You’ve probably heard of deep tissue massage, hot stone therapy, and Thai massage – some of the most common massages available. But have you heard of ice massage?
Ice massage is an extremely easy and effective massage technique that can be done in the comfort of your own home, by yourself, whenever you need it. It can provide significant relief for many types of back pain (especially a sore lower back due to muscle strain), as well as neck stiffness and pain.
Applying ice to sore muscles helps slow down the inflammation and swelling that accompanies most back pain. This is also effective for treating an injury. When accompanied with massage, ice is an excellent form of relief.
Ice not only helps reduce inflammation, but also numbs the pain of sore tissues and muscles. Applying ice to an achy area slows the nerve impulses, which blocks the pain sensors in the nerves in that area. Icing a painful spot can also help decrease tissue damage.
Why is ice so effective at treating aches and pains? The cold causes the nerves and veins to contract, limiting the circulation of blood. When the cold is removed, the veins go into overdrive, overcompensating for the lack of circulation by rushing blood to that area and bringing the essential nutrients to help heal injured back or neck muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
For the best results, an ice massage should follow these simple guidelines:
- Use a larger piece of ice: fill a Styrofoam cup full of water, and once frozen peel back the top inch or two to expose the ice. A small ice cube can be used, but will be less effective.
- Apply the ice gently to the lower back (or wherever you are experiencing pain) and massage in a circular motion, focusing only on the area where pain is felt.
- Avoid applying the ice directly to the spinal column.
- Limit the ice massage to about 5 minutes at a time to avoid ice burn.
- Repeat as necessary two to five times daily.
The key to an ice massage is to keep the ice moving and to numb the painful area. Ice massage is generally the most effective up to 48 hours after an injury or after the first pain is felt. After that, heat therapy or alternating between cold/hot may work better for pain relief.