Icing injuries - All the facts you need to know


Five minutes in to your usual morning run, you feel a strange twinge in your foot. You run on it for a few minutes, but it hurts too much. You then walk the rest of the way home. After you get home, you head straight to your freezer for your ice-pack. You ice your foot for a few minutes, then head to work.

While icing is a fantastic option to quickly relieve pain, it might work better to take care of your foot (and different injuries) using other helpful techniques along with ice! Here are some quick tips:

  1. Follow the “RICE” principle. This stands for:
    • Rest – the more time you spend using the injured part of your body, the longer it will take to heal. Take a load off!
    • Ice – yes, go for it! Ice that injury but consider the amount of time (10-15 minute increments) and direct contact with your skin (use a towel between the ice and your skin!)
    • Compression – give it a squeeze! Okay, maybe not a squeeze but consider putting a bit of pressure on that bad boy. You can press down with your hand, but that might make your hand sore, so you can wrap your injury in a towel, a scarf or anything that gives consistent pressure. Lean it up against something.
    • Elevation – Raise or prop your injury up above the level of your heart.
  2. Don’t have time to ice? You probably have more time than you think - what about icing when you’re watching TV, reading in bed,


Commonly asked questions around icing

  • How long do you ice for?
    • Icing is really only superficial – meaning that it gets the top layer of the area affected. 10 minutes will do.
    • Or, you can ice with breaks in between – 10 minutes on, take it off, 10 minutes on, take it off. With this, make sure that you let the area return to normal temperature before re-applying the ice.
  • What about heat?
    • Heat should be used only when inflammation has gone down (after approximately 72 hours). Look out for our article about ice v. heat.
  • I don’t have an icepack, what do I do?
    • You don’t need any fancy equipment. A bag of frozen peas will do! Throw a damp tea towel between the frozen pack and your skin to protect against getting an ice burn.
  • How tight is too tight for compression?
    • Well, you need to still feel your arm, leg, whatever is hurting. You should not feel any pain with compression, just a slight pressing feeling.
  • What about my back? Can I ice my back?
    • Your back is considered “meatier” or a thicker area, so consider icing for a bit longer when approaching larger or thicker areas of the body (like quads versus wrist – one is significantly thicker than the other). Periodically lift the pack and check the area to make sure it still looks good.
  • Icing feels good. Can I keep applying it?
    • That’s awesome! Sometimes it just helps you or your muscles to relax and that may be what you need.
Robbie de Fleuriotinjury, tips, ice