Arguing Against Ice

This blog has a great challenge to the whole idea of icing: Motilitywod.

Here is the video, it's long and the sound is a little low but it's good.

I did a bunch of thinking about this issue.  Most of my readers know that Chinese medicine has been against icing but there has been some concession to the idea that inflammation is a problem and improved circulation is part of the solution.  That is now in serious doubt.  

For the last 15 or so years Physical Therapy schools have been teaching that the purpose of icing is to reduce secondary injury from inflammation.  However, there isn't much proof that secondary injury exists in muscular skeletal injuries. It may be a fantasy justification.

The injury is supposed to be caused by hypoxia, lack of oxygen in the cells.  The logic developed such that icing caused blood vessels to constrict but that the warming right after icing caused them to get much fatter via the "hunter" effect, and thus circulation increased.  More circulation, more oxygen available to the cells, less hypoxia.

But things turn out to be a lot more complex.  For one, we don't have a definition of inflammation, this article explains that at the moment we know of 9 different mechanisms that fall under the general heading, inflammation.  I suspect that as this debate continues we will discover there are things ice is great for, burns perhaps, but at the moment it is being way over used.  

The video suggests using compression bands (like Voodoo Bands) or electrical stimulation for muscle skeletal trauma.  I'm a fan of both but I have a different explanation.  When you use electrical stimulation or compression bands with external manipulation, you are making your external body empty (xu) of intent (yi), yet active (ling)!  This frees the mind to go outside the body and also frees the internal body from the external body so that it can move around and make spontaneous adjustments to the whole system.  Qigong and Standing Meditation (Zhanzhuang) can also do the trick.  Lymphatic vessels, which clear out inflammation, do not require impulsive muscle tension to drain, they just require movement.  With practice a student can learn to open and move fluid through the lymphatic vessels very easily.