Does Icing Actually Promote Healing?

What Does Icing Do For You?


Do you use the RICE protocol for your injuries? Did you know the practice of icing your injuries may be ineffective?


Many health and fitness professionals are so quick to say “put ice on it”, but do they really understand the effectiveness of icing?


Recent research has showed that icing or following the RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) protocol on damaged tissue to improve recovery may delay or slow down the healing process. Of course, this does not apply to every injury, but rather is something that you may want to consider for your everyday aches.  “Mild movements help tissue to heal and the application of cold suppresses the immune responses that start and hasten recovery.”  So what does this mean?  Icing may be a shock to your immune system and divert energy from healing your muscles.  This is something to consider before you apply to RICE method to your recovery.


Inflammation Induces Healing


When there is tissue damage or trauma to the bodies tissues your body uses your immunity to heal itself, this is what causes inflammation. Macrophages, are the inflammatory cells that release IFG-1 into the damaged tissues to help the tissue heal. Applying ice to the damages tissues to reduce swelling may delay the release of IGF-1. Ice also causes the blood vessels near the injured tissues to constrict therefore, not letting the blood flow into the damaged tissue delaying the immune response.


When To Ice

  • To provide temporary pain relief

  • Regulate core body temperature

  • Purposely delay inflamations (ie.during sports)


Inflammation and Swelling


Contrary to popular belief, inflation and swelling are not the same.


Inflammation: The body’s initial response to tissue damage. Inflammation sends all of the necessary supplies to the damaged area that are needed for repair and remodeling.


Swelling: the excess fluid and waste that remains in the area after inflammation takes place. Swelling is generally due to inadequate lymphatic drainage of the leftover supplies that were delivered to the area during the inflammatory process, and the waste produced during the damage. When the body can’t get rid of the congestion at a fast enough rate, it builds up, resulting in swelling. (Mirkin)


Screen Shot 2017-07-03 at 11.32.36 AM.png


What should you do?


Try active recovery. Instead of icing, use moderate, controlled movements. Low-stress and pain-free exercises are crucial to the repair process of damaged tissues. These movements also  create a lymphatic flush that helps increase circulations and bring in the macrophages to help heal the damaged tissue.


If you want your damaged tissues to heal faster, next time skip the ice. Try nice controlled movements instead.




Mirkin, G. (n.d.). Recent. Retrieved July 03, 2017, from


The Scientific Reason Why Baseball Pitchers Should Never Ice Their Arms [Web log post]. (2015, March 17). Retrieved July 3, 2017, from


The Truth About Icing & Recovery . (n.d.). Retrieved July 3, 2017, from


Request information

Request Information Now!