What is the most typical first response to injury? RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation). We’ve all done it, and its very important in the early stages of injury, particularly for the first few days to a week.
Rest: Relative rest to reduce the stress placed on the injured tissue.
Ice: 20 minutes on/off/on. Reduces swelling, inflammation, and pain.
Compression: wrapping the injured area, may reduce swelling and also helps with pain relief. Will also improve stability in the area.
Elevation: keeping the injured area elevated will reduce the swelling, trying to keep the area above the heart.
Following theses steps help to prevent excessive swelling and inflammation. But there comes a times when we need to forget the RICE and move on to exercise.
How Exercise Heals
Exercise is important because it places stress on the injured tissue. This doesn’t mean you go back to stressing it the same way you were injured, but after giving some time to heal, it is important to start a gradual exercise program.
When your body initially “heals” something it does so in a disorganized and quick manner, meaning it is not as good as the original. Proper healing takes time and (you guessed it) STRESS. If you want to be able to lift more weight or move faster without pain, you need your body to adapt to those kinds of forces.
As you go through a progressive exercise program, the increasing stress (amount of weight or force used) will stimulate your body to adapt. The healing tissue will “mature” and become more organized, therefore increasing its strength and stability. As the tissue continues to “mature” the nearby nerves will calm and pain will subside.
Exercise is not only necessary for injury healing, but also for injury prevention. The more strength, motion, and stability you can build, the more stress that tissue can handle. Higher tissue stress tolerance leads to less injuries and improved performance.
So remember, rest is important, but so is staying active and returning to your normal activity level. If you feel you need professional advice or question if you’re ready to return to sport come see us at Premier Therapy and we would be happy to answer your questions.