- Get the ice on quickly.
Icing is most effective in the immediate period following an injury. The effect of icing diminishes significantly after about 48 hours.
- Perform an "ice massage."
Apply ice directly to the injury. Move the ice frequently, not allowing it to sit in one spot.
- Don't forget to elevate.
Keep the injured body part elevated above the heart while icing -- this will further help reduce swelling.
- Watch the clock.
Ice for 15-20 minutes, but never longer. You can cause further damage to the tissues, including frostbite, by icing for too long.
- Allow time between treatments.
Allow area to warm for at least 45 minutes or an hour before beginning the icing routine again.
- Repeat as desired.
Ice as frequently as you wish, so long as the area is warm to touch and has normal sensation before repeating.
- Ice Option 1 -- Traditional:
Use a Ziploc bag with ice cubes or crushed ice. Add a little water to the ice bag so it will conform to your body.
- Ice Option 2 -- Best:
Keep paper cups filled with water in your freezer. Peel the top of the cup away and massage the ice-cup over the injury in a circular pattern allowing the ice to melt away.
- Ice Option 3 -- Creative:
Use a bag of frozen peas or corn from the frozen goods section. This option provides a reusable treatment method that is also edible.
- Prevent Frostbite:
Do not allow ice to sit against the skin without a layer of protection. Either continually move the ice (see "ice massage") or use a thin towel between the ice and skin.
Hubbard TJ, Denegar CR. "Does Cryotherapy Improve Outcomes With Soft Tissue Injury?" J Athl Train. 2004 Sep;39(3):278-279.