12 Best Ice Packs for Runners Tested

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There is no denying that a bag of frozen peas can be a surprisingly useful ice pack, but will this be enough to nurse your injury?. That said there are quite a few limitations a bag of peas is going to have (clumps of frozen peas, limited coverage). When it comes to injuries, your body deserves something a little better than a bag of frozen vegetables. So take your time while searching for the best option, for ice packs. You know that you and your body deserve it!

If anyone needs a refresher on why ice is so important after strenuous exercise check here. Running is a sport of repetitive motion and with this repetitive motion comes a good deal of wear and tear. If you have a recent injury, where swelling is an issue, ice is widely accepted to be the best treatment for not only decreasing your pain but also addressing the injury and general inflammation of running but any acute injuries that crop up as well. One of the best things that ice can also help with is enhancing the healing process after a running injury, to allow you to get back up and out on your feet.

When using ice you must be aware of how long to use it because too long can result in tissue damage and restricted blood flow causing your injury healing process to slow down. If you don’t use the ice for long enough then the benefits are minimalized, or not doing anything at all for the injury. Also, using ice too long on an affected area can result in burns to the skin too! Be cautious and read here on the damages an ice pack can cause as well as the many benefits.

Brands employ experts who carry out extensive research to ensure the design and application methodology will give the maximum benefits without doing any damage.

Last Updated: August 6, 2018
By Francesca Peterson:

In the most recent update, information was added to give you a better feel for the best ice packs available on the market. Pop on down to the FAQ section to review some of the most commonly asked questions by consumers and runners!

Roscoe Medical
  • Roscoe Medical
  • 5 out of 5
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  • Pack of 3 Sizes
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CryoCup
  • CryoCup
  • 4.5 out of 5
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  • Easy to Use
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Moji MK2
  • Moji MK2
  • 4.3 out of 5
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  • High Performance Material
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12 Best Ice Packs for Runners

 

 

Roscoe Medical Hot & Cold Reusable Gel Pack

Roscoe Medical Hot & Cold Reusable Gel Pack
There is nothing fancy about this ice pack but it’s a good foundation to start from. Everyone should have a couple of these handy packs on around due to their versatility and effectiveness. These type of packs are a dime a dozen really, but we included the one made by Roscoe Medical because of the strength of its seams. One big drawback of these types of packs (especially with heavy use) is that the seams can split leaving you with blue-ish goo all over you and the couch. With the Roscoe Hot & Cold Pack this should not be an issue.
Pros
  • Helps assist with a variety of aches/pains in different body parts
  • Good for sprains, contusions, headaches and even toothaches
  • Three convenient sizes
  • Won’t freeze solid like a block, maintains flexibility
Cons
  • Has a chemical smell at first

CryoCup

CryoCup
This is a handy ice massage tool that can breath life into tired and sore legs. Research (and our own experience) shows that icing can be more effective when a good bit of pressure is applied with the ice. Add in the motion of moving the CryoCup around and it’s easy to understand how this method can reach deeper into the muscle tissue and achieve better results. One point of caution, when applying ice directly to the skin be sure not to overexpose one area as this can result in frostbite. Back on the plus side your fingers won’t freeze when applying the ice and this product is much more eco-friendly than throwing away Dixie cups every week. If you’ve never tried it before an ice massage can be life changing!
Pros
  • User friendly, Convenient, self icing tool
  • Plastic handle does not conduct cold temperature leaving your hands unaffected; simply fill cup with water toss in the freezer
  • Can be used for sensory stimulation, splint cooling, or general muscle workover
  • Indefinitely reusable (eco-friendly) easy to clean
  • Easy to use, simple straightforward
Cons
  • May start to crack after long use, due to repeated hot/cold transitions

