Hot/cold contrast bath to help reduce ankle and hand swelling

ankle sprain

How to do a Hot/Cold Contrast bath to help reduce swelling:

Use only ice for the first 48 hours, then you can use the hot/cold combo.

Basketball season means the potential for sports injuries and especially sprained ankles! Saw a young high school basketball player today in the clinic with a pretty swollen ankle. X-ray was negative, so we can start working on getting him back on the court. First order of business is to reduce the swelling. I have advised him to use a Hot/Cold contrast bath: you need 2 buckets of water
1. Start with hot water first, for 3 min
2. Then put your foot in cold water for 1 min
3. Then back in the hot for 3 min
4. Back in the cold for 1 min
5. Repeat the hot/cold cycle for 4 times, ENDING with COLD
2 x day.

By alternating your foot/hand in different temperature water, you are stimulating “micro-circulation” in the injured area due to the vaso-dilation and vaso-constriction of the vessels, helping to “pump” out the fluid.

You can also use this trick for hands, wrists, etc. Let me know if you have any questions,

~Ed Deboo, Physical Therapist, Bellingham, WA

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