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How does the RICE method help foot related sports injuries?

Christopher Chiodo, MD
Orthopedic Surgery
If you injure your foot in some way, remember the acronym RICE. Four simple steps will help limit pain and additional damage:

Rest. Take the pressure off your injured foot by reducing your activity and sitting or lying down.

Ice. To reduce inflammation, apply ice to the injury. You can crush the ice or wrap it in a towel to be more comfortable. Put the ice in a plastic bag so it doesn't soak your clothing or furniture as it melts. You can also use an ice pack, a chemical cold pack, or even a bag of frozen peas for this purpose.

Compression. Wrap an elastic compression bandage around the injured area to provide support and reduce swelling. Wrap it snugly, but not tightly enough to impede the circulation of blood. If your toes turn white or purple, if they feel numb, or if you get a pins-and-needles feeling, loosen the bandage.

Elevation. To reduce inflammation and pain, prop your foot on a pillow or on the arm of a sofa -- anywhere it will be raised above your waist level.
Yusuf Boyd, NASM Elite Trainer
Athletic Training

As with any injury, following the R.I.C.E. principle aids the body through the healing process. R.I.C.E. stands for: rest, ice, compression, elevation.

With foot related injuries, rest is simply getting off the injured foot. Depending on severity, you may be placed on crutches, or put in a walking boot. Either way, the goal is to keep the foot from doing its job of supporting the body's weight, i.e., let it rest. When icing, remember this: leave ice on for 20 minutes, and off for at least one hour. This allows the body to go through its natural rewarming process, increasing blood flow to the injured area. During this process, inflammation that is present is slowly flushed out. To assist with the removal of the inflammation, use compression (this can be an ace bandage). Finally, elevate the limb, again this will help reduce any inflammation and create a better environment for healing to occur.

RICE, or rest, ice, compression, and elevation, continues to be the most popular method to help treat foot-related sports injuries to suppress pain and swelling while accelerating healing. Start with rest; stop the activity and take the weight off your foot. Next, ice the injury with an ice pack or crushed ice. Crushed ice or ice packs that conform to the body are best because they can get closest to the injury, rather than blocky ice cubes. Ice should be removed every 20 minutes to keep from damaging the skin. Compression can help minimize swelling through the use of a wrap, brace, boot, or cast. Last, elevate the foot so that it is above the heart to help decrease swelling. The process should start as soon as possible after the injury and last from 24 to 48 hours. If a longer time is needed or symptoms worsen, call a doctor.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.