Ice massage therapy is a treatment process that is used to help minimize tissue damage and bring relief to inflamed muscle tissue, tendons, and ligaments. This type of therapy is good for dealing with pain and discomfort caused by muscle strains, as well as any swelling that takes place after an injury. Ice massage can be employed as part of an overall treatment regimen, or used as the sole treatment, depending on the extent of the damage to the muscle tissue.
The process of ice massage is very simple. All that is needed is an area where the patient can be comfortable during the therapy, such as a massage table or a comfortable chair. The ice is slowly moved across the injured area, not unlike the way the hands are moved across the skin during any other type of massage. While the application of the ice may be somewhat uncomfortable at first, it soon begins to soothe the muscles, causing them to relax.
There is more than one way to prepare ice for an ice massage. In an emergency, using an ice cube works very well; however, many people who use this approach as a physical therapy treatment prefer to prepare what is known as an ice cup. This is simply water poured into a small paper cup, roughly three-fourths of the way full. The cup of water is placed into a freezer and allowed to harden. Just before beginning the ice massage, the upper portion of the cup is torn away, leaving the top of the ice exposed. The remaining area of the cup makes it possible to grip the ice firmly and control the movement of the ice block during the actual massage.
In order to achieve the maximum benefit, the ice massage should be applied as soon after the injury as possible. This allows the cold from the ice to begin calming inflamed tissue and minimize the potential for swelling. The therapy also helps to expedite the healing process, since it slows circulation while the cold is applied, but the rush of blood back into the area once the ice is removed brings in a wave of nutrients that begin to heal the damage immediately.
With any type of injury to the muscles or tendons, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. Ice massage is a good way to ease the pain while transporting the individual to a medical care facility. Depending on the severity of the injury, the physician may recommend continued use of ice massage as part of the ongoing treatment, sometimes alternating the cold massage with the application of heat over the next several days.