I’ve become a connoisseur of ice packs. Some people are wine connoisseurs or food connoisseurs, but I’m an ice pack connoisseur. I lead a glamorous existence.
The first time I went to my regular physiotherapist was for the muscle I pulled in the intercostal space; that time I passed out. On that visit he showed me how to construct an ice pack that would rival local anaesthesia for pain relief. That’s the default initial part of his treatment; if you can’t feel it hurt, you also can’t feel him massage the shit out of your injury site, which means you’re less likely to scream and scare away the other patients. So he piles on an icepack, and gets you to do exercises (assuming that there are exercises you should try and do; there was with my neck and back, but not with the intercostal space injury, or with my knee immediately post-crash) and then when the site is good and cold and you’re restoring range of motion, then he digs in with the massage.
The trick with injuries is to try and ice them as soon as possible and as often as possible. It decreases the amount of inflammation that you end up with – inflammation is part of the healing process, but it also causes pain. The problem with my physio’s ice packs is that they’re not entirely workplace friendly. It’s hard to be businesslike, sitting at your desk with a nearly dripping wet towel and icecubes.
The standard alternative is the blue gel filled pillows that you leave in your freezer, or the instant cold packs that you can buy for $2 from a local Red Dot shop. Aside from the fact that I’ve never found either to get properly cold without the assistance of a damp cloth, the former needs you have the blue gel in the freezer at all times at work, and the latter is going to fast cost you a pretty penny when you’re trying to ice an injury site a few times a day for 20-30 minutes at a time.
The ice bag is a classic – seen often in comic strips and I Love Lucy episodes, they’re produced by Leon’s Retro Ice Bags. They come in two sizes – a six inch diameter one which works well for kids, and a 9 inch diameter one. The bag has got a rubberised inner so it won’t leak and when loaded with ice it produces a proper cold. All you have to do is have icecubes available from your work freezer (we have an ice machine which I have raided on regular occasions). In my case, a careful arrangement of my skirt over the top of the icebag meant I could freeze my glute sitting in my desk chair without flashing my undies to the workplace.
The Coolcore Dr Cool Wraps are another good alternative – these you can use dry for compression and support while you’re exercising, or if you bung them in your freezer having wet them first, they become a remarkably effective cold pack bandage, which can be wrapped around a limb and hidden under a trouser leg for a slightly more businesslike injury treatment. While you will have to put this in your work freezer, it chills in about 20 minutes, so you can apply it fairly soon after injury. Our wrap is permanently bunged in a ziplock in the freezer at home. We use it, re-roll it and stick it back in the freezer for next time. We’re less likely to lose it this way.
Learn from my (frequent) pain, and also avoid incurring the wrath of your office’s HR department, by not causing a slip hazard with a drippy icepack.
This post is not sponsored; I purchased the ice bag and my husband purchased the Coolcore Dr Cool Wrap. Both items have had quite the workout. Unfortunately.