For years, putting ice on sporting injuries has been the widely accepted method of managing acute damage, maximising healing times, and ensuring return to play happened as quickly as possible.

Even now, the RICE regime is one of the first things taught in a First Aid or Sports Trainers Course. Nearly everyone knows what the RICE acronym means:Rest – Ice – Compress – Elevate

But we’re starting to hear a few grumbles about ice, and questions on whether it is doing what we think it is! 

– Does ice help stop bleeding after an injury?

– Is swelling and inflammation reduced if we apply ice as soon as the damage occurs?

– Will ice application speed up the healing process, or inhibit it?

– Should we not apply ice at all?

What a massive question this is for not not only all the athletes and sporting participants, but all coaches, physio’s, doctors, and health professionals who routinely prescribe ice for many injuries and conditions – falls, strains, post operative etc.

To understand why there are questions around ice, and to be able to make up your own mind, you need to first understand the physiology behind healing. What happens in the healing process, and will ice potentially contribute or impede this healing process? SSPC Physiotherapist Anthony Lance will take your through the four phases of healing as listed below, with particular emphasis on the Bleeding and Inflammatory phases:

(Image Credit: Watson, 2006; Electrotherapy & Tissue Repair)

Listen to Anthony explain in detail these healing phases, and compare this to what ice application actually does. Anthony will look at what other health professionals are saying and explain a new acronym that may well replace the RICE acronym we are so accustomed to!

By the end of this podcast, there should be enough information to have you thinking seriously about how long you will use ice for after an injury, or if in fact you will use ice at all!