Injuries are a part of running, and even though we can take precautions against them, it’s likely we will all need to deal with them at some point.
When you sustain a running injury, you often hear the acronym “RICE”: Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. Cooling your injury down plays an important part in recovery, reducing inflammation. While you might be tempted to just fill a ziplock bag with ice cubes fro the fridge, there is a better way. Using an ice pack designed to treat running injuries can help you to recover faster and with less pain and discomfort.
Some injuries will need heat rather than cold, but others will feel much better when an ice pack is placed on them. You’ll also need a bigger pack for a quad or back injury than you would for a wrist injury, for example.
Our best overall is the Freeze Sleeve, which offers 360 degrees of cold compression. It covers the painful area entirely and leaves no open spots, and fits over arms, legs, calves, or even feet and wrists.
Top 3 Best and Favorites
TrekProof Ice Packs With Strap
Rester’s Choice Cold Pack
1. Freeze Sleeve
The Freeze Sleeve gives you 360 degrees of cold compression therapy as it conforms to the shape of your body. This helps prevent any bare areas when you’re using it.
Just pop it in the freezer and then slip it on to either the arm or leg when you need it. The built-in cooling system is an antimicrobial gel that’s non-toxic and remains flexible even after it’s been in the freezer.
The design of the sleeve allows you to move around without having to worry about adjusting the ice pack or it slipping down. When you buy the Freeze Sleeve, you can choose from six different sizes, which range from small to 3XL.
You may want to go one size smaller when getting the Freeze Sleeve, as it can lose its elasticity and widen over time.
- Molds to your body
- 100% leak proof
- Fast and easy application
- Inbuilt cooling system
- You may want to get a size smaller as the freeze sleeve can lose its elasticity and can widen
Top Wraparound Ice Pack
2. TrekProof Ice Packs With Strap
TrekProof allows for dual use of the gel packs, as they can be used as a cold or heat pack. All you’d need to do is put them in the freezer or the microwave, depending on the type of treatment you want.
It has a soft fabric pouch with an adjustable strap so you can get a snug fit and keep the pack in place. You’re able to use this pack anywhere on the body, although some individuals may find it a bit difficult to mold the ice pack to the shape of their body.
The soft fabric pouch also provides a layer of protection between the pack and your skin, so it can be applied directly to the injured body part. The gel in the packs remains flexible after you’ve taken it out of the freezer, so you can wrap it around the injury.
You also need to check the packs before using them, as they can come apart at the seams, which would then leak gel.
- Soft, one-size-fits-all strap
- Can be used as cold or hot compress
- Two gel packs
- Microwave and freezer safe
- Some individuals may find it difficult to mold the pack to the shape of their body
- There have been reports of the packs coming apart at the seams
Best Large Pad Ice Pack
3. Rester’s Choice Cold Pack
This is a large ice pack that you can comfortably wrap around your quad or use it on your back without having any bare spots. You’re also able to choose from five different sizes to best suit your requirements.
The gel packs have a sectional construction that evenly distributes the gel, which remains flexible after freezing so that it’s easy to wrap around tender areas. Each section is about ½ an inch thick. It’s recommended to place an extra layer of fabric between your skin and the pack when using it.
The gel packs can also be used as a heat pack, and depending on your injury you could swap the cold pack for the heat pack. The reusable gel packs do come with a limited lifetime warranty, as they’re built to last.
However, some people have found that after a certain number of uses the ice packs don’t remain cold for very long.
- Flexible when frozen
- Available in various sizes
- Two gel packs
- Thick and durable
- Some users have said that the packs don’t stay cold for long
Top Disposable Ice Wrap
4. Arctic Ease Instant Cold Wrap
This wrap can be kept in its container and there’s no need for you to freeze it before making use of it. It applies both compression and cold therapy to the injury.
It’s adhesive-free, and may have a slight slimy touch to it, but this also allows it to stick to itself once applied. You’ll notice that the wrap is cool and not cold to the touch. Once you’ve applied the wrap, you’ll feel that it will start to stiffen while also feeling cold.
Once you’ve removed the wrap, you place it back in the jar and add a few teaspoons of water to it. The wrap has antimicrobial properties that will prevent any odors.
