Ice VS Heat

This is an extremely common question I get a lot from patients. My usual go to is ICE. Although I know a huge number of you won’t like that answer. Here’s why; inflammation has four core principles. A beloved tutor of mine taught me these in latin and they will always remain in my mind! (Thank you, Greg Barker, you are truly missed)

These are:

 1) Redness (rubor)

2)Heat (calor)

3) Swelling (tumor)

4) Pain (dolor)


As I usually say to my patients, if a young child presented with an injury that was red, hot, swollen and painful your instinct would be to place ice onto the area. So why not treat your own body with the same level of care and consideration.

Ice constricts blood vessels. It helps to relieve inflammation, reduces bruising and is great at numbing pain. It is most effective for acute injuries that are less than 6 weeks old, sprained muscles and for inflamed tendons and bursae.

Ice for up to 10 minutes at a time. You can use a bag of frozen peas, wrap in a kitchen flannel (to avoid ice burn) and apply. This can be repeated and I would recommend a minimum of a 10 minute gap between applying ice.

Heat dilates the blood vessels. It relaxes and stimulates blood flow. Great for chronic conditions and tight muscles. However, do not heat acute injuries or swollen areas.

Heat application is the same as ice, 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off. You can use a heated flannel or a fully covered hot water bottle.

If you have any further questions, we’d be more than happy to help! Just send an email through to .