When you suffer the inevitable muscle strain, sprain,pull or tear it's important to limit further damage, control swelling and improve recovery time.The most common treatment regimen used by athletes around the world goes by the acronym RICE (Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation). If you remember this simple acronym you will spend more time competing and less time recuperating.


The first two days after an injury are the most important treatment period. Rest protects the injured muscle, tendon or ligament from further damage by limiting the amount of hemorrhaging. Also, by giving your body rest it has the energy needed to heal the injury. Products such as braces , splints and crutches can pressure off the injury or keep it immobilized.


The best treatment for most soft tissue injuries is the use of ice or cold therapy as it's more commonly called. Cold therapy decreases swelling, bleeding, spasm, pain and inflammation by constricting the blood vessels. Cold therapy also relieves pain directly because of its effect on nerve pain receptors. Depending on the depth and severity of the injury you should apply cold therapy up to 72 hours following the injury. You should keep the ice/cold therapy on the injury no longer than 15-20 minutes at a time and leave them off for at least 20 - 30 minutes. Do not apply the ice directly to the skin or you may get permanent ice burn damage. Once the swelling and bleeding has subsided you may use heat therapy (hot packs, hot water bags or whirlpool baths to increase blood flow and soft tissue repair. Note: many cold therapy packs can also be used for heat therapy.


Compression on the injured area will also limit and reduce swelling. Compression can easily be used with the ice/cold therapy by applying a simple athletic wrap around the cold source and injury. Compression should be applied during the day even when the cold therapy is  not used. Many of the new generation cold therapy products include a dual purpose compression wrap with a pocket for cold/hot packs. There are two things to remember when using a compression wrap: 1) Do not apply the wrap so tight that you feel throbbing or it just feels too tight.  2) Begin the wrap at the furthest point away from your body and end the wrap at a point closest to your body. For example, if you have a wrist injury begin nearer the fingers and work you way up the wrist.


Elevation will also reduce internal bleeding, swelling and the pooling of fluids in the injured area. Most experts recommend elevating the  injured area above the level of the heart. This is important at night when the body processes slow down. Note: If your injury swelling and pain do not go down after 48 hours see your medical professional as soon as possible. About the Author: Bruce is the president of Return2Fitness.net, an online sports medical resource and product center. His "entrepreneurial spirit" has resulted in the founding or acquisition of 20 companies during his 39 year career. Bruce is not a medical professional so please consult your local specialist before making any changes in the treatment of any injury or condition. Thanks for reading my post! For more information connect with me: Return2FitnessEmailLinkedInFacebookSquidoo

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