You may notice some bits of gel that are stuck to the wrap. It may look a bit odd, but it’s nothing to worry about. When you need to use the wrap again, you just need to take it out and use it again. It’s eco-friendly, and once it’s reached its limit, you can throw it away guilt-free.
- Adhesive free
- Compression and cold therapy in one wrap
- Antimicrobial properties
- Some may find that it feels slimy to the touch
Best Ice Pack for Quads
5. 110% Kick Back Compression Quadriceps Sleeves
These sleeves have a double layer of compression with pockets that you can slip the ice sheets into. This allows you to target the hamstrings and quads at the same time.
The stretch material also features SilverTech antimicrobial to prevent odors. The material draws moisture away from the skin, keeping you dry. It comes with four reusable inserts that need to be filled with water. Once frozen, the design of the inserts allows for flexibility so that you can target your tender areas.
It also comes with a thermal carrying bag that will keep the ice packs cold, so that you can use them once you’re done with your activity. This means that you don’t have to wait until you get home before icing, which can help speed up the recovery process.
This sleeve can only be used on your upper thighs for your quads and hamstrings. It’s not adjustable to be used on different areas of your body.
- Compression sleeves
- Moisture-wicking stretchable fabric
- Four reusable inserts
- Thermal carrying bag
- Can only be used on the upper thighs for quads and hamstrings, and can’t be used on other tender areas of the body
Top Hips and Hamstring Ice Pack
6. ActiveWrap Hip Pack/Wrap
This hip pack/wrap is made from medical grade stretchy neoprene for a soft and comfortable fit. You’ll be able to walk around with the hip wrap on, as it allows for natural movement of the legs.
It’s designed to be worn on either hip, and the dual-purpose gel pack will let you use either heat or cold therapy. It has fully adjustable straps that help to provide compression and also keep the packs in place. A detachable leg strap allows you to control how much compression you’d like.
Depending on your injury, you may find it difficult to get on, or that it may be a bit bulky once you’ve got it strapped in place. You would need to make sure that you buy the right size, but you can also exchange the size with ActiveWrap, who also includes a 1-year warranty on their product.
- Fully adjustable straps
- Can be worn on either hip
- Dual-purpose pack
- Soft and flexible material provides compression
- Some individuals may find it difficult to put on, or that it’s bulky once it’s on
Best Ice Pack for Back Pain
7. HyperIce Back
The HyperIce Back has an ergonomic, multi-layered compression sleeve that gives you the best of both compression and cold therapy. The first layer is made from neoprene with a plush finish that’s soft and comfortable on the skin.
The second layer is the neoprene tension layer that you can adjust to suit your needs. The ice pack cell skin is very thin, and this allows for rapid cold transfer. It has antimicrobial properties to prevent the growth of bacteria inside the cell.
It has a wide cap opening that makes it easy to fill with ice cubes. Once you’ve sealed the cap you can press the air release valve which will get rid of any excess air in the bag. This will help the ice conform to the shape of your body when you tighten the wrap.
Once you’re all wrapped in nicely, you can either rest or go about your daily activities, as it doesn’t restrict movement. Be careful when storing it, though, as the rubber could end up sticking to itself when empty, which could tear when you try to unravel it.
- Ergonomic design
- Air release valve
- Multi-layer designed compression sleeve
- Wide cap opening
- Rubber may stick to itself and tear when you try and unravel it
Best Knee Wrap
8. Vive Health Knee Ice Brace
The design of this knee ice brace allows you to apply cold or heat therapy to the front, side and back of your knee all at once. If you’re looking to provide specific relief to the front or side of your knee, then you can remove the gel pack from the pocket that’s behind the knee.
The gel packs are non-toxic and can be heated so that you can swap between cold and heat therapy for the knee. It has four adjustable straps that allows you to adjust the compression and it can accommodate a knee circumference of 21 inches.
Made from neoprene, you’ll find that the brace is soft on the skin. However, you may find that it leaves wet patches on your skin as the ice packs start to warm up. Some individuals have said that the ice packs don’t stay cold very long, either.
