Recently I worked on a woman who is a massage therapist who is having pretty severe carpal tunnel and also tendonitis. She has a been a massage therapist for 6 years. I asked her if she had ever done any ice baths also called ice dipping for her hands and arms. She said she had not.
I explained to her that I have been doing massage since 2001 and ice baths are one self care practice that have helped me avoid repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel and tendonitis.
Repetitive stress injuries are common in massage therapists and also in people who use the computer a high amount of time.
Repetitive stress injuries like carpal tunnel and tendonitis can also happen to anyone who uses their arms/hands a good amount of time and does not have self care practices like proper body ergonomics, stretching, ice baths, massage, nutritional support.
The muscles of someone who uses their arms/hands all the time can get tight and over contracted which leads to inflammation in the muscles as well as the tendons.
The massage school I attended over emphasized ice bath's for our hands to help us with avoiding carpal tunnel and tendonitis. I asked if her massage school taught that to her and she said no. I asked her promise to do some ice bath/ice dipping for the next few days until I massaged her again because it really does help in freeing up the muscles and tendons. Read how it does that below.
How Ice Dipping Works
What happens when you ice dip? When you dip your hands/arms into the ice cold water it causes your blood vessels to constrict called vasoconstriction. When you take your hand/arms out of the water it causes the blood vessels to dilate called vasodilation. This creates a sponging effect throughout the hands and arms. This helps decrease inflammation and helps the muscles tendons be more hydrated and relaxed.
Does using ice packs do the same thing for carpal tunnel and tendonitis? Ice packs are a more specific form of hydrotherapy and can be beneficial for a specific area that may need some icing. Ice baths/ice dipping create an over all flushing effect and gets down to the small blood vessels through the whole arm and hand.
How To, How Long And How Often
To Ice Bath/Ice Dip Arms/Hands?
Buy 4-5 bigger water bottles like in the picture
Freeze the water bottles so they can be used over and over again.
Fill up sink about 3/4 full and put in frozen bottles
Make sure water is very cold as that creates more vasoconstriction
Dip arms all the into sink. Get up to the elbow.(Look at pic above)
Hold in the water 5-10 seconds
Take arms out and walk around for.
Do this 5-10 times
How often should you do the ice baths and ice dips? If you have chronic injury 5 times a week until symptoms go away. For maintenance of the hands arms I recommend 2-3 times a week. Your body will tell you when its time to do ice baths/ice dips.
Ice Bath/Ice Dipping Helps Anyone
Who Uses Their Arms/Hands Repetitively
Who besides massage therapists can benefit from ice baths/ice dipping?
- Office workers who use the computer for a high amount of time
- Physical therapists
- Hair stylists
- Knitters and/or chrocheters
- Tennis players
- Golf players
- Anyone really who has to use their arms/hands repetitively
There are other self care practices that help prevent repetitive stress injuries, massage is one of them, but also stretching, and proper magnesium and B-6 intake is important to decreasing inflammation as well.
If you or someone you know has repetitive stress injuries, carpal tunnel or tendonitis of the hands/arms please please please do the ice baths/ice dipping as they can help a great deal!