Heat or cold? How to relieve basketball injuries


Who can say they have never experienced pain during a game or training? Basketball, like many other sports, creates heavy strain on the joints, which can cause various ailments that should not be taken lightly. Whatever your level in basketball, whether you are a recreational or a regular player, all pain needs to be taken seriously. But what is the best way to treat it? Heat, cold? I'll give you the low-down.

When to apply heat

Heat is recommended for:

  • recovery after effort that was more tiring than usual,
  • stiffness,
  • preparation of a massage,
  • promoting circulation when alternated with cold.


Heat dilates the blood vessels which helps eliminate the waste products created by exercise. It speeds up the tissue repair process and helps rid you of the feeling of fatigue.

When to apply cold

Cold is recommended for:

  • recovery from exercise that was more intense or lasted longer than normal,
  • recovery from repetitive exercise
  • swelling or bruising,
  • muscle and joint trauma such as torn or pulled muscles, sprains and strains, tendinitis, dislocations, etc.


Cold helps relieve pain associated with the onset of muscle aches. It reduces the inflammatory response (bruising and swelling) and helps reduce pain following exercise.

In the medical profession, the act of applying cold is called cryotherapy (it is also a good word for scrabble ;-))

Now that you know what to apply, it's time to ask the question: how do I apply it?

Hot or cold compresses are gel packs that can generally be put in the freezer or in the microwave. The application of ice or heat is therefore optimal. Compresses adapt to fit the shape of the affected area.

Positioning a compress implies that it then needs to stay in place. To avoid having to hold it in place with your hands, or having to tie a rough bandage around it, I recommend that you try the thermokit. This handy and clever product lets you position an ice pack or heated pack precisely on a joint, leaving your hands free.

What are the most common basketball injuries?


Tendinitis is mainly caused by repeating the same movements, causing repetitive and chronic micro-lesions of the tendons.

How can I prevent tendinitis?

  • Warm up before each training session or game.
  • Master the necessary footwork and gestures
  • Drink plenty of fluids before, during and after exercise.
  • Use equipment suitable for your activity

How can I relieve the pain?

As soon as you feel the onset of tendinitis,

  • Rest the joint.
  • Apply cold to the affected area.
  • Drink to hydrate yourself and help your body eliminate toxins.
  • Seek medical attention


A sprain is a result of overstretching one or more ligaments and can involve partial or complete rupture. Sprains are common in basketball as it its a sport that combines jumping, sudden acceleration and rapid changes in direction.

How can I prevent sprains?

  • Always warm up to prepare muscles and ligaments for exercise.
  • The activity must be suited to your level of fitness.
  • Use good-quality equipment and wear suitable footwear for practice,
  • Eat a balanced diet

How can I relieve the pain?

  • Completely rest the injured joint,
  • Apply cold
  • Seek medical attention, sprains can sometimes be serious and need to be seen by a doctor.

Torn muscle

A tear is the rupture of muscle fibres.

How can I prevent tearing a muscle?

  • Always warm up before exercise,
  • Do regular training
  • Eat a balanced diet

How can I relieve the pain?

  • Apply cold quickly,
  • Do not massage the affected area
  • Seek medical attention.
Marie Fauchille
Dietician | Nutritionist
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