RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. This is a technique
used to accelerate the healing process for injuries that involve edema,
swelling, and or contusion.
Ice plays a direct role in the reduction of edema and treating injury. The
physiological process ice serves is that it triggers vaso-restriction at the
point of injury. This is when the veins decrease in diameter as a result of
the cold temperature of the ice applied to the area.
After a few minutes vaso-dialation occurs, which is an increase in the
diameter of the veins. When the veins are in a larger state your body sends
a signal to the brain causing increased blood flow and endorphins to the
area. Endorphins act as your body¹s natural morphine, speeding up the
healing process and taking down the inflammation.
The ice should be left on for a period of 20 minutes. Leaving it on longer
can cause vaso-restriction, which may compromise the healing process.
After icing for 20 minutes, you keep it off for 40 minutes, which equates to
a 20:40 minute cycle. This should be repeated preferably three times in a
row. R.I.C.E. therapy should be performed several times a day until the
swelling completely dissipates.
The best method for applying ice is by use of a gel-pack, which conforms
extremely well to various parts of the body. Do not apply the ice pack
directly to your skin as it could cause freezer burn. An ideal method is
placing the gel pack in a thin pillowcase and then applying that directly to
the skin, with only one layer of the material between the ice and skin. Then
take a towel and wrap it around the ice pack and injured area. Make it just
snug enough to keep the ice in place. DO NOT tighten it to the point of
where it would cause the restriction of blood flow.
The next step is to elevate the area of injury above heart level to prevent
blood pooling, and keep the area still.
To reduce swelling we also suggest Kinesiology taping along with icing, as
this will take the swelling down at a much faster rate. The Kinesiology tape
is applied in a pattern that mimics the capillary system. Its function is to
lightly lift the skin away from the muscle, and aid in lymphatic draining.
The ice is applied immediately after the kinesiology taping performed.
A certified health care practitioner should administer kinesiology taping
for edema, as a correct application will dictate its effectiveness and
R.I.C.E. and edema taping are the preferred methods to treating inflammation
and swelling at BioMechanix and AthleteBuild, as we get great results from
the combination of the two modalities.
Jon Torerk , CSCS