Moji MK2 Knee Ice Wrap

Moji MK2 Knee Ice Wrap
Moving to a slightly higher therapeutic grade we have the Moji MK2 Knee Wrap. This product consists of a compression knee wrap and a cold cell that is specifically design to fit around your knee. The knee is a tough body part to ice due to its irregular shape. With the Moji MK2 this is no issue with the cold compression getting just where it needs to. Each Moji cold cell is soft and flexible straight out of the freezer, and it stays chilled for the duration of a standard 20 minute icing protocol. If you suffer from any knee issues the MK2 is certainly worth considering.
Pros
  • 2 part compression wrap made from pliable material
  • Polartec high performance material, adjustable closures for variable pressure
  • Convenience and mobility — walk around the house while you ice
  • The Moji cold cell’s contours to the knee and stays in place
  • The cold surface consists of 18 individual cells that secure the gel packets in place
Cons
  • Some wished it was a bit larger

Polar Ice Foot and Ankle Wrap, Cold Therapy Ice Pack

Polar Ice Foot and Ankle Wrap, Cold Therapy Ice Pack
For any type of soft tissue trauma in the foot/ankle area strapping on the Polar Ice Foot can be a great first step in treating yourself. Reduce swelling, control pain and hopefully return yourself to full function as soon as possible. This is another custom designed icing implement that will more thoroughly cover your ankle than an all purpose pack ever will. On the interior the Polar Ice foot has encapsulated ice packs full up with purified water. On the exterior you have a soft fleece that is easy on the skin and protects from frostbite. Combine the two with a smart design and you’ve got a winning ice pack.
Pros
  • Polar Ice is great for cold therapy after surgery, when recovering from injuries, or for simple preventive maintenance
  • Build to articulate perfectly around the ankle, providing as much coverage as possible
  • Has hook & loop closure straps
  • Surface has soft fleece covering to protect skin
  • They make a similar ice wrap built for the knee 
Cons
  • It could be a bit more pliable

Pro-Tec Athletics Hot/Cold Therapy Wrap

Pro-Tec Athletics Hot/Cold Therapy Wrap
If you’re looking for something a little bit less specified that can be utilized for multiple purposes the Pro-Tec Athletics Therapy Wrap is good pick. The wrap affords a snug, comfortable, and direct ice/heat compress to a variety of body parts. The wrap comes with a hot/cold compress which easily slides into a pocket in the wrap — this ensures that it will never slip out of place. The wrap itself is easy to adjust and remains flexible even when in a fixed position. In terms of universal wraps this is simply one of the best options out there.
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Specs:

Material: Polyester 45% Neoprene 55%

Size: Varies, depending on which option you choose

Color: Blue/Black
Pros
  • Provides a deep penetrating cold and/or heat compress for therapeutic uses
  • Is form fitting but does not constrict while applied
  • Dual strapping system ensures uniform compression and holds the pack firmly in place
  • Best for knees, ankles, feet, wrists and elbows — but can be used essentially anywhere
  • Comes in two convenient size that will cover most people
Cons
  • A few suggest that it be made a bit wider

TheraPearl Shin Wraps, Reusable Hot Cold Therapy

TheraPearl Shin Wraps, Reusable Hot Cold Therapy
The shins are one part of your body that can take a real beating when it comes to running. Shin splints, calf strains, stress fractures — you name it. Why not give them a bit of TLC? The TheraPearl Shin Wraps are a great way to go about this. They smoothly envelop your calves/shins and provides a calming chill or an invigorating burst of warmth (depending on what you need). These wraps have a double velcro adjustable strap set which makes sure that they stay in place properly. They also are guaranteed to hold their therapeutic temperature for a minimum of 20 minutes. Don’t let shin issues keep you out of comission, flight back with the TheraPearl Wraps!
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ProTip: These wraps are slim enough to fit underneath any pants, so if needed throw them on at the office and take a load off your shins while you work.
Pros
  • Shin wraps are perfect for shin splints, stress fractures and more
  • Specifically engineered to hold temperature for the medically recommended period of time
  • Simply pop in the freezer or toss in the microwave
  • Made from non-toxic materials
  • Latex and BPA free 
Cons
  • Some wish that they would adjust tighter

