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Fitness Talk #34 - Re-Thinking R.I.C.E

From the moment I started to get serious in sports, I would injure myself, simple things; pulled muscle, sprained ankle, it didn’t help that I'm a complete klutz, but from the time I was a kid I have always been told that when you get injured or if you are sore, the best recovery is RICE.

Rest, Ice, Compression & Elevation.

R.I.C.E coined by Dr. Gabe Mirkin back in 1978 so for years coaches, trainers and mums around the world have used RICE. Heck my mum sure as heck did, but Dr. Mirkin a few years ago did something that so many people have trouble doing….he came out and said you know what, I may not have been 100% right on things. 78 was a while ago and new research has come out since then, new studies have been done since then and it has been found that both Ice and COMPLETE rest may actually delay the healing process and not help it. Which kind of makes sense if you think about it after the fact right. When we ice our muscles for long periods of time we keep it from swelling up and looking ugly but we aren’t actually making it heal faster, you don’t just ice a sore wrist and then get right back at it the next day. We have done trauma to our body, our tissue and our immune system kicks into gear to make sure that germs don’t come in and cause nasty infections in the injured parts.

But when you ice it… slow things down preventing your body from releasing IGF-1, the hormone that helps the injured part heal. Instead the blood vessels around the injury get all cold and constrict, shutting off the vital blood flow that is needed to bring in all those healthy new cells in to do their job.

It takes forever for the body to get back to normal after you remove the ice and if you are doing a 30 min hot 30 min cold thing for hours….ugh the tissue can die and it can even eventually cause permanent nerve damage.

But it is not just ice that reduces swelling, compression does as well, when we wrap an injury to keep it from swelling up for a while. We also use all kinds of drugs like cortisone and anti-inflammatories.

Ice is helpful for decreasing the pain, but if applied for more than 20 minutes it can affect an athlete strength, speed, endurance and coordination! So lets say a football player is taken out for a quarter to ice a knee or a shoulder then put back in. They would have to re-warm up again to avoid doing more damage. Ice can and does reduce pain, you see it all the time in MMA fights in between rounds, the coach will slap it over the injury for 30 seconds while they grab a sip of water, it is cool to cool injuries for short periods of time, like 10 min max once or twice, but after that, skip the ice. Although in my research many places still suggested every 2-3 hours for the first 24-48 hours. This is just a quick review of Dr. Mirkins re-think on HIS method or R.I.C.E



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