If you've ever pulled a muscle, you know it can hurt like crazy and interfere with future workouts. One of the best, easiest, and cheapest ways to treat a muscle strain is with ice, which reduces both the pain and the inflammation. Ice is also a great treatment for chronic, nagging pain like runner's knee. But although it's a simple process, it's very important to do it right. Here's how:
- Start icing ASAP. Icing is most effective if you do it immediately after the injury and continue over the next 48 hours.
- Do not apply ice directly to your skin; instead, wrap it in a towel or place it in a cute ice pack.
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- No cute ice pack? Bags of frozen veggies, such as corn and peas, make great ice bags. Not only are they already packed and frozen, but they also conform easily to the body.
- Ice for no more than 20 minutes at a time. If your tissue gets too cold, it can cause further damage, so be sure to warm up for at least 45 minutes between icing sessions.
- If you're training hard for a marathon or other big event, icing after workouts can prevent future soreness. You might even try an ice bath if you're prone to full-body aches.