONG with HEAT. You can RARELY GO WRONG with ICE." - Dr Hasenbank


🛑 STOP...Using Heat

Heat causes vasodilation (opens up blood vessels) to bring more blood flow, swelling, and pain chemicals to inflamed or irritated tissues. Heat may initially make things "feel better," but in the end, it will often "hurt worse" as a result. Heat accelerates inflammation like throwing fuel on a fire. It can take a bad situation and make it worse. WHAT CAN YOU DO INSTEAD?  🤷‍♂️


✅ START...Using Ice, Ice Baby!

Ice causes vasoconstriction (constricts blood vessels) to slow blood flow and reduce swelling and pain in inflamed or irritated tissues. It may not "feel comfortable" at first, but it will often "feel better" as a result. Ice pumps the breaks on inflammation like throwing water on a fire. It can take a bad situation and make it better.



Avoid using gel packs or frozen metal devices that are colder than ice. These may cause frostbite on the skin and are more difficult to tolerate for an extended time. Bags of frozen veggies are good for surface bumps and bruises but will not cool deep enough for muscle or joint inflammation or irritation.



For BEST RESULTS, use an ICE+WATER or ALCOHOL+WATER combo in a ZIPLOC Freezer Bag. To make the ICE+WATER ZIPLOC, add ice cubes, fill the water halfway, zip, and apply. To make the ALCOHOL+WATER ZIPLOC, mix in a 1:2 ratio (1 Cup Alcohol to 2 Cups Water), zip, freeze for 2-3 hrs, and apply. Always apply with a paper towel between you and the cold pack.



The ideal COOL-DOWN to WARM-UP Ratio is 10:20:

  1. COOL • 10: Apply for 10 minutes
  2. WARM • 20: Remove for 20 minutes  

Another way to think about this is to apply the pack for 10 minutes every half-hour until your pain and swelling are reduced and your ability to function is improved.



  1. PREVENT LEAKING: Use TWO (2) Ziploc bags and use a towel under your body just in case
  2. MOVE IT IN BETWEEN: Get up and move around to help fresh blood return to the area and flush out inflammatory and pain-producing chemicals. Plus, joint movement blocks pain. That's why we shake our hands after smashing a finger.



These awards go to those who suffer the consequences of not using their noggin by doing these dumb things:

  1. COMPRESSING PACKS: Do not lie on, sit, or stand on these Ziploc packs if you don't want to clean up a mess.
  2. USING HARD PACK: Do not use hard plastic or solidly frozen packs to avoid excessively cold and inadequately cold zones.
  3. NO BARRIER: To avoid frostbite, do not use cold therapy without a protective layer (a paper towel, at minimum).
  4. MORE IS BETTER: Like playing in the snow for prolonged periods, do not use cold for more than 10 minutes to avoid a compensatory throbbing sensation (reflexive vasodilation).






Why Chase Symptoms? SOLVE THE SOURCE to Move Better, Hurt Less, Feel and Function your best.