Everyone, by now, should know about the good old RICE method. When you hurt yourself, what should you do straight away?!
REST- Stop moving, take it easy and give your body some time to recover.
ICE - The area to decrease pain, blood flow and swelling
COMPRESS - To prevent the area from swelling up too much
ELEVATE - To help blood flow away from the area and back towards the heart so it doesn't accumulate in the sore area.
Well, I hate to break it to you, but I'm going to smash a few belief systems here.
Originally, all the above came about with the intention of decreasing swelling to help decrease pain - good, right? Well....
Let's take it back a second....this is what happens when you hurt yourself:
Something gets torn/strained. Your body thinks QUICK, send reinforcements (which travel via blood) to the area to fix it. This results in SWELLING. Along with this inflammation, comes sensitivity/pain. Your body, very smartly, wants to encourage you to take it easy so you don't make the injury worse (and so makes the area painful/sensitive).
So what happens if we get rid of the swelling? We also get rid of the good guys (reinforcements!) who have come via the blood to fix the area. And we don't want them to go away!
So what does that mean for applying ICE?!
I'm saying that inflammation, to a certain degree, is GOOD and necessary to help heal injuries. Thus, ICING an injury, will DELAY the healing process.
You can ice an injury, very briefly, more for a pain relief (thinking numbing) effect if necessary. But I would highly recommend sticking to compression only. Compression isn't a bad thing as it doesn't STOP the inflammatory process, it just manages it so that it doesn't get out of hand.
The second myth I'm going to bust is this: RESTING is not always the best way to go. As I said, inflammation is good to a certain degree. However, if it sits around for too long, it becomes "old" and not effective anymore and rather than being helpful, can harden and cause further issues. This means to avoid this, we need to continually encourage fresh blood flow to the area. We do this by gently moving the injured area in a PAIN FREE range/motion.
BOTTOM LINE: Next time you hurt yourself, avoid the pack of peas and instead, move gently and compress/elevate the area instead.
*DISCLAIMER: Remember all movement MUST be pain free and obviously (I hope), should you believe you have broken a bone, moving is NOT the best option
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