Athletes and exercise enthusiasts alike are at risk for injuries. It comes with the territory! If you’ve ever sprained your ankle or knee, you know that fast treatment is crucial. That’s why your physician recommends following the RICE method. This stands for rest, ice, compression, and elevation. This technique can make the difference between a fast recovery and sitting on the bench for the rest of the season.
Why Use the Rice Method?
This easy self-care technique reduces your swelling and pain while speeding up your recovery. It’s the first line of defense against any sort of minor injury. Whether you have a sore knee, wrist, or ankle, your physician will recommend the RICE method. Knowing how it works and using it swiftly lets you avoid a trip to the doctor’s office.
Rest (Step 1)
As soon as you experience pain, stop what you are doing right away. Your body is trying to tell you that something is wrong. Rest the injured area as much as you can. Avoid putting weight on it for 24-48 hours. With certain injuries, continuing to exercise or move makes it worse. This elongates your healing time while spiking your pain levels.
Ice (Step 2)
Ice is a timeless solution for pain and swelling. Apply an ice pack covered in a cloth or towel to the injured area for 15-20 minutes, every 3-4 hours or 3 times a day. Do not ice it more than that to avoid tissue damage. Swelling should be reduced after 48 hours. If you don’t have an ice pack, try using a pack of frozen vegetables. In some instances, your physician may recommend using a heat pack after the swelling is gone.
Compression (Step 3)
Wrap the injury with an elastic bandage. This keeps the swelling under control. Bandages are available over-the-counter, like an Ace bandage. When placing the bandage, make sure that it is snug but not too tight. You don’t want to cut off your blood supply. It’s too tight if you experience numbness, increased swelling or pain, or tingling. Wear the wrap a maximum of 72 hours. Needing to use the bandage for longer indicates a more severe injury. Talk to your physician if this is the case.
Elevation (Step 4)
Raise the injury up above the level of your heart. This reduces your symptoms. It’s very easy to accomplish this step. Just prop the injury up on pillows while sitting or lying down.
Your physician may recommend using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) to help with your discomfort. This includes medications like ibuprofen or naproxen.
Following your physician’s advice when it comes to adding exercise and movement back into your daily routine. You will need to start slowly to accommodate your injury. Begin working with strengthening and stretching exercises before moving on.