Yes, one part of being active is the possibility for injuries. Hopefully rare and minor, injuries do happen. The only way to truly prevent them from ever happening is to lay at home on the couch in a safe bubble…and that comes with its own long term risks to your health.
What if you do get a minor injury? It’s okay, you will recover – and here is how!
Maybe you have heard of the term RICE. It stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.
RICE is a great start, but more recent research and knowledge puts a little twist on it…
Starting with rest. Yes, you need to rest an injury. This is pretty straight forward; and I like to follow the 48 hour rule. If you hurt your knee and it doesn’t feel right, don’t do anything that bothers it for 48 hours. The severity of the injury will dictate how much is too much. You might still be able to walk pain free, and doing so will actually help with recovery by increasing blood flow to the area. You can also still train upper body. If after 48 hours of rest there is no improvement, or the injury worsens, I would recommend seeking out a physical therapist or sports medicine doctor.
Now on to ice. This is where things get interesting. RICE was created 40 years ago in 1978 by Dr. Gabe Mirkin, however, Dr. Mirkin went on record in 2014 to go over his own findings to the ice portion of the RICE acronym for acute injury management. He mentioned that the use of ice did not aid in the healing process but actually delayed it all together. Now, research does show that initial icing CAN be helpful to reduce initial swelling IF the swelling is causing issue.
However, the swelling is part of the recovery process and should actually be embraced.
When we injure ourselves, our body sends signals out to our inflammatory cells which release the hormone Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1). These cells initiate healing by killing off damaged tissue. Although when ice is applied (or NSAIDS like ibuprofen are used), we may actually be preventing the body’s natural release of IGF-1 and therefore delaying the initiation of the healing process.
Without complete rest or ice, should we now just CE? Compress and elevate? Not so fast…
Protection – meaning do no more harm to the area. Using extra support for the time being is a great idea. Braces, wraps and compresses do well here.
Elevation – still from the RICE acronym, elevation helps drain excess fluid and actually speeds up the recovery process.
Avoid Anti-Inflammatory drugs – the same reason we avoid ice (unless used for acute swelling that is causing more of a physical discomfort)
Compression – this is the big one, and thankfully there are a lot of options out there, but none better than the Revive. This pneumatic compression device is used to gently massage muscle tissues to promote lymphatic uptake, thereby removing inflammatory byproducts associated with hard workouts, extended periods of standing or sitting, and swelling.
Education – how and what to do next? This comes from your medical professional/trainer/etc.
Load – strategic loading of the injured area can actually help with recovery. Now, you won’t be jumping right back in to the weight you were doing before on squats if you hurt your knee, but using a modified weight or variation to facilitate recovery can be tremendous. This should be assessed and prescribed by a sports med doc or physical therapist.
Optimism – injuries can be mentally tougher than they are physical. If you love being active and it gets taken away from you, its no fun. Seek out other forms of joy and happiness and know that you will get better if you follow this plan!
Vascularization and Exercise – these two go hand in hand. Keep moving as much as you can and kind creative ways to exercise around your injury. Overall blood flow – ie “vascularization” helps promote overall healing, wellness AND will help with that whole optimism component.
Next time you get hurt (hopefully that’s not anytime soon!) – remember to ditch the rice, and find some PEACE & LOVE.