Taking Care of Sprains and Strains: What is the R.I.C.E Method for Injuries?

Woman icing ankle

Taking Care of Sprains and Strains: What is the R.I.C.E Method for Injuries?

If you’ve sprained your ankle, you know that your doctor may tell you the best thing you can do is take care of it at home. The doctor may, after examining your sprain, recommend the rice method for injuries using the following steps.

R.I.C.E method for injuries

R.I.C.E stands for rest, ice, compress, and elevate. Doctors often recommend this for a sprained ankle, wrist, tennis elbow, or other similar minor injuries.

When you’re feeling a pain like to one of these, you should attend to it right away. Ignore the “no pain, no gain” philosophy. Not treating a minor injury right away can lead to a more serious injury quickly. In most cases, if you don’t listen to your body, you can delay recovery for months to a year.

Rest right away

Pain should signal you to stop what you’re doing immediately. If you injure yourself while exercising or out of the house, you don’t have to wait until you get home to start to take care of it. You can rest right away.

Ice the injury

Ice the location to reduce pain and swelling. You can use an ice pack, but if it’s too cold, cover it with a thin towel or paper towel to avoid frostbite. Use the ice pack in a rotation of 10 minutes on and 10 minutes off for as long as possible.

Compression to reduce swelling

Compression reduces the amount of the stress response of swelling in and around the injury. Swelling or edema is the body’s response to pain or overuse.

Wrap the area with an ACE bandage. Make sure to not make it so tight that you lose blood flow. If you get pins and needles, or if your skin changes color, it’s too tight.

Elevate to heart level or above

Elevate the body part to the level of your heart or above. An easy way to do this is to lie down on a couch with the injured area propped up on pillows. Raising the body part helps to reduce pain and throbbing.  Ice and elevation can be done in one step to improve comfort. You can even do all four of these steps at one time.

How to help joints naturally

With some people, injuries can be common. It’s great to know the R.I.C.E method for treating injuries and other ways to help prevent and take care of joints.

Because joints are connected to a variety of body systems, they require a few different tools for optimal health, including:

  • exercise
  • nutrition
  • recovery
  • mindset
  • sleep

Effectively warming up before starting exercises is very important for body health. The most effective are weight-bearing exercises. You should practice functional movements in a variety of ranges of motion. This works your stabilizing muscles. Focusing on proper technique can also help you avoid injury when exercising. Taking the time to stretch properly after exercise can help the muscles safely extend through the intended range of motion.

Consult a registered dietitian about increasing food choices that help promote joint health. Focus on whole foods and not supplements. Health products and supplements are not strictly regulated and consumers cannot be guaranteed of their effectiveness or content.

In addition, good sleep habits will help you be prepared and alert for taking care of your body. Typically, 7-8 hours is suggested for adults. Having a good mindset about your future can help you make healthy choices in the moment and can help you take time to not rush your exercises and focus on proper form to avoid injury.

Injury prevention

If you, a friend, or family member happen to have a minor injury, you know how to help them with the R.I.C.E method of injury treatment. Remember to rest, ice, compress, and elevate. Taking care of your body is also the best way to prevent injuries.

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