Gear Review: Options for Icing When Injured – The Hurt Skurt and Freeze Sleeve

Ice, Ice Baby: The Hurt Skurt and Freeze Sleeve

If you do an activity or sport long enough, with enough determination (or not, as it were) injury of some sort is inevitable. And that means you are more than likely to need ice at some point.  Maybe to quell an achy shoulder suffering from overuse or to extinguish the fire of an acute injury – like a hard fall on your board where your knee takes a pounding.

Amongst certain circles, there is debate about the usefulness of the old R.I.C.E. protocol for treating acute injuries – Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.  Some studies seem to suggest that approach isn’t really as useful as it once was thought. I’m not a physician, so I am not going to postulate on that.  If you’re curious, Google it.

My own anecdotal experience is that most, if not all of my doctors still advocate the use of ice in certain instances.  If nothing else, it can help with pain.And it makes you feel better.

And I would know lately.  My knee is messed up.  A combination of age, overuse and the dreaded “lift and twist” mistake whilst heaving a heavy load into the trash dumpster and I am sidelined.  Ice has been my best friend lately, as prescribed by my ortho.

But ice is messy.  Plastic baggies sweat and leak, bags of frozen peas and corn don’t always stay in place. Fortunately there are two alternatives to those methods that I am finding very helpful these days: The Hurt Skurt and the Freeze Sleeve.  Here’s a look at both of them.

Hurt Skurt

The product consists of a stretchy sleeve of material with pockets of gel capsules sewn in. It has elastic on both ends and is easy to pull on and off.  The baffles of gel conform to a certain extent around whatever appendage you need to treat. The design is meant to enhance flexibility and usability.

The Hurt Skurt comes in different sizes to accommodate different body parts – elbows, ankles,knees,thighs – and body shapes. The can be used as a “flat pack” for harder to reach areas like the low back.

And the fabric choices come in fun colors and patterns. If heat is what you need, the Hurt Skurt can be micowaved for that option.

I like the ease of use with the Hurt Skurt and the color choices are nice, but I have found a couple of cons to the product.

First of all, it doesn’t provide much compression.  For my knee, the compression feels good, in combination with the cold.

Second, the multiple gel packs feel really heavy and off balance.  That’s created some uncomfortable pressure on the most tender part of the knee.  The distribution of the packs does create some voids in coverage – which might actually be a plus, keeping the area iced from not feeling uncomfortably cold.

But here’s the deal breaker – I have had several of these packs leak after just a couple of uses.  And I am not the only one.  A significant number of folks have complained about the same in online product reviews.  Not sure what the issue is -but having that blue goo all over everything is not great.

Freeze Sleeve

After my second Hurt Skurt leaked, I looked for an alternative and found the Freeze Sleeve.  The concept is the same – reusable, freezable material encased in a tube of squishy fabric that’s easy to pull on and over a knee or elbow or ankle.

The biggest difference between the Freeze Sleeve and the Hurt Skurt is the lack of gel capsules in baffles.  The Freeze Sleeve has no “dead” spots – and provides total, 360 degree cryo-coverage. And it doesn’t feel unbalanced and heavy, nor does it irritate the sensitive areas of my puffy knee.

It also provides more compression than the Hurt Skurt. So the over all experience, for me at least, has been more intense and pain relieving.

The color and pattern choices are a bit more limiting that the Hurt Skurt’s offerings, and you cannot use it for heat therapy.

But, when I need cold, the Freeze Sleeve is the one I find myself reaching for the most.

Both products are a bit pricey but consider their re-usability. It’s well worth it to me to know I don’t have to mess with bulky chunks of ice or wonder how long that bag of peas has been in the freezer when I need to calm the pain down.