Home > Blog > The RICE Method and Why It Works

Icing a foot injuryYour body’s natural response to danger is to tense up; your flight or fight response preparing you to handle what comes. So when you venture out on those dangerous, icy sidewalks or roads this winter, you may notice your leg and feet muscles tensing up. That tension could make them ache after a long walk, or the tightening could cause a serious injury if you happen to slip and fall. If this happens to you, and you end up with an ankle sprain or pulled muscle, contact our foot clinic for expert care, but follow the RICE method right away to help you heal faster. Here’s why it works:

Rest means you aren’t putting weight on the injured foot. That keeps you from hurting it even worse, and lets the tissue begin to repair itself right away.

Ice helps in a couple of ways. It numbs you to pain and constricts tiny broken capillaries so they don’t leak blood and fluid into the tissue. It is the buildup of fluids that cause swelling, which causes pressure and pain. Keeping the swelling down, especially in the first few days, helps you heal faster.

Compression, or using an elastic bandage to wrap the injured area, also helps keep swelling down. You need to make sure the tension is correct: too loose and the tissue will still swell; too tight and circulation could be slowed, causing more swelling above or below the wrapped area.

Elevation, or resting your injured limb above heart level, prevents extra fluid from building up in the extremities. This also helps in circulation, because your heart doesn’t have to work as hard to move the blood to where it is needed. The better the circulation, the more nutrients reach the damaged tissue so they can be repaired.

Remember these tips when using the RICE method: Don’t let the ice touch your skin directly—use a thin cloth next to your skin. Don’t ice for more than 20 minutes at a time, with an hour or more between sessions. Do ice steadily for the first two days after an injury.

Be sure to contact Abbott Foot & Ankle Clinic in Collingwood, ON, when you injure your feet or ankles. We are a health care provider that specializes in foot and ankle issues. You can reach us at (705) 444-9929 or request an appointment on our website.

Photo Credit: artur84 via FreeDigitalPhotos.net