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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Runner's Remedies

Runners and cyclists rejoice, the season is just getting started and whether you are an avid racer or just a fair weather jogger, the opportunities to get off the treadmill or stationary bike are coming - even if it does seem at times that there will be six more months of winter.

Should I heat or should I ice? You may find yourself asking yourself this question. Simply put ice is best for acute injuries (that ankle that only started hurting today) and heat is best when applied to chronic injuries (the other ankle - the one that you nearly lost in the skiing incident of '94 when you didn't quite hit that mogul the way you should have.)

Ice reduces swelling and pain, because it constricts the blood vessels which limits internal bleeding at the injury site. You can apply ice to the affected area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time - several times a day for up to three days.
Side note - this can also be effective for chronic injuries that are brought on by certain activities - ie the shoulder that was injured in the great football moment that hurts after pitching a few innings to your little league team.

Heat on the other hand increases circulation and raises temperature of course. It can be an effective preventative when applied to an injury before exercise or above average use. Similar time frames 10 - 20 minutes. Also note that applying heat to inflamed areas(swollen or red) is a bad idea and overheating should be avoided (you don't want to turn it into a burn site). Heat can also help relax tightened muscles - moist heat is best - a relaxing bath after a run can do a body good.

If an injury worsens or does not seem to be getting relief after 48 hours you should consult a physician or other health professional.

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