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For An Injured Athlete, R.I.C.E. is Nice!

Updated on February 12, 2009

Good, Old-Fashioned Recovery

Injuries are the dreaded nemesis for an athlete.  But they happen frequently, especially if the athlete is tired, drained, not eating well, doing the same, repetitive exercise repeatedly, or simply has poor form.

What do you do to ensure that your injury doesn't lay you up for good?  (Or a much longer time than you want?)

It is a huge letdown when you have to take a break from a sport or exercise because of an injury, but if you take care of the issue now, you'll be healthy enough to continue to partake of your sport or exercise long into the future.

Most injuries are simply the result of over-use.  This usually happens slow, over time.  Suppose the lower, inside of your shin bone has been hurting for awhile, and running makes it worse.  You do research online and realize that you may have a stress (hairline) fracture on your tibia.  What do you do?

First, see a doctor.  The doc will send you for an x-ray.  He may also send you to a physical therapist.  But what he will do for sure is prescribe a strict regimen of Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation.

1.  REST

Take a load off.  Literally.  Cut back your running mileage, or don't run at all.  Find some other low-impact sport to do in the meantime, something that won't put weight on your injured leg.  Swimming is a great option, so is cycling.  But most important, give it time to rest & heal!

2.  ICE

Ice is good.  Ice is your friend when you are injured, and it feels mighty fine on an injured or inflamed body part.  Use a store bought or homemade ice pack; use a frozen bag of peas.....It doesn't matter what it is or where you got it, as long as it's cold and can conform to your body part.  Ice eases inflammation of the muscles and soothes torn muscles. 

3.  COMPRESSION

Wrap that leg (or other injured body part) in a reusable, stretchy Ace bandage.  If you're allergic to latex, watch out!  Make sure to buy a latex-free version.  These are sold at CVS, Walgreens, and Wal-Mart.  Look in the "first aid" section. Wrap it tight enough that you can feel compression againt the injury, but not too tight that it cuts off circulation.  A good rule of thumb is after wrapping, look at the body part.  Is it turning purple or feeling stiff?  If the wrapping is on your arm or leg, press the fingernail or toenail down and release.  The color should return to your fingernail or toenail bed immediately.  If the color doesn't return quickly, or your extremity looks purple or blueish, then the wrapping is too tight, un-do it immediately and wrap it looser. 

4.  ELEVATION

Get that injured body part elevated above your heart, and keep it there!  Keeping it above your heart will inhibit blood flow getting to it normally, reducing swelling and pain.  Put it up when watching television, in the car (only if you're the passenger!) or even on your desk at work, if you're limber enough and the boss doesn't care.  Just tell her that you're taking all the necessary steps to heal, so you can be stronger in the future. 

And of course, it is always best to check in with your doctor after a few weeks, so he can assess your healing progress. 

Remember, in most cases, if you take care of your body now, it will take care of you later! 

No Injuries for Me!

Attempting to Surf near Charleston, South Carolina.
Attempting to Surf near Charleston, South Carolina.

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    • frogyfish profile image

      frogyfish 8 years ago from Central United States of America

      Great tips to help with those 'accidents' that can happen so quickly. I would like to recommend a homeopathic product to you that I and several members of my extended family use. It is a cream (or now have a gel available too) called Traumeel.

      It has Arnica and several other helpful ingredients and will greatly increase healing time of sore muscles, bruises and swelling injuries on NON-BROKEN skin. So we follow our advice, use the RICE and Traumeel for success!

      Glad also to follow you now, so will be back for more!

    • RGraf profile image

      Rebecca Graf 8 years ago from Wisconsin

      Very good words of advice.

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