Injuries, aches, pains, discomfort. We’ve all been there. Even if it isn’t a major issue, injuries can be scary, especially when you’re prepping for a performance (which for most of us is pretty much all the time!). Although there’s rarely a magic cure, there are certainly things you can do to help your body on the road to recovery, and icing and heating are two very useful tools.
Knowing the difference between when to ice and when to heat can not only help you get back to dancing ASAP, it can also prevent the creation of a bigger issue that can occur if you use the wrong method for your particular case.
Let’s start with a quick list of the major differences between ice and heat:
The main benefit of icing is bringing down inflammation and swelling that happens when you twist your ankle or sprain your kneecap. Ice works the best when applied right after an injury occurs.
On the other hand, heating a muscle promotes blood flow through the injured area and works well at any stage of an injury. Heating is also great after a long day of rehearsals that lead to sore muscles.
For a closer look at the comparison, here’s a quick infographic to look at:
The last thing I’ll say on this topic is very important: do not dance on an iced injury. If you need to ice something during class or rehearsal, you should not dance for the rest of the day. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen dancers ice for the last part of class and then go straight into full-out rehearsals. If you truly need to dance after icing something, make sure the warm the area up very carefully. Even so, this should really only be done if absolutely necessary, such as before a performance with a major injury. Heating, however, is great for between rehearsals or before shows, especially if you have a muscle problem like a strained hamstring or sore back.
Remember guys: make sure to inform your teacher of any injuries you’re nursing, no matter the size. If the issue persists, think about seeing a doctor for professional advice. You only get one body, so treat it with the respect it deserves!