Everyone who knows anything about health will tell you that regular exercise is necessary for good health. However, any physical activity comes with some risk of injury. When we enter into the extremes of physical activity that are synonymous with sports on a regular basis- some kind of injury is bound to occur in time.
While improper stretching, inadequate protective gear, or improper technique are common ways sports injuries can occur- some wear and tear are normal. In any event, the risk of sports injury is far preferable to the damage that inactivity can do to our health.
Some of the most common sports-related injuries include;
- Knee injury
- Strains and sprains
- Achilles tendon injury
- Swollen muscles
- Shin splints (pain along the ridge of the shin)
- Rotator cuff injury
Anyone who engages in sports activities on a regular basis can expect to experience one or more of these injuries in time. If you are hurt while engaging in sports, the first thing you should do is stop playing. Athletes engaged in competition may feel compelled to push through the pain. But this is unwise as it can lead to further injury and may even result in permanent damage.
Often times, minor sports injuries are treated with the rest, ice, circulation, and elevation- commonly referred to as RICE.
Applying ice to the location of the injury will reduce inflammation and pain.
Circulation relates to techniques designed to increase blood flow to the area. Sometimes the C in RICE is referred to as “compression”- which can be appropriate at the scene of the injury in some cases but is not always called for. Circulation techniques can include heating pads, massage, and careful movement. Musculoskeletal structures can sometimes be difficult for blood to reach. So, stimulating circulation is always a good idea.
Elevation is a way to alleviate circulatory pressure to the affected location. It could be thought of as having a similar effect as ice in removing pressure. But overall, it is a circulatory aid to help the body remove blood cells that have already done their job and need to be recirculated.
The first part of the acronym stands for “Rest.” The eager athlete often feels pressure to return to the field or the court as soon as possible. Doing so before healing is complete can be a temptation. Also, a small improvement can feel like a big improvement- especially if the original injury was very painful.
Good sleeping habits and allowing time for full recovery are both essential for proper and complete healing.
Of course, RICE alone cannot cure every sports-related injury. Sometimes the athlete needs the help of a sports medicine healthcare professional to achieve a full and proper recovery.