How Long should you Ice an Injury for?

In light of the current frigid conditions, we thought we would write a little bit about something we have all had just about enough of… Ice.

We’ve all heard it before, if you are injured, ice it. But did you know that icing for too long could actually be counter productive and lead to an INCREASED inflammatory response?

Interestingly, applying ice for a period of time greater than ten minutes puts the injured area at risk for creating an even greater inflammatory response due to a phenomenon known as the Hunting Response. In a cold winter environment while walking outside, our nose and ears will turn red after some time because our body has sensed that the area in question is at risk of freezing. The body’s natural response is to increase blood supply to this area, thereby increasing the inflammatory markers in that area. Leaving an ice pack on for too long to an acute injury will create the same reactive increase in inflammatory response. 

We suggest patients use ice in ten minute intervals, ten minutes on – ten minutes off for an ideal effect.

Inflammation and Diet

Did you know that localized inflammation in response to musculoskeletal injury is not only natural, but is essential to promote healing?  Damaged cells release chemicals within the inflammation which signals the body to initiate the repair process.  While some level of local inflammation is necessary, uncontrolled or persistent inflammation can cause more harm than benefit, resulting in additional tissue damage and prolonged recovery.  Substantial evidence now suggests that what we eat can influence the inflammatory response to both acute and chronic conditions.  Both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory foods have been shown to affect the inflammatory response of the immune system to injury.  Limiting consumption of pro-inflammatory foods such as saturated and trans fats, refined sugars and carbohydrates, and processed foods, and increasing consumption of anti-inflammatory foods such as omega-3 fatty acids, colourful fruits and vegetables, olive and flax seed oils, and nuts, may not only help keep the inflammatory response in check, but may also protect healthy cells from inflammation caused damage.



Minihane, A., et al. (2015). Low-grade inflammation, diet composition and health: current research evidence and its translation. British Journal of Nutrition114(7), 999-1012.Tidball, J. (2005). Inflammatory processes in muscle injury and repair. American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology288(2), R345-R353.