Treating an injury that has already happened: R.I.C.E.
by Super Dave, Industry Expert
How does RICE help you treat injuries? Well, this isn't the kind you put in your stir fry or
throw at a wedding. It's an acronym-that's a made-up word where the letters represent...oh,
forget it. Simply stated, RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. If you suffer
an injury, or experience the pain or tenderness that tells you an injury is on the way, apply
Modify your running program to allow the injured tissue to heal. Take an extra day off. If the
pain persists, take two! As Shakespeare said, "Nip thine running injury in the bud!"
Don't keep pushing and make the situation worse.
Ice has been called the runner's best friend. If that's true, you really should get out more.
Anyway, it helps decrease inflammation, allowing healthy nutrients to reach the injured site
and begin the rebuilding process. You can apply ice in a variety of ways. Try ice cubes or
crushed ice in a plastic baggy. Or execute the amazing paper cup caper: Fill small paper cups
with water, then place them in the freezer. Once they're frozen, peel away the paper and apply
the ice as a soothing ice massage. Enjoy working with food? Try the frozen pea massage-no
kidding, it works! Cool-paks are nice, but rather impersonal. The frozen margarita massage is
popular in the Southwest. In any case, apply your ice of choice to the tender area for 10-15
minutes at least twice a day. If the ice touches the skin directly, cut your exposure time down
to no more than 7 minutes. Always ice an injured area after running.
Inflammation and swelling are nature's way of immobilizing an injured limb. They create a
natural "cast" which keeps the limb from flopping uselessly in the breeze. This was
okay in prehistoric days when folks were mainly lounging around in caves anyway. Times have
changed, though. Caves are for wine now, and inflammation is a definite no-no. To reduce
swelling, apply compression to the injured area immediately. Elastic bandages are the way to
As mentioned above, the goal is to get the healing nutrients to the injured area. Elevating the
injured body part to the level of your heart, or slightly higher, encourages the flow of blood
to and from the inflamed area. Damaged tissue is carried away. The nutrients and healing agents
flood the area. You should apply the RICE principle to an injured area for 24 to 72 hours after
you notice the pain or tenderness. After that, you can resume running with caution. To
facilitate blood flow, apply moist heat to the area prior to each run. Apply ice afterward to
combat inflammation. If you don't notice any improvement within a week, or if the pain gets
worse, check it out with a healthcare professional.