Martial Arts Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for students and teachers of all martial arts. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

There are those who say you have to cool and those who say you have to warm your leg, there are those who say you should rest and those who say you should keep using it as you would normally. It makes sense that the cooling stops the internal bleeding (so I do this right after training) and it makes sense that warming your muscle helps the recovery (so I do this the day after).

Do you guys have any tips of how to speed up the recovery even more? And is the method how I do it wrong?

share|improve this question
What did you do, how does it look, how does it feel, when did it happen? – Dave Liepmann May 31 '12 at 14:09
The question is more aimed at the regular bruise. The sore leg you get after recieving a hard low kick (no broken leg or joint). It's actually such injury that doesn't really needs the attend of a doctor but still sore and pretty stiff. I tend to get them a lot with Pencak Silat and Kickboxing. – Bart Burg May 31 '12 at 14:18
I think icing first, which IMO is more for reducing blood flow hence swelling (which can cause additional damage), then heating later (24-48 hrs) is about the best you can do. The more it's used the more blood circulates--this could help healing, but also prolong bruising--depends. I try to keep things moving, though. – Dave Newton May 31 '12 at 15:02
In contrast, how can I speed up the injury of a healthy knee? – Jack B Nimble Jun 4 '12 at 18:33

10 Answers 10

up vote 10 down vote accepted

Icing reduces swelling. That is the only reason to ice as far as I know. Swelling can inhibit the motion of joints and make the injury more painful. It may also take a long time to reduce back to normal levels. Icing is effective up to about 48 hours after the injury occurred. Basically, if it keeps swelling, then icing it will continue to help stop that swelling.

Warmth increases blood flow, which is involved with healing. So after the swelling stops being an issue, increasing blood flow will help healing. Exercise also increases blood flow, so that could also be beneficial, so long as you don't worsen the injury in doing so.

EDIT: Another way to reduce swelling is to strap the area using sports tape. This literally compresses area so that it cannot swell as much. The strapping can also help in stabilising joints, and I have used this technique with a rolled ankle which swelled a lot. Not too tight though!

share|improve this answer
I had a interesting conversation with my physiotherapist about this matter. Apparently it is proven icing or putting it in an iced bath is good, even after a longer while. It has the same effect as warmth does. The way this works according to her: the moment your body notices an area is too cold, it will send extra blood to that area so it can warm up. That extra blood will help with healing. So her final advice: ice it occasionally, try to keep it warm for the rest of the day. (this next to the right balance of resting and light movement) – Bart Burg Jan 16 '14 at 19:50

The things that help for me, or maybe I only thought they did, were:

  • stretching and warming up thoroughly in the morning
  • going for walks
  • drinking plenty of water
  • eating lots of quality food

In other words, the things we should be doing normally.

share|improve this answer

For me icing is the most effective. On the first two days, I iced bruised area for ten minutes. It keeps my bruised area from going black.

And I go jogging once a week. I feel that lots of minor injuries go away after running, since it helps blood flows.

share|improve this answer
Instead of jogging I do swimming and yes it's good to keep it moving. Does icing really help on the second day? – Bart Burg Jun 4 '12 at 6:12
Swimming is likely better than jogging, less impact. Also with icing, be careful not to leave the ice pack on too long (going numb is not good =) – Campbeln Jun 6 '12 at 1:03

I do gymnastics and I'm the worst on beam. What I do is I ice my bruises overnight, then let them rest and get warm until about 12 then ice it again.

share|improve this answer
"Get warm until about 12"? 12 what? – Mike P Sep 30 '15 at 12:59

Ice is no longer the darling of the medical community for reducing inflammation or bruising. Gabe Mirkin, MD, who apparently first coined the RICE mnemonic, has references on his blog dated March 2014 for why ice delays recovery from injury.

The summary is ice reduces inflammation in the short term, but impairs the healing process.

share|improve this answer
Excellent article. – slugster Jul 22 '15 at 0:30

All of these sound like "dirty hippy" solutions, but they work well for me!

