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Management of injury using RICE, Should we Rest?


5th March, 2012

Your Guildford Physiotherapist is marking her 30th Birthday with 30 days of Physiotherapy advice. Keep an eye on this blog for current Physiotherapy knowledge that may help you. I hope you'll be the wiser for it.

RICE (Rest Ice Compression Elevation) is an acronym used in the sporting and Physio world for early management of injuries. But what is the benefit of following these simple guidelines?


We are told to Rest an injury, but should we be listening?

The Blackberry Clinic recommends you stop the activity at the time of injury in order to assess the possible damage. Playing into pain is likely to further sensitise the injured area and lead to increased healing times which means a slower recovery.

If you stop the activity for longer than you need to however, you may risk becoming deconditioned. This could also slow your recovery and make returning to the activity harder.  So it is important to get the right advice for your injury.

Relative rest is often beneficial. This can mean reducing an activity, or changing the speed or length of time you practise the activity.  Relative rest can also mean stopping one activity but doing a different, painless one to replace it.

An example of relative rest in the early stages of an episode of back pain: keep moving your position every 20 minutes, rather than lying still in bed. If sitting is the worst position you would need to restrict this position or avoid it completely. In this case, it would be best to lie for 20 minutes, gently walk for 20 minutes, lie again for 20, then stand for 20, then maybe sit for only 5 minutes.

Another example of relative rest would be using the X-Trainer instead of running for a lower impact form of exercise.

The key is to listen to your body, continuing with activity that is pain free or that feels good. In most cases however, modifying your activity is best managed by consulting a Physiotherapist, health professional or fitness instructor.

Disclaimer: This blog offers advice only, if you are unsure of your own circumstances, you are advised to check with a medical professional.

Check tomorrow's Guildford Blog for lots of information on how to use Ice for best effect in the management of injuries.

Jo Lamplough, Senior Physiotherapist, MSc, BSc (HONS), MACP, MCSP.