Whether you are a professional athlete, high school player, weekend warrior, or working on a New Year’s resolution, you are likely to experience a sprain or strain in your efforts to improve. When that happens, what you do next is easy as pie, or as we say in sport medicine, easy as “RICE”.
That stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
REST: First, if it hurts badly when you do something, don’t do it. Rest the painful body part as much as possible until the inflammation has calmed down, then you can begin to stretch and gently exercise without pain. Rest is not always a bed thing, our bodies need it to heal and repair damaged tissue.
ICE: As soon as you start to feel the pain, ice the injured body part. What we recommend is ice for 15 minutes every 2-3 hours or immediately after an activity that aggravates the pain. Never put heat on an inflamed joint or muscle as this will only make it worse in the long run.
COMPRESSION: I am mixed on the long term use of braces however early on in the healing process; a compression sleeve, elastic brace or ace wrap will help you control the pain and swelling. Following an injury, controlling the swelling should be your number 1 goal.
ELEVATION: And finally elevation of the body part throughout the day, but especially at night or after activity. Try and elevate the injured body part above the heart to reduce any swelling that may have occurred during the day, this will make a big difference in how you feel the next day.
Once the inflammation and swelling have subsided, it’s time to begin a program of gentle stretching and strengthening to get you back in the game or yard. Start slowly and if you have any questions on how best to return to the activity that injured you, contact one of the sports medicine experts at SSI Physical Therapy and we’ll have you back in the game in no time.