  • Epsom Salts - Take a warm bath with 0.5 - 1 cup of Epsom Salts added, soak injured section for as long as possible (may work in a cold bath, just never tried it).
  • Arnica Cream - Use like "deep heat", rubbing the cream into the effected area.
  • Cold showers/baths after training/injury. A lot of the pros are doing ice baths now, as it slows damage and aids in recovery (I've personally not been brave enough to try this).

I've got an injury to my hand now (low block to a shin) and the Arnica takes the sting from the bruise for half the day per application. Great stuff!

share|improve this answer
Can I advice you not to use low blocks against kicks ;)? I think you can hurt your hand to easilly with it and you open your defence with it. Thanks for the answer though! – Bart Burg Jun 6 '12 at 10:56
No worries =) As to the low block, it's a TKD low block, so it was "proper", but yea... metacarpal < tibia! BUT my sparing partner did say "ouch, that was a heck of an elbow", so I took that as a big compliment! – Campbeln Jun 6 '12 at 11:13
Low blocks against kicks is pretty core to TKD - just remember, the block isn't there to stop the kick, but to deflect it to one side or the other. So long as your stance is correct, you should be a narrow target, so you don't need to deflect far. That said, we have one guy at my class whose kicks come in like sledgehammers - your block still needs to be pretty solid or the kick will stay on target. – Rophuine Jun 14 '12 at 2:30

I haven't tried this myself, but a few of my friends who compete in Iron Man and the likes are big fans of compression clothing for use after training and competition. Supposedly it prevents the muscles from swelling up with blood, and reduces recovery time.

Might be worth a shot -

share|improve this answer

What Is A Bruise

A bruise is a rupturing of the capillaries under the skin which causes blood to pool in the adjacent tissues. Swelling and increased pressure from the bleeding causes the firing of nerve endings in the area, which the brain translates as pain.

Treating a Bruise

Bruising heals in accordance with the severity of the damage to the tissues, and the aptitude of the human being in question to heal damage. For instance, consider two people receiving the same blunt force trauma to the same area; one may have a smaller bruise than the other due to increased genetic capacity to produce coagulating factors – this person will heal more quickly.

Standard treatment is RICE: Rest, Ice, Compress, Elevate.

  • Rest - Decrease strain to the area. Continued pressure to the area will increase inflammation, which will prolong healing.

  • Ice - Inflammation reducer; Recommended at 20 minutes per hour, with ice wrapped within a towel to prevent ischemia or frostbite.

  • Compression - Prevents edematous swelling. Under normal circumstances, lymph fluid flows to the site to protect the injury. However, this can cause increased pressure, which increases pain and inhibits healing.

  • Elevation - Elevating early will prevent additional blood from pooling at the site, minimizing pressure and appearance.

In addition, it is recommended that anti-inflammatories (preferably NSAIDs, never Aspirin) are used to reduce pain and swelling. Some topical creams, such as those containing mucopolysaccharide polysulfuric acid, retinol, or alpha hydroxy acids can help increase healing or reduce appearance of bruises.

Risks of Bruises

Bruising is often not a problem. However, part of being responsible in your practice and care is about knowing the risks.

Bruises are pools of blood, and therefore susceptible to clotting. Clotting can increase pressure in an area, causing nearby major blood vessels to receive additional pressure, effectively closing them off and preventing blood flow to other tissues; this is known as Compartment Syndrome.

Additionally, small blood clots can break away and be swept back into the blood vessels as an embolus, causing an obstruction to the blood vessel. Obstructions can lead to infarcts, in which the surrounding tissue is deprived of oxygen, resulting in necrosis.

Much as how any strike can be deadly, so too can any bruise. Caring for your body means prevention as much as treatment.

share|improve this answer

You should try keep your muscles in shape by doing light exercise without harming any damaged part (if it is the joint, then avoid exercise with impact. Walk and make rotations in water, or do exercise in the air with some weight attached to the leg). After some light training, take a rest until your tone gets normal. This is to check if all goes well. Depending on the results you may repeat this the next day, perhaps a bit harder.

share|improve this answer

Arnica cream works well; it brings out the swelling faster and hence makes the bruise go away quicker.

share|improve this answer
The effectiveness of Arnica is a controversial topic and AFAIK has not been scientifically proven. – THelper Feb 25 at 8:09

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.