Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why I DON'T ice injuries.

Ice is for cocktails... NOT injuries!

Disclaimer: As with everything on this blog, I make no pretense of being a professional or "expert" on nutrition, foot health, exercise, etc. I'm a massage therapist, and a really good one (or so they tell me)... And I'd like to continue massaging people for years to come. Therefore, my scope of practice prevents me giving advice on what YOU should be doing. I'm merely sharing my own personal journey in health exploration.

Anyone who has had some training in sports medicine, first aid, or health care has heard the old "sprains and strains" acronym. RICE

  1. Rest
  2. Ice
  3. Compression
  4. Elevation

Personally, Though I heard this through so many of my trainings, I've never been a fan of icing injuries.

First of all:
 I don't like it. It feels awful to me. Perhaps I'm kinda selfish - I tend to avoid things I don't like.

Years ago, a good friend/teacher/mentor of mine explained that in Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) they believe icing an injury stops the flow of "Qi"  or "Chi" (vital life energy) to the injury. Since qi this is what brings healing, we don't want to stop it, but would rather encourage flow of qi.

About a year ago, I felt so very much relieved when I saw a humorous, yet  quite geeky video post from one of my "virtual mentors" Kelly Starrett.
He finally gave me a solid, western medicine, biological explanation that's hard to ignore.

This explanation meshes perfectly with the TCM explanation, and that makes me happy... I like when we can all get along!

So, here's my "Plain English" lowdown:

Say, for instance, You just sprained your ankle/worked out really hard/bruised your shin... What's going on?

INFLAMMATION! (lots of extra blood flow/aka"Qi" coming to the area)

Lately, many folks see inflammation as a bad thing.
I agree that CHRONIC inflammation can be a serious issue. That's another subject for another day.

In the case of such an acute injury, acute inflammation is a necessary part of your body's natural repair process.
Torn, damaged tissues need loads of resources to repair themselves. Your body is miraculously bringing in all the necessary nutrients for repair while also removing the debris of damaged tissues.
This is the purpose of inflammation.

As the video says, (and I very much agree.) "There can be inflammation without healing, but there can be no healing without inflammation."
Let me say that again slowly. YOU. CAN. NOT. HEAL. WITHOUT. INFLAMMATION.

The whole purpose of icing an injury is to "reduce inflammation"by decreasing the blood coming to the injury. As these fellas put quite bluntly: "Do you honestly think your body is making a mistake by bringing more blood to an injury?"

"Groceries in, Garbage out." is Kelly Starrett's little phrase for what your body is trying to accomplish. Therefore, the idea here is that if we want to speed healing, we should speed the process of blood LEAVING the injury, not slow it ENTERING. Of course, the brilliant man offering the explanation in the above video is selling a high-tech and high dollar machine to do this. If you play on an NFL, NHL or NBA team, you and your trainers are probably already using one of these awesome gadgets.

Fortunately for the rest of us, we can "walk it off". Or, better yet... Get a massage! I know a really good massage therapist in almost every part of the USA, and even a few in other countries... If you don't see me, see someone. OK?

Furthermore, Dr. Starrett (aka "KStar") has come up with a new acronym to replace "RICE"...

    Move safely when you can, what you can. Compress lymphatics and soft tissues (use bands, muscle contraction, clothing, normatec, etc.)  Elevate when you can.  MCE.

Now, to add further information for the biology geeks out there... a one-year later follow-up on the idea!

Tell me, fellow humans... What do you think?

OK, now go outside and play!  

                                                                                     Much love- Mo the human

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