By Bethany Costa, DPT, CSCS,
Dedham Health and Athletic Complex
We’ve all overdone it. Maybe it was that extra set of heavy repetitions during your workout, that extra lap around the track, or even that last bag of leaves that we raked over the weekend. However you did it, now you are sore. Should you heat or ice?
Generally, if you’re sore, you should use ice for the first 24 hours. But, there are a few specific things to keep in mind.
The first fact to consider is timing. If you are exercising and feel a sharp pain during or right afterwards, you should ice the joint or muscle for 10 minutes. Immediately. Then, ice 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off until the pain decreases.
The other thing to think about is where you hurt. If you exercise and feel soreness in any JOINT 1-2 days after, ice will help decrease inflammation, pain and swelling.
If, however, it is 2 days after exercising and you have MUSCLE pain or soreness, you can try either heat for 10 minutes or ice for 10 minutes at a time. It depends on which feels better to you!. Try both and see which helps more. Some people like to alternate 10 minutes of ice and 10 minutes of heat for relief.
That said, sometimes you need more than self-care. You should always seek medical attention if: 1) The pain gets sharper over the course of several days 2) The swelling increases 3) You are having trouble walking or doing your daily routine 4) You notice any bruising that was not there the day of the injury These can all be signs of something more than a basic muscle strain.
What are your favorite self-care tricks when you workout too hard? Let us know!