Some may recall the acronym RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation) when it comes to injuries.
I am here to tell you today to forget RICE.
Remember this instead – you need PEACE and LOVE
Growing up, I was taught that in the case of a joint or soft tissue injury the best way to overcome it is with ice, or some form of cold therapy.
Recent studies have now identified that cold therapy for acute soft tissue injuries is no longer recommended, because the reduction of inflammation may also delay healing. In fact, inflammation is necessary to promote healing.
When we get injured, our body sends signals to our inflammatory cells (macrophages) which release the hormone Insulin-like Growth Factor (IGF-1). These cells initiate healing by killing off damaged tissue. When ice is applied, we are preventing the body’s natural release of IGF-1 and therefore delaying the initiation of the healing process.
Instead of accelerating healing, ice slows it down!
So, instead of icing an injury what should be done?
Just remember PEACE and LOVE for acute injuries. These acronyms outline a better approach to First Aid, and also promote important recovery initiatives for body and brain, to guide anyone to successful rehab.
Let’s break it down:
PEACE (first 1-3 days)
Unload the area for 1 to 3 days. This may require crutches or a sling for the arm. You want to reduce further damage or aggravation to the injured area.
Elevate the injured area above the level of your heart. This helps reduce swelling.
During the acute phase, days 1-3, anti-inflammatories inhibit tissue repair. Simple analgesics like paracetamol (Tylenol) can be used for pain relief.
External compression – with bracing, bandages or taping can reduce swelling and prevent further damage to injured tissues.
Speak with a professional about the injury to get a recovery plan. Set goals about timelines and expectations. It’s important to understand that unloading the injured area is only a temporary protective measure for the first 2 to 3 days.
LOVE (after the acute phase)
An active approach, with movement and exercise, benefits most injuries. Loading or stressing the joint or muscle (essentially making it work) within the limits of pain early on, actually promotes healing and stimulates tissue repair.
Science has shown that depression and fear about an injury and the recovery, can result in worse outcomes and a poor prognosis. Stay realistic and positive as your brain plays a key part in your recovery.
It’s important to improve blood supply to injured tissue. Better blood flow means more oxygen and nutrients, which ensure good tissue healing. Moving and working the joint or muscle and exercising the tissues around the area will increase blood flow to the area.
Controlled exercise, within pain limits, is important for beginning your recovery. Restoring mobility and building strength will speed your recovery and help prevent a recurrent injury.