Hey You….Put Down The Ice!!!


The GOOD part about modern science is that it is always changing, the BAD part about modern science is that it is always changing! Of course, I don’t want to leave you out in the cold (pun intended) with this latest bit of info, but get ready cause it’s a doosy!

As a fitness professional, I have been recommending the use of ICE for as long as I can remember. The standard grab a bag of frozen peas for 20 minutes was replaced as we learned that 5 minutes of direct ice contact was just as effective (if not more) at reducing inflammation and swollen tissue, then POOF came my recommendations and multiple blog postings on the use of ice massages.

Well folks, here is the problem…..Although the 5 minute ice massage might be the most effect way to reduce the inflammation process, we need to think…..Should we even be stopping this process in the first place??

I know, say WHAT?!? But it is true!

Let me quote Dr. Nick DiNubile, Editor in Chief of The Physician And Sports Medicine Journal (physsportsmed.com) “Seriously, do you honestly believe that your body’s natural inflammatory response is a mistake?” 

So here goes. You should stop icing. We were wrong. I was wrong.

For the past year, Kelly Starrett (Founder of MobilityWOD) engaged in a personal moral debate about icing that in retrospect, seems silly if not out right obvious and he is leading the way for a new error. Every athlete worth a darn knows of the old RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) acronym, but the research and literature tell us…..

“When ice is applied to a body part for a prolonged period, nearby lymphatic vessels begin to dramatically increase their permeability (lymphatic vessels are ‘dead-end’ tubes which ordinarily help carry excess tissue fluids back into the cardiovascular system). As lymphatic permeability is enhanced, large amounts of fluid begin to pour from the lymphatics ‘in the wrong direction’ (into the injured area), increasing the amount of local swelling and pressure and potentially contributing to greater pain.” The use of Cryotherapy in Sports Injuries,’ Sports Medicine, Vol. 3. pp. 398-414, 1986

So what do we do now?? Well, remember the “C” in RICE……COMPRESSION! New research shows us that using compression helps activate muscle tissue to transport out the bad crap and pump in the good stuff. Rather than bastardize this new information, I would rather you watch this video below. This was the starting point of my “new education” and I think it will help explain things far better than I ever could.

Makes sense now, doesn’t it?!? Now you might be asking yourself….”But what about all those CrossFit Games competitors who hop in the ice bath post WOD”? “Is that bad now”? The answer is NO! If you find yourself in a situation where performance is your main goal and will need to be at a top level for multiple events, then reducing inflammation IS your primary objective. Allowing lactic acid buildup amongst a host of other things will impede your performance on game day, so dive right in!

I know, shocker, but all is not lost. You will now have loads of ice left for making NorCal Margaritas!!!


WOD – 8/22/12

21-15-9 reps for time of:
Deadlifts (225#/155#)
Ring dips

Post time to comments.

Previous Post:


Next Post: