1. Ice Prevents Healing Cells From Entering Injured Tissue The theory is we ice in order to reduce inflammation due to an injury. However, inflammation is a normal and important aspect of the healing process. Ice causes blood vessels to constrict and prevents the inflammatory cells involved in tissue remodeling to reach the damaged area.
2. Ice Interferes with Lymphatic System The swelling that surrounds the injury is the result of waste byproducts accumulating around the injury. Swelling is regulated by the lymphatic system that relies on muscle activation to function properly. Ice limits muscle activation, interferes with the lymphatic system and causes one-way valves to open in the wrong direction, creating more swelling.
3. Ice Inhibits the Release of Growth Factors Inflammatory cells are designed to release an insulin-like growth factor IGF-1, a hormone that works with growth hormone to produce tissue repair and recovery. Ice inhibits the release of IGF-1 resulting in slower recovery, less muscle and strength development.
4. Ice May Impede Collagen and Tissue Alignment Tissue rebuilding after an injury is a haphazard process, which is normal. The more it can be minimized the better the recovery from an injury. Ice appears to impede collagen alignment leading to reduced recovery and a slower return to function.
5. Ice Slows Muscle Function and Nerve Firing Dr. Gabe Mirkin, the doctor who originally came up with the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) recommendation in 1978 admits he made a mistake. He writes "both ice and complete rest may delay healing instead of helping."
Obviously serious injuries require immobilization but activity can improve lymphatic drainage that permits waste products to be removed from the injury site more efficiently. Icing can impede this process, reducing muscle function and nerve firing causing increased immobilization than is necessary.
The One Benefit to Ice Ice has an analgesic effect, numbing an injured area to cause a decrease in pain and discomfort. However, this decrease from ice only lasts 20 to 30 minutes. Understanding ice has detrimental side effects on healing, it generally is not recommended.
What Should You Do Instead of Icing Following An Injury? The first step is to seek professional medical care and hopefully your vet is aware of the negative effects of icing.
Breathable far infrared products will reduce pain, swelling and inflammation, enhance blood flow, oxygenation and lymphatic flow. Research demonstrated Far Infrared accelerates the natural healing process of both soft tissues and bones.
Severe injuries such as a fracture or ligament tear will require immobilization and undoubtedly care should be directed by a veterinarian.
Breathable far infrared products by EyeOn Technology are used successfully on both animals and people. We recommend everyone try our featured far infrared compression and support wraps first on their own aches and pains to feel the difference they make before using them on your horse or pony.