Injury Recovery with RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation | STACK

Injury Recovery with RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation

May 1, 2008 | Featured in the May 2008 Issue

Must See Sports Injuries Videos

The first 24 hours after suffering an injury are a crucial part of the recovery process. If an injury isn’t properly cared for during that time, further damage can result, which only prolongs your bench time. So, following a game-stopping blow, aid the recovery process with RICE—rest, ice, compression and elevation.

Straining, spraining or pulling a muscle, tendon or ligament causes tears, which triggers bleeding in the damaged area. RICE relieves the injured area and reduces swelling to support the healing process.

Rest
can mean different things to different athletes. It all boils down to giving the injured area a break. If you sprain your ankle, avoid putting weight on it during the first 24 hours. Resting the injured area protects it from further injury and signals your body to stop bleeding and start repairing itself.

Ice is good for two reasons. First, it dulls the pain associated with most injuries. Second, it prevents further swelling in the injured area. When the tissue around your injury swells, your body can’t create scar tissue, which is needed for healing. Ice is nice, but don’t put it directly on your skin for more than 20 minutes at a time to avoid possible frostbite.

Compression stops excess fluid from surrounding the injury, thus minimizing swelling. A bandage will get the job done; just don’t wrap it too tightly. For instance, if you wrap your ankle and feel tingling in your foot thereafter, the bandage is probably too tight. For proper wrapping techniques, talk to your school’s athletic trainer.

Elevation is also used to combat swelling. Keeping the injured area at heart level or higher reduces the gravitational pull of fluid to the injury [e.g., prop up your foot if you suffer an ankle sprain].

If you still experience pain after a few days of RICE, see a doctor. After a few days, if you’re feeling 100 percent better, you still shouldn’t go full out in practice or a game, because overexerting yourself too soon can lead to re-injury. Instead, start with some light stretching. If you still feel slight pain, stop—because that’s your body’s way of telling you that you’re not ready.

More Cool Stuff You'll Like

Should Pitchers Ice After Throwing to Prevent Shoulder Injuries?

Old habits die hard. Especially in a sport as rooted in tradition as baseball, some habits go on so long that nobody stops to think if they're right or...

Prevent ACL Injuries With This Hamstring-Focused Workout

Connective Tissue: The Key to Preventing ACL Injuries

Quarterbacks: 4 Tips to Keep Your Throwing Shoulder Healthy

How to Prevent Baseball Injuries During the Off-Season

Pectoral Tendon Ruptures and Injury Prevention

3 Causes of Recurring Hamstring Injuries

3 Ways to Protect Your Knees and Prevent ACL Injuries

How to Protect Yourself From Heat Stroke This Summer

How to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

Why Strengthening This Muscle May Fix Knee Pain

4 Sports Massage Techniques to Relieve Tight Muscles

The New Rules for Cryotherapy: Why You're Icing Wrong

Maintaining Your Lower-Body Strength After Tommy John Surgery

4 Strategies to Prevent Tommy John Surgery

Will Joel Embiid Be Able to Succeed in the NBA?

How Cristiano Ronaldo Can Defeat the Witch Doctor's Curse

5 Exercises to Prevent ACL Tears

Tommy John Surgery 10 Times More Common Than a Decade Ago

6 Steps for Recovering From a Season-Ending Injury

Does Loss of Sleep Have Same Effects as Sports Head Injuries?

3 Reasons to Correct Your Weak Links to Prevent Common Injuries

5 Tips to Intelligently Train Through Lower Back Pain

Why a Sports Hernia Won't Ruin Jadeveon Clowney's Rookie Season

How to Train With Shin Splints

Outsmart Injury With These 4 Predictive Tests

Avoid Low-Back Pain With These 7 In-Season Exercises

Evan Gattis's Protection-Enhanced Catcher's Helmet

Why Your Shin Splints Aren't Really Shin Splints

Predicting the Impact of DeMarco Murray's Hand Injury

Tips for Working Out With a Hand or Arm Injury

The 8 Most Dangerous Exercises for Your Shoulders

How to Prevent Injuries With 3 Yoga Poses

How to Bench Press With a Shoulder Injury

How to Keep Your Feet Healthy On and Off the Field

4 Exercises to Fix Bad Posture and Help You Move Better

Impressive Advances in ACL Rehab

How to Avoid Softball Pitching Injuries

8 of the Most Ridiculous Off-Field Athlete Injuries of All Time

3 Ways to Prevent the Most Common Hockey Injury

Bulletproof Your Body with 5 Easy Injury Prevention Exercises

2 Ways to Fix Anterior Pelvic Tilt

What You Need to Know About Tiger Woods' Back Injury