With reduced access to help for injuries, here are a few steps you can take to help you recover.
Most people have heard of the RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) regime to help treat an acute injury such as a strain or sprain, in the early days. However ‘rest’ has now been replaced with ‘protection’ and ‘optimal loading’. Rest initially can be immediately beneficial but early mobilisation (loading) stresses tissues in the correct manner for full recovery. Rest is now known to create joint stiffness and muscles weakness, making a longer recovery.
P – Protection, rather than resting the injured area, think about protecting it from further damage. A short period of rest immediately after is helpful to unload the area but total rest can limit your recovery. Combine this stage with optimal loading.
OL – Optimal loading, early activity encourages early recovery. Progressive loading of injured and supporting tissues can promote optimal healing.
I – Ice, applying ice can help to manage the swelling around your injured muscle or joint. It can also help reduce pain. You can use it for 20 minutes every few hours. Depending on the amount of swelling you may be able to switch to heat after 4 days to promote blood flow to the area for healing.
C – Compression using a bandage or strapping can be combined with ice to reduce swelling. If you have minimal swelling this is not required.
E – Elevation, can be used for short periods of rest again to help with swelling and pain. the injured part needs to be higher than the heart. If swelling is minimal this is not required.
Optimal Loading may be hard to identify but use common sense. Don’t be afraid to move, use the injured area within your own pain limits. A mild pain is to be expected but anything more and you are probably doing too much. This may mean protecting the area using crutches, splint or brace if fully weight bearing is over loading the injured structures. You need to keep progressing what you are doing gradually to help the tissue heal better and prevent injury in the future.
This is where we come in. As a Sports Therapist we can judge where your injury is along the stages of healing time frame. We can advice you where you need to start and how to progress your exercises and activities. As with any injury if you are worried or concerned or want to get it checked out before starting any self directed management, then you can call us, your GP or if you think you may have a fracture or ruptured tendon/ligament A&E.
Try not to take anti inflammatory drugs in the first few days of your injury, let your natural healing process take priority. If on day 3-4 you have swelling and pain then you can start to take them.