Since time remembered, in the horse world, the process of icing either before and/or after competition has been and still is a regular routine.
In 1978, the best-selling book, Sportsmedicine Book, by Dr. Gabe Mirkin, made RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation) the go-to treatment for acute human sports related injuries.
Icing an injury has been around for so long that the most seasoned horseman will give you a funny look if you tell them that ice can produce negative effects upon the injury and the healing process.
New Way of Thinking
New human research shows that using ice and ice hydrotherapy on acute injuries actually has a negative impact on recovery.
Heading up this Anti-Ice Movement is none other than Dr. Gabe Mirkin, the man who made RICE a household word.
“[Athletic] Coaches have used my “RICE” guideline for decades, but now it
appears that both Ice and complete Rest may delay healing, instead of helping.
Healing is delayed by cortisone-type drugs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen, applying cold packs or ice, and anything else that blocks the immune response to injury.” Dr. Gabe Mirkin 1
In a 2011 study on human athletes, the application of ice/cold compresses to acute injuries was shown to have a negative effect on athletic performance. With 20 minutes of the cold application it reported a noted decrease in strength, speed, power and
“The cooling may help to decrease pain, but it interferes with the athlete’s strength, speed, endurance, and coordination” (Sports Med, Nov 28, 2011). 2
Here are a few more studies that support this new line of thinking:
“Applying ice to injured tissue causes blood vessels near the injury to constrict and shut off the blood flow that is needed for healing. The blood vessels do not open again for many hours after the ice was applied.”
Knee Surgery Sports Tramadol Arthroscope, 2014 3
“These data suggest that topical cooling, a commonly used clinical intervention, seems to not improve but rather delay recovery from eccentric exercise–induced
muscle damage.” Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research: 2013 4
Fresh blood flow is the single most important aspect of healing an injury. Fresh blood flow carries away the dead and injured cells from the area and it brings in oxygen and important nutrients to cells so that they begin the healing process.
Icing constricts and restricts blood flow to the muscles, tendons, ligaments creating stagnation. Waste products build up, the area becomes hardened and the healing process is drastically slowed down.
This constriction and blockage is called stagnation. The stagnation causes more pain, and adhesions of tissue that restrict movement which causes stiffness that result in even more pain!
A poorly healed injury has the increased potential for a re-injury in the future. This is true for humans and sport horses.
Yes, Icing and Cold Hydrotherapy temporarily reduce inflammation and pain and they are inexpensive therapies. But the negative effects of long term icing outweigh the benefits. If cooling is done at all, it should be applied for a maximum of 10 minutes, removed for 20 minutes, and repeated again for a maximum of 10-minutes. Period, the end, no more icing that site.
Is there another way to reduce inflammation with out Ice or NSAIDs?
Yes. Microcurrent Therapy.
Scientific studies show these benefits of Microcurrent Therapy:
- Restores and increases circulation to and through the injured area
- Reduces Inflammation
- Provides Pain Relief for Muscles, Tendons and Ligaments
- Stimulates the Natural Healing Processes within the Body
- Speeds up Injury Healing
- Reduces the Need for NSAIDs
For humans, if you are ready to move out of the “Ice Age”, here are the new steps to heal an acute injury, RNCEM:
- Rest (stop training, exercising)
- No Ice
- Elevation (to reduce swelling, if possible)
- Microcurrent Therapy
The same protocols, with the exception of Elevation, should also be followed for sport horses.
Although, Microcurrent therapy was originally developed in the late 1970s, it never became a go-to protocol for the majority of human and equine athletes. Some reasons for the lack of popularity of Microcurrent Therapy was that it was expensive and had to be performed in a practitioner’s office.
Later devices had some portability, but were still bulky and required on site monitoring.
21st Century Science and Technology
Microlief® Microcurrent Therapy Changes Everything!
The Microlief® Microcurrent Therapy device consists of 2 electrodes connected to a Microcurrent Power Supply. The device is design to be worn on the body (human or horse).
Microlief® provides Microcurrent Therapy to all of the areas under each electrode as well as to all of the soft tissue between the electrodes.
The Microlief® technology is FDA approved for Over-the-Counter sales to humans.
For horses, Microlief® is portable, affordable and it really works!
Microlief® can be worn under wraps and left unattended.
This product design allows 24 hour around the clock therapy for faster recovery of the horse’s injury. Microlief® can be used daily for injury prevention and optimal performance. Microlief® can also be used for competition preparation and recovery.
The FDA approved Microlief® microcurrents penetrate the injured, inflamed cells and re-establish normal cell activity and metabolism. The Microlief® microcurrent restores homeostasis to the cellular system. Healthy cell metabolism creates a healthy, pain free internal environment and pain relief may be experienced within minutes.
The self-contained micro battery operated Equine Microlief® microcurrent has up to 300+ hours of in use time and can be removed and reapplied numerous times as needed.
Keep that ice in your drink and incorporate Microlief® into your horse’s health care regime. You will be moving your horse out of the Ice Age and into the 21st Century of healing and both of you will be glad you did!