To R.I.C.E or not to R.I.C.E.

Trevor Kwolek
Monday, August 28 2017

R.I.C.E after an injury. It stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation.

You’ve turned your ankle playing soccer, or hurt your elbow on a particularly hard baseball swing. In the past, conventional wisdom suggested icing, compression and restricting the movement around an injured area.

man playing baseball

And we still often see a baseball pitcher with a bag of ice on her shoulder/elbow after a game, or a football player with a bag of ice strapped to his ankle after a sprain. However, new research is emerging to indicate that rest and ice may not be necessarily the best way to manage acute sporting injuries.

While ice helps to numb the injured area, it can often restrict the body’s ability to deliver necessary healing factors to the area through vasoconstriction (shrinking of blood vessels in the area).  Furthermore, limiting movement post-injury decreases circulation in the affected area and causes tissue stiffness and further soreness. 

More investigation into the best intervention in the acute phase of injury must be done to determine the ideal course of management.  But, it might be better to keep the injury moving so you can return to your sport sooner.

For more information: www.lifemark.ca/services/sport-medicine

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