Par For The Course and Cryotherapy

The other day I was training double leg takedowns with my partner in Jiu-Jitsu and my foot took a real hit (her patella to my right medial bone spur (thank you, ice skating and pointe!)) Even when you are “training smart” and being mindful, accidents happen!  While my partner thought she just scratched me, I knew from the feeling that I was going to have more to deal with than a scrape.

In about three minutes, the area turned a blackened purple, proving that the “feeling” wasn’t just a hunch.  Ouch.  What do you do in that situation?  ICE!  I am by no means a medical professional, keep in mind – with something as simple as icing, you will find a ton of articles in support of it, and quite a few against.  

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Cryotherapy entails applying enough “cold” to cause vasoconstriction (narrowing) of your blood vessels.  As this occurs, new cells are allowed to grow, injured ones can repair, and dead ones can exist stage left…along with some of that nasty inflammation.

In my personal past, ice has been incredibly helpful in preventing more substantial, longer-term damage by facilitating the healing process right away.  In the case of my foot, the ice attacked the swelling and blood flow immediately, leaving me still with an injured foot…but one I could walk on. 

What’s the time frame for icing?  What’s worked for me is about 15 minutes – I don’t want to just cool my skin, and I also don’t want to get frostbite (yes, it happens!  During knee reconstruction rehabilitation, I actually was borderline – my knee was so numb I almost noticed too late!)  

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It can be helpful to ice a few times a day to keep any inflammation at bay, and it’s useful to continue the following day as necessary – obviously it depends on the injury, but the point is…don’t ice once or twice and assume you are in the clear.

Whenever I feel an injury I assess the treatment I need immediately – ice in this case was the go to, and my Gracie Academy was stocked, fortunately!  NSAIDS (non steroidal anti inflammatories) can help too, but I try to steer clear of taking medications as much as possible. A topical Diclofenac (Voltaren), which is almost like Advil in gel form, has been a better go-to for me in the past.  I also didn’t combine compression with this one because it was an awkward and very tender spot – I LOVE compression for other injuries though, as it helps rush oxygen-rich blood to the scene of the trauma, (and minimize edema!) helping the injured tissue to heal.

This wasn’t an armbar, but it was a nasty contusion in a tough-to-heal spot (that I couldn’t help putting pressure on!)  The prompt attention made a huge difference in the healing time and though I still feel it, it didn’t keep me out of training for a prolonged run.  PHEW!

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