Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Ice It If It Hurts

Water is one of the most abundant compounds of Earth. Made of two atoms of hydrogen and one atom of oxygen, it is a nutrient for the human body. Interestingly, both our body and our blue planet comprise 70 percent water each. Ice is the solid state of water, which can be gaseous and in liquid form. No two snowflakes are alike – each is unique – despite the fact that water is colourless and odourless. I wonder who is keeping track of all the pictures of every snowflake that existed?

When treating sports injuries, ice therapy (cryotherapy) can be useful to reduce swelling. Icing the injured part reduces inflammation and blood temperature around the damaged body part. It promotes recovery and reduces pain. Pain receptors are blocked somewhat so that the injured athlete does not feel the full extent of the pain. Asians believe that cold is counterintuitive and encourages the early onset of rheumatism. An old wife’s tale was: Never bath with cold water late at night. Injured body parts can also experience rheumatoid symptoms.

The technique for using ice is simple. Put ice-cubes in a Ziploc bag, seal it, and apply it with some pressure on the injured part (strained muscle). Never use ice directly on naked skin, for it burns. You can also frozen gel-packs available from the pharmacy. Alternatively, you can re-use the freezing packs of gels used in Japanese sushi restaurants, used to accompany raw seafood. A bag of mixed frozen vegetables (peas, corn, carrots) also doubles up during an emergency. Have it washed, put it in the freezer, ready for use. I awoke early this morning to use two small packs (with a towel lightly wrapped around it) for my right shoulder girdle and it reduced my pain markedly. I swam with a pull-buoy last night, and it tested my weak rotator-cuff. Icing relieved my symptoms enough to operate functionally today.

Caveats include not immersing the sore or injured in a large body of iced water for prolonged periods. You do not want to risk gangrene. Mountaineers have experienced frostbite when they are not aware of the freezing fingers and toes.

1 comment:

Matty Wong said...

Stretching is a good form of preventive measures. Do daily (when you wake up while brushing your teeth, in the showers and before you sleep). Supple muscles are sign of strength. Doing it right will reduce the chance of using ice treatment.