The use of an ice pack when injured is one of the first things many of us do. It has become so familiar to us that the acronym RICE (rest,ice,compression,elevation) has become the norm over the past 30 years.
Ongoing research in injury management has questioned the benefits of ice when initially injured. Initially it was proposed that ice would reduce the inflammatory response following injury to enhance recovery.
More recent research in acute soft tissue management has highlighted
- That a degree of inflammatory response enhances healing and recovery.
- Prolonged rest after injury may be detrimental to recovery.
- Compression and elevation of the area manage excessive swelling.
- Avoid anti inflammatory medication.
- Move or weight bear through the area as early as possible. In more severe injuries to the lower limb it may mean the short term use of crutches or a moon boot.
Ice is certainly known as a great analgesic by numbing the painful area. So its main benefit may be in the management of the initial pain following injury and during the early stages of recovery. So I don't think you should toss out the ice pack just yet.
There is another acronym emerging for acute injury management:
PEACE & LOVE (Protect Elevate Avoid anti-inflammatories Compression Education
& Load Optimism Vascularisation Exercise).
So with summer just about upon us top up your ice tray in the freezer to help with any summer injuries and cool down your summer refreshments.