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Treating an Acute Injury with RICE

People who train get injured, it’s that simple.  It could be in the gym weight training, on the road running or biking or playing a rec sport like dodgeball, which is what happened to me and my ankle this time around.  For the most part, these are usually acute injuries.

An acute injury is the result of a single force load on an area, usually a soft tissue area, which creates damage to the tissue and can lead to immediate pain, stiffness, spasm, swelling bruising, tenderness, loss of strength and/or function, redness and increased warmth at the injury site.  The time required to recover from an acute injure has a lot to do with what is achieved in the 72-hour window of time following the injury.

The R.I.C.E. Method

No, this has nothing to do with food.  This is the basic method in which to manage an acute injury.


If you are injured, STOP PLAYING or STOP WORKING OUT. Resting an injury is important immediately after injury for two reasons. First, rest is vital to protect the injured muscle, tendon, ligament or other tissue from further injury. Second, your body needs to rest so it has the energy it needs to heal most effectively and to help prevent the formation of scar tissue.

Ice is excellent at reducing the inflammatory response, swelling and pain.  Proper usage of ice can reduce the destruction over-response which can result from inflammation. A good method is ice 20 minutes of each hour. Other recommendations are an alternation of ice and no-ice for 15–20 minutes each, for a 24–48 hour period.  This all depends on the injury, the person and if you have any medical condition as well.

Exceeding the recommended time for ice application may be detrimental, as blood flow will be too reduced to allow nutrient delivery and waste removal.

Compression aims to reduce the swelling. Although some swelling is inevitable, too much swelling results in significant loss of function, excessive pain and eventual slowing of blood flow through vessel restriction.

Any time the injury is below the heart (ie: foot injury) it should have some sort of wrap on it to help reduce the swelling.

Elevation helps to reduce swelling by increasing venous return of blood to the heart.

Lastly, and this part isn’t in the R.I.C.E. Method, but it’s always a good idea to seek medical advice when you are injured.  No matter your own personal experience, having a professional opinion is the best way to go.

Source: http://www.yourinnerskinny.ca/treating-acute-injury/

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