Medical advances through the years have yet to develop a better way of treating injuries than the use of a good old bag of ice. When it comes to relieving the pain and reducing the swelling of bruises, breaks, sprains and strains, an application of ice is still as effective as it was century or two ago. But for all the years ice has been used to treat injuries, its healing properties are not always used correctly. Instead of doing it the way grandma did it (unless she did it the right way), use these guidelines for applying ice to injuries for the most effective medical treatment.
Fill a Bag
Place ice cubes or crushed ice in a zip-top bag and fill to about three-fourths full. Add a little water to the bag and securely seal, then place the first zip-top bag inside another zip-top bag to protect against leakage. By adding a little water to the bag of ice, the bag can conform easier to body and better distribute the cold to the injured area. A bag of frozen peas works well for icing an injury and commercial cold packs can be purchased and kept on hand in the freezer for use as needed. Make your own DIY cold gel pack and keep on hand with by mixing water and rubbing alcohol and stashing in the freezer.
The quicker you get the injury iced down, the quicker the injury will heal. The cold reduces inflammation and speeds up the healing process. So to get back in the action, be quick to grab an ice bag.
Applying ice directly to the skin can burn it (think freezer-burn) or even cause frostbite. Cover the skin with a thin cloth, like a handkerchief, or wrap the ice bag in a thin hand towel.
Be quick to apply ice and slow to remove it. Removing the ice bag after just a few minutes will do nothing more than make the skin cold. The ice needs to remain on the injured area until it becomes numb, but not longer than 20 minutes at a time. The acronym, CBAN, is used to time ice application: Cold, Burn, Ache, Numb. The typical recommendation for ice application is 20 minutes on, then 20 minutes off or 20 minutes per hour.