Save the peas! Considering I often get asked if icing with a frozen bag of peas is adequate, I thought it worthy its own blog. A frozen bag of peas has its place in serving minor injuries. It is particularly effective with children’s minor “boo-boos”. If nothing else is available, then its also a good option. However, in the world of cryotherapy, that is promoting healing with cold; it is barely effective. It should also be noted that once the peas have done their job; they should be cooked immediately, but not refrozen to be cooked and eaten at a later date.Oriental medicine prefers not to use ice; however they have techniques in acupuncture and herbs that create the similar “cooling” effect we are after with ice applications. Ice packs should be used on areas for no more than 10 to 15 minutes.
After that the cold summons the body to produce heat in that area. Ice is indicated until there is no heat emanating from the injury, that can be as long as 10 days to 2 weeks. So I find it is effective even after the often suggested “first 24 hours”. Certain body parts, where there are compartments of muscles, as in the leg and arm, should be immersed in cold bodies of water. I agree with the oriental tradition, that the entire body should not be immersed, as one often sees sports players sitting in cold tubs do. Arms can be immersed in a kitchen sink filled with ice and water for about 8 seconds. Remove the arm and allow it to warm up and then re-submerged for 4 seconds. Legs can be submerged in rectangular shaped trash cans filled with ice and water in a similar fashion.
A popsicle of ice is another good way to ice injuries that are near the surface. Tennis elbow, or tight neck muscles often respond well to gentle stroking of the ice on the area until it is almost numb. To make a popsicle, fill a paper cup with water and freeze it. Then when you need it, tear off the bottom of the cup and hold the popsicle with the remaining sides of the cup. When finished one can place the popsicle in another cup for future use.
Myofascial and other deep body therapies require that the area worked be iced to promote healing. So investing in a good ice pack is a must! Save the peas for dinner.