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6 Best Ice Packs for Injuries

by Amanda Ghosh May 06, 2017 0 Comments

man putting ice pack on knee

Finally looking to upgrade that bag of frozen vegetables as your ice pack for aches and pains? We agree because cold therapy has proven to reduce swelling & pain after an acute injury. You may think a bag of peas is all you need, but the best ice packs for injuries are the ones that suit your specific needs. They come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and you really should be prepared with ice packs for any unexpected injuries. Consider features like reusability, longevity, and versatility. You may want to consider hands-free ice packs with straps or one better suited for sedentary icing. So, let’s take a look at some awesome ice packs to start relieving your aches and pains.

1. Pain Relief Ice Pack with Strap for Hot and Cold Therapy by TheraPAQ

Pain Relief Ice Pack with Strap for Hot and Cold Therapy

Amazon

This is the top pick. I know our focus is on icing, but hey it can be used as a heat pack too.  This handy little pack is reusable and can be easily stored in your freezer. Best of all, it has straps that hold it in place so you can watch TV and relax, or continue to go about your daily routine. Once it’s positioned, your job is done! This feature is growing in popularity and more ice packs are being designed this way.

Pros:
  • Remains soft even when “frozen” so it can mold to your body when you use it
  • Works really well as a wrap for the leg, thighs, rotator cuff, cervical/upper back area and more
  • Stays cold for about 25 minutes and regains its “frozen” temperature with only 30 minutes in the freezer
Cons:
  • Velcro strapping is a bit thick

2. Round Reusable Gel Ice Packs by IceWraps

Round Reusable Gel Ice Packs with Cloth Backing

Amazon

So, I know we said injuries. But injuries aren’t just sudden accidents. You may want to utilize cold therapy for pulled teeth, headaches or even tired and strained eyes. For that reason, this wonderful ice pack was a must to included. They're gel with a cloth back, so it feels nice against the skin and is comfortable to hold. The small size allows you to isolate the icing to only the area you need it. These ones come in a set of 5, so you can always have one ready to go.

Pros:
  • The gel is super durable, it really takes a lot of effort to tear or pop these, so put your mind to rest, they are going to last awhile (and there is a satisfaction guarantee with them too!)
  • Also function really well for dealing with puffy swollen eyes, bites and bruises
  • These have a warming feature too, just microwave for 10 seconds
Cons:
  • May not stay cold long enough

3. Cold & Hot Therapy Wrap by Bodyprox

Cold & Hot Therapy Wrap

Amazon

This one is a top pick because it’s designed for feet, wrists, and ankles. It’s similar to the first item on this list, but the first item would be too big to cover these areas, so this is kind of like its must-have cousin. Plus, it’s reusable, so you’ll have it for a long time. This is good news because ankle injuries are common. As a bonus, this ice pack provides relief for plantar fasciitis, arthritis and carpal tunnel.

If you like the idea of an ice pack that targets specific needs, check out these ice packs if you're suffering from knee pain.

Pros:
  • Stays in place really well with its wrap and Velcro-style design
  • Velcro is removable so you can take it off when you toss this in the microwave to heat it up or just keep the Velcro out of the freezer
  • Ideal for body areas needing a smaller wrap-style ice pack
Cons:
  • Not stretchy enough to pull tight for lots of compression

4. Instant Cold Pack by Dynarex

Dynarex Instant Cold Pack

Amazon

You really need to have some emergency ice packs on hand that don’t need to be kept in the freezer. This is the one for that! Just squeeze that ice pack and shake for instant coolness. Stash a box of these in the car so they are always available when you need one.

Pros:
  • Instantly cold
  • Awesome in a pinch or for an emergency
  • Works well for a variety of pains
Cons:
  • Some complaints of pack getting too cold

5. Cold Compress Therapy Wray by Arctic Flex Artic Flex Nice Ice pack

Amazon

We love this ice pack for the neck. It drapes over your neck like a towel and contours to your body. The gel lets it mold to you to give you amazing relief. And, you can refreeze it. This style of ice pack is extremely versatile and can morph around any injury location targeting aches and pains. It's great for your neck, arms, & knees, but it's only ideal for sedentary icing.

