Guest Author - Terri Johansen
Have you ever heard of the acronym RICE? In exercise terminology it stands for:
Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation. RICE is a form of first aid used for soft tissue injuries. This method of first aid can often help relieve pain and help you have a quicker recovery.
Here are the different components of RICE and how they work:
Most exercise specialist agree that rest is crucial at the beginning of a soft tissue injury. Your soft tissues are tendons, ligaments, fascia, skin, fibrous tissues, fat, muscles, nerves and blood vessels. Rest is a time for the injury to repair. By resting you can protect the injury from further harm. By continuing to place stress on a soft tissue you will increase your pain and inflammation. Just rest it until you can use the injured body part without pain or further inflammation. If the pain and inflammation continue past 3 days you should consider consulting your physician.
Ice is used to reduce pain and swelling. It is important to begin icing the injury as soon as possible as it will reduce blood flow to the injury. There are several different recommendations on how to ice an injury but this is the most common method:
•Fill an ice bag but allow enough space for it to be flexible. If you do not have an ice pack you can use a plastic zip-lock bag, or even a bag of frozen vegetables.
•Ice your injury for 20 minutes each hour.
•Do not place the ice pack against your skin, it can be uncomfortable and cause skin irritations. Place a cloth such as a dish towel over the affected area and then put the ice pack on top of it. Use a cloth that allows you to feel the cold.
•You will probably only need to continue icing for the first 24-48 hours. After that the swelling should have gone down.
Compression refers to wrapping the area with a bandage. Most often an Ace bandage will work well. The bandage helps to decrease swelling and it can help relieve pain. You want the area to be comfortable so if it begins to throb or feel too tight remove it and re-wrap a little looser. Most soft tissue injuries will not to be wrapped after 48-72 hours.
Elevation helps to control swelling and can help with pain control. If possible lift the injured limb above the level of the heart. Such as, with a strained ankle you would prop it up on several pillows.
I recommend that any injury that continues to be painful, swollen, or other medical symptoms after 72 hours should be seen by a doctor. As I said in the beginning RICE is a first aid treatment and not a cure. If the injury does not start to show improvement then it may be injured more seriously than you thought. But using the RICE method is definitely a good place to start with treatment of a minor injury.
Be healthy, be happy.
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