A big debate taking place in baseball is whether pitchers should ice their arm after they pitch. Some people are very adamant about icing their arm after they throw, while others say it does no good. So who is right here?
In sports, an athlete typically ices something if they injure it. Why should that change for baseball? Would you ice your biceps after doing some curls? If your arm is not sore, then it doesn’t make much sense to ice it. However, if you pitch a game and your arm is in pain, then icing may make better sense.
Your arm is just like any other muscle in your body. When you work it, the muscle fibers break down and are rebuilt. To repair the fibers, blood and nutrients are rushed to the shoulder to repair, and ultimately strengthen the muscles. Icing the arm actually impedes this process. It slows down the body fluids and makes it difficult for those nutrients to reach the right spot. Consequently, the healing process is inhibited rather than catalyzed.
If this all were true, why are some people such firm believers in the icing process? When you ice, the nerve endings are numbed causing a decrease in pain and discomfort. This obviously feels better to you and might cause you to believe your arm is healing, however the opposite is true. The nutrients are not able to reach the repair site thus slowing down the recovery process. If you ice, be sure to give yourself extra time to recover. Yes, icing will reduce the immediate soreness, but will result in a longer recovery time.
If you do choose to ice your arm, do so with a layer of clothing or a towel over the icing area. Direct skin contact with ice can cause frostbite and discomfort. Never ice for more than 20 minutes and do not ice during or before a game. Doing so will cause extreme tightness and eventual injury.
If you are looking for a convenient way to ice your arm, check out the Pro Ice shoulder and elbow sleeve. I personally have this and it does a great job of relieving any pain to my shoulder or elbow if it were to arise.
For more information on icing your shoulder, feel free to check out this article.
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