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Why it’s important for me to do my home exercise program

So… you have been injured or have some condition that requires you to visit a qualified healthcare practitioner (i.e. a physical therapist). Were you given “homework?” In other words, did the practitioner give you a home exercise program, commonly called an H.E.P., to assist you in your road to recovery? If so, it is highly advisable to follow through and actually do what your practitioner has prescribed to you. Not doing so could certainly lead to a longer recovery or no recovery at all! Who wants that? What is the use of seeking professional advice if you have no follow through on your part? Healthcare clinicians (aka practitioners) are not magicians! Taking care of yourself requires your active participation!

Fundamental acute injury care – R.I.C.E.

Recreationally active people and athletes alike have the potential to experience some sort of musculoskeletal injury. This could be a ligamentous sprain or a tendon/muscle strain amongst other maladies. Regardless, there is a principle of care that may be easily followed until a qualified healthcare practitioner may provide further oversight.

This is the principle of R.I.C.E. – Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

    • Rest:   Take some time away from the sport or activity. Generally a few days to a week or so should help, but if you still are having pain, or the pain worsens, then a qualified healthcare practitioner should be consulted.
    • Ice:  Application of an ice pack to an injured area immediately post injury is often a great means to help control pain and swelling; for a few days thereafter as well. Do not ice more than 10-15 minutes at any given time, waiting an hour or so between applications, unless instructed otherwise by a qualified healthcare practitioner.
    • Compression:    Using an elastic wrap or some other means of compression (e.g. an elastic compression sleeve) to an injured area will help control swelling. Follow the directions provided with the product you use or seek the advice of a qualified healthcare practitioner.
    • Elevation:  It is beneficial to raise the injured area above the level of the heart for prolonged periods of time. Doing so helps gravity assist in decreasing swelling. For example, if an ankle is injured lay down and rest the foot on some pillows. A qualified healthcare practitioner may provide further instruction.

The advice of a qualified healthcare practitioner should always be consulted; especially in the event of a serious and/or debilitating injury.

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How to make an ice pack that really works!

If you have been instructed to “ice at home” you probably don’t have that great of an option to use as an ice pack. Furthermore, the ice pack that may be available is usually not big enough, doesn’t stay cold long enough, and leaks all over the place. Typically people resort to using a small Ziploc bag of ice cubes or the “family size” bag of frozen peas…neither of which is really a good option.

So, to make an ice pack that really works follow the steps below, but remember to always consult a healthcare practitioner prior to use!

Supplies: four cups of water, two cups of rubbing alcohol, two large Ziploc bags (largest you can get), and one pillowcase


  1. Pour the four cups of water and two cups of rubbing alcohol into one of the Ziploc bags. (NOTE: any 2:1 ratio of water to rubbing alcohol will work theoretically.)
  2. Squeeze the air out of the Ziploc bag and then seal it.
  3. Place the Ziploc bag with the water and rubbing alcohol solution into the second Ziploc bag and squeeze out any air in the second bag. (NOTE: the second Ziploc bag is used to provide a barrier in case the first bag leaks.)
  4. Place the bags (“ice pack”) in your refrigerator’s freezer overnight.
  5. Prior to use, check the ice pack and make sure it is cold. It should also be congealed or slightly stiff, but not rigid. (NOTE: if the ice pack is too stiff or rigid you may add a little more rubbing alcohol; if it is too “watery” you may add more water. This is because rubbing alcohol keeps water from freezing and vice versa depending upon the solution used. You will need to leave it in the freezer longer regardless.)
  6. Once the ice pack consistency is to your liking, put it in a pillow case and place it on the needed body part. A healthcare practitioner may give you specific time parameters for using an ice pack, but a good timeframe is 15 minutes. Wait an hour between ice pack applications. (NOTE: the pillow case serves as a barrier to protect the skin from the ice pack. It is highly advisable that a barrier is used when using this, or any, ice pack.)

If you don’t want to bother making an ice pack or want one that might “travel” better you can always visit: