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Ice Your Tissues, Freeze Your Issues - The Illusory Appeal of Icing

 

pitcher-iceDr. Gabe Mirkin coined the term RICE -- for rest, ice, compression and elevation -- in his best-selling book The Sportsmedicine Book ((Little Brown and Co., page 94)) in 1978. The practice of icing anything that hurts, feels tight, or seems "injured" has gained widespread acceptance among practitioners of all types - sports medicine, PTs, athletic trainers, coaches, personal trainers and more. As a clinical bodyworker who mostly sees clients with fairly severe pain complaints, I can say that virtually every one of them has been told to ice, and most did until they began working with me.

Unfortunately, the practice of icing was based upon questionable science -- which has since been conclusively debunked. Dr. Mirkin retracted the protocol that made him famous in an article that he wrote in June, 2013, Ice Delays Recovery from Injuries. In that article, he cites a study by the Cleveland Clinic showing that ice delays healing by reducing the body's production of IGF-1, or insulin-like growth factor - a compound that is present in the fluid that surrounds inflamed tissues. Dr. Mirkin later expanded upon that article with another post in March, 2014, Why Ice Delays Recovery.

Healing is delayed by cortisone-type drugs, nonsteroidal anti inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, applying cold packs or ice, and anything else that blocks the immune response to injury - Dr. Gabe Mirkin, originator of the RICE protocol.

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