Thrive cold therapy

Thrive cold therapy
The gel ice compress from Thrive will be useful for many different sports and also for injuries. It’d made of nylon and vinyl fabric, it’s filled with non-toxic gel. If you put it right after the injury, the inflammation will be minimized. There’s also additional storage bag. It’s very convenient if you want to take the packs on travel. It will cool you down for around 30 minutes. There are two sizes to choose from. Users praised the pack for being very flexible. It’s easy to use it for a neck. The ice pack is very soft to touch. According to the reviewers, the pack is very durable but it’s also soft in touch. It can be used dozens of times. It’s also advisable to put the towel on it before putting on the skin.
Pros

Well priced product

It doesn’t leak

Very durable

Cons

For some users, the pack isn’t flexible enough

The coldest water

The coldest water
Well, if you’re looking for something bigger, you should definitely check out this one. It’s 15.2 x 11.7 inches so it’s one of the biggest on our list. It was especially created for people who perform sports. If you want to recover faster, this product will help you. It’s great for fast pain relief. If you have any ankle sprains, back pain, muscle pains or any other, this pack will minimize the pain. The pack really molds your body, it provides the relief to the appropriate area. However, for some users, the pack was too stiff, there was lack of flexibility. The material is very comfortable for your skin, you don’t feel like you put plastic on your body. Users were also amazed by the temperature of the pack. It retains the cold so well that some users described it as the coldest pack they had ever used. Even after this basic 20 minutes of using, it stays cold. You don’t need a towel to use this pack.
Pros

Retains cold for a long time

Soft fabric

Cons

It’s definitely on the more expensive side

FlexiKold Gel Cold Pack

FlexiKold Gel Cold Pack
This cold therapy with this product will let you feel refreshing pain relief. It was double sealed in order to keep gel in place. The product is quiet thin as there’s not a lot of gel in it but it still makes it super extra cold. As there’s less gel than in other products, it is more flexible and pliable. Helps with inflammation, swelling and muscle pains. The nylon cover is much more convenient than the other plastic ones and it’s smooth in the touch. There’s also a neck contour version available, especially designed for neck pain. Very durable, excellent product for people who use it frequently. It’s more expensive than some of other products on our list but it’s totally worth it.
Pros

Covers a really wide area of the body

It stays cold for hours so there’s possibility to sleep with it

The material is easy to clean

There are many sizes available

It’s perfect to use it on your back

Cons

Buyers complained about not enough gel moving from side to side

Core Products ACC-551

Core Products ACC-551
Next product on our list will provide a lot of relief. It’s hard to find the product that is flexible even after many hours in freezer. This product is elastic enough to cover the appropriate areas. It can be used as hot or cold therapy. The packs provides the relief sprains, tendonitis and many other injuries. The compress keeps warm or cold for a long time.
The cost of the pack is very low, you need to spend around 11 dollars on it. This product, is nature-friendly. It’s totally biodegradable. It’s also non-toxic and safe for your skin. Users said that they didn’t have any skin irritation. While using this, you won’t need the towel.
Pros

The pack comes in many sizes

Great fit

Cons

It’s a little bit heavy

Polar Ice Standard Knee Wrap, Cold Therapy Ice Pack, Wearable Ice Pack

Polar Ice Standard Knee Wrap, Cold Therapy Ice Pack, Wearable Ice Pack
Get benefit along the lines of cryotherapy, you get cooling compression for treating trauma to soft tissue, pain gets reduced, swelling is controlled and brings back normal functionality quickly.

Strategically arranged encapsulated-ice-packs containing purified-water and wrapped in fleece style material for soft comfort against the affected part of the body.

User-friendly adjustment system via the hook-loop system.

