How icing after playing hockey can alleviate your lace bite

I’ve played hockey for decades, and a few years ago I developed pain on the front of my ankle when skating. It turns out many hockey players suffer from the same issue, which is known as lace bite.

Lace bite is caused by pressure between the tongue of the ice skate and tendon that runs through the front of the ankle and top of the foot. That pressure creates inflammation in the tendon, and that’s where you feel the pain.

It often begins when skating without warming up or skating after an extended time not playing hockey. That tendon prefers to be eased into the pressure created from skating, so try not to go from 0 to 100 miles per hour right away.

The key to alleviating lace bite pain is reducing inflammation to that tendon. In this article, I’m going to focus on the most important part of any lace bite treatment plan: icing.

The benefits of rest, ice, compression, and elevation (commonly known as RICE) have been well studied by clinicians. It’s a common treatment for many sports injuries, including tendon inflammation.

Once I started introducing icing into my own lace bite treatment plan, I noticed an immediate change in my progress. My pain stopped getting worse. I also had a growing, red bump on my ankle directly above the painful area. This bump stopped growing and started receding when I began icing.

Here’s my preferred icing routine…

I bring an ice pack to every game inside of a cooler to keep it cold. As soon as I take my equipment off, I ice the ankle with lace bite. I elevate my ankle on a bench or chair if possible too. I also use an ice pack that fits over my ankle like a sock to create some compression. I ice for about 20 minutes depending on how cold the ice pack is, which is the time recommended in most RICE studies.

After I drive home, I have a second ice pack waiting in the freezer and ice again. Most studies recommend icing for 20 minutes, taking a 20 minute break, and then icing another 20 minutes or recommend a similar protocol where you’re taking breaks between icing.

The key is consistency. I noticed that when I forgot to ice my lace bite would quickly degrade. It felt like taking 3 steps backwards after one game. So don’t forget! Create a routine and always stick to it. Make it as easy as possible on yourself.

It’s not fancy. It’s simple but effective. And afterall, isn’t icing where it hurts common sense? The important part is getting yourself to do it.

I’d recommend giving icing a try if you’re feeling pain from lace bite.

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