Whether you’ve just started running, or have been doing it for a while, the chances are that you’re going to get injured at some point. Although running is a fantastic form of cardio exercise, it can also be very hard on our joints thanks to the fact that we’re pounding all of our body weight into the ground with each stride. When you do get an injury, the RICE method is a good place to start with recovery. Here’s how it works.
Photo Credit: medvestnik
What is the RICE Method?
The RICE method gets its name from the different elements included in the recovery process:
Rest: First it’s important to simply rest the injured area. If you’re in real pain, don’t try to keep running through it. Going out and exercising before you’ve healed might just make things a lot worse!
Ice: As soon as you notice an injury developing, start applying ice to the area. This is especially useful if you’ve got swollen joints. Ice the area with an ice pack or bag of frozen peas (wrapped in a towel) for around 15 minutes, several times throughout the day.
Ideally, you want to ice the injury as soon as possible. That means if you’ve noticed a pain while running, you need to apply ice as soon as you get home. Don’t apply heat to the area if it’s still badly inflamed – wait until the inflammation goes down.
Compression: Compression can help reduce swelling, which can help you recover faster. Use an elastic bandage in the area to keep it compressed, but not so tight that you are unable to move freely. If your ankles are the problem, you can purchase compression stockings.
Elevation: Elevating the injured area to a height higher than the heart also helps to reduce swelling. This might mean you need to prop up your leg on some cushions as you lie on the couch or in bed.
When to Use the RICE Method
The RICE method is really suitable for muscle strains and swellings if used soon after they happen. It can really help keep the effects of the injury to a minimum, meaning that you’ll be able to get out and exercising again as soon as possible.
If an injury is persistent, however, then the RICE method might not work. It’s always important to visit a doctor for an official diagnosis so that you know the best way to treat your injury.
Lastly, remember that everyone gets injured from time to time, no matter how hard we work to prevent it. It isn’t a good feeling to force yourself to take time out when you want to get out there and run, but it really is the best thing for your body.