You know, I used to jokingly say that my now deceased grandmother, Pearl Scott, had every ailment known to mankind at one point or another. And she used to tell me, ‘Baby, when you get older, you’re going to be in a lot of pain just like your Nana.”
Having said that, I can’t begin to tell you how right she was.
At 40 years of age, I have had almost every sports related infirmity known to mankind and all of this after a severe bout with juvenile arthritis. From the shattered fibula and seven broken fingers to the nagging patella tendonitis and plantar fasciitis – and now full-fledged arthritis – I have had more than my share of sports-related injuries and other maladies.
Having said that, I, like many other aging athletes and normal everyday Joes who have to get up and go to work for a living, need to recuperate as quickly as possible from even the slightest injury.
Here is the best prescription in the world for many injuries – and one that sounds tasty too – R.I.C.E.
Okay, okay this R.I.C.E. isn’t Uncle Ben’s or Zatarain’s I’m talking about. The R.I.C.E I’m talking about is actually an acronym for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Here are the facts about R.I.C.E – all of which I know like my children’s names.
Sports injuries can occur no matter how careful people are and many injuries are caused simply from overusing muscles, tendons, ligaments, and cartilage. Overuse injuries are obviously different from other kinds of injuries that may occur during competition, but they should certainly not be ignored.
Many of these injuries can take quite some time to heal, but the good news is that most sports injuries caused by overuse can be treated at home. Here are the fours steps for R.I.C.E.
Avoid activities that cause pain or swelling to your injury. Pay attention to aches and pains. Exercising before an injury has healed may worsen the injury and increase the chance of re-injury. Rest is needed for repair. Rest an injury until it is pain free.
Ice is the most effective, safest, and cheapest first aid treatment for injuries. Apply ice as soon as possible. Applying ice relieves the pain, slows the blood flow to the injury, and reduces the swelling. The ice application reduces tissue damage and speeds the repair process. Ice should be reapplied for 10 to 30 minutes intermittently for 48 to 72 hours. Be sure to protect your skin from the direct application of ice. Do not ice the injury for more than 30 minutes at a time, unless doing ice massage.
Apply a compression bandage such as an Ace compression wrap. A compression wrap helps to reduce the amount of swelling and loss of motion. Be careful not to apply the bandage too tightly. The bandage is meant to reduce swelling, not impair blood flow to the injury.
Elevate the injured limb above the level of your heart. Elevation reduces swelling at the injury site.
Remember, always seek medical care if your injury appears more serious than a mild overuse injury. In the meantime, follow the R.I.C.E. steps and they will relieve pain and prevent further damage. Also seek medical care for:
Injuries to joints that “popped” and became immediately difficult to use or injuries that do not get better with home care within 10 days.
Remember, many overuse injuries can be treated successfully at home. Proper care will keep you exercising longer and without those nagging long-term injuries. Most importantly, listen to your body and stop when you become too fatigued. Doing this can prevent many overuse injuries from occurring or reoccurring on a regular basis.
So there you have it, all the facts about R.I.C.E. Don’t forget to keep stirring either, or else it will stick to the bottom of the pot.