While people tend to gravitate to heat when muscles or joints are sore, this isn’t generally a solution that will help relieve pain. Heat increase circulation but cold is what helps to reduce swelling or inflammation and numb painful areas. Ice applications are especially helpful in the evening when our bodies tend to experience more inflammation.
You can easily make your own homemade ice pack.
Homemade Ice Pack
If you don’t want to use your bag of frozen peas or corn every time your pain flares up, a home-made gel ice pack can be a great way to get some fast relief. Not only is it convenient, but a gel ice pack can mold to the contours of your injured joint making the application of the cold more effective. You can make a gallon size, reusable gel pack for under $3 and it stays colder longer than packs of frozen vegetables.
What you’ll need
- Two 1-gallon plastic freezer bags – one for the solution, one for protection agains leaks
- Rubbing alcohol
Fill the plastic freezer bag with 4 cups of water and 2 cups of rubbing alcohol (2:1 ratio). For a less dense gel, reduce the amount of water. To make the gel thicker, increase the water. Try to get as much air out of the freezer bag before sealing it shut. Place the solution-filled bag inside a second freezer bag and chill in the freezer for at least 24 hours before the first use.
Let the bag sit out for 5 minutes before use so it can be molded to the body part you are icing. Always remember to put a towel in between your skin and ice pack to avoid frostbite. We recommend icing for 15 minutes. You can do this up to 5 times a day. If you are experiencing an acute injury, a minimum of 3 icing sessions a day is recommend, especially if pain is persistent throughout the day. Ice at least once a day after routine activities that generally lead to inflammation or joint pain. And apply ice after trying any of the self-myofascial techniques we’ve shared.
If ice is not alleviating your pain or you find you have to use it for more than 5 consecutive days, you might want to come in for an evaluation with one of our therapists to try some of the many revolutionary approaches we have for pain relief. Call us at 623-777-3113.