The ice packs will shape against the body and the soft insulation ensures no frostbite damage, very effective for sprains, bruises, post surgery and pain relief. The relief given has long-lasting results.

Realy user-friendly price, affordable
Pros

Suitable for different kinds of injuries

Easy to use

Perfect for post-surgical recovery

Cons

Ensure you place the ice evenly in the ice pack or you get less good effect

Active Therapy Gel Cold Pack

Active Therapy Gel Cold Pack
Using the ice therapy is great for relieving the pain but what about using ice and hot therapy. The cold therapy minimizes the pain of the muscles, also provides a real relief when you have joint paint or swelling. The hot therapy will help you to fight with cramps and all kind of muscle tension. This pack is also very flexible. Even if you keep it for a long time in the freezer, it’s still very flexible. The cover is made of nylon which is rather durable. This pack will be great if you’re looking for covering bigger areas like back or stomach. There are steams that are doubled stitched so there’s very low probability that the pack would leak. Users were satisfied with the amount of time when the pack stays cold. The pack can be also very useful for cooling down fevers.
Pros

The pack is soft

Great for the larger areas

Cons

Some users complained that it’s hard to get the

Icing is a form of cryotherapy that can be practiced in a variety of different ways. Below we’ll be focused on the most basic one, good old-fashioned ice compresses and packs

But your self treatment need not end there. Of late professional athletes and celebrities have begun popularizing a form of cryotherapy that immerses your whole body (safely) in a machine that blasts you with sub zero temperatures for a short period of time. This is said to have the benefits of standard icing to an exponential power (among other things).

Their machines are quite expensive, but there are clinics starting to open around the US which offers this treatment on an outpatient basis. If you are interested in this read for more information is at the bottom of the article.

Ultimately whether or not you decide to try out a cryotherapy machine investigating which ice packs are best for runners is definitely worth a couple minutes. The way a pack is designed and cut can have a drastic impact on its effectiveness, not to mention its level of user-friendliness


The Criteria We followed During Our Search

We’re working really hard to make our readers happy with their choices. Here’s the list of the important factors that you should consider before purchasing the products

Time of working and using it hot

This is a crucial question that needs to be considered. Many people complain about products not staying cold for a long time. The good ice pack should be put on your body for about 20-30 minutes.  Many buyers also tend to look for products which are also hot packs- this means that instead of putting it in the freezer you put it in the microwave.

The size

While choosing the best size for your product, you should consider what’s the aim of its usage. If you’re going to use it on small parts of your body like knees or hands, you don’t need to purchase a big one. It’s the different story if you look for a relief for your back, shoulders or arms. You must be aware that an ice pack must fit around the whole area of the arm, leg and etc. It’s usually better to buy a bigger one because it may be a little heavier but it will still work with smaller parts of the body. Remember also that even for the back, a product shouldn’t be too heavy because you may have a problem with keeping it in the freezer. Another thing to consider is the shape of the ice pack. The majority of ice packs that you buy may be shaped the same but in the event that you run into an oddly shaped ice pack, it may be more difficult for you to use on different parts of the body.

The material

The material of the Ice Pack should be high quality, durable and very pliable in order to fit the body correctly. Seams must be well-made and they can’t split or in another way, you and your clothes may be colored by the gel or any other substance that is used within the ice pack. After taking it out of the freezer, the gel or any other substance should be flexible to easily fit the shape of the limb. Avoid products in which liquid substance stays only on one side of the pack. The majority of the ice packs that you buy may or may not have warning labels on them. Be sure to check over these ice packs, prior to use, if the inner material is dangerous.

Other Important Factors Worth Considering

How often and who will use it?

This may be a less important aspect, but for us, it’s quite crucial. On the market, there are two main types- for single use and for regular use. There’s also a question if you’re going to be the only one who uses it? Maybe other members of your family want to try it out. You should contemplate these two points and decide which option is better for you. If you are constantly running or someone in your family is, it would be a better decision to get an ice pack that can be used on several occasions and body types. You never know who will need it and when. Most ice packs that can be re-used are universal and can even help a little one who bumped their head!

