Well, that is a sprained ankle. Time to apply ice, let the swelling go down, and move on.

Not so fast.

See, in recent years the practice of icing injuries has come under scrutiny and after reading up on aches, pains, and other injuries, I am inclined to give this practice a pass and you should too.

In his book A Tooth From the Tiger’s Mouth, Chinese medical practitioner and martial artist Tom Bisio explains that in the case of an injury, especially one with swelling, you have impaired circulation to the injured area. This lack of circulation means that there is a lack of blood and nutrients going to the injured site. Icing the area further constricts the blood vessels, so while the pain may go down it is at the expense of the body’s natural healing processes. Such an impairment could extend the recovery time and cause the tissues to heal incompletely or improperly.

So what should you do instead?

First the swelling does need to go down. Applying an anti inflammatory ointment is a good start, though make sure

Cupping thearpy to relax sore muscles.

it is not warming. For at least the first two days, and no more than a week, you should avoid heat on the area as that could make the inflammation worse. If you really hurt and want to heal faster, cupping and bleeding the area will relieve the pressure and improve the local circulation. If ice is your only option then Bisio recommends no more than 10 minutes per hour.


Second, massage the area, gently. You are trying to break up stagnant blood in the area and improve the local circulation.

Third, slowly exercise the area to strengthen your tissues and continue to promote circulation. Avoid over stressing it, and do not allow the area to weaken as this could lead to muscle atrophy and poor healing.

Fourth, avoid compressing the injured area. While you should make the area stable compression, much like ice, restricts blood flow and impairs circulation which leads to poor healing.

So remember, the next time you hurt that to heal you need to call in your circulation.

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