Picture it. You’re running down the field, court…whatever or your kids are playing outside in the backyard and one of them twists their knee or maybe you just turn your ankle stepping off of the curb.
So many of us have been raised with the belief that the very first thing you need to do is grab a bag of ice and put it where it hurts.
Mom told us to do this. Dad told us to do this. Doctors told us to do this. If you played high school or college sports the team athletic trainer told you to do this. What if I told you that everyone of them is wrong? Does that sound ridiculous?
Dr. Gabe Mirkin, who first mentioned R.I.C.E. in his 1978 publication, The Sportsmedicine Book, is the godfather of the ice age, and brought the practice of icing to the masses. R.I.C.E. stands for Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation. He came up with the concept of R.I.C.E. for injuries to promote healing and shorten recovery time. It became the standard for the medical field, sport science and mom‘s kitchen.
Harvard-educated and a practicing clinician for over 50 years, Mirkin shook the sports medicine world on March 16, 2014, when he posted an article on his website admitting that he’d been wrong all along, particularly about the use of ice for treating injuries. The reason for this is that when you apply ice to an injured area it causes the blood vessels to constrict. This constriction stops or slows the hormones and enzymes necessary to begin the healing process. Ice does not speed recovery time it makes recovery take longer.
A better method for managing injury and for promoting the healing process is the C. & E. portions of R.I.C.E., compression and elevation as well as the opposite of rest…movement. Movement within reason.
Elevation helps drain the lymph fluid which contains damaged cells out of the area. This makes room for white blood cells to enter the area which is necessary for healing. Compression will momentarily cut off blood flow which will slow swelling, but more importantly, when released the pressure will actually drive blood into the injured area which will push the damaged tissues out of the injured area and bring the necessary healing agents in. This cycle of moving dead tissue out and bringing fresh blood in speeds healing.
Elevation is one way to drain the lymphatic system…movement is the other. In fact our bodies are developed to use muscular contraction as the mechanism that pushes the lymph fluid, which contains the damaged tissues, out of the injured area so it can be processed by the lymph nodes. So all along the way muscular contraction and arterial (arteries) contraction push the lymph fluid toward the nodes to be processed. For instance even with an injured joint you would keep the joint immobilized so you don’t further injure it and elevate it above the heart while periodically doing isometric contractions of the muscles nearby to stimulate healing.
The only benefit you gain from placing ice on an injury is that it numbs the nerves in the area and decreases the amount of pain that you’re experiencing.
I hope you don’t get injured in the future… but if you do put down the ice and remember to compress, elevate and move.
Remember Good Movement Equals Good Health