Ice or Heat? Which One is Best for Injuries? | Triad Foot & Ankle Center

Ice or Heat? Which One is Best for Injuries?


Icing a Sprained Ankle with Ice Pack Isolated on WhiteIf you have an injury to your foot or ankle, should you use ice or heat? Should you use a combination of both?

This is a common question we frequently receive from patients who have heard all sorts of misinformation when it comes to recovery from a muscle strain or a sprain.

While we have different answers depending on what injury you have sustained, it’s important to know what ice and heat treatments are used for so you’ll know which method is appropriate when you experience an injury.


Applying an ice compression can help alleviate inflamed, hot and injured tissues, as well as act as a pain reliever. However, you should never place ice directly on the skin.

Inflammation occurs when the tissue capillaries leak blood and other fluids in the area. If you apply heat, it will cause the damaged capillaries to dilate, which will actually cause more pain in the affected area.


Heat is effective in relaxing muscle spasms, as well as increasing blood circulation. Applying heat prior to a workout will also help relax and loosen muscles and reduce the risk for pulled muscles.

Like ice, you shouldn’t place heat directly on the skin.

Combination of Heat and Ice

A combination of heat and ice can also be applied when there’s an injury to the muscle. You should first apply ice until the inflammation has subsided before applying heat.

If rest, along with ice or heat doesn’t help with pain or swelling, you should seek the opinion of a podiatrist, as your injury could be more serious than you thought.

For more information about foot health or to request an appointment with one of the podiatrists at the Triad Foot Center, please click here or call one of our three office locations in the Piedmont Triad.


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