The cold hard truth about cold therapy: How does it work?

Remember those childhood days when you fell off your cycle and scraped your knee? Or got bruised while playing? What was the first thing your mother did? Ice your injuries, and boy did that feel good!

As we got older, we realised that ice worked wonders for ankle sprains, sports injuries, headaches, as well as certain backaches. 

What is it about ice that melts our pain away?

Ice works by reducing blood flow to a particular area, which can significantly reduce inflammation and swelling that causes pain, especially around a joint or a tendon. It can temporarily reduce nerve activity, which can also relieve pain. 

1. Ice therapy works to increase blood circulation, which promotes healing, and relaxation of your muscles. It helps transfer oxygen to your muscle tissue and thus helps your body repair any damage.

2. Cold therapy can also reduce muscle spasms by making muscles less sensitive to being stretched.

3. Cold is noted for killing pain, and combined with compression, it can reduce swelling.

4. Cold initially constricts the walls of blood vessels and compression restricts the amount of blood, which can reach an injured body part.

Cold therapy is the “I” component of RICE (rest, ice, compression, and elevation), a treatment recommended for the home care of many injuries, particularly ones caused by sports.

The benefits of the RICE method are:

Rest: Immobilisation prevents further injury and gives the body time to recover.

Ice: Cold reduces pain by numbing the affected area. Ice the injury for 20 minutes four to eight times a day. This is especially necessary within the first three days. 

Compression: It is effective for up to one week and pressure keeps the swelling under control. 

Elevation: Keeping the injured body part above the heart reduces swelling and the associated pain and discomfort. Experts say it is best to elevate the area for two-three hours a day.

However, RICE can’t be used to treat all kinds of injuries or pains.

So, when should you use RICE?

It can be used for sprains, strains, overuse injuries, muscle contusions, and bruises. Anyone who has ever sprained or twisted an ankle or pulled a muscle knows that cold is your friend. Bruises, insect bites, and repetitive strain injuries such as tendinitis also respond well to treatment with cold packs. Cold therapy can also help people with muscle spasms, whiplash, and various forms of arthritis.

Putting the I in Rice with cold straps

Cold straps and packs are very effective at reducing swelling and numbing pain. An injury swells because fluid leaks from blood vessels; cold causes vessels to constrict, reducing their tendency to ooze. The less the fluid that leaks from blood vessels, the less the swelling that is caused. Cold also eases inflammation and muscle spasms, two common sources of pain.

The sooner you apply an ice pack to a sprain or strain, the sooner it can do its job reducing pain and swelling. For chronic problems such as low back pain or muscle spasms, ice whenever the symptoms show up.

The most effective way to use cold therapy is with an ice pack that offers you the ideal temperature, while also securing tightly around the injured area. Today, with more efficient ice packs and straps coming into existence, the traditional methods of reaching out for ice cubes or a frozen pack of peas have taken a back seat.

What kind of cold packs should you warm up to?

For the effective healing of an injury, the ice needs to be in the recommended temperature range of 4 to 14 degrees Celsius. Ice and most gel packs do not provide this and come with their share of cons as stated below:

1. Too cold or too hot: Although cold therapy has many benefits, too cold is not safe for the skin and other tissues. The below-freezing temperature and direct exposure to the skin can cause tissue damage. Many cold packs in the market are frozen to 0-2 degrees Celsius, but lose heat quickly. The ideal temperature range is from 7-14 degrees Celsius, as below 7 degrees causes cold burns and numbness, where the person stops “sensing” the difference in body temperature, and above 14 is not effective enough.

2. Too inconvenient: An essential component of the RICE method is compression. Ice packs are difficult to thoroughly and effectively apply to many parts of the body and too inconvenient to hold in place.

What’s the solution?

The solution to overcoming these disadvantages is to find something that straps securely around the parts of your body that need healing, without being too hot or too cold. 

The SandPuppy Coldstrap is perfect in this regard as it provides the following advantages:

1. Portable: You don’t have to sit in one spot and ice your injury. Leave it wrapped around your injury and continue about your chores for the day. 

2. Stays in place: If you have ever tried to apply an ice pack to a sprained ankle, you know how difficult it is to cover the entire area. Even the most flexible gel pack won’t completely surround your ankle, wrist, elbow, knee, or back. The Coldstrap has a premium fabric to strap and hold the gel, meaning it will stay in place, and provide adequate compression without you needing to hold it. The unique strapping mechanism allows the relaxation of different muscles and pain areas.

3. Lasts longer: SandPuppy uses proprietary formulation that lasts 45 minutes in the recommended temperature range of 4 to 14 degree Celsius. 

That’s three times longer as compared with normal cooling gels available. A two-hour cooling in a refrigerator allows 45 minutes of usage.

SandPuppy provides innovative cold therapy systems that are proven to be more effective than traditional ice or cooling gel packs. Because the temperature remains constant during the entire application, the therapeutic cold is allowed to penetrate deeper and last longer, helping your body accelerate the healing process. This, in turn, means less pain and faster recovery for you!