It is no secret that after any acute muscle strain it is important to ice the injured muscle. Icing helps in a number of ways, it slows the blood flow to the injured area which helps, reduce inflammation, preserve the healthy cells in the area and decrease tissue necrosis. This helps to minimize the tissue scar that is formed.
Scar tissue is not as flexible as muscle tissue, so minimizing the amount of scar tissue is helpful for a faster recovery back to dance. Many times muscle strains can get re-injured when trying to get back to moving because dancers have lost the flexibility they once had.
Another way to help decrease the loss in flexibility is to ice your muscles in a lengthened position. By icing the muscle in a lengthened position the scar tissue will form already lengthened, allowing for a more normal range of flexibility for the muscle. This does not mean stretch while you ice, still ensure the muscle is relaxed, but don’t ice the muscle in a shortened state. Here are some examples on how to ice common injuries in a lengthened position:
Think about where the muscle originates and inserts and make sure those points are moving away from each other to ensure your muscle is lengthened. Remember, ice for 10-20 minutes at a time as frequently as you are able. You know it is okay to ice again when your skin temperature returns to normal. If it is still red and still cool to touch wait a bit longer before icing.
Järvinen, T. A. H., Järvinen, T. L. N., Kääriäinen, M., Aärimaa, V., Vaittinen, S., Kalimo, H., & Järvinen, M. (2007). Muscle injuries: optimising recovery. Best practice & research. Clinical rheumatology, 21(2), 317–31. doi:10.1016/j.berh.2006.12.004
CarliAnn & Ella