Why Using Ice After Injury is Not Always Helpful

icing an injury

Do you still use ice after an injury? STOP

Do you still follow R.I.C.E. (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation)? STOP.

Now that we have your attention, let us explain why ice should not be used every time you have an injury. After an injury, the body has a process it goes through, which promotes blood flow and sends inflammatory cells to the injured area. This process causes swelling and warmth around the injury site, and ultimately heals you. However, ice slows this process down, and delays healing by reducing inflammation. While ice may be an effective tool to reduce pain during an injury, the cons outweigh the “feel good” sensation of ice.

As for the recommendation to move away from R.I.C.E. The reason for this instruction is because it is an outdated practice, which has limited evidence or support. Even the doctor that coined the term R.I.C.E. has revised his stance on the use of ice after an injury. Instead, the new acronym is P.E.A.C.E. & L.O.V.E which stands for:

P – Protection

E – Elevation

A – Avoid anti-inflammatories

C – Compression

E – Education


L – Load

O – Optimism

V – Vascularisation

E – Exercise 

P.E.A.C.E. is helpful in the early stages of an injury. It is okay to remain active and perform activities after an injury, however, protection relates to avoiding activities that increase your pain level the first few days after injury. When using elevation, it is important to lift the affected area above heart level as often as possible to allow for proper blood flow from the area of injury back to the heart. Anti-inflammatories such as medication or ice, will reduce tissue repair at the site of injury and is the reason they are not recommended. Compression is still recommended to aid in reducing swelling, and can be performed through bandages or tape. Although Google is a great place to learn new things, unless you know specifically what you are looking for, there can be a lot of misinformation on the internet. At Defy, our physiotherapists provide free video consultations to offer education and next steps in your recovery. 

L.O.V.E. is important after the acute stage of an injury. Load relates to increasing the demand on the tissues that are healing. You should resume normal activities and let pain be your guide when increasing the load. Although discomfort is to be expected, your body will let you know when the demands are too great, or if you can progress further.  Furthermore, our outlook and mental state are an important aspect of recovery. That is why it is important to have optimism and remain confident during recovery, and know that your injury will get better. Also, as mentioned above, it is essential to have optimal blood flow to improve healing, and that’s why vascularisation is recommended. Find a pain free activity that increases your heart rate, such as biking, walking, rowing, or your activity of choice. Lastly, exercise is helpful in returning to normal function and recovery. Stay active and move the affected area to improve your range of motion and strength. 

Follow these recommendations when rehabilitating from your next injury and it will make for a much better recovery. However, if you have limitations or pain that feels serious, or an injury that refuses to get better then please reach out to us here at Defy and we would be happy to help you get back to doing what you love!


  1. Does ice speed up healing? It does not speed up the healing process and may even slow the process down in the early stage of an injury.
  2. When should I use ice? It can be used when dealing with chronic pain in certain situations to reduce pain levels if other methods fall short.
  3. Is heat better for an injury? It depends on the injury but heat can be a much more effective way to promote blood flow and create an analgesic effect during the early stage of an injury.


Contact us and we can arrange for a Free Consultation with one of our Physiotherapists to speak with you about your individual case.

Important Notes:

  • We are able to help individuals of all ages and at all activity levels (recreational to competitive). 
  • We offer direct billing to most major insurance companies for the convenience of our clients.
  • We have appointments as early as 7am and as late as 7:30pm to accommodate busy lifestyles.

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