DIY ICY RELIEF + EARNED RUNS NOTES FOR IMMEDIATE USE, ON THE ROAD
Have you needed to ice an acutely injured knee, hip, or elbow but dreaded placing a lumpy-bumpy bag of ice or frozen peas next to your skin? Such homemade cold-application devices don’t nicely conform to the rounded areas of joints, and the location to be iced might not be receiving the full therapy.
Homemade GEL PACK recipes can be found on the internet. The usual ingredients include water, 70% isopropyl alcohol, and 2 Ziplock brand bags. The water: alcohol ratio is most often prescribed as 2:1 although some recipes recommend 3:1. If alcohol is not available, Dawn brand dish detergent can be substituted in the same ratio, or corn syrup.
The various recipes recommend removing as much air as possible and double-bagging, which involves putting the quart Ziplock bag of water + liquid additive into a gallon bag to prevent leaks.
A couple of HOURS in the freezer, and you have a cold compress to apply for icing.
EARNED RUNS NOTES:
1. If you have an acute need of an ice pack SOONER RATHER THAN LATER, there’s no available freezer, and Ziplock bags cannot be located, here’s an alternative. It’s what I do all the time as there usually is not enough space in my freezer to lay a bag flat. If you’re on the road at a race, or with a sports team, this approach is faster and works well too!
Obtain ice from someone’s cooler or drive to a convenience store and buy it. Or get some from your own freezer. Stock rubbing alcohol in your personal or team first aid kit, or drive to a drug/grocery/convenience store and buy it.
Put 2-3 ‘cups’ (any kind of cup, container, even handfuls; the ice needn’t be measured). Add alcohol to the bag, just enough to suspend the ice cubes a tiny bit in liquid. Voila!!! The ice floats about in the alcohol, melts a bit, and the cold liquid surrounds and molds to the area needing cooling.
The plastic bag that the store provided will hold the concoction, but ask for an extra second or third bag to place the first in to prevent too much leakage. If there’s a towel on hand, or a t-shirt or sweatshirt, these will also work in a pinch.
2. Of course, it’s wise to place a thin towel or clothing layer between your skin and the bag surface to prevent freezing damage to the skin. A “10-on, then 10-off” rule is often given, meaning 10 minutes of cold application is to be followed by 10 minutes without it, repeating this cycle a couple to several times as needed.
This ice bag can be refrozen when you get to where there’s a freezer. Empty the contents into a freezer bag with a locking function. Add a bit more alcohol and ice, and place the bag in the freezer. It may not be as flexible it was initially once frozen again, but with a bit of melting it will be less rigid.
3. Ice in alcohol will melt slower than in water, so your ice will last a bit longer!
4. Adults only: If you’re interested in the science of ice as it applies to an appreciation of alcoholic drinks here’s a link to information that may come in handy at the bar or home.
Whether you agree with the newer cautions against icing (see post from Friday May 5, 2017), there may be occasions in which it might be useful.
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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