Why We Don't Ice Injuries Anymore

The mnemonic - RICE (Rest; Ice; Compression; Elevation), was created by Dr Gabe Mirkin in 1978 and written about in his book, Sports Medicine.. Ever since then we have been slapping ice packs onto acute injuries but just over a year ago, the same Dr Mirkin stated: "Coaches have used my “RICE” guideline for decades, but now it appears that both Ice and complete Rest may delay healing, instead of helping".

Healing requires inflammation, your body has it's own inflammatory cells (macrophages) which get sent to an area of damage to promote healing. Applying ice to the area actually slows down the circulation and therefore the rate at which the macrophages can do their job. Anything that reduces inflammation also delays healing; this means that non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID's) like ibuprofen also delay the healing process.

When it comes to acute injuries, as long as you have been cleared for any fractures and only have soft tissue damage, you are better off applying a cloth soaked in apple cider vinegar to the injured area, with cling film, to keep in the moisture (this can increase the rate of recovery and has been used for hundreds of years to help the body rid of inflammation without compromising blood supply to the area). Compression and movement within a range that does not increase pain and discomfort is also recommended.

And then, of course, a rehabilitation programme to get you back to full pain-free function.

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