January 23rd, 2009: After a fairly strenuous practice session I decided to try putting some ice cubes on my chops. Well, I got them from the fridge and didn’t think about what I was doing and put one up to my lips. It stuck on my lips and I stupidly pulled it off taking some skin with it. Ouch.
The tear on my lips couldn’t have come at a worse time – I had a lesson and band rehearsal the next day and my new custom mouthpiece arrived that day. (Please read ‘My Mouthpiece Saga‘ for more info on the mouthpiece.) I asked for help on the Yahoo Horn Forum and got many valuable suggestions. These included applying Close-up toothpaste, Vaseline, and Blistex. The suggestion that seemed to work the best for me was to apply Vitamin E oil by breaking open a capsule and putting it directly on my lips. This was messy but my lips felt better immediately and by the next afternoon I was playing again.
On the days when I don’t do something so stupid, I use Chop Saver to prevent chapped and split lips. This is my personal choice. I’m sure there are other products that also work well. One caveat, I have heard that some lip balm products contain ingredients such as phenol, camphor, and/or menthol that may dry out the lips and may become habit forming requiring constant reapplication. I’ve also noticed that I play better when I stay hydrated.
But why use an ice cube at all?
My chops were tired on the day of my ice cube fiasco. At the time I thought that applying ice was the right thing to do. I’ve had cold drinks after playing and it feels very good. Now that I’ve done some reading and asked some questions I’ve come to the conclusion that ice was most likely NOT the right thing to do. Most of us know the RICE acronym. Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. I’ve had enough sports injuries to know that this is what is typically recommended for an injury. But if you run a marathon, go for a long bike ride or – insert your favorite sport here – your muscles get tired. You want to massage the muscles, creating warmth, when you are done. i.e – you want to stimulate blood flow not compress it. So with my tired chops increasing blood flow with a hot drink would have been more appropriate, not ice. Bear in mind that I am not a physician. This is my opinion based on my experiences only. Now I drink a hot cup of tea after I practice. Even if it does nothing else, at least it’s relaxing.