The price

Many people may think that Ice Packs shouldn’t be very expensive and they really aren’t. You have a wide range of prices- from 20 dollars products to those which price may be higher than 50 dollars. However, the most expensive products aren’t always the best ones. You should personalize your product. We would recommend checking the price after considering the other important factors. Remember also that if you need Ice Pack for back it won’t cost the same as an Ice Pack for the wrist. No matter what, you should never put a price limit on caring for your body. You need your body for all daily functions and its not worth being miserable and mistreating injuries.

 

FAQ

Q: Who developed this technology?

Cryotherapy is a technique that was developed by Japanese scientists to treat patients with arthritis. It has gained popularity and has been studied further throughout Europe. 

Q: How exactly does Cryotherapy work?

Cryotherapy utilizes the gaseous form of nitrogen to cool a person’s skin to a temperature that is thirty to fifty degrees lower than normal for approximately two to three minutes. There is no actual contact between the person and the nitrogen gas. The gas is only used to cool the chamber. When the skin begins to feel the extremely cold temperature, the brain begins to fire regulatory functions and also releases endorphins and natural anti-inflammatories.

Q: Who uses full body CryoTherapy?

This treatment has the potential to be of benefit to anyone. The Cleveland Cavaliers and celebrities such as Tony Robbins have been known to use it.  The average consumer will likely not afford a CryoSauna of their own, but clinics are always an option as well.

Q: Is it comfortable?

It’s a more than tolerable process. You are required to wear some protective cover on your extremities — and the worst you are likely to face is some pins and needles afterward.

Q: How will my body feel post-treatment?

Everyone’s experience is different but ideally, you will feel relaxed, more energetic and in a good mood (due to the release of endorphins and hormones). Not to mention the easing of accumulated inflammatory wear and tear on the body.

Q: Can I catch a cold because of this procedure?

No, a CryoTherapy session raises your body’s internal temperature for just a short time, which is meant to stimulate your immune system, potentially increasing your ability to fight off a cold.

Q: What is the Benefit of Icing an Injury?

While there are many benefits of icing an injury, one of the main reasons ice is used as a go-to is because it just feels good. With that being said, there are also facts behind why icing is beneficial. With this method, icing helps minimize swelling and also can reduce bleeding in the tissue, muscle spasms, and pain.

Q: Can Ice Packs go Bad?

While some ice packs do offer an expiration, you do not always need to follow the dates. Icing can be done with an expired gel ice pack with no repercussions. When you start to ice, it works generally the same as a new, used, or expired ice pack. The dates that are listed on these ice packs are more of a recommendation date rather than an expiration date.

Q: What Should I consider, Prior to Purchase?

Depending upon what you are looking for in an ice pack, there are several things to consider. The shape forming gel ice packs may be more beneficial for multi-purpose use, whereas, hard ice packs will be difficult when icing around the wrist. These harder or firm ice packs can burn the skin by being too cold. With that said, think about what kind of injury that you are trying to heal.

 

We like to provide a balanced view of a topic and there is no doubt full body CryoTherapy has its skeptics. WebMD has offered a few helpful opinions (some positive, some skeptical).


 

Here are some great sources we came across while during our research:

Sources

  1. Runner's World, Cold Call, Running Publication, Dec 01, 2009
  2. CWI Medical, Runners And Ice Packs, Clinical information,
  3. Runners Connect, STOP Icing Your Running Injuries Right Now, Running information,
  4. Competitor.com, Burning Runner: Don’t Take Ice For Granted Read more at http://running.competitor.com/2011/03/injury-prevention/burning-runner-dont-take-ice-for-granted_23050#gSf66UM5jfhuxkE8.99, Sports & Fitness publication, Mar 14, 2011