I get asked about which to use for an injury often. So I decided to send out a quick guide for everyone to help remember when to use each.
First, let's look at the idea of R.I.C.E (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation). For decades, the R.I.C.E protocol has been widely recommended as the gold standard for treating acute injuries such as sprains and strains. However, recent studies have shown that this protocol may not be as effective as once believed, and could actually hinder the healing process.
Let's take a closer look at each component of the R.I.C.E protocol and examine the evidence behind it:
Rest: Rest is important to prevent further damage to the injured area. However, prolonged rest can lead to muscle atrophy and joint stiffness. Studies have shown that early mobilization and activity can actually speed up the healing process and improve function.
Ice: The use of ice to reduce swelling and inflammation is a common practice, but recent studies have questioned its effectiveness. A study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that icing delayed the recovery process in muscle soreness and other acute injuries. In fact, icing can reduce blood flow and limit the body's natural inflammatory response, which is necessary for tissue repair.
Compression: Compression can help reduce swelling, but excessive compression can impair blood flow to the injured area, which can delay healing. Additionally, improper use of compression bandages can cause tissue damage and further injury.
Elevation: Elevating the injured area can help reduce swelling by promoting fluid drainage, but it does not promote healing or prevent the formation of scar tissue.
So, if the R.I.C.E protocol is a myth, what should you do instead?
The R.I.C.E protocol may have been widely accepted for years, but recent studies have shown that it may not be the most effective treatment for acute injuries. Early mobilization, heat therapy, and individualized rehabilitation exercises are all more effective strategies for promoting healing and reducing the risk of re-injury. So, if you find yourself with an acute injury, skip the R.I.C.E protocol and consult with a healthcare provider for the best treatment plan.
Here are the best practices we use:
ICE: Acute Injury for 20 mins max Hours Post Workout (Cold Water Immersion) Off Day Recovery of Non-Injured Site HEAT: Chronic Pain More Than 12-Weeks Pre-Workout For Local Blood Flow Post Workout To Aid In Recovery