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Heat versus Ice

So when should you use heat and when should you use ice? Make sure you know what to do when the heat is on to treat yourself accordingly.


The rule is: when in doubt, use ice. When you have just injured yourself, such as torn a muscle or sprained an ankle, use ice. The ice should be applied for only 5-7 minutes every hour for the first five days. For as long as there is swelling, ice should be used.


Only use heat (this includes products such as deep heat) when the injury is old or has a non-traumatic cause. Why? Heat causes the blood vessels close to the skin surface to dilate and thereby increase the amount of blood going to the painful area. In this same way it will increase the bleeding in a newly injured area.


Ice causes the blood vessels to contract, preventing excessive bleeding and reducing the amount of blood flowing to the injured area. This is also effective in reducing inflammation since the chemical messenger system that the body uses to promote inflammation is also present in blood. If you apply ice for a period longer than 5-7 minutes, a different phenomenon results: reciprocal widening and narrowing of the blood vessels. In individuals without circulatory disease this causes a very effective "cleansing" pump action, providing fresh oxygen rich blood and removing unwanted metabolic products. You can use ice in this way in the case of chronic inflammatory conditions such as those old rugby knees. Use ice for 15-20 minutes if you want this effect.


Heat packs are uniquely designed for every part of the body, including the face, shoulders, back, hands, elbows, stomach, knees, calves, and feet.  In addition, they are great for ailments, which include but are not limited to:

  • Muscle Strain
  • Arthritis
  • Rheumatism
  • Cramps
  • Tendonitis
  • Headaches
  • And more



Sydney Essential Health is situated in Sydney's Eastern Suburbs, 5 minutes walk from the centre of Bondi Junction and close to Woollahra, Double Bay, Rose Bay, Bellevue Hill, Paddington, Edgecliff, Randwick, Coogee and Bondi. Also only a quick train or bus ride from the city of Sydney and Sydney CBD. Click here for map and contact details.

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