This is a common question, and a very important one. After an injury like a twisted ankle, pulled hamstring or lower back sprain, the inflammatory stage begins and lasts for 24-72 hours. During this time ice is preferred. Typically ice is applied for 10-20 minutes, and then taken off for about 10-20 minutes. This cycle is repeated as often as necessary.
If you don’t have an ice pack, a bag of frozen peas or corn will do. P.R.I.C.E., is a common short form used after an injury, suggesting patients to Protect, Rest, Ice, Compress and Elevate their injury.
Heat is typically applied to an injured muscle or joint after the inflammatory phase is over (24-72 hours). Moist heat is preferred over dry heat as dry heat may dehydrate your muscles making them less flexible and predisposing them to further injury. Moist heat applications may last up to 20-30 minutes.
Ask us or your physiotherapist or chiropractor which therapy is best for your injury or condition.