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Fitness Friday: A refresher on when to use heat or ice

February 14, 2013

Golf can seem like a full-contact sport. Sometimes you need a little TLC before you get back out there. But what you do depends on the kind of pain you have, says Pete Draovitch, clinical supervisor at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

Here's a rule for how to treat your pain: If it's a sharp pain, go with ice. If it's a dull, chronic ache, heat is better. That's a bit oversimplified, but a good place to start.

"Anything that might result in swelling should get ice to reduce the impact," Draovitch says. "And any area that feels sore or stiff needs heat to increase circulation."

When it comes to ice, don't apply it for longer than 20 minutes and avoid direct contact with the skin. When the area feels numb, stop. Compression can help, so wrap the ice pack. When applying heat, compression is even more important. Heat wraps are great, or use compression clothing. In a pinch, a hot shower can do wonders.

Ron Kaspriske is the fitness editor for Golf Digest.

(Illustration by Thomas Fuchs)*