Pros:
  • Don’t worry about leaking, the material keeps it pretty much leak proof
  • Specifically designed for your neck, arms, & legs - it hits all the right places
  • Drapes like a towel, you don’t even need to hold on to it when you are sitting
Cons:
  • Sedentary icing

6. Hot Cold Ice Bag by Ohuhu

Ohuhu Hot Cold Ice Bag

Amazon

Last, but not least, is the traditional ice bag. This one brings back memories of movies with the old school nurse handing out the ice bags. These are easier to keep clean because you can drain the water out. In fact, you’ll need to fill it up each time you use it.

Pros:
  • The weight of the water and the size of the bag combine to keep this in place, whether it’s atop your thigh or your forehead as you sit or lie down
  • It’s design keeps it from perspiring, so there’s no dripping
  • The weight of the water feels soothing
Cons:
  • Takes time to dry after using or cleaning

When & Why You Should Use Cold Therapy

When:

  • Acute injuries
  • Immediate use after an injury to keep swelling down
  • Chronic conditions associated with overuse (helps with inflammation)
  • Muscle spasms and pain

Why:

Icing reduces swelling and helps to control inflammation. It's also good at soothing and helping to reduce pain.

Tip:
It's important to begin icing within the first 48 hours after injury takes place for better results

Features to Consider

In my opinion, having a variety of ice packs means you can address any injury that might require icing. They are cheap, so I like to get a few different types. This way, I’m set for what life throws at me. Definitely be sure to consider these factors when selecting an ice pack(s) for injuries:

  • Fit: Will it cover the area you intend it to cover? Will it mold to that area?
  • Material: Make sure it won’t leak, drip or perspire on you. Always have a cloth between you and the ice (or heat for that matter) for protection. Make sure the cloth is soft and comfortable on the skin.
  • Durability: Most ice packs (with the exception of instant ones) are reusable, so get products with materials that will last.
  • Versatility: Have a variety of ice packs on hand so you can address different injuries properly as they arise. 

Cold Therapy Precautions

Well, it may seem like a no-brainer, I mean come on, we’ve been using ice packs here and there since we were kids, there are some real don’t when it comes to this practice. Here’s are some helpful guidelines to follow. How many of them were you aware of?

  • Avoid putting ice packs on the left shoulder if you have heart problems
  • Never use ice packs on the front part of your neck
  • Don’t apply heat to an acute injury
  • Don’t use heating after a workout out or other vigorous activity
  • Never apply heat to a swollen area of the body (it will bring more blood to that area)
  • Avoid applying both cold and hot packs to areas that have circulation problems
  • If you have trouble sensing temperatures, avoid using heat and ice packs
  • Don’t use if you have diabetes or an infection

As always, it’s a good idea to speak with a medical professional. The information in this article is not meant to replace the opinion of your physician. Speak to them before applying any new treatments or if you have questions about current usage of ice or hot packs.

Finding the Best Ice Pack for Injuries

Always remember to consider your specific needs! Injuries can happen at any moment or cause recurring pain.  Having an ice pack on hand will ensure that you can find relief quickly so prepare yourself by stocking up your freezer.  Cold therapy can significantly reduce swelling and pain associated with injuries and finding the best ice pack for your needs can make a world of difference. Take a closer look at the ones we've selected and decide for yourself! 

Sources:

Southern California Orthopedic Institute

Amanda Ghosh
Amanda Ghosh

Amanda has a Masters of Science in Nutrition from Syracuse University which equipped her with courses applied to licensure as a dietitian. She also worked as a Program Director for the Wellness and Fitness Department for the YMCA. She is well versed in physical fitness, with a certificate from the National Academy of Sports Medicine in physical fitness training. She has taught numerous fitness classes, including college courses in the Athletic Department, as an adjunct instructor, at the SUNY University at Buffalo. She currently resides with her husband in the NYC area, and loves to put her knowledge of anatomy and physiology to use by being active. Both her and her husband are self-declared "foodies."



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