Runners, bikers, swimmers and other fitness enthusiasts have long trumpeted the merits of R.I.C.E. therapy for sports injuries. Physicians and physical therapists frequently recommend R.I.C.E. therapy for basketball players, football players, baseball players, and other athletes suffering sprains, strains, bumps, and bruises as well.
However, certain experts like the NHS in the United Kingdom, go one step further. These folks recommend the five-step P.R.I.C.E. therapy for athlete’s soft-tissue injuries, adding one more step to the familiar R.I.C.E. regimen.
What does P.R.I.C.E. stand for?
P.R.I.C.E. is an acronym, indicating a series of first-aid steps to follow in minimizing swelling, bruising, and discomfort, particularly from sports-related injuries. Many long-distance runners routinely follow these steps for preventative maintenance after races and extended training sessions.
- Protection – Use a brace, splint, or wrap to guard and support the injured area.
- Rest – Refrain from additional strenuous activity until the injury has healed.
- Ice – Chill the affected area with an ice pack, at least 15 minutes per hour during waking times in the first two days after the injury occurs. (Heat may feel soothing, but it can increase inflammation and swelling in the first 48 hours.)
- Compression – Bandage the injured area, if possible, to keep swelling down. The sleeve or wrap should be comfortably snug, but not so tight that it restricts circulation.
- Elevation – Prop the injury up (higher than heart-level) to reduce swelling.
The P.R.I.C.E. method is not a cure for injuries, nor is it a safe substitute for professional medical care, particularly if injuries are severe. Seek immediate medical attention for abdominal pains, breathing problems, deep wounds, dislocated joints, eye injuries, head injuries, neck discomfort, suspected bone fractures, or bleeding that will not stop.
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