- Four adjustable straps
- The wrap is made from neoprene blend material
- Comes with three reusable gel packs
- Dual-purpose pack
- Ice packs don’t stay cold for long and the condensation may leave wet patches on your clothing
Top Ice Pack for Feet
9. Icy Feet
If you find that your feet often get sore, then Icy Feet could provide the relief you’ve been looking for. The engineered insole features a raised arch and recessed heel cup that you slip your feet into.
The liquid in the Icy Feet mold freezes solid, which will provide ice-cold cooling for the duration that you need it to. One size fits all, as it has adjustable velcro straps to keep your feet in contact with the ice pack, as well as hold it in place if you elevate your feet. Think of them as ice sandals.
Well, sort of. Don’t plan on walking around in them. Icy Feet are made to be worn while you have your feet up, not for when you are moving around; they don’t allow for mobility at all.
- Engineered insole
- One size fits all
- Adjustable straps
- Continuous contact with the foot
- You’re not able to walk around while wearing Icy Feet
Best Foot and Ankle Wrap
10. The Coldest Water Ankle Ice Pack
This foot and ankle wrap allows you to adjust the straps for better compression. The straps also feature Cold Knit Technology, which allows for better cold transfer to the ankle or foot. The combination of compression and cold therapy helps to speed up the recovery process.
The soft, flexible fabric helps to mold the ice pack to the shape of the foot or ankle. The gel packs remain flexible after freezing and are designed to distribute the coldness evenly.
The gel packs may tear after a few uses, and you need to make sure that you don’t get any of the gel onto your skin.
- Molds to the foot and ankle
- Soft and flexible fabric
- Distributes coldness evenly
- Gel packs may burst after a few uses
What do you need ice packs for?
Ice packs help to reduce blood flow to the injured area, as well as slow down the rate of inflammation. This helps to reduce swelling and tissue damage. Applying an ice pack will numb sore muscles and tissues, and is most effective within the first 48 hours of an injury.
Applying an ice pack to the injured area can help to reduce muscle spasms and nerve activity, which will reduce pain.
How do you treat your injury?
Putting ice on an injury for longer doesn’t mean that it will heal quicker. You can apply an ice pack to the injury once every hour for a maximum of 20 minutes. When icing, it’s good to follow the CBAN acronym:
These are the stages that you’ll feel when you place the ice pack on the injured area. Once the area has gone numb, it’s time to remove the ice pack. Make sure to keep the injured body part elevated while you’re icing, as this will also help to reduce the swelling.
Rules or common mistakes
When using an ice pack, there are a couple of things you want to consider to get the best results.
You don’t want to do the following:
- Apply an ice pack directly to unprotected skin
- Don’t ice a chronic injury before you start the activity
- Don’t treat the area with an ice pack for longer than 20 minutes per hour
- You don’t want to use an ice pack on your left shoulder if you have a heart condition
- Don’t use ice packs on the sides or front of your neck
You do want to do the following when using an ice pack:
- Apply the ice pack as soon as possible to the injured part
- Use as often as you can within the first 48 hours
- Move the ice around, which will help prevent frostbite or damage to the tissue or nerves
- Remove the pack if the area is numb or the skin appears bright pink or red
- Elevate the injured body part above the level of your heart while applying the ice
- Rest as much as you can so that the ice can work
- Use a flexible ice pack to wrap around ankles, knees or shoulders and elbows
What do you need to consider when buying an ice pack?
When buying an ice pack, you want to consider the types of injuries that can occur or which of the muscles would become stiff and sore. Then you’d need to consider what size ice pack to get, as an ice pack for the quad will be a different size than an ice pack that’s used on your ankle or elbow.
Look for material that is insulated, as this will allow the ice pack to stay cool while remaining breathable. The material should also remain flexible once you’ve taken it out of the freezer and it should mold to the body part that’s being iced. You may also want to check what the ice pack is made from, as you want to make sure that the material used is toxin-free, just in case the ice pack leaks.
You also want your ice pack to fit comfortably. Depending on your specific needs you may have to look at getting an ice pack that has adjustable straps so that you can get a snug fit, which will also help keep the ice packs in place.