Coaches, athletic trainers, and physicians have relied on the old acronym, RICE, to treat soft tissue injuries. Chances are you as well have memorized and applied this method of treatment for minor ankle sprains, pulled muscles, and other injuries.
Let's say you are on a morning run going about a nice pace and listening to music. You don't see the rock in the road and step hard on it, rolling your ankle. It hurts, you can place some weight on it, but you have to slowly limp your way back. The RICE (rest, ice, compress, elevate) principle calls you to rest, ice, compress and elevate the ankle. You lay back on the couch, a bag of ice over an ace wrapped ankle, propped up on the arm of the sofa. This will likely be your course of action for a couple of days. The injury is minor, but you will be out of commission for a while.
While RICE has served many an athlete and weekend warrior well, there is a new approach to treating a minor soft tissue or muscle injury. It's time to show the injury some PEACE & LOVE.
PEACE & LOVE is the evolution of RICE. It builds on the basic principles for an acute injury, but promotes movement allowing the body to heal itself.
Show your body some PEACE & LOVE
Avoid positions or movements which cause pain to the injury for a day or two.
Elevate the injured limb higher than the heart. This will help with swelling and reduce discomfort around the injury site.
A: Avoid anti-inflammatories
Avoid ice and taking anti-inflammatory medications. Yes, you read that correctly. You want the allow the body to go through it's natural healing process. Ice or anti-inflammatory medications, like ibuprofen, can disrupt the body's process to heal and rebuild the injured site.
Utilize elastic bandages or taping to compress the injury site. This can help manage some of the swelling and reduce discomfort while still allowing the body's natural healing cycle.
Athletic trainers, physicians, and physical therapists can play a role in educating an individual about the benefits of a more active approach to recovery versus a passive one. Gentle movement, education on how the body heals, and trust in the body will lead to recovery. Sometimes allowing nature to take its course is the best medicine. Taking a more active approach to a minor injury can possibly avoid medications, injections, or surgery down the road.
Slowly begin to move and use the injured site. Let pain be your guide. Some movement and discomfort is OK. You want to get the area moving to promote healing. Using the injured area and applying some load, or stress, to the injury, the body can further repair and remodel the injured tissue and help to recruit and strengthen surrounding structures to support the injury.
Be optimistic. Healing is part mental. Yes, the injury may have you out of commission for a few days, but use positive thinking as part of the recovery process. Negative thoughts and fear will only hinder recovery and could lead to reinjury once you are up and moving. Be realistic, but also plan for resuming your activity. Use the downtime to revamp your workouts, research training, etc.
Motion is lotion! Gentle movement promotes healing in the body. Performing a light, and painfree cardiovascular activity will promote blood flow. And an increase in blood flow in the body will help bring nutrients to an injury site. This means a quicker and smoother recovery. Gentle cardiovascular activity can also help reduce pain, reduce stress, and at least make you feel like you are doing something to workout.
Gently moving and exercising an injured joint or muscle will help in healing. It will also help to prepare you for the eventual ramp-up of your workout or sport. Initially, exercise should be low resistance and high reps (25-30 reps). This movement should be easy and pain-free. It will promote blood flow and healing. Gentle exercise will also restore mobility, strength, and proprioception (balance). Use pain as the guide. This is where working with an athletic trainer or physical therapist can be beneficial.
PEACE & LOVE is a more holistic approach to treating an injury. It allows the body to heal on its own, incorporating some light movement and exercise while preparing your return to your sport. While these principles are a guideline for minor injuries, it is always wise to seek a physician, athletic trainer, or physical therapist for more severe injuries. Or minor injuries that do not respond well to basic first aid and a little PEACE & LOVE.
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