One of the most critical things you can do when you get a muscle or joint injury is to apply cold therapy. Most experts say that cold therapy must be applied as soon as possible after a soft tissue injury and repeated at regular intervals for 48-72 hours.
Cooling the location after an injury relieves pain and reduces bleeding, swelling and muscle spasms. The cooling causes blood vessels in the area to constrict which means less flow of blood and other fluids that create swelling. Applying the appropriate cold therapy immediately after a muscle sprain or strain also improves the recovery time.
There are many ways that cold therapy can be applied. The most effective method may vary depending on the location and kind of injury.
Coldone Therapy Wraps:
Coldone cold therapy wraps are a neoprene wrap on the exterior with small pockets of freezable gel on the inner side. The Coldone wrap is kept in the freezer until needed so it's able to be wrapped and fastened surrounding the injured area. The really big plus with Coldone wraps is they provide compression to maintain the cold in and the swelling down. The inner lining of the wrap is linen which prevents cold shock and skin burn. This type of wrap can be purchased for specific body parts or in a universal configuration. The only downside is that it must be frozen before you apply it.
Re-usable Cold Packs:
Re-usable cold packs are simple plastic pouches filled with a gel that may be refrozen. Needless to say the pouch has to be frozen prior to it being used. You can't apply the frozen pouch directly to the skin as it will cause ice burns. The pouch can be used in a special wrap or cloth before applied. To make use of compression you should utilize a wrap such as Fabrifoam wrap.
Instant Cold Packs:
Instant Cold Packs have a liquid and another inner pouch with chemicals. When you squeeze the pack and burst the inner pouch the chemical reaction creates a cooling effect. The clear benefit of these packs is that they don't need to be be frozen in advance. The disadvantage is they can just be applied once and the cold effect might not last for a long time. They're a necessity for any athletic bag.
Cold bags are incredibly simple and easy yet quite effective. They are a material pouch with a water proof lining. Ice cubes or crushed ice are then used in the bag that may then be placed directly on the skin. These bags are very effective because they easily mold to the shape of the joint. Some of these bags come with a compression wrap. I keep one of these bags in my athletic bag all the time because most athletic facilities I'm at have ice available.
Cooling Gels and Sprays:
Gels like Biofreeze or Cryoderm are applied straight to your skin to provide a cooling effect. They also contain an analgesic to provide some pain relief. They come in gels, rollons or sprays. The products do work, even so the cooling effect is minimal compared to ice packs and merely the superficial tissues are cooled. You can use them when Iyou would like to continue playing after the injury or for use with an existing injury just before I play tennis or golf.
Continuous Cooling Systems:
If you have had rotator cuff surgery or other joint surgery, it�s likely that your doctor has suggested a continuous cooling device. They may be simple in design but very effective because the cooling remains constant. Ice water is continuously pumped from an ice and water cooler into a compression wrap placed surrounding the injured joint. They normal are used for recovery after surgery but could be also extremely effective for deep muscle sprains.
Bruce is the president of Return2Fitness.net, an online sports medical, fitness and rehabilitation resource and product center. He has competed in various sports his whole life and is thankful for all the sports medical and rehabilitation products that have helped keep him active. Bruce is not a medical professional so please consult your local specialist before making any changes in the treatment of any injury or condition. For more information about the topics and products reviewed visit Return2Fitness.net
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