If you’re an athlete, chances are you know the common acronym for immediate care after an injury. RICE -- rest, ice, compression, and elevation -- is a time-tested method for controlling the inflammation that occurs after your body has suffered a trauma like a sprained ankle or pulled muscle. Even if you’re not an athlete, you should use RICE any time you have back pain, bump your head, or suffer almost any other type of minor injury.
There are a few tips you should follow if you want to get the most benefit from RICE therapy:
1. Rest Like It’s Your Job
It’s not often that you have the opportunity to slow down in life, but after an injury, your body depends on getting ample rest in order to heal quickly and fully. If you don’t take a time-out, your body won’t get enough of the energy it needs to repair damaged tissues. Rest is also important for preventing another injury or prolonging the one you already have. Remember, just because you can put a little weight on that sprained ankle doesn’t mean you should.
2. Go Beyond the Ice Pack
Frozen peas, gel packs, and baggies of ice are time-tested methods for applying cold to an injury. Although they are effective, especially since they are often the first items you can grab as soon as the pain sets in, they are not the best long-term solutions for getting the most benefits from RICE. Cold compression therapy is the latest development in the application of therapeutic cold, and it is proven to be more effective than ice packs. The system works by circulating cold water through an ice reservoir and a body-conforming wrap. The ice reservoir keeps the water at the same therapeutic temperature, and the anatomically designed wrap ensures that cold is able to penetrate from every angle.
3. Compress for Success
Compression is an important component of RICE because it helps prevent excess swelling and removes unwanted fluid from the injured area. The traditional method for applying compression is with an elastic bandage that applies static pressure to the area. A Cold compression therapy system takes it one step further by making the compression active. Pneumatic compression which increases and decreases throughout the set treatment cycle mimics the body’s natural pumping action. This removes excess fluid and brings fresh blood and nutrients to the area to promote faster healing.
4. Elevate Your Elevation Technique
Although there haven’t been any major technological advances in methods for elevating an injury, there are some tips you can follow to do it well. The objective of elevation is to keep the injury above the level of the heart to help limit blood flow and prevent further inflammation. Any time you sit down or recline, consider where the injury is in relation to your heart and use soft materials to prop it up, if necessary. If you are doing this in combination with cold compression therapy, the pumping action will continue to deliver oxygenated blood while removing excess fluid, so your body gets what it needs to properly heal.
There is no doubt that injuries are inconvenient and painful, but if you take RICE to a new level with cold and compression therapy, you can benefit from a faster, less painful recovery. If you would like to learn more about using cold and compression therapy during your injury recovery, contact Game Ready today.