Whether you’re throwing passes or passing the potato salad, injuries happen. Along with that twinge in your shoulder or twisted ankle comes swelling and inflammation. Why?

When you get injured, your body goes into overdrive. Blood vessels near the area open up to increase blood flow. This is the cause of the redness around an injury site. Along with higher blood flow comes a flood of proteins, fluids, and white blood cells as your immune system responds to fight infection. All of the blood, fluid, and cells flowing to the injured spot is what causes swelling to the injured body part. with swelling and inflammation. During the inflammatory response, the body rushes white blood cells, proteins, antibodies, and various supportive fluids to the injury, causing inflammation and swelling.1,2

Swelling can be useful for other reasons than getting blood and infection-fighting agents to the damaged tissue. It can also help cushion the area so it doesn’t get more damaged. But it’s important to do what you can to control swelling as you heal for multiple reasons. Untreated swelling can:

  • possibly slow down healing
  • lead to even more swelling
  • be uncomfortable and might limit your range of motion3

So how can you rein in swelling while you recover?

Top tips for soothing swelling

There are several methods you can use to help control the body’s natural inflammatory response. Try using any or all of these five techniques to help ease edema and reduce redness3,4:

Give it a rest.

The same way trying to talk with laryngitis might just make you sound like a sawmill for longer, using an injured body part right after the injury might make swelling worse and irritate damaged tissue. For minor sprains, starting to gently move the injured body part after a day or two of rest can also help ease swelling and promote healing.4

Relax with a cold one.

Like rest, applying cold right after an injury helps reduce swelling by slowing down blood flow to the area as well as the immune system response of breaking down damaged tissue.1,5 You can use ice packs, cold therapy systems, ice baths, or cryotherapy chambers—even the fabled bag of frozen peas. Use cold therapy several times a day for 15–20 minutes at a time to keep swelling down, especially in the first several days after an injury.5 If you want to combine two anti-swelling tips, combine the cold with compression (see below).

Put the pressure on.

Applying pressure to an injury helps reduce swelling by restricting the flow of blood and other fluids. This can be done with bandages (either stretchy or not) or cold and compression devices. 

With bandages, you need to make sure you adjust them as swelling increases and decreases. They should be snug, but not too tight!4 Or you can look to the Game Ready  cold therapy system, which gives you cold and intermittent compression—a gentle squeeze-and-release to remove swelling and increase blood flow.6 Plus, its intuitive controls help you easily customize temperature, compression, and time settings.7

Raise it up.

Elevating an injured body part above the level of your heart can reduce blood flow, which may mean less swelling. With leg injuries, it’s important to keep the legs elevated while sitting or lying down—mostly because you can increase the risk of a dangerous blood clot if you don’t elevate.5,8 Prop up that leg on some pillows and catch up on your binge-watching.

NSAID first aid.

Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)—like ibuprofen or aspirin—can temporarily lower inflammation and help with pain after an injury. Always follow the directions on the bottle and ask your healthcare professional if you have questions about taking NSAIDs with other medications.9 

Different body parts, different swelling

Although the inflammatory response is pretty much the same throughout your body, there are specific actions you can take to help address it in certain areas.10


Addressing the swelling in foot injuries may include elevating the foot above the level of the heart, applying cold therapy, and using a compression bandage or active compression system to remove extra fluid from the area.1-5


The way to reduce swelling in ankle injuries is very close to what you should do with a foot injury. In addition to elevation and cold therapy, you might consider wearing an ankle brace to provide consistent static compression and help prevent fluid buildup.4,11


Swelling from knee injuries can make it difficult to move the knee and walk.12 You can reduce swelling by applying cold therapy several times a day and wearing an elastic bandage or brace. If mobility is an issue, consider using a crutch, a cane, or another assistive device to keep pressure off the leg while you recover from a knee injury.4  

Leg Injuries

It’s difficult to elevate the upper legs. Their larger surface area also makes smaller ice packs less effective, which is why the body-conforming wraps used in cold therapy systems are beneficial. Game Ready’s dual-action ATX® Wraps are anatomically engineered for all major body parts, surrounding the injury site and covering more surface area for deeper cooling.13

Be Proactive with Your Injury Recovery

Swelling is a natural response to injury, but left unchecked, it may prolong your recovery time. Be proactive with elevation, cold therapy, and compression techniques to help your body heal faster. For more tips on recovery and reducing swelling from an injury, explore our Complete Injury Recovery Guide or contact us today to learn more about using Game Ready for injury recovery.


  1. How is inflammation involved in swelling? Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/story/how-is-inflammation-involved-in-swelling
  2. Immune response. MedlinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000821.htm. Reviewed January 23, 2022.
  3. Edema. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/edema/symptoms-causes/syc-20366493. Published July 28, 2023.
  4. Moroz A. Rehabilitative measures for treatment of pain and inflammation. Merck Manuals Professional Edition. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/special-subjects/rehabilitation/rehabilitative-measures-for-treatment-of-pain-  and-inflammation. Revised November 2023.
  5. Treating pain with heat and cold. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/chronic-pain/treating-pain-with-heat-and-cold. Updated May 26, 2023.
  6. Airaksinen O, Kolari PJ, Miettinen H. Elastic Bandages and Intermittent Pneumatic Compression for Treatment of Acute Ankle Sprains.
  7. CoolSystems. 702916 Rev A Game Ready Control Unit 550550 Design Validation Report. Valid beyond 02/04/2008.
  8. Deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Mayo Clinic.
            Updated June 11, 2022.
  9. NSAIDs (Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs). Cleveland Clinic. https://my.clevelandclinic.org/health/treatments/11086-non-steroidal-anti-inflammatory-medicines-nsaids
  10. Campagne D. Overview of sprains and other soft-tissue injuries. Merck Manuals Professional Edition. https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/injuries-poisoning/sprains-and-other-soft-tissue-injuries/overview-of-sprains-and-other-soft-tissue-injuries. Revised July 2023.
  11. Sprains. Mayo Clinic. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/sprains/symptoms-causes/syc-20377938. Updated October 27, 2022.
  12. Cronkleton E. Causes of knee tightness, and what you can do. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/tightness-in-knee. Updated on May 19, 2023.
  13. CoolSystems. Engineering Test Report ETR 2712 Rev A. Test Report, Thermal Imaging Marketing Comparison feat. Game Ready. Valid beyond 10/22/2019.