The Effect of Elevation on Intramuscular Tissue Temperatures

J Sport Rehabil. 2018 Nov 1;27(6):526-529. doi: 10.1123/jsr.2016-0239. Epub 2018 Jul 25.


Context: Ice, compression, and elevation, or ICE, is a widely used treatment for acute musculoskeletal injuries. The effects of ice and compression on tissue temperatures have been established, but whether elevation during cryotherapy affects temperature change has not. Elevation has potential to alter local perfusion and thereby alter the balance of heat loss/heat gain, potentially impacting tissue cooling during cryotherapy.

Objective: To measure the effect and interaction of ice, compression, and elevation on intramuscular temperatures. We hypothesized that elevation would not have an effect on intramuscular tissue temperature.

Design: Randomized crossover study design.

Setting: University athletic training facility.

Patients or other participants: A total of 15 healthy volunteers (age 20.93 [1.67] y) provided informed consent and participated.

Interventions: Participants completed 8 treatment conditions: no treatment (control), ice only (I), compression only (C), elevation only (E), ice and compression (IC), ice and elevation (IE), compression and elevation (CE), or ice, compression, and elevation (ICE). All conditions were tested on each participant with a minimum of 48 hours between each condition. Intramuscular temperatures were recorded every 30 seconds during a 1-minute preapplication, 30-minute treatment, and 20-minute postapplication period.

Main outcome measures: The temperature difference between the mean treatment temperature and the mean preapplication temperature was compared across each measurement depth and treatment condition.

Results: Non-ice treatments (control, C, E, and CE; means 33.4, 34.5, 33.7, and 34.6, respectively) had warmer intramuscular temperatures than any treatment that included ice (I, IC, IE, and ICE; means 28.4, 19.8, 28.0, and 19.3, respectively). There were no differences between IC and ICE (means 19.8 and 19.3, respectively). Ice alone was different from everything (Control, C, E, IC, CE, and ICE) except IE Conclusions: Elevation does not appear to play a role in temperature changes during cryotherapy treatments.

Keywords: acute injury; compression; cryotherapy; treatment.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Body Temperature*
  • Compression Bandages
  • Cross-Over Studies
  • Cryotherapy*
  • Humans
  • Ice
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Patient Positioning*
  • Young Adult


  • Ice