How To RICE Better: A Guide To Sports Injury Treatment

Posted on: 11 October 2022

If you suffer a minor injury in sports, the advice you'll usually get from the podiatrist or orthopedist is to follow the RICE protocol. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression, elevation. These four measures are largely aimed at reducing inflammation so your body can heal. The RICE protocol does work quite well, and it's not overly complicated. However, there are some tips you can follow to RICE even better and hopefully enjoy faster healing as a result. 

Rest a bit longer.

Especially when you're a competitive athlete, it is so tempting to cut the rest short, get back out there, and keep training. But if you return to training too soon, you risk making the injury worse, ultimately extending the time you're on the bench. So, for the "rest" portion of RICE, be generous. Take a couple days more than you think you really need. Avoid strenuous activities that aren't training for your sport too. Rest means rest.

Ice several times throughout the day.

Sometimes patients assume that when they're told to ice an injury, this means once a day. Icing once a day is better than nothing, but if you can ice multiple times per day, that is even better. Icing an injury goes a long way toward keeping the inflammation down. Ice every few hours, if possible, when you're awake.

Make sure your compression is tight.

Compression helps keep fluid from accumulating in and around the injured tissues. But often, people don't wear compression gear that is tight enough to be overly effective. Make sure your compression gear is adequately sized to your body, and check that it actually feels tight. If you're not sure whether an item is tight enough, bring it with you to your doctor's appointment and ask. Your doctor may also be able to recommend specific compression gear that's perfect for your injury.

Elevate above your heart.

Putting the injured body part up helps encourage inflammatory fluid to drain out of it. But in order for this to really be effective, the elevated body part has to be above the level of the heart. This allows fluid to drain back into circulation. Use pillows, cushions, or whatever else you need to really get that injured body part up.

With the tips above, your RICE efforts should be more effective. Talk to your doctor if you need any more advice, or if you're not feeling better within a week or two.

Contact a local sport injury treatment center to learn more.