Forums General tissue decongestion: is compression different than icing? Reply To: tissue decongestion: is compression different than icing?

Kelly StarrettKelly Starrett

Hi Usama,
Love your thoughtful questions. The issue with icing is that it delays/attenuates healing. Period. It also has been shown to make the lymphatics porous, re-introducing sequestered waste material back into the interstitial tissues. The lymphatics are the sewers. They move upwards of 3 liters of lymph/day. Are we measuring tissue temps post/peri ice? Is there any evidence to support laying around and not introducing graded motion and making the tissues cold? No there is not. If we have uncontrolled pain, perhaps one bout of icing would work until…the tissue warmed back up 10-20 min later? And now, we have more congested tissues and perhaps an increase in perceived pain as the brain in now flooded with the temporarily blocked tissue signaling.

The compression will keep tissues from swelling (like a pro-fore boot) for lymphedema, tight compression limits fluids out potentially (like a tight sock). But high level temporary compression does makes sense by not limiting the plumbing. Supporting a tissue mechanically can help for sure, but it has to be balanced with the tissue fluid dynamics. ART not science.

Thanks again for your thougtfulness!