Icing is a staple for injury management, right? Actually this has been a fairly controversial topic of late: Should you be using ice after an injury?

The original concept was developed by Dr. Gabe Mirkin, “RICE” (Mirkin 1978):

  • Rest
  • Ice
  • Compression
  • Elevate

The thought process is that ice would reduce inflammation and assist with the healing process.

Dr. Mirkin eventually refuted his own model (Mirkin 2016), and recommended against ICE and REST.


Inflammation is critical for the initiation of hormonal release so healing can take place. Meaning, if you stop the initial inflammatory response you delay the healing process.

Bleakley presented on this topic at the Sports Kongres comparing the research on this topic.

  1. He notes that while ice may reduce inflammation in rat models it hasn’t been shown in human models.
  2. It is unclear whether there is a net positive or a net negative when icing an injury.
  3. Ice is proven to reduce pain.

So ice DOES help or it DOESN’T help?

My professional interpretation on whether you should ice or not:

Ice is an effective method of pain management. If you have resting pain (lingering pain) ice can be an effective tool for pain reduction.

Personally I prefer to avoid icing my own injuries, that being said if my patients are in a lot of pain I prefer them ice instead of being reliant on pain medication for relief.

That being said if you do not have PAIN I do not recommend icing.

Guest post by Dr. Mike Piekarski, DPT

Bleakley, Chris. Rice, Price, Police – What’s in and what’s out. Sports Kongres
Mirkin, G. (1978) The Sportsmedicine Book
Mirkin, G. (2016) Why Ice Delays Recovery