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Video:How to Ice a Running Injury

with Jonathon E. Stewart

Icing can help prevent swelling and speed recovery time, so kick your feet up and put your injury on the rocks. See how to ice your running injury the right way.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Ice a Running Injury

Hey guys - Jonathon Stewart here for About.com. So you're out there pounding the pavement, logging the miles, feelin' groovy. That is, until you twist an ankle, tweak a knee, or pull a hammie. But hang in there - running injuries are as common as colds - and sometimes icing them can be your best bet. But before you do, be sure you know what it is you're doing. Check it out.

Assess the Severity of the Injury

First, make sure your injury isn't something that requires immediate medical attention. Broken bones from severe falls, cuts that bleed excessively, or head injuries are rare for runners, but they are certainly things that should have you under the care of a doctor as quickly as possible. Yeah - any time I have a bone sticking out of my thigh, my first thought isn't generally to throw an ice bag on it, but you never know.

Make an Ice Bag

To reduce pain and swelling right away, start by creating your ice bag, either by simply crushing cubes of ice in a heavy duty plastic baggie, using a pack of frozen vegetables, or acquiring a cold compress designed specifically for the task.

Apply Ice to the Injury

Next, raise the injury above your heart and place the ice bag against the inflamed area for about 10 minutes. Make sure you never place ice directly against your skin, and if you're using a particularly thick towel as a buffer, you may want to keep the ice applied for as long as 15 or 20 minutes.

There are a couple schools of thought here - old school is to simply put the ice on the injury and leave it there, new school is to slowly move the ice around the injury in a sort of "ice massage." What really matters though, is 1) that you bring the temperature of your skin down far enough to constrict all those little capillaries in order to reduce the swelling, and 2) that you don't give yourself frostbite. Let's save that for ski season, shall we?

Keep the Injury Elevated

After icing, allow your skin time to regain its natural warmth and sensation, generally about 30-45 minutes. During this time, try to keep your injury elevated and in a resting position as much as possible. You should also return your ice bag to the freezer when not in use. Because room-temperature water bag therapy is considerably less helpful than icing, for sure.

Continue Icing the Injury

Continue this cycle as often as you can for the first 24 to 48 hours, or any time in the future if your injury is re-aggravated. If your injury persists, you should consider cutting back on your miles temporarily and even seeking medical attention.

Remember, pain that doesn't go away is your body's way of telling you it's hurt. So listen up! But hopefully with a just little downtime and a couple days of thorough icing, you'll be back on your feet in a flash.

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