This should be applied for the first 24 to 48 hours after injury,
although ice can also be beneficial in the later stages of treatment.
R is for REST
Stop all the activity by the injured part that makes it worse. Let it
rest which will reduce the risk of further damage. It is important to
maintain some activity level. Absolute rest would also be dangerous as
it may lead to additional muscle degeneration. High activity levels
contribute to an increased blood supply to the infected area, all of
which helps the healthy process. You yourself will be the best guide as
to what is an appropriate level of activity. If it pains, don't do it.
I is for ICE
Icing the affected area is recommended as long as the inflammation is
present. Ice the injured part by applying a cold pack (wrapped in a
towel)15 to 20 minutes, several times a day for several days, until
swelling subsides. The cold temperatures help to slow down local
metabolism in the affected area. Depending on the type of injury, you
may continue icing the area for as long as inflammation is present. Ice
the infected area during the entire rehabilitation process. It may be
particularly beneficial to ice the area as you return to more strenuous
C is for COMPRESSION
Compression works by minimizing the volume. Use an elastic
compression bandage to wrap the injured part which will limit swelling
as well as bleeding.
E is for ELEVATION
We want to keep the swelling as light as possible. This can be done
by keeping the injured part raised (above your heart) for 48 hours to
help reduce swelling by allowing to drain fluid from the site of injury.
Elevation takes advantage of the natural forces of gravity to make the
fluid return which is causing the swelling. This helps to keep the
swelling to lower levels. Less swelling means less prone to injury.
How can I apply ice?
Ice can be applied in a number of ways.
It should never be applied directly to the skin but in a wet tea towel
to prevent ice burns. Ice may come in the form of cold packs, Ice in a
Ziploc bag, or even ice in frozen paper cups.
Apply the ice for about 15 minutes every 2 hours. This will vary
depending on the size of the area and depth of the tissue. This can be
reduced gradually over the next 24 hours.
If you have a bad circulation condition in a specific area then you
should not apply ice to that area, or if you have a cold allergy.
In the first 24 hours you should not:
- Apply heat.
- Apply a heat rub.
- Drink alcohol (even if you play Rugby).
- Have a deep massage.