Part of my post-run ritual is to ice areas that have been trouble spots in the past and maybe even, pre-emptively, throw some ice onto a spot where I felt slight twinges during the workout.
So, this morning, it was an iced gel pack affixed to my left gluteus and lower back (for any lingering sacroiliac issue) and a smaller one to my left hip flexor muscles, which had been a touch irritated.
As I'm sure you know, ice is used to lessen the movement of blood to an inflamed area or injury site. When body tissue is cooled, it constricts blood vessels to inhibit flow.
But here's where I go against most medical advice: I only ice for eight minutes, 10 max.
The National Athletic Trainers Association recommends that ice be used for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. But then I read a medical piece by Brussels cryotherapy expert Dr. Romain Meeusen.
The researcher has shown that if the temperature of a cooled area continues to drop, blood vessel reopen and flood the area even though ice is still applied. So his research shows that 10 minutes should be the maximum duration for ice use. He found that, even though the temperature of the skin rises immediately after removal of ice, the underlying muscles stay cool for a few more minutes because fat serves as "insulation."
Meeusen recently told the journal Sports Injury Bulletin that "it's better to ice the damaged region for 10 minutes immediately after the injury, remove the ice for about 30 minutes, and then reapply it for 10 additional minutes. Repeat this cycle of about two 10-minute icings per hour as often as possible during the first 24 to 48 hours after an injury. Then, use the same technique about three to five times a day until the injury resolves itself."