Fast recovery from injury is reliant on immediate treatment and then adhering to a recovery plan of rehabilitation. Self treatment through RICE immediately after an injury will significantly improve recovery rates.
RICE - Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation
As soon as possible after an injury, such as a knee or ankle sprain, you can relieve pain and swelling and promote healing and flexibility with RICE:
- Rest - Rest and protect the injured or sore area. Stop, change, or take a break from any activity that may be causing your pain or soreness.
- Ice - Cold will reduce pain and swelling. Apply an ice or cold pack immediately to prevent or minimize swelling. Apply the ice or cold pack for 10 to 20 minutes, 3 or more times a day. After 48 to 72 hours, if swelling is gone, apply heat to the area that hurts. Do not apply ice or heat directly to the skin. Place a towel over the cold or heat pack before applying it to the skin.
- Compression - Compression, or wrapping the injured or sore area with an elastic bandage (such as an Ace wrap), will help decrease swelling. Don't wrap it too tightly, since this can cause more swelling below the affected area. Loosen the bandage if it gets too tight. Signs that the bandage is too tight include numbness, tingling, increased pain, coolness, or swelling in the area below the bandage. Talk to your health professional if you think you need to use a wrap for longer than 48 to 72 hours; a more serious problem may be present.
- Elevation - Elevate the injured or sore area on pillows while applying ice and anytime you are sitting or lying down. Try to keep the area at or above the level of your heart to help minimize swelling.
It is important to then obtain an assessment of the extent of the injury so that a rehabilitation plan can be instigated. Rehabilitation from injury is based on phases that are linked to the stage of the healing process and the related cellular activity taking place in the body. These phases are commonly separated into;
Often there is no clear distinction between the phases, so athletes will be continually re-assessed with advancement through the rehabilitation based upon an individual athlete's needs, adherence to the programme, and ability to tolerate the given exercises without any undue effects. Rehabilitation will encompass the restoration of elements such as range of motion, flexibility, strength, movement patterns, power, dynamic stability/proprioception and sports specific skills such as agility.