GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR RECOVERY
As an athlete, you know that repetitive exercise can be tough on your joints. This is especially true for runners, as you are putting a tremendous amount of pressure on your lower body with every stride. It is no surprise that runners are at risk for injuries in their bones and joints, particularly the knees. If you think this might be the source of your discomfort, this information can help you shorten your runners knee recovery time and get back to the sport you love.
HOW TO USE THE R.I.C.E. METHOD TO RECOVERY FROM YOUR INJURY
Whether as a result of aging, disease, accident, or a combination of these factors, injuries are especially common among active individuals. Even when proper form and technique are followed, injuries can occur during running, working out, or playing a sport.
Once you are injured, it is imperative to act quickly to ensure the injury doesn’t get worse, and to help alleviate pain.
Knee, ankle, elbow, and shoulder injuries are some of the most common athletic injuries and even minor injuries can require several weeks to heal, and major injuries can take up to a year. One of the best tried and true recovery methods when this has happened is R.I.C.E.
WHAT IS THE RICE METHOD?
The RICE method is a common approach to treating minor injuries. It's a simple and effective technique that has stood the test of time.
Here's how to deal with minor injuries to your body, according to the RICE method.
- Rest: Don’t try and push through the pain once you have sustained an injury. Doing this can cause the injury to worsen. Instead, immediately stop and rest the injured area.
- Ice: Use a cold compress or ice on the injury for about 30 minutes, but don't leave it on longer than this, which can lead to swelling and dehydration.
- Compression: In addition to icing, it is important to use hot compression on the injured area. This will help reduce swelling and increase blood flow to the area after icing.
- Elevation: Whenever you are sitting or laying down, be sure to elevate the injury above the level of your heart to keep swelling down.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF RICE?
Rest, ice, compression, and elevation is one of the most effective treatment methods for injuries for a number of reasons, but in short each of these steps helps target specific symptoms.
For example, icing an injury helps reduce swelling, reduce pain, and reduce inflammation. However, over icing can lead to nerve or tissue damage due to decreased blood flow.
Compression, especially heat compression, helps increase blood flow to counter the negative effects of over icing. Elevation helps to further reduce swelling in the injured area, and resting is pretty straightforward (don’t overwork an injury, otherwise it could become more severe).
WHAT INJURIES CAN RICE TREAT?
R.I.C.E. is most effective at treating minor injuries, especially when implemented almost immediately.
This includes: strains, sprains, bruises, and minor contusions. While this can help injuries that are more severe, such as ACL injuries or muscle tears, these major injuries usually require longer periods of rest and in some cases surgery.
While not a part of the R.I.C.E. acronym, it is almost always recommended to use pain relief and anti-inflammation medicines in conjunction with R.I.C.E.
RICE METHOD FOR MUSCLE STRAINS
Muscle strains are some of the most common minor injuries and can usually take a few weeks to fully heal. R.I.C.E. helps to reduce pain, which is the biggest concern with strains, but rest is key to prevent these injuries from worsening.
RICE METHOD FOR ANKLE
A stiff ankle is not always an indicator of a more serious injury, but as long as the injury is serious enough to affect your ability to run or do a big jump, it's worth seeing a doctor.
Even a minor twist can cause great pain and decreased movement which R.I.C.E. can help relieve the pain and reduce swelling. Without the rest period, chronic ankle sprains can become common.
RICE METHOD FOR KNEE
Knee injuries are also common among both professional and amateur athletes. Minor knee strains can be aided by R.I.C.E. therapy, but more server injuries such as ACL tears require more invasive treatment methods and longer recovery periods.
If you are unsure of how serious your knee injury is, it is imperative to contact your doctor for a professional diagnosis and treatment options, such as surgery.
How To Treat Injuries with r.i.c.e.
While the specific course of action that your doctor recommends may vary, it will likely include one or more of the following courses of treatment in order to reduce your runners knee recovery time.
Giving your body time to rest is the number one way to heal your knee injury. While it may feel difficult, especially if you are used to exercising daily, giving the joint time to heal is the best way to speed your recovery. You can engage in gentle, low-impact exercises such as walking or swimming, but you should be very careful to avoid jumps, squats, and running. Also, be sure to change positions frequently so that your knee does not become too stiff from prolonged sitting or standing.
Ice and Elevate
Elevating the knee and applying ice is particularly important if the joint is swollen, but will also help with general pain relief. Ice should only be applied for about 20 minutes every several hours. When you elevate your leg, your knee should be above your heart in order to allow the fluid around the joint to circulate elsewhere in the body.
Another way to ease pain as you heal is to wear a knee sleeve for recovery. Providing compression to the joint gives it additional support for movement and can help reduce swelling, which in turn reduces your discomfort. It is important to find a properly fitted brace or to wrap the joint correctly so that you do not cause further damage to your knee or impede your circulation.
If the pain is not helped using the previous treatments, over-the-counter NSAIDs such as naproxen or ibuprofen can give you some relief. Do your best to limit these medications, however, as prolonged use can lead to stomach issues. The relief felt from pain medication can also encourage you to do too much activity before your knee is healed enough, making your injury worse.
Thermosleeve Knee Brace
In order to help prevent sore muscles and weak joints that result in runner's knee, the Thermosleeve knee brace uses heat to soothe discomfort and provide extra support for the leg and knee. Working similarly to the Cryosleeve, the Thermosleeve has three temperature settings and a two-hour battery life to provide warmth and comfort to your ailing limbs. It also has the all-important dials that allow you to adjust the sized brace for just the right fit.
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